India to host first-ever Buddhist summit on contemporary challenges

NEW DELHI | Updated: 07 April, 2023 12:01 pm IST

The first-ever Global Buddhist Summit (GBS) will bring together hundreds of Buddhist monks, scholars, and dharma practitioners from around the world in New Delhi on April 20 and 21. Hosted by the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC), which is a part of the Ministry of Culture, the summit aims to focus on the Buddhist response to the most pressing challenges of the present day. The theme of the summit is ‘Responses to Contemporary Challenges from Philosophy to Praxis.’

Hundreds of Buddhist monks, scholars, and dharma practitioners from across the globe will gather in New Delhi to discuss Buddhism’s response to contemporary challenges. With the theme of “Responses to Contemporary Challenges from Philosophy to Praxis,” the summit aims to promote universal values found in Buddha Dharma to provide solutions to today’s most pressing issues.

The summit will feature seminars on various topics, including Buddha Dharma and Peace, Environmental Crisis, Health and Sustainability, Preservation of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition, and Buddha Dharma Pilgrimage, Living Heritage, and Buddha Relics. These discussions will explore the resilient foundation of India’s centuries-old cultural links with South, Southeast, and East Asia.

The GBS marks a resumption of the ancient culture of Buddhist councils that played a crucial role in shaping the development of Buddhism in India and the world. After Buddha’s death, Buddhist councils were convened until the mid-20th century to preserve and transmit his teachings accurately. Buddhism had a profound impact on Indian society, influencing not just religion but also art, architecture, and literature.

The first Buddhist Council was held in Rajgir, where Buddha’s disciples recited his teachings from memory and compiled them into the Tripitaka, the Buddhist canon. The Second Buddhist Council was held a century later in Vaishali to resolve a dispute over the interpretation of Buddhist doctrine. The Third Buddhist Council was held in Pataliputra during Emperor Ashoka’s reign to purify the Buddhist sangha and preserve the authenticity of Buddha’s teachings. The Fourth Buddhist Council was held in Kashmir during King Kanishka’s reign and attended by scholars from India, Central Asia, and China. It resulted in the compilation of the Mahayana scriptures.

The GBS will serve as a platform for prominent scholars, sangha leaders, and dharma practitioners worldwide to address global challenges, finding solutions in the Buddha Dharma. It will provide a unique opportunity to showcase India’s rich cultural heritage and highlight its position as a global hub for Buddhism. By promoting universal values, the GBS aims to foster international understanding, cooperation, and peaceful coexistence.

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