A Reflection to 1st International Buddhist Art Culture & Literature Festival 2020

LUMBINI BUDDHIST UNIVERSITY

International Buddhist Art, Culture and Literature Festival, Lumbini

February 7-10, 2020

Lumbini, Nepal

Reflections

  1. Background

In response to the Visit Nepal 2020 as announced by the Government of Nepal, Lumbini Buddhist University (LBU) in cooperation with the Ministry of Industry, Tourism, Forests and Environment (MITFE) of the Province 5 Government has conceptualized the festival with an objective of disseminating Buddhist art, culture and literature and also promoting the LBU as an academic institute and Lumbini as World Heritage Site (LWHS) for the general public and national & international visitors.  The concept of the festival was drawn on the basis of a series of formal and informal meetings among the LBU authorities and the Province 5 government officials.

The festival was conceived as the first celebration with an ambition to continue every year in order to project the image of Lumbini through LBU’s networks and efforts.  The partners included the Lumbini Development Trust (LDT), various other organizations devoted to the Buddhist art, culture and literature, namely Aksheyeswor Mahavihar, Byoma Kusum Buddha Dharma Sangha, Civic Education Society, Dhamma Sakachchhaa Sangh, Project Baja, Shiva Yog Shadhana Sangh, Siddhartha Literary Society and the various other government bodies and local groups and schools.

  • Events

The 5-day festival (2076 Magh 24-27) was designed in four main series of events, such as follows:

  1. The Lumbini Pilgrimage Marathon (8.6 km) within the Lumbini World Heritage Site
  2. Exhibitions of Paubha, Photographs, mandala, performing arts e.g. Charya nritya, and musical and yoga performances
  3. Academic seminar on Buddhist literature and contemporary issues
  4. Monlam: Lumbini Peace Aspiration

2.1 Day 1. Magh 24 Fri (February 7, 2020)

2.1.1 Lumbini Pilgrimage Marathon (LPM)

LPM was organized as a major warming-up event for the First International Buddhist Art, Culture and Literature Festival.  It attracted nearly 1,000 mass including marathon participants.  The event started at 7:30 am at the premise of the LDT’s international auditorium.  Registrar of LBU, Dr Tilak Ram Acharya welcomed the gathering and announced that the event would attract the entire globe towards Lumbini.  Mr Kuman Khadka, event coordinator, briefed on the rules of the marathon, and on the services along the route such as water and banana, first aid, rescues support etc.  At 8:44 am, the prominent personalities, Honorable Member of the National Assembly, Mr Khimlal Bhattarai, Vice Chancellor LBU Prof Dr Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya, Secretary of MITFE of the Province 5 Government Dr Radha Wagle, sounded the bronze gong with a hammer three times to start the marathon.

Over 500 persons including monks, students, teachers and general public had participated in run that was set for 8.6 km within the sacred garden along the central canal of the LWHS.  Each of the participants registered at the desks and put on t-shirts with a logo of the event.  Over 200 youths and monks had volunteered during the event as escorts, guides and helpers at vantage points.  There were two ambulances by the courtesy of the Lumbini Cultural Municipality and …   …    …   .  During the event, the officials of Nepal Police and Traffic Police gave security and traffic management on the highway portion.

Upon completion of the run, the participants along with the other invitees joined in the opening ceremony of the festival at the LDT international auditorium

2.1.2 Inaugural Function

Honorable Chief Minister of the Province 5, Mr Shankar Pokharel, graciously inaugurated the First International Buddhist Art, Culture and Literature Festival by lighting the traditional panas amidst the gathering of over 2,500 audiences in the auditorium.  On the occasion, he appreciated the LBU’s initiative of bringing the art, culture and literature together on display, thus, creating interests and pride among the people of their heritage.  He continued to enjoy the entire functions that lasted nearly four hours.

Welcome (to be included)

Remarks (to be included)

2.1.3 Exhibitions

There were displays of 30 paubhas also known as thangkas, 100 photographs, and a Buddha mandala (3m x 3m) in three corners of the auditorium.  The paubhas reflected on various positions of Buddha, Tara and other features depicting on the Buddhist messages.  Ten artists jointly completed the Buddha mandala and that became one of the major attractions in the auditorium.  Similarly, Mr Sanu Raj Shakya, in cooperation of his team members from Dhamma Sakachchhaa Sangh, displayed his collections of photographs that included the excavation works as early as 1896, ground marking for creating the structure according to Kenzo Tange’s master plan, as well as flora and fauna of Lumbini area.

The local school students performed local folk dance, and the teams of Byoma Kusum Buddha Dharma Sangha and Project Baja separately performed charya nritya (a ballet dance dedicated to Lord Buddha).  The Project Baja team also entertained the audience with their melodious orchestra of traditional tunes (Table 1).

