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Back to listMay 3, 2012

Facsimile Edition of the Gilgit Lotus Sutra Manuscripts Celebrated in India

The facsimile edition of Gilgit Lotus Sutra ManuscriptsThe facsimile edition of Gilgit Lotus Sutra Manuscripts

In collaboration with the National Archives of India and the Institute of Oriental Philosophy (IOP), the Soka Gakkai recently published the 14th work in its Lotus Sutra Manuscript Series: The facsimile edition of Gilgit Lotus Sutra Manuscripts. The original manuscripts, written on birch bark and paper, are held in the National Archives of India. A special event to mark the launch of this edition was held at the India International Centre in New Delhi on May 3.   

Some 200 guests attended a commemorative event, including Indian Secretary of Culture Shrimati Sangita Gairola; Professor Mushirul Hasan, Director General of the National Archives of India; Dr. Lokesh Chandra, Director of the International Academy of Indian Culture; Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, Founder President of the Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA) and Shri Chinmaya R. Gharekhan, current IGNCA president.

In his welcome speech, Professor Hasan commented that this historical event would influence not only Buddhist study and the appreciation of Sanskrit, but also contribute greatly to the literary study of religions and philosophies in China, Japan, Korea and Tibet. Copies of the facsimile edition will be distributed to selected libraries and scholars around the world.

At the India International CentreAt the India International Centre

The Gilgit manuscripts, some of the most ancient in the world, were discovered by herdsmen inside a Buddhist stupa in Kashmir's Gilgit region in 1931. Opinions vary as to the exact date when they were written, but there is some consensus that it was between the sixth and seventh century CE.

SGI President Daisaku Ikeda states the Lotus Sutra "is by no means a mere relic of a past culture." He further says it is "a sacred text eternal in nature and unending in the creation of value."

Shrimati Gairola commended Soka Gakkai’s efforts to share the Lotus Sutra Manuscript Series which she described as a great heritage of humanism. Dr. L. Chandra said that the Lotus Sutra emphasizes the importance of life, stating it is the most valuable treasure.

In 2010, Dr. L. Chandra proposed to IOP Founder Daisaku Ikeda that a facsimile edition of the Gilgit Lotus Sutra manuscripts be published, and subsequently supported the publishing of the edition together with the National Archives of India and with Dr. Oskar von Hinüber, Professor Emeritus at the University of Freiburg, Germany.

[Adapted from an article in the May 18, 2012, issue of the Seikyo Shimbun, Soka Gakkai, Japan; photos courtesy of Seikyo Shimbun]