Published On: Sun, Jan 31st, 2010

Peace mission

The Shanti Stupa at Indraprastha Park has become the pride of Delhi. It is a hub of communal harmony. Above all, Buddha’s teachings have found a place in the Capital. Sheena Sharma tells you more

The mission of world peace is not possible to be accomplished through any country other then India, so are the expectations of my Guru from your country,” says Katsu Horiuchi, a Buddhist nun of Japanese origin and a direct disciple of Fujji Guruji. And for this very mission, a Vishwa Shanti Stupa has been established in Delhi in Indraprastha Park. The stupa was established with the same motive of world peace by Nipponzan Myohoji Fujji Guruji Shanti Stupa society in association with Delhi Development Authority in the Capital.

The stupa is first of its kind to be established in Delhi post Independence. The stupa represents the most sacred shrine in Buddhism’s two millennium-plus old traditions, which actually originated from India’s rich spiritual civilisation. The stupa is one of the most ancient icons of Buddhist art and is said to be a symbol of enlightenment. These are the oldest form of Buddhist architecture. In the stupa, pieces of sacred images, mantras and relics of holy beings can be seen.

Late Nichidastu Fujji, the great legendary Buddhist master from Japan was the first person to come out with the idea of building a Shanti Stupa in New Delhi. For his outstanding efforts for world peace, he received the Nehru award for international understanding from the Government of India in 1979. Mahatma Gandhi once very affectionately called Fujji Guruji to India in 1904 to bring Buddhism back to India. It was his very first visit to India.

Immediately after he reached India, he started his journey to the sacred sites of Buddha. He cried in sorrow when he saw the deserted sites and met people who knew nothing about history of those places. He carried all the disappointment about these sites to the Wardha Ashram where he met Mahatma Gandhi. In his Wardha diary, he described his meeting with Gandhi, who kept spinning the charkha with a smile while Fujji Guruji spoke in tears but could not communicate with him because of the knowledge of no common language.

Awed by Guruji’s selfless devotion to India, Mahatma Gandhi allowed him and his disciples to stay at Wardha ashram.

After Independence, the leaders of free India, with whom Fujji guruji had been associated since their freedom struggle, whole heartedly welcomed the revival of Buddhism in India as an integral part of new nation-building. Jawaharlal Nehru as the first Prime Minister took the initiative to restore Rajgir (one of the sites from the history of Buddhism) the ancient capital of Magadha. With that Fujji Guruji completed the first Vishwa Shanti Stupa on the hilltop of Ratnagiri. Thereafter, in association with the Indian leadership, Fujji Guruji and his followers constructed series of Shanti Stupas in Bhubaneswar (1972), Ladakh (1991), Darjeeling (1992), Wardha (1993) and Vaishali (1996).

The Vishwa Shanti Stupa in Delhi was established and inaugurated on November 14, 2007 by his holiness Dalai Lama accompanied by the then President of India, Dr Sarvapalli Radha Krishnan and LK Advani. The opening and presentation ceremony was presided over by the Governors of New Delhi, Haryana and Orissa. The ceremony was attended by foreign delegates from China, Ukraine, Russia, USA, Germany etc.

This stupa is 28 metres high and the construction style of it was inspired by Sanchi Stupa in Madhya Pradesh. If we consider the number of Stupa in the whole world, this would be 74th in number. This, like all the other Stupa, is also dedicated to the message of peace and ahimsa (non-violence) spread by Nichidastu Fujji.

The Shanti Stupa at Delhi is built with white marble. The entrance resembles the Sanchi Stupa but the difference in the two is that the gate of Sanchi Stupa is made up of stone while the gate of the one in Delhi is made of concrete. The original height of the Stupa in Delhi was decided to be 35 metres, which was later scaled down. The cost of building it was Rs 2 crore.

The Delhi Development Authority has further plans to create a Japanese style garden around it to give the stupa a Japanese ambience. “This place is so divine that if creatures other than humans stay and eat here, they will be given the birth of a human in his next life,” says Katsu, pointing towards a dog sitting in the clean and hygienic garden surrounding the Stupa.

“Duniya bhar ka khazana aapke desh mein hai. (The world’s riches are there in your country). We want you people to share it with the whole world,” she says.

“I came to see India, I got to know about various temples in Delhi and so about this Stupa. For me it is a spiritual place and I come here to worship,” says an Afghanistan tourist who visited the Stupa in Delhi.

  • Mehul Teli

    Venerable Nichidatsu Fujii, the founding preceptor of ‘Nippozan Myohoji’ met Gandhiji in 1933 at Wardha and became his life-long admirer. Gandhiji named him Fujii Guruji. The Vishwa Shanti Stupa was built at a site selected by Fujii Guruji in the year 1983. The Stupa stands tall and grand as a symbol of world peace.

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