Writer: S.K. BARUA

Buddhism may have come to Bamiyan of Afghanistan soon after 260 B.C when Emperor Ashoka of India occupied this reign But the impetus to build the great monuments arose during the reign of king kanishka, the ruler who in the 2nd century A.D made his estate covering the northern part of Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan, for a while the most powerful realm in central Asia kanishka who belonged to kushans, a dynasty of central Asian origin was also a great devotee of Mahayana Buddhism and spent vast sums on devotional works.

(2) In a valley in the remote mountains of Afghanistan king kanishka constructed the world’s Largest Buddha statue 53 meters tall. Forming the parts of the southern slope of Hindu-kush Mountain, the Great statue was sheltered and curved from the rock. The standing figure of this Buddha-statue, that raised the massive right hand in the protective gasture of Abhayamudra and drapping of robe on the left shoulder, reflect those of this dynasty’s great Art centre at Gandhara, in what is now the valley of Peshawar in north western Pakistan. On the same cliff- side 1200 meters to the east another seated- Buddha statue 35 meters height was also constructed, that looks over the valley of Bamiyan, 18 miles away from the main town.

Also the mighty caves were cut and curved out of solid rock from the stupendous Hindu-kush Mountain to establish cave monasteries. The Buddhist monks adopted in an itinerant life and moved from place to place from caves to rock-cut dwellings, for their missionary work. Thus on the cool and peaceful hills as in Bamiyan rose number of marvelous cave-monasteries surrounding the hilly places of Afghanistan.

In 632 A.D a scholarly pilgrim, Hsuan Tsang from china visited Bamiyan and wrote that the Great-Buddha statues glistened with gold and jewels, providing a picturesque country side with one of the world’s most impressive artistic mouments. The valley of Bamiyan is a place of serenity where the pounding stress of urban and industrial life seems very distant. A place to draw tourists certainly. During the main tourist season the weather remain temperate and the altitude being about 2600 meters.

The pilgrims Hsuan Tsang may have stayed in one of the remarkable cave monastery, cut into the cliff-side surrounding the seated Buddha statue. The system of this man-made cave comprise individual monks cell, sanctuary, meeting room connecting corridoor around a central point. The ceiling of some of the chambers are made up of false beams carved in a pattern used by the inhabitants of Pamir Mountain. The facade screne intact with the structure of the cathedral, produce light, streaming through, to illuminate the interior of the cave sanctuary.

It was never thought of any danger from man’s violence to these open-air, Great monumental statues. But a thousand years later, there seems to be a menace that the natural process could seriously damage the Buddha statues. Great shifts in temperature, erosion by wind and by water seeping down from the surface of the plateau where the cliff-side supports the statues may cause a damaging crack.

In the century following Hsuan Tsang’s visit Yakub-ibn-Lath, a Muslim ruler belonging to a local Iranian dynasty seized Bamiyan in 871AD and took-away the ‘Idol’ and the Sanskrit religions manuscripts to Baghdad, the then seat of the caliphate for research work.

In the 13th century AD a conqueror Cenghinz khan from Mongolia, succeeded in capturing Bamiyan after a great loss of man-power. He avenged it by ordering annihilation of all living being in the vicinity. Thus Bamiyan was utterly destroyed. In time new settlements arose, but the valley was never again a place of cultural and commercial importance, of course the great statues and empty cave sanctuary remained and endured till the end of 20th century AD.

Some time around 1940 at the invitation of the Afghan Government, a team of Indian experts were working on reinforcing the statues and their artistic restoration. They have errected a brick buttress against the rock face, just to the west of the seated Buddha statue, to prevent the collasp of the cracked stair-ways linking the cave sanctuary and completed all the repair works within the specific time.

Later the Afghan Government called on UNESCO to study how Bamiyan could be made into a major Tourist attraction. Two UNESCO experts visited Bamiyan in July 1970 and drawn a detailed plan and submitted it to the Afghan Government They have recommended the restoration work for the routes and conserve the ruins of Shahr-I-Zarak and shahr-i-gulgula and the construction of a good road, linking Kabul and Bamiyan and if possible the road should extend to the beautiful Lake of Band-I-Amir not far from the valley. And also an upto-date residential Hotel may be constructed for the tourists. They have firmly urged that the agricultural economy in the valley be maintained, protected and aided. It is only through the farming of the local people that Bamiyan can remain a living place and not turn into a lifeless open air museum.

Implementing such an ambitious plan would require technical and material aid from many countries. The United Nation should also be asked to finance the project.

Unfortunately a few years latter, king Zaheer shah of Afghanistan was dethroned and a civil war broke out through out the country. The war prolonged till to day and the destruction of men and materials were committed by different groups of the terrorists.

At the end of the 20th century, to the astonishment of the entire world and the Buddhist-world in particular, a group of Muslim religious fanatic of Afghanistan surprisingly destroyed the two Great Buddha statues of Bamiyan by firing heavy machine guns and highly explosive grenades. They were motivated to destroy the tourist spot of Bamiyan, so that the remote area of the Tranquil valley will prevail silence forever. And no tourist will ever assemble to visit such an impressive artistic site of Bamiyan. By committing such a criminal offence, they have successfully conformed their safe and most secured shelter in that remarkable cave- monastery.

Basically all these criminal acts committed by the Afghan terrorist group were to divert the attention of the world and take time to formulate their original plan. Just three months after the destruction of the Buddha statues i.e, on 11-9-2001 AD the well–trained suicide squared of the terrorist group high-jacked two PAN-AM Boeing Aircrafts and took control of the cock-pit and crushed head on to the Tween-Tower of the Washington D.C, killing more than two thousand innocent public.

In retreat the US. Commando Pilot launched the most sophisticated rockets and made heavy Bombardment and destroyed all-most all the cave monasteries of the Afghan hilly places, killing thousands of terrorists that took shelter in those cave sanctuary.

1 comment:

  1. It's always sad to see such historic monuments of such importance get destroyed in such disgraceful manner.
    Bamiyan Buddha was one of the biggest and oldest Buddha statues in the world.