“Buddha” denotes one who as attained enlightenment and had a sense of awakening to build a peaceful, harmonious and just society. Gautam Buddha's teachings have caught the imagination of people across the world over the past 2,500 years. His life and deeds contain such a powerful message, that their resonance transcends cultures, religions and geographies. His messages are becoming increasingly relevant in the present context and a guiding light for chalking out a sustainable approach for the future.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic bears testimony to the fact that the complexities of the modern world carry with them more uncertainties and crises. The threats of bioterrorism, climate change, global warming, radicalism and extremism et cetera, are shaking the conscience of humanity. Since time immemorial, mankind has built up the capability to control natural resources. The greed and impatient attitude towards utilising these resources have created an imbalance. Reacting to this, nature is more vigorously attacking humanity. The Buddha’s method of introspection and awakening shows the path in these troubling times.
The influence of Buddhist ideas and symbols on our democracy is both profound and visible. In the Lok Sabha, above the chair of the Speaker are inscribed the words, “Dharma Chakra Pravartanay”, which means “setting in motion the wheel of righteousness”. The Preamble of the Constitution enshrines the principals of liberty, equality and fraternity, whose roots can be traced to Buddhist teachings. In his essay, ‘The Ancient Regime— the State of the Aryan Society’ B R Ambedkar writes: “Buddhism was a revolution. It was as great a Revolution as the French Revolution. Though it began as a religious revolution, it became more than a Religious revolution. It became a Social and Political Revolution.”
In a broadcast on the All India Radio on October 3, 1954, he said: “Positively, my social philosophy may be said to be enshrined in three words: Liberty, Equality, and Fraternity. Let no one, however, say that I have borrowed my philosophy from the French Revolution. I have not. My philosophy has roots in religion and not in political science. I have derived them from the teaching of my Master, the Buddha.”
On several occasions, Ambedkar busted the myths regarding the roots of the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity. He emphasised their origins in the ancient Indian teachings of the Buddha. In his essay ‘Buddha or Karl Marx’, he writes: “Society has been aiming to lay a new foundation as summarised by the French Revolution in three words, Fraternity, Liberty, and Equality. The French Revolution was welcomed because of this slogan. It failed to produce equality. We welcome the Russian Revolution because it aims to produce equality. But it cannot be too much emphasized that in producing equality, society cannot afford to sacrifice fraternity or liberty. Equality will be of no value without fraternity or liberty. It seems that the three can coexist only if one follows the way of the Buddha. Communism can give one but not all.”
The Buddhist approach of righteous behaviour, wisdom, compassion and camaraderie, and the reduction of trishna (greed) offers a set of building blocks for a new world order where violence and conflict are minimised and development takes place without degrading the natural resources. The adoption of the “middle path” by avoiding extreme positions as taught by Buddha leads to realising the truth which further leads to avoiding conflict, reconciliation of different viewpoints, and achieving consensus. His eight-fold-path has not only transformed the spiritual landscape worldwide but also encouraged ethical and sustainable social, political, and commercial practices.
All the iconic sights associated with Buddha —. Bodhgaya, Sarnath, Nalanda, Rajgir, Kushinagar, Kapil Vastu, Shravasti, Vaishali and Kaushambi — are rich in tradition and places of spiritual significance. Originating here, the Buddha’s appeal has gone far beyond his 500 million followers worldwide. These historical places are promoting our shared cultural heritage.
Courtesy: The Indian Express