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The smaller of the two doomed Buddha statues of Bamiyan


How ironic that two ancient statues of the Prince of Peace carved into the sandstone cliff faces of Bamiyan, Afghanistan should be so ruthlessly destroyed by those who would call themselves men of God. Infidels all, they merely seek to eliminate any form of spiritual competition for the souls of those they would rule with an iron fist in the name of Islam. Surely these must be uneducated men, uncultured men, uncaring men blinded and most likely deluded by overwhelming feelings of moral superiority, hatred and revenge. Are these the kind of men who should be allowed to lead a country into a new millennium? I don't think so.


What angers me the most, is the fact that Western powers helped the Taliban fight the Soviet aggressors in the hills and dales of Afghanistan. Obviously America and its allies will help anyone as long as it furthers their own commercial interests. The present military regime in Afghanistan is brutal and repressive, and reeks of Islamic fundamentalism. The Taliban seek to spread Islam by the sword, and like true fanatics, will not bow down to world opinion. Their minds have become clouded and poisoned by their own lust for power over their fellow countrymen. How intoxicating, how invigorating for deranged tyrants masquerading as harbingers of a pure Islamic paradise. May the Light of Asia have mercy upon their pathetic souls.

Futile protest falls upon deaf ears


Let these recent events in Afghanistan be a clarion call to Buddhists around the world! It's time to stop preaching nonviolence when such passivity leads to the total destruction of what you would hold to be the most sacred. Passive resistence will not win out over brutal repression and tyranny. Evil has to be faced and eradicated if true goodness is to prevail. This is the essence of the greatest stories ever told. Evil men must be brought to justice and made to pay for their crimes against humanity. The civilized world can not afford to passively sit on the sidelines when fanatical regimes rear their ugly heads. The Taliban regime in Afghanistan must be held accountable for its crimes against the cultural heritage of the human race. They must be made to know, in one way or another, that their perverted brand of Islamic fundamentalism will not be tolerated in a truly humane and democratic world. Perhaps the Western world should declare a holy war on the Taliban and send Omar and his gang packing to the hills.


There's a time for peace, and there's a time for war. Those who would argue otherwise are living a pipe dream. I don't know what they are smoking, but it's definitely not helping them to see things the way they are. Philosophical purity can go too far, and when it does, it generally achieves the opposite of what it strives for. Buddha was a man of peace, and fortunately, he was always surrounded by other men of peace. There were several attempts on his life by evil men, but Buddha was lucky one way or another and avoided being murdered by his adversaries. How nice, and how comforting to know, but for the rest of us common men, we have to always be ready to defend our way of life from our fanatical enemies. We do not live the charmed life, and we have come to know how fragile civilization can be. Goodness can only survive through strength, strength of body as well as strength and clarity of mind. Evil men know this, and take advantage of those who cannot or will not physically defend themselves. Right now the Buddhists of Afghanistan cannot defend themselves, so they have become easy prey. Their enemies are walking all over them; and, when the Taliban are finished with the Buddhists, they will turn back to psychologically tormenting their own kind, and especially their women. Islamic fundamentalism promotes a strong patriarchial society which strives to keep women under the thumbs of men. This is how things are in the new Afghanistan, here and now in this brave new millennium of ours. The totally blind and the fanatically half-blind are lording it over men and women of peace who happen to think differently than they do. Meanwhile, the civilized world mildly protests because there still could be lucrative business deals with the Taliban in the not-too-distant future, and nobody wants to screw that one up over a couple of primitive statues that have nothing to do with Jesus Christ and Christianity or making a killing in the market place.


Those two gigantic statues lasted the ravishes of time for over 1,800 years. How sad that they should now become sacrifical lambs in the name of some promised land! Afghanistan is presently entering one of the darkest periods of its history, and it doesn't look like the world is going to come marching to the aid of persecuted Buddhists and women there. If I were a Buddhist still in Afghanistan, I would be contemplating my means of escape right about now. Religious fanatics know not what they are doing, and cause a great deal of suffering for their fellow men in the name of God and country and behavioural laws written by despots thousands of years ago. The Taliban dogs of Afghanistan should be ashamed of their recent transgressions against one of the most peaceful men the world has every known. All foreign aid and business ventures should be immediately halted with this fundamentalistic tyrannical power, but, do you think they will? It's common knowledge that our politicians tell us one thing and do another. No, the almighty dollar is proving to be far greater a deity than whatever has been carved into stone facades hundrerds of years ago! Our enemies know this, and use that knowledge against us, for they seek to destroy us while shaking hands and smiling to our faces. Only the truth, and nothing but the truth, will make them come out from behind their masks. Don't expect them to come out from behind them too soon though. The truly deluded often forget what masks they are wearing.

Yes, there is evil in this world, and that evil has always been ignorance. What more in the name of Allah?

Standing in the shadows, the other and much larger cruelly defaced colossus of Bamiyan awaits its sad fate. The face and hands were effaced centuries ago by former Muslim invaders in the belief that by eliminating such salient features, they effectively destroyed the spirit within the image. The two doomed statues were originally decorated with gold and precious stones. Bamiyan, part of the Silk Road, was a great center of Buddhist culture, pilgrimage and commerce from 2 AD up until the Muslim conquests.


The Buddhas of Bamiyan are famous for their Gandharan influences of style, a Hellinistic buddhist art style marrying the classical forms of the Greeks and Romans with that of the Indian tradition. They date back to the 2nd century AD and are thought to be relics of the now obscure Buddhist Kushan empire, which came from nearby central Persia and conquered large parts of South and Central Asia. These early Buddhist statues were valued for the highly stylized rendering of their drapery, especially in the way the folds of the monastic robes (Grecian togas) were created with wooden pegs and lime mortar in closed padded ridges. The Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang, visited Bamiyan in 632, as it was a key post on the ancient Silk Road. More recently, the valley was as an integral part of the hippie trail in the 1960s and 70s before civil war began to tear the country apart.


Gandhara is now a term used to describe the school of semi-classical sculpture of Pakistan and Afghanistan in the early centuries of our Christian era. Gandhara was originally the name of an ancient province and kingdom, which in classical times, was limited to a small northwestern region in ancient India. The Buddhist emperor Ashoka made Gandhara a realm of intense missionary activity and exported Buddhism to countries like Sri Lanka, Pakistan, and Afghanistan in the 3rd century BC. The Buddhist civilization of Gandhara was completely destroyed by the White Huns later in the 6th century.

March 5, 2001

Update: August 25, 2007 - Debating the Future of Afghan Buddhas

For Gandharan Art's Sake