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Global Buddhist Summit 2023

  • 22 Apr 2023
  • 9 min read

For Prelims: Global Buddhist Summit 2023, IBC, Buddhism, Terrorism, Climate Change, Noble Eightfold Path, Noble Truths, ICCR.

For Mains: Role of Buddhism in India’s Soft Power Strategy.

Why in News?

Recently, the Ministry of Culture in partnership with International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) has organized the 1st Global Buddhist Summit 2023, which aims to enhance cultural and diplomatic relations with other countries.

What is the IBC?

  • IBC is the biggest religious Buddhist confederation.
  • The purpose of this body is to create a role for Buddhism on the global stage so as to help to preserve heritage, share knowledge, and promote values and to represent a united front for Buddhism to enjoy meaningful participation in the global discourse.
  • In November 2011, New Delhi was host to Global Buddhist Congregation (GBC), where the attendees unanimously adopted a resolution to form an international umbrella body – the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC).
  • HQ: Delhi, India.

What is the Global Buddhist Summit 2023?

  • About:
    • Buddhist monks from various countries took part in the two-day Summit.
    • Eminent scholars, Sangha leaders and Dharma practitioners from all over the world attended the conference.
      • There are 173 international participants comprising 84 Sangha member and 151 Indian delegates comprising 46 Sangha members, 40 nuns and 65 laity from outside Delhi.
  • Theme: Responses to Contemporary Challenges: Philosophy to Praxis.
    • Sub Themes:
      • Buddha Dhamma and Peace
      • Buddha Dhamma: Environmental Crisis, Health and Sustainability
      • Preservation of Nalanda Buddhist Tradition
      • Buddha Dhamma Pilgrimage, Living heritage and Buddha Relics: a resilient foundation to India’s centuries-old cultural links to countries in South, Southeast and East Asia.
  • Objectives:
    • The summit aims to discuss today’s pressing global issues and look for answers in the Buddha Dhamma that is based on universal values.
    • The aim is to set up a forum for the lay Buddhist scholars and Dharma Masters.
    • It seeks to delve into Buddha’s message for Peace, Compassion and Harmony with the objective of working towards Universal Peace and Harmony, in accordance with the core values of Dharma and produce a document for further academic research, to study its viability for use as a tool for the conduct of international relations on the global stage.
  • Significance for India:
    • This global Summit will mark the significance and importance of India in Buddhism, as Buddhism was born in India.
    • This summit will also be a medium to enhance the cultural and diplomatic relationships with other countries, especially with the countries which embrace the Buddhist Ethos.

How can the Buddha’s Teachings help Address today's Global Challenges?

  • The key teachings of Buddha include the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path.
    • Four noble truths:
      • Suffering (dukkha) is the essence of the world.
      • Every suffering has a cause – Samudya.
      • Suffering could be extinguished – Nirodha.
      • It can be achieved by following the Atthanga Magga (Eight-Fold Path).
    • Noble Eightfold Path:

  • The world is facing the most challenging times of the century due to war, economic crisis, terrorism and climate change, and all these contemporary global challenges can be addressed through the teachings of Lord Buddha.
  • These teachings of Budha can provide solutions to global problems in several ways. For example, the teachings on compassion, non-violence, and interdependence can help address conflicts and promote peaceful coexistence.
  • Teachings on ethical conduct, social responsibility, and generosity can help address issues of inequality and promote social justice.
  • The teachings on mindfulness, simplicity, and non-harming can help address environmental degradation and promote sustainable living.

What is the Role of Buddhism in India’s Soft Power Strategy?

  • Cultural Diplomacy:
    • One of the ways in which Buddhism has been used in India's soft power strategy is through cultural diplomacy.
      • This involves promoting Indian culture, including Buddhism, through various channels such as art, music, films, literature, and festivals.
    • For example, the Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) has organized several cultural events in Buddhist countries, such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, and Bhutan, to showcase India's cultural heritage and strengthen cultural ties.
  • Education and Capacity-Building:
    • Another way in which Buddhism can be used in India's soft power strategy is through education and capacity-building.
    • India has established several Buddhist institutions and centers of excellence, such as the Nalanda University and the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, to promote Buddhist studies and research.
    • In 2022, the foundation stone for the Dhamma Dipa International Buddhist University (DDIBU) in Tripura was laid,
      • DDIBU is the first Buddhist-run university in India to offer Buddhist education along with courses in other disciplines of modern education as well.
    • India also offers scholarships and training programs to Buddhist students and monks from other countries, such as Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, and Nepal, to enhance their knowledge and skills.
  • Bilateral Exchanges and Initiatives:
    • In terms of bilateral relations, India has sought to deepen its ties with Buddhist countries, such as Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, and Bhutan, through various initiatives.
    • India has signed several agreements with Sri Lanka, such as the Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreement (BIPA), to boost economic cooperation.
      • India has also provided assistance to Buddhist countries for the restoration and preservation of their cultural heritage sites, such as the Bagan temples in Myanmar and the Stupa in Nepal.
    • India and Mongolia also renewed the Cultural Exchange Program until 2023 under which 10 dedicated ICCR scholarships for studying ‘Tibetan Buddhism have been allocated for Mongolians to study in specialized institutes of CIBS, Leh and CUTS, Varanasi.

UPSC Civil Services Examination, Previous Year Question (PYQ)


Q. With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements: (2020)

  1. Sthaviravadins belong to Mahayana Buddhism.
  2. Lokottaravadin sect was an offshoot of Mahasanghika sect of Buddhism.
  3. The deification of Buddha by Mahasanghikas fostered the Mahayana Buddhism.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only
(b) 2 and 3 only
(c) 3 only
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)

Q. With reference to the religious practices in India, the “Sthanakvasi” sect belongs to (2018)

(a) Buddhism 
(b) Jainism
(c) Vaishnavism
(d) Shaivism

Ans: (b)

Q. With reference to the religious history of India, consider the following statements: (2016)

  1. The concept of Bodhisattva is central to Hinayana sect of Buddhism.
  2. Bodhisattva is a compassionate one on his way to Enlightenment.
  3. Bodhisattva delays achieving his own salvation to help all sentient beings on their path to it.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 only
(b) 2 and 3 only 
(c) 2 only 
(d) 1, 2 and 3

Ans: (b)


Q. Pala period is the most significant phase in the history of Buddhism in India. Enumerate. (2020)

Source: PIB

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