Libmonster ID: UZ-749
Author(s) of the publication: B. U. KITINOV

Keywords: Buddhism, Buddhist culture, Kapilavastu, Lumbini, "soft power"


Candidate of Historical Sciences Peoples ' Friendship University of Russia

In recent years, Buddhism has become not only an increasingly popular religion in different parts of the world, but also an object of in-depth attention from the state authorities of the countries in whose territory this teaching is widespread. In the latter case, the reason lies largely in the meaning of Buddhism as a so-called "soft power" that can provide some assistance in solving internal and external problems of the state. However, Buddhist leaders and organizations themselves are aware of the need to jointly discuss and find ways to develop Buddhism and Buddhist culture in the modern multicultural world.

I was once again convinced of this when, in November 2014, I took part in the International Buddhist Conference "Promotion, Protection and Preservation of Buddhist Culture and Heritage", held in the birthplace of the Buddha - in the town of Lumbini, in southwestern Nepal.


Probably the first state that has paid such attention to Buddhism in our time is China. This is not surprising, since in China the state has always been interested in consolidating society through various systems and ideas, including Buddhist ones. The practice of the PRC shows that the CCP's ideology not only gets along with Buddhism, but also contributes to its certain development.

Back in the early 1990s, the idea of "mutual correspondence between religion and a socialist society"1 became widespread in the PRC, which formulated the defining direction of the state's political course in relation to religion. Thus, in foreign policy, Buddhism is perceived as a tool for maintaining stable interstate relations, optimizing the internal and external line of the state. In foreign policy activities, the so - called "Buddhist diplomacy" is important-using the potential of Buddhism to realize the political, economic and other interests of the state.

The Chinese leadership emphasizes a special level of relations with the Buddhist countries of Southeast Asia: Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Burma and Thailand. During official visits, Chinese leaders strive to show respect for local Buddhist shrines, and support relevant scientific research and religious education systems. An important part of such diplomacy is providing opportunities for foreign Buddhists to worship sacred sites located in the PRC; visiting Buddhist monuments is included in the visit programs of political figures.

Buddhism is recognized as a force that can bring China closer to Japan. The Chinese side promotes the call to weave the "golden bonds of friendship" of co-religionists. Thus, speaking on October 16, 1995, at a ceremony dedicated to the development of Sino-Japanese friendship, the head of the Chinese Buddhist Association (CBA), Zhao Puchu, said:: "Everyone knows that Buddhism in China and Japan has a broad mass base. Japan has a population of 100 million people, including 87 million followers of Buddhism. There are even more Buddhists in China. Over the past few decades, it has already been proven that friendly Buddhist contacts for the development of peace and friendship between the two states have been a productive and important channel. " 2

Since the second half of the 1990s, conferences of Buddhists from these three countries have been held in South Korea, Japan, and China, and regular exchanges of delegations have been held. According to the Chinese Buddhist leadership, " as we enter the twenty-first century, Buddhists of all countries need to consistently develop friendly ties and cooperation, and together make a new contribution to the cause of world peace, so that the Buddhist ideology of equality and deep love will shine in the twenty-first century in a new way."3

The modern approach of the Chinese authorities to religion was formed in December 2001, when the CPC Central Committee and the State Council of the People's Republic of China held a National conference on Religious work. President of the People's Republic of China Jiang Zemin (1993-2003) stated that in the period of socialism, religion has a mass and long - term character, and, in addition, there are objective laws for the development of religion, including its well - known role in domestic and interstate spheres.4

Chinese Buddhist organizations, together with government agencies, initiate the display of objects of worship abroad and organize international scientific seminars. For example, a seminar dedicated to Xuan Tsang (602-664), whose name is associated with the history of the spread of Chinese literature.-

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The Festival of Buddhist Studies in China was last held in Chengdu (Sichuan Province) in September 2006. Among the participants were representatives of India, Japan, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and other countries. The World Scientific Seminar on Tibet is held approximately every five years; the fourth one was held in Beijing in August 2012.

