Buddha protests continue in NepalFebruary 3rd, 2009 - 4:58 pm ICT by IANS
Kathmandu, Feb 3 (IANS) Almost a fortnight after Nepal’s government banned Bollywood film “Chandni Chowk to China” following violence over a statement in the kungfu comedy that the Buddha was born in India, students have kept up protests in the capital.This time, however, their anger is directed towards the oldest university in the Himalayan republic, the Tribhuvan University, where a prescribed text book by an American scholar also contains the wrong information.
On Monday, the ruling Maoist party’s student union torched copies of the text book, “A History of Knowledge: Past, Present and Future” by American author Charles Van Doren that is a prescribed text for postgraduate students in the university’s English department.
The book says that the Buddha was born “to a princely family of northern India”.
The All Nepal Students Union (Revolutionary) also submitted a memorandum to the English department authorities, asking them to drop the book from the list of prescribed textbooks.
The Maoist students have warned that if their demand is not met, they would start a protest movement as the erroneous text is tantamount to an attack on Nepal’s sovereignty.
On Monday, the besieged English department issued a circular, asking students to ignore the wrong statement in the book regarding the Buddha’s birthplace.
However, the Maoist students say the measure is not enough. The entire book should be scrapped.
Protests had erupted on Nepal’s roads and in front of cinemas last month after the release of the controversial Bollywood film produced by Sippy Films and co-produced by Warner Brothers.
Though Nepal’s censor board had objected to the statement about the Buddha’s birthplace and the Nepal distributors deleted it, the CDs smuggled into Nepal however contained the error and triggered a public outcry.
The Buddha was born in Lumbini in southern Nepal almost 2,500 years ago and is one of Nepal’s most treasured icons, along with Mt Everest.
The furore caused the government to ban the film in Nepal as well as ask the Indian government to take steps to ensure that the Bollywood makers corrected the mistake in the versions showed outside Nepal.
Though Ramesh Sippy, the producer, subsequently apologised, protests have continued in Nepal with Buddhist scholars joining the fray. Monks and scholars are urging the Maoist government of Nepal to make a documentary on the Buddha and circulate it worldwide so that people would know that the founder of Buddhism was born in Nepal.