Monks, scholars reach Islamabad to attend Gandhara symposium

Published July 11, 2023
A monk from Vietnam looks at Buddhist relics displayed at the Islamabad Museum on Monday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim
A monk from Vietnam looks at Buddhist relics displayed at the Islamabad Museum on Monday. — Photo by Mohammad Asim

ISLAMABAD: Monks and scholars from various Buddhist majority countries have started arriving in the federal capital for the Gandhara symposium.

The three-day symposium is scheduled to start on Tuesday (today) and will be participated by scholars, historians and senior monks from Nepal, Vietnam and other Buddhist countries.

Prof Dr Haridaya Ratna, former vice chancellor of Lumbini Buddhist University, Nepal, was overjoyed upon arriving in Islamabad to attend the symposium.

“The Mahayan Buddhism that we practice in Nepal came from Gandhara to our country and I am deeply touched to be here; this is a legacy and heritage that we share between Kathmandu and Pakistan,” Dr Ratna said.

Like other guests he was welcomed by the minister for state and PM’s Task Force on Gandhara Tourism Chairman Dr Ramesh Vankwani.

The scholar from Nepal said: “People went from Gandhara to Nepal via Tibet and now we pay homage to Taxila and other areas by visiting these places. This is the place from where the light of Buddhism spread all over the world.”

Buddhist Monk from Malaysia Jue Chenk said Buddhists from all over the world should come to Pakistan.

“I feel very touched, I cannot explain it. I am impressed with the hospitality of Pakistanis; this is a beautiful country,” monk Jue Chenk said.

He said this place had a history of more than 2,000 years, adding that, “Pakistan has a precious history”.

Dr Vankwani highlighted that the rich history of Pakistan had to be presented to the world.

“The objective of the symposium was to raise global awareness about the historical and cultural significance of the Gandhara civilisation and Buddhist heritage in Pakistan,” he said, adding that Pakistan had successfully defeated the menace of terrorism and the country was safe for foreign travelers including those coming to the country for religious tourism.

Later a group of young artists working on Gandhara civilisation called on Dr Vankwani, at Sir Syed Memorial Museum.

Dr Vankwani said these artists were our assets and we must create opportunities for them to polish their talent and attract young generation to the field of visual art.

The PM Task Force chairman said works contributed by these budding and established artists would be displayed during the two-day Gandhara symposium.

“After this grand event, we will hold a national level Gandhara art competition to involve students and artists in the promotion of Gandhara tourism at home and abroad,” Dr Vankwani said.

Published in Dawn, July 11th, 2023

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