Taleban flag of Mohammad Omara

An astonishment a day- 
drives your depression away...

The Buddha from Bamiyan and Puszczykowo, Poland.

It all started one thousand and seven hundred years ago. The mighty King Kanishka (he was in power from the year 78, for a period of over 20 years) who ruled the entire northern part of the Indian subcontinent was very concerned with knowledge and art. In his capital, Purashapura (currently Peshawar in Pakistan) followers of Christianity, Hellenism, Zoroastrism, Hinduism and Buddhism all lived together, however the king was a supported of Buddhism and a keen follower of Siddartha Gautamy, also known as the Enlightened Buddha. For this reason, work was started on a monumental statue of Buddha on the slopes of Bamiyan, at the foot on Hindukush. The work was finished two hundred years later, and Bamiyan became a Buddhists center. Also located here, carved into the rock was a huge labyrinth of cells as well as large ritual areas. Thousands of Buddhist monks visited the area. 

And so it was, with various ups and downs, for many hundreds of years, until Afghanistan was taken over, due to peculiar happenings in world politics, by the intolerant Muslim Taleban. The Taleban believed that the existence of any monuments connected to other religions on the area occupied by them was basically a slap in the face for any believing Muslim. They therefore decided to deal to the matter once and for all - destroy all of the monuments of Buddha, among which was the largest Buddha statue in the whole world, carved out of the rock at Bamiyan. It was a huge statue that measured 53 meters (whereas the others were only a mere 36 meters). The command to destroy the statue came from Mohammed Omara, the leader of the Taleban. Despite protests from around the world, some of which were also from Muslims, despite the personal intervention of Kofi Annana, explosives were placed under the statue and it was blown up on the 8th March 2001. 

Here you may see the 'operation Buddha' as documented during the explosion

and after a while ...

Although the power of the Muslims in Afghanistan has come to an end, the damage has been done. Various countries have come up with initiatives to recreate the statue, however at the moment the situation is complicated. It is not known who is in power where, who has enough money, or whether restoration attempts can be started in Bamiyandue to the unsure situation in the region. 

Therefore we must pay tribute to the beautiful idea of recreating the statue (at the scale of 1:9) in Poland. The replica is to be constructed in The Tolerance Gardens of Arkady Fiedler, in Puszczykowo near Poznan. (Fiedler is the author of many beautiful, well known to all biologists, travel books.) 

The loss of the Buddha in Bamiyanis a tragic reminder of the truth that those who destroy religious symbols, works of art, sacred buildings and the like, sooner of later progresses to the destruction of people. History, even recent history, has many examples of this. Keeping in mind the shrinking of the world, surely this must lead to the organization of some type of protection of art and historical buildings - and in turn the prevention of the destruction of human life. Of course a lot of noise will be made about violation of freedom, as absolute freedom is often demanded by the fiercest enemies of freedom. 

If any government, even the most democratically elected, decided to blow up the pyramids, the cathedrals in Cologne, the camps in Auschwitz, or the Kremlin, I would be in full support of military intervention, even under the guidance of Bush, assuming that the UN is as weak as it is as present.




(C) (selected from publications of 
 R. Antoszewski

Titirangi, Auckland, 
New Zeland

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February  2003