Buddha beheaded

This post should come with a warning: the images you are about to see are disturbing

It stood there for 1400 years. And then the Taliban blew it up

This post should come with a warning: the images you are about to see are disturbing. It’s one thing to read reports Islamic fundamentalists blowing up cultural treasures, this time in Swat, Pakistan. It’s entirely another too see pictures of it.

Islamic fundamentalists destroy the Buddha of Swat

Culture is capital. It would have generated returns for the people of the region for centuries hence. It’s gone now.

23 thoughts on “Buddha beheaded”

  1. They destroyed the statue to protest Western imperialism.

    In case you haven’t heard that one yet.

  2. Nothing good ever came to the people of Afghanistan and Pakistan from the muslim invasions from the 10th century on.
    These people have suffered enormous wars, loss of life and blood shed.

    The arrival of Islam on our lands has been a tremendous curse on our people and on our culture…may the coming years and centuries turn back the dark ages of Islam from our beloved Afghanistan.

  3. I keep reading that Islam is a peaceful religion. Yet in the last 1,000 years, Christians stopped their history of violence and have taken on opposition of the death penalty, abortion and oppressive violence. Yet Islam continues their culture of violent oppression of anyone who opposes them. Islam may be peaceful, but Muslims aren’t showing evidence to that fact.

  4. Whatsup,

    Culture is indeed capital. The debate is not so much that it is capital, but how we might value it.

  5. Reinforces the opinion that talking to these folks is useless. What a sad, sad waste. The society that permits these acts deserves all the crap that comes its way.

  6. How about culture being invaluable?

    And what kind of returns were you talking about from these mere statues?

    PS: I find the destruction of these statues tragic but I believe its for different reasons than the one given here.

  7. Whatsup,

    Culture is invaluable. So is human life. But this does not prevent us from buying insurance that values life at a fixed sum. While at an emotional-sentimental-poetic level we may say something is “priceless”, at a practical level we do attach value to “invaluable” things. Like life insurance, real life requires us to do such revolting things.

    What kinds of returns do you get from “mere” statues? Well, think along the lines of loss of tourism revenue for the local population, in perpetuity. (Of course, some people might come to gawk at the place where the statues stood…). Would you pay as much to go to the Louvre if it had a lesser collection of fine art?

    Now, contrary to what you seem to have concluded, I’m not suggesting that the destruction of status is lamentable because it leads to lost economic returns. Rather, that the destruction of the statues causes returns to be lost. The reason I made the point is precisely because well meaning people like you miss this bit while lamenting the loss “for different reasons”. Terrorism destroys social and cultural capital and makes post-conflict reconstruction and development that much harder.

  8. Bamiyaan Buddha was destroyed and a couple of months later, Taliban was uprooted from Afganisthan with all NATO bombing. Wonder what this destruction of Buddha statues will do to SWAT (and more likely to Pakistan)?

    Am I the only one that sees this pattern? Or should I be in the business of reading tea-leaves?

  9. Nitin, points taken.

    People who lose their culture and take on a new one try to erase the past or denigrate it. Even Hindus have done it. It is part of the tragedy of civilizations.

  10. ^^
    Even Hindus have done it.

    Here comes the mandatory Hindu reference.
    Secularism at work again.

  11. I was referring to the acceptance of Brahminism and denigration of the past culture as that of Asuras’ and slaves’.

    Here is a thought for you guys, grow up!

    PS: I have no complaints about Nitin. Maybe you guys can learn from him.

  12. >>I was referring to the acceptance of Brahminism and denigration of the past culture as that of Asuras’ and slaves’.


    The above is just the claim of those who “accepted” a new culture (eg: Christianity, Marxism) and hence feel the need to denigrate their past culture (eg: Hinduism). Isn’t it ironic that you’re doing precisely that which you’re pointing out as a deplorable trait?

    Now of course you’ll disclose the stunning fact that you’re a
    staunch Hindu, and maybe you’ll even reveal the shocking fact that you’re a brahmin — indeed a Vedic priest in a Ram temple — and perhaps you’ll also surprise everybody by letting them know that you re not at all, say, a Catholic Christian or a CPIM worker. But still, I bet your denigration of Hinduism is subconsciously influenced by the mindset of a new culture that is hostile to the old culture.

    >>Maybe you guys can learn from him.

    See. Told ya. It is not part of the Hindu culture to give sermons to others. Instead, this culture urges that you turn your gaze inward, and focus it on yourself.

