I think it’s true to say that Buddhism generally is and is for the most part thought of as being a peaceful religion. Given this it is curious how often the poor old peace-loving Buddha has been associated in one way or another with instruments of death. The earliest known depiction of a gun is to be found in a painting of the Buddha being attacked by Mara’s army from Dunhuang (10th century) in China. In the top right-hand of the painting is one of Mara’s minions pointing a ‘fire lance’ (Chinese huo giang) at the Buddha. The fire lance was the prototype of the gun. Moving to our own times, in 1944 India initiated research into nuclear technology. One of the first parliamentary decisions of the newly independent country was to pass the Atomic Energy Act 1948 for developing nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, but of course with an eye on building bombs. Mahatma Gandhi was safely dead. In 1954 the nuclear weapons program got into full swing and by 1974 the first bomb was ready for testing. The building and testing of this bomb was codenamed, somewhat eerily, “Smiling Buddha”.