Table 1. Organizations and Performances
OrganizationsPerformances
Aksheyeswor MahaviharPaubha display
Byoma Kusum Buddha Dharma SanghaCharya nrtitya
Kusum Buddha Dharma SanghaCharya nrtitya
Dhamma Sakachchhaa SanghPhotographs display,
Project BajaCharya nrtitya, musical performance
Siddhartha Literary Society                Recitation of poems dedicated to Buddha and his Dhamma

2.2 Day 2. Magh 25 Sat (February 8, 2020)

2.2.1 Monlam at the Mustang monastery near Mayadevi temple.

With the glorious Dharma discourse by His Holiness Vidhyadhara Acharya Mahayogi Sridhar Rana Rinpoche, the holy enchanting of Monlam began in the morning to be continued for three days. 

2.2.2 Yoga

Under the aegis of the Shiva Yoga Shadhana Sangh, 50 persons participated in the yoga exercise in the morning (7:30 am – 8:30 am) at the international auditorium.  The modified version of yoga exercise continued in the evening (4:30 am – 5:30 am) at the premise of LBU Stupa.  The team artfully motivated the participants (mostly the academicians) to write five words, and later shuffled to create a poem on which the leading lady mobilized the participants to sing a chorus.  The participants voluntarily played several musical instruments to create symphony supporting the song.

2.2.3 Seminar

There were four sessions of the seminar spread in two days:

2.2.3.1 Session 1: Buddhist Literature and Contemporary Issues

Date: 2076 Magh 25 Sat (February 8, 2020)

Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 N

Venue: Central Campus, LBS

Event Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Bed Prasad Giri, Dean, Faculty of Humanities & Social Sciences, LBU

Welcome speech by Prof. Dr. Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya (VC, LBU)

Chair and Moderator: Mr. Tanka Karki, Former Ambassador to China

Panelists:

  • Prof. Dr. Triratna Manandhar, Buddhism and World Peace
  • Dr. Khaga Nath Adhikari, Buddha Darshan ko Prabardhan ma Nepali Kutniti
  • Dr. Kundan Aryal, Buddhism and Non-violent Communication
  • Prof. Dr. Gitu Giri, Tourism Industry in Province 5

Notes from Presentations:

In his welcome address, VC Prof Dr Bajracharya mentioned that this festival is a culmination of efforts and supports of so many individuals and organizations for disseminating Buddha’s messages across the world.  He also said that this festival would become a part of the Visit Nepal 2020 campaign for informing various strata of the world society and help create further attractions to Lumbini.

Prof Dr Triratna Manandhar

LBU’s initiative of hosting these mega events is well appreciable.  LBU should envision establishing a world class Buddhism Study Center that would be a center of attraction for scholars and researchers around the world.  Here are some differences in opinions in introducing Buddha as a great leader or a super hero of peace and non-violence. 

Peace is a fundamental state for which each individual, family, community, society, country and the world is dying for.  The history of humankinds is basically narrated in the forms of describing wars that were triggered in the names of religions and religious beliefs.  Buddha’s teachings not only help us get peace but also equal opportunity.  It would be most ideal and practical to follow Buddha’s astangik paths with appropriate modifications in reference to the land, time and situation.

Dr Khaganath Adhikary

Nepal’s diplomacy would be subtle and powerful if we base our international relations on Buddha’s philosophy.  All over the world, Nepal’s image is a synonym to peace because of Buddha.  There is an immense opportunity for Nepal to flourish with pilgrimage tourism.  We are already much behind to mobilize the global community although the World Buddhist Fellowship was initiated in 1950, and U Thant had promoted Lumbini in 1967.  As a land of Buddha, Nepal could legitimately take a leadership in various fronts such as ASEAN summit, UN actions for peace, and so on.  At present, it is essential to publicize Lumbini as Buddha’s birthplace, and standardize the Buddha purnima.

Dr Kundan Aryal

The modern day communication philosophy as defined by Rosenberg has so much of ethical values that are in fact Buddha had already been expressed in his time.  Even in the days when there was no sense of modern day social media, Buddha was the true communicator in a group and among individuals.  The five aspects of communications namely factual, truthful, beneficial and goodwill and timely have been practiced beautifully by Buddha.  Especially in the non-violence communication through observation, feeling, need and request, Buddha’s philosophy applies very accurately.

Dr Gitu Giri

Geographically, the Province 5 looks like a mini Nepal.  Considering the five P’s (Planet, People, Prosperity, Peace and Partnership) are the basis for sustainable development, the Province 5 has tremendous opportunity in terms of tourism products.  The single Lumbini could be a magnet for tourism particularly in pilgrimage tourism.  The near-completion Lumbini airport and the much appreciated Buddhist circuits would add strengths to the tourism industry in the province.  It is also important to promote local products in the forms of souvenirs.

