The Taliban’s Destruction of the Ancient Buddha’s of Bamiyan Afghanistan

By: Ms. Susan Anderson
Execative Secrtary of Washington
Buddhist vihara Society Inc.

After 1500 years of standing peacefully, the ancient Buddha statues of Bamiyan were destroyed through the order of Mullah Mohammed Omar, the reclusive leader of the Taliban. The Talibans are an isolated and extreme Muslim group who follow strict (their) interpretation of Islamic Law. The Talibans have described Buddha as idolatrous and insulting to Islam. The world famous statues were unique and one stood 125 feet high. They dated back to between the second and the fifth century A.D. before the coming of Islam, when Afghanistan was a center of Buddhist learning and pilgrimage. Many Muslim nations and leaders urged the Taliban not to destroy Afghanistan’s cultural treasures as it served no purpose under Islamic Law.

As Buddhists, if we closely examine the actions of the Taliban soldiers, we are again reminded of the four noble truths. 1. Life involves suffering 2. Suffering arises from craving 3. Suffering ceases with removal of craving 4. That there is a way to end suffering. The Thaliban Leaders became threatened by faces of statues and marked them for destruction. As Buddhist’s we can let this sad event remind us to replace hatred and revenge with the practice of kindness , tolerance and forgiveness.There is a story that long ago a monk dwelled in a cold , snowy and isolated region. He was steadfast in his meditation, and what remained with him was a wooden Buddha Statue, a symbol of enlightenment. Knowing the Buddha’s teaching he chopped up the statue and burnt it to obtain heat and thus was able to stay alive and continue his meditation. That same night he attained Nibbana.

Thus he paid the greatest respect to the Buddha. One may destroy the statues of the Buddha, but none can destroy the statue of the Buddha in the heart of a pious Buddhist.