Gandhara, a new and unique destination for Sri Lankan travellers - Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera | Daily News

Gandhara, a new and unique destination for Sri Lankan travellers - Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera

Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera and Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera, Chief Advisor of Royal College Buddhist Brotherhood at the press conference.
Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera and Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera, Chief Advisor of Royal College Buddhist Brotherhood at the press conference.

The sites of Gandhara Buddhist Heritage in Pakistan is the ideal destination for Sri Lankans to go on religious pilgrimages, Chief Incumbent Abayaramaya Temple and Chancellor of Colombo University Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera told a media conference held at his temple on Monday.

Most Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera and Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera, Chief Advisor of Royal College Buddhist Brotherhood addressed the press conference.

Reflecting on his memorable visit in April this year as part of the high-level Buddhist Monks delegation from Sri Lanka to Pakistan, Most Ven. Ananda Thera highlighted the efforts of the Government of Pakistan in preserving the Buddhist heritage and emphasised that Pakistan is a new and unique destination for Buddhist travellers from Sri Lanka.

The Thera said that his visit to Pakistan had completely changed his concept of Pakistan which he earlier thought that there was no place for other religions in that country.

“The people of Pakistan are very hospitable and respect other religions and they also freely allow people of other faiths to practice their respective religions,” he said, recalling the welcome his delegation got from each Muslim village he passed through in Pakistan. He said that the Buddhist members of the clergy were taken to meet the top officials of the Government including the country’s President.

Chief Advisor of Royal College Buddhist Brotherhood Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera said: “It is a known fact that from time immemorial that Pakistan and Sri Lanka have been enjoying an amicable relationship. Both being Asian countries, we are bound by rich traditions and culture. Accordingly, Buddhism and Islam have done a great service to humanity.”

Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera pointed out that the glorious Gandhara heritage of Pakistan and being a proud custodian of some of the most Sacred Relics of The Buddha, offers great potential for promoting religious pilgrimages from Sri Lanka to Pakistan.

“One of the Tooth Relics of The Buddha discovered from the Gandhara region is preserved at the Taxila Museum in Pakistan. It is the region where the Gandhara Buddhist civilization reached its pinnacle of glory from the 1st Century AD to the 7th Century AD. Besides, the world’s oldest Buddhist University, Thakshashila, Taxila which is in Pakistan, is home for some of the most sacred Buddhist artefacts found during archaeological excavations around the 12th Century.”

Apart from that, the Ven. Thera said the sapling from the Sacred Bodhi Tree in Anuradhapura was gifted by the Government of Sri Lanka to the Government of Pakistan, also grows in the gardens of the Taxila Museum. Taxila, being the only unique site, is known as the ‘City of Stone Carvers’.

“I personally feel Pakistan is a safe and open country for pilgrims from around the world. I am also aware that Pakistan and Sri Lanka have agreed to form a working group to develop and promote religious sites related to Buddhism in Pakistan which is home for one of the most exotic Buddhist civilizations of the past, would explore the prolific religious heritage.

Ven. Gavaragiriye Premarathana Thera said in conclusion: “I need to mention that Sri Lanka always stood for the real Islam preached by Prophet Muhammad. The present Prime Minister of Pakistan is an ardent follower of Islam and loves Prophet Muhammad adorably. His vision as well as the vision of our leaders go hand in hand to make these countries better places to live. I urge our people to visit Pakistan and see for themselves how peace and harmony prevail there and more importantly the place given to Buddhism.” Recently, a documentary on the Gandhara civilization in Pakistan, jointly produced by Pakistan and Sri Lanka was launched by the Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa.

Titled “Gandhara,” the documentary is jointly produced by the High Commission of Pakistan in Sri Lanka and Siddhivinayak Cine Arts (Private) Limited of Sri Lanka with the support of and in coordination with, the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs. It takes viewers on a visual journey of the Gandhara Buddhist Heritage sites of Pakistan.

 


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