23 September, 2020

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Why Trying To Protect Religion Often Does More Harm Than Good

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By Navam Niles

Navam Niles

Navam Niles

When asked whether religion is important in life, reportedly 99% of Gallup survey respondents in Sri Lanka answered ‘yes’. Leaving aside questions of what religion means or how it is perceived here, it is reasonable to say that many people use religion to guide their worldview in some way or form. Moreover, religion plays an important role in contributing to ethnic identities. Naturally, there is a strong political incentive to appeal to religious institutions to reach out to constituents. This incentive became stronger when the previous government led by Mahinda Rajapaksa put an emphasis on puritan Buddhism to forge a nationalist identity in lieu political-economic reforms. Perhaps in an effort to compete, recently Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe, the justice minister, suggested a constitutional amendment to protect ‘religious leaders’ from criticism, even in Parliament. The irony of the justice minister proposing serious and ill-advised restrictions on free speech aside, his suggestion leaves everyone – the public, the government and the religious institutions – worse off.

There are clear political incentives for governments to align themselves closely with religious institutions. Governments have the power to confer recognition and privilege upon religious institutions and particular leaders. In exchange, religious institutions are expected to provide a moral mandate and politically compatible sermons. This phenomenon is common throughout the world. In the Middle East and the wider Islamic world, across the Sunni-Shia spectrum, governments of all stripes use religious authority to compensate for their lack of a democratic mandate. Governments ranging from Saudi Arabia (a conservative Sunni-dominated state) to Iran (a conservative Shia-dominated state), allow religious authorities to dictate social and moral norms in exchange for legitimacy. This isn’t limited to one particular religion either.

During the Cold War, many right-wing dictatorships in Latin America and Eastern Europe often formed compacts with the Catholic Church and in exchange for allowing conservative catholic social policies, governments would enjoy implicit or even explicit approval and assistance in suppressing dissent. Dictatorships aren’t the only ones who try to leverage their political power by aligning to religious institutions. In the US, a country that prides itself for a constitution that separates state for religion, every political candidate is expected to demonstrate their religious affinity. In all these cases, a political-religious alliance cuts both ways.

When governments embrace religious authority and vice versa, they must swim together and sink together. For governments, this means that any political project, that goes against the fundamental interests of religious leaders is politically impossible. In Saudi Arabia, for example, efforts to create socio-economic reforms to empower women, improve education, reduce religious radicalisation and liberalise the economy have met strenuous objections from religious authorities. As a result, the monarchy had to water-down even its most modest reforms. Today, women still cannot drive, education is still dominated by religiously inspired curricula and Islamic radicalisation is an existential threat to the stability of the monarchy. Moreover, instead of liberalising the economy, the Saudi government is forced to spend billions duplicating infrastructure and resources (to adhere to a strict code of gender segregation) and supressing any creative industries lest they offend religious leaders.

Religious leaders, on the other hand, may find themselves tethered to government policies and the reputation government leaders. In Latin America, the Catholic Church’s support of right-wing dictatorships has damaged its moral authority. This explains many of the socially liberal reforms in Latin American states. For example, Argentina, the homeland of Pope Francis, was one of the first states to legalise gay marriage. The fallout from ill-advised political alliances between religious authorities could also affects the civil rights of everyone else.

To make a political-religious alliance work, rights such as religious liberty and freedom of speech must be limited or forfeited altogether. This is because special privilege for one group must often come at the cost of special responsibilities for every other group. To protect religious leaders and their religious institutions, the governments must first determine who qualify as religious “leaders” or what religious institutions are deemed “legitimate”. This power is used, often with tacit approval for dominant religious leaders and institutions, to silence minority religions or sects. Hence, Saudi Arabia recently executed a Shia preacher accused of terrorism. Meanwhile, China has refused to accept the Dalai Lama and has even made attempts to control the selection of the future Dalai Lama in order to solidify control over its restless Tibetan subjects. Thus, people are denied their right to worship as they choose.

Moreover, choosing or recognising particular religious leaders may allow governments to manipulate their religious message, which is further damaging to people of faith. Government involvement also affects those who have chosen to forfeit religion all together; i.e. those who seek freedom from religion. That freedom is also lost as governments often insist on allocating each and every one of its citizens to some religion or the other. Even when governments aren’t trying to manipulate the message, they can inadvertently create all sorts of problems. For instance, in the US, religions are considered “tax-free”. As a result, anyone who can satisfy some of the basic requirements of a religious “institution” can qualify for tax-exempt status. This can range from the nefarious (e.g. Creflo Dollar, an evangelical preacher who asked his congregation to contribute to a private jet) to the hilarious (e.g. John Oliver, a comedian who demonstrates just how easy it is to live the high-life in the name of god).

Meanwhile, the freedom of speech must also be curtailed. Mr. Rajapaksa, for example, was keen to prevent the ‘criticism’ of religious leaders. Yet, criticism can be construed to mean anything. Could one be punished for questioning the religious sermon of a religious “leader”? Could anyone be silenced for questioning the lifestyle of the monks who travel around in luxury vehicles or priests implicated in child-abuse? What about condemning religious leaders who encourage violence, abuse or pseudo-science? Could a religious “leader” be prevented from criticising another religious “leader”? Would it be wrong to criticise a religious “leader” indirectly, perhaps by criticising someone whom he or she blessed or praised? While we don’t have the justice minister’s answers to these questions, we must contemplate the consequences of such a proposition.

Protecting religious “leaders” may lead to a The slippery slope that could leave religious “leaders” immune to any sort of intellectual or spiritual debate. It could also neuter any effort to hold such religious leaders accountable for their role in guiding social and moral direction of their congregations.

Yet, ironically, it may be most harmful to religions themselves because the freedom of speech is essential for the evolution of religious and moral thought; it is essential for the purpose of truth itself. J.S. Mill, an 18th century English philosopher, argued that freedom of speech serves the truth in two important ways. First, it allows new truths to emerge or it may help society shed false or mistaken beliefs. Imagine, a world where the teachings of Ashoka or Christ were completely censored to avoid offending existing religious institutions. Religious teachings have evolved over time to allow us to adapt to a changing world, but restricting free speech will only make it harder for religion to keep up. Second, even when someone says something that is entirely wrong, the freedom to say such things forces the truth to reassert itself. For instance, when people criticise vaccines (for political or mistaken medical reasons), it forces the rest of us to rediscover and reassert the truth, strengthening our own convictions and attracting new adherents. This may be quite uncomfortable for those whose existing beliefs are displaced by newer knowledge or those can’t defend their beliefs in the light of new evidence, but the rest of us are left better-off.

