Author Topic: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan  (Read 20283 times)

Big Uncle

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Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« on: July 14, 2012, 07:05:37 PM »
It is so sad that these Buddha images, once venerated as a means to achieve enlightenment has been reduced to artifacts to be sold on the international market. It is surely the sign of our degenerate times. I wonder how much has the original teachings of the Buddha degenerated since the time of Lama Tsongkhapa and Buddha Shakyamuni. Do we still have the collective merit to achieve their same state? Will Dorje Shugden practice one day be reduced to the sales of obscure Tibetan statue at Sothebys?



Buddhist Relics Worth Millions Seized In Pakistan
By MUNIR AHMED 07/07/12 07:24 AM ET    Huffington Post

ISLAMABAD -- Pakistani police seized a large number of ancient Buddhist sculptures that smugglers were attempting to spirit out of the country and sell for millions of dollars on the international antiquities market, officials said Saturday.

The stash included many sculptures of Buddha and other related religious figures that experts say could be over 2,000 years old. The items were likely illegally excavated from archaeological sites in Pakistan's northwest, said Salimul Haq, a director at the government's archaeology department.

The northwest was once part of Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist kingdom that stretched across modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan and reached its height from the first to the fifth century.

Police seized the items Friday from a 20-foot (6-meter) container in the southern port city of Karachi that was being trucked north toward the capital, Islamabad.

brian

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2012, 01:35:34 AM »
People seemed to have forgotten about the true value of the statues. Nowadays people pray and worship statues for the sake of praying for themselves, for self gain motivations. Very few will pray for enlightenment. Many would fork out big money to buy statues just because it was nicely done and it was bought for decoration purposes. I think one of the sign of degeneration is as such.

bambi

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2012, 04:03:56 AM »
 
People seemed to have forgotten about the true value of the statues. Nowadays people pray and worship statues for the sake of praying for themselves, for self gain motivations. Very few will pray for enlightenment. Many would fork out big money to buy statues just because it was nicely done and it was bought for decoration purposes. I think one of the sign of degeneration is as such.

Yes Brian, some people may have forgotten the true value and even though some of them buy it for decoration but that doesn't mean that its a sign of degeneration as the Buddha statue will still leave an imprint on those who do so. It is because of degeneration we should encourage people these people to have a Buddha image for now. Many of us have different Karma and merits so it is not surprising that we have different motivation for now. But always remember that all of us have our Buddha nature in us, we just need to explore it.  ;D

Bug Uncle, found 2 interesting articles.

Taliban destroyed statues 'to mask sale'
 
THE destruction by the Taliban of pre-Islamic statues, including the two Buddhas of Bamiyan, was a ploy to cover up the sale of 40 smaller figures, according to opponents.

Afghanistan's opposition United Front claimed that the Taliban sold 40 statues from the Kabul Museum. "The Taliban were facing enormous pressure to open up the museum for diplomats and experts so they issued the edict for the destruction of all statues to cover up the sale," said a front leader based in Dushanbe, Tajikistan.

The statues were from several historical periods. This week, journalists were taken to the museum and told that the 40 statues were destroyed, but there was no rubble and the Taliban would not say where it had been disposed.



Taliban says Bamiyan Buddha rubble not for sale

Afghanistan's ruling Taliban movement vowed on Tuesday to punish anyone caught smuggling remains of two giant Buddha statues, demolished last month in the face of international protests and a global outcry.

Taliban officials dismissed media reports that truckloads of rubble from the historic Bamiyan Buddhas, which once towered 53 metres (175 feet) and 38 metres (120 feet), had been driven across the border into neighbouring Pakistan and was for sale in the city of Peshawar.

"We will severely punish anybody trying to smuggle or excavate relics from Bamiyan and other parts of the country," Information Minister Qudratullah Jamal told reporters.

Foreign Minister Wakil Ahmad Muttawakil told Reuters there had been no smuggling.

"The reports of the debris smuggling and sale are totally wrong. No one is allowed to take a single piece out and nothing has been sold," Muttawakil told Reuters.

Antique dealers and smugglers in Peshawar said they were not aware of any new Afghan artefacts -- including pieces of the destroyed Buddhas -- being available on the market.

Muttawakil said rubble from the wrecked Bamiyan statues was still piled up next to the sandstone cliffs where the massive idols were hewn out around 1,500 years ago.

