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Wat het die Boeddhisme -spore uit die geskiedenis van Kerala uitgewis?

Wat het die Boeddhisme -spore uit die geskiedenis van Kerala uitgewis?



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Ek is vertel en geleer dat Keralam, net soos alle Suid -Indiese state, 'n bestemming van Boeddhisme was. Maar ek sien nou letterlik geen spore van Boeddhisme hier nie. Ek sou graag wou weet wat werklik gebeur het wat die tekens van Boeddhisme uit Kerala verwyder het.


Oorsprong: Daar is effens verskillende sienings oor wanneer Boeddhisme die Kerala -streek binnegekom, floreer en afgeneem het. Die streek self is deur die geskiedenis op verskillende maniere aangewys as deel van die Chola koninkryk (vanaf 150 G.J.) en later as die toestand van Travancore onder die Tirunale voor Indië se onafhanklikheid.

Een siening is dat Boeddhisme slegs vir 'n kort tydperk van ongeveer 200 jaar in Kerala floreer het.

Ander sienings kan meen dat Boeddhisme Kerala binnegekom het op pad na Sri Lanka, of selfs andersom gekom het as Theravada Boeddhisme uit Sri Lanka.

Die Paliyam -koperplaat bewys blykbaar dat Boeddhisme tydens die bewind van Ashoka aan Kerala bekendgestel is.

Gedurende hierdie tydperk het die keiser se seun, Mahindra, 'n Boeddhistiese sending na Sri Lanka gelei. Vir meer as 700 jaar floreer Boeddhisme in Kerala. Die Paliyam-koperplaat van die Ay King, Varaguna (885-925AD) toon aan dat Boeddhiste in Suid-Kerala ten minste tot 1000 nC koninklike beskerming geniet.

Weier:

Vanaf 800 G.J. was daar 'n Bhrahmaniese herlewing in die streek.

Gedurende die tyd van Maurya Sharman, 'n Kadamba -koning, groot kolonies Brahmane uit Noord -Indië is genooi om hulle in Tulu en Kerala te vestig. In 792 nC het koning Udaya Varman van die Mooshika -dinastie 237 Brahmin -gesinne in Kerala gevestig. Volgens een tradisie het ses uitstaande Brahmane saam met hierdie immigrante gekom, Boeddhistiese leiers in openbare debatte verslaan en die intellektuele oppergesag van Hindoeïsme gevestig.

S Ramanath Aiyer het in sy A Brief Sketch of Travancore (hierdie weergawe in 1903 gedruk) geskryf:

Bhattacharya, Bhattabana, Bhattavijaya, Bhattamayukha, Bhattagopala en Bhattanarayana was die apostels en hulle het al die kragte van hul dialektiek oor die onderwerp gedra en alles tot die oorsaak van die Hindoe -triade bekeer. Sasthrakali, of 'n soort aanbidding wat eie is aan hierdie land, is die enigste produk van hul seëvierende kompromie. Die godheid wat aanbid word, is Sastha, die goddelike nageslag van Vishnu en Siva.

Daar word beweer dat Boeddha weer in die Hindoeïsme geassimileer is as 'Shasta', 'n Hindoe-godheid-die genoemde slanggod.

Later het geleerdes soos Guru Prabhakara en Shankaracharya (788-820 nC) die oppergesag van Hindoeïsme versterk. Dit het gelei tot die koninklike beskerming en bevordering van Vaishnavism deur Kulashekara Kings van die Tweede Chera -ryk. Boeddhistiese en Jaina -tempels is deur die Hindoes oorgeneem en bewillig en omgeskakel in Hindoe -tempels. Voorbeelde van sulke tempels bestaan ​​nog.

Die tempel in Chitral in South Travancore is een van die vele gevalle. Dit was voorheen 'n Boeddhistiese tempel. Die afgode wat ons in en rondom die tempel sien, dui op 'n prominente Boeddhistiese beeldhouwerk aan.

Een van die belangrikste redes vir die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme kan egter inherente kompleksiteite in sy filosofie wees.

In sy opstel uit 1980 "The Disappearance of Buddhism and the survival of Jainism in India: A study in Contrast", noem Padmanabh S. Jaini die redes vir die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme deur RC Mitra:

  1. "Uitputting"
  2. Onttrekking van koninklike beskerming
  3. Brahmaniese vervolging
  4. Moslem inval
  5. Interne korrupsie en verval
  6. Verdelende effek van sektarisme
  7. Onvoldoende kweek van die leke.

Hy betwis dit egter op verskeie terreine, waaronder uitputting. Sy belangrikste punt is dat die Boeddhistiese filosofie self gelei het tot innerlike teenstrydighede wat moeilik was om op te los:

... die leer van die hemelse bodhisattvas het die Boeddhisme uniek kwesbaar gemaak vir die assimilerende neigings van die omliggende Hindoe -kultusse. Die ontwikkeling van die hemelse bodhisattvas -teorie, en inderdaad die van die hele Mahayana in Boeddhisme, kan uiteindelik teruggevoer word na die gevierde "stilte (avyiikrta) van die Boeddha", sy onwilligheid om hom te verbind tot sekere fundamentele filosofiese kwessies. Die onvermoë van die Boeddhiste om saam te stem oor die betekenis van hierdie stilte het gelei tot 'n situasie waarin verskillende teenstrydige absolutistiese leerstellings na vore kon kom, wat elkeen beweer dat dit die korrekte interpretasie van die leermeesters is.

Vir 'n ander antwoord wat handel oor die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme in Indië vanaf die 12de eeu, sien ook hierdie draad


Daar is geen absolute konsensus oor hierdie saak nie,

'N Paar geleerdes het selfs beweer dat Boeddhisme nooit as sodanig uit Indië verdwyn het nie. Volgens hierdie siening het Boeddhisme eenvoudig van vorm verander of opgeneem in Hindoe -praktyke.

Boeddha word selfs beskou as 'n avatar van die god Vishnu in Vaishnava Hindoeïsme, hoewel Boeddha dit self ontken het ...

Maar wat nie betwis word nie, is die geleidelike agteruitgang van die Boeddhisme in Indië, soos die getuienis van die Chinese reisiger, Hsuan Tsang, baie toon: hoewel Boeddhisme reeds 'n afname gehad het tydens die besoek van Hsuan Tsang aan Indië tydens die bewind van Harsha van Kanauj in die vroeë sewende eeu, is ook aangevoer dat die verdere ondergang daarvan, veral in die vroeë deel van die tweede millennium nC, deur die koms van Islam versnel is.

Selfs Ambedkar, wie se vyandigheid teenoor Hindoeïsme voelbaar is, was nietemin vas van mening dat Islam die Boeddhisme 'n doodslag toegedien het. Soos hy dit sou stel, kan 'brahmanisme wat deur die Moslem -indringers geslaan en geslaan is, na die heersers om hulp en lewensonderhoud soek en dit kry. Boeddhisme wat deur die Moslem -indringers geslaan en geslaan is, het nie so 'n hoop nie. Dit was onversorg vir weeskinders en het verdroog in die koue blaas van die inheemse heersers en is verteer in die vuur wat deur die veroweraars aangesteek is. ” Ambedkar was baie seker dat dit “die grootste ramp was wat die godsdiens van Boeddha in Indië getref het”.

Die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme was dus te danke aan Hindoeïsme en Islamitiese inval.

'N Gedetailleerde studie kan gedoen word by:

Die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme in Indië rondom die 12de eeu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Decline_of_Buddhism_in_India http://www.asiantribune.com/news/2012/06/09/why-buddhism-prospered-asia-died -india

WYSIG

Deklinasie van BUDDHISME in Kerela.

Die vervolging en uiteindelike uittog van Boeddhiste van Tamil Nadu na Kerala in die sewende eeu is veroorsaak deur die val van die Boeddhistiese Kalabhras deur die Pandyas.

Die Boeddhiste het na Kerala gekom en hul tempels en kloosters in verskillende dele van die land gevestig. Die volgende Hindoe -tempels was eens Boeddhistiese heiligdomme: die Vadakkunnathan -tempel van Trichur, die Kurumba Bhagavathi -tempel van Cranganore, ens.,

Die Paliyam-koperplaat van die Ay King, Varaguna (885-925 nC) toon aan dat die Boeddhiste selfs in die tiende eeu koninklike beskerming geniet het.

Die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme het in die agtste eeu begin met die aankoms van die Ariese sendelinge en die Brahminiese godsdiens. Soos vroeër genoem, het die Brahmin -geleerdes Boeddhistiese monnike in debatte verslaan en die superioriteit van die Hindoe -godsdiens vasgestel. Adi Sankaracharya, die Hindoe -herlewing, was ook verantwoordelik vir die val van Boeddhisme; hy het Hindoe-kloosters gestig en Hindoe-priester-geleerdes opgelei om sy Boeddhistiese teëstanders te bestry. Boeddhisme het geleidelik verdwyn en heeltemal verdwyn tydens die bewind van die Vaishnavite Kulasekharas in die elfde eeu. Wat eintlik gebeur het, is dat Boeddhisme weer opgeneem is in Hindoeïsme waaruit dit weggebreek het. Baie Keraliete, soos die Ezhavas, wat waarskynlik een keer Boeddhiste was, het geleidelik Hindoes geword.

Verdere leeswerk

Alhoewel ek hierdie boek nie gelees het nie, is dit die moeite werd om te lees.

Buddhamathavum Jaathi vyavasthayum "deur K.Suganthan.

