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the-south-asian.com                            March 2001

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Editor’s Note

Buddhas of Bamiyan - Victims of ignorance


It was sad to see the Buddhas of Bamiyan erased from the face of the earth. The act was one of total ignorance and misinterpreted religiosity – a phenomenon increasingly visible now in south Asia. Even sadder were the message-boards in cyberspace – carrying strongly worded and judgmental remarks on nationalities, religions, and ethnic groups. Taliban does not represent the popular vote in Afghanistan – nor do the destructive elements elsewhere in south Asia define the average citizen, who is generally a peace loving individual. The Prophet preached tolerance and respect for other religions. His teachings emphasised that every religion had its own prophets who ought to be revered. The Buddha taught compassion and tolerance. Christ’s message was one of love and forgiveness "Forgive them for they know not what they do". Guru Nanak , the most recent of sages and founder of a very secular faith – Sikhism, preached universal brotherhood/sisterhood. Hinduism, with its goal of spiritual evolvement, tolerance and right conduct, teaches a balanced view of life. The synthesis of these message boards was simply ‘Live and let live’ – very different from today’s cyber message boards .

While the Buddhas of Bamiyan were turning into dust, elsewhere in the world a cultural tide of violence had impacted many societies. People beheaded people in Indonesian Borneo, members of one ethnic group killed fellow human beings from another ethnic group in Malaysia, fires of ethnic conflict burn in Sri Lanka, sectarian killings in Pakistan, Maoist disturbances in Nepal, the on-going conflict in Kashmir, the killing of fellow students, shot to death, by a school kid in the US - we seem to be in the grip of uncontrolled madness. These are just some of the issues of our times.

The increasing violence in our day to day life, our inability to share with others, the ‘Me and Mine’ chant of Generation X, - are indicators that all is not well. Has religion failed us or has its role been taken over by violence obsessed media such as television and cinema. It is just an idea – but mankind might benefit by a mass conversion to a universal religion of ‘Live and let live’ – possible but not probable. But then what will we fight about?


Roopa Bakshi













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