The Taliban's supreme leader Mullah Mohammad Omar in February decreed that statues were un-Islamic and ordered every figure, including the Bamiyan Buddhas and priceless relics in Kabul's national museum, be destroyed.

"All statues have been smashed and the final decision about the destiny of the debris will be taken by the information ministry," Muttawakil said.

The United Nations cultural agency UNESCO said on Monday that after the Taliban's destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas it was now trying to track down missing Afghan artwork for safekeeping.

UNESCO said it was working to buy up Afghan art objects -- many of which have been smuggled out to Pakistan and Japan -- on the open market and place them in safe havens.

The Taliban's Jamal said the movement was mixing Bamiyan rubble with soil and that the remains could no longer be distinguished.

"The debris has been thrown and mixed up with other soils," he said.

"We have proved that we are iconoclast. The statues have no value for us and nor have we sold any piece of them."  :o

rossoneri

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2012, 04:39:18 AM »
The world is definitely degenerating, as i was reading the article below and i can't help but imaging to myself what if the country like Pakistan and Afghanistan today practices Buddhism and not other wise? Gandhara, an ancient Buddhist kingdom that stretched across modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan was a Buddhist kingdom due to Ashoka who realized the suffering which he created because of war. And during this period of time, scholars of Gandhara traveled east to India and China and were influential in the development of early Mahayana Buddhism.


Source from: http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhisthistory/a/gandhara.htm

The Lost World of Buddhist Gandhara

In 2001 the world mourned the senseless destruction of the giant Buddhas of Bamiyan, Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the Buddhas of Bamiyan are only a small part of a great heritage of Buddhist art that is being destroyed by war and fanaticism. This is the heritage of Buddhist Gandhara.

The ancient kingdom of Gandhara stretched across parts of present-day Afghanistan and Pakistan. It was a vital commercial center of the Middle East many centuries before the birth of the Prophet Muhammad.

For a time, Gandhara also was a jewel of Buddhist civilization. Scholars of Gandhara traveled east to India and China and were influential in the development of early Mahayana Buddhism. The art of Gandhara included the earliest oil paintings known in human history and the first -- and some of the most beautiful -- depictions of bodhisattvas and the Buddha in human form.

However, the artifacts and archaeological remains of Gandhara still are being systematically destroyed by the Taliban. The loss of the Bamiyan Buddhas gained the world's attention because of their size, but many other rare and ancient pieces of art have been lost since.

In November 2007 the Taliban attacked a seven-meter tall, 7th century stone Buddha in the Jihanabad area of Swat, severely damaging its head. In 2008 a bomb was planted in a museum of Gandharan art in Pakistan. The explosion damaged more than 150 artifacts.

The Significance of Gandharan Art

Nearly 2,000 years ago, artists of Gandhara began to sculpt and paint the Buddha in ways that have influenced Buddhist art ever since. Earlier Buddhist art did not depict the Buddha. Instead, he was represented by a symbol or an empty space. But Gandharan artists pictured the Buddha as a human being.

In a style influenced by Greek and Roman art, Gandharan artists sculpted and painted the Buddha in realistic detail. His face was serene. His hands were posed in symbolic gestures. His hair was short, curled and knotted at the top. His robe was gracefully draped and folded. These conventions spread throughout Asia and are found in depictions of the Buddha to this day.

In spite of its importance to Buddhism, much of the history of Gandhara was lost for centuries. Modern archaeologists and historians have pieced together some of the story of Gandhara, and fortunately much of its wonderful art is safe in the world's museums, away from war zones.

Where Was Gandhara?

The Kingdom of Gandhara existed, in one form or another, for more than 15 centuries. It began as a province of the Persian Empire in 530 BCE and ended in 1021 CE, when its last king was assassinated by his own troops. During those centuries it expanded and shrank, and its borders changed many times.

You can find the general area of Gandhara on this map of present-day Afghanistan and part of Pakistan. The old kingdom included what is now Kabul, Afghanistan and Islamabad, Pakistan. Find Bamiyan (spelled Bamian) west and slightly north of Kabul. The area marked "Hindu Kush" also was part of Gandhara. This map of Pakistan shows the location of the historic city of Peshawar. The Swat Valley, not marked, is just west of Peshawar and is important to the history of Gandhara.