Censoring free speech and restricting religious liberty to protect “religious leaders” is a pointless pursuit. After all, almighty gods don’t need the protection of mere mortals. Perhaps there are moments when speech must be restricted or curtailed but those should only be in the most extreme situations (e.g. where human life is immediately threatened) and only temporary. Creating a whole class of loosely defined persons who can be protected from any criticism, is a recipe for disaster.

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Latest comments

  • 17
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    I don’t think that govt’s should get involved in religions. While people should have the freedom to practice any religion govt’s should facilitate practice of all religions. The present para in our constitution that govt. will give first and foremost place to Buddhism should be deleted and have it amended to include all religions.1n 1970 JVP leader Rohana Wijeweera addressing a meeting at Hyde park said that a govt. under them will not have a relgion but will permit practice of any religion. Further some of the problems the world has faced and we are facing today are due to religion. Millions have died and are dying today because of religion.

    • 5
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      Navam Niles

      RE: Why Trying To Protect Religion Often Does More Harm Than Good

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      There should be separation of Religion and State.

      Religion shoyld be subject to the same laws of evolution and natural selection. The Bizarre ones gradually wane, like Wahhabism, and many others.

      Religion Is For People Who Don’t Think , for IDIOTS Ray Hagins

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LyBSWeuBk_M

      This guy is awesome. Religion is bullshit but people are too ignorant to understand that. “Religion is the Opium of the Masses” said Karl Marx.

      Believer or non believer of any religion whatsoever, watching this affirms my strong conviction that in fact all religions are created to control, manipulate, and sedate the consciousness of an individual or people to the benefit of those who created it. With all due respect to black folks who believe in Christ, and the others various beliefs, how can you worship a person that was sold to you by those who have with no doubt enslaved, degraded, humiliated, manipulated, killed, raped, lynched, and are perpetually terrorizing your very own existence to this date, and you can’t still see there is something off about that.

      Funny how god spoke to the isrealites but you read a book in English which before anything is attributed to god it says someone’s version and you take that as truth. Version means opinion. How many versions are the bible written in? Oh yeah fun fact the number 0 was a pagan Arabs concept but was latter perfected by tribes in India. So the whole 1000 thing is proof that someone scribbled some sugar. Plus please read the final book attributed to Moses. It ends with and Moses was buried by god. In Grammar that’s called 3rd person. But Moses wrote it… yeah he may have written it but someone else rewrote it hundreds of times.

  • 8
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    Little distorted minds who think they know everything are doing more damage to the world thatn the religions.

    Living without some moral guidance is like living an animal life.

    ReBlaming religion for evils of society is a fool’s occupation.

    Get a life!

    • 4
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      I doubt that religions ever give moral guidance. Know many who never practice a religion live a high moral life that the religious followers don’t.One can see how religions are manipulated to hoodwink the people in SL while religions are the cause of murder and destruction in the Middle east. We can do without it.

    • 5
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      Ranjit, “moral guidance” may be the original intention of religions, however, if you look around objectively, you will find that ‘religion’ has been the cause of most of the horrendous wars and other sufferings that have taken place in the guise of ‘religion’.

      Isis is one of the glaring examples in existence today.

      And take a look at our brand of (supposedly) Theravada Buddhism. You will find that the crux of the Buddha’s philosophy / teachings have been corrupted by those who seek the power over the morons that subscribe to the crap that is being practiced by so-called monks who encourage behaviour that has nothing to do with the Four Noble Truths and/or Eightfold Path.

      Organized ‘religion’ is for suckers!

  • 13
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    Sadly, All Religion has come to mean Only the Outward Rituals!

    The Practice taught by the Religious Teachers has been Relegated to Second Place, or Misrepresented by Biased Self-serving Practitioners!

  • 12
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    Who let the Gods out?

    The sooner people keep the adoration and public worship of their God’s private, the more likely there will be peace and quiet in the community (and in the wider world). There is a crude vulgarity about the many public displays that take place throughout this wide world.

    More strife, and wars, have been brought about the mainly rabid element of many ‘religions’ proclaiming ‘my god is better than your god’ nonsense. This is not helped by the fact that many of the faithful are too timid to prevent the excesses.

    Worst of all is when governments need to protect God. How ridiculous!

    Please God, forgive them, they know not what they do.

    • 8
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      “”Please God, forgive them, they know not what they do. “

      Its not the father that conducted the mass at church that taught us at school but the brothers- therefore we non Catholics never had a problem with faith and learned to respect them.
      When the schools were to be taken over it was the scene of good Friday the Catholics especially the ones living off the church said` yes take it over` i could not help crying.
      We non Catholics stood by the school and I remember my dad arranging foreign funds to run it and also donating but the government came up with another draconian law- no possession of foreign currency.
      Remember men like book maker Taha was jailed for it and when he returned he expired.

  • 7
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    Religion and faith are emotions, as opposed to a rational thought process.
    Religion is the incubator of wars.

    When Rowan Williams wanted to just discuss Sharia Law there was a public outcry from fanatics. Subsequently he retired and expired.
    When Cameron wanted to exclude the Christian Bishops from holding post at the House of Lords there was an outcry from the fanatics.
    When Cameron wanted to ban Trump who has invested a billion at Scotland from entering UK a quick internet petition with ½ million signatures was signed by lefties and Muslims (35k sign means parliament would consider and 100k means it would have a committee of 11 MP’s to examine)
    The don’t stop votes struggled to get up 65k though most are whites and Christians.
    Meanwhile, Jeb Bush question to Trump was `how would you handle Putin?
    Putin made a comment that Trump is the only sensible man to move America forward.
    UK parliament and Cameron went missing in banning Trump.
    Now the ratio of majority to minority in the UK,US and Lanka are the same- 80/20.
    How does one better the quality of life??

  • 5
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    It’s good to keep law and religion separately. Countries must be ruled according to the law. It is only weak or cunning leaders who want religion for their administration.
    Religious thoughts as sources of law are also troublesome. They’re barriers to the smooth functioning.
    A common law for all the people will bring harmony to the world. So world leaders have a responsibility to make people aware of it and march towards a world where people respect law but not religion.

    what is the most important word uttered by the god (except that he created universe)
    Love,kindness, compassion etc…etc….

