Celebrating Vesak Day and 130th Birth Anniversary of Dr Ambedkar

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With a view to celebrating Vesak and Dr. B.R. Ambedkar’s 130th Birth Anniversary, the Embassy of India in Phnom Penh, in coordination with the Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University, Phnom Penh, organized a webinar discussion on 25 April 2021 on Buddhism in Cambodia and Southeast Asia and Dr. Ambedkar’s vision of a Buddhist Renaissance.

Besides Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India, the webinar was addressed by eminent personalities such as by His Eminence Samdech Preah Maha Ariyavamsa Dr. Khy Sovanratana, Acting Rector, Preah Sihanoukraja Buddhist University (SBU), Venerable Penh Vibol, Academic Lecturer, Preah Sihanouk Raja Buddhist University and Dr. Aakash Singh Rathore, a philosopher of international repute and author of eight books, including Ambedkar’s Preamble. Around forty-five prominent Cambodians and Indians attended the webinar which was live-streamed on Embassy of India, Phnom Penh, and SBU social media handles and viewed by several thousand.

Later, His Eminence Samdech Preah Maha Ariyavamsa Dr. Khy Sovanratana, Acting Rector, Preah Sihanoukraja Buddhist University (SBU), spoke on the Buddhist linkages between India and Cambodia and the Indic roots of Buddhism and its influence on Cambodia and other Southeast Asian nations. Venerable Penh Vibol, Academic Lecturer at SBU spoke about Buddhist practice in South East Asia.

All the speakers agreed on how the Buddhist tradition and the philosophical ideas that underpin it have been instrumental in maintaining Cambodia’s resilience to the adversities it has faced in the recent past. Buddhism embodies universal values such as human dignity, individual freedom, and equality, tolerance, and plurality, truth, and non-violence. These were the values that inspired Dr. Ambedkar to adopt Buddhism later in his life, along with millions of his followers. Dr. Ambedkar’s is therefore respected and well known in many Buddhist countries as a social reformer who led to a revival of Buddhism in India.

Ambassador Devyani Khobragade also outlined some of the initiatives that the Government of India has been undertaking such as working on the Buddhist circuit, organizing international Buddhist conferences, offering scholarships to Cambodian students and monks in Nalanda University on Buddhist studies, organizing online ITEC courses on Buddhism and Vipassana, etc.  She underscored India’s resolve to continue fostering strong Buddhist linkages between India and Cambodia through various bilateral, multilateral, and public and private initiatives.

Source: India in Cambodia (Embassy of India, Phnom Penh)