Buddha bonding is set to complement the burgeoning business ties between India and China. Imparting a cultural flavour to his forthcoming meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has invoked Buddhism as an age-old connector between the two Asian neighbours and has highlighted Buddhist connections of his home state Gujarat.
“Buddhism is a very strong bond between China & India. In fact, Gujarat too has a very rich Buddhist heritage,” tweeted Modi on September 15.
An article was also posted on the prime minister’s website in English and Mandarin, which showcases the rich “Buddhist heritage in Gujarat”.
A day before he meets the Chinese president in Ahamedabad, Modi underlined the linkages between his hometown of Vadnagar and the famous Chinese explorer and Buddhist priest Xuanzang (Hiuen Tsang) who “noted the presence of Buddhist monasteries, monks in parts of Gujarat”.
“The place where I was born, Vadnagar too has a rich Buddhist influence, including a monastery,” tweeted Modi.
Over 7,000 pieces of archaeological importance have been found at the Vadnagar excavation site in Mehsana district, which includes the ancient Buddhist Monastery, Bodhisattva idol, and other Buddhist objects and pendants discovered in Vadnagar.
“Vadnagar is one of the most ancient towns of Gujarat known as Anandapura during Hiuen Tsang’s visit in the mid-seventh century AD,” reads the article.
Excavation in Gujarat has uncovered various Buddhist sites across the state including in Siyot, Vadnagar, Taranga Hill, Bharuch, Khambhalida, Junagadh, Sana and Talaja.
“Ashokan Edict in Junagadh shows Samrat Ashok’s reverence towards Buddhism and focuses on social and moral precepts,”
“I am sure you will enjoy these slides, which take you through Gujarat’s rich Buddhist heritage that we are proud of.”
According to historical reports, Hiuen Tsang travelled to Gujarat from Ujjainin Madhya Pradesh in 641 AD.
“On his visit to Gujarat, Tsang noted the presence of 200 monasteries housing 10,000 monks, located at Bharukaccha, Atali, Kheta, Valabhi, Anandapura and Saurashtra,” adds the article.
President Xi will be the third Chinese president to visit India, and the first one to visit Gujarat. While in the state, the prime minister has also invited Xi to visit Mahatma Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram.
He said he was looking forward to welcoming Xi in Ahmedabad. “I am sure his visit will strengthen India-China ties,” said Modi.
Modi, who visited China’s as Gujarat’s chief minister in 2011, had discussed the creation of a ‘Buddhist circuit’ in the state to attract tourist from southeast Asia.
The prime minister has relied on the ancient linkages of Buddhism as a pillar for this cultural diplomacy. He had earlier invoked the spirit of Buddhism and civilizational connections during his visits to Japan, Nepal, and Bhutan.
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