Buddhist body loses cool after power cut in Bodh Gaya

Sify News, March 10, 2011

Patna, India -- Buddhism's holiest town is facing a particularly un-Buddhist squable over money and power. The International Buddhist Council Thursday threatened to shut all its monasteries and institutions in Bodh Gaya in Gaya district if the electricity department did not withdraw its move of disconnecting power supply to eight monasteries.

The Bihar State Electricity Board disconnected power supply to three foreign Buddhist monasteries in Bodh Gaya Wednesday and five foreign Buddhist monasteries Tuesday citing unpaid bills totalling around Rs.65 lakh.

Kiryen Lama, a spokesperson for the Council, said they had decided to close all their 34 monasteries, temples and other institutions in Bodh Gaya from Friday.

He said that the electricity board had not given them any prior notice.

'In all our monasteries, foreign tourists and pilgrims are staying in the dark due to the power cut,' he said.

Council officials said they were being assessed as commercial organisations by the board even though the temples and monasteries are run on charity and donations.

'We are ready to pay if the board gives us a relaxation,' a monastery official said.

However, the electricity board maintains that the monasteries made money from the guest houses they ran for tourists and pilgrims.

A board official said a whopping Rs.65 lakh was yet to be paid by the Buddhist centres, including Tibetan Dharamshala, Taiwan Temple and Dijokiu Japanese Temple.

Bodh Gaya is Buddhism's holiest city, being the place where Gautama Buddha attained enlightenment over 2,550 years ago, and is visited by thousands of pilgrims and tourists every year from India and abroad.