Boeddhisme was oorheersend in Kerala totdat dit deur Brahminisme ingesluk is. Baie Boeddhistiese afgode is deur argeologiese opnames uit verskillende dele van Kerala opgegrawe. Hier is 'n goeie artikel oor die Boeddhistiese spore in Kerala


Oor Kerala






Die Boeddhistiese geskiedenis van Kerala

Tamil Sangam-werke soos Manimekhalai dui aan dat daar Boeddhiste in Tamil Nadu was en dat die Boeddhistiese sendelinge aktief was in die verspreiding van hul godsdiens. Volgens die Sangam -tradisie was daar 'n beroemde Boeddhistiese geselsie (tempel) by Vanchi (Karur) en 'n Palli Bana Perumal het 'n Boeddhist geword.

Die Cheras was oorspronklik Mundas, waarvan baie Boeddhiste was nog voor hulle in Tamil Nadu aangekom het. Dit was hulle sowel as die Boeddhistiese sendelinge uit die Maurya -ryk wat die godsdiens van Boeddha na die suide gebring het. Hulle was duidelik 'n magtige minderheid in Tamil Nadu en is deur die brahmaanberaders van die Dravidiaanse Hindoe-konings onderwerp aan sekresie tydens die opkoms van Brahminiese Hindoeïsme in die Suide. Aalavaipathikam teken aan dat ongeveer 640 nC Sambanda Murti, 'n Brahmin, die koninklike familie van Pandya gewen het en veroorsaak het dat 8 000 Boeddhistiese monnike in Madurai Boeddhistiese nonne tot verwoesting verwoes is en in die Hindoe -tempelgebiede verhuis is. Die vervolging en uiteindelike uittog van Boeddhiste van Tamil Nadu na Kerala in die sewende eeu is veroorsaak deur die val van die Boeddhistiese Kalabhras in die hande van die Pandyas.

Die Boeddhiste het na Kerala gekom en hul tempels en kloosters in verskillende dele van die land gevestig. Die volgende Hindoe -tempels was eens Boeddhistiese heiligdomme: die Vadakkunnathan -tempel van Trichur, die Kurumba Bhagavathi -tempel van Cranganore en die Durga -tempel in Paruvasseri naby Trichur. 'N Groot aantal Boeddha-beelde is in die kusdistrikte van Alleppey en Quilon ontdek, die belangrikste Boeddha-beeld is die beroemde Karumati Kuttan naby Ambalappuzha. Boeddhisme het waarskynlik 200 jaar (650-850) in Kerala floreer. Die Paliyam-koperplaat van die Ay King, Varaguna (885-925 nC) toon aan dat die Boeddhiste selfs in die tiende eeu koninklike beskerming geniet het.

Die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme het in die agtste eeu begin met die aankoms van die Ariese sendelinge en die Brahminiese godsdiens. Soos vroeër genoem, het die Brahmin -geleerdes Boeddhistiese monnike in debatte verslaan en die superioriteit van die Hindoe -godsdiens vasgestel. Adi Sankaracharya, die Hindoe-herlewing, was ook verantwoordelik vir die val van Boeddhisme, hy het Hindoe-kloosters gestig en Hindoe-priester-geleerdes opgelei om sy Boeddhistiese teëstanders te bestry. Boeddhisme het geleidelik verdwyn en heeltemal verdwyn tydens die bewind van die Vaishnavite Kulasekharas in die elfde eeu. Wat eintlik gebeur het, is dat Boeddhisme weer opgeneem is in Hindoeïsme waaruit dit weggebreek het. Baie Keraliete, soos die Ezhavas, wat waarskynlik een keer Boeddhiste was, het geleidelik Hindoes geword.

Boeddhisme het sy impak op Kerala gelaat. Daar word gesê dat die beelde en lang rathas (motors) wat in tempeloptogte en utsavams (kermisse) gebruik word, Boeddhistiese erfenisse is. Die Ayurvediese stelsel van mediese behandeling is ook 'n gawe van Boeddhisme. Boeddhiste het skole geopen [in pallikudam en ezhuthupally. Pally is die Boeddhistiese term vir skool) naby hul kloosters. Kerala -tempels toon spore van Boeddhistiese kuns en argitektuur. Amarasimha, die skrywer van die gewilde Sanskrit-handboek wat tot onlangs in Kerala-skole gebruik is, was 'n Boeddhis. Kumaran Asan, die groot Kerala -digter, is beïnvloed deur die groot Boeddhistiese godsdiens en skryf die famou, Boeddhistiese gedigte: Karuna. Chandala Bhikshuki en Sri Buddha Charitam.


Christendom in Kerala

St Thomas, die apostel van Jesus Christus word beskou as die vader van die Christendom in Indië. Hy land in Maliankara, naby Cranganore (nou Kodungallur) in 52 nC. Hy verkondig eers die Christendom onder die Jode en bekeer toe twaalf Brahmin -gesinne van wie die Siriese Christene hul geslagsregister volg. Hy stig ook sewe kerke op verskillende plekke in Kerala. Vandag vorm Christene 19% van die totale bevolking van die staat.
Met die koms van kolonialisme in die 17de eeu, het baie Europese sendelinge Kerala bereik. Die Church Mission Society of London (CMS) het baie bekeerlinge uit die onaantasbare mense en die Siriese Christene gemaak. Kerala is hierdie sendelinge baie dank verskuldig vir hul rol in die verbetering van die lewenstandaard van sy mense en om hulle van baie sosiale euwels te bevry.

Die Christene van Kerala is vandag verdeel in verskeie takke:

  • Die Latyns -Katolieke Kerk
  • Die Syro-Malabar Katolieke Kerk
  • Die Jacobitiese Siriese Kerk
  • Die Nestoriaanse kerk (hoofsaaklik beperk tot Thrissur en Ernakulam)
  • Die Anglikaanse Kerk wat nou deel uitmaak van die Kerk van Suid -Indië
  • Die Marthoma Siriese Kerk
  • Die Katolieke Kerk Syro-Malankara

Hiervan is die Marthoma -kerke relatief van jonger oorsprong. Hulle word beskou as Hervormers Kerk aangesien dit die eksponente is van die bekendstelling van die volkstaal in die liturgie. Afgesien van hierdie groot kerke, is daar ook 'n aantal klein kerke en missies, soos die Pinksterkerke, die Heilsleër, Sewendedag Adventiste, ens.

'N Aantal skole, kolleges, hospitale en ander liefdadigheidsinstellings soos ouetehuise, weeshuise, ens. Word deur hierdie kerke en ander Christelike organisasies in die hele staat bestuur. Malayattoor Church is 'n onbekende pelgrimsentrum.

Sedert die laaste sensus het die Christelike bevolking 'n marginale afname van 0,32 persentasiepunte getoon. Die Christelike bevolking is die hoogste in die Ernakulam -distrik en die laagste in Malappuram. Christene geniet 'n hoër geletterdheidsyfer (94,15%) as ander godsdienstige gemeenskappe.


Boeddhisme in Suid -Indië

Hierdie studie is die eerste in sy soort wat 'n omvattende opname van Boeddhisme in al die state van Suid-Indië, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry en Tamil Nadu bied. Na 'n kort verslag van die lewe en leerstellings van die Boeddha, gaan die bespreking oor na die vraag of die Salige die grond van Suid -Indië geheilig het. Dit word gevolg deur Asoka se rol om van Boeddhisme 'n lewende godsdiens in Suid -Indië te maak. Die daaropvolgende vyf hoofstukke volg die opmars van Boeddhisme in individuele state. Om die gebeure beter te waardeer, is elke hoofstuk in vyf dele verdeel: koninklike beskerming, heiliges en geleerdes, plekke en heiligdomme, die Boeddhistiese nalatenskap en die herlewingsbeweging.

DC Ahir (gebore in Punjab in 1928) is 'n gerekende geleerde van Boeddhistiese studies en het 'n noemenswaardige bydrae gelewer tot die geskiedenis van Boeddhisme. Hy het agtien gepubliseerde werke oor Boeddhisme en dr. Ambedkar tot sy eer. Sommige van sy nuutste werke is: Boeddhisme in die moderne Indië. Die pioniers van Boeddhistiese herlewing in Indië, Boeddhisme in Noord -Indië, Erfenis van Boeddhisme, Boeddhistiese heiligdomme in Indië, Boeddhisme en Ambedkar, die erfenis van dr. Ambedkar.

In die verre verlede bedoel Suid -Indië hoofsaaklik die drie koninkryke van die Chera, Chola en Pandya of die gebied wat bekend staan ​​as die Tamil -land, wat in die algemeen bestaan ​​uit die huidige Tamil Nadu en Kerala. In moderne gebruik dek Suid -Indië egter die state Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Pondicherry en Tamil Nadu - die state waar die I3ravidiaanse taalgroep gepraat word.

Anders as ander studies oor die onderwerp wat hoofsaaklik slegs 'n deel van Suid -Indië dek, bied hierdie studie 'n uitgebreide opname van Boeddhisme in die hele Suid -Indië. Begin met 'n kort verslag van die lewe en leerstellings van die Boeddha, gaan die bespreking oor na die vraag of die Salige die grond van Suid -Indië geheilig het. Dit word gevolg deur die rol wat Asoka gespeel het om Boeddhisme 'n lewende godsdiens in Suid -Indië te maak. Die daaropvolgende vyf hoofstukke volg die opmars van Boeddhisme in individuele state. Om die gebeure beter te waardeer, is elke hoofstuk in vyf dele verdeel: Royal Patronage, Saints and Scholars, Sites and Shrines, die Buddhist Legacy en die Herlewingsbeweging.

