Colombo: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who will be visiting the Lankan Buddhist sacred city of Anuradhapura on March 14, has very close links with Buddhism because his hometown, Vadnagar in Mehsana district of North Gujarat, had been a major Buddhist centre in 7th Century AD.
Vadnagar, an ancient city in Mehsana, was so important that the Chinese Buddhist traveller Hiuen Tsang had visited it in 641 AD and written about it.
During the time of his visit, the city was known as Anandapura.
Modi is proud of the Buddhist heritage of his hometown and had made a concerted effort to develop it as a Buddhist pilgrimage centre along with several other Buddhist sites in Gujarat.
It is reported that during his tenure as Chief Minister of Gujarat, the state archeology department had discovered as many as 12 Buddhist sites.
Modi had been keen on developing these so that they become part of the Indian Buddhist pilgrimage circuit which is presently limited to Varanasi, Bodh Gaya and Sanchi, all in other states.
Archeologists had reportedly discovered 7000 Buddhist-era pieces in
Vadnagar. Modi made good use of Vadnagar’ s Chinese links at the time of Chinese President Xi Jinping’s visit to Gujarat in September 2014.
Under Modi’s guidance, archeologists have discovered Buddhist sites, including 80 monasteries, in places like Khambalida in Saurashtra and Siyot in Kutch. Deni Ni Mori in North East Gujarat has Relics of the Buddha. Baroach (Barukachcha) had links with ancient Sri Lanka as vessels from the island used to go there regularly. According to Dr Raj Somadeva, a Lankan archaeologist, there was a whole community of sailors in ancient Lanka known as Barukachcha navika.
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