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The Buddhas of Bamiyan Essay

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History of Buddhism

It started 6th century ago. The history of Buddhism began with the birth of Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. It is one of the oldest religions in practice today; the founding continents include the people of India, the religion later spread fast to the region of Central Asia, Southeast Asia and East Asia. The history is associated with numerous “movements and schisms, foremost among these were Theravada, Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions, with contrasting periods of expansion and retreat.”

The founder who is called buddha, was born to the clan of Shakya in Magadha period (i.

e. 546-324 BCE), this was in the plain ground of Lumbini belonging to the ancient India. No wonder he was named literarily as “The sage of the Shakya clan”. Siddhartha Gautama’s lived a life of luxury under his father’s protection. After his father’s death, he later got opened into the real nature of life’s ups and downs and submitted that life was full of “suffering and sorrow”.

He thereby renounced the luxurious life as meaningless, he became an ascetic. He was convinced that asceticism could not after all, put him in sorrow.

He chose instead, a balance way of life, a life to be spent in moderation, as oppose to the two extremes of “self-indulgence and self-mortification”. One day, he insisted stay under a fig tress – Bodhi Tree till he attained the age where he would discover the truth about life. He got this at age 35 and was thereafter referred to as “The Buddha” –meaning the enlightened or awakened one”. He spent the remaining forty five years of his life teaching the sacrosanct doctrine. He failed to leave a successor. This led to many schools of thought evolving four hundred years later. Some of which were; the school of Nikaya Buddhism, the Mahayana, Mahasanghikas and Vajrayana. The last two were based on the acceptance of new scriptures and the revise of outdated techniques.

The Reason for the contruction

The Mahasanghikas eventually splited into five sub-groups. The main standing subgroup in the old Afghanistan was The Lokottaravada. The lokottaravada got itself established in the Bamiyan Valley close to the mountains of Hindu Kush. In the fourth and fifth century. The followers of this school sought for a way to monument their religion. This led to the built of the “world’s largest standing Buddha statue, in keeping with their assertion of Buddha as a transcendent, superhuman figure.”

The Buddha of Bamyan / Statue Description

“The Buddha represents the perfect wisdom that sees reality in its true form.”

Buddha of bamyan was plaque of remembrance erected long ago in the sixth century within an elevation in the valley of Bamyan. Bamyan is located in the central place of Afghanistan. By and large, it is within 250 kilometer northwest of Kabul at a geographical height of over 2,500 m. The raw materials were characterized of the olden day’s tool. The Bamyan lie along the caravan pathway which connects the markets of china to the western Asia.

The two standing Buddhas measure fifty-five and thirty-seven metres each above the sea level, the largest of such carving Buddha in the world as at today. The larger of the two buddhas was built in 554AD while the smaller recorded an existence of 507AD. Their constructions were credited to Kushans and Indo, the Hephthalites from the eastern Indo-Europe. The Indo-European worlds were the ancestors of Hazaras, the Hazaras people happen to be one of the ethnic groups in Afghanistan who were faced with challenges of persecution. The persecution is caused amidst a hunger to claim the cultural heritage of the Buddha by the surrounding ethnic groups in Afghanistan. Their claims have been a foul cry!

Economic and Cultural Significances

It was a major site for the teaming populace who were loyal to the doctrine of Buddhism and Hindu worshipers. It was equally a thriving point for religious activities, also as a reference point for the philosopher and the Indo-Greek of art. It served a site for Buddhism as a religion. The Buddha, the most popular cultural and archaeological remains ever know was labeled as World heritage Site by UNESCO. The statues wear Hellenic tunics, reflecting the silent echo of Alexander the Great’s support to the Asian continent.

The Buddha serves many tourist exhibits to the world. Chinese pilgrim visited it around 630AD and left a wonderful comment. “The Buddha of Bamyan with more than monasteries and more than thousands monks is a flourishing Buddhist center, well decorated with expensive jewels and valuable gold”. ( Wriggin, 1995). They suspected a third larger Buddha generally believed to have been destroyed, although archaeologist are watching out for it.

History of Attack/Destruction

The Buddha first received a destruction attempt when Afghanistan was conquered by Mahmud, the Ghaznite. Although monasteries and some artifacts were destroyed, the entire Buddha was spared. In 1999, a decree was given in respect of the need to preserve Bamyan Buddhas because there was an extinct of Afghanistan Buddhist population. The government of the region led by Mullah Mohammed Omar saw it as contributing major share to their economy.

They resolved that it shall be protected. Subsequently there arose an Islamic law and tenets. This leads to a move to destroy any “un-islamic” aspect of Afghan society. The moves gained support from across the Islamic region constituting about four hundred religious clerics under the administration of Minister for Culture and Information- Qadratullah Jamal. They eventually came out with a consensus that the statue of Buddha was against the Islam. Fifty four Ambassadors of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (including Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates) protested against the demolition but lost the battle.

The minister of religious affairs of Taliban ascertained that the planned demolition would have been in accordance with the Islamic tenets. Several weeks after attempt at aircraft guns and artillery destruction, they resolved to blow it up with dynamite. Thereafter, Mullh mohammed submited… “Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them.” (The Times, March 6, 2001).s The Buddha of Bamiyan was destroyed seven years ago by the people of Taliban. The reconstruction was pledged by both Japan and Switzerland among other interested participants.


Gall, Carlotta. “From Ruins of Afghan Buddha’s, a History Grows”, The New York Times, 2006-12-06.

Mohammadi, Ishaq (1999). A Profile On Bamyan Civilization. www.hazara.net. Retrieved on 2008-01-06.


Destruction of Giant Buddha’s Confirmed”, AFP, 2001-03-12. Retrieved on 2008-01-06.

Vawda, Moulana Imraan. The Destruction of Statues Displayed in an Islamic State. Ask-Imam.com. Retrieved on 2008-04-28.


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