by – Bikash Kali Das
The “Shared Buddhist Heritage of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation” (#SCO) was the topic of discussion at a two-day international conference held in New Delhi, India, on March 14th and 15th, 2023. The conference, organised by the Ministry of Culture (Govt. of India), Ministry of External Affairs, and International Buddhist Confederation, aimed to explore India’s cultural connections with SCO member states, observer states, and dialogue partners, as well as scholars.
With the theme of “Buddhism, our shared value and culture,” the conference brought together more than 15 scholars and delegates from various countries, including China’s Dunhuang Research Academy, Kyrgyzstan’s Institute of History, Archaeology and Ethnology, Russia’s State Museum of the History of Religion, Tajikistan’s National Museum of Antiquities, Belarusian State University, and Myanmar’s International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University, among others.
The conference provided a platform for Central Asian, East Asian, South Asian, and Arab countries to discuss their “Shared Buddhist Heritage.” One of the key goals of the conference was to revive people-to-people ties among SCO member nations through Buddhism, which is a common thread that binds them together.
China’s Dunhuang Research Academy, which sent a delegation to the conference, acknowledged that Buddhism originated in India and later spread to China. The academy has a lot of relics that are related to Indian culture and Buddhism, and Shengliang Zhao, a researcher at the academy, said that the conference offered a huge opportunity for India and China to celebrate history. He added that this was what made India and China closer to each other, and that the conference gave a huge message of India and China coming together in all aspects, culturally and peacefully.
Representatives from Belarus, Russia, Myanmar, and Pakistan also presented research papers on various topics related to Buddhism and its influence on their respective cultures. The presentations showcased the collection of Buddhist artefacts and statues across museums in these countries, as well as Buddhist practices and heritage sites in Pakistan.
The conference concluded with closing remarks from all the delegates and participants about the discussions on “Shared Buddhist Heritage.” The event was a treasure trove of historical evidence that traced our civilisational linkage of Buddhism with the SCO nations.
India, as the birthplace of Buddhism, plays a central role in spreading the teachings of the Buddha to other parts of the world. Under India’s SCO leadership, the conference played a key role in tracing our civilizational connect with the SCO nations. It helped re-establish trans-cultural links and seek out commonalities between Buddhist art of Central Asia, art styles, archaeological sites, and antiquity in various museums’ collections of the SCO countries.
In conclusion, the Shared Buddhist Heritage of Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) conference provided a unique opportunity for scholars and delegates from different countries to come together and explore the common thread of Buddhism that binds them together. The conference highlighted the shared values and culture of the SCO countries and helped revive people-to-people ties through Buddhism.