  13. It’s not a denigration of Hinduism.

    It’s just how the world is.

    Hinduism is very vast. There are sects that sermonize too. Also I never claimed that I subscribed to Hindu culture, did I? So I retain the right to sermonize. I mean this is a blog. What is blogging? Sermonizing on the internet. Now have a nice day.

  14. Whatsup

    I mean this is a blog. What is blogging? Sermonizing on the internet.

    That made my day! 🙂

    But seriously, blogging is really learning. Teachers of various kinds pass by, leave comments, and educate the blogger….almost free of cost. Much like the way Buddha said education must be.

  15. My sermon for the day.

    1)In the vedas,the devas have been referred to as asura.It meant someone strong.Later in the puranas,the asuras came to mean those who indulged in pleasures,without caring about the means adopted.
    2)The brahmanas villified the asuras precisely because they were not shy of using *abhorrent* methods to attain their goals.eg. ravana
    3)The devas were happy go lucky types like a american engineer of the 50s,from a vedantic view point.While the asuras were devious like musharaff or cold war warriors of the state dept.Some like hiranyakashipu were absolute dictators.The devas who transgressed were punished as well.Nor were there these positions fixed for eternity.One cannot help admiring the sophisticated viewpoint of the pauranikas/vedanta when one looks at the complex reality of modern life,where there are so many conflicting aspirations like claim to equal opportunities versus excellence,science and technology,humanism and the need for authority,scholastic traditions,art ,creativity within the constraint of resources.
    4)”Whatsup”.You are trivialising/vulgarising the puranic narratives in your attempt to pass puranas as JNU certified history.

  16. Except for the first sentence of the first point. I was aware of everything else. (I left out the last point for being a silly personal attack it is.)

    You misunderstood me again. Many native gods were co-opted and others termed asuras and yes the puranas were part of this cultural assault. You certainly missed my point about the slaves (aka dasyus). All of this is starkly visible in southern India where the native culture was much more deeply entrenched before Brahminical Hinduism came making it harder to marginalize the pre-existing local populance. Also, there were fewer waves of immigrant tribes.

    As for JNU certified history, I have never been to JNU and I am a social conservative who puts a premium on cultural preservation. I noticed that your point of reference for happy-go-lucky types is an “american engineer from the 50s”. I guess you could think up something from India. It shows how westernized your points of references are. You are using western conceptions and analyzes just like me. JNU or otherwise, they are western and there is no escape from them. My initial argument with Nitin was indeed about culture being a lot more than capital.

    Here is a little food for thought. It is part of an idiotic article by a very idiotic person but parts of it make sense:

    “Why do we have a culture? Why have all the eminently sensible attempts to introduce phonetic orthography into English come to grief? The reason is that we need our past. All cultures worship at the shrine of their ancestors. They exist to ward off the presentiment of death.

    Breaking the thread of continuity with the past means that our lives have no meaning past our own physical existence. Now, it is perfectly possible for entire peoples to live only for their own pleasure and feel nothing for their prospective obliteration. How else should we explain fertility rates in Europe and Japan at barely half of replacement?………….

    …..Unlike animals, human beings require more than progeny: they require progeny who remember them. Consider two possibilities: the first is that you will be remembered after your death by generations of your children and children’s children; the other is that your children will be captured by an alien culture, raised speaking a different language, ignorant of their origin and oblivious to your death. Which one makes you feel better?

    Culture is the stuff out of which we weave the illusion of immortality (whether immortality actually exists is a matter of personal religious belief and outside the scope of this discussion). Frequently, ethnic groups will die rather than abandon their “way of life”. Native Americans often chose to fight to the point of their own extinction rather than accept assimilation, because assimilation implied abandoning both their past and their future. Historic tragedy occurs on the grand scale when economic or strategic circumstances undercut the material conditions of life of a people, which nonetheless cannot accept assimilation into another culture. That is when entire peoples fight to the death.” [ASIA TIMES]

    PS: Stop throwing out terms like JNU-certified history etc. I barely follow Indian media and writings. You could have called me a bleeding-heart liberal or pinko commie or something like that. I find it funny how Indian bloggers keep throwing out these labels and always die to identify themselves with a group whether it is libertarians, hindutvas, secularists or what not. I really don’t fit in anywhere and I am happy to report so. Also I don’t stick to dogma. Hope you have a nice weekend.

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