SOME IMAGES HAUNT YOU FORVER. They creep into your core and then manifest as shadows of the night. They become your own shadows. This is one such image among countless such images, both shot and not shot. The metaphor of shooting is sinisterly apt: one draws or paints or clicks or shoots an image but one shoots with a gun to kill, maim, or wound.
Civilisations are also similarly shot. The incurable wound looks like this photograph.
Here, in one simple but ghastly frame is the clearest, visible proof of the contrast between true spirituality and unhinged barbarism. On the pedestal is the profound hush of the ages, its silence beckoning us to savour the realms of eternal sublimity. Below and around it is the savage cacophony of bestiality which fears and therefore seeks to annihilate all that is sublime, elevated, magnanimous and spiritual.
This is the real story of the Taliban. A story as old as the founder and the founding of the imperial ideology which sanctions and legitimises bestiality with pseudo-religious tenets. Barbarism sanctified by Islamic piety is the fail-proof nuclear arsenal. The history of this cult is the history of the annihilation of beauty: real spirituality, and the highest Vedantic realisation is an experience of perfect beauty.
Thus, what we witness in this heartbreaking image is simply the latest, brutal showcase of an old war which primordial savagery unleashed against beauty. Its roots lie in human nature. It is worth quoting Koenraad Elst in this context:
In the foregoing picture, you could substitute the Murti of the Buddha with say, Vamana, Krishna, Narasimha, Varaha, Shiva, Ganesha or Devi without any material difference to the intensity of the agony you feel when you look at it. But in a way, the Buddha flanked by the unvarnished fanatics of the Taliban is relevant both in a contemporary and historical fashion.
As is well-known, Islam’s early encounters with the infidels manifested in industrial-scale destructions of the hated Butt, the unclean idols of the Buddha. The term Butt is a linguistic corruption of Buddha. Likewise, when the Muslim barbarian Bhakthiyar Khalji ravaged Nalanda and Bengal, he first encountered thousands of Buddhist monks and sprawling Bauddha Viharas and Chaityas and Stupas and small and large Murtis of the Buddha.
It sounds unbelievable today but history shows us that the ancestors of Muhammad Ghori were Buddhists but by their time, their generational memory had been so thoroughly wiped out that they had been transformed into pious warriors against infidelity, i.e., against everything their ancestors held sacred. Their original region in Central Afghanistan, once again in burning news headlines, had been the perfect location for Buddhist monks who had made it their home to live a life of secluded contemplation inside its caves. Even as late as the end of the tenth century, the Arab chronicler Al-Istakhari noted that “Ghor (or Ghur) was the biggest pagan enclave within the borders of Islam.”
Almost no physical structure of Sanatana Dharma remains in Afghanistan today, and it is infinitely surprising that after the demolition of the Bamiyan Buddhas, traces of Buddhism still survive there. Informed persons have told me that the picture embedded in this essay shows the Buddha seated in a pigsty. A crueller irony is yet to be found especially when we recall Islam's prohibition of pork.
One of the biggest appeals of Bauddha Dharma is the incredible repository of its stories which offer something valuable to everyone…except the gun-wielding barbarians in this picture. One such story is the renowned one featuring Kisa Gotami. As instructed by the Buddha, she goes door to door in search of that one house which has not witnessed death. This quest on such a mundane plane leads to her profound enlightenment. I will leave it your wisdom to flesh out the psyche of a cult that seeks to liquidate this sublimity, this distilled essence of diving deep into our inner life. To paraphrase Shakespeare from King Lear, “what is it in human nature that makes such hard hearts?”
The haunt-quotient of this Buddha-image persists on many levels. On what plane–spiritual, psychological and emotional–does one even begin to fathom the mindset of the barbarians who have surrounded it? What is at the core of their “pure” faith that does not make them willingly submit to the grace and serenity of the Buddha? One automatically perceives an invitation to an ardent education in that equanimous Yoga Mudra of the Buddha, which in their eyes is an invitation for heartless murder. What does that tell us about the fabled Islamic “piety?” By what stretch of definition call this be a “religion” of “peace?”
From one perspective, Talibani Afghanistan has become akin to a 21st century finishing school of a project that started 1400 years ago in Arabia. To borrow from Koenraad Elst again,
Because our only concern at The Dharma Dispatch is Bharatavarsha and Sanatana Dharma, the foregoing statement can be appropriately contextualised as follows:
For fuller details, read our series on the forgotten Hindu history of Pakistan.
But more barbaric than the Taliban are their non-Islamic global enablers: chiefly, the Left-Liberal mafia. The bigger tragedy is the fact that an abundant number of their members exist in India, masquerading as Buddhists.
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