New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Monday said India has never been an aggressor nor encroached upon anyone's territory and saw no distinction between religions, castes and languages.
Speaking at an event in New Delhi on the occasion of Buddha Purnima, he said the teachings of the Buddha were based on humanity and the country was proud the philosophy had originated here.
"India has never had a history or tradition of attacking others' ideology or country. India has never been an aggressor. It has never encroached upon (the territory) of any other country," Modi said addressing a gathering at the function organised by the ministry of culture.
While speaking on the teachings of the Buddha, Modi said all ideologies which had originated in India were based on the welfare of humankind and the environment.
The teachings of the Buddha had shaped the national character of several Asian countries, he said.
"At a time when terrorism, casteism, dynasty politics appear to be overshadowing the teachings of the Buddha, the talk of affection and friendship are becoming more relevant and important," Modi said.
"Distinctions in society, between religions, races, castes and languages can never be a message of India or the teachings of the Buddha, and nor can there be a place for such thoughts," he added.
He asserted that the country embraced individuals from any caste, religion, race or faith.
Modi cited the example of Jews and Parsis, and said they had been residing in India for centuries and had become an integral part of India's identity.
The prime minister said BR Ambedkar also trod the path of the Buddha.
Modi spoke about the eight-fold path of Buddhism and said the problems that the world faced could be overcome by following this way.
His government was working with compassion to serve the people, in line with these teachings, he said.
In this context, he listed his government's flagship initiatives such as opening bank accounts for the underprivileged, enabling a low-cost premium insurance scheme, free gas connections to poor households and other measures for the welfare of the poor.
He also said the Union government was working with an elaborate vision to preserve the cultural heritage of India, which includes the heritage associated with Lord Buddha. He said a sum of Rs 360 crore had been approved for a Buddhist Circuit.
Modi said 18 states had sites related to the Buddha and it was essential to develop these places for pilgrims and others.
Accordingly, the Ministry of Road Transport was making provisions for necessary arrangements on the Kushinagar, Gaya and Varanasi routes, Modi said.
The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), the prime minister said, was also helping in the restoration of Buddhist sites in Afghanistan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar.
Modi urged Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma to ensure that all works on the Buddha and studies done by Buddhist institutes in the country are compiled and brought on a common platform through a web portal in a time-bound manner.
The prime minister also exhorted the gathering to make a contribution towards the New India of 2022, when the country would celebrate 75 years of freedom.
He offered "Sangh Dana" (donation) to Buddhist monks from countries such as Japan, Sri Lanka and Vietnam who were present at the event.
He also presented the Vaishakh Sammaan Prashasti Patra to the Central Institute of Higher Tibetan Studies, Sarnath, and the All India Bhikshu Sangha, Bodh Gaya.
Minister of State for Home Affairs Kiren Rijiju said at the event that after Emperor Asoka, it was prime minister Modi who had given Buddha Purnima political honour (rajkiya samman).
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Updated Date: Apr 30, 2018 22:00:37 IST