    Is it beyond human understanding? Do we want a god to teach it for us?

    So why can’t we make our law and make that law our religion?

  • 4
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    The only role religion plays in life is that of a good therapist. Religion psychologically comforts people. Religion is an avenue to seek hope and sometimes you get what you asked for and it is not divine intervention but you were going to get it anyway.

  • 7
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    The only role religion plays in life is that of a good therapist. Religion psychologically comforts people. Religion is an avenue to seek hope and sometimes you get what you asked for and it is not divine intervention but you were going to get it anyway. Sadly, some religions could also be cruel. The make the believer do things out of character, like the Muslim Jihadists beheading non-believers.

    • 2
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      A soother also does the job.
      Visit China meet the objective people win/win.

    • 1
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      Will you keep your sermons to “coal-generated power” and other irrelevant issues. Then you can display your psychological state better.

      We know what drives your infantile mind!

      • 4
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        Boom Boom. Who are these “We” you are blathering on about? My theory about all religions is that they are all bunkum. They were first created by well-intentioned scholars during a period when there were no educational facilities nor books. The only way to educate the masses was through word of mouth. E.g. there was a period in medieval times when swine fever was spreading. In modern times one television program could warn millions but in those days the only method available was to state that God had forbidden the consumption of pork. Over generations religions have got corrupted from being scholarly to becoming dictatorial, E.g. Commanding to murder the infidels or apostates or non-believers.

      • 0
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        Ooooh, Another , Grease yakka. Slimeball.
        looking for a lost humour in flowers fangs.

    • 1
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      Have you first tested your theory on a land with no remembrance of religion to come to such a conclusion?

      How can you publish untested theories?

  • 4
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    Politics is about optimum utilization and distribution of our resources: Natural, Human, and Capital. Where does Religion come into any of these.

    Religion comes in as a protector of morals. Morals (mos) and Ethics (ethos) are different only in names.

    A believer in God and Religion is guided by morals in his/her value system. A non-believer is guided by Ethics, with equal vitality.

    Bringing Religion into Politics is tantamount to declaring superiority of one religion over the other. We can do without this additional headache!

    • 2
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      “”Politics is about optimum utilization and distribution of our resources: “”

      In practice sandwich what you say with lies lies & lies – become powerful, have a secret police and army to divide and rule.

      How does a practicing lawyer Hillary and family become billionaires
      MR1, Banda Family, JR extended family??

      Why is there poverty?? Created by politicians and lanka tattai komission kakka’s.

      • 0
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        Stop wasting too much of your time on how other people amass wealth. The headache ill-gotten wealth gives is something you don’t have to suffer from!

        National poverty is a measure of under utilized resources. Personal poverty is a measure of time spent unwise, – ruing, in our case!

        • 0
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          national and personal poverty comes from a sleepy corrupt nation.
          Recently Hill was paid $500k for a private speech and she was queried by a journalist. embarrassed she said`they gave it to me I did not ask¬
          go away preach your religious/economic gospel of doom elsewhere in fantasy island.

  • 1
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    Please be advised not to make hateful comments toward Islam and/or Muslims or any other religious adherents after reading my comments! The sole purpose is to evoke more intelligence than revengeful emotions!
    I strongly believe that there exist certain innocent religions that need collective (including the State’s) protection and Buddhism in certain small countries is one of them. Many intellectuals agree that Buddhism is a rare philosophy, mistakenly but popularly identified as a religion. Look at its base/foundation: wisdom (practical awakening) and compassion (practical non-violence)! Buddhism is the only religion that has the courage to request you not to take up arms even in self-defense!
    Look at this scenario! Suppose, you are a Buddhist; a thief enters your house and attempts to strangle you to death; but you are not supposed (not allowed morally) to harm the intruder even in self-defense. You may ask now: “What kind of ‘weird’ religion is that? Such a religion can never exist in this ‘survival of the fittest’ world.” You are right and that is what exactly happened to ‘Real Buddhism’ wherever it existed. Let’s take an example from the birthplace of Buddhism: India. This is the sad story of the University of Nalanda where thousands of Buddhist monks, probably ‘mindfully’ faced their death in front of an invading mindless (unfortunately Muslim) army. The massacre occurred at the turn of the 13th century, just 800 years ago.
    University of Nalanda was one of the leading Buddhist centers of research and development from 600 BC to 1200 CE. Buddha (543 BC) visited Nalanda during his final voyage through Magadha, and it was at Nalanda where Sariputta (Buddha’s disciple renowned for his exceptional wisdom) uttered his lion’s roar in order to affirm his unwavering faith and confidence in the Buddha and his teachings. Buddhists throughout the world believe Nalanda, the birthplace of Sariputta was dedicated to his wisdom and a Stupa (Dagoba) was also erected and named after him. Eventually, for South and South East Asia it was the center of study and research of Buddhism as well as a number of other academic subjects. Apparently it has taken only a few hours for the invader to kill the entire academic staff with students and destroy the entire university!
    According to Wikipaedia, Minhaj-i-Siraj, a Persian historian, in his Tabaqat-I Nasiri (1260) wrote of this massacre and destruction:
    “Muhammad-i-Bakht-yar … captured the fortress, and acquired great booty. The greater number of the inhabitants of that place was Brahmans, and the whole of those Brahmans had their heads shaven; and they were all slain. There were a great number of books there; and, when all these books came under the observation of the Musalmans, they summoned a number of Hindus that they might give them information respecting the import of those books; but the whole of the Hindus had been killed. On becoming acquainted [with the contents of those books], it was found that the whole of that fortress and city was a college, and in the Hindui tongue, they call a college [مدرسه] Bihar.”
    The Persian historian believed ‘Bihar’ meant ‘College’. Actually ‘Bihar’ means ‘Vihar’ (temple) in Buddhist terminology and the shaven headed ‘Brahmans’ were not Hindu priests but the unarmed Buddhist monks.
    This is what Google has to say specifically about the invader Bakht-yar: “The most destructive attack came when the ancient Nalanda University was destroyed by the Muslim army led by the Turkish leader Bakhtiyar Khilji in 1193. It is believed that Buddhism as a major religion in India had a setback for hundreds of years due to the loss of the religious texts during the attack.”
    If history repeats and if that repetition favors only the ruthless invader who arrives in disguise and in so many cunning forms even today, we, as human beings should be awakened to take a bold step further and protect whatever that was discovered/rediscovered, created/recreated, and built/rebuilt by our forefathers.
    Nevertheless, again, the entire world became just mere on-lookers when the two monumental Bamiyan Buddha statues (built in 507 AD and 554 AD) in Afghanistan (ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara) were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 on the orders given by another Muslim leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. This happened at the turn of the 21st century; a mere 15 years ago, just in front of our own eyes! (Gandhara is today Kandahar, the home of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda).