How Buddhism Came to Gandhara

Although this part of the Middle East has supported human civilization for at least 6,000 years, our story begins in 530 BCE. That year the Persian Emperor Darius I conquered Gandhara and made it part of his empire. Then in 333 BCE Alexander the Great defeated the armies of Darius III and gained control of Persia, and by 327 BCE Alexander controlled Gandhara also.

One of Alexander's successors, Seleucus, became ruler of Persia and Mesopotamia. However, Seleucus made the mistake of challenging his neighbor to the east, the Emperor Chandragupta Maurya of India. The confrontation did not go well for Seleucus, who ceded much territory, including Gandhara, to Chandragupta.

Chandragupta left the Mauryan Empire, which included the territory of Gandhara, to his son, Bindusara. When Bindusara died, probably in 272 BCE, he left the empire to his son, Ashoka.

Ashoka the Great

Ashoka (ca. 304–232 BCE; sometimes spelled Asoka) originally was a warrior prince known for his ruthlessness and cruelty. According to legend he was first exposed to Buddhist teaching when monks cared for his wounds after a battle. However, his brutality continued until the day he walked into a city he had just conquered and saw the devastation. "What have I done?" he cried, and vowed to observe the Buddhist path for himself and for his kingdom.

Ashoka's empire included almost all of present-day India and Bangladesh as well as most of Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was his patronage of Buddhism that left the greater mark on world history, however. Ashoka was instrumental in making Buddhism one of the most prominent religions of Asia. He built monasteries, erected stupas, and supported the work of Buddhist missionaries, who took the dharma into Gandhara and Gandhara's western neighbor, Bactria.

King Menander

The Mauryan Empire declined after Ashoka's death. The Greek-Bactrian King Demetrius I conquered Gandhara about 185 BCE, but subsequent wars made Gandhara an Indo-Greek kingdom independent of Bactria.

One of the most prominent of the Indo-Greek kings of Gandhara was Menander, also called Melinda, who ruled from about 160 to 130 BCE. Menander is said to have been a devout Buddhist. The Pali Canon contains a dialogue, called The Milindapañha, alleged to be between King Menander and a Buddhist scholar named Nagasena.

After Menander's death Gandhara was invaded again, first by Scythians and then Parthians. The invasions wiped out the Indo-Greek kingdom.

Positive Change

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2012, 06:13:51 AM »
Quote
Nearly 2,000 years ago, artists of Gandhara began to sculpt and paint the Buddha in ways that have influenced Buddhist art ever since. Earlier Buddhist art did not depict the Buddha. Instead, he was represented by a symbol or an empty space. But Gandharan artists pictured the Buddha as a human being.

In a style influenced by Greek and Roman art, Gandharan artists sculpted and painted the Buddha in realistic detail. His face was serene. His hands were posed in symbolic gestures. His hair was short, curled and knotted at the top. His robe was gracefully draped and folded. These conventions spread throughout Asia and are found in depictions of the Buddha to this day.

Thank you Rossoneri for this insightful post. I never knew the Kingdom of Gandhara, and Gandhara Art had such huge influence in Buddhism in terms of art. Imagine if these influences did not materialize... our altars would be very different today! Goes to show, no matter how insignificant it may seem at the time, influences of the past can indeed shape the future.

Gandhara art

A style of Buddhist visual art that developed in what is now northwestern Pakistan and eastern Afghanistan between the 1st century bce and the 7th century ce. The style, of Greco-Roman origin, seems to have flourished largely during the Kushan dynasty and was contemporaneous with an important but dissimilar school of Kushan art at Mathura (Uttar Pradesh, India).

Greco-Buddhist art is the artistic manifestation of Greco-Buddhism, a cultural syncretism between the Classical Greek culture and Buddhism, which developed over a period of close to 1000 years in Central Asia, between the conquests of Alexander the Great in the 4th century BCE, and the Islamic conquests of the 7th century CE. Greco-Buddhist art is characterized by the strong idealistic realism and sensuous description and of Hellenistic art and the first representations of the Buddha in human form, which have helped define the artistic (and particularly, sculptural) canon for Buddhist art throughout the Asian continent up to the present. It is also a strong example of cultural syncretism between eastern and western traditions.

