I am pleased to speak at this noble ceremony, held under the patronage of honorable Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi to mark the commencement of the United Nations’ International Day of Vesak as part of the Vesak week celebrated in Sri Lanka.
We have no way of measuring Sri Lanka’s relationship with Buddhist philosophy and India (Maha Bharatha) for a long period of time in the history. The friendship between India and Sri Lanka which is based on Buddhist philosophy is existing since ancient times. As the leader of the Maha Bharatha the premier of India where the birth, enlightenment and mahanibbana of the Buddha occurred, visits us with rekindling the message of Vesak.
The Indian Prime Minister is refreshing the message of the Buddhist philosophy brought here by Arhath Mihinda Thero and Sanghamiththa Theri following the great Buddhist transformation initiated by Emperor Ashoka. I extend my special thanks to Prime Minister Modi for participating in this event by accepting our invitation. As Buddhists we know that the solutions for the social, economic, political and cultural issues arisen both nationally and internationally are in the Buddhist philosophy. “Dhammo Bhave Rakkhathi Dhamma Chari” One who lives with Dhamma is protected by the Dhamma. “Najachcha Vasalo Hothi – Najachcha Hothi Brahmano” Not by birth is one an outcast, not by birth is one a Brahmana. By deed is one an outcast, by deed is one a Brahmana”. The importance of this message given in the Buddhist philosophy to find solutions to most conflicts, to make the society calm and to make the humans meritorious is immeasurable.
One of the significance of the activities today on the UN Vesak Day celebration is the fact that the whole world wonders why the Indian Prime Minister visits Sri Lanka? Along with that the message of Vesak goes to the world. When then late Foreign Minister Lakshman Kadirgamar during the period of Madam Chandrika Bandaranaike, suggested to declare Vesak Day as an International Day of Observance at the UN, the attention of the whole world was drawn towards the Vesak Day. Particularly the attention of the non-Buddhist communities has drawn in this regard. They wonder, what is this Day of Vesak? In that context they will tend to explore on Gautama Buddha’s teachings and the Theravada Buddhist Philosophy. Today, the western philosophers promote the Buddhist Philosophy to heal all the agitated minds, with a clear understanding of this philosophy. Holding an International Vesak Day in Sri Lanka is not only important to us. It is a great endeavor for the whole world, as well as it will not only important to the Buddhist community, but also for the non-Buddhist communities. We can learn lessons from the teaching of Buddhism to build a better society and to ensure the peace in the country while uniting us in a virtuous initiative like this. We have many things to study and to practice in Buddhism to build harmony among the communities as well as in creating a prosperous economy.
As a Buddhist country and as a centre for Theravada Buddhism, I wish strengthen and courage for all of us to be able to build a better society with better human hearts to heal our country as well as the world, through this noble effort. I want to extend my thanks to the Maha Sangha, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the foreign representatives attending this UN Vesak Day event.