Page 1 of 7

When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 9:30 pm
by Grigoris
https://tricycle.org/magazine/monks-met ... g6NyKA_ng0
In the popular imagination, Buddhism is synonymous with introspective peace, Islam with violent blind faith. But both conceptions are nothing more than Western fantasy. Revisiting the centuries of Buddhist-Muslim cooperative interaction forces us to rethink our stereotypes.

By Johan Elverskog

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:15 pm
by Queequeg
One thing to fill out the historical record and try to correct popular misconceptions. Its another to obfuscate facts in the name of correcting the record.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:04 am
by Kim O'Hara
Queequeg wrote:
Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:15 pm
One thing to fill out the historical record and try to correct popular misconceptions. Its another to obfuscate facts in the name of correcting the record.
That's true, but I can't see how you mean it to apply to the OP. Are you saying the Tricycle article is obfuscating facts in the name of correcting the record? If so, what and how?

:namaste:
Kim

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:02 pm
by Queequeg
His presentation is... severely unbalanced.
The Buddhist monastery of Nalanda was founded in northeast India in the early 5th century. Over time it became the premier institution of higher learning in Asia and, much like leading universities today, had a world-renowned faculty working on the cutting edge of the theoretical sciences and a student body drawn from across the Buddhist world. This prestige also brought with it ample gifts from the rich and powerful. At its height Nalanda had an extensive faculty teaching a diverse student body of about 3,000 on a beautiful campus composed of numerous cloisters with lofty spires that “resembled the snowy peaks of Mount Sumeru.” Then, suddenly, the serenity of this Buddhist institution was shattered. In the fall of 1202, Muslim soldiers on horses rode in and hacked down teachers and students where they stood. The once majestic buildings were left in ruins: the savagery was so great it signaled the end of Buddhism in India.

This powerful story has been told countless times. Today it is ubiquitous, appearing in everything from scholarly mono- graphs to travel brochures. Indeed, by its sheer pervasiveness, this one episode has in many ways come to encapsulate and symbolize the entire 1,300-year history of Buddhist-Muslim interaction. As a result, anytime the topic of Buddhism and Islam is mentioned it almost invariably revolves around the Muslim destruction of the dharma.

This is problematic for many reasons, not the least being that the story of Nalanda is not true. For example, not only did local Buddhist rulers make deals with the new Muslim overlords and thus stay in power, but Nalanda itself carried on as a functioning institution of Buddhist education for another century. We also know that Chinese monks continued to travel to India and obtain Buddhist texts in the late 14th century. In fact, contrary to the standard idea promoted by the story that Nalanda’s destruction signaled the death of Buddhism, the historical evidence makes clear that the dharma survived in India until at least the 17th century. In other words, Buddhists and Muslims lived together on the Asian subcontinent for almost a thousand years.
Emphasis added

The fact is - Muslim invaders did sack Nalanda and slaughter the resident monks en masse. This simply is true. The fact that Nalanda limped along as an institution for another century, a shadow of what it once was does not alter this fact. If I shoot someone in the head and they hang on and live for a year in a severely diminished state until the finally waste away and die, I'm still responsible for that death. Its also true that Buddhism was in decline for a host of reasons by the time of the Muslim invasions. But that does not alter the fact that the blow the invaders dealt to Buddhism in India was severe. Neither does the fact that Buddhism endured for a few more centuries in pockets across the subcontinent minimize the blow Buddhism received.

Its incorrect to think that the Buddhist world in India was some utopia, but this narrative Prof. Elverskog spins goes too far.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:16 pm
by Grigoris
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:02 pm
...but this narrative Prof. Elverskog spins goes too far.
According to...?

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:44 pm
by Queequeg
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:16 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:02 pm
...but this narrative Prof. Elverskog spins goes too far.
According to...?
:thinking:

I think I wrote that.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:07 pm
by Grigoris
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:44 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:16 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 1:02 pm
...but this narrative Prof. Elverskog spins goes too far.
According to...?
:thinking:

I think I wrote that.
And you are obviously an expert on the subject, right?

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:56 pm
by Queequeg
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 5:07 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 3:44 pm
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 2:16 pm
According to...?
:thinking:

I think I wrote that.
And you are obviously an expert on the subject, right?
As expert as you. That's not stopping you from opining.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:02 pm
by tkp67
Unless the proof is only accessible in a foriegn and yet to be translated language isn't the information presented subject to scrutiny through the use of due diligence easily via a Google search, including scholarly articles?


Searching the timeline of nalanda itself yields a wealth of data.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:11 pm
by Grigoris
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:56 pm
As expert as you. That's not stopping you from opining.
I think you have me confused with somebody else. All I did is post a link and an excerpt from an article.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:14 pm
by tkp67
One thought about the original article that does come into question for me and it is in the form of rethinking stereotypes

In my mind stereotypes seem to be a facet of the mind that is meant to be abandoned not reconsidered although the article is challenging q bias that only ingrains this dynamic.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:15 pm
by Queequeg
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:11 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 6:56 pm
As expert as you. That's not stopping you from opining.
I think you have me confused with somebody else. All I did is post a link and an excerpt from an article.
Oh, so you weren't trying to make a point.

:twothumbsup:

So then what do you care if I offer an opinion?

Impermanence, man, it's all ephemeral.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:19 pm
by Queequeg
tkp67 wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:14 pm
One thought about the original article that does come into question for me and it is in the form of rethinking stereotypes

In my mind stereotypes seem to be a facet of the mind that is meant to be abandoned not reconsidered although the article is challenging q bias that only ingrains this dynamic.
Right - the author is challenging particular views of Buddhism and Islam we find in the West, but in the process, he's muddling the facts. He's not really being a historian so much as critically addressing some conventional wisdom that he finds wrong. I agree the dynamic itself is a problem, too.