The origins of Greco-Buddhist art are to be found in the Hellenistic Greco-Bactrian kingdom (250 BCE- 130 BCE), located in today’s Afghanistan, from which Hellenistic culture radiated into the Indian subcontinent with the establishment of the Indo-Greek kingdom (180 BCE-10 BCE). Under the Indo-Greeks and then the Kushans, the interaction of Greek and Buddhist culture flourished in the area of Gandhara, in today’s northern Pakistan, before spreading further into India, influencing the art of Mathura, and then the Hindu art of the Gupta empire, which was to extend to the rest of South-East Asia. The influence of Greco-Buddhist art also spread northward towards Central Asia, strongly affecting the art of the Tarim Basin, and ultimately the arts of China, Korea, and Japan.

Positive Change

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2012, 06:42:31 AM »
Below is another informative article on the direct influences of Gandhara Art on Buddhist art as we know now. I have highlighted some interesting key points below:

More on Gandhara Art

Hiuen Tsang, the celebrated Chinese pilgrim, who visited Gandhara in the early 7th century AD, wrote that the Kingdom of Gandhara formed the tract of the country on the west bank of the Indus which included the Peshawar Valley and modern Swat, Buner and Bajaur. Gandhara was the cradle of Buddhist Civilization that gave birth to the famous Gandhara Art. Gandhara, first mentioned in the Rigveda, remained one of the provinces of the Achaemenian Empire as per the Darius inscription of 6th century BC. Pushkalavati (Balahisar-Charsadda), its first capital from 6th century BC to 1st century AD, was invaded in 32 BC by Alexander the Great.

Later, Gandhara was ruled from Pushkalavati  by Indo-Greeks, Scythians and Parthians. The Kushanas established their capital at Pushapura or Peshawar in the 1st century AD and King Kanishka built a Stupa and monastery at Shah-ji-Ki-Dheri, near Ganj Gate Peshawar. The Relic Casket discovered from this stupa with Kharoshti inscriptions, which mentions the name of the city as Kanishkapura, is now exhibited in the main hall of the Peshawar Museum. In the 7th century AD, the Shahi Dynasty of Kabul and Gandhara established their capital at Hund, which remained their capital till the invasions of the Gaznavids in 998 AD thus ending the rule of Gandhara after about 1600 years.

The cosmopolitan art of Gandhara, with influence from India, Greek, Roman and Persian artists, appeared in this region in the 1st century BC, strengthened in the 1st century AD, flourished till 5th century A.D. and lingered on till 8th century A.D. The purpose of this art was the propagation of Buddhism through images carved and made in stone, stucco, terracotta and bronze. These images were mostly enshrined in stupasand monasteries throughout the Gandhara region. Thousand of such stupas were mentioned by the Chinese pilgrim, Hiuen Tsang, who visited Gandhara in the 7th century AD, only few of which have been excavated so far. The main focus of the art was Buddha’s life stories and individual images, his previous birth stories (Jatakas) and future Buddhas. The most important among them represent the historic Buddha, his miracles and all episodes from his birth to death, beautifully and liberally carved. The local devoted artists, stimulated by the personality of Buddha, took advantage of contacts, motifs and technology from Greeks, Romans and Persians, and gave Buddha an eternal life.

The life stories of Buddha, depicted in Gandhara Art are an authentic document of the Mahayana text composed during the time of Kanishka. In fact, the sculptors of Gandhara translated the Buddhist Mahayana religious text into details in stones, stucco, terracotta and bronze, thus making them more romantic and providing a base for the expansion of Buddhism towards the Far East via the Silk Route and China through pilgrims and traders. The current Buddhist religion in Korea and Japan is a wonderful example of the extension of Gandhara Buddhism. The sculptures were fixed to the bases and stairs of stupas, around which worshipers circumambulated. Individual figures filled the niches around the stupas and monasteries. Also the Harmika, the solid box in square above the dome of the stupa was carved on all sides with Buddha life stories. These stories were chiseled on stone tablets and fixed to the stupas, inside which relics of Buddha were kept in a casket for the purpse of worship. The Art, mainly a product of the land of Gandhara under the Kushana Rulers, is much more dynamic than the contemporary Mathura Art of India.

