Tag Archives: buddhism

Pakistaniat : The Crisis of Identity

Bradistan Calling

 

What can I give to Pakistan as a present on its 62nd Birthday, What else than an article on its chequered history and identity. Bertrand Russell famously said,” There are three great civilisations in East i.e. India, China and Islam”. Pakistan is blessed to be located at the crossroads of all these great civilisations. In my humble opinion this is the biggest strength of Pakistani identity. Continue reading

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800 years of Buddhism in Pakistan

Emi Foulk writing for The Friday Times

Buddhism took root in Pakistan some 2,300 years ago under the Mauryan king Asoka, whom Nehru once called “greater than any king or emperor.” A great proselytiser, Asoka sent missionaries as far away as the Mediterranean and Sri Lanka Ihave every reason to be knowledgeable about Buddhism; I am not. My father is a scholar of Buddhism. My mother is from Japan, a nation that is 80 per cent Buddhist. Generations of my maternal ancestors are buried in the Buddhist cemetery blanketing the steep slope that runs down from the stunning pagoda of Kyoto’s Kiyomizu temple. I spent childhood summers running through the halls of centuries-old temples, playing hide-and-go-seek behind medieval bodhisattvas and tasseled zazen cushions. Hell, I even had a dog named Mu – that is, the Buddhist ideal of emptiness, non-self, non-ego – and he was featured in a cover story on the Buddha nature of dogs in the Buddhist magazine Tri-cycle. (No matter that Mu is short for Mussafa, after the 16th century Ottoman general and grand vizier.)

Perhaps it was precisely because the quotidian nature Buddhism took on for me that I learned early on to block out anything smelling faintly of the religion – that, and the fact that my father liked nothing better than to infuse Buddhist principles into every “life lesson.” “Em,” he would say when I was distraught about a spat with a friend or criticism from a teacher, “the Bodhidharma taught that words signify nothing.” For a 13-year-old, these words, too, signify nothing. And now, despite my bachelor’s degree in religious studies, I know as little about the world’s fourth largest religion as I did a decade ago. Continue reading

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The end of Taxila

by Salman Rashid

With the defeat of the Huns in 528, Taxila attempted to make a comeback. But forsaken by its upper classes, Taxila perhaps became home to rustics from surrounding settlements and began its final journey into the long night

Beginning with the annexation of Taxila to the kingdom of Alexander, there began a three hundred year-long period of Taxilan Hellenisation — save of course the century-long hiatus of the Mauryan period. The successors of Alexander’s general Seleucus Nikator annexed Afghanistan and Taxila together with most of modern Pakistan.

A hundred and fifty years later, they were overthrown by the pale-skinned Scythians (Saka to the Indians). These horse-riding warriors so overwhelmed our part of the world that Sindh became Saka Dvipa — Island of the Sakas for the people of India and Indo-Scythia for the distant Greeks.

Taxila was now ruled by the Scythian king Maues. Within a few years of his death in 53 BCE, the land was overtaken by yet another wave of equestrian warriors. The Parthians had much in common with their distant kinsmen, the Sakas; only they were a good deal culturally less refined than the people they replaced. They had, nevertheless, the desire to appear as Greek as possible and therefore emulated Greek fine arts, even if in a somewhat cruder form.

By the year 19 CE, Taxila was firmly in the able hands of the Parthian king Gondophares in whose reign the Greek philosopher Apollonious visited the city to tell us so much about it. When Gondophares died in 50 CE, so too did the great age of Hellenisation of Taxila come to an end. No long after this great king’s death, Taxila was visited by the plague which wiped out a major part of its population and left the city reeling.

In that enfeebled state about the year 65, it was run over by the Kushans — another Central Asiatic race. Unlike the nearly bloodless takeover by the Parthians only fifty years earlier, this change was bloody: as the Kushans tore across the Yusufzai plain leaving death and destruction in their wake, and even as they came over the fords of the Sindhu River, Taxila was seized by a frenzy of terror. Continue reading

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