If the Bihar government is really keen to sustain the international interest generated by the just-concluded ‘Global Meet for a Resurgent Bihar’, it has a God-sent opportunity at hand to make the most of.
It can try giving a truly pan-Asian twist to the proposed inauguration at Nalanda on February 10 of a grand memorial to Xuanzang (aka Hieun Tsang), the great Chinese traveller who was a student at the ancient Nalanda University and then a teacher at the Nalanda Mahavihara in the 7th century AD.
Confirming the programme, Nav Nalanda Mahavihara (NNM) director Ravindra Panth said Union Culture Minister Ambika Soni, Indian Council for Cultural Relations (ICCR) president Karan Singh, Bihar Governor RS Gavai, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and a large Chinese delegation were slated to attend the inaugural function.
"The opening of the memorial will provide a major fillip to international tourism in Bihar and should prove to be a substantive revenue-earner for the State. The revenue potential will be enhanced considerably by the plans to build a cultural village near the memorial," Dr Panth told Hindustan Times.
He said exhibits highlighting life and work of Xuanzang would be displayed in the memorial hall. Among these will be part of his physical relics, handed over by the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama on January 12, 1957 to the then India Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Lying at the Patna Museum, the relics will be transferred to the hall after it is opened.
“The modalities for the transfer are being worked out. There will also be a MoU on the memorial between the representatives of the two countries,” said the director of the Mahavihara, a centre of Buddhist studies set up in the early 1950s at the initiative of the then President Rajendra Prasad.
“Our optimism about the memorial’s potential is buttressed by the fact that Xuanzang is more than just a Chinese icon. He is also one of the most renowned ambassadors of Buddhism,” the NNM director asserted.
Besides enriching the Buddhist circuit, the memorial may prove a stepping-stone for further Indo-Chinese cultural co-operation. Chinese engineers spent months giving the finishing touches to the monument and many feel this bodes well for a consortium that the Nitish regime is putting together to fund a new international university at Nalanda.
Last November, a Chinese television crew had travelled a long way to make a documentary covering Xuanzang’s Nalanda sojourn.
Email Rai Atul Krishna: raiatulkrishna @hindustantimes.com