By Ibtesham Sarwar
On the auspicious Buddhist festival of Poson Poya on June 14, the Indian High Commission to Sri Lanka launched an audiobook of the Jataka Tales in Sinhala at the premises of Ruwanweli Maha Seya in Anuradhapura. The audiobook is primarily meant for the visually impaired. Sushil Kumar, Counsellor, Technical Cooperation, and Head of Chancery of the Indian High Commission, handed it over to the Venerable Mahasangha.
The audiobook launch also coincides with the 75th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations between India and Sri Lanka.
The audiobook has 50 Jataka Tales on the theme of 'Good Advice' and is curated from Jatakatthakatha. The Jataka Tales is one of the oldest pieces of Buddhist literature and consists of 550 stories about the Buddha's previous births in his various forms, human and animal.
In a video message, Indian High Commissioner Gopal Baglay said that the offering of the Jataka Tales audiobook was a 'dharma daana' or a spiritual giving of the teachings of the Buddha to Sri Lankans from Indians. He observed that the Buddhist heritage, of which the Jataka Tales were a part, was a vital bond India had with many countries, especially Sri Lanka. The island country held a special place since it was among the first countries, nearly two millennia ago, to get the gift of Buddhism. More such initiatives would help tighten the common cultural heritage of the two countries and the ties between the people.
Recently, India has granted Sri Lanka about $15 million to promote Buddhist ties and started international flights between Sri Lanka and Kushinagar. Last October, there was a multi-city exposition of the Kapilvastu Buddhist relics from the Rajaguru Sri Subhuthi Maha Vihara of Waskaduwa.