Some beautiful examples of Gandhara Art. How incredibly lifelike and the the craftsmanship of that time with less sophisticated tools. No wonder these pieces of antiques are fetching such incredible prices:

Pic 1. Gandhara Buddha (Head). 1st-2nd century. Musee Guimet, Paris

Pic 2. Gandhara Standing Buddha. 1st–2nd century. Tokyo National Museum

Pic 3. Gandhara Seated Buddha. 4th-5th century. Private collection

Pic 3. Graphical reconstruction of a stupa (IsIAO, Roma). Relief with monks venerating a stupa.

The stupa is the main monument of the Buddhist faith; originally intended to contain the relics of the historical Buddha and soon became the symbol of his presence and doctrine. Its shape probably derives from the burial mounds erected over the ashes of important persons. It has a solid structure formed by a semi-spherical upper structure placed on a base. Between these two elements there is a cylindrical drum, often decorated in Gandhara by narrative reliefs.  Monks and laymen could, while walking clockwise around the stupa, follow the most important episodes of their Master’s life, presented in chronological order from right to left.
             


Tenzin K

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2012, 08:14:20 AM »
People nowadays look at artifacts as precious value in monitory form. Regardless the statues figurine is correct as per scripture text as longs as their value is appreciated in the market. Truly agree with brian in this context.

The value of statues no longer in the dharmic side but just for commercial. The true value of Buddhist statue is uncountable because it promises our spiritual practice for good future lives where we can’t buy it only practice it with right motivation. The value of representation of the Buddha quality that we want to embark represent by the statues has no specific value that we can measure. The benefits is not measure by the amount of money we could gain but is how much we change ourselves to accept the truth and able to benefits others from the spiritual practice.

The age of the statues does shown to us that Buddhism has been around for quite some time and the great practice has been here to benefits people long time ago. Yes! The statues are precious if we see the true spiritual quality of the representation not really the physical made of it.

pgdharma

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2012, 10:05:27 AM »
Yes, the world is degenerating and in this age and time people are generally more greedy and selfish.  People have failed to recognise the value to statues except for their personal gain. Stealing a Buddha statue from a temple create heavy negative karma. It also deprived others from praying and receiving  blessings.  Below is an interesting article of an ancient Buddha statue that was stolen and retrieved after an advance sum of money was given to the gang who stole the statue.

Burgled ancient Buddha idol 'Sange Menlha' retrieved from Kathmandu

KATHMANDU: Archaeologists, Buddhists and art lovers have something to cheer about. The Tarkakhor Monastery in Bargaun- 5 of Humla will get back its ancient idol of Buddha that was burgled on October 1, 2011.

The ‘Sange Menlha’ bronze idol, recognized by the Department of Archaeology as an ancient heritage of the nation, is 33 cm high and weighs 2.5 kg.

The Central Investigation Bureau of Nepal Police have rounded up eight persons who brandished weapons, carried out a night raid on the monastery and decamped with the priceless idol and other valuables. CIB said they were nabbed from separate places of Kathmandu in the last couple of days.

The arrested are Narendra Lama (38), Lok Bahadur Aidi (30),and Pratap Tokaya (24) of Humla, Kamal Lama (41) of Dolakha, Shankar Shahi (26) of Banke, Dhan Bahadur Baral (29) of Daileskh, Karma Tamang (40) of Mugu and Kamal Rana (26) of Salyan.

Of them, Pratap was former District Committee Member of UCPN-Maoist in Nawalparasi whereas Kamal was former PLA member based in Shaktikhor cantonment, Chitwan. According to CIB, seven armed men had raided the monastery and overpowered the monks before taking the idol and other stuffs.

The gang kept the idol in their hideout in Kohalpur of Banke for a few days and brought it to Kathmandu to find prospective clients. The idol was found hidden in a rented room of Karma in Bouddha. Three persons — Rangkamal Rokaya, Bijaya Budha Chhetri and Raju Tamang — who were involved in the robbery are still at large.

Interestingly, a criminal racket of five others including Lokendra Shahi (25), Shankar Sharma (26) of Jumla, Nirman Budha (36) of Rukum and Kumar Lama (29) of Makwanpur were tipped off about the idol hidden in Karma’s rented room and snatched the antique from him. Shankar is a central member of UCPN- Maoist students’ wing ANNIFSU- R whereas Nirman was YCL co-chair for ‘Magrat State’ of UCPN- Maoist.

“The gang returned the idol to Karma after he gave them Rs 100,000 in advance and assured them Rs 400,000 more after its sale,” CIB informed. Police have also arrested them.

