The Tribune - Spectrum


Sunday, April 1, 2001

Outrage at Bamiyan

Apropos of T.V. Rajeswar’s "Outrage at Bamiyan" (March 18), destruction of Buddha statues is un-Islamic, uncivilised and barbaric. Not long ago, Buddhism had flourished in Balakh, Transoxiana, Khursan, Turkistan and Persia before the Muslims conquered these places. Taliban’s destruction of the Buddha statues at Bamiyan is one of the most depressing acts of vandalism of modern times. Enough has been written in its condemnation. Someone has rightly described it as an affront to civilisation.

The rosary is one of the objects that the Muslims inherited from the Buddhists. The Sufi doctrine of Fana is the Nirvana of the Buddhists. Abdul Ala-al-Marri, the famous blind poet (A.D. 973-1058) was a Buddhist. In A.D. 711 the first Muslim invader, Muhammad-bin-Qasim, said: "The temples of Hindustan are like the churches of Christians, the synagogues of Jews and the fire temples of Magians."

The monuments in Afghanistan were of great historical value. They were a thousand years or more old. Taliban say they have destroyed the statues in response to the demolition of Babri Masjid. Sheer nonsense.

Where were the Taliban for all the eight years since the so-called Masjid’s demolition in 1992? One must not forget that Babur was just an invader whose commander Mir Baqi razed to the ground a temple and constructed a masjid to celebrate Babur’s victory. But Buddha’s statues had come up as a matter of faith.


Kaikaye of Ramayana and Gandhari of Mahabharata hailed from Afghanistan. Whenever we talk of ‘human values’ we think of Buddha, Nanak and Gandhi — in this order. The Frankenstein’s monster called Taliban is the creation of the USA and Pakistan.

Syed Shahabuddin wrote in a national daily: "The Taliban are not Muslims. They are simply mad, bad and dangerous." Iran wanted to purchase the Buddha statues. Why does global impotence abound in the face of Taliban challenge then?

Where will all this take us? How long will we be able to hold on to the opulent tombs and temples of the pharaohs, Luxor and Abu Simbel? They stand in Islamic Egypt which is enlightened today but who knows what kind of loonies will run that country some 50 years down the road? How will we be able to protect Hindu and Sikh shrines in Pakistan? Are the Taliban not giving new teeth to the VHP and Bajrang Dal? Time for the Indian Muslims and the UN to wake up.



Nobody should be unduly surprised what the Taliban has done. This is perfectly in tune with the teachings of Islam. In fact, the only lesson from the Bamiyan episode for India is that we should pool our resources with those of the other nations of the world which are also facing a threat from Islamic terrorism. India, being on top of the hit list of Islamic terrorists, should take the lead in this much-needed endeavour.


Be the best edition of yourself

Apropos of I.M. Soni’s write-up "Be the best edition of yourself" (March 18), the goal of all human endeavour is happiness. Most people possess a materialistic outlook and their happiness centres around wealth. According to them, money is the panacea for all ills and the solution to all their problems. This is a perverted philosophy.

Money is not the end but only a means to achieve an end. It is not even the best means because its possession does not guarantee happiness. True happiness does not result from external circumstances, but comes only from within. A contented mind is an essential condition for happiness and a wild craving for wealth should always be subdued. Wealth is an essential need for an individual and the life-blood of a nation. But one must not become slave to it.

When the poet Cotton wrote: "The happiness of human kind consists in the rectitude of mind," he was laying stress on a profound truth. Unless one attains peace of mind by acting in a virtuous way, one cannot dream of being happy.

Another factor for happy life is perhaps some kind of seclusion. The man who is busy engaged in selfish affairs of the world cannot attain happiness of mind and body. This philosophy does not appeal to all. However, one should occasionally be free from the distractions of everyday life.

One should not live only happily but also usefully, not as a snowy peak above the clouds and storm, but as a fruitful river fertilising the land.



True, happiness is not dependent upon money and material possessions. It is a state of the mind. A beggar in torn clothes can be happy, while even a king might be miserable. Money can never buy us the elusive feeling called happiness.

All people are not equipped with sufficient mental strength to help them rise above material needs. All people are not so spiritually elevated that the material deficiencies might not be capable of causing the "absence or draining away of happiness" for them.

Frequently, even the simple and trivial dreams of some people cannot be translated into reality just because of lack of money. They might be trivial and insignificant for the rest of the world, but the fulfilment at these dreams constitutes great happiness for the people concerned. Because of the absence of material means, those dreams remain just that — mere dreams.

Another time when the absence or deficiency of money hits people’s happiness is when they are faced with gross injustice, but can’t fight back because they don’t have enough money to counter unjust forces. That is why, we can presume that though happiness does not depend upon money, its deficiency certainly possesses the power to steal lot of happiness from the people in this materialistic and commercialised context of the modern world.


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