INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON BUDDHISM AS PEACE-MAKER IN POST-MODERN SAARC NEW DELHI, MARCH 4 AND 5, 2009

AFAL’s SAARC organisation of Literature, Culture, and Research Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature, organized an International Seminar on BUDDHISM AS A PEACE-MAKER IN POST-MODERN SAARC on March 4 and 5, 2009, at India International Centre, New Delhi. Through this endeavour our attempt was to understand, preserve and revitalize the civilizational connection of Buddhism in the SAARC region.

The Executive Convener of this Conference was the eminent Buddhist scholar, sociologist and author, Dr. Renuka Singh.

A very interesting and meaningful dialogue and debate was generated by over 20 scholars who presented their Papers. Over 100 persons who constituted our committed and enthusiastic audience actively participated in the deliberation by not only asking questions but also by their intellectual inputs.

The morning sessions started with a thin attendance. However, as the day unfolded the numbers simply swelled and the auditorium seemed quite vibrant. Besides the Inaugural and the Valedictory sessions, we had two sessions each day.

Summary and Proceedings
4th March, 2009
Inaugural Session

The welcome address was delivered by Ajeet Cour, who started by reading out the Message of His Holiness, the Dalai Lama. Cour emphasized FOSWAL’s role in bridging gaps and promoting peace in the SAARC region by locating and deciphering the emotional linkages within the region : Buddhism, Sufism, Folklore and Intangible Heritage of the region.

On the dias : Excellency Prof. Kalon Samdong Rinpoche, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan and Ajeet Cour

Dr. Renuka Singh, scholar of Buddhist Studies and Professor of Sociology in JNU, introduced the theme of the Seminar by addressing the nuances of a modern and post-modern world that encourage the creation of wealth but at the expense of happiness. Dr. Singh juxtaposed this situation with the ethical code and principles of Buddhism, which is not antagonistic to the creation of wealth, but advocates the creation of wealth in accordance with the ethical code and lifestyle. She introduced the sub-themes as well.Prime Minister of the Tibetan Government in Exile, Prof. Kalon Samdong Rinpoche, former Head of Institute of Tibetan Studies in Sarnath, in his Keynote Address stated that today’s world is all about ‘might is right’ and ‘survival of the fittest’.

Excellency Prof. Kalon Samdong Rinpoche, sharing his luminous thoughts with the audience, in pin-dropsilence, addressing about houseful of scholars and practitioners of Buddhism and Buddhist Studies.

 

In a system predominated by comparison and competition, people have lost the sense of ‘self’ and ‘compassion’.This is not only against the Buddhist way of life but also against peace, because competition thrives on defeating the others which has an in-built violence about it. An understanding of self and of one’s need (not greed or want), and also an understanding of the conditioning of one’s mind can, in a great way, lead to peace. Prof. Rinpoche exhorted this as an antidote to the violence and problems of terrorism in our times.
In her address, Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, eminent scholar and thinker, spoke of co-existence of life between nature and man, animate and inanimate objects as a fundamental principle of the “non-modern” or “primitive” world.

Prof. Kapila Vatsyayan, the great scholar of culture of the sub-continent, sharing her views with the audience.

The principle of placing the human species top-most in a linear, hierarchical order, argued Dr. Vatsyayan, is a dysfunction upon which the foundations of the modern world have been built. She argued that it is inter-connectedness and not competition that brings about reciprocity and compassion. Dr. Vatsyayan raised a few questions:

->We are so anxious to “educate” everybody. Do we have the humility to learn?

->Weapons of war are used to bring about peace. How can that mindset be countered?

->When does change begin? Dr. Vatsyayan tried to answer this by agreeing with Prof. Rinpoche and Dr. Singh that change begins with ‘Me’.

Dr. Vatsyayan released the book “Pilgrimage to Mansarovar” byProf. K.T.S. Sarao in the Inaugural Session.The Vote of Thanks was delivered by Arpana Caur, the Secretary General of the Foundation of SAARC Writers and Literature.

Ajeet Cour delivering her Welcome Speech

Session I :

This session was on “Engaged Buddhism and Buddhist Economy”.peakers were Prof. K.T.S. Sarao, teaching in the Department of Buddhist Studies in Delhi University, Dr. Radha Madhav Bharadwaj, Buddhist Scholar, and Dr. S.C. Goswamy, former Professor, Delhi University.

Prof. K.T. S. Sarao, with the help of researched literature, argued that increased wealth in today’s post-modern world does not amount to increased happiness. Prof. Sarao critiqued consumerism and argued that consumer society creates greed which is the base of unhappiness, and is not based on need.

Dr. Radha Madhav Bharadwaj suggested that Buddhism has the potential to meet some of th