Dear Mr Gautier.
Your post regarding the return of the Buddha’s teachings to India is breath-taking in it’s ignorance. I was so flabbergasted by what you wrote regarding the Blessed One’s Followers that I was moved to compose this missive.
Buddhism does not teach passivity in the face of aggression. It teaches you to do the right thing. And the right thing involves physically opposing the aggressor while at the same time not having any hatred or ill will towards him. You are opposing him because he is doing the wrong thing. He is an ignorant person. You, however must do the right thing, which is to oppose him. So he must be opposed. But why hate him? This is what Buddhism teaches. It teaches the practice of non-hatred among many other things. King Prasenajit and Ajatassattu, both fearsome warriors adored the Buddha. Never did once the Buddha tell these great warriors to throw down their weapons and disband the Army. The Buddha talks of certain professions not being right livelihood. But never does he place soldiering in this category.
Some of the most redoubtable fighters in the world are followers of the Perfect One’s doctrine. Here are just a few examples out of many
1. Perhaps the greatest Warriors in the world, The Japanese, are Buddhist.
2. The Fierce Khampas of Tibet are formidable fighters, man to man, they are fully the equals of the Gurkhas. The Khampas are absolutely devoted to the Dalai Lama and form his bodyguard. I met one of them in Rishi Kesh. His grandfather had killed many Chinese during the rebellion in 1959.
3. The Burmese campaign was the most expensive campaign that the East India company ever waged. Yes, it was more expensive than the campaigns to Afghanistan, the Sikh Campaign and the Maratha Campaign. The Burmese are Devout Buddhists.
4. The indomitable Vietnamese who have held of the Chinese for millenia, defeated the mongols, kicked out the French, beaten the Americans. Don’t they come from a long line of the Blessed one’s followers?
If this does not suffice as proof that Buddhism does not make one passive in the face of armed aggression, then I daresay, no proof will be enough. How much more proof could a rational man need? What does Buddhism teach? Morality, One-pointedness of mind and the misery transcending wisdom. How could the practice of these make a man passive? I say to you, Mr Gautier, that it is the practice of The Fortunate One’s (Pali: Bhagava) teachings that makes a man incredibly courageous that they give him the strength to oppose the aggressor with a smile. He opposes the aggressor without any ill will or hatred tainting his heart. He thanks providence for this priceless opportunity to earn much merit in the defense of the meek. If certain foolish or cowardly ones have interpret the lack of hatred to mean passivity, then that is not The Tathagatha’s fault, is it?
Do not slander the sincere followers of The Blessed one’s doctrine without first examining all aspects of the evidence. Whatever the reasons for the passivity of the Indians and/or their leaders in the face of armed aggression, The Magnificent One or his teachings cannot be blamed for it.
Update: Aug 2014
At the current moment, there is some trouble brewing in the Muslim majority province of Thailand. According to reports, there is a fight going on between Buddhists and Muslims. These provinces in the south if Thailand have 80% Muslims and 20% Buddhists. There are Thai buddhist civilians in these provinces who are arming themselves, learning how to shoot, organizing themselves into militias and even opening fire on worshippers in a mosque. They are allegedly retaliating and taking revenge for what they perceive to be Muslim aggression. It is not my intention to take sides in this post. Neither am I going to say who is right and who is wrong. All I am going to say is that I do not see Thai Buddhists being passive and having themselves beheaded like vegetables.
Now let us contrast their behavior with that of the Kashmiri Pandits. Aren’t these Hindu? Did they even fight back? Any report of a kashmiri pandit opening fire in a mosque? Any reports of Kashmiri Pandits organizing themselves into militias? Any reports of Kashmiri pandits demanding the right to bear arms to defend themselves? If you have heard of it, please let me know. Because I sure as hell have not heard of it. Even here, I will not take sides between Hindus and Muslims in Kashmir. All I will say is that the Kashmiri Pandits did not take to violence.
Given the passive behavior of the Hindus in our times. And given the very active behavior of the Buddhists in our times, what is the basis of your claim that Buddhism makes you passive under the face of aggression, O Ignorant one? Are you telling me that the Thais are not real buddhists? Do you care to tell them that to their face? If they are not real Buddhists who are, O Ignorant one? Are you now going to define who is a Buddhist and who is not? Who gave you such an authority, O Arrogant one?
It is fitting to make a logical argument after having examined the evidence and which agrees with the evidence. It is a gross error to make one silly, superficial allegation after another which lies in complete contradiction to history as well as current events on the ground.