CIB investigators said Narendra Lama was operating criminal activities in the district of Far and Mid Western Regions through the ‘Karnali Tigers’ group. He was involved in robbing 26 kg yarsagumba in Godavari of Kailali on September 7, 2008. Of late, Lama and his gang had robbed Rs 5.4 million from yarsagumba traders in Bajhang on 3 July, 2010.

The arrestees have been charged under the Ancient Monument Preservation Act. It is punishable by law to trade in objects, which are more than 100 years old, such as sacred images, idols, paintings and manuscripts that have cultural and religious value.[/i]

http://www.thehimalayantimes.com

biggyboy

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2012, 01:49:49 PM »
During this degenerated time of age where the knowledge and understanding of karma can come to a naught in areas where Buddhism may not thrive for now. Economic and demographic situations could be the contributory factors towards their greediness and selfish means for sculptures and artifacts of Buddha images. News of many excavations, loots and robberies has been prevalent nowadays and has in fact attracted their attention to steal or smuggle them for money.  Even with such kind of acts it is their greediness and will have to face the heavy repercussions of such act.  Well, it will still boils down to one's motivation.  Yet still, as long as we are not the "Buddhas", no matter how virtuous we think our motivation is to benefit others from the sale, we still collect negative karma for the act of sale as it is tainted with the 3 poisons - greed, hatred and delusion.

http://www.naljorprisondharmaservice.org/pdf/ThreePoisons.htm
In Buddhist teachings, greed, hatred, and delusion are known, for good reason, as the three poisons, the three unwholesome roots, and the three fires. These metaphors suggest how dangerous afflictive thoughts and emotions can be if they are not understood and transformed. Greed refers to our selfishness, misplaced desire, attachment, and grasping for happiness and satisfaction outside of ourselves. Hatred refers to our anger, our aversion and repulsion toward unpleasant people, circumstances, and even toward our own uncomfortable feelings. Delusion refers to our dullness, bewilderment, and misperception; our wrong views of reality. The poisons of greed, hatred, and delusion are a byproduct of ignorance—ignorance of our true nature, the awakened heart of wisdom and compassion. Arising out of our ignorance, these poisonous states of mind then motivate nonvirtuous and unskillful thoughts, speech, and actions, which cause all manner of suffering and unhappiness for ourselves and others.

Greed, hatred, and delusion are deeply embedded in the conditioning of our personalities. Our behavior is habitually influenced and tainted by these three poisons, these unwholesome roots buried deep into our mind. Burning within us as lust, craving, anger, resentment, and misunderstanding, these poisons lay to waste hearts, lives, hopes, and civilizations, driving us blind and thirsty through the seemingly endless round of birth and death (samsara). The Buddha describes these defilements as bonds, fetters, hindrances, and knots; the actual root cause of unwholesome karma and the entire spectrum of human suffering.
 

Dolce Vita

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2012, 01:52:01 PM »
In the scripture "The Legend of the Great Stupa of Boudhanath", a Padmasambhava treasure text revealed by Lhatsun Ngonmo that was hidden again, to be rediscovered by Ngakchang Sakya Zangpo in the 16th century.  Padmasambhava gave a prophecy on the kaliyuga period. The extracts here are from the introduction and translation by Keith Dowman (Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973.)

"As the kaliyuga progresses towards the final conflagration, life expectancy of man decreases and the weight of darkness becomes more intense, but there remain restraints on the downward path when the Voice of Buddha is heard and the Path of Dharma followed. Towards the end of the era, when man's lifespan has been reduced from sixty to fifty years and there has been no respite in man's increasing egoism, these conditions will prevail, portending ruin to the Great Stupa: householders fill the monasteries and there is fighting before the altar; the temples are used as slaughterhouses; the ascetics of the caves return to the cultivated valleys and the yogins become traders; thieves own the wealth and cattle; monks become householders, while priests and spiritual leaders turn to robbery, brigandage and thievery. Disorder becomes chaos, which generates panic raging like wildfire. Corrupt and selfish men become leaders, while abbots turned army officers lead their monks as soldiers; and nuns put their own bastards to death. Sons see their estates and inheritances stolen from them.  Mean and vulgar demagogues become local bosses. Young girls instruct the young in schools. The belch of the Bon Magician resounds in the yogin's hermitage and the wealth of the sanctuaries is looted; the scriptures of the Tathagatas, the images of the Buddhas, the sacred icons, the scroll paintings and the stupas will be desecrated, stolen and bartered at the market price, their true worth forgotten; the temples become dung-smeared cow sheds and stables."

