“The place where we are meeting makes it even more special. We are meeting in Bodh Gaya, a land that has a distinctive place in the history of humankind. This is the land of enlightenment. Years ago, what Bodh Gaya got was Siddhartha, but what Bodh Gaya gave to the world was Lord Buddha, the epitome of knowledge, peace and compassion…
“The Enlightenment which Buddha attained in Bodh Gaya also lit the light of enlightenment in Hinduism. As the first Servant of this ancient nation, I revere Buddha as a reformer of not only Hinduism but also the world, who has given all of us a new world view and vision which is critical for the survival of all of us and the entire world.
“Climate change is a pressing global challenge. It calls for a collective human action and a comprehensive response. In India, faith and nature have had a deep link since ancient times. Buddhism and environment are deeply co-related.”
“I recognise how Buddhists all over the world revere Bodh Gaya as a place of pilgrimage. We in India would like to develop Bodh Gaya so that it can become the spiritual capital and civilisational bond between India and the Buddhist world. The government of India would like to provide all possible support that its Buddhist cousin nations need for the satisfaction of their spiritual needs from this holiest of holy places for them…” Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The delegates to the conference also adopted the Bodh Gaya Declaration the next day in Bodh Gaya that endorsed the same.
This session was chaired by Param Pujya Swami Paramatmananda, Secretary General and Coordinator of the Hindu Dharma Acharya Sabha, and co-chaired by Most Ven. Telo Tulku Rinpoche, Shadjin Lama of the Kalmyk Republic, Russian Federation. Speakers at the session unanimously admitted that humankind is on a collision course with nature, and that the biological limits of the earth are being severely tested. Over-exploitation of natural resources, deforestation, unrestrained killing of species, melting of glaciers, ever increasing exploration for hydrocarbons and pollution are leading the world towards catastrophe. There is, thus, an urgent need for strategic action to mitigate the emerging environmental woes that, in turn, lead to conflict at various levels. They spoke about the philosophical foundations of Buddha dharma, especially its ethical values of personal restraint in consumption and respect for the environment. Buddha’s 2,600-year old message about compassion, personal responsibility, and the path to happiness holds the key to a new way of relating to each other and to our environment. The participants agreed that both Buddhism and Hinduism, with their well-defined treatises on respect for Mother Nature, can create a huge positive impact that will lead towards a sustainable world.