India korea bodhi tree

India Korea relations: The tree that ties

May 18, 2015 was when the Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi visited South Korea and here are my three articles which were published in The Times of India supplement on that day.

India korea bodhi tree

Cultural and economic ties to strengthen just as the Bodhi tree keeps growing in South Korea

words: Ambica Gulati

The roots of peace and harmony lie deep within the souls of nations. And these roots are shared between the two peace-loving and progressive countries in the Asian region– India and Republic of Korea (ROK). A symbol of this peace and harmony, the Bodhi tree which was planted in South Korea in March 2014, has been steadily growing at the Korea National Arboretum. Soon it will be shifted to its permanent abode at a prominent Buddhist temple.

With its deeply spiritual and significant roots, the sapling was a special gesture of India’s friendship and goodwill by former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Korean President Park Geun-hye, as almost a quarter of ROK’s population is Buddhist.

Bodhi means enlightenment or awakening. The Bodhi tree is a sacred tree as the Buddha attained enlightenment under this tree in Bodh Gaya. The tree has heart-shaped leaves and is planted in close proximity to every Buddhist monastery in India. Legend goes that after his enlightenment, Buddha spent an entire week gazing at the Bodhi tree at the Mahabodhi Temple, also called the Sri Maha Bodhi.

Buddha, the great philosopher and teacher of harmony, believed in power of community welfare. Just as the heart-shaped leaves grow, the love between people and nations will grow. And in ROK, just as the roots of the Bodhi tree are going deep into the ground, simultaneously the roots of both the nations are also going deeper into friendship and goodwill. Just as the branches of the Bodhi tree are growing, economic and cultural progress are also rapidly spreading between the two countries.

During the External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj’s visit to Myanmar in August 2014, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se had announced that his country’s relations with India had grown by 400 per cent. He had even brought a photograph of the growing tree to prove this—the sapling was barely 30 cm when it had been flown to Seoul but by August 2014, it had grown to 120 cm.

Now in 2015, when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visits ROK on May 18, the tree will help strengthen and encourage roots to grow stronger between the two countries. In this visit, the two countries are expected to boost investment in the manufacturing sector with Korean companies hoping to support Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Make in India’ initiative. India is already home to Korean success stories such as home appliance brands LG and Samsung and automobile maker Hyundai.


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