National Conference on Buddhist Civilization

Participants of the National Conference gathered for 3 days in Kedah to explore the rich Buddhist heritage in northern Malaysia.

Leading Buddhist federations in Malaysia came together to celebrate the 60th anniversary of our nation’s independence in a meaningful way – by organising the “National Conference on Buddhist Civilization” from 15 to 17 September 2017, in Sungai Petani.  The unique gathering of 130 Buddhist leaders from all traditions aimed at spotlighting the long history of Buddhist presence in this country, especially in northern Peninsular Malaysia.

The Conference opened on 15 September with a solemn prayer for peace.

Spiritual adviser Ven. B. Sri Saranankara delivering his opening address at the Conference.

The 3-day Conference included panel discussions on Malaysian Buddhist history, the preservation of local Buddhist heritage, and enhancing intra-sectarian understanding and cooperation.  The highlight of the Conference was a special study tour to Bujang Valley archaeological sites and museum, led by Nalanda founder Bro Tan.  The half-day tour on 16 September was remarkably enriching, and revealed an invaluable treasure trove of Buddhist heritage in Central Kedah.

Bro. Tan leading the study tour to Bujang Valley historical and excavation sites.

Visiting the Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum in Merbok.

Tour of Sungai Batu archaeological site, where remnants of Buddhist presence dating to 2,000 years ago were discovered.

The Conference participants also visited Nalanda Education & Outreach (NEO) Centre in Bandar Mutiara, Sungai Petani, where Bro. Tan gave a presentation on Buddhist presence in Southeast Asia, starting with its arrival in ‘Suvarnabhumi’ twenty-three centuries ago.

Bro. Tan presenting a lecture on the history of Bujang Valley at NEO Centre Sungai Petani.

There was also an interactive Q&A session after the hour-long special lecture.

This Conference was part of a grand celebration billed the ‘Malaysian Buddhist Festival’ (MBF) to mark our nation’s ‘Diamond Jubilee’.  The joint organisers of this festival include Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA), Theravāda Buddhist Council (TBCM), Vajrayana Buddhist Council (VBCM), Fo Guang Shan (佛光山) Malaysia, and Selangor Buddhist Development Council.  A series of religious, cultural, and academic programmes have been lined up under MBF until 2018, which will be held in states throughout Malaysia.

Panelists at the Conference (from left): Bro. Tan, Dato’ Nadarajan, Bujang Valley Archaeological Museum curator En. Azman, and moderator cum MBF Chairman Bro. Loka Ng.

We thank the organisers of the Conference for choosing to host it in the cradle of Malaysian Buddhist civilization – the Bujang Valley.