Bodh Gaya attacks and political 'terrorism'

The Dalai Lama laughed a short laugh. Then, he said such small small things happen...few individuals are involved.

He was asked to respond to the bomb blasts in Bodh Gaya, Bihar. On Sunday evening I tuned in to Headlines Today. It had been over 12 hours since the attack in the early hours. The reporters had reached there. The verdict, however, was out way before that. We'll get there.

First, let me tell you about this amazing reportage. A Nepali woman and a Bhutanese man were being interviewed, and the questions contained the answer. Essentially, that this was bound to happen, there was not enough security. There was such a barrage of implication in the queries, with the emphasis on "the seat of Buddhism...of peace and tolerance", that the woman was forced to say, "What harm has the Buddha done?"

And later it was the Dalai Lama who laughed. He is the head of the Buddhist community the world over. But, apparently, our news anchors and TV reporters are the holinesses.

Politicians are playing politics, resulting in terror tourism, and we are not talking about the recce by the culprits. Most senior leaders have visited or are planning a visit, mainly to score points.

In his enthusiasm to not jump the gun over the Indian Mujahideen, one of the main suspect organisations, the Congress Party's Digvijaya Singh got tangled in a web:

"Amit Shah (BJP general secretary) promises a grand temple at Ayodhya. Modi addresses Bihar BJP workers and asks them to teach Nitish (Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar) a lesson. Next day bomb blasts at Mahabodhi Temple at Bodhgaya. Is there a connect? I don't know."

If he does not know, then he ought to keep quiet. Instead, he gave a lecture to the opposition:

"BJP also gave statements linking the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar to this incident. They are clearly targeting Muslims and I want to say to all that for god's sake, let the NIA complete the investigation."

He was repeating what has been implied and stated by the usual suspects. Even if the Myanmar angle turns out to be true, on what basis should this permit "targeting Muslims"?

There is absolutely no reason and basis for any such acts to be committed anywhere in the world. Terrorists, of extremist organisations as well as establishment machinery, have no business to target innocent people. However, 'civil society' has taken on the mantle of mimicking the attitude it abhors by using language as a tool. The hate speech and insinuations, quoting from ancient religious texts, seems to have become a lucrative pastime. Therefore, it is not surprising that the verdict was pronounced.

It gets more people to salivate than discussing the security lapses. If agencies send warnings, why are necessary precautions not taken? Are most such warnings red herrings or the result of paranoia?

To specifically talk about the Maha Bodhi temple, the statue of Buddha was not damaged. The terrorists used low intensity bombs during a time when few people would be there. Two monks were unfortunately injured, one seriously.

What message were the terrorists trying to convey, given that they are usually clear about their intent?

Sushma Swaraj said, "India is the land of the Buddha. We will not allow a Bamiyan here."

It is a good sentiment. One hopes that at least in contemporary times Buddhists, and not only Tibetans, are in safe hands. It wasn't so in the past, the same past that the Hindutva parties love. This quote might put things in perspective:

According to the historian S. R. Goyal, the decline of Buddhism in India is the result of the hostility of the Hindu priestly caste of Brahmins. The Hindu Saivite ruler Shashanka of Gauda (590–626) destroyed the Buddhist images and Bo Tree, under which Siddhartha Gautama is said to have achieved enlightenment. Pusyamitra Sunga (185 BC to 151 BC) was hostile to Buddhism, he burned SÅ«tras, Buddhists shrines and massacred monks. With the surge of Hindu philosophers like Adi Shankara, along with Madhvacharya and Ramanuja, three leaders in the revival of Hindu philosophy, Buddhism started to fade out rapidly from the landscape of India."

And it isn't all quite a nice scene that it is made out to be. This is beyond politics and recent. Buddhist monks have been demanding control over the Bodh Gaya shrine against the Hindu majority in the managing committee as per the Bodhgaya Temple Act, 1949. They had to take the matter up with the Supreme Court.

More from this report:

"The Gaya district magistrate is the ex officio chairman of the panel while other members are nominated. What has been deemed ultra vires of the Constitution by many legal experts is a provision that empowers the state government to nominate a Hindu as the chairman of the committee if the DM of Gaya is not a Hindu."

There is a Shiva temple within the precinct, which seemed to give it some legitimacy. How it got there is a different matter.

The report further states:

"Buddhist monks have gone on indefinite hunger strikes demanding that the community be handed over control of the shrine. NCM had passed a unanimous resolution in 2005 that the Act needs to be amended. However the demand for full control has never cut much ice."

