BUDDHISM: CONNECTING BHUTAN TO INDIA
The ‘Dharmic civilisation’ of India has given birth to a number of religions in the world and with the passage of time these religions have assimilated into the social fabric of the nations. The development and growth of spirituality, science, art and faith over centuries in the Indian subcontinent had found its way to other parts of the region, earning India a considerable amount of ‘soft power’ long before the term was coined in western academia. From its cradle in India, Buddhism gradually spread out in many countries such as Bhutan, Myanmar, Thailand, and Sri Lanka, which now accommodates the world’s substantial Buddhist population.
Guided by the ideal of shared prosperity rooted in the ‘Bharat to Bhutan’ (B2B) vision, India has identified that the real source of power and energy for the relationship between the two states are the citizens of two countries. The partnership has extended beyond the traditional sectors of cooperation to new frontiers. The Buddhist Circuit was launched by the Ministry of Tourism, India, in 2016 as the country’s first transnational tourism circuit, covering sites in Nepal and Sri Lanka as well as those in India. The Buddhist Circuit includes Bodh Gaya, Vaishali and Rajgir in Bihar, Kushinagar, Sarnath and Shravasti in Uttar Pradesh, and Lumbini in Nepal. It is based on the vision of providing world-class state-of-the-art facilities for reverence of Lord Buddha and the holiest pilgrimage sites of Buddhism and has only further cemented the deep bilateral ties between India and Bhutan.
Over the years, Buddhism has acted as a cultural and civilisational bridge between Bhutan and India. The age-old ties between both the countries based on the shared history, geography, religion, culture and tradition has brought out a unique relation unparalleled anywhere else in the world. Both India and Bhutan believe in peace and tolerance and prosperity in the world, inspired by the ‘Madhyama Marg’ of Buddhism and ‘Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam’. In the years to come, the two nations have a great deal to offer to the world, as a beacon of hope to people caught in between balancing consumerism and sustainability.