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AFGHANISTAN'S Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan

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Author Topic: AFGHANISTAN'S Giant Buddhas of Bamiyan  (Read 3269 times)
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« on: November 09, 2008, 09:01:24 am »


The valley of Bamiyan runs east to west for some 30 miles, flanked to the north and south by the 15,000-ft
peaks of the Hindu Kush and Koh-i-Baba ranges.

It made a natural corridor for migration and trade, and still affords a relatively easy passage between Kabul
and Turkestan.

Buddhist monks probably settled there early in Kushan times, and Bamiyan quickly grew into a major monastic center, repeatedly mentioned in Chinese texts from the fifth century C.E. onward.

The pilgrim Fa Hsien passed through in about 400 C.E., and witnessed a ceremonial conclave of a thousand monks
in the presence of the king, whose largesse is duly noted ( Fa Hsien also makes a
point of the sacred relics kept in Bamiyan: a tooth of the Buddha, and his spittoon; cited in Dupree, 1967).

The celebrated traveller Xuanzang visited in 632 C.E., and described that same solemn assembly.
He was impressed by the monk's devotion, and mentions the giant standing Buddhas.

A century later a monk from Korea, Huichao (727 C.E. ) describes Bamiyan as an independent Buddhist state, perhaps under Sassanian suzerainty. An indigenous dynasty that adhered to Buddhism as best it could survived
in these mountains until 970 C.E., when the rulers of Ghazni (in southern Afghanistan) imposed Islam on all their domain.

Muslim kings then ruled for another two centuries, their reach at times extending to the Oxus river. Their residence was the large city on the plateau facing the two Buddhas, whose ruins are now known as Shahr-i-Gholghola ( variously translated as the City of Silence, or of Screams). Bamiyan was protected by watchtowers and by two massive outlying fortresses, but when the day of reckoning
came nothing could deflect the storm.

 In Bamiyan, as elsewhere in Central Asia, apocalypse came at the hands of Ghengis Khan in 1221 C.E.

Ghengis sent a small army to seize the valley, commanded by his favorite grandson. When the boy was killed by
a bowshot from the fortress of Shahr-i-Zohak ( the Red City), the Khan vowed implacable revenge: no human or animal would be allowed to live. As always in these matters, Ghengis Khan was true to his word.

Neither the city of Bamiyan nor its outliers were ever rebuilt; their ruins stand today as mute testimony to the human capacity for savagery.
« Last Edit: November 09, 2008, 09:52:31 am by Bianca » Report Spam   Logged

Your mind understands what you have been taught; your heart what is true.

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