President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday urged people to follow discipline and maintain physical distance to protect themselves from the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said this on the occasion of Asaadh Poornima while inaugurating the Dharma Chakra Day from the Rashtrapati Bhavan.
"We 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. We have to follow certain discipline and maintain physical distance," the President said.
Delivering his address on the occasion to emphasise the teachings of Lord Buddha and the eightfold path shown by him, Kovind said, "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," President Kovind said.
Union Minister of Culture Prahlad Patel, Minister of State (MoS) for Minorities Affairs Kiren Rijiju and Member of Parliament Vinay Sahasrabuddhe also addressed the opening ceremony of the event.
This day is also aptly observed as Guru Poornima by both Buddhists and Hindus as a day to mark reverence to their Gurus. President Kovind said the Buddha's cure for human suffering remains as relevant today as it was over two and half millennia ago.
He said there is no doubt that the urgency of abiding by the values that the Buddha preached is eternal. "Today, as the pandemic ravages human lives and economies across the globe, the Buddha's message serves like a beacon." He advised people to shun greed, hatred, violence, jealousy and many other vices to find happiness.
The President said, "In India, we see Buddhism as a fresh expression of the sublime truth. 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."
Following in their footsteps, the President suggested that we should strive to hear the call of Buddha to respond to his invitation to walk the Noble Path. "Contrast this message with the hankering of an unrepentant mankind indulging in the same old violence and degradation of nature," the President said and added, "We all know that the moment the virulence of coronavirus slows down and we have a far more serious challenge of climate change before us."
Expressing his happiness to host the Asadh Purnima celebration in the Rashtrapati Bhavan, the President said it is part of our civilizational journey for the welfare of the universe since time immemorial. "The day is also known as Guru Purnima. Hindus and Jains also celebrate it as a mark of reverence for their spiritual teachers. This day is an unbroken link to India's eternal pursuit of wisdom without dogma."
On Asadh Purnima, some 2,500 years ago, the Word of Wisdom was spoken out by the Buddha for the first time. On attaining enlightenment, the Buddha spent five weeks in a state beyond description and then he started sharing with people the nectar he had discovered.