Monks upset over Dalai Lama not raising temple issue

Patna, May 28 (IANS) Buddhist monks in Bihar are disappointed that Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama did not raise the demand for Buddhist control over the management of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya during his visit here.

‘As usual, the Dalai Lama did not raise the core issue of Buddhist control over the management of the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya with (Bihar) Chief Minister Nitish Kumar. It shocked us,’ said Bhadant Anand, general secretary of the All India Monks Association.

The Dalai Lama had Thursday inaugurated the Buddha Smriti Park, a sprawling 22 acre park dedicated to Lord Buddha in the heart of the city, on the occasion of Buddha Purnima.

The inauguration was attended by delegations from four predominantly Buddhist countries – Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Japan and Thailand.

Other monks associated with the Mahabodhi temple, one of the holiest Buddhist shrines, were also upset with the Dalai Lama’s silence on the issue.

‘Dalai Lama once again proved that he was not keen for Buddhist control over the temple,’ said Bhadant Karuna Pal, a Buddhist monk in Bodh Gaya.

Buddhist monks have for long 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.

They 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.

They 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,’ Anand 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.