    • 2
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      Have a kid then In Self- Denial go sit under the tree and starve to death.

      First World power
      Be a Yogi!! Working Stressed Europeans are all into yoga not the Hindu faith.

    • 4
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      Nalanda University, which was set up at Rajgir in Bihar in 413 AD during the Gupta dynasty, had emerged as a world seat of learning before it was destroyed sometime in the 11th century. External Affairs Minister, SushmaSwaraj along with Bihar’s Chief Minister, Jitam Ram Manjhi, formally inaugurated the new Nalanda University on September 19. The creation of new varsity came into existence in 2010 through an Act of Parliament seeking to recapture the lost glory of its earlier avatar. Many of the dailies published reports on varsity’s past glory, its decay, theories of uprooting of Buddhism etc. Unfortunately, most of these carried fabricated and concocted stories on destruction of the varsity, peddling a perverse perception of the Indian past.

      It was most amusing was to read ‘Nalanda varsity set to capture erstwhile glory in new avatar’in Hindustan Times, Patna,on September 1, 2014. In the write-up it was stated that ‘the university fell upon hard times when it was overrun by the Huns under Mihirakula during the reign of Skandgupta (455-467 AD). But it was restored by his successors. The university was destroyed again by the Gaudas in the early 7th century but was restored again by king Harshvardhana (606-648 AD). But it could not recover from the third and final blow dealt in 1193 AD by Bakhtiar Khilji, a general of Qutubuddin Aibak, out to uproot Buddhism. The Turkish invaders set blaze and destroyed the huge library of the university, said to rival one at Luxor in Egypt’. On September 15, 2014 the same daily, again, reiterated that ‘the original Nalanda University……was burnt down by an army of Turkish invaders in 1193’. (‘Nalanda varsity set to capture erstwhile glory in new avatar’, Hindustan Times, Patna, September 15, 2014)

      Another leading daily of Patna, The Times of India, in its September 20, 2014 issue stated that ‘, Nalanda Mahavihara was reduced to ruins by foreign invaders’. Daily Pioneer from Delhi, on September 20, 2014, reported that ‘Nalanda University was burnt down 800 years ago by a Turkish army’ (September 20, 2014). Without mentioning the name these dailies have indicated that it was none else than Bakhtiyar Khilji who destroyed Nalanda University.

      Such falsification of history, with a clear design of creating hatred and ill-will in the society, misleads readers and pulls wool over their eyes. In obvious fact, the historical evidence proves that much before invasion of Bakhtiyar Khilji, Nalanda University had already fallen to ruins because of the rivalry of Hinayana (simple Mahayana) and Mahayana influenced with the ideas of Brahminism. Indeed, there was another Mahavihara in Odantapuri (modern Bihar Sharif in Nalanda District) inside the fort of the local king which was partially affected in the course of battle between the forces of Bakhtiyar Khilji and the local king in 1197 or 1198 AD. The chronicle, Tabaqat-i-Nasiri of Minhaj-i –Siraj, which is usually referred to be historical record of the time, apparently refers to this place and does not even mention the name of Nalanda. Presumably, Nalanda was then a desolate place.

      The fortified monastery which Bakhtiyar captured was, “known as Audand-Bihar or Odandapura-vihara” (Odantapuri in Biharsharif then known simply as Bihar). Minhaj does not refer to Nalanda at all. He merely speaks of the ransacking of the “fortress of Bihar” (Hisar-i-Bihar). This is the view of many historians and, most importantly, of Jadunath Sarkar, whose credibility is honoured even by right wing historians. (History of Bengal, vol. 2, pp.3-4).

      Historical evidence also suggests that Bakhtiyar Khilji did not go to Nalanda at all. It ‘escaped the main fury of the Muslim conquest because it lay not on the main route from Delhi to Bengal but needed a separate expedition’. (A S Altekar in Introduction to Roerich’s Biography of Dharmasvamin). Also, a few years after Bakhtiyar’s sack of Odantapuri, when the Tibetan monk Dharmasvamin visited Nalanda in 1234, he “found some buildings unscathed” in which some pandits and monks resided and received instruction from Mahapandita Rahulshribhadra. In fact, Bakhtiyar seems to have proceeded from Biharsharif to Nadia in Bengal through the hills and jungles of the region of Jharkhand, which, incidentally, finds first mention in an inscription of 1295 AD (Comprehensive History of India, vol. IV, pt. I, p.601).

      KP Jaiswal Research institute, Patna was established in 1951 by the Government of Bihar with the object, inter alia, to promote historical research, archaeological excavations and investigations and publication of works of permanent value to scholars. The research work titled ‘The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar’ by DR Patil, published as a ‘Historical Research Series’, by the Institute in 1963 reveals that: ‘…no Mohammedan Makhdum, Pir or saint of great repute happened to grace the tops of the Nalanda mounds with their tombs or mosques. This is a feature, which, it should be noted, is commonly to be observed all over Bihar at sites of celebrated and important sanctuaries. At Bihar Sharif itself many of such Muslim monuments still exist; but their absence at Nalanda, hardly six or seven miles away, is rather surprising. Had Nalanda been a living institute of great repute or importance at the time of the invasion of Bakhtiar Khilji in 1197 or 1198 AD, we should expect the Muslim Chronicles of the event to have known and mentioned the name of Nalanda. The place, said to have been destroyed by the invader, is described to be a great city and a place of study then known as Bihar, which would more appropriately be a reference to the modern Bihar Sharif, which also had a monastery, and not to Nalanda, near which there existed no big city worth the name. As is known, one of the Pala rulers had established a monastery at Odantapuri or Bihar Sharif itself which may have affected adversely. All these would indicate that, quite before Bakhtiar Khilji’s invasion, Nalanda had perhaps fallen to decay or ruins already; but how and when actually this happened is still a mystery to be unravelled’. (Page 304). The research further indicates that‘….there is, therefore, reason to believe that Nalanda had met its final end sometime in the 11th century i.e. more than hundred years before Bakhtiar Khilji invaded Bihar in 1197A.D’.(Page 325). This historical research series was published under the patronage of the Government of Bihar in 1963.

