●Dharma Chakra Day; 4th July 2020
•Ministry of Culture, Government of India in partnership with International Buddhist Confederation (IBC) will celebrate the upcoming Asadha Poornima on 4th July, 2020 as Dharma Chakra Day.
•The day marks Buddha’s first teaching after attaining Enlightenment to the first five ascetic disciples (pañcavargika) on the full-moon day of Asadha at ‘Deer Park’, Ṛiṣipatana in the current day Sarnath, near Varanasi, India
•The auspicious day of Asadha Poornima falls on the first full moon day of the month of Asadha as per Indian sun calendar.
•It is also known as Esala Poya in Sri Lanka and Asanha Bucha in Thailand
•It is the second most sacred day for Buddhists after the Buddha Poornima or Vesak.
【The festivities would start off with chanting of prayers at Sarnath, Varanasi (U.P.) which will be livestreamed, following which the opening event will be shifted to the Rashtrapati Bhavan.】
•This teaching of Dhamma Cakka- PavattanaSutta (Pali) or Dharma chakra Pravartana Sutra (Sanskrit) is also known as the First Turning of Wheels of Dharma and comprised of the Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path.
•The Rainy Season retreat (Varsha Vassa) for the Monks and Nuns also starts with this day lasting for three lunar months from July to October, during which they remain in a single place, generally in their temples (Viharas/ Chaityas) dedicated to intensive meditation.
•The day is also observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus
•Buddhism has become an important tool in contemporary geopolitics particularly in Asia, and it has become increasingly evident that whoever controls the Buddhist discourse and activities will sway influence in Asia.
•The celebration of Dharma Chakra Day is being pushed as an event to show India’s strong Buddhist heritage amid tensions with China. It will see the virtual participation of leaders from major Buddhist countries, except China.
•The timing of the event is particularly important, because this is when both countries would like to resurrect their linkages with others. To show that like-minded countries are coming together sends across a message. What is however important is that one has to put in sustained effort at this, and have a relook at India-China policy with strategic cultural moves.
•The Central Tibetan Administration has asked Tibetan Buddhists to participate in the online event in large numbers to “support and appreciate” the effort.
•The Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) is an organisation headquartered in McLeod Ganj, Dharamshala, India. It is also referred to as the Tibetan Government in Exile which has never been recognized by China.
•The position of the CTA is that Tibet is a distinct nation with a long history of independence and it considers China’s administration of Tibet as illegitimate military occupation.
•In addition to political advocacy, it administers a network of schools and other cultural activities for Tibetans in India.
•Meanwhile, the People’s Republic of China (PRC)’s World Buddhist Forum (WBF) has been hosting congregations of buddhist monks since 2005. China’s extensive infrastructure investment in Lumbini, Buddha’s birthplace in Nepal, is also seen as a strategic move to claim the Buddhist legacy.