Answers

Ms Sharada Poudel

There can be both positive and negative peace, and it is important to understand how Buddha had interpreted the negative one.  In tourism sector, it is essential to improve the border issue, such as how to make the visitors realize that they had entered Nepal by crossing the international border.  The journalistic presentation was based on mainly secondary sources. 

Ms Urmila Tamrakar

The title and contents of the presentations are not in conformity.  Analysis of Buddha’s philosophy was missing the papers.

Ms Swosti Rajbhandari

It was not clear what the door-to-door message means.  Meaning of the themes was also not clear.  The museums, for example, must have interpretation tools.

Mr Fanindra K Pal

The tourism paper must also address other important landmark like the Pakari tree of Devdaha.

Ms Bhawani Risal

The paper must also include the peace and prosperity as the fundamental conditions.  It is essential to correct the wrong message disseminated among the Indian tourists.

…   …   name?

There is no serious effort to project Buddha at the state level in the case f diplomacy and tourism.  Efforts must be made to aware the Indian tourists on Nepal.

Mr Fanindra Neupane

The fundamental philosophy of Buddha about mind as everything has been left out in the papers.

Mr Mohan …

It is not clear the geographical limits of Lumbini.  It is necessary to ensure the extends of greater Lumbini.  It is important that Kapilvastu, Devdaha and Ramgram are mentioned along with Lumbini for greater awareness and benefits to all.

Responses

Prof Dr Triratna Manandhar

In the Nepalese history, several times there was peace but negative, such as Jang Bahadur brought peace through Massacre at Kot, but it was negative.  Buddha has explained the ten instructions as Raj Dharma that apply for all the politicians.  Similarly, Buddha has categorized the human relations in six main affinities, such as parents, spouse & children, friends, teachers, servants (helpers), neighbors etc. 

KN Adhikary

It is important to have clear and precise notice at the border to inform the visitors that they had entered Nepal, and that ‘Lumbini is in Nepal’.  It is equally important ot intensify the slogan of ‘Buddha was born in Nepal’.  A very sad part of the immigration is the corruption level of the staff that faces the visitors in the first place.  At least the government can have a monitoring system of checking the passports at certain points.  With the new airport, there will be direct flights from Bangkok and Colombo to Lumbini, and that would help enhance our image.

K Aryal

This is an effort to find communication concepts in Buddhism.  The western scholars seem to also be influenced by Buddha’s teachings.

G Giri

It would be effective to organize school tours to Lumbini more frequently.  They must also spend adequate time to gather information and experience.  Corruption at the immigration is a sad and frustrating story.

Modnath Prashrit

Giving a brief introduction of Buddha’s progressive philosophy of changing the social oppression, he recited his poetic drama on Chandalika (Annex 1).  The scenario was from the time of 490 BC in the summer somewhere in Madhesh.  His poetic expression mentioned how Buddha had changed the attitude of a merchant to realize human values, and motivated an untouchable girl to realize her freedom from oppression.

Concluding remarks by Mr Tanka Karki

There have been a lots of changes in our society since the time of Buddha.  In the past, the Nepalese philosophy has been flourished with the Koshi basin that was known for Vaishnava, the Bagmati for Shaiva and the Gandaki for Bouddha.  Among them, Buddha’s philosophy is the most scientific one, and most refined as well.  In the 2nd century, there was a case of two Nepalese who went to Xian, the then capital of China, and disseminated Buddha’s message.  Also, it is worth mentioning of Buddha Bhadra wo ho visited China with Buddha’s message.  Similarly, two scholars namely Fahsian and Hueng Tsang visited Lumbini.  Another prominent case in the history is connected with Bhrikuti who chose hundreds of artists and builders in her entourage.  She arranged for construction of two temples in Tibet and one in Paro.  In fact, Manjushree is also supposed to visit Nepal to study Buddhism.  Thus, Buddhism could be the basis for our cultural diplomacy.

2.2.3.2 Session 2: Archaeology, Buddhist Philosophy and Education

Date: 2076 Magh 25 Sat (February 8, 2020)

Time: 1:30 pm – 4:30 pm

Venue: Central Campus, LBS

Event Coordinator: Prof. Dr. Gitu Giri

Seating of Guests by Event Coordinator

Chair and Moderator: Mr. Modnath Prashrit, Former Minister and Writer

Panelists:

  • Mr. Gopi Raman Upadhya, Buddha Darsan: Yek Saral Adhyayan
  • Mr. Kosh Prasad Acharya, The Archaeology of Tilaurakot-Kapilavastu: Recent Discoveries and Future Challenges
  • Mr. Basanta Bindari, Early Education Learning Center: Takshasila
  • Mr. Damodar Bhusal (PABSON), Mulyama Adharit Shiska, Aajko Awasyekata

Commemorative Publication: Prajna-the Journal of Buddhist Studies

The session two of the seminar began with launching of the LBU journal of Buddhist studies entitled Prajna (Vol 1, Non 1, Year 2020) by the session chair and LBU-VC.  The publication contains 13 articles including three in Nepali language, and the remaining in English language.  The journal is a commemorative publication dedicated to the festival.