We are indeed in the kaliyuga period, people are destroying Buddha images (as happened in Afghanistan few years ago). People are stealing Dharma items to sell as a collection, the real value and worth are totally forgotten. This is pretty scary.

If we have met Dharma now, we should not let it go. Dharma is the most precious treasure one can get. Do our best to spread Dharma or plant Dharma seed in people's mind. Hopefully these dharma seeds will ripen when Maitreya comes and they will be able to gain enlightenment.

Big Uncle

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2012, 08:39:53 PM »
Wow! Gandharan art is so beautiful and its such a unique fusion of Graeco-Roman aesthetic combined with the sensitivity of Asian icon sculpturing. However, it appears that Buddhism was forever lost after the fall of the Gandharan kingdom to the successive Arabic and Turkic invasions. That's a pity and although there were a few resurgent Buddhist rule but it never regained its former glory.

Here's another article on Wikipedia that highlights the unique Buddhist history:-

Graeco-Bactrians, Sakas, and Indo-Parthians

The decline of the Empire left the sub-continent open to the inroads by the Greco-Bactrians. Southern Afghanistan was absorbed by Demetrius I of Bactria in 180 BC. Around about 185 BC, Demetrius invaded and conquered Gandhara and the Punjab. Later, wars between different groups of Bactrian Greeks resulted in the independence of Gandhara from Bactria and the formation of the Indo-Greek kingdom. Menander was its most famous king. He ruled from Taxila and later from Sagala (Sialkot). He rebuilt Taxila (Sirkap) and Pushkalavati. He became a Buddhist and is remembered in Buddhists records due to his discussions with a great Buddhist philosopher, Nagasena, in the book Milinda Panha.

Around the time of Menander's death in 140 BC, the Central Asian Kushans overran Bactria and ended Greek rule there. Around 80 BC, the Sakas, diverted by their Parthian cousins from Iran, moved into Gandhara and other parts of Pakistan and Western India. The most famous king of the Sakas, Maues, established himself in Gandhara.

By 90 BC the Parthians had taken control of eastern Iran and in around 50 BC they put an end to the last remnants of Greek rule in Afghanistan. Eventually an Indo-Parthian dynasty succeeded in taking control of Gandhara. The Parthians continued to support Greek artistic traditions. The start of the Gandharan Greco-Buddhist art is dated to about 75–50 BC. Links between Rome and the Indo-Parthian kingdoms existed. There is archaeological evidence that building techniques were transmitted between the two realms. Christian records claim that around AD 40 Thomas the Apostle visited India and encountered the Indo-Parthian king Gondophares.

The Parthian dynasty fell about 75 to another group from Central Asia. The Kushans, known as Yuezhi in China (although ethnically Asii) moved from Central Asia to Bactria, where they stayed for a century. Around 75, one of their tribes, the Kushan (Ku???a), under the leadership of Kujula Kadphises gained control of Gandhara and other parts of what is now Pakistan.

The Kushan period is considered the Golden Period of Gandhara. Peshawar Valley and Taxila are littered with ruins of stupas and monasteries of this period. Gandharan art flourished and produced some of the best pieces of Indian sculpture. Many monuments were created to commemorate the Jataka tales.

The Gandhara civilization peaked during the reign of the great Kushan king Kanishka (128–151). The cities of Taxila (Takshasila) at Sirsukh and Peshawar were built. Peshawar became the capital of a great empire stretching from Gandhara to Central Asia. Kanishka was a great patron of the Buddhist faith; Buddhism spread to Central Asia and the Far East across Bactria and Sogdia, where his empire met the Han Empire of China. Buddhist art spread from Gandhara to other parts of Asia. Under Kanishka, Gandhara became a holy land of Buddhism and attracted Chinese pilgrim to see monuments associated with many Jataka tales.

In Gandhara, Mahayana Buddhism flourished and Buddha was represented in human form. Under the Kushans new Buddhists stupas were built and old ones were enlarged. Huge statues of the Buddha were erected in monasteries and carved into the hillsides. Kanishka also built a great tower to a height of 400 feet at Peshawar. This tower was reported by Faxian ([Fa-hsien]), Songyun (Sung-yun) and Xuanzang ([Hsuan-tsang]). This structure was destroyed and rebuilt many times until it was finally destroyed by Mahmud of Ghazni in the 11th century.

