Monday, July 30, 2012

Illegal digs threaten Pakistan’s Buddhist past

Independent Online
July 21 2012 at 02:21pm
Islamabad – When Taliban militants were expelled from Pakistan’s north-west Swat region, many people thought it would be good for the area’s ancient Buddhist heritage, which was under attack from the rebels.
But new threats have emerged to centuries-old sites from illegal excavations by amateur archaeologists and criminal gangs who compete to unearth relics worth millions of dollars abroad.
“This is our history because we were also Buddhist at that time. This is cultural heritage and the future of a nation is based on cultural legacy,” said Abdul Azeem, deputy director of Pakistan’s Archaeological Department in Islamabad.
Remnants of Buddhist art and culture can be found at dozens of sites in north-western Pakistan which, in marked contrast to its tolerant past, is in the clutches of radical Islamic fundamentalism.
The Taliban sought to wipe out traces of the Gandhara civilisation that existed 2,000 years ago when Buddhism flourished in the subcontinent.
Islamists are hostile the pre-Islamic heritage and want to erase it. In Afghanistan, they destroyed two giant Buddha carvings in 2001.
The act was repeated in Pakistan in 2007, when militants blew up the face of a 1,500-year-old rock carving of Buddha in the Jahanabad area of Swat, bringing condemnation at home and from abroad.
“The destruction of Buddha was a great loss to our heritage by Taliban, who also later sent suicide bombers to attack Swat Museum during the military operation of 2009,” Azeem said.
The attack forced the authorities to move the rare archaeological treasures from Swat to Islamabad. They were returned this year to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province to be put back in the museum.
The vandalism also hit the region’s once booming tourist industry. The 6-metre tall Buddha image was one of the main attractions for local and foreign visitors from China, South Korea and Thailand before the rebels took control of the area in 2007.
Apart from the systematic destruction of monuments, the Taliban also stopped digging at sites in Swat to keep the non-Islamic past buried.
An army offensive in 2009 cleared out militants, and steps were taken to rehabilitate the damaged sites and the Jahanabad carving is being restored by an Italian team of archaeologists. But nothing was done to check the illegal excavations that restarted.
“I think the illegal digging of the historical structures has increased after the fall of the Taliban. They banned it and strictly punished those involved in it,” said Nasir Khan, a senior official at Taxila Museum, one of the main repositories of Gandhara-period items.
Official apathy, corruption and the mountainous terrain make it easy for small, clandestine digs.
Azeem says post-Taliban local administrations do not share the militants’ hatred for the pre-Islamic historical sites.
“The elements of corruption cannot be ruled out but there is no official complicity in the illegal excavations,” he said. “Officials know that it is against law and they take action against people involved in it.”
It is believed that local residents and expert outside looters are involved in unauthorised excavations. Stolen artifacts are sold to various dealers who send them to the southern port of Karachi.
International dealers involved with smugglers then ship the rare relics to Europe or the United Arab Emirates.
Police in Karachi intercepted a truck on July 8, recovered more than 300 iterms and arrested two people.
Agents then raided a building in the city’s Korangi district and seized a quantity of small artifacts and two crates containing giant sculptures that each weighed more than 5 tons.
Qasim Ali Qasim, director of Sindh province’s archaeology department, said they belonged to the Gandhara era but their exact age would be determined after analysis.
“The recovered articles are truly priceless, but for the sake of an estimate we can say that their value is more than 10 million dollars,” he said.
Shabir said initial police investigation showed links with people living in Islamabad and nearby areas of lawless Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, where the majority of Gandhara-period sites, including the ruins of Swat, are located.
Improved security since the militants were driven out has increased the number of people coming to see the pine-clad valleys and snow-covered mountains of Swat.
The ouster of the Taliban may have saved the objects from religious vandalism, but it has also led to a rise in fortune seekers coming to find the rare objects.
“Now everyone can go there unchecked,” said Nasir Khan of Taxila Museum. – Sapa-dpa

Gandhara relics: Stolen or not, police and archaeologists can’t agree on one number

