Vipassana meditation purifies the mind and its practice leads to increased concentration, resulting in beneficial effects on the body and mind, and in turn to the entire society, President Ram Nath Kovind said here on Sunday.
He said Vipassana comprises three simple precepts — morality, concentration and self-realisation — through awareness and insight, and is a non-sectarian meditation technique that applies equally to all human beings irrespective of caste, religion, language, gender or age.
The Vipassana meditation technique, taught by Lord Buddha, has attracted people in large numbers not only from Maharashtra but all over India and the world, the President said after laying the foundation stone of the second Dhammalaya meditation centre at the Vipassana Global Pagoda in Gorai, north-west Mumbai.
The President also joined the Global Vipassana Foundation’s (GVF) “The Gratitude Day” at the Pagoda, which comprises the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars, located in Gorai, a picturesque coastal village on the shores of Arabian Sea.
‘The Gratitude Day’ marked the 46th death anniversary of Sayagyi U Ba Khin, the teacher of its foremost Indian exponent and GVF founder S.N, Goenka. Ba Khin was the first Accountant-General of Burma and a leading authority on Vipassana meditation, in whose memory the Pagoda was built and inaugurated in February 2009.
It is also the second death anniversary of the late Goenka’s wife, Mata Illaichi Devi Goenka, who played a paramount role along with her husband in establishing the Vipassana meditation technique in India and teaching it.
Besides the Dhammalaya for which Kovind laid the foundation stone on Sunday, the first GVF’s first Dhammalaya is functioning in Maharashtra’s Kolhapur since October 1995, according to the present GVF Chairman Nayan Shah.
The President said he was happy to note that in the world’s biggest Pagoda here, and the GVF centres in Igatpuri (Nashik) and Dengan Palace (Nagpur) are popularizing Vipassana meditation.
He recalled how in 1972, social reformer Vinoba Bhave had asked Goenka to teach this meditation technique to schoolchildren.
Later in 1975, even prisoners in jail were taught Vipassana, while the Maharashtra government has provided facilities to its staffers to learn and practice Vipassana for its beneficial effects, besides other states, said Kovind.
Maharashtra Governor C.V. Rao, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis, Union Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma, and other dignitaries were also present on the occasion.
Now a global tourist and religious attraction, the GVF’s pagoda, construction of which was completed in 2009, comprises of a main dome and three sub-domes.
At the centre is the world’s largest stone dome built without any supporting pillars, 29 metres tall, while the total height of the building is 96.12 metres, or twice the height of the previously largest hollow stone monument in the world, the Gol Gumbaz in Bijapur.
This pagoda dome enshrines the bone relics of Lord Buddha, sourced from Guntur district of Andhra Pradesh, and donated to the GVF by the Mahabodhi Society of India and the then Prime Minister of Sri Lanka, Ratnasiri Wickremanayake.
The Vipassana meditation, as taught by Goenka, who passed away in 2013 aged 89, is now taught and practiced in over 160 centres in 60 countries worldwide.
The aim of the Pagoda complex is to express gratitude to Lord Buddha for dispensing a universal teaching for the eradication of sufferings, reveal the truth about his life and his teachings, and offer free Vipassana meditation courses to the people.