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Araddhaviriye pahitatte, niccam dalhaparakkame. Samagge savake passa, etam buddhanavandanam.
'I see meditators all together, steadfast, resolute, always exerting strong effort; this is the proper way to pay homage to the Buddhas.'
The Buddha did not teach Buddhism. He did not convert a single person to Buddhism. This might sound surprising, because of centuries of misconceptions. But the historical truth is that the Buddha neither taught Buddhism nor made any person a Buddhist.
Those to whom the Buddha taught the Dhamma thoroughly were sent to teach others with only the noble volition of 'bahujana hitaya bahujana sukhaya lokanukampaya' - For the good of many, for the happiness of many, out of compassion for the world. Instead of establishing a religious sect he re-established the ancient true eternal Dhamma in its pristine purity.
The word used for the teaching of the Buddha is 'Dhamma', not 'Buddhist Dhamma'. Whenever any adjective precedes the word 'Dhamma', it is qualitative, not sectarian. Like saddhamma - true Dhamma, ariyo dhammo - noble Dhamma, dhammo sanantano - eternal Dhamma, and so on. His followers were not called Buddhists anywhere in the texts. For those who gained benefit by walking on the path shown by him, these six words were used: dhammim, dhammiko, dhammattho, dhammacarim, dhammavihari, dhammanusari.
Not only during the lifetime of the Buddha but even in the next few centuries, we do not come across words like 'Buddhist' or 'Buddhism' anywhere.
About 250 years after the Buddha, Emperor Ashoka, who was obsessed with power and was proud to be called 'Ashoka the Cruel', came in contact with Dhamma. He benefited, inspired others to walk on the path of Dhamma and he was called 'Dhamma Ashoka', not 'Buddhist Ashoka'.
Out of love for his subjects Emperor Ashoka encouraged the spread of Dhamma among them, not Buddhism. He sent not Buddhism, but the Dhamma ratana - the jewel of Dhamma, not only to neighbouring countries but to distant Western countries as well, as a priceless gift from India. He sent Dhammaduta - Messengers of Dhamma, not 'Messengers of Buddhism'. None of the edicts on rocks and columns of Emperor Ashoka that have come to light so far contain the word 'Buddhist'; everywhere, the word 'Dhamma' is used. Dhamma is universal, it is for everyone.
Sectarian words may have come into use to describe the Buddha’s teaching after this country forgot the essence of the true teaching of the Buddha. Gradually this country also lost the entire original related literature and, worst of all, lost Vipassana, the technique of practicing the essence of that teaching.
Vipassana is a very ancient meditation technique of India. Any person who becomes a Buddha attains enlightenment by rediscovering this lost technique. In the Vedic literature before the lifetime of the Buddha there is abundant praise for this technique. But it is only praise. The Buddha re-discovered this lost technique.
Vipassana, the practical aspect of the Buddha’s teaching, serves people from every caste, race, class and religion. It is direct proof that the Buddha’s teaching is universal. When Vipassana was lost the original teaching of the Buddha was lost. This was a great loss not only for our country, but also for all humanity. India lost the beneficial technique due to which its past had been very prosperous and the world had saluted it as a vishwa-guru - Teacher of the world.
With the loss of Vipassana most people forgot the universal and eternal importance of the Buddha’s teaching. As long as it was 'Dhamma', people practiced it but as soon as it began to be called 'Buddhism', the delusion naturally spread, 'This is the Dhamma for Buddhists, not for us'. And the immense benefits to be gained from Vipassana were lost.
Fortunately the neighbouring country of Myanmar preserved this universal technique of Vipassana in its pure form for centuries, from generation to generation. It has returned to India and arisen again in the world. This Global Vipassana Pagoda is a symbol of the arising of the Buddha’s true teachings.
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This huge stone monument will be a light-house of India’s ancient prosperity and prestige. It will again bring to light the ancient, eternal, universal tradition of Dhamma for the benefit of the world.
A state-of-the art exhibition gallery will convey information about Vipassana, and will depict various well-known, inspiring incidents in the life of the Buddha and his disciples, showing how this universal, non-sectarian teaching enables one to live a life full of compassion, equanimity and practical wisdom to deal with all the challenging ups and downs in life.