- VHP takes up Buddha's cause
- Ambikanand Sahay
AYODHYA (March 9): What suddenly catches your attention as you
wander through the jungle of carved sandstone pillars meant for the proposed Ram temple is
a freshly made statue of ``enlightened Buddha sitting in padmasana posture'' at
Karsewakpuram here. It's a wonderful piece of art. But that's not the only reason why you
The moment you see this statue, your thoughts travel towards the
Taliban's barbaric shelling of the standing Buddha at Bamiyan in Afghanistan. And it's
only then that you grasp the meaning of the statue's presence at the Vishwa Hindu
Parshad's war-camp in Ayodhya. What becomes clearer is that the leaders and followers of
the Sangh parivar will now fight for the cause of Buddha in the wake of the Bamiyan
May be it's a turning point in VHP's politics. Offshoots of the Sangh
parivar, including the VHP and the Bajrang Dal, will be staging massive demonstrations in
different district headquarters of UP in protest against the continued attacks on the
``Bhagwan Buddha is one of the greatest saints of our motherland and
his philosophy is absolutely illuminating,'' Sharad Sharma, media cell in- charge of
Karsewakpuram says adding that those who are attacking Buddha and Buddhists will have to
pay through their nose.
The statue, which has been brought here from the VHP's workshop in
Rajasthan, will now be taken to Lumbini, a major Buddhist pilgrimage centre. It will be
installed there with much fanfare.
Sharad Sharma isn't the only VHP activist who speaks like this. In
fact, others sound even more aggressive. But the reaction among common Ayodhya citizens is
somewhat different. They seem to be doing some soul-searching, their conscience having
been stirred by the unsavoury developments at Bamiyan. Not that are they equating the
destruction of the Babri mosque with the shelling of the Buddha statue at Bamiyan, but
they do seem to think that nobody should be allowed to deface and defile statues, temples,
mosques and churches.
Muslim leaders, however, are as aggressive in their reaction as the VHP
activists. Mohammad Hashim Ansari, the only surviving plaintiff of the original Babari
Mosque title suit, says: ``You demolished the mosque first. It's a lie to say that Babar
had destroyed a temple to build this mosque. If you can prove that a temple was indeed
destroyed, I am prepared to withdraw from the suit.''
Ironically, Ansari is otherwise a great friend of Mahant Paramhans
Ramchandra Das, president of the Ram Janmabhoomi trust. They often travel in the same car
to present themselves before the Lucknow Bench of the Allahabad High Court in connection
with the title suit.
Khaliq Ahmad Khan, convener of the Helal committee, is somewhat
reserved in his comments. ``All responsible Islamic organisations, including the Muslim
Personal Law Board, Milli Council and the All India Babri Masjid Action Committee, have
made it clear that attacks on the statues of Buddha are against the spirit of the Shariat.
But what was witnessed in Ayodhya in 1992 was equally wrong.''
Vimalasara, a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who is on a stopover here on
way to Kushinagar, famous for its statue of the reclining Buddha, describes the Taliban's
action as ``most unfortunate''. It's time leaders of all religions get together to see to
it that peace prevails, he says.