Buddhists Plea to the UN
[on the 16 August I received an Email from Bhante Prajnasheela containing
this text which I reproduce below:-PGF]
31st July 2002
To: Madam Mary Robinson Her Excellency The High Commissioner For
Human Rights United Nations Geneva Switzerland
Subject : Request to direct the Government of India to handover the
Management of Mahabodhi Mahavihar at BuddhaGaya to Buddhists
With great respect to the office of the United Nations High Commission
for Human Rights, may I invite your kind attention towards the continued
illegal occupation of the most sacred and holiest place of the Buddhists
and the Entire World, the Mahabodhi Mahavihar at Buddha Gaya in the
Bihar State of India by high caste Hindu Brahmins. This is the place
where the Siddharth Gautama, the Prince, attained the Supreme Enlightenment
and became the Buddha. This vihara was erected by Emperor Ashoka 250
BC as a monument in the memory of Lord Buddha. This is confirmed by
Chinese Monk Fa-Hain who visited Buddha Gaya in 409 AD and Huen Thsang
in 637 AD. One of the great Archaeologist Sir Alexander Cunnigham also
visited Buddha Gaya. It is beyond doubts that it is the sacred and holiest
place of Buddhists where Buddha attained Enlightenment.
Dr.Buchanan Hamilton a very well known archaeologist visited Buddha
Gaya vihar and he found that the vihara was in a hopeless condition.
Buddhism vanished from India due to onslaught by Hindu Brahmins.
The Vihara had been visited by thousands and thousands of Buddhists
from China, Burma, Thailand, Sri Lanka and other parts of the world
and several inscriptions had been found during excavation in Buddha
Gaya to prove that throughout the ages, it was truly the Buddha Vihara
Sir Edwin Arnold, the world famous author of the book " The Light of
Asia", visited 1885 and appealed to British Government to handover the
Mahavihar to the Buddhists. He also appealed to the Buddhist Countries
to show intrest in the matter of management of the Mahavihar. Ven. Anagarik
Dharmapala, was one of the greatest Buddhist Monk from Sri Lanka who
took up the cause of handing over of Mahabodhi Mahavihar to Buddhists,
visited Buddha Gaya in January 1891 along with Col. Olcott. He again
came back in July 1891 along with four monks. Hindu Brahmin Priests
(Mahants) assaulted all of them and the statue of Buddha was thrown
away. The case went to Dist. Judge who said " The temple was continuously
and regularly been used as Buddhist place of worship by Buddhist pilgrims.
No form of Hindu worship had been carried on inside the Mahabodhi temple
and there is nothing to show that any such worship (Hindu worship) has
been carried on for many centuries". Justice Mc- Pherson of Calcutta
High Court said " It is mentioned that the Mahabodhi Temple which is
very ancient and very sacred to the Buddhists, was a Buddhists Temple.
Although it has been in the possession of Hindu Mahants, it has never
been converted into a Hindu Temple in the sense that Hindu idols have
been enshrined or orthodox Hindu worship carried on there and that Buddhists
pilgrims have had free access and liberty to worship in it". The proceedings
of the case were published in all newspapers and the Buddha Gaya`s question
became a live topic throughout India, Burma and other countries. Thus
a strong public opinion was created in favour of the Buddhists Claim.
In 1949, the Government of Bihar passed the Buddha Gaya Temple Act transferring
the temple to a committee of Management consisting of four Buddhists
and four Hindus with a Hindu District Magistrate of Gaya as the Chairman
which ultimate means mangement of Mahavihar.
Since the enactment of Temple Act in 1949, the Management has been in
the hands of majority Hindu Brahmins who have nothing to do with the
teaching of Buddha. Hindu Brahmins falsely claim that Buddha is an incarnation
of a Hindu God Vishnu in order to destroy the holiest site of Buddhists.