Die glorieryke tydperk van Boeddhisme in Suid -Indië het die bloei van kultuur in elke aspek van die lewe gemerk. Die opofferende Bhikkhus het nie net gewerk vir hul eie geestelike verheffing, die bereiking van Nirvana nie, maar het ook die groot menigte gehelp en gelei om die verhewe Dhamma te verstaan ​​en te beoefen op grond van liefde, deernis en gelykheid. As gevolg hiervan het opvoeding wydverspreid geword, sosiale hindernisse is losgemaak, en die Boeddha Viharas het die tempels van leer geword, sowel as die oord van geestelike troos vir mense uit alle lewensterreine. En Boeddhistiese kuns het die voertuig geword van gekweekte lig wat die omliggende somberheid verdryf.

Die belangrikste Boeddhistiese heiligdomme in antieke Suid -Indië was: Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda, Bhattiprolu, Ghantasala en Jaggyyapetta in Andhra Vanavasi in Karnataka Vanji of Vanchi in Kerala en Kanchi en Nagapattinam in Tamil Nadu. Die onsterflike vorme van kuns en beeldhouwerk wat deur die suidelike kunstenaars geskep is, kan gesien en bewonder word in die Government Museum, Madras, en in Amaravati en Nagarjunakonda in Andhra Pradesh. Die koninklike en openbare ondersteuning wat die Boeddha se godsdiens bied, blyk duidelik uit die groot aantal inskripsies wat die vrome Boeddhiste in Amaravati, Nagarjunakonda en ander plekke agtergelaat het. Dit is belangrik dat al die Brahmi -grafika in Suid -Indië met die Boeddhiste geassosieer word.

Die vooraanstaande Boeddhistiese heiliges en geleerdes wat deur Suid -Indië vervaardig is, sluit in groot persoonlikhede soos Nagarajuna, die stigter van die Madhyamika -filosofie Dinnaga, die groot logikus Dharmakirti, die groot filosoof Bodhidharma, die stigter van die Dhyana -skool van Boeddhisme, wat Ch'an geword het in China en Zen in Japan en die groot Pali -geleerdes, naamlik Buddhaghosha, Buddhadatta en Dhammapala, wat merkwaardige kommentaar op die Tipitaka gelewer het.

Op 'n tydstip het die Boeddhisme so gewild geword en 'n so sterk invloed op die gemoed van die mense uitgeoefen dat die Brahmane ontsteld gevoel het, en om die gety te stuit, was hulle gedwing om hul godsdiens, gewoontes en gebruike aan te pas om dit te bring in ooreenstemming met die gewilde gevoelens en vereistes. Hulle georganiseerde pogings om Boeddhisme te verdryf, het suksesvol geword as gevolg van die beskerming van die konings, en mettertyd het Boeddhisme grond gebied vir die Brahmaniese godsdiens. Toe dit gebeur, is die meeste Boeddhistiese heiligdomme deur die Hindoes bewillig en weer aangeneem. Of dit nou die woning is van Lord Venkatesvara (Balaji) in Tirupati in Andhra Pradesh of die beroemde Sabarimala -tempel in Kerala of die heilige Kamakshi Amman -tempel in Kanchipuram in Tamil Nadu, die verhaal is oral dieselfde. Dit was eens Boeddhistiese heiligdomme, en selfs vandag nog oorleef sekere Boeddhistiese gebruike en tradisies op hierdie plekke. Op baie plekke in Andhra is Boeddhistiese pilare, Ayakka Stambhas, deur die Hindoes aangeneem om die doel van die Linga te dien. In sommige gevalle is die Hindoe -tempels gebou met die materiaal wat uit die Boeddhistiese monumente geneem is deur dieselfde te demonteer, die opvallende voorbeeld in hierdie konteks, naamlik die Amareshvara -tempel in Amaravati. Behalwe die heiligdomme, is baie van die Boeddhistiese kultuur, gebruike en maniere ook deur Hindoeïsme opgeneem. Boeddhisme het dus 'n diep spoor in die lewe en kultuur van Suid -Indië gelaat, en dit is duidelik te sien.


KENMERKE | TEMAS | Geskiedenis

Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi met 'n Boeddhabeeld uit die negende eeu in Mavelikkara, Kerala. Beeld met vergunning van Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi

Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi is 'n Indiese Boeddhistiese egpaar wat in Bangalore woon en opgelei word onder leiding van vooraanstaande meesters van die Nyingma -tradisie van Vajrayana Boeddhisme. Prabodha Jnana is 'n Boeddhistiese yogi, meditasie -onderwyser, filosoof en skrywer wat toesprake lewer op grond van die wysheidsleringe van die Boeddha in 'n formaat wat geskik is vir die moderne konteks. Abhaya Devi is 'n Boeddhistiese yogini, meditasie -onderwyser, skrywer en kunstenaar. Die egpaar verdeel hul tyd tussen terugtogte, begelei ander in die Dharma -praktyk en verken die geskiedenis van Boeddhisme in Indië. In 2008 het hulle onder leiding van Kyabje Penor Rinpoche* 'n Dharma -sentrum vir die Palyul Nyingma -tradisie in Bangalore gevestig. In 2016 het hulle die Way of Bodhi -webwerf bekendgestel om die leringe van die Boeddha toeganklik te maak vir 'n breër gehoor.

In hierdie, die tweede deel van ons onderhoud, bespreek Prabodha en Abhaya die ontstaan, ontwikkeling en agteruitgang van Mahayana Boeddhisme in Suid -Indië, en 'n paar van die ontdekkings van hul unieke navorsing.

Buddhistdoor Global: Wat is die rol van Suid -Indië in die ontstaan ​​en ontwikkeling van Mahayana Boeddhisme?

Abhaya Devi: Dit is 'n nie-so-bekende feit dat Suid-Indië 'n deurslaggewende rol gespeel het in die ontstaan ​​en ontwikkeling van Mahayana. Trouens, die Prajnaparamita Sutras verkondig dat die sutra's in Suid -Indië afkomstig is. ** Verder het Mahayana, as 'n duidelike beweging, begin met Acharya Nagarjuna uit die suide. Op die roete deur Nagarjuna het baie groot geleerdes uit die suide gekom en die waens en ornamente van die Nalanda -tradisie geword. Dit sluit in Buddhapalita, Bhavaviveka, Dharmapala, Chandrakirti, Dignaga en Dharmakirti.

Die verspreiding van Boeddhisme na China en die res van Oos -Asië was hoofsaaklik uit Suid -Indië, verryk deur sy maritieme bande en skakels. Soos u dalk weet, spoor die Chan (Zen) tradisie van Boeddhisme sy oorsprong na Bodhidharma uit Kanchi in die huidige Tamil Nadu. Die Japannese Shingon-boeddhisme spoor sy wortels na die Yoga Tantra-leringe van Vajrabodhi uit die huidige Kerala.

Die Gandavyuha Sutra (deel van die Avatamsaka Sutra) het 'n fassinerende verhaal oor die reis van Sudhanakumara vanuit Dhanyakataka (in Andhra Pradesh) op soek na verligting. Hy ontmoet die bodhisattva Manjushri en reis op sy instruksies na die berg Potalaka in die diepe suide om leringe van Avalokiteshvara te ontvang. Op grond van Xuanzang & rsquos-rekords, het die Japannese geleerde Shu Hikosaka Potalaka na die huidige Pothigai Hills (Agasthyakoodam) in die diep bos tussen Kerala en Tamil Nadu gekarteer.

Suid -Indië was ook die tuiste van baie Mahasiddhas van Vajrayana, waaronder Shavaripa (Sabareesha) en Padampa Sangye (Paramabuddha). Sriparvata (Nagarjunakonda tot Srisailam) en Malayagiri (die suidelike deel van die Westelike Ghats) was prominente sentrums van die gemeente Siddha & rsquos.

Prabodha Jnana mediteer in 'n natuurlike grot in 'n krans van die Badami -heuwels, Karnataka. Die oorblyfsels van 'n gravure van die Boeddha en die bodhisattva Padmapani (Avalokiteshvara) kan op die muur gesien word. Beeld met vergunning van Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi

BDG: Wat is die ooreenkomste en verskille in die ontwikkeling van Mahayana Boeddhisme in Tamil Nadu, Karnataka en Kerala?

Prabodha Jnana: Op die Deccan -plato van Karnataka het die Boeddhisme vroeg begin en vroeg gesterf. As deel van die Ashokan -ryk het die Boeddhisme daar vanaf die vroeë stadiums floreer. Ten spyte van die vroeë agteruitgang, is hierdie streek volop met wonderlike Boeddhistiese oorblyfsels, selfs nou. Dit sluit in stupas en edikte uit die Ashokan -era, grottempels met die kerfwerk van boeddha's en bodhisattvas, oorblyfsels van viharas (kloosters), standbeelde van bodhisattvas, ensovoorts.

