President of India Ram Nath Kovind gave a video message on the occasion and also planted a sapling of the Bodhi tree in the garden of Rashtrapati Bhavan, the residence of the President on Esala Poya day (Ashada Purnima) to mark the first sermon by Lord Buddha.
The president gave his special message on that day during an event organized by the International Buddhist Confederation, with the support of the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, the Government of India, the Mahabodhi Society of India and the Indian Council for Cultural Relations.
In his message, the Indian President said that the appeal of Buddhism goes way beyond the nearly 550 million formally ordained followers and noted that people belonging to other faiths, sceptics and atheists feel attracted towards the teachings of The Buddha due to the logical, rational and simple answers to fundamental problems of humanity provided by Buddhism. He stressed that key principles of The Buddha such as universal compassion and non-violence; morality and moderation in all aspects of life; etc have inspired countless people over the last 2600 years since his first sermon at Sarnath. Further, Lord Buddha’s spiritual power was the result of his steadfast adherence to truth.
The President also mentioned that the world needs the healing touch of compassion, kindness and selflessness more than ever before as it is reeling under the aftermath of COVID-19. He also called for the adoption of universal values propagated by Buddhism.
Speaking at another event to mark the auspicious day, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also echoed similar views and said that in times of tragedy, the world felt the power of love and harmony. Quoting The Buddha, PM said that Harmony between our mind, speech, and resolve and between our action and effort can guide us away from pain and towards happiness.
Millennia-old Buddhist linkages between India and Sri Lanka date back to the times of Lord Buddha himself who visited Sri Lanka on three different occasions as per ancient texts. Later, King Asoka sent his son Mahinda Thero and daughter Sangamitta There to Sri Lanka for the cause of Buddhism. In modern times, these deep bonds are marked by religious expositions, pilgrimage tours etc. It may also be recalled that Prime Minister Modi also announced a USD 15 million grant for the promotion of Buddhist ties between India and Sri Lanka at the Virtual Bilateral Summit with Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa in September