June 11, 2007

Clouds over Buddhist Pilgrimage Sites

According to NewsPost India, Nepali Maoist are supposed to be enforcing an "indefinite shutdown" of Kapilavastu, the city where the Buddha's father, King Suddhodana, reigned. (That would be "indefinite" in terms of length of time, presumably.) I'm not sure if this includes Lumbini or other Buddhist sites in Nepal, or if there is a Kapilavastu town that is identical with the archaeological site. I don't suppose a ruin would be much worth occupying under normal circumstances, unless it had extraordinary political significance. This article mentions that you can still see "ramparts" of Suddhodana's palace which, to put it politely, strains one's credulity. (I haven't see the word "credulous" in print lately. Are there no credulous men left anymore?)

Meanwhile, across the border in Bodh Gaya, NGO's are employing child-slave labor, and worse. However, this article, from IBN Live, speaks with suspicion of foreigners trying to convert local children, and says that supposed shelters for children are actually havens for pedophiles. Well, it may be true but it all sounds a little fishy and political, maybe part of the Hindu nationalist reaction to the conversion of dalits? This is not to minimize the travails of children performing grueling labor, and children's lives generally being worth little in India, which is a real and terrible problem, but this article and accompanying video clip seem to raise more questions than answers, and to do so very casually. . . . More questions than answers in a bad way, not in a good way like the final Sopranos episode.

- Philip Ryan, Webmaster

UPDATE: Ok, the indefinite shutdown has ended. But being so indefinite, watch out! It may start again soon. We're making progress today. On to Bodh Gaya. Also, does meditation help prevent memory loss?

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