At Lumbini, PM Modi showcases India-Nepal shared Buddhist heritage

Seven months after he put Kushinagar, the place where Gautam Buddha attained Nirvana, on the international airport map, Prime Minister Narendra Modi reached Prince Siddhartha's birthplace Lumbini in Nepal to showcase the shared Buddhist heritage of the Indian sub-continent. PM Modi inaugurated the Kushinagar airport on Abhidhamma Day (when Lord returned to earth from heaven after three months) and will be in Lumbini on thrice auspicious Buddha Purnima Day.

Despite Buddhism being a religion practised by more than seven per cent of the global population and spread all over South, East and North Asia including Japan, China and Korea, India before PM Modi has not been able to leverage the true inheritor legacy of Lord Buddha. Prince Siddhartha became Buddha after enlightenment in Bodh Gaya in Bihar, he gave his first sermon in Sarnath near Varanasi, attained nirvana in Kushinagar and was buried in Piprahwa in Uttar Pradesh. The Nalanda University to propagate Buddhism is in Bihar.

Fact is that 91 per cent of Tibet under China is Buddhist with all the four major Tibetan schools represented by mirror monasteries in India after the Communist PLA occupied Tibet in 1950. The 14th Dalai Lama, head of the Gelukpa School, has a seat in Dharamshala and one of the chief claimants to the throne of 17th Karmapa or Kagyu School was in India till 2017 and is now a citizen of Dominica. The oldest Nyingma and Sakya schools also have their major monasteries on the Himalayan belt in India, yet India has always been shy on playing its true role in the Buddhist world lest it aggravates border tensions with China.