      Furthermore, DN Jha, former Professor, Department of History, University of Delhi, in the article ‘Grist to the reactionary mill’(Indian Express, July 9, 2014), on destruction of Nalanda University, quotes that: ‘Tibetan monk and scholar, Taranatha, writes inHistory of Buddhism in India’ : ‘During the consecration of the temple built by Kakutsiddha at Nalendra [Nalanda] “the young naughty sramanas threw slops at the two tirthika beggars and kept them pressed inside door panels and set ferocious dogs on them”. Angered by this, one of them went on arranging for their livelihood and the other sat in a deep pit and “engaged himself in surya sadhana” [solar worship] , first for nine years and then for three more years and having thus “acquired mantrasiddhi” he “performed a sacrifice and scattered the charmed ashes all around” which “immediately resulted in a miraculously produced fire”, consuming all the eighty four temples and the scriptures some of which, however, were saved by water flowing from an upper floor of the nine storey Ratnodadhi temple’. (History of Buddhism in India,written in the 17th century, English tr. Lama Chimpa & Alka Chattopadhyaya, summary of page 141-42).This should mean, he continues, that ‘the idea of Brahminical hostility to the religion of the Buddha traveled to Tibet fairly early and became part of its Buddhist tradition, and found expression in the 17th-18th century Tibetan writings’.

      A number of other Indian scholars like R K Mookerji (Education in Ancient India), Sukumar Dutt (Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India), Buddha Prakash (Aspects of Indian History and Civilization), and S C Vidyabhushana who interpreted the text, viewed that it refers to an actual “scuffle between the Buddhist and Brahmanical mendicants and the latter, being infuriated, propitiated the Sun god for twelve years, performed a fire- sacrifice and threw the living embers and ashes from the sacrificial pit into the Buddhist temples which eventually destroyed the great library at Nalanda called Ratnodadhi’ (History of Indian Logic, page 516 as cited by D R Patil,The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, page 327). Scholars named above were all polymaths of unimpeachable academic honesty and integrity.

      As regards uprooting of Buddhism there are various theories put forward which seek to explain the tragic eclipse. Even today Gaya is oftenly in news as Buddhists are still struggling to wrest control of their most holy shrine. The age-old conflict between Buddhism and Brahminism, it seems, is yet to be resolved.

      But the effort to associate Bakhtiyar Khalji with the destruction and burning of the University of Nalanda and of the uprooting of Buddhism from its place of birth is a glaring example of the wilful distortion of history. Certainly such biased historians and their ilk are always free to falsify historical data but this only reveals the lack of any serious historical exercise.The truth is sacrosanct and history needs to be preserved and presentation without making it a victim of the prejudices of any kind.
      —-
      The author of the above article is Mr. Ansari is Secretary of Peace Foundation, Patna and he can be reached at E-mail : peacefoundationbihar@gmail.com

      • 3
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        Why could not the Mughals (the bringers of Sharia Law) destroy and control Nepal, Sikkim, Nagaland -foot hills of Himalayas.

        Buddhism was introduced to keep the majority at bay- it was written 500 years after death. Non of us know even what or how our Grandfathers thought nor do we know beyond 300 years of our genes.
        Tao the civil servant lived at the same time of the Buddha and the philosophy same, written.
        To me when when one say Brahmin, Brahmin Brahmin I get sleepy because you want plunder and bring them down but you just cant.I see reality even in India and Lanka- best competing the best.Even US and Canada.
        What SushmaSwaraj(civil servants daughtet) is doing is exactly what transpired when there was a lull in hinduism right across the south.
        is bihari babbuva dacoit with knowledge of Sutras coming down from Andhra marrying chieftan daughter ..Sanskrit Pali side by side …going to Ajanta while there is a Trimurthi maharashtra.- in short I know what you know i am not from arts.
        There are historian’s on CT who can give you a run for your money.
        Jamma masjid carries the stone of hindu temples.
        Swaraj propped to fame playing the claccic Modawanse card Suddha ta Gahmu- i will shave my head. Haryana – Even patna boys never knew which way they would vote even in cross voting.

  • 5
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    Religion is a private matter to be observed at one’s discretion. Buddhism is not a religion but a philosophy and away of life and it not not understandable why in Sri Lanka Buddhist monks are regarded as religious leaders. Take the progress that China has made. It is essentially a secular State with no importance given to religion. A catholic marrying a Buddhist is of no consequence in the life of the family concerned. In Islam women and children suffer considerable mental and physical disadvantages let alone physical pain. Bensen

    • 4
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      Buddhism is in fact a philosophy but for some it’s a religion. Lord Buddha preached his doctrine according to the intelligence level or mental state of people he met.

      The same principle is applied to Buddhist monks as well because some don’t want to consume the cream of the philosophy.

      So majority are monks or religious leaders and some are spiritual leaders.

  • 1
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    To J.Deane,
    Do you have any comments on this?
    “……again, the entire world became just mere on-lookers when the two monumental Bamiyan Buddha statues (built in 507 AD and 554 AD) in Afghanistan (ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara) were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 on the orders given by another Muslim leader Mullah Mohammed Omar. This happened at the turn of the 21st century; a mere 15 years ago, just in front of our own eyes! (Gandhara is today Kandahar, the home of the Taliban and Al-Qaeda).”
    Thanks.

    • 2
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      Ruvan
      on the orders given by another Muslim leader Mullah Mohammed Omar

      Mullah Mohamed Omar is a terrorist leader NOT a Muslim leader. Omar was born a Muslim that is all. The vast majority of the nearly 2 billion Muslims are not terrorists and would have regarded Omar’s actions with disdain. I do.

