Sunday, November 20, 2011

Influential Chinese monks set to visit Bodh Gaya amid Nalanda University work

A group of 30 monks linked to the Buddhist Association of China is going on a visit to Bodh Gaya and other Indian towns and cities as part of a move to strengthen people-to-people relations between the two countries. The highlight of the visit will be a ritual during which new monks will be ordained at the Chinese Buddhist temple at Bodh Gaya.

The visit is seen as a significant political move because the association is closely linked to the Communist Party of China, and plays an important role in helping the government enhance its relationship with countries with significant Buddhist presence. It played a key role in sending and displaying relics from the body of Lord Buddha, in Myanmar recently.

The group led by association president Chuan Yin is expected to meet Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar, experts involved in the establishment of the Nalanda International University and the officials of the Indian Council of Cultural Relations in New Delhi. The monks are expected to visit different Buddhist sites in India, and hold discussions with monks of the order besides meeting officials at the Chinese embassy in New Delhi, sources said.

The move comes at a time when work on establishing the Nalanda International University is in full steam. China along with Japan and Vietnam is one of the major participating countries while the Peking University is a collaborator. The monks are expected to leave for India on Friday.

The Indian government is expected to take a keen interest in the activities of the association because of its close links with the Chinese government. It plays a key role in persuading rebel monks in Tibet to accept Beijing's views. It is facing an uphill task in weaning rebel monks away from their loyalty towards the Dalai Lama, whom Beijing regards as a politician set to split China to create a free Tibet.
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