Buddhist monks want control of Bodh Gaya temple

Sify News, Nov 30, 2009

Bodh gaya, India -- Buddhist monks want control over the management of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya, one of Buddhism's holiest shrines. They have decided to intensify their agitation as the Bihar government is not paying heed to their demands.

For a long time Buddhist monks have been demanding total control over the 1,500-year-old temple at Bodh Gaya, located 110 km from here, where the Buddha attained enlightenment 2,550 years ago.

Buddhist monks are unhappy with the Bihar government for 'deliberately' delaying an amendment to the Mahabodhi Temple Management Act, 1949, to ensure Buddhist control over the management of the temple.

'It is clear the Bihar government does not want to favour the Buddhists' genuine demand for total control over the Mahabodhi temple. We will have to fight for it by mobilizing support for it,' Bhadant Anand, president of the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Vihar All-India Action Committee, said.

The committee has decided to spread its network across India to intensify the agitation for total control over the Mahabodhi temple, Anand told IANS over telephone Friday.

'We will launch a membership drive to induct new people in our fold and will open offices of the committee at different places in the country to mobilize support for our agitation,' Anand said.

Buddhist monks like Anand say the delay is a 'conspiracy' by the government to keep the management under the control of non-Buddhists. 'We fail to understand why non-Buddhists have control over the holiest shrine of Buddhists. We have decided to take up the issue by lobbying support to demand Buddhist control over the management,' he said.

'If the management of temples, churches, mosques and gurdwaras are not under the control of other sects, then why so in the case of the Mahabodhi temple? Buddhists have been given little role in managing the affairs of the temple since 1949,' Anand said.

According to the existing law, the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BGTMC) should comprise four Buddhists and the same number of Hindu members for a three-year period with the Gaya district magistrate as its ex-officio chairman.