By Binod Singh Ajatshatru
Prince Siddharth Gautama who later became Buddha (the enlightened one), was born on Vesak Purnima day in ancient India in a small kingdom of Kapilvastu (Lumbini), which geographically now lies in the Himalayan Nepal. Each year this time, his birthday celebrations are observed as a reminder for peace and sanity in our human world. His teachings are especially revered in most of the Asian countries and also in some part of European countries as people’s longing for peace and wisdom intensifies year-by-year. But it is more symbolic in nature, as there is hardly any serious reflection on Buddha’s teachings.
Currently world has seen intense human-suffering and more than ten million people have died due to pandemic COVID 19, which originated in China, and spread to all over the world. The pandemic is yet to be controlled as Shanghai and Beijing are under lockdown, but now we have another man-made crisis that is, Vladimir Putin’s decision to invade Ukraine on 24th Feb 2022. The whole world is watching the war unfolding and innocent people are dying every day. But no serious effort is being made to end this war. Most of Asian countries with Buddhist traditions are just silent and scared to criticize the war. In many countries today, Buddha has been reduced to a symbol of aesthetics in public parks and home gardens. His message is lost! His teachings are forgotten!
Even in India itself, which is traditionally the birthplace of Buddha has almost lost the teachings of Buddha. Now the people look towards Tibetan monks to teach them about Buddha’s philosophy. Even Indian statesmen have forgotten the path of Buddha. For example, India maintained a neutral stand and hardly criticized the War on Ukraine. The new India under prime Minister Narendra Modi has become more assertive of her national interest and puts less emphasis on moral and ethical dilemmas in her foreign policy making. Modi’s latest visit to KushiNagar and then Lumbini in Nepal is again symbolic in nature. As he never directly or indirectly condemned the latest Russian aggression in Ukraine. The current Indian Foreign Minister is vocal about India’s way of dealing with current global issues. Earlier, he was a full-time bureaucrat in the same ministry and later joined as an executive with TATA group which is one of India’s largest corporate giants. Expecting moral and ethical lessons from him itself is unrealistic. He believes in deal making and has done some big crisis-handling as Indian ambassador to the United States and later as India’s Foreign Secretary.
For more than six decades, India has followed humanitarian foreign policy based on Gandhian and Buddhist philosophy but now under the Modi regime, the country has taken a real-politic stand and will not give ethical lectures to countries at war. This drastic change has come as a surprise to the world community who always looked towards India for wisdom and light in darkness. The whole Indian philosophy is based on peace and non-violence, and we have treated the whole world as our extended family as enshrined in the phrase “VasudhaivKutumbkam.”
On this Vesak day, 16th May 2022, we hope that Indian policy makers reconsiders their stand on the current global situation and revive back the old tradition of speaking for humanity and practicing an ethical based foreign policy. This is the true culture of India which makes her stand tall and gets respected among comity of nations. India has never believed in power politics and should denounce all kinds of war and always lead the world to end human sufferings. India should spread the message of peace and fraternity as taught by Buddha and continue the tradition of peace and non-violence.
The Four sublime states of mind have been taught by the Buddha: Unconditional Love or Loving-Kindness (Metta), Compassion (Karuna), Sympathetic Joy (Mudita), and Equanimity (Upekkha). These qualities are treasured because they are the universal expression of an open heart.The Four Divine Abodes and the qualities associated with them balance each other. Through cultivating these qualities where the clinging aspects of love, compassion, and joy is balanced with the detaching power of equanimity, we are able to attain a stable, harmonious and grounded state of mind.
On this Vesak day, let us pledge to continue the search for ending human suffering which has once again engulfed the whole humanity. Once again, India can light the lamp of wisdom as it has done in past centuries. Let’s practice live and let live! Let’s call to an end of human suffering from man-made calamities such as modern war among nations. Let’s all coexist peacefully and enjoy the prosperity.
Om NamahBuddhayah! Om Shanti! Shanti! Shanti!