President Ram Nath Kovind on Friday inaugurated the golden jubilee celebrations of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa here, a peace pagoda situated on the Ratnagiri hills.
The pagoda was built by a Japanese Buddist rattled by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. He also found solace in the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi.
President Kovind, who had served as the governor of Bihar before assuming the highest Constitutional office, commenced his brief address with the chant of ‘Na Mu Myo Ho Rege Kyo’ a mantra made famous worldwide by Japan-based Buddhist sect Nichiren, to which the stupas founder Nichidatsu Fujii belonged.
Bihar Governor Fagu Chauhan, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and Deputy Chief Minister Sushil Kumar Modi were among those present on the occasion.
“The Vishwa Shanti Stupa stands for establishing unity and peace across the world and promoting non-violence. Its foundation stone was laid by the then-president S Radhakrishnan in 1965 and the inauguration took place four years later, by the then president V V Giri when the nation was celebrating the birth centenary of Mahatma Gandhi,” President Kovind said.
When he was the governor of Bihar, he had the privilege of attending many programmes at the Vishwa Shanti Stupa in 2015 and 2016. He had also come here in 2018 to take part in the international conference on religions, President Kovind said.
“I take this opportunity to welcome followers of the Buddhist faith from adjoining countries like Nepal and Sri Lanka besides far-off ones in Asia, Europe and America,” he said.
Speaking on the occasion, Nitish Kumar spoke about his ambitious project of establishing an international centre for conflict resolution in Rajgir which was “a historic place, held sacred by followers of all faiths, by virtue of its association with Lord Buddha, Mahavira, Guru Nanak and other holy men”.
He also spoke about his governments efforts to develop areas having a historical association with Lord Buddha, such as setting up a museum at Vaishali and a Buddha Park in Patna.