Friday, March 6, 2009

Bamiyan Buddha

March 8, 2001

Dear Editor

You are right that the Talibans have “succeeded only in angering the world” by going on a rampage against Buddhist idols (in Newsweek dated 12th March, 2001). The world has had to reckon with many such Philistines over the ages. Even the Indian government has come out strongly against what is happening in Bamiyan today. But the Babri Masjid (a Mosque) in Ayodhya was completely demolished about a decade back by the members of the same party that is in the central government now. Even now Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) has a list of Mosques that they would like to demolish and build Hindu temples on such sites. It becomes difficult to digest this kind of self-righteousness on their part.

If one travels a few centuries back in the history one will come across the historical record that one of the Shankaracharyas went about destroying Buddhist monasteries, stupas and chaityas in Kathmandu and other parts of Nepal. He even forced people in Nepal to sacrifice animals at the altar of Hindu gods on the Buddha’s birth anniversary, on which day Buddha also attained Nirvana (even today devout Hindus turn vegetarians on this day). This was done to negate what Siddhartha Gautam Buddha stood for – ahimsa meaning non-violence – and to stem the spread of Buddhism in this part of the world.

What is of utmost importance in all this is that all of us feeling outraged by the actions of the Talibans must be circumspect in the way and manner we express ourselves so that people do not become frenzied and start taking revenge against such activities and we ourselves start emulating the Talibans. I really worry about the way people are taking out processions and voicing angry rhetoric against what is taking place in Bamiyan. We need to be careful to make sure that it does not snowball into something grievous.

Ratna Sansar Shrestha, FCA
An abridged version of it was published by Newsweek on March 12, 2001

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