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Last updated: December 13, 2002

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Buddhist leader threatens to disrupt Kalchakra puja ABDUL QADIR (Times of India) [ THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 21, 2002 01:21:55 AM ] GAYA: Bhadant Anand, general secretary of the All-India Monks Federation and the Bodh Gaya Mahabodhi Vihar All-India Action Committee, has threatened to disrupt the proposed Kalchakra puja, tentatively scheduled for the second week of January next year, if the demands of the neo-Buddhists are not met.
Spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists and the head of the Tibetan government-in-exile, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, is to lead the most important Buddhist ritual.
The threat has been communicated through a press release issued by Anand in Bodh Gaya.
Bhadant Anand has also written a letter to the Gaya DM Brajesh Mehrotra, the ex-officio chairman of the Mahabodhi Temple Management Committee.
The temple is the most sacred Buddhist shrine where Prince Siddhartha, the wandering scion of the Himalayan Kingdom, is said to have attained enlightenment more than 2,500 years back.
A few months back the monks laid a siege around the temple sanctum sanctorum to draw attention towards their long-pending demands.
The demands of the Buddhists include the amendment of the Temple Act to transfer shrine management to an all Buddhist body, effective ban on the footwear entry into the shrine and rehabilitation of the monks who were relieved from temple duty last January following a scuffle between two group of monks.
As of now, the shrine is managed jointly by the Hindus and the Buddhists.
Five of the nine members of the committee, including the chairman, as per the provisions of the act have to be Hindus.
In the letter, the monk, himself a former member of the shrine management committee, has also objected to the erection of new pillars in the temple premises ostensibly for the installation of flood lights in the temple.
The temple has already been declared a world heritage site by the Unesco.
The monk has taken the stand that the installations would cause damage to the existing structure believed to be more than 1,200 years old.
The authorities have been given time till December 10 to formulate their response to the demand failing which an agitation aimed at disrupting the Kalchakra puja would be launched.
Though the press release only said that the monks would not be responsible for obstruction caused to any prayer, Bhadant Anand, in a telephonic conversation with this correspondent, confirmed that by any prayer he meant the Kalchakra puja.
Bhadant Anand, during the conversation, also criticised the Dalai Lama, who allegedly favoured autonomy for Kashmir.
"Kashmir was an integral part of India and anybody who espoused the cause of the secessionists can not be a friend of India," said Anand.
The Dalai Lama has already issued a clarification saying that he has been misquoted on the Kashmir issue.
Anand, however, alleged that the Dalai Lama was misusing the Indian hospitality to pursue his own agenda, which, quite often was at variance with India's interest and the Dalai Lama had no sympathy for the Indian Buddhists.

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Texts and Translations © Peter G. Friedlander unless otherwise indicated.