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Restored Ashoka Stupa in China symbolises India’s propagation of Buddhism

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Nangchen (China): Radiant in its grandeur and serene in its effect, a newly inaugurated restored Ashoka Stupa in this remote Himalayan town close to Tibet symbolizes the missionary zeal of Indians to spread the message of Buddhism since the ancient ages.

BCE273-232_01_lgBeckoning tourists and pilgrims alike, the dome-shaped shrine, whose complex includes a newly-installed giant 35 meter statue of Lord Buddha atop a temple dedicated to him, stands in this mystic land of monks and yogis, around 3,600 meters above sea level in China’s Qinghai province neighboring Tibetan Chamdo district.

The stupa was restored by followers of Gyalwang Drukpa, the Ladakh-based Indian spiritual chief of the Drukpa lineage of Buddhism, with support from the Fu Rui Charitable Foundation accredited by the Chinese government, marking out the $25 million project as a significant milestone in China-India cooperation.

Contributions also came from many Asian devotees of the Drukpa, including renowned industrialists like the Lim family of Singapore.

Amid chanting of hymns, reading from the Buddhist scriptures and the presence of over three lakh devotees from across the world, the Drukpa formally inaugurated and consecrated the temple and the stupa alongside senior monks.

Chinese officials and Indian Lok Sabha member Vinod Sonkar graced the occasion.

Drukpa hoped it would help better China-India relations as per Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s wish.

“Yes, this will be a very good contribution towards (prime minister) Modi’s wish and be beneficial for bilateral ties between India and China,” he said.

The original stupa was set up in Nangchen — an important centre of trade and politics in what was then eastern Tibet — by Buddhist missionaries carrying the message of India’s third Maurya emperor Ashoka the Great, who ruled from circa 65-238 B.C. or 273-232 B.C.

Ashoka had divided the relics of Lord Buddha into 84,000 stupas and despatched missionaries and close relatives across India and abroad to propagate Buddhism and promote peace.

As per records of the Tang dynasty which ruled China between 608 A.D. and 907 A.D., 19 such stupas existed in China, but most of these gave way due to natural wear and tear, human negligence, or were shifted to other locations.

Locals say the original Nangchen Stupa — said to be 2,000-odd years old — was destroyed during the Chinese Cultural Revolution when people took away the foundation rocks to make their own homes and over time, the structure became unrecognisable.

Later, apparently a stone pillar inscribed with the history of Ashoka’s building of the stupa was unearthed, but the pillar disappeared a year after, and the location was reduced to a historical site of ruins.

Keen to see the stupa restored, devotees requested the local Drukpa spiritual chief Tulshik Adeu Rinpoche to take the initiative.

He took the initial steps and informed the supreme leader Gyalwang Drukpa, but passed away before the project could start.

His nephew Trulshik Satrul Rinpoche then took up the task.

The restored stupa is a grand, multi-level ornate structure, before which stands the remains of an original rock edict of Ashoka detailing the features.

The lowest level has a statue of the stupa’s protector Mahakala, whose reference is also there in Hindu religion.

The gold-plated stupa forms the cover for remnants of the original stupa which is kept in a glass case.

“The newly restored stupa has five levels. It contains five million small stupas made by the locals over a period of three years. The stupa itself documents the developments in the history of the stupa, all five stages of Buddha’s lives are depicted through murals, and the eight different types of stupas commoerate the eight fold path of Buddhism,” said monk Yeshe Namgyal.

One hundred and fifty thousand mani sones and 160,000 engravings of Tripitakas containing Buddha’s teachings are other highlights.

“There are 500 mini stupas, each of which tells a story,” said the monk.

The 35-metre Amitabha Buddha statue on the top of the temple has been donated by Felix Lim, chairman of Maz Energy Private Limited of Singapore.

“The Drukpa told my wife that he has dreams to install a stature of Buddha. My wife informed me. I initially thought of an earthen stature. Then his holiness said he wanted something which would exist for hundreds of years. So we made this statue of mixed alloy.

“I contributed to this out of love for my wife and reverence for His Holiness,” said Lim.

(Sirshendu Panth, IANS)

Next Story

COVID-19: The Worst Global Crisis

A world in perpetual change - Is COVID-19 the worst?

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COVID-19
Humankind is now facing a global crisis, which is COVID-19. Pixabay

BY PRADIP BAIJAL

Humankind is now facing a global crisis. Perhaps the biggest crisis of our generation. The decisions people and governments take in the next few weeks will probably shape the world for years to come. They will shape not just our healthcare systems but also our economy, politics and culture. We must act quickly and decisively. We should also take into account the long-term consequences of our actions. When choosing between alternatives, we should ask ourselves not only how to overcome the immediate threat, but also what kind of world we will inhabit once the storm passes. Yes, the storm will pass, humankind will survive, most of us will still be alive e but we will inhabit a different world.

