A special delegation of 25 Indian dignitaries, led by Union Minister Kiren Rijiju, arrived in Ulaanbaatar on June 13 with four sacred Buddha relics. The relics, which come from Kapilvastu in modern Nepal, where the Buddha entered parinirvana, are part of a goodwill gesture by the Indian government towards Mongolia. They will be displayed for 11 days to honor the Mongolian celebration of Buddh Purnima, the birth of the Buddha, on June 14.
The relics were greeted at Ulaanbaatar International Airport by Mongolian Culture Minister Nomin Saranchimeg, along with Khamba Nomun Khan, adviser to the Mongolian President, and a large number of Buddhist monks, among other dignitaries.
Rijiju told the media at the event that the peoples of the two nations have a strong bond. In a press release, he said that the Mongolian people “consider India as [a] source of wisdom. India holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Mongols. (Republic World)
The relics were flown on an Indian Air Force cargo plane, along with Buddhist monks and political dignitaries. Along the way, the relics were kept under controlled climatic conditions matching those of the National Museum in New Delhi to ensure their preservation.
The relics were taken to Batsagaan Temple at Gandan Monastery in the Mongolian capital, where they will be on display until June 24. Speaking before embarking on his visit, Rijiju called the gesture a “historic milestone” for bilateral relations between India and Mongolia. At the monastery, Rijiju added, “The historic relations between India and Mongolia will be further strengthened with the arrival of relics from India to Mongolia.” (Republic World)
While at Gandan Monastery, Rijiju pointed out that the main Buddha statue in the shrine hall was a gift from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who visited the monastery in 2015. During this visit, Modi also offered a sapling of the sacred Bodhi tree in Hamba. Lama, the oldest lama of the monastery.
Rijiju noted that Modi was the first ever Indian prime minister to visit Mongolia. He added that the relics represented an “extension of our Prime Minister’s vision to rekindle our relations with the countries with which we have had cultural and spiritual ties for centuries”. (Republic World)
In a tweet, Kiren Rijiju’s office said, “Lord Buddha’s teachings are relevant even in the present day and will guide mankind towards greater peace, harmony and prosperity.” (Hindustan time)
Relics have previously traveled for similar cultural and diplomatic purposes. In 2012, they were taken to Sri Lanka, where they were displayed at various locations across the island nation.
As a result of this trip, the relics were placed under guidelines for antiquities and art treasures, which stipulated that they should not leave the country, given their delicate nature. Thus, they have remained in India till now. Following the request of the Mongolian government, Union Minister G. Kishan Reddy made a special exception to the rule to allow them to be sent abroad for 11 days.
According to 2020 census data, 51.7% of Mongolians identified themselves as Buddhists, almost entirely practicing Vajrayana. About 40.6% of Mongols identified as non-religious, while 3.2% were Muslims, 2.5% followed Mongolian shamanic traditions, 1.3% were Christians, and 0.7% followed other religions.
A delegation led by Kiren Rijiju carrying Indian relics of Lord Buddha arrives in Mongolia (Republic World)
Kiren Rijiju Takes Holy Buddha Relics to Mongolia in ‘Message of Peace’ | Video (Hindustan time)
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