International Conference on Buddhism in Literature of South East Asia

On October 25, 2021, the Embassy of India, Phnom Penh in collaboration with Preah Sihanoukraja Buddhist University, Phnom Penh organized a Regional Buddhist Conference (RBC) in Cambodia on the subject “Buddhism in Literature in South East Asia” in virtual mode on October 25, 2021. The Conference was organized in virtual mode due to COVID-related restrictions.

The conference was presided over by H.E Samdech Preah Maha Ariyavamsa Dr. Khy Sovanratana, Acting Rector of Preah Sihanoukraja Buddhist University (SBU) and Ven. Dr. Dhammapiya, Secretary-General of International Buddhist Confederation (IBC). It focused on sharing the knowledge, experiences, and influences on Buddhism in the literature of countries in South-East Asia. It also examined the related languages of Pali and Sanskrit literature in the literature of these countries. The conference was live-streamed on social media and saw participation by eminent scholars/academicians from various regional Buddhist institutes from Myanmar, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, etc.

The conference organized in two phases was chaired by Preah Munikosala Dr. Yon Seng Yeath, Vice-Rector of SBU, and Dr. Khy Sovanratana, Acting Reactor of SBU. Prominent speakers who enlightened the participants on various aspects of Buddhism and its cultural and literary influence included: Ven. Asst. Prof. Dr. Phramaha Nopadol Punnasuvaddhako, Senior Vice Dean, Lecturer in Department of Pali and Sanskrit, Faculty of Buddhism, Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University (MCU), Thailand. Asst. Prof. Dr. Phramaha Somphong Unyo, Vice Director of International Buddhist Studies College, MCU, Thailand. Ven. Dr. Hongsa BORIBOUN, Deputy General Director of the Committee for Sangha Foreign Affairs of Central Buddhist Fellowship Organization of Lao PDR and the Lecturer of Ongtue Sangha College, Vientiane, Lao PDR. Preah Sumedhavamsa Dr. Sok Bunthoeun, from Higher Buddhist Education and Post-Graduate Studies, General Inspectorate of National Buddhist Education, Cambodia. Kadek Yudi Murdana, Head of Buddhism Education Study Programme, and Mrs. Latifa, Lecturer, both from Kertarajasa Buddhist College, East Java, Indonesia. Ven. Dr. Ariyavamasa, Myanmar and Ven. Chau Tinh, Vietnam, amongst others.

Some of the aspects of Buddhism covered during the conference included Dhammapadatthakatha: Conceptual Influence on Buddhist Way of Life and Peace in South East Asia, Main Sources of Getting Rebirth for the Beings Regarding the Thai Literature: Traibhumikatha, Buddhist Contribution in Khmer Literature, Influence of Buddhism on Lao culture, A Critical Study of Cambodian Pchum Ben Buddhist Festival with special reference to Tirokkudda Kanda Sutta, Contribution of Pali Literature in Cambodia, Pali Texts Translation Program by Dhammavihari Buddhist Studies.

Addressing the conference, Dr. Devyani Khobragade, Ambassador of India, Phnom Penh while paying homage to the Triple Gem- Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha, expressed her gratitude to Dr. Khy Sovanaratana, Acting Reactor, Dr. Yong Seng Yeath, Vice-Rector, and Ven. Sam Art Oeun of Preah Sihanoukraja University and all the Venerable Masters, Professors, Speakers, monks, and participants in the International Conference on behalf of the International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) based in India, Government of India, Indian Council of Cultural Relations (ICCR). Expressing pleasure of presiding over the concluding ceremony of the conference, Ambassador thanked speakers for scope and the depth of the presentations made not only showcasing the geographic expanse of the Buddhist influence emanating from India all over South East Asia but the synergistic exchange of the Buddhist values and traditions through the existing culture of the region. Highlighting cultural and historical bonds between India and southeast Asian countries including Cambodia, Ambassador noted India in South Asia and Cambodia in the Southeast are in many ways connected to each other with the common faith of Buddhism being the strongest bridge. She hoped for such endeavors in the future possibly in an offline format, once the COVID situation improves.

Ambassador appreciated the deliberations on how the Buddhist literature and scriptures from various countries have influenced the living traditions of Buddhism in Southeast Asia. She appreciated the upholding of traditions, philosophy, values, and ideals of Buddhism and urged the attending speakers to dedicate the merits of the RBC to the people of India and Southeast Asia.

This followed Ven. Dr. Khy Sovanratana expressed satisfaction over the successful conclusion of the conference and made special reference to the Indian Ambassador and officials from SBU for making this happen. He also expressed his gratitude towards eminent scholars/academicians from various South East Asian countries for enlightening about the rich philosophy and values of Buddhism and hoped for more such productive interactions in the future as Cambodia will be the chair of ASEAN in the year 2021and host the Sea Games in early 2023.

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