11 Oct 2007

7th Century Buddha Vandalized by Islamists


The damaged Swat valley Buddha is thought to date from the seventh century AD

The Telegraph reports:

Islamist radicals in Pakistan have attempted to destroy an ancient carving of Buddha by drilling holes in the rock and filling them with dynamite.

The 23ft high image was damaged during the attack, which brought back memories of the Taliban’s destruction six years ago of the giant Buddhas at Bamiyan, in neighbouring Afghanistan.

The Buddha, in the Swat district of north-west Pakistan, is thought to date from the seventh century AD and was considered the largest in Asia, after the two Bamiyan Buddhas.

The explosion on Monday night damaged the upper part of the rock.

Pakistani troops have stepped up recent operations against militants in the fertile Swat valley, where thousands of locals are in thrall to Mullah Fazlullah, a rabble-rousing cleric who has called for suicide attacks and holy war. Fazlullah’s men have continued to wage an offensive against what they deem ‘un-Islamic’ activity, last week blowing up dozens of music, video and cosmetics stalls at a market.

4 Feedbacks on "7th Century Buddha Vandalized by Islamists"

Dominique R. Poirier

This picture illustrating your post is likely to strike any French because it will inescapably reminds them of those stone sculpted Saints with their broken heads traditionally adorning semi-circular (Roman style) and Gothic arches above countless French chapels, churches, and cathedrals. Many foreigners and tourists don’t fail to wonder why.

Actually, the historic origin of those thus broken heads owes nothing to certain ancient Celtic religious practices, but they back instead to the year 1789 during which French revolutionaries, who called themselves “New Citizens,” escaladed all Christians edifices in order to brake all Saint’s heads with sledgehammers. Such acts were symbolically inspired by the common beheading of all members of the noblesse with the infamous guillotine. Religious tombs and shrines were profaned also.

The reason of this systematic “decapitation” of all statues of Saints was that the Catholic Church and religion in general were considered by the French revolutionaries as the accomplices of the ruling Ancien Régime (the monarchy). The French Revolution of 1789 marked the birth of an ever rising atheism in France since then.

Today, few French religious edifices have their sculptures of Saints intact.

Was this Afghan Taliban practice you describe inspired at some point by this of the “New Citizens” of 1789? This I don’t know. But it is noteworthy that Mao’s revolutionaries did the same against Chinese Buddha’s statues. The practice unmistakably reflects the expression of blind violence and stupidity in all cases.


some would argue it is a worship of violence,

give this article a look, for a further read
on the glories of the “New Men”.

The Root of the
of the Modern Age

by Eugene (Fr. Seraphim) Rose



Dominique R. Poirier

Thank you for this interesting, and enlightening in some instances, reading you recommended to me. However, I can hardly conceal my perplexity when one chooses Saint Augustine while attempting to challenge liberalism and other left inspired “values” that often go in a par with atheism and which, in fact, systematically failed to successfully bring or even preserve individual freedom and happiness; last other values I unabashedly stand by.

For, and at the risk to hurt the sensitivity of some ones, I do not find differences significant enough between the Rules of Augustine and the ultimate outcome of atheist liberalist or leftist policies.
For the record, these three rules are:

1) The Disciplina Monasterii, which consists of a terse document of about 350 words, giving to a religious community of men prescriptions for choral prayer, reading and manual labor, observance of monastic poverty, obedience and silence, conduct outside the monastery and maintenance of discipline.

2) The Regula ad servos Dei, containing the fundamental norms of monastic community life with emphasis on charity as the foundation of perfection.

3) Is in fact the female version of the second rule, which in many manuscripts and printed editions is combined with Augustine’s Letter 211 addressed to nuns.

Once belief in God and in the Holly Scriptures are puts aside for a while for the sake of quick comparison, the three aforesaid present striking similarities with life and rules prevailing in communist and authoritarian societies.

The same remark applies to the Augustinian Canons, a religious order in the Roman Catholic Church, which rose in close connection with the great reform movement known as the Gregorian Reform. Its main characteristic was the union of clerical status and a full common life. Though the ideal of clerical community life, as it had been understood by its first ardent promoters, Eusebius of Vrcelli (d. 350 or 371) and Augustine of Hippo (354-430, for the record), had partially and sporadically been revived by latter ecclesiastical lawgivers, it came to full fruition only during the 11th and 12th centuries.
The moral impulse emanating from the Roman synods of 1059 and 1063 and the Gregorian Reform led the canons of many cathedrals and collegiate chapters to give up private ownership and to live together according to monastic ideals.

At that point we are very close to the Utopia of Thomas More which has been, if ever we disagree about our perception of the Republic of Plato, the earliest planned form of communism.

Well, one may retort that I’m wrong at some point since anyone may argue on the basis of Matthew 19:21 which says:

“Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

But I maintain that the step to do between Matthew and the Rules of Augustine is still a big one!

Theologian specialists and historian say that there is no sufficient reason for doubting that Augustine was a Catholic Christian in intention when he received baptism at the hands of Ambrose in the spring of 387. What is certain is that when three or four years later he wrote his treatise De vera religione (On the True Religion) he was still thinking of Christianity in Neoplatonic terms.

While taking a look at the life of Augustine we may notice that he has been repeatedly forced to submit, against his own will, to the authority of the Church. This particularity is likely to have exerted significant influence, not to say trauma, on a psychological plane, upon Augustine’s mind and thought.
Remarkably enough, this authority has been the very cause of the death of Monica, his mother, who accompanied him in Africa. Also, this ordeal to which he submitted made that he never enjoyed robust health and the vast extent of his literary output was made possible only by the constant services of stenographers.

I am convinced that similar troubles cannot but happen to the followers of Augustine for reasons that seem obvious to me since good physical health is highly dependant of mental and spiritual well being.

Also, I would like to add that, sadly enough, in the new Russia of Vladimir Putin, prominent local spooks are making at this time a profitable use of similar forms of Augustinian inspired authority and life in order to exert a feudal-like form of power upon the whole population.

Well, all this confirms, once more the validity of Max Weber’s observations and that’s also why I believe that the Protestant ethic doesn’t challenge at all respect and love toward God and observance of the Holy Scriptures. The United States of America, as the gifted child of way of respecting God and the Bible, is a striking and indisputable proof that individualism and the pursuit of happiness are not sins.

Annuit coeptis!

Now, and as a conclusion to the matter at hand I still consider as barbarism, nonetheless, any act of destruction perpetrated against early features or symbols of worship of other religious expression; at least on the ground of their artistic and historic interest, if not to defend their sets of beliefs and values.


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