A major event was the opening of the International Buddhist Forum in Hangzhou (Zhejiang Province) in April 2006, which brought together more than 1,000 delegates from 10 Buddhist countries. This was the first such forum in the history of China. Beijing's initiative to convene it gives grounds to assert that the KBA seeks to ensure its state's position as one of the leading spiritual centers of the world community.

A larger event was the Second World Buddhist Forum (March 2009, Wuxi, Jiangsu Province - Taipei, Taiwan), which was attended by more than 1,700 representatives from 50 countries and regions of the world, including Buddhist monks, scientists, and politicians. In his speech, KBA Chairman Monk Yicheng-zhanglao noted that the forum will be a solemn gathering of Buddhists from all over the world and a demonstration of Buddhist culture, as well as a commemorative event for exchanges and merging of Buddhist circles on the shores of the Taiwan Straits.5

The third forum, held in Hong Kong in April 2012, was co-organized by the CBA, the Hong Kong Buddhist Association, and the National Association for Religious and Cultural Exchange. For two days, about a thousand representatives from more than 30 countries of the world discussed topical issues of our time and the problems of building a harmonious world.

Until recently, China did not maintain Buddhist contacts with India. The situation began to change due to the gradual normalization of interstate relations. Indian builders built a Buddhist temple in 2006 in Luoyang, the former capital of the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), from where Buddhism began to spread throughout China. In May 2010, Indian President Pratibha Patil visited the temple during a state visit to China. In her speech, she stated:: "The Indian-style Buddhist temple is a gift from the people of India to a sister civilization-one with which we share many valuable associations and memories of interaction." 6

Since the late 1990s, India has also hosted conferences and other academic events dedicated to the study of Buddhism, including in cooperation with foreign countries. Thus, on the 2600th anniversary of the Buddha's Enlightenment, an international Buddhist conference was held in Kandy (Sri Lanka) in March 2011 in cooperation with the Ministry of External Relations and the Ministry of Buddhist and Other Religious Affairs of Sri Lanka. At the end of November of the same year, 2011, the first Global Buddhist Congress was held in Delhi with the support of the Government of India, attended by about 900 experts and Buddhist mentors from 46 countries.

Similar events are held in India quite often. The latest is the conference "Buddhism Returns to the Great Conversation of India", organized by the Indian Institute of Buddhist Studies (Pune) and the University of Oxford in late November 2014.


There is nothing surprising in the fact that the Nepalese authorities also paid attention to the Buddhist heritage of their state, because it was on its land that Prince Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha, lived 600 years before our era.

A major gathering of Buddhist clergy and scholars was held late last year in Nepal. There, in the Lumbini District (Lumbini Park), the birthplace of Siddhartha Gautama, who became a Buddha at the age of 35, the International Buddhist Conference "Promotion, Protection and Preservation of Buddhist Culture and Heritage"was held from November 15 to 18, 2014. As the organizers of the conference emphasized, this is the first such meeting held in Lumbini; previous local summits (1998, 2001, 2004) were rather meetings of monks.

The conference was organized by the Theravada Buddhist Academy (Kathmandu, Nepal) and Sitagu International Buddhist Academy (Yangon, Myanmar). The conference was attended by about 400 participants from 32 countries, as well as more than 800 monks. The latter almost all represented the southern teachings of Theravada Buddhism, but there were also several lamas-monks of Tibetan Buddhism: in particular, Shang-pa rinioche, one of the heads of the Karma Kagyu*, and Hambo Lama * Dambazhav from the famous Dashichoiling monastery in Ulaanbaatar.

At the opening ceremony, President Ram Baran Yadav of Nepal and several ministers of his Government delivered a welcoming address, a message from President U Ten Sein of Myanmar was read out, and the Minister of Education and Science of the Republic of Myanmar also delivered speeches.

Karma Kagyu is a sub-school of Kagyu, the second most important school in Tibetan Buddhism after the Geluk School, and the Dalai Lama belongs to the latter.

** Hambo Lama (Tibetan, Mong.) - the title of the abbot of the monastery.

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Myanmar's Minister of Religious Affairs, U Soe Win, and Sri Lanka's Minister of Culture and Arts, T. Ekanayake.