Notes from Presentations:

Dr Gopi Raman Upadhya

Philosophy has three vital components, namely life & world, knowledge with evidence, and practice methods.  The most prominent factors that the Buddhist philosophy contradicts with the Vedic philosophy include refrain from caste system with untouchability and agnosticism.

Kosh Prasad Acharya

The paper has been prepared in collaboration with Dr Robin Coningham from durham University, UK.  The works have been continued for the last six years with immense and exciting discoveries of the ancient cities, palaces and life styles.  The excavation works have been possible with the modern technology of x-ray scanning and imaging.  In some locations the ancient monuments are on the surface, and are prone to weathering and damage due to anthropogenic activities.  The seminar organizers should have accommodated for a field study to Tilaurakot and other sites as a part of the seminar.

Mr Basant Bidari

Of the 42 Ashokan pillars as recorded in the history, 18 are scattered in various parts of  India and three in Nepal.  Of the pillars found in Nepal, the one by the Mayadevi temple give the prominent feature with clear inscriptions reading the birthplace of Gautam Buddha.  The two others are in dilapidated conditions and lying in Niglihawa (the birthplace of Kanakmuni Buddha) and Gotihawa (Kraku  The chhanda Buddha).  The sandstone pillars have been believed to be mined in Chunar (south of Banaras).  The stones were mined using chisels, and transported by bamboo-raft over the Ganga river and driven on bullock-cart on the land.

Damodar Bhusal

The modern day education has to be based on social values, and the philosophy of Buddhism gives clear cut directions for such values.  In several schools, the municipalities have directed value based education based on Buddhism. 

Comments:

Dr Jagat Prasad Upadhyay, Member-Secretary of Nepal Academy

The seminar organized by LBU is well appreciated.  The presentations were also of high intellectual significance.  Dr GR Upadhya has presented the complex theories of philosophy in such a simple version.  Topics presented by Dr KP Acharya and Mr B Bidari are very scientifically prominent ones with adequate evidences.  Mr Bhusal has presented his paper in an essay style.

Buddha stood firmly against the Vedic rituals and the blind beliefs.  He also gave a clear message of Samyak that is thorough, careful and systematic in human behavior.  Nepal’s Buddha have impressed and influenced people of so many countries. 

Nepal Academy is prepared to jointly work with LBU in various fronts including philosophy and literature etc for which NA has separate departments for them.  At present, NA is in the process of conducting research based profiles of all the seven provinces along with the one for the entire country.  All the scholars are most welcome to join this endeavor.

Concluding Remarks

Modnath Prashit

In the past, the Nepalese society was much creative although not literate in terms of modern education systems.  Already the pre-historic days, the marriage of Parvati with Shiva was an example of inter-caste relations between Kirant and Aryans.  Although the Vedic philosophy is rich in intellectuals and wisdoms, it has stigma of caste system that is a shame to human civilization.

Since Europe is a cold country and not fertile enough to sustain its population for food, its inhabitants started working on mechanical and transportation inventions.  Whereas the Asiais (particularly south and east) are fertile and thus the people have developed a sense of relax that turned into laziness.  On the other hand, the Asians developed spiritual and philosophical discoveries of life. 

Gautam Buddha is the best person to advocate for human rights.  He did not hesitate to accept dinner at a whore’s niche with his interpretation that the lady should not be blamed for her lifestyle, but it was the society that compelled her to live such life.  Another personality of the modern day is Gandhi who abandoned his western attire upon realizing that his countrymen did not have enough fabrics to cover their bodies.

Paradoxically, Nepal is tagged as a poor country though it has tremendous natural resources.  It is the results of our societal attitudes, such as we categorize the working class people in the lowest profile.  The current governance system is also corrupted and the youths had to seek jobs in the foreign lands.

Thus, an organization like LBU must not only focus on the philosophy but also on the science and technology.  LBU must also extend its programs to help elevate the life styles of the people.

2.3 Day 3. Magh 26 Sun (February 9, 2020)

2.3.1 Monlam

Holy enchanting of Monlam continued at the Mustang monastery near Mayadevi temple.

