Thailand’s chief monk proposes Gandhara University in Pakistan to promote peace, spiritualism

230

Arayawangso projects soft picture of Pakistan in his discourse, Dhamma lectures

Zubair Qureshi
Bangkok

Pakistan’s soft image particularly, the country’s rich Buddhist heritage is the subject of Thailand’s senior and respected monk, Most Venerable (MV) Arayawangso’s Dhamma lectures these days.

MV Arayawangso who spent 2022’s Rains Retreat in Pakistan’s city Taxila in his sermons, public and private discourse can be seen drawing his followers’ attention towards the Buddhist sites in Peshawar, Taxila, Swat and Khyber Pass that once used to be the centre of Gandhara Civilization.

He urges them to undertake a journey to these places to see with their own eyes the footprints of the monks who travelled to these places in search of wisdom and knowledge in ancient times.

Giving an exclusive interview to Pakistan Observer in his Forest Monastery, MV Arayawangso said since Pakistan was a country with the 3rd largest treasure of Buddhist sites, a university could be set up on the ruins of the Buddhist sites by the Department of Archaeology so that education of the area could be promoted.

Pakistan’s Gandhara Civilization he insisted was not only about history, it was about wisdom too.

He expressed his willingness to inaugurate the Gandhara University which according to him would be a unique centre of excellence spreading knowledge, peace and spiritualism.

Arayawangso was of the view that both Thailand and Pakistan shared a similar background and people of the two countries were kind and loving by nature. During my trips to Pakistan (MV has earlier visited Pakistan in 2019 also) I met people who were warm, hospitable, good-natured and friendly in contrast to the general perception about Pakistan in Thailand, he said.

Like Thailand, Pakistan is a home to multi-ethnic communities and groups and the country should perhaps adopt a similar policy allowing followers of all faiths to visit the country freely without any fear or problems.

In our Dhamma sessions, there is no ban on Muslims or Christians or followers of any faith from attending as the teachings of Lord Buddha are about seeking peace, harmony, help and wisdom, he further said.

In Thailand society also, Muslims and Buddhists are living in complete harmony and there is no segregation between them, MV said adding the Muslims are the second biggest component of the population of Thailand, a little above 5 per cent and they are free to go to their mosques and practice their rituals according to the teachings of Islam.

Islam he said preached peace and harmony of society and if a person spreads hatred or terrorism in the name of Islam it is an individual’s act and has nothing to do with Islam.

Thailand is a unique country in the sense that its monarch is the supreme patron of all religious and ethnic