      And (do) not insult those whom they invoke other than Allah, lest they insult Allah (in) enmity without knowledge. Thus We have made fair-seeming to every community their deed. Then to their Lord (is) their return, then He will inform them about what they used to do. Al Qur’an 6:108

      OMAR is to Muslims as Ashin Wirathu of 969 and Gnanasara of BBS are to the Buddhists. Wirathu and Gnassara are a disgrace to the robes they wear; they have destroyed, desecrated mosques and killed. All terrorists sell religion to its gullible adherents who due to lack of proper knowledge of their own religion, support these idiots. 969, BBS, ISIS, Taliban, Boko Haram are all the same in the basic ideology of terrorizing. They only differ in their methodology and targets.

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      The largest number of Buddhist Statutes anywhere in the world is at China and nowhere else. Be like the Chinese Buddhist- peaceful non interfering,
      UNESCO/Japan excavations at Lumbini and Taxila proved that there is no Gautama but tree worshipers.

    • 1
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      Ruvan

      “……again, the entire world became just mere on-lookers when the two monumental Bamiyan Buddha statues (built in 507 AD and 554 AD) in Afghanistan (ancient Buddhist kingdom of Gandhara) were dynamited and destroyed in March 2001 on the orders given by another Muslim leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

      Ruwan, there were hundreds of Muslim leaders in Afganistan, since Islam and Muslims came to Afghanistan. for over 1,300 years. Even during the Soviet Occupation, the Religious Mujahadeen did not destroy the Statues. They all claimed to be Muslims.

      Mullah Omar, Like ISIS claims to be Muslims, because they can fool the Muslims and non-Muslims alike. They are called Devil, Satan , Iblis following Wahhabi Clones, like ISIS, Boko Haram and Taliban.

      So, Mullah Omar is NOT Muslim, but a Satan Follower, just like Hitler, who was born Catholic.

  • 3
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    The other day, the Daily Mirror carried pictures of a group of 8 year old children being shaved and ordained as monks. Why is such abuse allowed in the name of religion? In any other country the organisers would be locked up. Here they are protected from criticism.

    • 2
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      Old Codger

      “The other day, the Daily Mirror carried pictures of a group of 8 year old children being shaved and ordained as monks.”

      This is Child abuse in the Name of Religion, Period. They should be asked to make the choice when they are !8 years old as adults.

      This is Pure slavery. Yes, Pure slavery. They call it tradition. Some call it pure f****** holes. This falls into the same category as Child Brides, but worse.

      Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 1

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNOfTGSADdY

      Buddhism The Great Evil — Part 2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcs2PSze0I

      Einstein on God

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kEK6WtHxNfw

      Uploaded on Dec 22, 2009
      This video discusses the spiritual beliefs of Prof. Albert Einstein and how they have been a subject for debate in recent years.

      Magnificent Islamic Scholars – Averroes – Ibn Rushd

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sIGxQOw7drg

      Published on Feb 3, 2014
      Abū l-Walīd Muḥammad bin ʾAḥmad bin Rušd (Arabic: أبو الوليد محمد بن احمد بن رشد‎), commonly known as Ibn Rushd (Arabic: ابن رشد‎) or by his Latinized name Averroës (/əˈvɛroʊ.iːz/; April 14, 1126 — December 10, 1198), was an Andalusian Muslim polymath, a master of Aristotelian philosophy, Islamic philosophy, Islamic theology, Maliki law and jurisprudence, logic, psychology, politics and Andalusian classical music theory, and the sciences of medicine, astronomy, geography, mathematics, physics and celestial mechanics. Averroes was born in Córdoba, Al Andalus, present-day Spain, and died in Marrakesh, present-day Morocco. He was interred in his family tomb at Córdoba. The 13th-century philosophical movement based on Averroes’ work is called Averroism.

      Averroes was a defender of Aristotelian philosophy against Ash’ari theologians led by Al-Ghazali. Averroes’ philosophy was considered controversial in Muslim circles. Averroes had a greater impact on Western European circles and he has been described as the “founding father of secular thought in Western Europe”. The detailed commentaries on Aristotle earned Averroes the title “The Commentator” in Europe. Latin translations of Averroes’ work led the way to the popularization of Aristotle and were responsible for the development of scholasticism in medieval Europe.

      Averroes’ name is also seen as “Averroës”, “Averroès” or “Averrhoës”, indicating that the “o” and the “e” form separate syllables. “Averroës” is a Latinisation of the Arabic name Ibn Rushd.

      According to Ernest Renan, Averroes was also known as Ibin-Ros-din, Filius Rosadis, Ibn-Rusid, Ben-Raxid, Ibn-Ruschod, Den-Resched, Aben-Rassad, Aben-Rois, Aben-Rasd, Aben-Rust, Avenrosdy Avenryz, Adveroys, Benroist, Avenroyth and Averroysta.

      Averroes was born in Córdoba to a family with a long and well-respected tradition of legal and public service. His grandfather Abu Al-Walid Muhammad (d. 1126) was chief judge of Córdoba under the Almoravids. His father, Abu Al-Qasim Ahmad, held the same position until the Almoravids were replaced by the Almohads in 1146.

      Averroes’ education followed a traditional path, beginning with studies in Hadith, linguistics, jurisprudence and scholastic theology. Throughout his life he wrote extensively on Philosophy and Religion, attributes of God, origin of the universe, Metaphysics and Psychology. It is generally believed that he was perhaps once tutored by Ibn Bajjah (Avempace). His medical education was directed under Abu Jafar ibn Harun of Trujillo in Seville. Averroes began his career with the help of Ibn Tufail (“Aben Tofail” to the West), the author of Hayy ibn Yaqdhan and philosophic vizier of Almohad king Abu Yaqub Yusuf who was an amateur of philosophy and science. It was Ibn Tufail who introduced him to the court and to Ibn Zuhr (“Avenzoar” to the West), the great Muslim physician, who became Averroes’s teacher and friend. Averroes’s aptitude for medicine was noted by his contemporaries and can be seen in his major enduring work Kitab al-Kulyat fi al-Tibb (Generalities) the work was influenced by the Kitab al-Taisir fi al-Mudawat wa al-Tadbir (Particularities) of Ibn Zuhr. Averroes later reported how it was also Ibn Tufail that inspired him to write his famous commentaries on Aristotle: Abu Bakr ibn Tufayl summoned me one day and told me that he had heard the Commander of the Faithful complaining about the disjointedness of Aristotle’s mode of expression — or that of the translators — and the resultant obscurity of his intentions. He said that if someone took on these books who could summarize them and clarify their aims after first thoroughly understanding them himself, people would have an easier time comprehending them. “If you have the energy, ” Ibn Tufayl told me, “you do it. I’m confident you can, because I know what a good mind and devoted character you have, and how dedicated you are to the art. You understand that only my great age, the cares of my office — and my commitment to another task that I think even more vital — keep me from doing it myself. ” —

      Averroes also studied the works and philosophy of Ibn Bajjah (“Avempace” to the West), another famous Islamic philosopher who greatly influenced his own Averroist thought.