2.3.2 Session 3: Topics in Buddhist Studies

Date: 2076 Magh 65 Sun (February 9, 2020)

Time: 8:00 am – 12:00 N

Venue: Central Campus, LBS

Event Coordinator: Mr. Ukesh Raj Bhuju, Dean of the School of Applied Sciences, LBU

Seating of the Guests by Event Coordinator

Chair and Moderator: Prof. Dr. Triratna Manandhar 

Panelists:

  • Mr. Adarsha Bhattarai, The Universal Landscape of Buddhist Art
  • Dr. Badri Prasad Pokharel, Significance of Buddhism in Dreams of Mayadevi
  • Dr. Keshar B. Bhandari, Conflict Resolution vis-a-vis Crisis Management
  • Mr. Sanjay Shakya, Nepalese Stone Images of Padmapāni Avalokitesvara
  • Mrs. Urmila Tamrakar, Buddha Nari Swatantrata ra Prajapati Gautami

Notes:

While opening the session, Mr Ukesh Raj Bhuju recapped the glimpses of the events of the previous two days, and informed the audience of the remaining events.

Mr. Adarsha Bhattarai, The Universal Landscape of Buddhist Art

Significance of art cannot be limited to its beauty and aspirations, but it can be used as a tool of disseminating message as well as for participation of viewers.  By using the art, people of all ages can be motivated, and their behaviors can also be improved.  Most of the art based on Buddhism have even greater power along with their beauties. 

Dr. Badri Prasad Pokharel, Significance of Buddhism in Dreams of Mayadevi

Literatures are the tools to reflect the characteristics of the society.  They can be of powerful medium to disseminate message and change people’s attitudes.

Dr. Keshar B. Bhandari, Conflict Resolution vis-a-vis Crisis Management

Conflicts are parts of human societies, and cannot be isolated.  However, Buddha’s teachings have given simple and practical ways of avoiding and minimizing conflicts among the people.  Even during the war situation, soldiers having indoctrinated with Buddha’s teaching would be using minimum ammunition, and show humanitarian characters.

Mr. Sanjay Shakya, Nepalese Stone Images of Padmapāni Avalokitesvara

The Nepalese history can be precisely drawn with the evolving images of Avalokiteswor.  There are challenges while conducting research on stone images.  For example, researchrs have to be extra careful while taking details including photography, due to sudden disappearance of images might create embarrassing situation.  In several instances, in the name of preservation, cement plasters have covered the precious stone inscriptions.

Mrs. Urmila Tamrakar, Buddha Nari Swatantrata ra Prajapati Gautami

In the Buddhist literature, women of Buddha era have been much less cited for their significant deeds.  There are also some blames against Buddha for not being sympathetic and tolerant towards nuns.  But according to the findings, Buddha was extra careful to see their selfless devotion.  Most of the women joined nun-hood to try to bring their hubbies home.  There are also numerous contributions by women for the sake of promoting Buddhism, and these have to be mentioned with pride in the national arena.

Questions, Comments

Bhusal

It would have been much comfortable to give presentations in Nepali.  Reading the paper line by line does not suit the forum.  There was some anomalies in pronunciation of some key words.  It would also be useful to have suggestions for art renovation and preservation along with research.  Buddha was occasionally criticized for not giving freedom to women in his philosophy.

Basant Bidari

Original photographs of the inscriptions are essential for projecting evidences.  It is also important to analyze why conflicts take place at the first place.

Bhandari

Traditionally, avoiding injustice was the way out, and to promote win-win situation was the prime objective.  Political interest have dominant almost everywhere.  Promoting forgiveness and tolerance would have been the better solution.  The ultimate goal is to avoid war and non-violence. 

Adarsha

There are numerous problems in art sector.  Art is also a tool of healing.  Investment on art pays back.

Badri

There are various theoretical tools, and Buddhism provides the practical ones.

Sanjay

Efforts have been made to include inscriptions, but in some cases they were covered with cement plasters in the name of preservation.  Evolution of stone images gives glimpses of historical eras such as Lichhavi.  Moreover, there are influences of Pal and Sen, as well as Kushan and Gupta in the Nepalese stone images.

Urmila

Even Chhaupadi was a good beginning since the practice gives women a break from normal household and farming chores.  The intention in the beginning was to give rest from the usual works.  But by the time passed by, the system became rather torture.  Buddha was much concerned about the health situation of women, thus, he prevented women joining the monkhood right way.

Concluding remarks

Triratna Manandhar

The presentations and the audience responses were extremely good, and praiseworthy.  The session has been completed on time while all agenda were covered well.

On Adarsha’s presentation: The perspective is very new and appreciable.  It depicts the journey of liberation and salvation as well.

On Pokharel’s presentation: Both history and literature are complementary to each other.  In some cases, literature speaks the truth where history may be silent.  A vivid example of King Rana Bahadur Shah can be related to this situation.  King Shah ordered to expel all the infants from the Kathmandu valley so that his own son would be protected from smallpox.  There are few mentions on this event in the history.  However, the local Newar residents who had faced this inhuman situation composed a song in the name of Shatala Maju (Goddess of Smallpox), and narrated the pathetic stories of the parents.  However, literature can be more imaginative whereas history has to be based on facts.  Thus, it would be a topic for the researchers to analyze history and literature.

