When the Dalai Lama paid a visit to an Australian food show, the competitors had celebrity chef Kylie Kwong to guide them about his eating habits.
The chefs of hotel Maurya might not have had similar expert guidance but on Friday they served a feast fit for emperors at a lunch hosted by chief minister Nitish Kumar for the Buddhist monk.
Before and after the lunch at 1 Aney Marg, the Dalai Lama had a busy day, performing rituals at the chief minister’s official residence and visiting the Buddha Smriti Park. In between, the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize also found time to share a few nuggets of wisdom.
Nitish invited the Dalai Lama to his home to perform the sanctification ritual of a Bodhi sapling (sourced from Mahabodhi Mahavihara, Bodhgaya) he had planted in his garden on November 8, 2011.
“Buddhism originated in Bihar. Patliputra was the capital of Emperor Asoka. I am happy that the state government under the leadership of the CM has taken interest in Buddhism,” said the Dalai Lama, arriving for the ceremony on Friday.
The prayers began sharp at noon and was attended by Nitish, his deputy Sushil Kumar Modi, art, culture and youth affairs minister Sukhada Pandey, chief secretary Ashok Kumar Singh, Chanchal Kumar, principal secretary, art, culture and youth affairs, and S. Siddharth, secretary, urban development, along with 12 other monks.
After the ceremony, the Dalai Lama said: “First prayer, then food for stomach.”
Though the Dalai Lama is vegetarian, there was non-vegetarian food for other guests.
The monk was scheduled to unveil the 12-foot-tall statue of Lord Buddha at Buddha Smriti Park after lunch. Numerous devotees from Tibet, Bangladesh, Japan, United Kingdom and other countries had gathered at the shrine hours before his arrival. They waited patiently in queues on the pavement, with incense sticks and khata (Tibetian ceremonial scarves) in their hands.
One of them was Max Hannah, a British citizen. “I am a follower of the Dalai Lama and have come here to seek his blessings,” he said.
The cavalcade of the Tibetan spiritual leader arrived around 3pm. Traffic on Frazer Road, from Patna Junction roundabout to Dakbungalow roundabout, was diverted for awhile. Accompanied by Nitish and Sushil, the Dalai Lama entered the Buddha Smriti Park, which had been decked up for his arrival and the three-day Buddhist Sangha Conference starting Saturday.
Monks of different Buddhist sects, like Theravada, Japanese Mahayana and Tibetan Mahayana, welcomed the Dalai Lama into the park. First, he visited the Patliputra Karuna Stupa that houses relics associated with Lord Buddha brought from Sri Lanka, Japan, Myanmar, South Korea, Thailand and Tibet. Then, he was escorted to the new Buddha statue.
After unveiling the statue and performing prayers, the Dalai Lama spoke on human values such as compassion and forgiveness as well as the secular and academic history of India.
“The most important practices in Buddhism are compassion, tolerance, forgiveness and self-discipline,” he said. “Our lives can be calm and peaceful if we cultivate these values. I am not talking about Nirvana but just happiness in our lives.”
“At present, we are facing a sort of moral crisis. Increasing policing will not solve the problem. Self-discipline should be an important part of modern ethics. India has 1,000 years of secular history. Now, it is time for the rest of the world to learn,” added the Dalai Lama.