In teenstelling met die plato, floreer Mahayana en Vajrayana tot in die 12de eeu in kusgebiede en die bergagtige Malenadu -streek van Karnataka. Die konings daar het Chatusamaya afgedwing, wat beteken het dat die vier nakomings & mdashBoeddhisme, Jainisme, Saivisme en Vaishnavisme & mdashhad saamleef met wedersydse respek en sonder om mekaar te kritiseer. Vanuit een perspektief het dit die vreedsame naasbestaan ​​van alle skole moontlik gemaak, maar vanuit 'n ander perspektief het dit 'n gedempte bestaan ​​geword. Rasionele en kritiese ondersoek het onder hierdie model gely. 'N Paar kompromieë oor die Boeddhistiese verwerping van die kastestelsel sou plaasgevind het om in so 'n saamlewe in te pas.

In Kerala en Tamil Nadu het alle vorme van Boeddhisme onderskeidelik tot die 12de en 14de eeu geduur. In sommige sakke, soos Nagapattinam, was Boeddhisme tot die 17de eeu aktief. 'N Oop kultuur het floreer in Kerala en Tamil Nadu, wat aanleiding gegee het tot baie wêreldbekende geleerdes en baie unieke Boeddhistiese tradisies. Vajrayana is in die geheim tot in die 17de eeu hier beoefen. Buddhaguptanatha, die ghoeroe van die Tibetaanse Boeddhistiese meester Taranatha uit die 17de eeu, was afkomstig van Rameshwaram in Tamil Nadu. Volgens Taranatha het Guru Padmasambhava ook in Tamil Nadu klas gegee. Interessant genoeg het ons 'n ou Boeddhabeeld in Tamil Nadu teëgekom wat soos Guru Rinpoche lyk.

Ondanks die oorlewing van die Boeddhisme op lang termyn, is daar baie min strukturele oorblyfsels van Boeddhisme in Kerala en Tamil Nadu. Tog kan ons baie ou standbeelde van boeddha's en bodhisattva's sien wat in daardie streke verlate is.

Abhaya Devi by die ou Boeddhabeeld in Mangalam wat lyk soos Guru Padmasambhava. Beeld met vergunning van Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi

BDG: Wat is die belangrikste ontdekking in u navorsing in die streek?

AD: Daar is 'n paar gewilde mites oor die agteruitgang van Boeddhisme in Kerala en Tamil Nadu wat mense van Boeddhisme af weghou. Die mite in Kerala is dat die Vedanta -filosoof Adi Shankara *** Boeddhiste in debat verslaan het en daarmee het Boeddhisme uit Kerala verdwyn. 'N Soortgelyke mite bestaan ​​in Tamil Nadu in die naam van Thirugnana Sambandar. **** As gevolg van hierdie mites het baie mense hier 'n waninformasie dat Boeddhisme 'n minderwaardige tradisie is wat lank gelede ongeldig was.

In skerp kontras met hierdie mites, dui ons studies aan dat Boeddhisme in hierdie streek tot minstens die 12de en 14de eeu floreer het. Boeddhabeelde wat in Kerala en Tamil Nadu gevind is, dateer uit tydperke baie voor en na Shankara en Sambandar. Die later viharas van Kerala en Tamil Nadu vind vermelding selfs in verre plekke soos Nepal en Korea. Dit is dus duidelik dat die Boeddhisme nie agteruitgegaan het nie, hetsy van Shankara of van Sambandar. Inteendeel, maar het nog baie eeue lank gedy. Toe ons ook die tekste van Shankara en Sambandar ondersoek, het dit vir ons duidelik geword dat hul debatte met Boeddhisme met fiktiewe teenstanders was. As daar werklike debatte was, sou almal met 'n basiese kennis van Boeddhisme dit kon weerlê het.

Antieke Boeddhabeelde in Vikkiramangalam, Ariyalur -distrik, Tamil Nadu. Beeld met vergunning van Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi

BDG: Hoe het Boeddhisme dan afgeneem in Kerala en Tamil Nadu?

PJ: Dit lyk asof die afname later plaasgevind het. In Kerala het die nie-Boeddhistiese priesterklas, wat invloedryk geword het op die koninklikes, 'n streng kastehiërargie en onaantasbaarheid afgedwing. Hulle kon die egalitêre benadering van die Boeddhiste, wat geweier het om nie in die ry te val nie, duld. So het die priesterlike klas verklaar dat die Boeddhiste sosiale uitgeworpenes was. Dit het toe 'n uitdaging geword vir iemand om openlik Boeddhisties te wees. Alhoewel Boeddhisme uiterlik onderdruk is, het dit nog baie langer in die harte van die massas gebly. As gevolg hiervan kan ons sterk Boeddhistiese invloede in die taal, kultuur, kuns en feeste van Kerala sien, terwyl daar amper geen Boeddhistiese strukturele oorblyfsels is nie.

In die geval van Tamil Nadu het die toenemende gewildheid van toegewyde kultusse gelei tot die geleidelike agteruitgang van Boeddhisme. Die toegewyde kultusse het die rede bespot en simplistiese oplossings vir die massas aangebied. Namate die steun van konings en die massas oorgeskakel het na blote toewyding, het stelsels soos Boeddhisme wat op eie inspanning gebaseer is, algemene steun verloor.

BDG: Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi, baie dankie vir u tyd!

Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi met 'n ou Boeddhabeeld in Peruncheri, distrik Nagapattinam, in Tamil Nadu. Beeld met vergunning van Prabodha Jnana en Abhaya Devi

* Kyabje Penor Rinpoche (1932 en ndash2009) was die 11de troonhouer van die Palyul -geslag van die Nyingma -skool van Tibetaanse Boeddhisme. Hy was die opperhoof van die Nyingmapa -geslag vanaf 1993 en ndash2001.

** Dit word genoem in die Prajnaparamita Sutras in reëls 8,000, 18,000 en 25,000.

*** Adi Shankaracharya van Advaita Vedanta, wat in die agtste eeu in Kerala gebore is.

**** Thirugnanasambandar was in die sewende eeu 'n invloedryke Saivitiese heilige van Tamil Nadu.


Wat het die Boeddhisme -spore uit die geskiedenis van Kerala uitgewis? - Geskiedenis

BOEDDISME IN ANDHRA PRADESH

Die Boeddha het dhamma geleer om lyding te beëindig wat veroorsaak word deur hebsug, haat en dwaling. Hierdie dhamma het Hy verduidelik in terme van moraliteit, konsentrasie en wysheid met sy sekulêre geur, nie-sektariese bestanddele en universele aantrekkingskrag. Daarom is daar gedurende die geskiedenis baie standbeelde van Boeddha gemaak om dankbaarheid te betuig teenoor die wêreldonderwyser-Boeddha. In ooreenstemming met hierdie tradisie, is 'n groot Boeddha -beeld in die hoofstad Andhra Pradesh geïnstalleer. Dit is die grootste monolitiese Boeddha -beeld ter wêreld met 'n gewig van 350 ton, 17 meter hoog, op 'n lotus -voetstuk, geïnstalleer op die rots van Gibraltar, in die middel van die meer Hussain Sagar, Hyderabad in Indië.

Met verwysing na beelde, skryf die groot filosoof graaf Kaiserling: & quotIk weet in hierdie wêreld niks grootser as die figuur van die Boeddha nie. Dit is die perfekte beliggaming van spiritualiteit in die sigbare domein & quot. Hierdie geval is ook waar.

In die geskiedenis van Boeddhisme het Andhra, toe 'n maritieme mag, 'n leidende rol gespeel in die verspreiding van Boeddhisme na die verre ooste. Sri Lanka en Andhradesa het van ouds af noue bande met mekaar gehad, soos Dantavamsa en Attakathas getuig. In die 14de eeu het Dharmakeerti, 'n toonaangewende sinhalese thera, herstelwerk aan die vihara in Nagarjunakonda geraak. Ongeveer dieselfde tyd was die Sinhalese generaal Senalankadhikara besig met opknappings aan 'n vihara in Kanchipura. Dit is die laaste verslae van aktiewe Boeddhisme, nie net in Andhra nie, maar ook in die hele suide van Indië. Die Andhra -kultuur het sy invloed op die Ceylon Boeddhisme gehad. Hoofsaaklik in kuns, beeldhoukuns en argitektuur.

Die derde raad wat tydens die bewind van Ashoka gehou is onder leiding van Mogalliputa Tissa, het afgevaardigdes van soveel as ses sektes uit Andhra, dit wil sê chaityaka, purvasaila, aparasila, uttarsila, rajagirika, siddarthika, almal beskryf as Andhakas deelgeneem. Van nou af speel Andhra 'n deurslaggewende rol in die geskiedenis van hierdie godsdiens. Na die agteruitgang van die Magdha -ryk het twee kragtige ryke ontstaan, Andhra satavahanas in die Deccan en Kushanas in die noordweste. Andhra was die tuiste van Mahayana. Van hier af versprei dit na ander dele van Asië. Nagarjuna, 'n seldsame genie in die geskiedenis van die filosofie en die grondlegger van die Madhyamika- of Sunyavada -filosofie, word gekrediteer deur 'n vaste grondslag vir Mahayana te lê. 'N Melkweg van briljante intelligente, Aryadeva, toeligter van Madyamika -filosofie, Buddhapalita, eksponent van die Prasangika -skool in Madhyamikavada, Bhavaviveka, hoof van die Svatantrika -skool, Dinnaga, vader van die Boeddhistiese logika, Dharmakeerti, logikus en epistemoloog van onderskeiding, verskyn in die daaropvolgende drie eeue in Andhra verrykende Boeddhistiese godsdiens, filosofie, logika en verwante onderwerpe. Budddhagosha, 'n eerbiedwaardige naam in die Theravada -tradisie, is gebore in die 4de eeu nC in die planadgebied van die Guntur -distrik, Andhra Pradesh. Hy het 'n verhandeling oor tripitaka geskryf met die naam & quotVISSUDHIMAGGA & quot, wat sy meesterstuk oor Theravada -tradisie is.