Such well-known contemporary Theravada figures as Mahathera Ashin Nyanissara, head of the aforementioned Sitagu Buddhist Academy, one of the leaders of Southern Buddhism, and Mahathera Bhikshu Jnanapurnik, President of the All Nepal Bhikshu Association, Vice-President of the Theravada Buddhist Academy, spoke about the significance of both Lumbini itself and the goals set by the conference.

Mahathera Ashin Nyanissara noted the following peculiarity of Lumbini's sacredness: two miraculous events took place here - the birth of Siddhartha and the seven steps he took when he announced his birth as the last in a chain of births. He also mentioned the remains of columns erected by order of Ashoka (ruler of the Mauryan Empire, 273-232 BC), found by archaeologists in Lumbini and near it, on the capitals of which there were sculptures of such sacred animals as a horse, bull, elephant and lion. At the end of his speech, he called on participants to work in sections "fast as a horse, calm as a bull, hard as an elephant, and brave as a lion."

Bhikkhu Sugandha (Secretary of the Supreme Patriarch, Thailand) and Bhikkhu Khammai Dhammasami (University of Oxford, UK) in their speeches pointed out the words of the Buddha that joint work not only brings together, but also allows us to clarify the goals and tasks that Buddhists face a lot.

There were five sections in total: Lumbini Buddhist Heritage; Lumbini Environmental Conservation; World Buddhist Heritage; Buddhist Culture; and the Buddhist Educational System.

Lumbini's Buddhist heritage was given special attention: As Mahathera Ashin Nyanissara noted in his speech, the main goal of the conference is to find opportunities for preserving, protecting and promoting the priceless Buddhist cultural heritage of Lumbini. Probably also for this reason, all the meetings of this section were held in the beautiful main hall of the Dharma Temple of Myanmar.

The most significant presentation was an extensive report by Professor R. Conningham (Great Britain) on the results of his long-term excavations in Lumbini and Thilaurakot district, just a few kilometers from the Indian border. In Lumbini, he conducts excavations both in the Mahamaya temple itself (named after Siddhartha's mother, erected on the site of his birth), and nearby, within the Sacred Garden.

In Thilaurakot district (about 20 km from Lumbini), he started work in April 2001 with the financial support of UNESCO. The ruins and other findings, coupled with a number of written sources, allowed him to identify the site as Kapilavasta-the capital of the Shakya state, where Siddhartha lived until the age of 29, before he went in search of the meaning of life, and 6 years later became a Buddha.

I must say that India also claims that Kapilavastu, in fact, is located on its territory near the village of Piprahava (Uttar Pradesh), 15 km south-east of Tilaurakot. Terracotta seals with the inscription "Kapilavastu Sangha"were found here in the 1970s. It seems that there is now some consensus among countries that Kapilavastu may have changed its location due to wars and disasters, and there may have been two Kapilavastu in history.

The section "Preserving the environment in Lumbini" highlighted the exceptional importance of preserving Lumbini, as economic activity increases in the region (increase in arable land, growth of rural settlements, construction of industrial enterprises), and, as a result, the preservation of cultural monuments worsens.

Speakers noted that now that nature has begun to revive here and significant excavations have been carried out, it is necessary to limit the anthropological impact in order to preserve the park and unique Buddhist artifacts - both already found and not yet excavated.

A whole conglomerate of Lumbini problems was voiced by Professor B. Bidari from India: drinking water; roads; garbage; places for meditation, worship and ceremonies; items needed for rituals (candles, scarves, flowers, etc.) and much more. It concluded that until the problems mentioned are resolved by the local authorities, there is no way to preserve and protect the Lumbini heritage.

The World Buddhist Heritage section discussed Buddhist heritage in India, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Cambodia, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Pakistan, and China. Interesting report about

* Mahathera ( Pali) - grand elder, senior mentor.

** A bhikkhu (skt.) is a fully ordained monk who observes more than 220 vows.

*** Dharma (skt.) - teaching.

page 55

the latest finds (statues of Buddha and Bodhisattva Maitreya*) in the Gandhara region (Badaliur, Pakistan) were presented by Prof. Ashraf Khanom, a well-known Pakistani scholar who was the director of the Karachi Museum and is now the director of the Institute of Asian Civilizations in Taxila, which was once known as an important Buddhist center.

