| Venerable Shanti Shugei, the chief monk of Japan-based Nipponzan Myohoji shrine, holds a mass prayer at the anniversary celebrations in Rajgir on Friday. Picture by Jai Prakash |
Beats of otaiko and chants of Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge- Kyo rent the air amid appeals and vows for peace at Vishwa Shanti Stupa atop Ratnagiri hills in Rajgir on Friday — the 44th anniversary of the peace pagoda.
Chief minister Nitish Kumar iterated on developing Nalanda University as a centre for peace, while monks from Japan appealed for maintaining harmony in the world.
Na-Mu-Myo-Ho-Ren-Ge-Kyo is the essence of Buddha’s preaching in Rajgir. Japanese monk Nichidatsu Fujii had developed the Vishwa Shanti Stupa on Ratnagiri hills at Rajgir, around 110km from Patna. The then president, V.V. Giri, inaugurated it on October 25, 1969. The main attraction of the celebration was the arrival of a Japanese delegation of 50 corporate officials from CGC Group of Companies and Santoku Group of Companies.
The ceremony started with members of the Japanese delegation and monks from the Theravada and Mahayana sects circling the stupa amidst holy chants and beating of the otaiko. They also offered prayers at the tombs of their ancestors, including Fujii, who was a business tycoon in Japan before relinquishing worldly activities and devoting his life to the shrine. Later, they offered prayers with Okonoji, the chief monk of the Vishwa Shanti Stupa.
They assembled in front of the stupa to offer mass prayers with the Venerable Shanti Shugei, the chief monk of Japan-based Nipponzan Myohoji shrine and other monks. It was then that Nitish’s chopper landed at the helipad atop Ratnagiri hills.
Nitish said: “Japan is among the countries, which have signed the memorandum of understanding for the Nalanda University. Intellectuals from Japan are also members in the Nalanda mentor group. Considering the importance of peace in today’s world, I have requested the governing body of Nalanda University to develop the varsity as a centre of peace and accordingly a ‘Conflict Resolution Centre’ should be included as a discipline.”
Atsuhiro Horiuchi, the president of CGC Group of Companies, said: “The members of my delegation and I are overwhelmed on this auspicious occasion of the 44th anniversary celebration of Vishwa Shanti Stupa.The year 2013 has been good for the Japanese people for two reasons. First, Mount Fuji (located on Honshu Island in Japan) has been registered as a World Cultural Heritage Site by Unesco. The second is the decision of holding the 2020 Olympics games in Tokyo.”
Horiuchi, the vice-chairman of Rajgir Buddha Vihar Society, extended invitation to Nitish to take part in the 45th anniversary celebration of the peace pagoda in 2014. Nitish accepted the request and agreed to grace the event.
Ven. Shuegi, the chief monk of Japan-based Nipponzan Myohoji, said: “World peace means stability of the nations. We always felt there should be a peace pagoda in Patna as well. Our prayers have been heard with the Patliputra Karuna Stupa enshrining the holy relics of Buddha at Buddha Smriti Park.”