Looking at the period AD, It was a static world till 1830. Nothing changed, the world GDP and inter-country GDP too, remained static. In a period not impacted by colonial rule, massive trade and new technologies, India and China dominated the world. They dominated because they had the maximum primary resources, which attracted exploitative trade from the west and also colonial rule.

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We entered a new phase of rapid changes thereafter, also with the onset of first industrial revolution in the UK and Europe in 1760, and the second in the US in 1900. First and second industrial revolution changed everything, particularly the countries where the new technologies were discovered, and used. The UK grew from 1 per cent to 5 per cent of world’s GDP, and the US from 6 per cent to 35 per cent in 100 years, after having remained static for ages (particularly after 1 AD). India and China fell from 50 per cent to 5 per cent in about 100 years from 1860 to 1970.

COVID-19
COVID-19 and the new tariff agreement between China and the US has turned every thing on its head. Pixabay

Now comes a miraculous reversal in 1970 (I have explained in detail in my book, “Containing the China Onslaught”).

Both countries started new policies after being independent, used the IR 3.0 technologies and India and China came back to 30 per cent of world’s GDP in 2010, in just about 40 years, without the help of any indigenous technology.

What helped these poor countries was globalization, as predicted by Bhagwati (In Defence of Globalisation), and the connected world described by many, and particularly explained well in Parag Khanna’s “Connectography”). Globalisation helped the ideas and technologies flow to the backward areas, and the connected world facilitated easy transmission.

IR 3.0 technologies were only useful, if they were made available to the whole world. The post 1950 period belonged to IR 3.0. It was also in US interest to help China (so they were convinced by Deng to Nixon and seven US Presidents, may be through deception, after their post 1980 collaboration).

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We now move to IR 4.0, machines interacting with machines and 5.0, machines talking to men etc. and robots, which are also based on communication technologies, and the trend should continue.

But suddenly and from nowhere, has appeared Covid-19, bringing in another BC and AC (before and after COVID-19, after before and after China/Communication technologies), and also Trump and Xi, all unpredictable, and we do not know where they would all take us.

Trump’s tariff measures against China, are bringing in unpredictable anti-globalisation, and a technology war against China. China was merrily producing most of world’s demand in many sectors, and to facilitate their movement, had launched BRI. But now with the resistance of USA and many other countries like India and Japan (for BRI), none is sure where these products would land, and at what price, and how they would be impacted by anti-globalisation forces..

Due to amendments in Politburo’s rules of 2015, Xi was anticipated to rule, almost forever, with Chinese Aambassador brimming with confidence in US that China was so powerful that no one could touch, and a US ambassador-designate to India also saying that China was so powerful that they had to be smothered with kindness, to convince them to change. So now Xi’s future is uncertain, and there is opposition. Maslovian forces are also catching up with leaders like Deng’s son recognized as pro-democracy.

COVID-19 and the new tariff agreement between China and the US has turned every thing on its head. Suddenly where is the powerful China now that it has signed an unfavourable tariff agreement with the US, and perhaps COVID-19/maslovian forces have added: “Anger inside China is growing. There stands not an emperor in his new clothes but a clown who is stripped of his clothes but still wants to be an emperor.”

COVID-19
Most economist still believe that despite reverses in COVID-19, China, India and the US will rule the world in 2050. Pixabay

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“Atleast 175,000 people left Wuhan just on that day when Wuhan outbreak happened. The departures from Wuhan accelerated over the next three weeks. About 7 million people left in January, before travel was restricted.”

And we have the 2020 Presidential elections in the US, almost fighting a US-China war. Where has the support of seven US Presidents after Nixon, to China vanished now. We will soon know the results, but the world has changed and the new world would never be the same again. We do not know whether this would mean growth to India with its digital DNA or whether Covid will bring unanticipated reversals like the reversals of 1830/19501970/1980 described earlier, and this time impacted by COVID-19, the biggest unanticipated change of only a few weeks.

Or maybe, the world would go with, “But most economist still believe that despite reverses in COVID-19, China, India and the US will rule the world in 2050:

Also Read- Avoid Usage of Alcohol and Tobacco Amid Lockdown: Health Ministry

“Lindsey Galloway BBC, 23 March 2020: Brexit, coronavirus, and trade tiffs may be making economic headwinds, but despite immediate challenges, the world economy is projected to keep growing at a rapid pace over the next few decades. In fact, by 2050, the global market is projected to double its current size, even as the UN forecasts the world’s population will only grow by a modest 26 per cent.”

All new technologies lead to faster changes/disruptions. Admittedly, IR 4.0 and 5.0 will help those who implement fast/efficiently. Where would COVID-19 take the competing countries, only the next few weeks will tell?. (IANS)