Save Bodh Gaya Temple from the "Hindu Mahants".
by Russell Webb, Hants, UK, The Buddhist Channel, Nov 9, 2006
A 40-minute DVD has recently been issued under the title, 'Rediscovery of Buddhism in India: Contribution of Sinhala Buddhists'. The factual commentary is interspersed with brief interviews with various interested parties.
However, one interviewee's comments should set the alarm bells ringing for Buddhists: The present mahant of the Bodh Gaya Temple, Sudarshan Giri, is quoted as refuting exclusive use of the premises by Buddhists, saying that 'by accepting Hinduism and Buddhism as separate religions, animosity will develop amongst people. Feuds are suspected. Like in Ayodhya, so much controversy took place for Ram Temple'.
The mahant is echoing the archaic view of mainstream Hinduism by claiming that Buddhism is really only an offshoot and should not be recognised differently.
Such an attitude has already been legislated for in Gujarat and Madhyapradesh, despite which it is heartening to read about the continually intimidated and deprived Dalit community (one that is always forgotten about by Western liberals who only complain about racial, not social or religious, discrimination) which is embracing Buddhism in large numbers.
The Bodh Gaya Temple Management should be urged to sack this reactionary cleric to allow for an overdue enlightened policy to prevail.
Russell Webb was Secretary of the British Mahabodhi Society from 1966-85.