Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation

Interaction with Delegation from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok

  • Dr Syama Prasad Mookerjee Research Foundation (SPMRF) had an interaction with a Delegation from Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok on 23 December 2022. The delegation comprised of 3 Professors, 3 Academic Officers and 6 students. It was led by Dr. Surat Horachaikul, Assistant Professor, Department of International Relations, Chulalongkorn University and Director, Indian Studies Center of Chulalongkorn University.
  • After the formal introductions, our Hon’ble Director Dr. Anirban Ganguly initiated a discussion on the civilisational aspects of Buddhism and how it contributed towards enriching the glorious Indian civilisation. It was emphasized that Buddhism should not be looked upon a separate religion, rather it is very much a part of Hinduism. Both adhere to the concept of ‘karma’, which implies that every action results in a reaction. Both believe in several spiritual practices in attempts to get beyond the thinking mind and into a state of relaxation and awareness. This view has also ben echoed in the sayings of Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’, who has described ‘Buddhism’ as an offshoot of Hinduism and he regarded Gautama Buddha not as “an innovator” or “an inventor,” but as “a continuator of the past” or “a discoverer.”
  • India’s bilateral relations with Thailand was also an important topic of discussion. Indo-Thai relations rooted in history as well as age-old social and cultural interactions and extensive people to people contacts. The shared link of Buddhism is reflected in regular pilgrimages to places of Buddhist interest in India by a large number of Thai people. Hindu elements can be found among those reflected in Thai architecture, arts, sculpture, dance, drama and literature. Thai language incorporates Pali and Sanskrit influences. A large Indian diaspora living and working in Thailand forms another important bond.
  • The Mahabodhi Society also formed an integral part of this discussion wherein Dr. Syama Prasad Mookerjee’s affiliation with the Society was also highlighted. As president of the society, he significantly contributed to further strengthening India’s cultural ties with other Nations. The Buddhist artefacts & relics brought back from England were handed over to him by Prime Minister Nehru in 1949. Later on, he visited Burma, Vietnam, Sri Lanka & Cambodia, and other southeast Asian countries as a cultural ambassador to strengthen cultural ties based on Buddhist values.
  • Special mention was made of Swami Satyananda Puri, an Indian revolutionary and philosopher who had also taught Oriental philosophy at the University of Calcutta and later at Gurudev Rabindranath Tagore’s Visva-Bharati University at Santiniketan. Encouraged by Gurudev, he arrived in Thailand in 1932, and in 1939, he founded the Thai-Bharat Lodge, a cultural forum that seeks to promote comparative studies and exchange between Thai and Indian history and culture. Upon his arrival, he was appointed a professor at the Chulalongkorn University, lecturing in ancient Indian and Thai languages, and is said to have mastered the Thai Language in six months and went on to translate a number of Indian philosophical works and biographies, including the Ramayana and biographies of Gandhi to Thai. His literary work eventually was more than twenty volumes.
  • In the current scenario, the past two decades have witnessed regular political exchanges. India’s ties with Thailand have now evolved into a comprehensive partnership. Both countries are important regional partners linking South and Southeast Asia. High level visits and meetings have taken place on a regular basis between both sides. Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi accompanied by Dr. S. Jaishankar, External Affairs Minister (EAM) and Shri Piyush Goyal, Commerce and Industries Minister (CIM) visited Thailand from 02-04 Nov 2019 to attend ASEAN related Summits (16th ASEAN India Summit, 14th East Asia Summit, the 3rd RCEP Summit and related events). During the visit, PM Modi addressed a community event “Sawadee Modi” which was attended by around 5000 persons of Indian community. In the same vein, Thailand’s Hon’ble PM General Shri Prayut Chan-o-cha too has visited India on more than one occasion. The glorious cultural linkages between the two countries since times immemorial can be certainly utilised to incorporate new areas of cooperation and being an emerging world power, it is India’s duty to preserve as well as promote the cultural values and ethos of our great civilisation.
  • The meeting ended with a vote of thanks and a group photo session.