Andhra Pradesh het 140 gelyste Boeddhistiese terreine, wat 'n panoramiese uitsig bied op die geskiedenis van Boeddhisme vanaf die 3de eeu v.C. to 14 th century A.D. The list of inscriptions engraved on various media, lithic, copper plates, crystals, pots, conches are 501(360 lithic records, 7 sets of copper plates, 134 inscribed pots and conches etc.) in number. Some of the famous Buddhist sites in Andhra are Nagarjunakonda, Amaravati and Bavikonda. It is Buddhism that encouraged people to transform the prevailing ideas and ideals into a definite and concretized shape, especially the form of art and architecture, philosophy and literature. Historical role of Buddhism in Andhra was to incline local people given to animistic beliefs into an organized religion and launch them on the road of civilization. The cosmopolitan spirit of Buddhism helped to remove the tribal barriers, integrated the people and gave them a cultural identity paving way for the rise of Andhras as an imperial power under the satavahana rule. It also gave a stimulus to the creative genius of the people resulting in the sculptural exuberance of the stupas at Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda and scores of other Buddhist sites in the state. Fourteen Buddha relic caskets have been so far recovered from the sites of Andhra, the largest number for any state in India.

According to sutta nipata identified as one of the older parts of Tripitakas, Buddhism came to Assaka country (modern Nizamabad district of Andhra) during the lifetime of the Tathagata himself. An ascetic by name Bavari set up ashram on the banks of river Godavari and pursued religious life. Having come to know that a Buddha had arisen in the north, he sent his disciples to meet him and engage him in a spiritual dialogue. The dialogue of the disciples of Bavari with Buddha at Vaishali is recorded in sutta nipata, which also says that the Bavari's disciples having heard the dhamma from Tathagata himself converted to Buddhism, and took dhamma to the Telugu country, Andhradesa. Buddhism in Andhra flourished for over 2000 years as one of the important religions, right from 5 th century B.C. to 14 th century A.D. as confirmed by literary, epigraphical and archaeological accounts. Buddhism through Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana phases flourished for longer duration.

Though various reasons are given for the decline of Buddhism in the state, it is obvious that vajrayana form of Buddhism, which borrowed heavily from the Indian tantric tradition, substituted meaningless rituals to the religious activity that can confer mystical power on the practitioners. A body of literature called Dharanis was devised to propitiate the vajrayana goddesses. The Buddhists, by this point of time, having lost all intellectual vitality resorted to tantric worship in the hope of acquiring mystical powers. Thus narrowing down the essential difference between Hinduism and Buddhism, especially the difference between tantrism, vishnuism and Buddhism.

Note worthy is the belief in the theory of incarnation describing the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu, originally created in the Vishnu Purana which was written later after Buddha around seventh century and was repeated in the other Puranas. According to this story in the Vishnu Purana, the Buddha was not the incarnation of the good qualities of Vishnu but of his unwholesome qualities such as ignorance and delusion. The only aim of this incarnation was to turn the followers of the Vedas against the Vedas and prevent them from going to heaven so that the reign of Indra and the other gods in heaven could be secure. This narrative censures not only the Buddha but also his teachings. Another belief that Kalki, the tenth incarnation of Vishnu will completely destroy all Buddhists is even more offensive and misleading. Thus these false stories created confusion and made a negative impact on the believers of Buddha.

Apart from this the secondary mythological gods that were introduced in the temple under the pretext of protecting deities later became the primary gods of the temple and the Buddha's image finally disappeared never to be found again.

There was one more false propaganda that the Buddha had nothing of his own to give to the world and that the source of his teachings is from the Vedic tradition. The truth is that Buddha was the leader of Samanatradition. Instead of giving importance to prayers he gave importance to one's own strenuous efforts and exertions. He clearly said I am giver of the path of liberation. This difference between the Vedic tradition and Samana tradition gave people a easy alternative of depending on favors from some mythological gods to satisfy their greed and hatred rather than working themselves strenuously against greed, hatred and delusion which is unique to Buddha's teachings. Therefore the story in puranas proclaiming the Buddha as an incarnation of Vishnu and other false stories made because of mutual hostility and enmity, proved to be fatal for Buddhism in general.

Though there was no great persecution of Buddhists by the ruling families of Andhradesa, at least two pallava rulers, Simhavarma and Trilochana were zealous in destroying the monasteries at Sriparvata and Dhanyakataka. Radical Saivaite sects like Kalamukhis initially and later, Veerashaivas conducted an aggressive campaign condemning Buddhists as atheists. Occupying Buddhists places, Shiva and Vishnu temples were built over Buddhists shrines. The aggressive and often violent campaign is exemplified by the conduct of the Veera Saiva proponent, Mallikarjuna Panditaradhya, who after losing a debate to Buddhist monk in the court of chandole conspired and got them, killed and destroyed their places of worship. Panditaradhya's aggressive campaign almost wiped out Buddhism, in the Andhra country. Earlier shankara who was known as Pracchana Buddha borrowed Madhyamaka metaphysics and logic and modeled his mathas on Buddhist monasteries. Kumarila and Shankara carried on virulent crusade against Buddhism.

Of the 140 Buddhist sites identified in the state only a few have been excavated, the best known being Amaravati and Nagarjunakonda. There are several equally important sites like chandavaram and Dantavaktruni kota (Dantapur of yore), which are yet to be excavated, and which may still hold treasures of information for us.

Now in the land that once belonged to Buddha Dhamma, an effort is being made by Venerable K. Sangharakshita Mahathero and few dedicated people to revive Buddhist tradition and culture. A Buddhist Cultural Complex in the ethnic architectural style is already under construction at Secunderabad city to create the necessary facilities and ambience. Presently some of the monks from Ananda Buddha Vihara are being trained at the Bhikkhu Training Centre, Maharagama, under the able guidance of most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Mahanayaka Thero and Venerable Rahula Thero. The Ananda Buddha Vihara whole heartily expresses its gratitude and thanks to the Venerables and staff of Bhikkhu Training Centre for assisting in this noble deed. A public charitable trust by name Ananda Buddha Vihara Trust, had been founded with the object of reviving, preserving and propagating Buddhist tradition and culture and making available Buddhist literature in local language Telugu.

ANANDA BUDDHA VIHARA

The beautiful Ananda Buddha Vihara

Standing on the hill Mahendra

is being built in the state of Andhra.

This is due to the effort of Bhante K. Sangharakshita

& the practitioners of the technique of Vipassana

as taught by kalyanamitra G. Satyanarayana.

Here all are to practice Sila, Samadhi & Panya

to cut the difficult snare of Mara

& finally attain the bliss of Nirvana.

The Hyderabad Vipassana International Meditation Centre, which was the first centre to organize a vipassana course in India in 1975, along with the state government of Andhra Pradesh celebrated its silver jubilee in the year 2000. Shri S.N.Goenka visited as the state guest of Andhra Pradesh on the request of the chief minister Mr. Chandrababu Naidu and a five public talk series was arranged explaining the importance of Vipassana in everyone's life. After the talk Mr. Chandrababu Naidu acknowledged the importance of moral principles in government administration and hence announced the issuing of order (G.O.Ms No 351, General Administration(AR&T.III) Department, dated 18 th october, 2000) sanctioning special paid leave of 10 days to all government officials wishing to take part in Vipassana courses.

Thus the 17meter tall, 350ton monolithic statue of Buddha rising above the placid waters of Hussain Sagar is but a humble tribute of the Andhra Country to the Tathagata to whose Dhamma they owe their spiritual and cultural advancement in the formative years of their history.


The Destruction of the Middle East

The heritage of centuries has been wiped out in little more than a year.

Eventually the need to wipe out all traces of unbelief becomes obsessive. At one time, for instance, Egyptian law demanded that any house found to contain a copy of The Apology of al-Kindi (a book containing a polemical dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian) would be demolished along with 40 houses around it.

Ethics were defined by what Allah said was good or evil in Sharia law. The Islamic State's behaviour is solidly rooted in Islamic ideology, law and practice. It is only when this fundamental fact is grasped that we will be able to address what confronts us.

There are many wise and sensible Muslims who favour a shift to a more updated way of thinking. It is their mosques and shrines that are being crushed it is their heritage. Today, such Muslims use the freedoms bestowed on them in the West to write, network and debate their opposition to fundamentalist interpretation of Islam by the Islamic State and other supporters of murder and destruction.

We are living through ferocious times. Stories about the self-proclaimed Islamic State [ISIS/ISIL/Da'esh] abound in the media, in what has now become a daily round of beheadings, suicide bombings, and general mayhem from Nigeria to Malaysia. It seems that wherever there is a Muslim country, there is extreme violence. But one part of the Islamic State narrative has received less attention than the gruesome rounds of killings: the continuing onslaughts on cities such as Mosul, Aleppo, Raqqa and Kobani. The Islamic State and related movements have rampaged across parts of Iraq and Syria, destroying the entire heritage of ancient regions, demolishing historic churches, synagogues, mosques, Sufi and Shi'i shrines, and major archaeological sites. All this vandalism is driven by a relentless passion to enforce religious purity on the regions they now control.