      However, while the thought of his mentors Ibn Tufail and Ibn Bajjah were mystic to an extent, the thought of Averroes was purely rationalist. Together, the three men are considered the greatest Andalusian philosophers. Averroes devoted the next 30 years to his philosophical writings.

      In 1160, Averroes was made Qadi (judge) of Seville and he served in many court appointments in Seville, Cordoba, and Morocco during his career. Sometimes during the reign of Yaqub al-Mansur, Averroes’ political career was abruptly ended and he faced severe criticism from the Fuqaha (Islamic jurists) of the time.

      Aristotle and Averroes Lyrics

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EOlzx4_FSQE

      Uploaded on Jul 16, 2011
      Aristotle and Averroes by Kareem Salama

    • 3
      1

      Of Course, this is Child Abuse! My Grandson at 8 Years, would not even begin to Understand what the Buddha was Talking about.

      Learning to Recite the Gathas and Suttas at that Young Age, is Not Learning about The Dhamma, and its Practice!

      This Practice seems to be aimed at Creating Child Slaves who do the Unpaid Work of Cleaning up after the Dayakayas!

      Sinhala/Buddhists do not believe that it is up to them to Safeguard and Clean their Temples!

  • 1
    3

    To Deane,
    This is how I started my comments: “Please be advised not to make hateful comments toward Islam and/or Muslims or any other religious adherents after reading my comments! The sole purpose is to evoke more intelligence than revengeful emotions!”
    Unfortunately, Mr. J. Deane is taking this discussion toward the wrong direction; the purpose may be to white-wash a certain ‘entity’ and divert our attention from the issue discussed in the main article: “Why trying to protect religion (that) often does more harm than good?”
    Mr. Deane! The two names you mentioned in your lengthy comment (Wirathu and Gnassara) are neither religious nor political leaders like Bakhtiar Khilji or Mullah Mohamed Omar who massacred ‘infidels’ and captured political power. Wirathu and Gnanasara tried their best to be ‘heroes’ and, most international media gave them necessary back-up and support but it did not materialize. (For example: some Western political authorities funded and used Gnanasara against Sri Lankan Muslims so that the then president of Sri Lanka: Mr. Rajapaksa and his anti-Western government could be locally and internationally condemned; this conspiracy was revealed after the ‘job was done’ and today, no media including TC cover them, no more)! I’m not surprised about this kind of political conspiracies or their emergence/demise because even Al-Qaeda is considered a creation of certain Western powers.
    Buddhists say: there are THREE things that cannot be hidden for too long: the Sun, the moon, and the Truth. The truth about BBS was revealed and Gnanasara who contested General elections of 2015 in Sri Lanka was shown the Exit door by the Buddhist themselves for his ‘non-Buddhist’ behavior. That’s democracy, but unfortunately, in most Islamic countries ‘Democracy’ is an alien word. Consequently, Muslim fundamentalists who follow the footsteps of Bakhtiar Khilji and Mullah Mohamed Omar are ‘supported’ by Muslims themselves; this ‘support’ is given in a terribly unfortunate manner by condemning Islamic fundamentalism and its supporters openly but aiding them secretly. That’s what the rest of the world cannot understand about Muslims and Islam!
    The whole world agree that Holy Quran has nothing to do with Islamic fundamentalism which (though) uses the holy Book (Quran), Prophet Mohammed, and Almighty Allah to wreck havoc in non-Muslim countries (with a weird reference to other religious adherents: ‘Infidels’). They did it in the past (my example: Nalanda but your admitted example is Mahavihara in Odantapuri in the State of Bihar, India). They have done it in the recent past (ex: destruction of Bamiyan Buddha statues in Afghanistan – former Buddhist kingdom of Gandhar). They continue to do it even today wherever there appears the opportunity. Unfortunately, most Muslims in most Muslim countries silently support it and cry foul only when a 9/11 happens. Nevertheless, there are millions of Muslims who believe their great religion (like any other religion) is not a showcase of political power but a way to inner peace and happiness.
    My point is that certain religions in small countries need state protection under these growing undemocratic circumstances!

    • 3
      1

      Ruvan, First of all I don’t want to be embroiled in controversy. I believe in God, and if you don’t that’s fine by me. I do not wish to engage in this forum to argue ad infinitum to convince someone to convert to my beliefs. I only participate in this forum to express the correct side of the story, with facts, especially when something negative is written about Islam and or Muslims.
      For instance you blamed Bhaktiar Khilji as being the cause of the Nalanda Monastery disasters. Not only you, but I have read many others who love to misinform readers with this canard to paint a negative image of Muslims.
      The facts as I found out are as follows:
      Historical evidence also suggests that Bakhtiyar Khilji did not go to Nalanda at all. It ‘escaped the main fury of the Muslim conquest because it lay not on the main route from Delhi to Bengal but needed a separate expedition’. (A S Altekar in Introduction to Roerich’s Biography of Dharmasvamin). Also, a few years after Bakhtiyar’s sack of Odantapuri, when the Tibetan monk Dharmasvamin visited Nalanda in 1234, he “found some buildings unscathed” in which some pandits and monks resided and received instruction from Mahapandita Rahulshribhadra. In fact, Bakhtiyar seems to have proceeded from Biharsharif to Nadia in Bengal through the hills and jungles of the region of Jharkhand, which, incidentally, finds first mention in an inscription of 1295 AD (Comprehensive History of India, vol. IV, pt. I, p.601).