By Our Correspondent
Published in The Express Tribune, July 22nd, 2012.
KARACHI: The police and archaeology experts seem to be at loggerheads over the actual number of Gandhara relics seized earlier in the month.
Amid press reports that some artefacts have been stolen from the Awami Colony police station, both parties associated with the case are coming up with a different total for the statues.
While National Museum’s director Mohammad Shah Bokhari claims to have photographed and documented around 330 pieces earlier, the newly posted SHO at the police station, Hatim Marwat, says there are only 308 artefacts.
The police had seized a container full of Buddhist relics on July 6 and then found some more in a Korangi warehouse on July 8. As the police were investigating the case, archaeology experts, including officials from Sindh culture department and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s archaeology department, were called in to record the details of the seized relics.
Many of the Buddhist relics thought to be of the third century turned out to be fake, making it even more difficult for archaeologists to determine their exact origin. According to an antiquities officer, experts are yet to determine how many of the Buddhist relics are fake.
“We need resources such as forensic analysis to determine the authenticity of each of the relic,” he said. “Right now we don’t have that facility.”
Some of the ancient relics had even been damaged due to the careless handling by police officers and labourers during shifting. The artefacts were dumped in a compound of the Awami Colony police station. Reports in the press suggested that piece by piece, the relics were being stolen due to the casual security at the police station. There were reports that three statues have gone missing, but there has been no official confirmation.
Awami Colony SHO Marwat told The Express Tribune that all of the seized relics were documented by the Sindh culture department officials and have documentation numbers on them.
“It is untrue that artefacts have been stolen [from the police station],” he said. “To our knowledge, there are only 308 pieces. We don’t have information about the rest.”
However, National Museum’s Bokhari told The Express Tribune that photographic evidence and records were available of 330 artefacts. If some have gone missing, it is the responsibility of the police, he added.
“The police have their custody, and we can’t keep check all day and night to see where the idols are and how they are being handled,” Bokhari said. “If they have been stolen, the police are to be blamed [for it].”
The artefacts will remain at the police station until the next court hearing on July 24. It is expected that the court will handed them over to the culture department.
When asked why the Gandhara relics were dumped in the courtyard, the SHO replied: “The statues are not watermelons that need to be kept in a refrigerator. Look at their size and weight. Where else would we keep them?”
Police sources said that the former SHO was transferred as some statues had gone missing from the police station. But Marwat denied this, saying his predecessor’s posting was a routine matter.
sourse: Buddhist art News

Bedside proof of Flat-Line EEG Consciousness...

Dr. Pim van Lommel on the fact of a Consciousness Beyond Biological Brain Life...
Like the bottle contains the beer, but DOES NOT produce the beer...
Similarly: The brain contains consciousness, but the brain DOES NOT
the consciousness!

Rebirth from an Early Buddhist Perspective:

The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Scientific Rebirth Research:
BBC documentary on Near Death Experiences:
Near-Death Experiences on the Intensive Care Unit
Reincarnation research by Ian Stevenson Children's past life memories:
Scientific Evidence of Rebirth by Dr Jim Tucker:
The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 1
The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 2
Near-Death Website:
Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Revulsion Releases since Disillusion Frees!

Any kind of form whatsoever; Any kind of feeling whatsoever;
Any kind of perception whatsoever; Any kind of construction whatsoever;
Any kind of consciousness whatsoever; Whether past, present or future;
Whether internal or external; Whether fair or foul; Whether high or low;
Whether far or near; Should be seen & understood as it really is:
This is transient, impermanent, uncertain and ultimately unsafe!
This is therefore disappointing, frustrating, and inevitably painful!
This is thus 'Not Me', 'Not Mine', 'Not what I am', 'Not My Self'...
Seeing this, the Noble learner is disgusted by all kinds of forms, feelings,
, mental constructions and all types of consciousness.
Being disgusted he experiences disillusion, disenchantment, and dispassion.
By this very disillusion, is craving fully extinguished and his mind is released!
Such cooled and liberated one understands: This round of rebirth is ended,
Noble Life is completed, done is what should be done, there is no state
of becoming beyond this... 

More on the Mental Release induced by Disgust:

Source: The Grouped Sayings by the Buddha. Samyutta Nikāya II 124-5
Disillusion Frees!
Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Goodwill is Genuine, Authentic and Universal!

