Buddhist and Gandhara Civilization - a cultural nexus | Sunday Observer

Buddhist and Gandhara Civilization - a cultural nexus

Sri Lanka and Pakistan inherit a rich cultural heritage and strong cultural relations, deep-rooted in history. The mutual love between the two people, transcending any other consideration, is the foundation of the special relationship that is further cemented by the commonality of eternal values of universal peace and love for humanity, espoused by Buddhism and Islam.

The High Commissioner of Pakistan, Maj. Gen. (R) Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat expressed these views during his concluding address at an International Seminar on ‘Buddhist and Gandhara Civilization: The Cultural Nexus between Pakistan and Sri Lanka’, organized by the High Commission of Pakistan in collaboration with the Buddhist and Pali University, Homagama, which was held on March 11.

Renowned scholars from China, Germany, Pakistan and Sri Lanka were the keynote speakers at the Seminar.

Brig. (R) Agha Ahmad Gul, former Vice Chancellor, University of Balochistan, Pakistan, in his presentation, elaborated the various facets of Gandhara civilization and its historical and cultural influence.

Prof. Dr. Ghan-ur-Rehman, Director, Taxila Institute of Asian Civilizations, Pakistan, said that one of the brightest chapters of the history of Pakistan is the Buddhist Gandhara that flourished during the first five centuries of the Common era.

Prof. Dr. Hugh van Skyhawk, University of Mainze, Germany, explained that among the many statues and relics of Gandhāra art, there is a motif that is better known than any other the world over: the fasting Siddhārtha.

Prof. Dr. Li Xiguang, Director, Tsinghua University International Centre for Communication, China, shared the travel notes about Uddiyana (Swat Valley in northern Pakistan) written by the five Chinese pilgrims from Faxian in the 5th century, Song Yun in the 6th century, Xuanzang in the 7th century, Huichao and Wukong in the 8th century. In Chinese Buddhism, Uddiyana is identified with Western Heaven where the universal emperor Jade Emperor and the immortals live.

Dr. Safdar Ali Shah, Director General, High Education Commission, Pakistan, explained glimpses of Buddhist heritage, including famous monasteries, stupas, and specimen of Gandhara Art preserved in Pakistan. He said when Buddhism spread beyond its birthplace, the first two places where it took root were Gandhara (Pakistan) and Ceylon (Sri Lanka).

Vice Chancellor, Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Ven. Senior Prof. Dr. Gallelle Sumanasiri Thera warmly welcomed the guests and paid tribute to the Government of Pakistan for the preservation of the archaeological treasures, Buddhist sites and artifacts, which he witnessed during his visit to Pakistan.

He appreciated the High Commission of Pakistan for holding the International Seminar at the Buddhist and Pali University.

At the conclusion, High Commissioner of Pakistan, Dr. Shahid Ahmad Hashmat announced that the Government of Pakistan through its High Commission will be awarding 1,000 scholarships to the Sri Lankan students in diverse fields and the exchange of faculty members, students and programs.

He invited the participants and students of the Buddhist and Pali University to visit Pakistan and assured that the High Commission of Pakistan will provide all assistance and visa facilitation in this regard.