Friday, December 25, 2009

Buddhism's Lost Cause: The Fatal Blow Pt2

NOTE: Before you read this Part2& 3, it is important you read Part 1, so that you are clear as to the intention of this post. This is not to cause any hatred or anger or revenge, but merely to educate and to strenghen the unity amongst Buddhists.

The Turukas or Khaliji Turks from Afghanistan dealt the fatal blow to Buddhism in India at the close of the 12th century AD. They were fanatical muslims, bent on conquest and destruction. By then, they had conquered the western part of uttar Pradesh called the Doab, the region bordered by the Yamuna and the Ganges rivers, where they had settled themselveswith expansionist aims. Soon they began thier invasion, spreading terror and panic through all the towns and countryside in their path, and their advance posed a tremendous threat to all monasteries and temples of northern India. The whole doomed area in the east, ancient Magadha (Bihar) and North Bengal fell to the marauders. Especial ferocity was directed towards Buddhist institutions with huge Buddha and "Bodhisattva" images, which were systemmatically plundered, destroyed or vandalised. The shaven-headed monks wearing distinctive monastic robes were easily spotted and massacred wholesale as idolaters! (Note: Since the usual Muslim word for what they understand to be an 'idol' (budd) is in fact borrowed from the sanskrit 'buddha', one can imagine that these 'buddha' smashers on their fanatical campaigns took particular care to seek out and destroy Buddhist institutions.)

In the beginning of the 13th century, the structures of the Vikramalasila Mahavihara (probably sited near Colgong, District Bhagalpur, Bihar) were razed to the ground by the invaders, who out of wrath were said to have uprooted even the foundations and threw them into the Ganges. The same fate was met about this time b the Odantapuri Mahavihara (sited at Bihar Sharif near Nalanda), which had been turned into a garrison of muslim soldiers, who in about 1198 AD under Muhammad Bakhtiyar Khaliji committed such a savage massacre of the Buddhist bhikkhus of the Mahavihara that not a single human being was around to acquint the killers of the contents of books stored in the library! The story of this assault was told long afterwards in 1243 by a eye-witness to the Persian historian Minhaz. In his book, Tabaquat-i-Nasiri, he reported as follows (Ref. Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India, page 357):

"Most of the inhabitants of the place were Brahmanas with shaven heads (monks). They were put to death. Large numbers of books were found there, and when the Mahammadans saw them, they called for some person to explain the contents. But all of the men were killed. It was discovered that the whole fort and city was a place for study (madrsa): in the Hindi language the word Bihar (i.e. Vihara) means a college."

In the destruction of the University of Nalanda, the same historian recorded that thousands of monks were burned alive and yet more thousands beheaded, and the burning of the library continued for several months. Such was the savagery of the muslim invaders!

Source: Khoon San, Chan. "Buddhist Pilgrimage". ISBN: 983-40876-0-8. Published for Free Distribution. 2009.

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