Persecution of Buddhists

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Many Buddhists have experienced persecution from non-Buddhists and other Buddhists during the history of Buddhism. Persecution may refer to unwarranted arrest, imprisonment, beating, torture, or execution. It also may refer to the confiscation or destruction of property, or the incitement of hatred towards Buddhists.


  • There can be no doubt that the fall of Buddhism in India was due to the invasions of the Musalmans. Islam came out as the enemy of the 'But'. The word 'But' as everybody knows, is the Arabic word and means an idol. Thus the origin of the word indicates that in the Moslem mind idol worship had come to be identified with the Religion of the Buddha. To the Muslims, they were one and the same thing. The mission to break the idols thus became the mission to destroy Buddhism. Islam destroyed Buddhism not only in India but wherever it went. Before Islam came into being Buddhism was the religion of Bactria, Parthia, Afghanistan, Gandhar, and Chinese Turkestan, as it was of the whole of Asia. In all these countries Islam destroyed Buddhism.
    • B. R. Ambedkar, "The decline and fall of Buddhism," Dr. Babasaheb Ambedkar: Writings and Speeches, Vol. III, Government of Maharashtra. 1987, p. 229
  • In Central Asia, Islam had wiped out Buddhism together with Nestorianism, Zoroastrianism, Manicheism, and whatever other religion it encountered. The Persian word for idol is but, from Buddha, because the Buddhists with their Buddha-status were considered as the idol-worshippers par excellence. The Buddhists drew the wrath of every Muslim but-shikan (idol-breaker), even where they had not offered resistance aganinst the Muslim armies because of their doctrine of non-violence. As a reminder of the Buddhist past of Central Asia, the city name Bukhara is nothing but a corruption of vihara, i.e. a Buddhist monastery; other Indian names include Samarkhand and Takshakhand, i.e. Tashkent. In India, Buddhism was a much easier target than other sects and traditions, because it was completely centralized around the monasteries. Once the monsteries destroyed and the monks killed, the Buddhist community had lost its backbone and was helpless before the pressure to convert to Islam (as happened on a large scale in East Bengal).
    • Elst, Koenraad (1992). Negationism in India: Concealing the record of Islam. Chapter II. (also in Arun Shourie & Sita Ram Goel: Hindu Temples - What Happened to Them? Vol. II.)
  • We came down on them like a flood,
    We went out among their cities,
    We tore down the idol-temples,
    We shat on the Buddha's head!
    • Translation: English translation from the Turkic language. The Karakhanid Turkic Muslim writer Mahmud al-Kashgari recorded this short poem (in Turkic language) about the conquest of Khotan.
    • Elverskog, Johan (2010). Buddhism and Islam on the Silk Road. University of Pennsylvania Press. p. 95. ISBN 978-0-8122-4237-9.
  • In Mongolia has been discovered a mass grave containing the remains of thousands of Buddhist monks liquidated by a former communist regime. An 83-old man, once head of an extermination squad, admitted that he personally put 15,724 to death. 1197-at-Nalanda was repeated not by invading Muslim armies but by local communist revolutionaries and social transformers.
    • Ram Swarup. Quoted from the preface by Ram Swarup in Gurbachan, S. T. S., & Swarup, R. (1991). Muslim League attack on Sikhs and Hindus in the Punjab 1947.
  • During the sixth and early seventh centuries AD the whole tract was controlled by Turkish rulers, but in the course of the seventh, with increasing strength of the T'ang Emperors, China gained control. Finally, however, under the onslaught of Islam, from the eighth century to the tenth, both Buddhist and Manichaean as well as the Nestorian Christian culture and monuments of the region were destroyed... In the north very little survives of the ancient edifices that were there prior to the Muslim conquest: only a few mutilated religious sites remain. It is clear from Indian literature that both temples and images must have existed in the second century BC and perhaps earlier. Very little architectural evidence remains, however, antedating the epoch of the Gupta dynasty (C. AD 320-650), for it was precisely in the Ganges Valley, the central and chief area of the Gupta empire, that the Muslim empire flourished a millennium later and most of the monuments above ground were destroyed by the sectarian zeal of Islam. The oldest stone ruins that have been found represent not the beginnings of a style, but fully developed forms... Since the earliest important body of Indian art surviving to us stems from the century of Asoka, it is predominantly Buddhist. During subsequent periods, however, Buddhist and Hindu (Brahmanical) themes alternate in rich profusion. The two traditions flourished side by side, even sharing colleges and monasteries, for nearly two millenniums, until about the height of the Muslim conquest (c. AD 1200), Buddhism disappeared from the land of its birth.
    • Heinrich Zimmer, Art of Indian Asia, Princeton, Paperback Edition, 1983, Vol. I. Also quoted in Sita Ram Goel, Hindu Temples - What Happened to them
  • The Muslim conquests of Central Asia also put an end to its Buddhist art. As early as the eighth century, the monasteries of Kizil were destroyed by the Muslim ruler of Kashgar, and as Benjamin Rowland says, "by the tenth century only the easternmost reaches of Turkestan had escaped the rising tide of Mohammedan conquest." The full tragedy of these devastations is brought out by the words of Rowland: "The ravages of the Mongols, and the mortifying hand of Islam that has caused so many cultures to wither forever, aided by the process of nature, completely stopped the life of what must for a period of centuries have been one of the regions of the earth most gifted in art and religion."
    • Ibn Warraq, Why I am not a Muslim, 1995. p 225 quoting Benjamin Rowland
  • The monastery of Fondukistan flourished for about three or four centuries and came to an end only in 10th or 11th century A. D. on account of Arabs ' attack on Afghanistan. The city of Kapisa was sacked by Ibrahim-bin-Jabul , the Governor of Zabulistan in the year 743 A . D . The Hindu Sahi rulers had to move first to Kabul and then to Udbhandapur on account of the They ultimately took the possession of Kabul valley, including the adjoining areas of Herat and Kandahar . They not only established their suzerainty over this country but also indulged into a lot of persecutions against the Buddhists whom they called 'kafir' or infidel. They razed the monasteries and temples to the ground and the monks living there either had to flee or to embrace Islam. This was the fate of all the Buddhist establishments in Afghanistan and Fondukistan was no exception .
    • History of Buddhism in Afghanistan, Chandrika Singh Upasak, Sī. Esa Upāsaka. 232 ff. also quoted in Swarup, R. (2015). Hinduism and monotheistic religions. 515.

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