Prime Minister D. M. Jayaratne and the High Commissioner of India Y. K. Sinha inaugurated the Indian Gallery at the International Buddhist Museum in the Sri Dalada Maligawa (Temple of Tooth) in Kandy Sunday.
The Gallery was inaugurated in the presence of the Most Venerable Mahanayake Thero of Asgiriya and the Venerable Anunayaka Thero of Malwatte.
Addressing the function the Prime Minister emphasized the historical relationship between India and Sri Lanka for over 2600 years. He also stated that India is not only a neighboring country but also the closest friend of Sri Lanka.
The High Commissioner, while welcoming the dignitaries, spoke of the historical links that bind the people of India and Sri Lanka.
He noted that the exposition of the Sacred Kapilavastu Relics in Sri Lanka last year was witnessed by more than three million Sri Lankans. He recalled that the President of Sri Lanka had visited Sanchi last year for laying the foundation of the International University for Buddhist and Indic Studies at Sanchi in the state of Madhya Pradesh. He also referred to the setting up of a new Nalanda University, which was expected to attract students from all over Asia and beyond.
The Indian Gallery, which was developed by the National Council of Science Museums, Government of India, encapsulates the origins of Buddhism in India and its peaceful spread to other parts of Asia and the world. The Gallery has replicas of the historic monuments of Bodh Gaya, in addition to the Sanchi Stupa, the Ajanta Caves and other marvels of Buddhist art and architecture. The theme of the gallery is grouped in eight major sections:
(1) India - the origin of Buddhism - which includes the primary events in Buddha's life;
(2) Pilgrimage sites in India which includes the important Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India. A separate multimedia kiosk provides detailed information in the form of texts, graphics and videos;
(3) Symbolic representation which includes Buddhist art in the pre-Christian era when Buddha was presented through symbols like an empty throne, the Bodhi tree, a pair of footprints, a wheel, etc;
(4) Anthropomorphic representation which includes the period in different dynasties when stories pertaining to the Life of Buddha were shown with representation of the master in human form. The master in human forms has been represented by replicas in 3D sculptures;
(5) Secondary events which includes the four sites of miraculous events in Buddha's life;
(6) Hand gestures which include mudras in 3D sculptures. These mudras show how Buddha, Bodhisattvas and frequently, other deities, used their hands forming a number of different ritualized and stylized poses;
(7) Buddhist architecture which includes the Buddhist architectural marvels in India. The major contributions like stupas for structural significance, monolithic pillars for artistic qualities, rock-cut chambers for technique, etc. are shown by 3D sculptures, photographs and write-ups. A multitask screen presentation also brings out the importance of Buddhist architecture in India;
(8) Spread of Buddhism which includes a multimedia presentation showing the various routes through which Buddhism reached other countries.