      A number of other Indian scholars like R K Mookerji (Education in Ancient India), Sukumar Dutt (Buddhist Monks and Monasteries of India), Buddha Prakash (Aspects of Indian History and Civilization), and S C Vidyabhushana who interpreted the text, viewed that it refers to an actual “scuffle between the Buddhist and Brahmanical mendicants and the latter, being infuriated, propitiated the Sun god for twelve years, performed a fire- sacrifice and threw the living embers and ashes from the sacrificial pit into the Buddhist temples which eventually destroyed the great library at Nalanda called Ratnodadhi’ (History of Indian Logic, page 516 as cited by D R Patil,The Antiquarian Remains in Bihar, page 327). Scholars named above were all POLYMATHS of UNIMPEACHABLE ACADEMIC HONESTY and INTEGRITY.

      It would have been gratifying if you had done your research honestly and presented these facts instead of me having to do so in a defense mode.

      You say Unfortunately, Mr. J. Deane is taking this discussion toward the wrong direction.: the purpose may be to white wash. certain ‘Entity’ and divert our attention….

      Ruvan, you first mentioned about Nalanda, which was historically untrue. Your mentioning this was surely not to give Muslims a pat on the back. Whether it was relevant to the topic or not, I did not want you to proliferate this lie. My engagement was to expose your false statement.
      You say
      Consequently, Muslim fundamentalists who follow the footsteps of Bakhtiar Khilji and Mullah Mohamed Omar are ‘supported’ by Muslims themselves; this ‘support’ is given in a terribly unfortunate manner by condemning Islamic fundamentalism and its supporters openly but aiding them secretly.

      My understanding is that fundamentalism is a good thing in so far as it is about following the fundamentals of the religion. You and the Islamaphobes have by design or otherwise confused extremism with fundamentalism.
      You say that Muslims openly condemn their acts but secretly aid them. This is pure
      CONJECTURE and hearsay on your part without any statistical proof.

      If all the dormant and peaceful Muslims took up arms against these extremists then the former will be no better than the latter. Probably you might be the first to condemn peaceful Muslims for resorting to violence without leaving it to the authorities to resolve such issues. You see the opponents of Islam condemn its adherents with ‘a damned if you do and damned if you don’t’ attitude.

      Again your subconscious mistrust of Muslims is revealed in your statement
      a weird reference to other religious adherents: ‘Infidels’

      An infidel is a person who does not acknowledge your God. What is weird about that? If you don’t believe in my god you are an infidel to me and vice-versa.

      It smarts you when I mention Wirathu and Gnanasara. Why? You should unequivocally condemn these brutes as I condemn ISIS, TALIBAN, BOKO HARAM and ALL TERRORIST outfits unreservedly. I also have zero sympathy for them whatever you may say. I must state that everyone among my family and friends are totally in sync with me on this.

  • 0
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    To J.Deane
    1. Bhaktiar Khilji did not invade India at the turn of the 12th century; actually he went on a pilgrimage to introduce Islam but just missed Nalanda due to an error on the Indian Tourist map. Since the Buddhist monks at Nalanda could not see their pilgrim they felt so sorry and all of them decided to commit suicide by beheading one another. You have confirmed this in your comments: “Historical evidence also suggests that Bakhtiyar Khilji did not go to Nalanda at all. It ‘escaped the main fury of the Muslim conquest because it lay not on the main route from Delhi to Bengal but needed a separate expedition’. (Those historians use such words as ‘fury, conquest, and expedition’ here in a poetic manner)!
    2. You quote: “Also, a few years after Bakhtiyar’s sack of Odantapuri, when the Tibetan monk Dharmasvamin visited Nalanda in 1234, he “found some buildings unscathed” in which some pandits and monks resided and received instruction from Mahapandita Rahulshribhadra”. The first part of the above sentence needs to be re-written as follows: …after Bakhtiyar’s pilgrimage to Odantapuri…” Here, the remaining pundits and monks decided to make the place ready for the next pilgrimage of Bhaktiar Khilji and his horseback pilgrims; that’s why they received instruction from Mahapandita Rahulshribhadra”.
    3. Due to a “scuffle between the Buddhist and Brahmanical mendicants and the latter, being infuriated, propitiated the Sun god for twelve years, performed a fire- sacrifice and threw the living embers and ashes from the sacrificial pit into the Buddhist temples which eventually destroyed the great library at Nalanda called Ratnodadhi’ How true; these mendicants were playing with fire and cotton balls inside Nalanda library because they had come from all over Asia to learn how to play games at Nalanda Kindergarten,and unfortunately a fire broke out and destroyed it!
    Thanks a lot to J.Deane for the logical and painstaking explanation!!!

  • 1
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    I would like to invite those who are not familiar with Eastern philosophy to read Kalama Sutta which is justly famous for its encouragement of free inquiry. It signifies a teaching that is exempt from fanaticism, bigotry, dogmatism, and intolerance.
    Kalamas from the city of Kesaputta came to Buddha and asked the same question that you and I ask ourselves:
    “Venerable Sir, there are monks and brahmins who visit Kesaputta. They expound and explain only their own doctrines; the doctrines of others, they despise, revile, and pull to pieces. Venerable sir, there is doubt; there is uncertainty in us concerning them. Who speaks the truth and who falsehood?”
    Buddha’s answer: “It is proper for you, Kalamas, to doubt, to be uncertain; uncertainty has arisen in you about what is doubtful. Come, Kalamas! Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing; nor upon tradition; nor upon rumor; nor upon what is in a scripture; nor upon surmise; nor upon an axiom; nor upon specious reasoning; nor upon a bias towards a notion that has been pondered over; nor upon another’s seeming ability; nor upon the consideration that ‘the monk is our teacher.’ Kalamas! When you yourselves know: ‘This is bad; this is blamable; this is censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, this leads to harm and ill,’ abandon it.
    At the end, Buddha explained the criterion for acceptance: “Kalamas! Do not go upon what has been acquired due to:
    1. Repeated hearing
    2. Tradition
    3. Rumor
    4. What is in a scriptures
    5. Surmise
    6. An axiom
    7. Specious reasoning
    8. A bias towards a notion that has been pondered over
    9. Another’s seeming ability
    10. The consideration: ‘The monk is our teacher’.
    Kalamas, when you yourselves know: ‘These things are good; these things are not blamable; these things are praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and happiness,’ enter on and abide in them.
    Dear CT reader! What else do you expect as the basis from a religion/philosophy expounded 2600 years ago! Buddha’s Kalama Sutta was a precursor for Voltaire’s famous saying: “I wholly disapprove of what you say, and will defend to the death your right to say it.”

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