Patna, Sep 5: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday announced that Bodh Gaya, which is considered the birthplace of Buddhism, would be developed as a spiritual capital of the Buddhist world.
"We want to develop Bodh Gaya as a spiritual capital of the Buddhist world," Modi said in his address at the concluding ceremony of a three-day international Buddhist conclave at Bodh Gaya,about 110 km from here.
"We are meeting in Bodh Gaya, a land that has distinctive place in history of mankind," he said.
Modi said he was happy and blessed to visit Bodh Gaya. "I have the honour of visting Bodh Gaya after Pandit Nehru and Atal ji."
He said Buddha gave to the world a complete system of morality, he was a great teacher of equality: "I would personally call India, 'Buddhist India'," he said Hinduism after Buddha's advent became Hindu Buddhism or Buddhist Hinduism.
"I consider this Hindu Buddhist conference on conflict avoidance and environmental consciousness an important event I also echo PM Shinzo Abe of Japan who the other day highlighted the importance of tolerance. When radical elements try to force their ideologies on others then issues of conflict arise," Modi said.
Earlier, soon after arriving at Gaya airport , Modi went straight to the 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple, where he offered prayers, Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee secretary N. Dorjee said.
After offering prayers, Modi circumambulated the Mahabodhi tree under which Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment 2,550 years ago.
Modi was received by Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Food Minister Minister Shyam Razak at Gaya airport.
According to police officials, Bodh Gaya has been turned into a fortress and a 16-member Special Protection Group (SPG) team has been monitoring the security arrangements.