Buddhist hymns echo in ancient monastery near Taxila after years

Published April 22, 2021
Sri Lankan monks perform rituals before relics of Lord Buddha at Taxila museum on Wednesday. — Dawn
Sri Lankan monks perform rituals before relics of Lord Buddha at Taxila museum on Wednesday. — Dawn

TAXILA: Since the past two years, the Dharmarajika stupa and monastery located near Taxila, had been a rather quiet spot. Apart from the footsteps of occasional visitors and rustling of leaves, the site had been closed due to the pandemic.

On Wednesday, a 14-member delegation of Buddhist monks from Sri Lanka visited the site to perform their religious rituals, bringing back life to it. The visitors are in Pakistan for a week-long pilgrimage; their visit was arranged by the High Commission of Pakistan Colombo with a view to promote religious tourism in the country through showcasing historic sites. Pakistan is home to an ancient Buddhist civilisation that remained hidden from the eyes of the world over the years. The Sri Lankan delegation was led by Dr Walpole Piyananda (abbot and president, Dharmavijaya Buddhist Vihara)

Dr Piyananda said that Pakistan had always helped Sri Lanka in the hour of need, adding, every religion promotes peace and harmony. He hoped that the Pakistani government would take further steps to promote religious tourism and appreciated efforts of the government in this regard.

“The sites in Taxila are well-preserved and are one of the largest ancient monasteries in the world,” a member of the Sri Lankan delegation said, adding: “It was our privilege to visit these sites as we have always dreamt of being here.”

The ancient kingdom of Gandhara, particularly near Taxila, holds historical significance in spreading Buddhism in the region. Buddhists who get a chance to travel to the site consider themselves the luckiest people in the world as the area is the birthplace of Buddha and where Buddhism originated. Pakistan is home to the glorious Gandhara civilisation and the Gandhara Buddhist civilisation.

The delegation will visit other Buddhist sites including Shahbaz Garhi, Takht-i-Bai and Jehanabad near Swat.

Taxila Museum Curator Abdul Nasir Khan said the aim of arranging this visit was to portray a softer image of Pakistan.

He added that monks should be taken along the holy Buddhist trail so they can see most sacred Buddhist sites and pay their homage. “In line with Prime Minister Imran Khan’s vision to promote religious tourism to earn valuable foreign exchange, we planned to make Buddhist clergy visit Pakistan and see the historical treasures that the country has,” he said.

Published in Dawn, April 22nd, 2021

Opinion

A fragmenting ummah
Updated 23 Jul 2021

A fragmenting ummah

Muslims are suffering in many parts of the world, all of which is known by other Muslims, but that nevertheless continues.
Virtual vultures
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Virtual vultures

Pegasus software has stirred a storm of indignation across the globe.
Shifting goalposts
Updated 20 Jul 2021

Shifting goalposts

Afghanistan is one place where proxy war by regional and bigger powers has always been a constant.

Editorial

India’s admission
Updated 21 Jul 2021

India’s admission

It was no secret that India had been manoeuvring behind the scenes to ensure that Pakistan remained on the grey list.
EU headscarf ban
Updated 23 Jul 2021

EU headscarf ban

Moves by the EU to curtail the religious freedoms of Muslims and others in the bloc need to be reviewed.
Disposal of offal
Updated 22 Jul 2021

Disposal of offal

The least people can do is to make an effort and dump entrails in designated areas.
New blow for Pak-Afghan ties
Updated 20 Jul 2021

New blow for Pak-Afghan ties

Islamabad police need to build a watertight case around their final conclusions because the stakes could not have been higher.
20 Jul 2021

FDI decline

THE worrisome, sharp decline in the more permanent, non-debt-creating foreign direct investment, or FDI, should be a...
20 Jul 2021

Another tragic accident

ALMOST every other week, if not every other day, newspapers report deadly road and rail accidents. It has been ...