Around the world, art historians, antiquities experts, and archaeologists scarcely dare open their e-mails every day, fearing loss of another irreplaceable site. Physical destruction in the Islamic realms has now reached proportions of the Mongol invasions of the thirteenth century.

In Mosul, the Islamic State set out on an operation of "cultural and historical cleansing" across the city. The group deploys a unit called the Kata'ib Taswiyya, or settlement battalions, who are ordered to identify sites for culling. The unit razes to the ground any mosques, churches or, invariably, shrines that have been built over tombs such places may attract devotees to pray in them, thereby creating polytheism -- in Islam one of the crimes most censured. In addition, the painting or sculpting of the human form is anathema if man was created in God's image, to represent man is to presume to know God and therefore to diminish Him.

Graveyards are flattened, headstones are bulldozed, and statues of cultural significance to the people of Mosul are destroyed.

As we face the Islamic State and all the rapidly expanding jihadist movements in the Middle East and beyond, we are starting to recognize that airstrikes have only limited results. If we are to contain or defeat the adversaries in our midst, we have to understand their motivation, their psychology, and their sense of rootedness.

Politicians who proclaim that Islam is a religion of peace do us a disservice Islam has never been at peace with the world around it. The Islamic State's behavior is solidly rooted in Islamic ideology, law and practice. Only when this fundamental fact is grasped will we be able to address what confronts us. It is time that not only active jihadists, but their ideological sponsors in Salafi, Wahhabi, Mawdudist, and other classical and modern interpretations of Islam, be discussed openly before they do more harm. They and we do not have the leisure to wait until the oil money runs out and leaves the Saudis or Qataris weak.

We must learn to speak the truth, especially in high places. In the tenth century, Islam abandoned reason and rational pursuits in favor of revelation and revealed law that could not be challenged. Ethics were defined by what Allah said was good or evil in Sharia law. Islam has remained frozen ever since. We cannot go on patronizing this, and nodding acceptance that Muslims know best. Very few grasp the quandary in which non-extremist Muslims, like their ancestors, are captured. Western rationalism, Western ethics, and Western standards of peace and justice need to remain, or the world we know could be trampled underfoot by men and women who prefer death to co-existence, and fundamentalism to tolerance.

There are many wise and sensible Muslims who favour a shift to a more updated way of thinking. Many cannot openly declare their thoughts for fear of reprisals and even execution others are faithful Muslims who see a desperate need for a valid reinterpretation of their religion.

Today, such Muslims use the freedoms bestowed on them in the West to write, network, and debate their thoughts about the fundamentalist interpretation of Islam by the Islamic State, other Salafis, Wahhabis, Mawdudists, and all other clerics and extremist supporters of murder and destruction. It is their mosques and shrines and ancient monuments that are being crushed it is their heritage -- as much as that of Jews, Christians, Yazidis and Baha'is -- that is being wiped from the pages of history.

The statues of Mulla 'Uthman al-Mawsili (1845-1923), a famous musician and poet, of a woman carrying an urn, and of Abu Tammam (788-845), author of the celebrated Hamasa, one of the greatest literary compilations ever made in Arabic.

The destruction of the greatly venerated tomb of 'Ali ibn al-Athir al-Jazari (1160-1233), a major landmark that had stood in the centre of Mosul for centuries. Ibn al-Athir is celebrated as the author of The Complete History, one of the most important histories of Islam ever written.

The Islamic State's destruction of the Tomb of Yunus (Jonah) Mosque, which was blown to pieces along with all its contents. Even before the explosion, fighters took sledgehammers to ancient tombstones in the building. The mosque was of importance not just to the Muslims of the city, but as a place of pilgrimage for Jews and Christians. St. George's Monastery church, one of the oldest in the region, has also gone forever.

In Kirkuk, the Islamic State has destroyed the tomb of the Prophet Daniel, and in Nineveh, the ancient ruins of which lie across the River Tigris from Mosul, sprawl damaged archaeological ruins.

In Mosul, the 13th-century shrine of Imam Awn al-Din -- with a stunning vaulted ceiling, designed to resemble a honeycomb, inside a pyramid-shaped tower on the banks of the Tigris, and among the city's most precious sites -- was one of the very few structures to have survived the devastation of the 13th-century Mongol invasion On July 25, 2014, members of the Islamic State reduced it to rubble.

In Tikrit, the city's most famous and most beautiful church of St. Ahoadamah, known as the Green Church, dating from the 7th century, has been erased from history.

In Syria, the Jabhat al-Nusra's destruction of the Deir el-Zour Armenian Church, that stood as a memorial to the 1.5 million slaughtered in the Armenian genocide in Turkey, was blown up.

In Mali, much of UNESCO's World Heritage Site of Timbuktu (Mali) was destroyed during the battles of Gao and Timbuktu, fought between the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad and the Islamist Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa between June 26 and 27, 2012. Afterwards, the Islamist group Ansar Dine went on a rampage identical to that of the Islamic State. An official for the group, Abou Dardar, boasted that "not a single mausoleum will remain in Timbuktu."

Sufi shrines have been pulverized in Egypt, Libya, Mali, Pakistan, Iran, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, India, and the Balkans.

In Bahrain, 43 Shi'i mosques and tens of other religious structures have been destroyed and damaged by the ruling Sunni government there.

Across Syria and Iraq, ancient archaeological sites have been wrecked. They were not just the heritage of those countries, they were central to our understanding of the ancient world, where human civilization first developed in city-states. Apamea, with its famous colonnade and beautiful mosaic, capital of the Seleucid empire, was a major center of Roman rule in the Levant, a leading city in Byzantine Syria, and at one time among the best-preserved archaeological sites in the region. Today, it looks like the face of the moon. Its devastation, the work of demolition done by looters using heavy earth-moving machines, took a mere four or five months.

In eastern Syria, one of the world's richest archaeological remains, Dura-Europos, the "Pompeii of the Syrian Desert," was obliterated. Remarkable finds had been brought to light: temples, wall decorations, inscriptions, military equipment, and tombs. It had been home to a third-century painted synagogue as well as to the oldest example in the world of a Christian house-church, which contained the earliest depictions of Jesus Christ ever found, dating back to 235 AD. The Islamic State looted the site and, as elsewhere, has apparently sold its treasure on the black market of the antiquities trade, presumably using the proceeds to inflate their already swollen coffers for the promotion of jihad.

Both Shi'i and Sufi shrines and mosques have fallen afoul of the Islamic State's fanaticism. Jewish sites have been targeted so extensively that UNESCO has held a special session on threats posed to them. UNESCO's Director-General Irina Bokova has described the Islamic State's activities in this respect as "a form of cultural cleansing." Many other Jewish sites were also destroyed or under threat from Islamist entities in Libya, where an ancient Jewish heritage was all but wiped out under the regime of Mu'ammar Qadhafi, and where what is left is succumbing to fresh attacks.

The Islamic State, however, does not restrict its demolition to Christian, Jewish or pagan sites. Its members have also evidently culled what may be thought of as their own heritage. In Tikrit, they demolished the country's oldest Islamic site, the Arba'in (Forty) Shrine and mosque, where forty of the companions (Salaf) of the Prophet were buried.

In this, there is desperate irony, for the form of Islam followed by the Islamic State is Salafism, based on imitating the ways of Muhammad and his companions.

The heritage of centuries has been wiped out in little more than a year. There will be many who argue that this devastation is, at root, the fault of the West that its colonization, imperial ambitions, and general interference have forced the people of the Middle East to rise up against Europe and America, and find their only solution in the creation of an Islamic state where Shari'a law will dominate and justice prevail. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Syria was never a French colony, but a mandate territory between 1922 and 1936 -- fourteen years. Lebanon was a mandate territory from 1922 to 1943 -- twenty-one years. Iraq was a British mandate from 1922 to 1932 -- ten years. All were colonies of the Muslim Ottoman empire for centuries: Iraq between 1543 and 1918, Syria from 1516 to 1918, and were, before that, colonies of earlier Islamic empires from the Umayyads to the Abbasids to the Mamluks -- and so on.

This alone exposes the reality, that the actions of groups such as the Islamic State have their true roots in Islam itself. The Prophet and his companions fought jihad wars and destroyed pagan idols as well as places they may have been concerned would become centers for cults. During the Arab conquests, many religious centers were destroyed, notably in India, where temples were looted and razed, and whole towns ruined by the Ghaznavids and Timurids.

Eventually the need to wipe out all traces of unbelief became more or less obsessive. At one time, for instance, Egyptian law demanded that any house found to contain a copy of The Apology of al-Kindi (a book containing a polemical dialogue between a Muslim and a Christian) would be demolished, along with forty houses around it.[1]

In more recent times, in 1802, during the first of the three Saudi states, Wahhabi armies attacked the major Shi'i religious town of Karbala in Ottoman Iraq, where they killed 5,000 inhabitants and destroyed the shrines of Muhammad's son-in-law 'Ali (the first Shi'i imam and the fourth Sunni caliph) and his son Husayn, the prophet's grandson. The following year, Wahhabi forces under the leadership of the first Saudi ruler, 'Abd al-'Aziz, entered Mecca, where they destroyed tombs and shrines, and in the process, removed much of the city's history -- as is being repeated today in Mecca and Medina.

Between 1913 and 1927, extremist Wahhabi forces, known as the Ikhwan, rampaged through the Arabian peninsula, much as members of the Islamic State do now, killing and destroying anyone and anything they deem contrary to the Puritanism of their creed, which extremists interpret as preaching the annihilation of all that is not Islam.

