PM Narendra Modi at Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya
PM Narendra Modi at Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya@NarendraModi/Twitter

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday said Bodh Gaya--considered to be the birthplace of Buddhism--would be developed as a spiritual capital of the Buddhist world.

The prime minister went on to call India as "Buddhist India", saying the country has imbibed the virtues of Lord Buddha.

"I would personally call India as a 'Buddhist India', as it has imbibed the values and virtues of the teachings of Lord Buddha by the religious scholars incorporating them in their literature," Modi was quoted as saying at the concluding ceremony of a three-day international Buddhist conclave in the holy town.

"We want to develop Bodh Gaya as a spiritual capital of the Buddhist world... We are meeting in Bodh Gaya, a land that has distinctive place in history of mankind," he said talking about Bodh Gaya, considered the most important of the main four Buddhist pilgrimage sites.

"I consider this Hindu Buddhist conference on conflict avoidance and environmental consciousness an important event. I also echo Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan who the other day highlighted the importance of tolerance. When radical elements try to force their ideologies on others then issues of conflict arise," Modi said in his address to the delegates on SAMVAD – the Global Hindu Buddhist Initiative.

Earlier, soon after arriving at Gaya airport , Modi visited the 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple and offered prayers. After offering prayers, he circumambulated the Mahabodhi tree under which Lord Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment 2,550 years ago.

Modi was received by Bihar Governor Ram Nath Kovind and Minister Shyam Rajak at the airport.

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