On Bhandary’ presentation: The paper came covered on the timely response to the crisis.  Tackling the situation in accordance to the time and situation would be better.

On Sanjaya’s presentation: Evolution of the stone images of Padmapani is a vivid example of changing perspectives on art.  Nepal lost many images, and after the publication of the book ‘Stolen Images’ by Lainsingh Bangdel, several images have been returned to the country.  There were also thoughts in the western world especially in UK and US that images or articles cannot be anyone country’s property, rather they should be universalized.  The intention was to support possession and displays of such items in the western countries.  However, the ideas were not well accepted anymore.

On Urmila’s presentation:  Traditions are created and may deviate from the original objectives as time passes by.  Sometime, misinterpretations try to maintain the traditions.  There are some thoughts that men should study on women, and vice versa. 

In overall, the session was successful.

2.3.3 Session 4: Buddhist Culture, Philosophy and Civil Society

Date: 2076 Magh 256 Sun (February 9, 2020)

Time: 1:30 pm – 3:30 pm

Venue: Central Campus, LBS

Event Coordinator:  Mr. Fanindra Kumar Neupane

Chair and Moderator: Prof. Dr. Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya, VC LBU

Panelists:

  • Mr. Daman Nath Dhungana
  • Prof. Dr Suresh Raj Sharma
  • Mr. Prem Kasaju
  • Honorable Member of Province 5 Assembly, Mr Fakkaruddin Khan

Commentators:

  • Dr Kul Prasad, Education Specialist, Lumbini Sanskritik Nagarpalika
  • Er Saroj Bhattarai, Lumbini Development Trust

VC Prof Dr Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya opened the session of panel discussion on civic education.  He introduced on the Civic Education Promotion Society (CEPS) by giving tribute to Dr Trailokya Nath Uprety for his substantial contributions in civic education.

Dr Bajracharya also informed the audience that there was a memorial service in the morning in tribute to those Chinese people who lost their lives due to corona virus.

Notes from Presentations:

Mr. Daman Nath Dhungana

Every person has to follow certain code of conducts as a citizen of the country.  There are laws on civil rights that are based on the moral values and on the ethics that eventually base on philosophy governed by the society.  CEPS does some works on review and screening of formal education courses, and their contents.

Prof. Suresh Raj Sharma

There are two major reasons why we as Nepalese take prides in.  They are the peace loving society since we have Buddha’s traditions, and secondly the natural beauty.  Now, the question is whether we leave behind the country for the future generation a livable one or not.  And another question is who will be responsible for making this country livable for the future generation, whether the general public including individuals, or the government.  There is a clear cut choice, whether we limit ourselves to the speeches or to the actions.  Just a half century back, Korea was poorer than Nepal.  But today, Nepal case is just the opposite to Korea.

Mr. Prem Kasaju

It is important to develop educational materials for the schools. 

Honorable Member of Province 5 Assembly, Mr Fakkaruddin Khan

Lumbini and Buddha are yet to be linked.  There are some drawbacks on the parts of the university, Lumbini Development Trust and the municipality.  The provincial government must incorporate Buddha’s teachings in the formal education system.

Although Lumbini is a birthplace of Buddha, the surrounding community is Muslims.  At the same time there are visitors to Lumbini from over 100 different countries.  For the benefits of the visitors from non-Buddhisim societies, it would be appropriate to also help build church for the Christians, temples for the Hindus and mosques for the Muslims and so on.  Lumbini should include all religions of the world for peace.

Dr Kul Prasad, Educationist at the Lumbini Cultural Municipality (LCM)

LCM is in the process of developing curriculum based Buddhist education for the schools within its boundary.    LCM also has considered improving the standard of living of the local Muslim communities.  LBU are requested to also cooperate with the LCM by conducting some classes in the local schools and other education programs.

Er Saroj Bhattarai, LDT

Founded in 2042, LDT is dedicated mainly for the infrastructure development of Lumbini primarily based on the master plan designed by Kenzo Tange.  There are 19 different temples built by various countries.  Recently LDT has envisioned extending its activities particularly excavation works in Devdaha, Ramgram and Kapilvastu.  In the case of software activities, there are regular chanting of Tripitak.  In respect to the academic programs, LBU has also leased four Bighas of land to LBU for academic purposes.  It has also established girl scholarships in the schools.  In the near future LDT has a plan to build a community hospital and a model school as well.

Questions and Comments

Ghanashyam Viswokarma

Lumbini is exclusively a birthplace of Buddha, and hence there must be no construction of any other religions. Its values and sanctity must remain as Buddhism.

