Apr 08, Geneva: An interactive scholarly discussion on the significance of the Tripitaka as a world heritage took place at the World Intellectual Property Office (WIPO) headquarters in Geneva, continuing the week-long celebrations-'Tripitakabivandana'.
The event intended to raise awareness among States that follow the Buddhist traditions, as well as other States, to join hands with Sri Lanka in realizing the initiative taken by President Maithripala Sirisena, to inscribe the Tripitaka on the UNESCO 'Memory of the World' Register.
Organized by the Permanent Mission of Sri Lanka in Geneva, the event brought together several erudite members of the Maha Sangha, members of the diplomatic community as well as Sri Lankans living in Geneva, to reflect on the spiritual, historical as well as global value of the Tripitaka-the foremost doctrine of Buddhist teaching. A strong call for the recognition of the Tripitaka as a shared heritage of mankind was echoed.
A scholarly presentation on the topic "Why the Pali Tripitaka Should Be a World Heritage?: Sri Lanka's Contributions to the Buddha vacana" was delivered by Venerable Deegalle Mahinda Thera, Professor in Study of Religions, Philosophies and Ethics, College of Liberal Arts of the University of Bath Spa in the United Kingdom. The eminent scholar monk eloquently elaborated on a number of landmark events and key personalities involved in preserving this intrinsic body of Dhamma through centuries.
Addressing the event, Sri Lanka's Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva, Ambassador A.L.A. Azeez underscored the significance of the Tripitaka as the foremost compilation of Buddhist philosophy and as a repository of spiritual knowledge that is close to the hearts and minds of Sri Lankans as well as millions of people over the world. He made these remarks underlining the need for collaboration among all Member States in recognizing it as a world heritage.
"For millennia, the Tripitaka has been a shared heritage of the Asian communities, and over the years, there is growing worldwide interest in the study of Buddhism, most notably in Europe, North America and Australia. This is because there is increasing recognition that Buddhism, in essence, is a way of life and a philosophy that could be easily related to and practiced by anyone anywhere," he stated.
Delivering concluding remarks and vote of thanks, Deputy Permanent Representative of Sri Lanka, Samantha Jayasuriya elaborated on the strong inter-linkages existing between the fundamental values of Buddhism such as equality and loving kindness for all living beings, and the modern day discourses on protection and promotion of human rights and non-discrimination, gender equality, for which Geneva serves as the global center. She stressed that the teachings of Lord Buddha, which the Tripitaka reflects with authenticity, enshrined at its core, the values of equality and non-discrimination, that underpin human rights.
The event commenced with the lighting of the traditional oil lamp by the members of the diplomatic corps and the screening of a documentary depicting the historical events pertaining to the Tripitaka, its declaration as a national heritage on 5 January 2019 and the importance of formally recognizing it as a world heritage. It concluded on a spiritual note, with the venerable monks chanting 'Seth Pirith' and participants were treated to Sri Lankan refreshments arranged by the Mission.
Ven. Walpola Kalyanatissa Thera, Spiritual Advisor to the Geneva Buddhist Vihara and the Zurich Buddhist Vihara, and Ven. Halyale Wimalarathana Thera, the President of the International Buddhist Foundation in Geneva and the Chief Incumbent of the Geneva Buddhist Vihara, addressed the audience on the value of the Buddhist doctrine and the significance of the Tripitaka, while Ven. Dr. Thawalama Dhammika Thera, Chief Sanghanayake of Switzerland and Chief Incumbent of the Geneva International Buddhist Centre, moderated the discussion with the participants and speakers. Ven. Keembiela Kassapa thera, the Chief Incumbent of the Toronto Buddhist Vihara also participated in the event.
The intellectual contributions made by the members of the Maha Sangha and the interactive dialogue that ensued with Ambassadors and diplomatic representatives of several countries sharing their views and perspectives enabled an incisive and insightful dhamma discourse, appreciated by all participants.
Among Heads of Missions and senior diplomats who graced the event were Ambassadors of Myanmar, Bhutan, Thailand, Laos, Viet Nam, Mongolia, the United Kingdom, India, and Pakistan and the Representative of Nepal.