So much for concern for Buddhists. Meanwhile, the latest news is that no one has been arrested. Indeed, this ought to be news too. In October, Delhi Police had handed over information. On July 3, a DIG reviewed security with local administration. It is impossible for any security to be foolproof, but if 10 of 13 bombs go off within a small radius, should not the government be more transparent?

Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde said:

"Arresting anyone in a hurry is not right. Investigations should go into detail and catch hold of the real culprits...There are so many complex problems. Infiltration from other countries is there, Naxalites are there, local communal disturbances are there. We have to see all angles."

He was asked about the Naxal angle. The infiltration problem is a concern always. As regards communal disturbances, I hope he and everyone realises there are more than two communities in India.

And in what has become a mandatory requirement, Muslim organisations in Mumbai have condemned the blasts. I dislike this defensiveness. One day, though, peace-loving Buddhists too will speak out against the killing of Muslims in Myanmar. They constitute five per cent of the population.

Until then, politicians can continue to run our lives and protect places of worship. They are the new gods feeding hate.

"Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned." (The Buddha)

© Farzana Versey


An earlier post on the stony reaction to a Buddhist nun's rape


  1. FV,

    1. That was revealing. You cite Pusyamitra Sunga's hostility towards Buddhism to debunk BJP's statements. It almost sounds like 'Since an ancient Indian King was anti-Buddhism, present day Hindus have no right to express support for Buddhists'.

    However, when Aurangzeb's (replace the name with any other Muslim ruler of India) blind hate for Hindus and Hinduism is used to debunk the fake sekulaar attitudes and to show up the inbuilt violence in Jihad, you cry foul.

    How is one different from the other?


    2. You seem to say that since Dalai Lama has not reacted strongly to the blasts, media has no right to do that.

    Do you think Mohammed would have forgiven Maya Kodnani? Is that relevant, in your view?

    By the way, thousands of Muslims the world over(including those in India, leaders, followers and the rest) have said NOTHING AT ALL EVER about Gujarat riots of 2002. Shouldn't that convince everyone to "move on"?

    Double standards again! Not surprising at all.

  2. F&F:

    - After the quote about ancient kings (that hurt, didn't it?) there is are two quotes about NOW, where Buddhists have gone to the SC to fight for control. The report has a link.

    You donyour replacing with whoever you want.

    - Sudden love for the media I see. The media has given time to all politicians.

    {Do you think Mohammed would have forgiven Maya Kodnani? Is that relevant, in your view?}

    Where did Maya Kodnani come here? And the Dalai Lama is the equivalent of a spiritual head, or Shankaracharyas or the Syedna or Aga Khan or the Pope. For whatever it is worth, he is not a prophet or messiah or deity. Since your question makes no sense, answer it yourself and feel good.

    - If you build up a faith as peaceful (to suit your purpose), then learn to see the flip side. Don't try and brown nose the Buddhists. I've seen them complain about India and Indians.

    They should ideally be raising their voice against what their peaceful religious compatriots are doing.

    I don't know which world you live in, but Muslims have spoken against Gujarat riots. Did we not just hang a person who attacked Mumbai and said he was shown clips of the riots in Gujarat?

    {Shouldn't that convince everyone to "move on"?}

    It is rather obvious that although Modi was not mentioned, you chose to bring this up. Your intentions are clear. But, the world does not decide how people who have suffered respond...to move on or not. Perhaps, they learn more from the Sangh Parivar that has not moved on and is still hanging on to Ghazni & co.

    {Double standards again! Not surprising at all.}

    Good to know you are looking at yourself in the mirror, finally. And, no, I do not need to prove secularism to you or to anyone.

    PS: I wonder why the U.S. decided to deny the CM a visa, he can't even go on those lecture tours.

  3. ramadan kareem to you madame

  4. Ramzan Mubarak to you...especially if you a observing the rozas. I am not...but greetings are always welcome.

  5. Dear Farzana, how about quoting venerable S.R Goyal's views on Islam and its history?

    Btw, if you want to know his holiness Dalai Lama's views on the decline of Buddhism in India, he had blamed categorically it on the advent of Islam, in one of his interview. Yes, he has also accepted some Hindu kings and philosophers became hostile to Buddhism due to various reasons. But according to him, the main reason of decline of Buddism was Islam - like it everywhere been of various cultures and faiths, from Iran to Indonesia.

    Lastly, Muslims were not grown in population and prospered in India - despite taking their separate homeland - had Hindus were as cruel to them as they were claimed to be against Buddhism - a peaceful anti-vedic Indic faith.

    Wonder why Jains, Sikh & Muslims were never persecuted by Hindus etc!!

    Happy Ramazan!

