iconimg Friday, March 27, 2015

Vishal Joshi, Hindustan Times
YAMUNANAGAR, July 07, 2013
The Bhutanese government has supported the “Save Stupas, Save Buddha”, a non-religious movement initiated by a local social organization The Buddhist Forum (TBDF) to protect ancient Buddhist sites in the South Asia. In a message emailed to TBF’s president Sidhartha Gauri, the director general of department of culture, Bhutan, Dorjee Tshering said that Bhutan extends support to the forum’s signature campaign to create awareness on forgotten Buddhist sites.

Tshering has appealed all nations and citizens of the Asia to join the campaign to spread the message of love and compassion as given by Lord Buddha for humanity to lead a life with optimum joy and happiness.

“This campaign gives an opportunity for all to have a fresh look at how societies and the humanity function. l request all those who encounter this campaign, irrespective of religion, sect and nationality to support the movement in bringing more interfaith and universal brotherhood in the world,” he said.

Started in 2011, TBF has successfully roped in the activists from Pakistan, Afghanistan, Sri Lanka, Bhutan Burma and Nepal to identify the forgotten Buddhist sites.

“I have been meeting the Buddhist scholars and political leaders of various countries of the region. Once identified, the governments and the UNSECO may be approached for planned conservation programmes and it would further help the local population if tourism is promoted at these sites,” Gauri told HT.

“The South Asia has a vast treasure of Buddhist sites which are deteriorating due to neglect. It is all about spirituality and peace and the generations to come should not be devoid of these ancient relics,” said 30 year-old Gauri.

He said that in spite of proven facts about India, including Haryana’s connection with Lord Buddha, the Centre or the state government has not been making sincere effort to conserve Buddhist sites. Several of them are facing encroachments and deteriorating due to the non-conservation activities.

Gauri has produced a documentary film ‘Dhammashhetra — The Lost Land of Buddha” on the little-known fact about the presence of Buddhist relics in Haryana. It was broadcast on Doordarshan.

The Tibetan parliament-in-exile and top Buddhist leaders, including the Dalai Lama, have appreciated the TBF’s effort to sensitise people on the neglect of several places once revered in the region.TBF is also credited with encouraging residents of Topra Kalan village to built Ashoka Edicts Park.

The iconic Ashoka Pillar was originally erected before it was dismantled and taken to Feroz Shah Kotla in Delhi by the Sultan of Delhi Feroz Shah Tughlaq in the 14th century.It is duly documented by Tughlak’s contemporary historian Shams-i-Siraj.

Topra Kalan panchayat had donated 2-acres of land for the park and in May this the district administration had adopted the project under the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MNREGS).