Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Lessons From Buddhism

What can be an appropriate response to an persecutionist ideology and a relentless assault of intolerant hatred?
Well, we atleast know what can NOT be a response to such an ideology--

Case Study: Buddhism

1) Hindus didnt kill Buddhists eventhough Buddhists were vehemently against and openly preaching against idol worship and the Vedas.
2) Hindus were not massacred under Buddhist Kings and Buddhists were free to propagate their religion under Hindu Kings.
3) Hindus and Buddhists came face to face through open and public debates. The loser had to convert to the victor's religion. Thus, the conflict was, more or less, restricted to priestly class.

1) Thousands of Buddhist monks were killed and hundreds of monasteries were razed to ground by the Islamic invaders from central Asia and Afghanistan till East Bengal.
2) Buddhists could influence Ashoka, but not one among Mohd. Bin Kasim, Mahmud Ghaznavi, Mohd. Ghauri, Qutubuddin Aibak, Timur, Ghiyazuddin Tuglaq, or Aurangzeb.
3) Incidentaly, the only place where Buddhism thrived till the end of medieval ages was in Tamil-nadu, the only Hindu region unconquered by Muslims.
4) But even more interestingly, even that was destroyed... this time, by Jesuits (Christians).

1) Whenever a new and different ideology creats an environment of conflict in an existing system, there are two options left with either people: a)Non-violence, peace pacts, and inter-religious dialogue or b) Vigilance, self-defence, and counter-hatred. (With the advent of nation-states and democracies, the victims also have a beautiful option of going to the law and demanding justice, but I am talking about the even more beautiful middle-ages).
2) Buddhism is a totally peaceful religion that took the first path against both Hinduism and Islam.
3) Against Hinduism, it was the ideal "clash of religions" where no one was physically hurt and where there was an opportunity to show that one's beliefs were logically better than the opponent's. Compare this is to the cheap attitude of claiming hurt, then imposing guilt on the opponent and thereby extracting several concessions like reservations and free pilgrimages.
4) Against Islam, Buddhism was wiped out of India. Monotheistic religions are not made for peaceful and open debates, and Buddhism was not made to deal with such hateful ideology.

The revered Dalai Lama has put it succintly:
"terrorism cannot be tackled by applying the principle of ahimsa because the minds of terrorists are closed."


Karmasura said...

I have a question regarding this..

If Islamic Hordes came right upto central Asia and India.. what stopped them to enter China?

Did Buddhism finally realize that it had to defend itself with military might in East Asia?

Or was it the legendary Chinese brutality that came to its rescue?

Karmasura said...

Or was Islamic strength so concentrated in the Indian subcontinent that they never went beyond India to east Asia?

Gandaragolaka said...

well well..
look at this:

Incidentally, Mongols were fiercely against Islam to begin with, but after the Khans converted to Islam, they were really the most formidable force on the Earth at that time.

So when Islam was spreading in India in 11th and 12th centures, it was mainly because there wasnt anywhere else to go to. The Mongols were too fierce and too strong for all these Ghauris and Ghaznavis.

And by the time Khans had converted to Islam, the Mongol empire was already on the downhill and various Chinese kingdoms cropped up again.

So China, sort of, never saw a real Islamic invasion.

Gandaragolaka said...

Using this rather popular thing called tinyurl for the first time:
(the link in the earlier comment was too big)