After Kanishka, the empire started losing territories in the east. In the west, Gandhara came under the Sassanid, the successor state of the Parthians, and became their vassal from 241 until 450.

Manjushri

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2012, 09:43:46 PM »
It is indeed sad to read news like this. Out of desperation, people have succumbed to using Buddhist artefacts as a means to generate income. What I can see is also the lack of knowledge amongst the people hence their disrepsect for something so sacred and holy. There is no one there to educate them on the significance, value, respect that is to be shown to a Buddha statue, and what it represents. Therefore, because they don't know, they can treat the Buddha statues as if they are products and objects used for generating money, like any other product.

Therefore, a degeneration in Dharma, is also when people spread it incorrectly, or there is no one to spread it hence the culture and generation moves on without having to learn in or knowing about it.

brian

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #12 on: July 27, 2012, 05:43:12 PM »
And please do not forget that it is also because of the DEMAND that is causing the problem of Buddha statues/artifacts being smuggled around the world. Wealthy people might not know about thekarma they actually indirectly or directly caused this crime to exist in this world. Statues are meant for a 'point' to focus on to achieve enlightenment for it's worshipers and had been reduced to the status of being an item to be paraded in one's luxury home. sigh....

Positive Change

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #13 on: July 28, 2012, 03:25:57 AM »
And please do not forget that it is also because of the DEMAND that is causing the problem of Buddha statues/artifacts being smuggled around the world. Wealthy people might not know about thekarma they actually indirectly or directly caused this crime to exist in this world. Statues are meant for a 'point' to focus on to achieve enlightenment for it's worshipers and had been reduced to the status of being an item to be paraded in one's luxury home. sigh....

Well Brian... there are also legitimate antique collectors that are out there to preserve these artifacts. Not all antique collectors are treasure hunters that go to lengths to obtain rare items from sacred places for their mere pleasure. Sure there is an element of appreciating beauty in its art form but that does not mean one would go to lengths to obtain it.

I believe there are legitimate antique collectors that are doing a great job in keeping these treasures intact and actually protecting them from pilferage or further damage.

Is it, I have to admit, somewhat of a catch 22 situation whereby, as you highlighted, should the demand stop perhaps these pilfering will too. Unfortunately, there is some truth to that, however, if one were to cut the demand NOW, what will happen to these once "priceless" objects? Imagine when these thieves find out that these items were now worthless, all these sacred objects may end up in the bottom of an ocean or worse yet, a dump site. Surely that in itself is not a solution as well.

From where I stand, the best way to prevent such illegal practices (though not 100%) is certification. Authenticity with regards to where these artifacts originate from (trustworthy and legitimate source) is always a good practice. Education is of utmost importance too as the public need to be aware of the repercussions of purchasing "black market" antiques etc and how it ruins the preservation of such revered objects.

lotus1

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Re: Buddhist Antique Statues Worth Millions Seized in Pakistan
« Reply #14 on: July 28, 2012, 07:54:29 PM »
It is sad to know that the Buddha images are smuggled out from Pakistan and treated as artifacts to be sold in the international market. It is clearly shown the degeneration of Buddhism especially in Pakistan. Actually, all these while I only know that Pakistan is an Islamic region.  I just learned that there is a long history of Buddhism in Pakistan and Pakistan is once had a large Buddhist polulation and many religious structures in antiquity.

The majority of people in Gandhara were Buddhist until around 10th century CE, when Sultan Mahmud invaded the region and introduced the Islamic religion. The Swat Valley, known in antiquity as Uddiyana, was a kingdom tributary to Gandhara. There are many archaeological sites from the Buddhist era in Swat.

Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche) is also said to have been born in small village in Uddiyana Region.

Buddhism was practiced in the Punjab and Sindh region. There were many Buddhist monastery and stupa sites in the Taxila World Heritage Site locale.

The only positive thought that I can console myself in this incident of Buddha images to be treated as artifacts, it maybe good for these Buddha images to create positive imprints to other places of the modern world. As we can see, Buddha images and blend into some architecture design themes such as Balinese theme. Hopefully through this way, there will be still imprints being planted on people of the degenerated time.