Wednesday, May 13, 2015

The Buddha And The Bomb

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”.           


Taapsee Pannu said...
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A Buddhist Practitioner said...

Please forgive me, this has nothing to do with your posting. I cannot find any other method of communicating with you. In your book, 'Good Questions, Good Answers', on page 30, you state: "And now that parapsychology is a recognized branch of science...." That statement caught me. I did not think that statement was valid. I inquired with some friends, physicists in the Physics Department of Grand Valley State University. They said my understanding was correct. Parapsychology is a pseudoscience. Parapsychology does not hold to the Scientific Method and therefore cannot claim to be what it does not follow.

Shravasti Dhammika said...

Dear Buddhist Practitioner,
Thanks for the comment which I think is correct now. At the time I wrote it, over 20 years ago, the Princeton Engineering Anomalies Research Laboratory, the University of Virginia’s Department of Psychiatric Medicine and several others were still functioning. In the US at least I think all such research facilities have since closed, although several universities in Europe are still doing parapsychological research. So at least some academics/scientists still think it worth exploring. You can always contact me at, or telepathically.

Alessandro S. said...

Hello, Bhante.
I just wondered if everything was all right, and if you're just taking a break. I liked reading your posts from time to time, even though I would seldom comment them.