Hindu Brahmin Priests have been playing tricks to show to the world
that Lord Buddha was a Hindu God and nothing else. It is established
and accepted fact that Buddhism is the different independent religion
which has nothing to do with the philosophy of God or incarnation of
God. Some of the most important problems created by Hindu Brahmin priests
are: 1) Some of the original statues of Lord Buddha have been defiled
and stolen from the Mahabodhi Mahavihara. 2) Accounts of donations and
gifts received have not been maintained properly. 3) Elections for the
management committee were held only after raising objections and launching
agitations throughout India . 4) Idols of some of the Hindu Gods have
been smuggled inside the Mahavihar including Shivlinga to dilute and
defame Buddhism. 5) All sorts of Hindu Rituals and Rites are being followed
inside Mahabodhi Mahavihar to defame and bring impurity in Buddhism.
6) Criminal elements in the society are encouraged by the Brahmin priests
who misappropriate donations and gifts offered by visitors.
Thus it is seen that sacredness of Buddha Gaya has been threatened.
The entire world has been expressing their concern on happenings in
Buddha Gaya from time to time. We have started Mahabodhi Mahavihar all
India Action Committee in 1992 and since then we have been protesting
peacefully at Buddha Gaya and requesting both Government of India and
Government of Bihar to bring amendment in the Buddha Gaya Temple Act
1949 and handover the management of the Mahavihar to the Buddhists .
Your honour, it is surprising that the holiest of the holy place of
Buddhists in the entire world is in the hands of non-Buddhists. This
is the uniqueness Churches are under Christians, Masjids are under Muslims
and Hindu Temples under the controls of Hindu Brahmins, why is it that
the holiest of the holy place of Buddhism is not under the control of
Buddhists? Government of India and Government of Bihar have been giving
assurances that something will be done to handover the control of the
Mahavihar to the Buddhists .
In this connection we have met several Central and State Ministers and
authorities but nothing concrete has been done. So far our movement
has been totally peaceful and democratic and Government authorities
have ignored our claim totally. In this connection we have sent a letter
dated 23rd January 2002 addressed to His Excellency The Secretary General
of United Nations Mr.Kofi Annan and requested him to use his good offices
and cause justice to the Buddhists around the World by handing over
entire control of the Management of Mahabodhi Mahavihar to the Buddhists.
We all the Buddhist of India and All over the World are pleased at the
announcement that UNESCO has declared the Buddha Gaya as World Heritage
site. We therefore congratulate to the UN and express thanks to UNESCO
for this historical decision, which will be having monumental effect
in propagating ideals of Justice, Peace and Compassion in the entire
We therefore request the UN to activate the convention concerning the
Protection of the World Cultural and Natural Heritage (UNESCO) adopted
on 16th November 1972 and entered into force on 17th Dec. 1974. It was
ratified by 159 countries including India. The convention provides that
the heritage committee shall supervise the protection of items recognised
by the convention as those of outstanding universal value from the point
of view of history, art, science and aesthetics. We also request the
United Nations to direct India to obey the Universal Declaration of
Human Rights (1948) on the rights of persons belonging to national,
ethnic, religious or linguistic minorities and handover entire managemant
of Mahabodhi Mahaviha ng suitable amendment to the Bodh Gaya Temple
Act 1949 (Bihar Act of 17th of 1949) - (as modified up to 8th Feb.1955)
and help prevent confrontation between the Buddhist and Hindu Brahmins
over the issue of Mahabodhi Mahavihar.
With profound regards.
Yours truly, (Bhadant Arya Nagarjuna Shurei Sasai)
National President All India BuddhaGaya Mahabodhi Mahavihar Action Committee,
Indora Buddha Vihar Nagpur,
Jai Bhim Thank you for the mail. I was in Geneva to witness the historic
occassion, when the Mr. Varhade, Bhante Surai Sasi, Mr. Sonare and Dr.
Gajbhiye held meetings with UNESCO in Paris, France. They also had fruitful
talks with Mary Robinson which lasted over 30 minutes. On 8th August
2002, UN headquarters in Geneva, Bhanteji held a protest to bring attention
to the world of the illegal occupation of Mahabodhi Mahavihar by the
Hindus. I am enclosing a private mail from Mr. Varhade and Dr. Gajghiye.
Full report will be posted soon.