India’s democracy has been deeply influenced by Buddhist ideals and symbols, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Wednesday and referred to the national emblem taken from the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath with the ‘Dharmachakra’ engraved on it.
The mention of the national emblem by the president at a Buddhist event came amid a controversy over its newly-unveiled cast atop the new Parliament building with the opposition accusing the government of insulting the symbol by giving it a "ferocious" look. The BJP has dismissed the criticism.
Addressing the Dhammacakka Day 2022 celebrations at Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh through a video message, Kovind said that Buddhism has been one of the greatest spiritual traditions of India.
“Many holy sites associated with the life and teachings of Lord Buddha are located in India. Among those many places, there are four main places – first Bodh Gaya, where he attained enlightenment; second Sarnath, where he gave his first sermon; third Shravasti where he spent most Chaturmases and gave most of the sermons; and the fourth Kushinagar, where he attained the Mahaparinirvana,” Kovind said.
He said that after the Mahaparinirvana of Lord Buddha, many monasteries, places of pilgrimage, universities associated with his teachings were established that have been centers of knowledge.
“Today all these places are part of the Buddha circuit which attracts pilgrims and religious tourists from across India and abroad,” Kovind said.
The president said that “our democracy has been deeply influenced by Buddhist ideals and symbols”, according to a statement issued by the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
“The national emblem is taken from the Ashoka Pillar at Sarnath, which also has the Dharmachakra engraved on it. Behind the chair of the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the sutra 'Dharma Chakra Pravartanaya' is inscribed,” he said.
Kovind said, the chief architect of the Indian Constitution, Babasaheb Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar had said that many processes of ancient Buddhist associations have been adopted in the country’s parliamentary democracy.
The president said that according to Lord Buddha there is no greater joy than peace.
In the teachings of Lord Buddha, emphasis has been given to inner peace, he said, adding that the purpose of remembering these teachings on this occasion is that all people should inculcate the right meaning of the teachings and remove all the evils and inequalities to make a world full of peace and compassion.
The Ministry of Culture in association with the International Buddhist Confederation is celebrating the Ashadha Purnima Divas, as part of Azadi Ka Amrit Mahotsav, it added.
(With PTI inputs)