Today, the Mecca and Medina of the first and second centuries of the Islamic faith have been all but wrecked, not by the Islamic State or any other radical entity, but by the Wahhabi Saudi government. Over the past two decades, major historical sites in Mecca and Medina, all related to the lifetime of the Prophet and shortly after, have been destroyed or disfigured to the point where neither city is recognizable save for the Ka'ba and the Grand Mosque in Mecca, and the Prophet's Mosque in Medina.

Although much has been done to accommodate the increasing millions of pilgrims who go there for the hajj pilgrimage, most of the demolition appears to relate to a Wahhabi and Salafi fear that pilgrims may pray at the graves of Muhammad's companions, at the house where he was born, or at other buildings associated with the first era of Islam. There seems to be an insistence that anything that might compromise God's oneness must be eradicated, and this concern may have prompted the country's rulers to destroy them.

The vast Jannat al-Baqi cemetery, which holds so many remains of Muhammad's family, close companions and the earliest Muslim saints, has been levelled, and all domes and mausoleums turned to dust. That act followed earlier levelings by Wahhabis in 1206 and the Ikhwan in 1925. Those included the graves of the martyrs of the Battle of Uhud and that of Hamza, the prophet's uncle and most beloved supporter. So too the Mosque of Fatima (Muhammad's daughter), the Mosque of the Manaratayn (the twin minarets), and the cupola that marked the burial place of the prophet's incisor tooth.

In Medina as well, the home of Muhammad's Ethiopian wife, Maryam, where his son Ibrahim was born, has been paved over.

In Mecca, the house of his first wife, Khadija, the first person to whom he divulged his mission, has been turned into public toilets. In 1998, the grave of the prophet's mother, Amina bint Wahb, was bulldozed in Abwa, after which gasoline was poured on it. There is much more.[2]

Destruction of the sacred places of rival faiths or denominations is nothing new it has happened throughout history. Henry VIII wrecked Catholic abbeys and monasteries their ruins still pepper the English countryside. The destruction of the Babri Mosque in Ayodhya by Hindus in 1992 led to two thousand deaths. The Roman demolition of Judaism's Second Temple marks a watershed in world history and is central to the current conflict in the Holy Land. But the most consistent use of elimination through the centuries has been the Muslim war on non-Muslims. Despite much controversy, it has been claimed that over 2000 Hindu, Jain and Buddhist temples and holy places were destroyed by Muslim conquerors in India. Churches and synagogues have been demolished or converted into mosques in many places.

When Jordan controlled East Jerusalem between 1948 and 1967, all but one of the Old City's synagogues was reduced to rubble or converted into stables and chicken coops the main Jewish cemetery was desecrated, and Jewish homes destroyed.

Today, in Iran, the Islamic regime has demolished all the holy sites and graveyards of an indigenous faith, the Baha'i religion.

If the depredations of the Islamic State are to have any meaning in the end, perhaps it will be because they will have shown how right the non-extremist Muslims are in calling for a deep change within Islam.

Dr. Denis MacEoin, based in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, is a lecturer in Arabic and Islamic Studies and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

[1] Robert Reilly, The Closing of the Muslim Mind, Wilmington, 2010, p. 36.

[2] Websites where readers can read of these destructions at length include: Irfan Ahmed, "The Destruction of the Holy Sites in Mecca and Medina," Islamica Magazine Laith Abou-Ragheb, "Dr. Sami Angawi on Wahhabi Desecration of Mecca: Developers and Purists Erase Mecca's History," Center for Islamic Pluralism/Reuters, 12 July 2005 Ziauddin Sardar, " The Destruction of Mecca," Die New York Times, 30 September 2014 Carla Power, "Saudi Arabia Bulldozes Over Its Heritage," Tyd, 14 November, 2014 Jerome Taylor, "Medina: Saudis take a bulldozer to Islam's history," Die Onafhanklike, 26 October 2012 Jerome Taylor, "The photos Saudi Arabia doesn't want seen – and proof Islam's most holy relics are being demolished in Mecca," Die Onafhanklike, 11 December 2014.

© 2021 Gatestone Institute. Alle regte voorbehou. The articles printed here do not necessarily reflect the views of the Editors or of Gatestone Institute. No part of the Gatestone website or any of its contents may be reproduced, copied or modified, without the prior written consent of Gatestone Institute.


Remnants of the past

Some of those tea manufacturers are believed to have stayed back after their three-year contracts. Joe’s voice-over echoes to a montage of maps, tea plantations and pages from historical documents.

Joe Thomas Karackattu | Photo Credit: special arrangement

The documentary, which is interspersed with interviews and montages of yellowing, old documents, starts with the Ajoo family recounting tales about their forefathers, who had been involved in tea plantations in the South. However, that is not the only thread the researcher follows. A story that runs in parallel is that of the Chinese convicts who were brought to the Nilgiris from the Strait Settlements, as labourers.

“There were many other accounts relating to South India that were yet to be explored. While a lot of people have done work on the history of tea in general.. how it came to parts of northern Assam, and then to South India, and how coffee got wiped out… There was very little work tracing the Chinese connections we had,” says Joe. While the arrival of tea and the British movement of penal labour to different sites in India are points of interest, exploring the specifics of it, Joe thought, would be a valuable contribution. And for this, he had to “burrow deep into the archives”.

“People do have anecdotal references [to share],” says Joe. For instance, at one point in the movie, while debating whether the Chinese had a hand in the production of Lawrence School, Udhagamandalam, a faculty member mentions that when he was a student there, he was often given Chinese coins as pocket money to use in tuck shops. “But, I wanted to go threadbare into where these stories fit in the archives. That’s when I started this journey,” says Joe.

Conceptualising a research product into visual representation is what constituted the three years the reading that went to it, took longer, adds Joe. “I think, as a researcher, especially as one based in South India, it is very important to tell the stories that have not been told.”

Negotiating tough terrains and unprecedented logistical difficulties — even stopping for food at a local tea shop and getting bits of unanticipated information — gives one life lessons to remain “levelled”. The contrast between the difficult mountain ways of the Nilgiris and the fanciful, opulent Hong Kong skyline, served this purpose.

The second half of the movie in which Joe sets off on a journey to dig out documentary evidence to show the inflow of Chinese convicts from the Strait Settlements, further solidifies all anecdotal references. “For any researcher, that is the thrill!” Whether or not he manages to locate it forms the rest of the latter half.

However, locating these convicts’ descendants and jogging their memory was a challenge. “It is unfair of us to expect them to give us any material information about their fourth or fifth generation ancestors,” says Joe. It is then a researcher’s task to make sense of their powerful oral history through concrete evidence.

The film will be screened at Hong Kong Baptist University in 2021. Visit the page Those4Years on Facebook to get updates on the official release of the film.


Antigod’s Own Country: Counter culture in Kerala

Senior journalist A V Sakthidharan’s recent work “Antigod’s Own Country: A Short History of Brahminical Colonisation of Kerala” takes us to the roots of the many non-Aryan deities and myths that dot the coast of Kerala: from Malabar’s Muthappan and Pottan Theyyam to Travancore’s Ayyappan and Malayali’s own Maveli – their very existence being a resistance against invasive Brahminism and Aryanism. Traced through a telling exploration of the peculiar socio-political contexts that birthed these local gods or ‘anti-gods’, the book is also a deeply political meditation on issues faced in contemporary Kerala too. The work engages with Sabarimala – a religious space from where Dalits, Adivasis and other marginalised sections are increasingly being pushed out, it remarks. The Sangh’s appropriation of Ayyappan – a non-Hindu, hill-top deity – is seen by Sakthidharan as an extremely political move, which seeks to purge this space of its pro-Dalit, pro-Adivasi, pro-Muslim character. The recent controversy on the entry of women of the menstruating age into Sabarimala is also placed against this context here.

These local histories or ‘little traditions’ are to be carefully observed, for counter culture and its myths contain radical elements of subaltern protest against societal injustice as well as their aspirations. The excerpt below from the chapter ‘Challenging Adi Sankara’ of the book is on one such powerful subaltern myth popular in northern Kerala.

Challenging Adi Sankara

From Ayyappa of southern Kerala let us move to teyyam and Muttappa in the North. The word ‘teyyam’ is said to be a corrupted form of daivam (god). He is not the representation of god, he is god himself. It has come to represent the particular form of worshipping folk deities that is prevalent in Kerala. The songs sung to invoke the spirits of the deities are known as tottam songs. ‘Tottam’ is believed to be a corruption of ‘stotram’. The teyyams are a political phenomenon and Pottan is the most political of them—he challenges Adi Sankara, the brahmin acharya of advaita who also belonged to Kerala. Sankara runs into Pottan, who carried a child at his waist and a pot of toddy on his head, and asks him to get out of the way to avoid distance pollution, but the organic intellectual of the dalits retorts with a simple question: ‘Why do you ask me to move off?’ He goes on to disabuse Sankara’s mind of all notions of the latter’s cultural superiority and the sanctity of the caste system:

You smear the sandal paste
We are bathed in dirt
You wear the chains of gold
We wear the chain of fish…
Haven’t you crossed the river in the canoe which I rowed?
The banana grown in your dump yard is the offering to your god
The basil flower grown in our dump yard is the garland of your god
Still why do you argue over caste?
When you are wounded, is not it blood that gushes out?
When I, too, am wounded, is not it blood?

