Thursday, March 8, 2001,
Chandigarh, India



Breaking statues

The Taliban have demolished ancient Buddha statues in spite of appeals from various countries of the world. All statues of the Buddha have been destroyed all over Afghanistan in the name of Islam. Ancient Buddhist literature mentions 16 great republics (Mahajanpadas) of northern India, and Afghanistan (Gandhara) and Central Asia (Kamboja) are included in them. Thus these Buddhas were a common heritage of ancient Afghanistan and India.

Your editorial “Taliban again in the dock” (March 3) begins with a certificate of tolerance to Islam. It is like telling a spoiled child that he was a very nice boy. This would spoil him still more.

Why the followers of Gandhi and Nehru are silent, while the western countries have appealed to Afghanistan. They were always talking of Lord Buddha, but have become silent now. If we are afraid of speaking the truth, the fanatics are not going to mend their ways. There is no doubt that the followers of Islam have been practising intolerance right from the beginning. In Afghanistan, like elsewhere, Islam had spread with the violence.



India’s deep links: Your editorial rightly forewarns of a possible backlash in India because of the senseless acts of the Taliban. Indian psyche is deeply attached with territories in the north-west (now Afghanistan and Pakistan) because it is in this area, that Hindu culture had flourished.

Historically speaking, the territory between the Sindhu and the Hindukush mountains may be culturally regarded as part of India. The reference in the Rigveda to the rivers of Kumbha (with its tributary the Suvastu), the Krumu and the Gomati, which have been identified as the Kabul, the Swat, the Kurrum and Gomal rivers, and tribes like Alinas, Bhalanases and the Pakthas who played a prominent part in the battle of 10 kings, leaves no doubt that the Indo-Aryans in Punjab were intimately associated with Afghanistan.

The Mauryas exercised effective rule over Afghanistan and Baluchistan, and both Buddhism and Brahmanism had a strong influence in this area until the advent of Islam. Most of the dynasties that ruled Afghanistan came under the influence of Indian culture.

We learn from Isidor of Charax (first century A.D.) that Arachosia (Kandhar region) was called “White India” by the Parthians. How strong this conviction has been throughout the ages is proved by an old saying quoted by Abul Fazal that Kabul and Kandhar were the twin gates of India.

India should join the world community in persuading Taliban to desist from indulging in this sacrilege.

Ambala Cantt

Islamic beliefs: It is said that Mahmud of Ghazani from Afghanistan was in two minds when ravaging Somnath temple in the 10th century. He had an option of getting huge wealth to spare the Somnath idols. But he chose to destroy them and be called a “Butshikan” (destroyer of idols). A thousand years later, the Taliban are doing the same in their own land.

The Taliban are deriving inspiration from Islamic beliefs which are intolerant of idol worship. What is worse, there is no one left in Afghanistan to actually worship the idols, thanks to the intolerant regime of the Taliban. What makes them fear the harmless idols which have been there for the past 2000 years is beyond comprehension.

It is surprising that historians like Romila Thapar and Panikkar and other champions of freedom of expression have not uttered a word against this brute action which relives numerous such incidents during Islamic rule in India.


Degrading act

The report “Eating beef to build body” (March 1) brings to the fore, low acts of ignorant and unscrupulous coaches of gymnasiums in the towns of Punjab. These coaches can be sued for wrongfully counselling the youth for acquiring a macho personality by consuming steroid based drugs and raw red meat of infant calves. They are not aware of the deleterious effects of these drugs and food on the health of a person.

This degrading act of these coaches is tantamount to cruelty to calves. Intentional neglect, underfeeding and starving to death of male calves to save milk for selling, is the worst accusation against dairy owners. Now the increasing demand for skin and meat will tempt the ‘khatiks’ to procure more calves to earn more.

The consumer and the ‘khatiks’ are at a higher risk of contracting dangerous zoonotic diseases from infected carcasses and meat. There is need for creating awareness among the youth regarding the dangerous consequences of taking steroid-based foods. Steroids weaken the defence mechanism of the body and make a person prone to cardio-vascular diseases and diabetes.



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