Return Hindu shrines: Dalits

New Delhi, October, 9 : Call it the Babri verdict fallout: a group of Dalit rights activists has decided to approach the government demanding that Buddha and Jain viharas that have been converted to Hindu temples should be returned to the original owners.

The group, made up of Ambedkar followers, academics, advocates and activists, has also decided to approach the Supreme Court with the demand.

Several Buddha and Jain viharas were there in the country from sixth century BC to 13th century AD, which were later converted into Hindu temples by placing idols in them, the group said.

Now that Allahabad High Court has given Hindus two-thirds of the land on which Babri Masjid stood on the ground that there was a temple at the site before the mosque was constructed, all those viharas should also be returned, they argued.

According to M.S. Jayaprakash, a historian, the temples at Tirupati, Kashi, Sabarimala, Guruvayoor and Palani were once Buddhist temples. Even Swami Vivekananda had revealed that the Puri Jagannath temple was originally a Buddhist temple, he said.

Hundreds of Buddhist statues, stupas and viharas were destroyed in India between AD 830 and AD 966 in the name of Hindu revivalism, Jayaprakash said. Literary and archaeological sources within and outside India speak of this, he added.

Other members of the group include “Dalit Bandhu” N.K. Jose, Bhim Jayaraj and Vijay Shekhar.

The group is planning to meet BSP chief Mayavati. “We hope that Mayavati, whose vote bank is largely made up of Dalits and neo-Buddhists, will be receptive to the idea. The issue is both political and religious — a deadly concoction which no politician can afford to neglect,” said one activist.


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