As the coronavirus pandemic ravages human lives and economies across the world, Lord Buddha's message of shunning vices like hatred and violence to find happiness serves like a beacon, President Ram Nath Kovind said on Saturday.
"We all know that the moment the virulence of coronavirus slows down, we have a far more serious challenge of climate change before us," he said at a virtual event organised by the International Buddhist Confederation at Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Kovind said the world seems full of suffering, in short term as well as in long term.
"There are many stories of kings and affluent people suffering from acute depression who took refuge in Buddha to escape cruelties of life," the president said.
He said the life of Buddha challenges earlier convictions as he believed in finding deliverance from suffering in the midst of this imperfect world.
"Today, as the pandemic ravages human lives and economies across the globe, Buddha's message serves like a beacon. He advised people to shun greed, hatred, violence, jealousy and many other vices to find happiness. Contrast this message with the hankering of an unrepentant mankind indulging in the same old violence and degradation of nature," Kovind said.
The president said that India is proud of being the land of the origin of 'Dhamma'.
"In India, we see Buddhism as a fresh expression of the sublime truth," he said at the event organised on the occasion of the Dharma Chakra Diwas.
Kovind said Lord Buddha's enlightenment and subsequent preaching by him for over four decades were in line with India's tradition of respect for intellectual liberalism and spiritual diversity.
In modern times, two exceptionally great Indians, Mahatma Gandhi and Babasaheb Ambedkar, found inspiration in the words of the Buddha and went on to shape the destiny of the nation, he said.
"Following in their footsteps, we should strive to hear the call of the Buddha, to respond to his invitation to walk the noble path," the president said.
The International Buddhist Confederation or IBC, with its presence in 36 countries, is holding the celebrations around the world.
"We, however, are in the midst of a virulent pandemic that has overwhelmed the entire humanity. Perhaps no part of the world remains untouched by this calamity that adversely affects every individual. As a precaution, we have to follow certain discipline and maintain physical distance," he said.
The IBC is, therefore, holding the events virtually, Kovind said, adding that such an effort is praiseworthy, because this makes it possible for a far larger number of people, from all corners of the world, to participate in them.
"The world has suffered much this year, and I sincerely wish that this sacred day heralds a new ray of hope and grants a glimpse of happiness. I also pray that it lights the lamp of wisdom in the heart of everyone," the president concluded.