Pande

While developing the materials for civic education, it would be appropriate to also refer to the Giju Bhai’s education and Shiva Khera’s books.

Bund Rana

Being a university it is shame not to maintain the toilet in conditions.

…   …   …  

It is not enough to organize chanting of Tripitak, but the more important task should be to explain the meanings of Tripitak scientifically.

Subarna Lal

There are numerous books o Buddhism developed for school students.  The Dhammakaya of Thailand has published such books, and are freely distributed.  Already, the schools in the Philippines have adopted the books.

…   …   …  

It is so embarrassing to see the use of the names like Lumbini and Buddha in almost evry type of business.  There should be certain norms as followed in Thailand.

There are differences in ethical education and Buddha education.  Nepal should precisely follow Buiddha education.

Concluding Remarks

Prof Dr Hridaya Ratna Bajracharya thanked all for their active participation and expressing views clearly. 

2.3.4 Literary Session

Date: 2076 Magh 256 Sun (February 9, 2020)

Time: 3:30 pm – 5:00 pm

Venue: Central Campus, LBS

Chair:

Facilitator: Mr Bashyal

Under the aegis of the Siddhartha Sahitya Parishad, a literary session of reciting poems and ghazals was organized.  There were 20 poets who recited their poems and ghazals and haiku.  The chair concluded the session with his remarks that LBU should organize such sessions on a regular basis.  Moreover, it would be even more encouraging if LBU establish prize and awards for the deserving poets.

2.4 Day 4. Magh 27 Mon (February 10, 2020)

2.4.1 Monlam

In the evening the holy enchanting of Monlam concluded by the words of His Holiness Sridhar Rana Rinpoche.  At the concluding moment, there were monks and LBU officials present were VC, Registrar, Deans, campus chief, assistant campus chief and others.  In a press interview, HH Sridhar Rana recalled his memories that till he studied Buddhism, he was not even aware of the innumerable stupas, chaitya and vihars in the Nepal mandala.  In search of knowledge and practice in tantra, he realized that the Newars (particularly Shakya and Bajracharyas) of the Nepal mandala had somehow managed to maintain the Buddha’s philosophy in the forms of Bajrayan.  He elaborated that the Tibetan lamas were indoctrinated by the Newars, and they (Tibetans) had better preserved the knowledge, whereas Newars had to struggle for continuing the traditions due to the threats of the state in the history of Shah and Rana regimes.  He suggested that there should be notice boards and signs that remarkably mention ‘Lumbini is located in Nepal’.  He also suggested promoting pilgrimage tourism by focusing on Lumbini, and Kathmandu valley.

2.5 Day 5. Falgun11 Sun (February 23, 2020)

Special Edition of the IBACLF – Poetry on the Land of Buddha

Inaugural Session

Under the aegis of the LBU, Siddhartha Sahitya Parishad, Premchand Sahitya Sansthan (India) and the Rajkiya Mahavidyalaya of Balarampur (India), the one day event of the ‘Poetry on the Land of Buddha’ was successfully organized at the LBU auditorium.  Dr Sharada Poudel, LBU teacher, moderated the session.

LBU-VC Prof Dr Bajracharya chaired the inaugural session and LBU Research Director Dr Gitu Giri welcomed all.  While giving his inaugural address, Prof Avadhesh Pradhan from Banaras Hindu University expressed that Buddha had chosen such a location like Lumbini located between his father’s home or the Shakya kingdom of Kapilvastu and mother’s home or Koliya kingdom of Devdaha.  The significance of Lumbini is even stronger in the recent history that is full of war and conflicts, and it gives us a message for a meaningful life.  Prof Sadanand Shahi, Director of Premchand Shahi Sansthan, gave his keynote speech and recited a few versions of a poem by Rabindra Nath Tagore on Buddha.  Similarly, Mr Raghuvir Sharma, Cultural Attaché of the Embassy of India in Nepal, expressed his appreciation how LBU had encouragingly and positively responded to the concept of the poetic recitation in Lumbini.

During the inaugural session, on behalf of the Siddhartha Sahitya Parishad, poet Rudra Jnawali recited a poem on Nepal Bandana, and poet Bund Rana did so in his Hindi ghazal (Annex 2).  Similarly, on behalf of Premchand Sahitya Sansthan, poet Prof Anil Kumar Ray (India) and poetess Shirin Prasad (Fiji) recited their poems.  Prof Ray also mentioned how Dr Ambedkar had remembered Buddha during the most difficult transition phase in India, and Ms Prasad memorized poet Harivansh Rai Bachchan on Buddha poems.  Principal of Rajkiya Mahavidyalaya from Balarampur (India) thanked all for making the event successful and expressed that we all belonged to Buddha’s descendants.  There was an exchange of souvenirs and tokens of love between the LBU and Premchand Sahitya Sansthan.  Finally, LBU-VC Dr Bajracharya concluded the inaugural session with his remarks that poems were the expressions having Buddha’s teachings on Samyak Bachan, Samyak Dristi and Samyak Smriti.

