In 1947, Japanese Buddhist Monk, Nichidatsu Fuji, the founder of Nipponzan Myohoji, a Neo-Buddhist Organisation devised the plan of constructing Peace Pagodas all over the world. He was highly influenced by Mahatma Gandhi. The pagodas were means of promoting peace and also a way of honouring and remembering those who died and suffered in the atomic attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Today there are 7 World Peace Pagodas in India out of the total 80 Peace Pagodas spread across the globe. Today, on Hiroshima Day, let’s have a quick look at the Peace Pagodas in India.They are also called Vishwa Shanti Stupas in India.
What is Hiroshima Day?
6th of August is observed as Hiroshima Day every year in remembrance of the atomic bombing during Second World War, on two cities of Japan: Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki was detonated on 6th and 9th August 1945, respectively. The nuclear bomb blasts killed nearly 80,000 people while more than 35,000 were injured, and generations were affected. Not only this, but it also led to massive structural damage. That is why World Peace Pagodas in India and around the world besides promoting peace, clearly declares and demands ‘no atomic wars.’
Seven World Peace Pagodas in India
The 7 World Peace Pagodas in India look similar. They are majestic white domed stupas with statues of Buddha mounted on four sides. The stupas have a garden and a monastery or Buddhist temple attached to them. The first Vishwa Shanti Stupa in India was built in 1969 at the hill top of Ratnagiri Hill, at Rajgir, a town in Nalanda District of Bihar. In 1972 the Dhauli Giri Shanti Stupa (Peace Pagoda) was built at Bhubaneswar, Orissa near an ancient site of Buddhist and Shaiva significance. Darjeeling’s Peace Pagoda’s foundation was laid in 1972 and was finally inaugurated in 1992. In 1985, His Holiness, the 14 th Dalai Lama inaugurated the Peace Pagoda at Leh, Ladakh. Vishali is one of the most revered sites for Buddhists and is declared ‘protected’ by Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), as it has the Buddha Relic Stupa. It enshrines the holy ashes of Lord Buddha. A World Peace Pagoda was built at Vaishali too and was inaugurated in 1996. Wardha,Maharashtra, also has a Shanti Stupa, inaugurated in 1996. The Peace Pagoda at Indraprastha Park, Delhi, is a recent one, inaugurated in 2007.
World Peace Pagodas I visited
Out of the 7 World Peace Pagodas in India, I had been fortunate enough to visit 5. The first one I visited was the Peace Pagoda in Darjeeling. It was 1993 when I first visited this stupa and I instantly fell in love with the calm and serenity of the place. Almost every year I visit Darjeeling and I also visit the Peace Pagoda. Perched on a slopes of Jalapar Hill, amidst pines and deodars, this place is a gem, exuberating peace and calmness. I have also visited the Shanti Stupa at Leh, a major spot at Leh. The white domed monument is situated on a rugged hill top from where the Leh town and Shey Palace can be seen. This place reflects tranquillity. I paid a quick visit to the Shanti Stupas at Delhi and Bhubaneswar during work tours. Once you experience the quietude and harmony of the Shanti Stupas, it helps in soothing the mind in any situation. I had also visited the first of the World Peace Pagodas in India. Visiting the Peace Pagoda in Rajgir is an experience. We reached the monastery by riding the open cable car which is an uncovered single chair ropeway. The view from the hill top is blissful.
World Peace is possible when everyone is at peace with each other and with the self. It is a goal for which we all need to work hand in hand. Let us be a little more compassionate and loving and learn to forgive and forget because as Mahatma Gandhi said, “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind”.