The Buddha on Goodwill:

As I am, so are others...
As others are, so am I...
Having thus identified self and others,
Never Harm anyone, nor have any abused.
Sutta Nipata 3.710

Quite pro roller-skate retrofit IMHO :-) Born legless and adopted by smart family.

Among tigers, lions, leopards and bears I lived in the jungle.
No one was frightened of me, nor did I fear anyone.
Uplifted by such universal friendliness, I enjoyed the forest.
Finding great solace in such sweetly silenced solitude…
Suvanna-sama Jataka 540

I am a friend of the footless,
I am a friend of all bipeds;
I am a friend of those with four feet,
I am a friend of the many-footed...
Therefore none of them ever harm me!
Anguttara Nikaya 4.67

May all creatures, all breathing things,
all beings one and all, without exception,
experience good fortune only.
May they not fall into any harm.
Anguttara Nikaya II, 72

With good will for the entire cosmos,
cultivate a limitless heart and mind:
Beaming above, below, and all around,
unobstructed, without trace of hostility.
Sutta Nipata I, 8

Train yourself in doing only good
that lasts and brings great happiness.
Cultivate generosity, a peaceful living,
a mentality of infinite friendliness.
Ittivuttuka 16

Solitude is happiness for one who is content,
has heard the Dhamma and clearly sees.
Non-violence is happiness in this world:
Harmlessness towards all living beings.
Udana 10

Consort only with the good,
come together with the good.
To learn the teaching of the good
gives wisdom like nothing else can.
Samyutta Nikaya 1.31

Goodwill is Genuine :-)
Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

The Seven Qualities of an Arahat:

For any fully awakened Arahat:
1: The impermanence of all constructions is perfectly seen and comprehended. 
2: The addiction and torture of all sense-desires is perfectly perceived & known..
3: His mind is only inclined towards solitude, seclusion, silent ease, and Peace...
4: The Four Foundations of Awareness are continually & perfectly established...
5: The Five Mental Abilities & Powers are thoroughly developed & consummated...
6: The Seven Links to Awakening are utterly refined and fully accomplished...
7: The Noble Eightfold Way is perfectly realized, acquired and all concluded...
By these 7 criteria, he clearly and invariably recognizes, that for him, has the
mental fermentations associated with Sense-Desire, joined with Becoming,
and grounded in Ignorance been completely and irreversibly eliminated!
Cut of at the root and like a palm tree stump never ever to grow again...
The mission is completed. Done is what was to be done. No more of this...

More on what those gone to the end, have perfected:

The 7 Arahat Qualities!
Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

Near-Death Experiences on the Intensive Care Unit:

What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us About Consciousness

Rebirth from an Early Buddhist Perspective:

The Truth of Rebirth And Why it Matters for Buddhist Practice by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

Scientific Rebirth Research:
BBC documentary on Near Death Experiences:
Reincarnation research by Ian Stevenson Children's past life memories:
Scientific Evidence of Rebirth by Dr Jim Tucker:
The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 1
The Cardiologist on the Near-Death Experience 2
Near-Death Website:

Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]

The Ultimate Goal is complete Extinguishing of Craving:

By the gradual stilling, giving up, fading away, letting go, relinquishing
and thus ceasing of all greed, desire, lust, craving, clinging, attachment,
adherence, obsession, and latent tendency towards the various elements
of forms, feelings, perceptions, constructions & kinds of consciousness,
the mind is finally said to be
well released...!!!
Therefore; those recluses & priests, who are well released by Extinction
of Craving, have reached the Ultimate End & won Absolute Security from
Bondage, they have achieved a Sublime Nobility, they have accomplished
the Supreme Good! They are therefore Best among all Gods & all Humans!!!
Even these mighty Devas as Indra, Brahmā and Pajapati praise them with
long standing ovations from afar:
Homage to you, Thoroughbred Man!
Admirable are you, Supreme Man!
We do not know on what you Meditate!
The Grouped Sayings by the Buddha. Samyutta Nikāya 22(4+79): [III 13+-91]
The Ultimate Goal!
Have a nice & noble day!
Friendship is the Greatest!
Bhikkhu Samāhita _/\_ ]