It may be said that the Buddha is one of the most revolutionary thinkers and the holiest persons ever lived on the earth. He has been a beacon light not only for India or Asia but for the entire world. His advocacy of pursuit of Praj§» and practice of Karu?», his vision of self-sameness with everyone (Par»tma Samat»), and zealous longing for eradication of suffering of others as one's own (Par»tma Parivartana) cross all barriers of race, creed, country and even humanity. His benevolent teachings of universal compassion and cosmic goodwill, his emphasis on the noble virtues of maitrŌ, Karu?», mudita and Upek?» known as Brahmaviharas (i.e. living and working for totality), all these have a significant message for the present-day distracted humankind suffering from exhaustion of spirit and languishing in the narrow and rigid confinements of ego-centricism, parochalism and disasterous materialistic consumerism. In the present times our traditional cultures are facing terrible danger of extinction under the perverting impact of the so-called modernisation which is divisive, depriving and destructive.
For the first time since their inception such a large scale threatening situation has arisen. We have not so far cared to share a common platform to meet the challenge in a decisive and global way, may be due to ignorance, negligence, self-centeredness or bewitchment with modernism etc. A time has come for the beginning of a cultural renaissance for which the teachings of the Buddha can play a vital and pivotal role. A renewal of cross-cultural interactions under their banner will not only help and contribute to mutual understanding, mutual empathy and mutual enrichment, it will also consolidate our common spiritual roots and resources. It will enable us to appreciate the spiritual, holistic and integral perspective as against the divisive and diachotomous world-view. If the humanity looks back to its hoary past to discern whatever is true, good and beautiful, whatever is living and beneficial in it, the wisdom of those times will help us more intimately and more truly to our mutual well-being.
The present volume, which is the first in the series of four volumes consisting articles published in the Indian Historical Quarterly, may be a right step towards this goal.