Respected members of the Venerated Mahasangha, Prime Ministers of Nepal, and Sri Lanka, My Minister colleagues Shri Prahlad Singh and Shri Kiren Rijiju, Secretary General of International Buddhist Confederation,Venerable Doctor Dhammapiyaji, respected Scholars, Dhamma followers, Sisters and brothers from around the world.
I am honoured to address you all on the special day of Vesak . Vesak is a day to celebrate the life of Lord Buddha. It is also a day to reflect on the noble ideals and sacrifices he made for the betterment of our planet.
Last year also, I had addressed a Vesak day programme. That programme was dedicated to all the front-line workers leading humanity's fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. A year later, we are seeing a mix of continuity and change. The COVID-19 pandemic has not left us. Several nations, including India, have experienced a second wave. This is the worst crisis humanity faces in decades. We have not seen a pandemic like this for a century. This once in a life-time pandemic has brought tragedy and suffering at the door-step of many.
The pandemic has impacted every nation. The economic impact is huge as well. Our planet will not be the same after COVID-19. In the times to come, we will certainly remember events as either pre-COVID or post-COVID. But, over the last year, there have been many noteworthy changes as well. We now have a better understanding of the pandemic which strengthens our strategy to fight it. Most importantly, we have the vaccine, which is absolutely important to save lives and defeat the pandemic . The emergence of a vaccine in a year of the pandemic striking shows the power of human determination and tenacity . India is proud of our scientists, who have worked on the COVID-19 vaccines.
Through this forum , I would like to once again salute our first responders, frontline health care workers, doctors, nurses and volunteers who selflessly risk their lives every day to serve others in need. To those who have suffered and lost their near and dear ones, I would like to extend condolences . I grieve with them.
While studying the life of Lord Buddha, there is mention of the four sights. These four sights brought Lord Buddha face to face with human suffering. At the same time, it ignited within him the desire to devote his life to removing human suffering.
Lord Buddha taught us ‘भवतु सब्ब मंगलम’, blessings, compassion and welfare of all. In the last year, we have seen several individuals and organisations rise to the occasion and do everything possible to reduce suffering.
I have also learnt of the generous contributions of equipment and materials made by the Buddhist organisations, followers of Buddha Dharma from world over. The scale, both in terms of population and geographical spread of the task is huge. Humanity has been humbled by the outpouring of generosity and support from fellow humans. These actions are in line with the teachings of Lord Buddha. It manifests the supreme mantra of अप्प दीपो भव: .
COVID-19 is certainly a major challenge we face. While we do everything possible to fight it, we must not lose sight of the other challenges humanity faces. One of the biggest challenges is that of climate change. Reckless life-styles of the present threaten the coming generations. Weather patterns are changing. Glaciers are melting. Rivers and forests are in danger. We cannot let our planet remain wounded. Lord Buddha put emphasis on a way of life where respect for Mother Nature is paramount .
I am proud to share that India is among the few large economies to be on track to completing their Paris targets. For us, sustainable living is not only about right words. It is about the right actions.
The life of Gautama Buddha was about peace, harmony and co-existence. Today, there are still forces remaining whose existence depends on spreading hate, terror and mindless violence. Such forces do not believe in liberal democratic principles. The need of the hour is for all those who believe in humanity to come together and defeat terror and radicalisation.
For that, the Path shown by Lord Buddha is absolutely relevant. Lord Buddh's teachings and the importance given to social justice can become a global unifying force.
He rightly said- ,"नत्ती संति परण सुखं: There is no higher bliss than peace.
Lord Buddha was the reservoir of brilliance for the entire universe. From him we all could draw light from time to time and take the path of compassion, universal responsibility and welfare. Mahatma Gandhi rightly said about Gautam Buddha, “Buddha taught us to defy appearances and trust in the final triumph of Truth and Love”.
Today, on Buddha Poornima, let us renew our commitment to the ideals of Lord Buddha.
I join you all in praying to the Triple Gem to provide relief from the testing times of global COVID-19 pandemic .
Thank you very much.