Speakers in the section" Buddhist Culture " raised issues of preserving and developing the culture of Buddhism, its manifestations in various spheres of life: in philosophy, everyday life, the influence of Buddhism on the Western world, meditation practices, the meaning of certain texts, the organization of pilgrimages, etc. on the specifics of the refraction of concepts of Buddhist culture in the mentality of a Western person on the example of residents of Aberdeen (Scotland) and noted the importance of understanding a "pure" Buddhist culture that does not depend on the ethnic component.

The author of this article presented the report "Buddhist Culture and heritage in Russia" at the section "Buddhist Culture" (on the construction of the first Buddhist temple in Moscow in the Otradnoye district) and the presentation " Fundamentals of Buddhist culture as a new subject in Russian schools "(I am the main author of the corresponding textbook published by the Drofa publishing house 7) on the section "Buddhist educational system".

The fact that I was the only one representing Russia at this conference probably caused a lot of attention to my speeches. The section "Buddhist Educational System" was special in its own way-it discussed not only Buddhist education for monks and lay people, but also the specifics of raising children in a modern multicultural world.

Speakers and participants noted achievements and successes in the preservation and dissemination of Buddhism, suggested ways and methods of solving existing problems and problems, from global to local, including in relation to Lumbini itself.


Lumbini (about 200 km southwest of Kathmandu) is a small district within which Lumbini Park is located-a rectangular area measuring 1.5 km by 3 km. The park consists of three parts: Sacred garden, monastery area, and the so-called new village of Lumbini.

In the monastic zone there is a complex of existing and still under construction monasteries, temples, and other religious Buddhist structures from various countries of the world where Buddhism is widely spread: India, Japan, China, etc., as well as France, Australia, and Germany.

Unfortunately, the place reserved for the construction of a Russian Buddhist temple, due to lack of demand, has been lost. However, representatives of the Lumbini Development Trust8 expressed confidence that later, when developing the Greater Lumbini project, the new expanded park will again be allocated territory for our state, since Russia has a long history of this ancient exercise on its territory.

Sergey Velichkin, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to Nepal, who has visited this area more than once, also expresses great and sincere interest in the construction of a Russian Buddhist temple in Lumbini. In his opinion, Russia will definitely build this sacred structure, which will confirm the multicultural uniqueness of our country and its worthy place in the system of world civilizations.

Not far from the water channel that runs through the central part of the park, in the center of the Sacred Garden is the Mahamaya temple, at the western wall of which stands the famous column of the above-mentioned ruler Ashoka, who adopted Buddhism in the eighth year of his reign as the official religion of his empire, which covered almost the entire Indian subcontinent. In 249 BCE, he performed worship at the birthplace of the Buddha, and thanks to his pillar, it was possible to pinpoint the birthplace of Siddhartha. Also not far from the temple is the bodhi tree - under it on one of the May nights in the territory of modern Bodagaya in India, Siddhartha became a Buddha.

The new village of Lumbini is home to the Lumbini Museum, the Lumbini International Research Institute (MIIL) and the Lumbini Buddhist University, which opened in 2004. The MIIL library has an interesting and rather extensive collection of publications on Buddhist (and not only) topics, including in Russian. I managed to reach an agreement with the director of MIIL K. A friend I met back in Dharamsala in 1992 (India) during his internship at the Library of Tibetan Works and Archives, about an employee of-

* Bodhisattva - in Buddhism, a being who has achieved Enlightenment, but remains in the world to save all living beings; Maitreya is one of the most famous bodhisattvas.

page 56

a celebration between MIIL and the library of the future Moscow Buddhist Temple.

Lumbini tops the list of sacred Buddhist sites, although it is not among the most visited. Apart from Lumbini, all other sacred sites are located in India.

There are probably a number of reasons for this situation, first of all-the remoteness of Lumbini, the peculiarities of Nepalese political and religious history. Of course, one can also refer to the specifics of the teaching, when, according to some Buddhist ideas, the place of cremation of the mentor becomes more sacred than his former homeland.

