ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Virulence of Faith

Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues is an example of a virulence of faith that can only express itself in barbaric practices which should have no place in any society ruled by social norms and aesthetic values of a civilised human mind.

The destruction of the Bamiyan Buddha statues under the irrevocable orders of Taliban chief Mullah Mohammed Omar, has evoked various explanations, ranging from the Sangh parivar’s usual tendency to blame it all on Islam on the one hand, to a more political attempt by some observers to see it as the Taliban’s act of vengeance against the UN sanctions on the other. However, whether the act was motivated by the Taliban’s perverse interpretation of Islam, or by its desire to use the Buddha statues as scapegoats to express its pique against the west, the vandalism reveals a vindictive tendency that is not confined to any single religion or a political party, or a particular era. Neither the Hindu fundamentalists in India, nor the western democracies (who have taken a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude towards the Taliban, but refused to lift their little fingers to save the statues) can wash off the stain of vandalism in the name of religion or politics that they had indulged in at one stage or another.

What the Taliban has done in Bamiyan has its precedents in the ancient history of Christianity, Hinduism and Islam, as well as in the modern history of political movements. This of course should not lead us to accept the Bamiyan destruction as something that invariably happens in the natural order of historical development. We have to denounce it as an example of a virulence of faith that can only express itself in barbaric practices which should have no place in a modern society that should be ruled by social norms and aesthetic values of a civilised human mind that had also evolved in the natural order of historical development. But ironically, the same civilised mind creates the viruses that destroy these norms and values.

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