Buddhist monks end hunger strike for control over temple

IANS, Jan 14, 2010

Bodh Gaya, India -- A group of Buddhist monks Thursday ended their hunger strike for control over Bodh Gaya’s 1,500-year-old Mahabodhi temple.

“We have ended the hunger strike as the district administration forced us, but we will continue to raise the demand for Buddhist control over the Bodh Gaya temple,” one of the monks Bhante Gayanratan said.

The monks began their fast Jan 1 near the office of the temple management committee at Bodh Gaya, where the Buddha attained enlightenment 2,550 years ago.

Another monk Bhante Budh Saran said they would not sit silent. “We will launch another non-violent protest against injustice to the Buddhists,” he said.

He said even the National Minority Commission was in favour of Buddhist control over the temple but the state government was delaying the matter due to vested interests.

National Commission for Minorities members H.S. Hanspal and Spaljes Angmano, who visited Bodh Gaya, some 110 km from here, early this month, made it clear that it was against the Constitution to deny Buddhist control over the temple, he added.

The monks have been demanding amendmemnt to the Mahabodhi Temple Management Act, 1949, under which the Bodh Gaya Temple Management Committee (BGTMC) has four Buddhist and an equal number of Hindu members for a three-year period, with the Gaya district magistrate as its ex-officio chairman.