The Lumbini Development Master Plan was developed by Japanese architect Kenzo Tange in the period 1972-1978. In 1976, the Lumbini Development Committee was established (transformed in 1985 into the Lumbini Development Trust-see above). However, changes were slow, and the situation began to change positively only in the 1990s, due to the general processes of revitalization in Buddhism, including due to the growing importance of Buddhism as a "soft power".

Already in 1997, Lumbini was included in the UNESCO list of World Cultural Heritage Sites, and in the first decade of the new century, projects were presented to transform Lumbini into the so-called Greater Lumbini, an area of about 7 thousand square kilometers with a population of 2 million people and including the districts of Rupandevi, Navalparasi and Kapilavastu.

Deepak Chandra Amatya, Nepal's Minister of Culture, Tourism and Civil Aviation, noted in his speech that in three years, Gautam Buddha Airport in Bhairahava (Lumbini Municipal District) will be able to receive international flights from nearby countries, and expressed confidence that the expansion of the airport's capabilities will increase the flow of tourists to this important place for all Buddhists. However, as noted at the section on environmental protection, given that by 2020 the number of tourists is expected to grow from the current 500 thousand to two million per year,it is important to pre-carry out the necessary measures for the conservation and preservation of monuments of Buddhist culture.

On the last day of the conference, we visited temples and monasteries located in Lumbini Park and made a study trip to Kapilavasta. According to a famous Chinese traveler of the fifth century. Fa Xianyu, not far from Kapilavastu, the two previous Buddhas, Krakuchandha and Kanakamuni, were also born and attained enlightenment. Already under Fa Xiang, Kapilavastu was in disrepair: "There is no ruler or subjects in the city, (all around) empty ruins." In Kapilavastu, the foundation of the palace of Shuddhodana, the Buddha's father, has been excavated, and the remains of stupas built to worship special events have been discovered.

The participants were also given the "Lumbini Declaration", adopted as a result of the International Conference. In particular, it calls on monks and lay people, through the use of information and social networks, to "create a global world of Buddhist cultural awareness for the preservation, promotion and protection of Buddhist values and cultural heritage"; emphasizes the importance of promoting Buddhist values of tolerance and preventing "unethical conversion in traditional Buddhist lands"; points out the need to study the role of the Buddhist community in Buddhist heritage values are kept up to date with the educational programs of secular and religious institutions, non-commercial cultural and educational structures.

Apparently, we can talk about a "new discovery" of Lumbini for both believers and scientists, especially in relation to the period after 2018, when it will become much easier to visit this remote sacred area due to the completion of the reconstruction of the local airport. The conference not only outlined new vectors in the development of Buddhism, but also confirmed the established trend of state influence on the future of religions, which, however, was a characteristic feature in the history of Buddhism.

* According to the teachings of Buddhism, out of 1000 Buddhas who will save the world, four have already been (in addition to those mentioned above, also Kashyapa and the Buddha of the present-Gautama Buddha), the name of the fifth, coming-Maitreya.

Jiang Zemin. 1 Reform, development, stability. Articles and speeches, Moscow, 2002, p. 132.

2 Cit. by: Kuznetsov V. S. Chinese Buddhist Society and World Buddhism - - 06 - 15-niezkonf-otnosh/kitai-buddhism.txt

3 Ibid.

4 Religion in China Today. Cambridge University Press, 2003. P. 17 - 18.

5 The 2nd World Buddhist Forum opened in Wuxi - - 03/28/content_ 846858.htm

6 Cit. по: President Patil gifts China Indian-style Buddhist temple - t-patil-gifts-china-indian-style-buddhist-temple-31001/

Kitinov B. U., Savchenko K. V., Yakushkina M. S. 7 Fundamentals of Buddhist culture. Textbook for general education institutions, Moscow, Drofa Publ., 2012, 2013.

8 The Lumbini Development Trust was established in 1985 by the Government of Nepal to preserve and promote the Lumbini region as the birthplace of the Buddha. Learn more


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