Patna: A monk spear-heading a movement for Buddhist-control over the Mahabodhi temple, has urged Tibetan spiritual leader Dalai Lama to raise the demand with Prime Minister Narender Modi and Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar.
“The Dalai Lama should break his silence over this issue and demand Buddhist control over the Mahabodhi temple in Bodh Gaya…he has so far disappointed by not raising this genuine demand,” Bhante Anand told IANS over telephone on Friday.
Anand is the president of the Akhil Bharatiya Bhikkhu Mahasangh (ABBM) and also president of Bodh Gaya Mukti Andolan Samiti.
“It is unfortunate that the Dalai Lama has time and again exposed himself that for him Buddhist-control over the temple is not an issue.
“He has been doing his politics for decades. He is busy in his own agenda…,” Anand said.
Anand wants to wrest free the Mahabodhi temple, the birth place of Buddhism, from Hindu-control.
Anand said: “Why do Hindus have control over Bodh Gaya temple? It is the only such holy place in the world where control of the most sacred shrine of one religion is in the hands of people belonging to another religion.”
Anand has been leading the movement concerning the 1,500-year-old temple located 110 km from here, where Lord Gautam Buddha is said to have attained enlightenment.
Anand said the Bihar government has to amend the Mahabodhi Temple Management Act, 1949.
The temple is managed, on behalf of the Bihar government, by a nine-member committee headed by the District Magistrate.
Under the state government’s Temple Management Act, only a Hindu can head the managing committee.
The panel comprises of four Buddhists and an equal number of Hindu members for a three-year period with the Gaya District Magistrate as its ex-officio chairman and the Mahanth of the Sankaracharya Math as ex-officio Hindu member.
The state government nominates a Hindu when the District Magistrate is a non-Hindu.
The Mahabodhi Temple was declared a World Heritage site in 2002 by Unesco. It is visited annually by thousands of tourists, especially Buddhists.