(Chandran 2006)

Pottan Teyyam employs the very weapon of advaita—non-duality, the oneness of being—against the proponent of that philosophical system. The philosopher realises his mistake and prostrates before the chandala who in turn blesses him. In Malayalam, the word ‘pottan’ is used for a fool but it may also refer to a deaf and mute person. For brahminical liturgy logic, reason and morality may appear foolish, but Pottan was no fool.

Like Ayyappa who admits all devotees without any distinction of caste, creed or class, teyyams do not respect the received brahminical wisdom on caste hierarchies. There are traces of Buddhism in the teyyam cult. The revolutionary tradition of teyyam is too obvious to be ignored. Ayyankali, Chattambi Swamy, Sree Narayana Guru and a host of others collectively took up the fight where Pottan Teyyam left it. The traditional mask dance of the dalits became a means to rebuke, ridicule and question the atrocities and injustices done to them. Teyyam dances and the group songs sung during the agricultural operations were a sort of inversions and defiance to the dominance of the high castes. During World War II, the Communist Party employed folk arts like teyyam, poorakkali and ottamtullal against black-marketeers and hoarders.

For the dalits, teyyam is a weapon in the struggle against the unjust social system that has marginalised them. Many teyyam stories contain criticism of untouchability and brahminism. The bulk of the two-hundred-odd teyyam artists in North Kerala are members or sympathisers of the Communist parties. The brahmins advise people to be pure and eat vegetarian food, while a teyyam god like Muthappa is all for eating meat, drinking and being jolly.

Of late there has been an intrusion of brahminical verses into the Dravidian tottam pattu—the ritual song sung during the teyyam—which is presumed to give it brahminic respectability. Palantayi Kannan, originally a tiyya martyr-deity, was Hinduised and turned into Vishnumurthy, the Vishnu avatar who devoured Hiranyakashipu. In the Hinduised version of the Sankara–Pottan face-off, the dalit disappears and in his place appears Lord Siva who blesses Sankara. The parayan victim of the caste system who advances solid arguments against caste is erased. T.V. Chandran writes: ‘[T]he subversive value of the Pottan’s voice was put under the stronghold of the ideology of high-strata Hinduism through the interpolation of a story that appears in Sankara Digvijayam, a fourteenth century work which seeks to establish the supremacy of the great Indian philosopher Sri Sankaracharya’ (Chandran 2006). According to this version, Sankara concludes that the person confronting him is no chandala but Lord Siva himself.

Donning the teyyam dress is the preserve of a host of oppressed caste devotees. The poor dalit who is teyyam today will be found slaving the next day in the landlord’s paddy field for a pittance. During the teyyam season—from December to February—colourful teyyams teem northern Kerala to the accompaniment of loud drumbeat. As with the oracle of the Bhagavati temples in other parts of Kerala, the teyyams originated in what was once Kolathunadu—Kannur and Kasargod districts of present-day Malabar.

Teyyam may have originated in the fertility cult associated with agriculture (Chandran 2006). Some scholars attribute its origin to the hero cults of the Sangam period. This ritual pageantry of North Kerala is a rare survivor of a pre-Aryan, non-brahminical religious system. It is said teyyams were tolerated as an acceptable safety valve to allow complaints against the misdeeds of the upper castes to be expressed in a ritualised and non-violent manner. During the colonial days Christian missionaries used to conduct house-to-house campaigns against teyyam and snake worship, calling them primitive and inhuman. This had a mixed response. The better-off tiyyas formed the Sree Jnanodaya Yogam to fight superstition and ended up conceding a brahminic halo to the local gods. Many oppressed communities in rural Kerala, however, had a visceral reverence for their gods and did not fall for the propaganda.

A V Sakthidharan has worked as a journalist for close to four decades and retired from The Hindustan Times in Delhi as Assistant Editor in 2006. This is his first book.


Ashoka: The Search for India's Lost Emperor by Charles Allen – review

I t is difficult to imagine a life as full of grandeur and drama as that of the Mauryan emperor Ashoka, but it is more difficult still to imagine how such a life could ever have been lost or forgotten. From 270BC to 233BC, Ashoka ruled every part of the subcontinent except for India's southernmost tip, an empire larger than that of any Indian ruler before or since his influence spilled even further abroad, into Sri Lanka and past the furthest border of present-day Afghanistan. He shepherded the rise of one of the world's major religions, and in a remarkable U-turn, he transformed himself from a callous conqueror into an intelligent and pacific ruler. Yet, as Charles Allen's Ashoka shows, the details of his life had to be prised out from the crevices of the past, in a process that revealed as much about the emperor as about the caprices of Indian history.

The rediscovery of Ashoka began with the rediscovery of India's Buddhist past. In the late 18th century, scholars were working at synchronising India's calendar of history with Europe's the philologist William Jones called the resolution of this chronological gulf "the grand desideratum of oriental literature". Around the same time, Buddhist figurines and inscriptions began to be unearthed across India's northern plains. These archaeological finds presented something of a puzzle: they pointed to the vigorous heyday of a religion that was, in the India of the 18th and 19th centuries, in near-terminal decline. Buddhism had left behind no majestic temples, and "there were certainly no Buddhists in India and no Buddhist literature", Allen points out. Under whose patronage, then, did the faith once flourish as mightily as its artifacts seemed to indicate?

Allen is adept, if on occasion ploddingly so, at putting back together this vast academic jigsaw for our benefit. He recounts what Jones would have learned from Greek narratives of Alexander's attempted conquest of India and from subsequent ambassadorial communiqués from the Maurya dynasty's court. He traces the painstaking decryption of the Brahmi script, dating to the third century BC, by James Prinsep, an energetic assay master in the Calcutta Mint. He describes the assiduous legwork of members of the Asiatic Society, which yielded metal-plate inscriptions, sculptures of heartbreaking beauty, remnants of the humped Buddhist reliquaries known as stupas, and elaborate edicts inscribed, on Ashoka's orders, on slabs of rock across the subcontinent. And as Prinsep and his colleagues did, Allen reconciles these threads of evidence with strands from other texts – in particular from the Mahavamsa, Sri Lanka's great Buddhist chronicle – and thus arrives at the story of Ashoka as we know it.

None of this is new material, especially for Allen, who along with John Keay has worn something of a groove in scholarship about the Raj-era resuscitation of Indian history. Anton Führer, the deceitful archaeologist in Allen's The Buddha and Dr Führer (2008), flickers in and out of Ashoka's pages, trafficking in forged Buddhist relics and lying about his discovery of Kapilavastu, the city where the Buddha grew up. More significantly, Ashoka reprises the choicest parts of The Buddha and the Sahibs, Allen's 2002 book about men such as Jones and Prinsep – orientalists in the original, sweet vein of being intellectually curious about Asia, rather than in the pejorative Saidian sense. Allen emphasises that the study of ancient India would have suffered without scholars of the sort derided by Edward Said as "dead white men in periwigs" – a point that is both valuable and arguable, but also a point that he has made before.

An abundance of clues about Ashoka began to emerge from the work of these Indologists. Die Mahavamsa spoke in glowing terms of an Indian king who had ordained his own son and daughter and sent them to Sri Lanka to spread the Buddha's message. Stone reliefs dug up from the sites of Buddhist stupas depicted an unusually unidealised king, "short, paunchy and with a grossly pumpkin-like face," as Allen writes. (Die Ashokavadana, an ancient text in Sanskrit, called Ashoka's skin "rough and unpleasant to the touch".) Most intriguing were the rock edicts, scattered across an enormous area, all proclaiming a ruler's commitment to non-violence, to righteousness, and to a sophisticated notion of secularism.

By the final years of the 19th century, the contours of Ashoka's life had been established: his adroit power-grab that denied his elder brother the throne his rampaging invasion of the eastern province of Kalinga, in which his army slew more than 100,000 men his abrupt but long-lasting conversion to Buddhism and his support of his new faith, so munificent that he is said to have built 84,000 stupas and donated millions of pieces of gold to the monastic order. But the physical legacy of this zenith of Buddhism was destroyed twice over: first by Hindu Brahmins, who were furious at Ashoka's sponsorship of Buddhism, and who would in subsequent centuries cannily co-opt the Buddha as one of the 10 avatars of Vishnu and then by Islamist invaders, who razed stupas as well as the illustrious Buddhist university of Nalanda, in present-day Bihar.

Allen might usefully have devoted more space to this calculated domination of Buddhism by Hinduism, which so effectively wiped out traces of Ashoka's reign, and which contradicts descriptions of Hinduism as tolerant and ever-benign. (In 1905, during a lecture in Johannesburg, Mahatma Gandhi stoutly denied any decline of Buddhism in India, claiming: "No Hindu bore the Buddhist any ill will.") Allen is perhaps also too cursory in examining the effect of the rediscovery of Ashoka on the India of the late 19th century, although he briefly mentions the emperor's influence on a particular group of Indians: the new freedom-fighters.

To a burgeoning independence movement, Ashoka proved to be a touchstone on several levels. Gandhi praised Ashoka's non-violence and his latter-day lack of imperial ambition. Jawaharlal Nehru admired Ashoka's secularism and his efficient administration. For nationalists of all stripes, Ashoka was, along with the Mughal emperor Akbar, the soundest rebuttal to the colonial assertion that India's diverse territories had never been united as thoroughly as they were under the British. Ashoka inspired hope that, if India had once been whole and serene under the wisdom of a native ruler, it might well be similarly whole and serene again.

Samanth Subramanian's Following Fish: Travels Around the Indian Coast, will be published by Atlantic later this year.


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