  6. Dear Anonymous:

    This article was specifically about Bodh Gaya and Buddhists in India. What S.R.Goyal has said on other subjects is not important here. Clearly, that is of greater value to you, which is why you conveniently ignore the quotes from the Express report of July 1, 2013, about the fight over control of this same temple where the blasts took place.

    And irrespective of the Dalai Lama's views on Islam (please provide some links where he has done the nasty like our Hindutva folks), and irrespective of the fact that Muslim conquerors had done damage, I don't see why a comparison is necessary now. You have a case before you. Live in denial.

    Besides, the Dalai Lama and his people are refugees in India. It would hardly be diplomatic of him to take on his hosts.

    An aside: Since your concern for Buddhism is asserting itself vis a vis Islam, perhaps you'd like to consider that modern 'Muslim' nations like Iran, Iraq, and to an extent Egypt, Libya, Syria have all gone the extreme religious way due to the wand forced upon them by the US, overtly or covertly.

    It is rather interesting that you have nothing to say about the persecution of Rohingya Muslims in Myanmar. I understand.

    {Lastly, Muslims were not grown in population and prospered in India - despite taking their separate homeland - had Hindus were as cruel to them as they were claimed to be against Buddhism - a peaceful anti-vedic Indic faith.

    Wonder why Jains, Sikh & Muslims were never persecuted by Hindus etc!!t

    Make up your mind whether Muslims have grown or they are backward, an accusation constantly levelled against them. For then, you will have to consult the Sachar Report and that you wouldn't want to do. t
    And learn to differentiate between Muslims who were and are in India and colonisers. It will give you a better understanding. Unless of course you too are dreaming about a Ram Rajya. In which case, dream on..at
    As for no persecution of Jains, Sikhs, and Muslims by Hindus, perhaps you'd like to read up? Later the first two were seen as part of Hinduism to some extent. In contemporary history - we have that too! - I do not have to point out what happened in some major riots.

    Finally, just in case you do not remember, India is not a Hindu nation. So, I don't make a community answerable, but politicians and political ideologies.

    Anyhow, thanks for sharing your views. A happy Ramzan to you, too!

  7. Correction: "An aside...due to the WARs forced on them", not wand...

  8. why are you not fasting , is it too long for you ;)

  9. She consider herself to be secular and unbiased. And also well read. The fact that she asserts her points too much, projects how desperate muslim apologist she is. She sure damn is. She thinks she is a nationalist and a patriotic as hell but she supported illegal banglashi muslim's cause during Assam riot in 2012. She doesn't know how it feels to be invaded. That is the possible reason she is empathetic towards killing of rohingya muslims but not against the poor tribals of India opressed by the government. Had she known how it feels to be invaded she would not have supported the killings of Rohingya muslims in Mayanmar and illegal Baglashi muslim migrant's cause because in both the case Muslims are to be blamed for displacement of indigeneous people due to illegal immigrants from neighboring countries for which the indigeneous people had to fight against muslims to protect themselves. She sure does miantain double standard.

  10. "why are you not fasting , is it too long for you ;)"

    Saying stupid, moronic things with a smiley always makes it all better, doesn't it. "hey, I was only kidding when I implied you were a (insert passive-aggressive underhanded insult)". :) :) :)


  11. FV, you know you are doing something right when bigots and chauvinists from all sides have a problem with your writing. Rock on.


  12. Al:

    There are kinds and kinds of 'insults', but I just don't "take them". Imagine people living with all this burden of stuff they want to hurl...

    Yup, in other news, I rock and roll on...



    Asking me why I don't fast is a personal question, anyway.



    "She" suggests that you look up tribals in the search box and Rohingya and find out what more "she" has written about. And if "she" has double standards, it appears you have none at all.

  13. Wow, your writing is very expressive, to the point and in a nutshell as always.
    Jainism too was suppressed badly.
    But thats beyond this article.

    Whats history can never be changed, however some want to reinterpret. Buddhism was overshadowed as you pointed out than your commentors. And the domination continues, as in trying to take over the main abode.

    Wish to know from NIA the real whatswhat, if there is one real given out.
    Learnt some from post & commentreplies
    Thanks, TC. Bye.

  14. so I am not allowed to ask personal questions - yes I am fasting , it is long fast some 18 hrs, days are extremely long and nights are short :)

  15. From a news item, just FYI:

    "First, the shrine was repeatedly violated by idol smugglers who removed original Buddha images fixed on the outer walls and inserted fake images in their place. Then, an alleged VHP mole was allowed to run the show at the shrine in a monk's garb. It was only after a TOI report that Gyan Jagat, the all-important shrine committee chief priest and a member of the VHP's Marg Darshak Mandal, mysteriously disappeared from the BTMC office, never to return."



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