Recitation Session

In the second session chaired by President of Siddhartha Sahitya Parishad, Mr Dilli Raj Bhattarai, as many as 23 poems were recited by the participants from India (12), Nepal (10) and Sri Lanka (1).  The poems covered a range of Buddha’s life and teachings as well as the contemporary issues like Bamiyan.  The poems recitals were recited various several languages such as Bhojpuri, English, Hindi and Nepali, and in various styles like songs with music, ghazal etc.  While concluding the session by the session chair, Mr Bhattarai expressed that the event had brought the poets and poetess together for sharing their feelings on Buddha.  He added that the event had supported for the bilateral relations between the countries and sister-relations between the cities.

Visit to the Buddha’s Birthplace

The participants from Fiji, India, and Sri Lanka visited Mayadevi temple in the evening as escorted by the LBU VC and the other officials.  They gathered onsite information on the Buddha’s birthmark stone, inscriptions on the Ashokan pillar and the other monuments.

  • Conclusion

The following conclusions have been drawn from the festival:

The Events:

  • Supports to “Visit Lumbini Year 2076” and “Visit Nepal 2020”: The festival seems to positively support the campaigns of “Visit Lumbini Year 2076” and “Visit Nepal 2020”.
  • Lumbini Pilgrimage Marathon: This event may gain global status in the future with the attractions of the Lumbini World Heritage Site.
  • Poetry recitation: The two events (February 9 and 23) created a vive amidst literary circles.  The event entitled “Poetry on the Land of Buddha” had created a platform for interactions and exchange among the intellectuals from various academic institutions of Fiji, India, Nepal and Sri Lanka.
  • Academic Seminars: These seminars gave opportunities of exposures to new talents.  Also they mobilized the celebrities to become a part of the academic exercises for promoting Buddhist philosophy.
  • Exhibitions: Some valuable items that were displayed on the occasion included paubhas, books, photographs on the life and philosophy of Buddha.  Those items projected archeological, historical, and philosophical evidences on Lumbini, Kapilvastu and Devdaha.  
  • Public awareness:  The festival drew thousands of local people, hundreds of students, volunteers and intellectuals who enjoyed various events and exhibits.  It would create awareness on the history and archeological facts of Lumbini, activities of the Provincial government and the programs of LBU also.
  • News Coverage: The events of the festival were well covered in the news media including both print and online (Annex 3).

Lessons Learned

  • Mutual cooperation: The festival is a tested model of creating how LBU and the Province-5 Government can work together for the benefits of the society at large.  The success of the festivals has opened new avenues of cooperation between LBU and the Province-5 Government on academic research, youth capacity building, national & international exchange programs and other activities on provincial and national priority areas.
  • Some of the managerial challenges that the organizers had faced are as follows:
    • Volunteers mobilization: The pilgrimage marathon was well managed with the engagement of youth volunteers at vantage points.  On the contrary, there were disturbances in the other events such as inaugural function, exhibitions, meditation etc.
    • Time management: During the inaugural session, moderator has to spend almost one and a quarter of hour for requesting almost 50 different personalities to take seats on the dash.  Such formalities could be avoided and the time could have been utilized for the performance of various groups.
    • Events management: It would be ideal to organize one big event per day.  On the first day, several events were cramped into a single day, for example Pilgrimage Marathon, Inauguration Function and Cultural performances.  The organizers were too tired of the tasks.
    • Mass audience: At the pilgrimage marathon and the inaugural session, there were audience and participants in thousands.  But in the following sessions of cultural performance in the afternoon, there were less than a hundred audiences in the auditorium of the capacity of 3,000, since the event was too long for them from 11:00 am through 5:00 pm (Annex 4).
  • Follow ups: Such mega events were possible only because of the active and symphonic participation and contributions of organizers and volunteers.  Their contributions should be recognized through formal or informal ways, such as thanksgiving hi-tea party, certificates etc.  Similarly, the participating organizations should also be acknowledged for their supports (Annex 5 – 25).

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Annexes:

Annex 1. Chandalika by Modnath Prashrit

Annex 2. Poetry on the Land of Buddha

Annex 3. News clips

Annex 4. School Students

Annex 5-25. Management documents (invitation, program schedule, letters, budget, responsibilities etc)

Annex 26. Pictures

Prepared by

Ukesh Raj Bhuju

Dean, School of Development Studies & Applied Sciences

Lumbini Buddhist University

February 24, 2020

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