I don't know who he is, but there is another article of his on Tricycle - I don't disagree with him in general, but his approach is heavy handed, a problem with its own sub-problems.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:21 pm
by Nemo
Neonazis ruin everything. I had misgivings about the Koran and the history of Islamic intolerance decades ago. It was fine to have a critical and unromanticized view of Abrahamic religions back then. Then the neonazis and fascists had to jump on board and demonize Islam. Murderous wars for natural resources had to be justified. Now it's impossible to have a conversation about it. It is the story of a saintly man pushed over the edge by corrupt rulers and turning into a war criminal. It's most holy place where all devout Muslims must physically visit is the piled up religious images of his slaughtered enemies buried under a box. Dangerous stuff if you ask me.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 8:51 pm
by cyril
When the monk Dharmasvamin visited Nalanda in 1235, he found Nalanda largely destroyed, with only two viharas (named Dhanaba and Ghunaba) left functioning and a 90 years old venerable overseeing a sangha of 70 monks.
"Most of these were built by the Raja. Some were built by the queen. They were damaged by the Turushkas, and there was absolutely no one to look after them, or to make offerings. There resided a venerable and learned monk who was more than ninety years old, the Guru and Mahapandita Rahula-Sribhadra . Raja Buddhasena of Magadha honoured this Guru and four other Panditas, and about seventy venerable ones ."
Source: The biography of Dharmasvamin, chapter X
https://archive.org/stream/in.ernet.dli ... f_djvu.txt

And during his stay at Nalanda he witnessed yet another muslim attack.

"
"Then a traveller came and brought a message from Jayadeva which said, “The Brahmana lay-supporter wishes to tell the Guru and disciples, that he had been detained by the officer who said that he, (Jayadeva), had honoured numerous monks attending on the Guru. Now they shall surely kill the Guru and his disciples. Flee! ” Having been advised to flee, the Guru said, “You flee, I am more than ninety years old. It does not make any difference whether I shall escape, or not, whether I shall go, or not. On receipt of the Brahmana’s message, they again asked the Guru, but he gave the same reply. Since many similar messages were received, all other disciples fled away. Only the Dharmasvamin-lo-tsa-ba remained with the Guru, and in his turn requested the Guru to go. The Guru said, “You, Tibetan, it is foolish of you to stay with me ! Ah, the inhabitants and disciples have fled. If you do not flee, you will be killed ! ” and the Guru rebuked him. The Dharmasvamin replied, “I shall not go, even if killed ! ” The Guru became pleased and said, “You are keeping your vow and great is your burden. Now, if I were to be carried by you, would you go ? If you go, we shall both flee ! ’’The Dharmasvamin took the Guru on his shoulders, and turning round one of the pillars, the Guru said, “We are off, let us take a small basket of sugar, some rice, and our favourite books. We shall not be able to go far. I have a way (of saving ourselves) !

At a short distance to the south-west, there was a shrine dedicated to a protecting deity, and they went to that place. The Guru said, “This Jnananatha had miraculously appeared on a stone in the cemetery of Sltavana, and was discovered by Arya-Nagarjuna, who had invited the image to stay in this shrine.” Formerly, the Turushkas had carried away all the stones of this (temple), and instead of anointing the image with oil and worshipping it, they threw impurities and dust at it. A man who participated in this work) died the same evening of colic on reaching Odantapurl. Next morning the image was found undamaged, so it was said. Since then the Turushka-heretics did not dare to approach it and cross the threshhold.

While they were staying there, suddenly some three hundred Turushka soldiers appeared, armed and ready for battle. Though they were sure to kill them, they did not find them, and went back. The two lay-supporters ( of the Guru ) were put in irons for several days, but then were set free.
"

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:42 pm
by Grigoris
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:15 pm
Impermanence, man, it's all ephemeral.
That is correct. The causes and conditions for the growth and expansion of Buddhism in India waned and vanished, and the causes and conditions for it's demise increased. Impermanence. Or maybe you have another explanation?

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:11 am
by Queequeg
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:42 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:15 pm
Impermanence, man, it's all ephemeral.
That is correct. The causes and conditions for the growth and expansion of Buddhism in India waned and vanished, and the causes and conditions for it's demise increased. Impermanence. Or maybe you have another explanation?
The expert opines.

Holy cow, you're just argumentative. You restated what I already wrote.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 6:56 am
by Rinchen Samphel
<insert prapanca>
:guns:

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 7:02 am
by Grigoris
Queequeg wrote:
Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:11 am
Grigoris wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:42 pm
Queequeg wrote:
Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:15 pm
Impermanence, man, it's all ephemeral.
That is correct. The causes and conditions for the growth and expansion of Buddhism in India waned and vanished, and the causes and conditions for it's demise increased. Impermanence. Or maybe you have another explanation?
The expert opines.

Holy cow, you're just argumentative. You restated what I already wrote.
Given the (perceived) tone of the post, I thought you were being sarcastic.

So we agree then.

Re: When the Monks Met the Muslims

Posted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 1:12 pm
by Queequeg
Here I was sarcastic:
viewtopic.php?f=36&t=31514#p498219

Here I offered my opinion that the decline of Buddhism in India was more complicated than Muslim invaders kicking it down (though that was part of it):

viewtopic.php?f=36&t=31514#p498185

What I get is that in your view, if my take away diverges from yours, I'm just an amateur spouting opinions, while you pronounce the correct conclusions.