Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Buddhism is 5000 years old!

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On or about 5 June 2017, a tweet appeared with an image of Pattan Minara near Rahim Yar Khan. The tweeter, one fool named Shiraz Hassan, wrote that it was a Buddhist temple and that it was believed to be five thousand years old! And this man claims to be a BBC correspondent! So, if this is BBC, I refuse to ever watch their television, listen to their radio or read their web pages.

Below is the lowdown on Pattan Minara. But first of all on Buddhism.

The great Buddha lived in the 6th century BCE, that is, just two thousand five hundred years ago. Buddhism dates from that time. One would have to be an utter idiot completely ignorant of an historical timeline to believe that Buddhism dates back to the 6th millennium.

This brings to mind one item from about twenty-five years ago. At the end of a season of work at Harappa, archaeologist Mark Kenoyer did a lecture at the Lahore Museum. Among other things, he pointed out the halo-like disc behind the head of a presumably holy figure and likened it to the ones we see on stone depictions of Buddha. The report in The News the following morning detailed the discussion and ended it by telling its readers that the people of Harappa were Buddhists!

In a word, the average journalist is a freaking Moron in the upper case. Even if that journalist works for BBC.

Now, Pattan Minara. The ruinous brick building with a doorway facing west stands about twenty-five metres tall and has some beautiful ornamental features that we find in stupas from Taxila and from the Hindu Shahya temples of the Salt Range. Of very fine workmanship and ornamentation, the ground floor is clearly a Hindu temple built sometime in the 11th century.

I have elsewhere discussed the architectural embellishments one finds on the temple and will therefore not go into them here. Suffice it to say that in its complete form, this temple would have been a beauty to behold.

The poorly constructed upper floor was added at a later date. On three sides it has two lookout windows each. On the fourth, the west side, it has a larger opening which was once fronted by a cantilevered balcony. It appears that the upper floor was a sort of lookout accessible by a wooden ladder placed along the exterior.

The name Pattan Minara tells a tale. Pattan in Punjabi is a ford on a waterway. It therefore seems that this temple stood by the Indus when it flowed here about a millennium ago. Indeed, until a decade ago you could clearly discern the old abandoned bed of the mighty river. That is, Pattan Minara is simply Tower on the Ford.

Anyone should know that such a construction, especially the shoddy upper floor, cannot last five thousand years. In fact, it cannot last more than a few centuries. Anyone with any sense at all also knows that a twenty-five metre tall building, no matter how well constructed, cannot exist as a standalone structure after five thousand years. If such a miracle were possible, we would have countless buildings from Harappa and Moen jo Daro as our finest markers to that remarkable age of Indus Valley glory.

Anyone who claims to be a journalist, and from BBC at that, should at least be better read. Alas, our standards have fallen. They have fallen way beyond the greatest depths. We now have fools everywhere. From politicians to the establishment to the babucrats to jornos, we have a plethora of fools.

These are the fools who also host so-called travel shows on all Pakistani television channels these days. They take you to, say, Taxila and mouth inanities like, ‘We’ve reached Taxila, let’s ask the chowkidar about the history of this place.’

For crying out loud! These idiots should know that if the chowkidar could impart Taxilian history he would not be a chowkidar. He would be the curator of Taxila Museum. But when you have never read anything in your life and being on third rate television makes your head so full of yourself, there is no room to get any sense in it.

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 9:58 AM,

1 Comments:

At June 11, 2017 at 11:24 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The known stupidity of BBC about Patan Minara notwithstanding, it may surprise some of us to find out that many of the Buddhist scholars identify some of the archaeological evidence found at Indus Valley Civilisation sites also of particular religious significance to Buddhism. This includes the symbols like the Bodhi tree (Pipal Tree) and animals such as the elephant and deer. Perhaps most important being the discovery of several images of figures sitting in cross-legged postures with their hands resting on their knees, with their eyes narrowed, half-closed, in postures of meditation as practiced by Buddha.

Interestingly, the Buddhist scholars also state that The Buddha Himself indicated the Indus Valley origins of His tradition when He said that the path which He taught was an ancient path and the goal to which He pointed to was an ancient goal. The Buddhists belief in six Buddhas prior to the Buddha Shakyamuni within this aeon, they state is indicative of this fact. The Buddhist scholars state that all these point to a continuity between the tradition of the Indus Valley Civilization and the teachings of the Buddha.

 

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days