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Even Hindu rulers destroyed Buddhist stupas and built temples on them!

6 December, 2019 21:25:52
Even Hindu rulers destroyed Buddhist stupas and built temples on them!

If we have always heard of Muslim rulers/plunderers like Kala Pahar, Mohammad Ghori and Aurangzeb who have destroyed Hindu temples and built mosques on them, there were many Hindu rulers too who ruthlessly demolished Buddhist viharas, stupas, temples and murdered followers of Buddhism and Jainism. Let’s take for example Sasanka who was a great king otherwise, but was an intolerant one.

Sasanka is attributed with creating the first separate political entity in a unified Bengal called Gauda. He reigned in 7th century, and some historians place his rule approximately between 590 and 625. He was a contemporary of Harshavardhan and Bhaskaravarman of Kamrupa. His capital Karnasubarna is in present-day Murshidabad. Sasanka had done much for Bengal, even some historians praise him for starting the first Bengali calendar. 

Not much is known about the early life of Sasanka. Some historians say he descended from the Magadha Guptas and was Mahasenagupta’s son. There are others who believe Sasanka began his career as a feudatory chief under Mahasenagupta and after his death, he drove the later Guptas and other prominent nobles out of the region and established his own kingdom. Many insist Sasanka was the son/ descendant of Raja Karnadeva, who founded the city of Karnasubarna. In some sources, Sasanka is described as a tribal leader.

By 605 C.E, Sasanka had established the kingdom of Gauda. From there, he issued gold coins to celebrate his triumph, and came to be addressed as Maharajadhiraja (king of great kings). Sasanka vigorously propagated Hinduism. He was a Shaivaite and  built temples to Shiva in his kingdom. The famous Lingaraja Temple of Odisha is said to have been commissioned by him. 

However, a 12th century text states that Sasanka persecuted Buddhists with a vengeance and endeavored to extirpate the Buddhists from his dominions. He allegedly destroyed innumerable Buddhist stupas and converted viharas to Hindu temples in places such as Nalanda, Bodhgaya, Sarnath and Mathura. It is also alleged that he cut the Bodhi tree where the Buddha found enlightenment, in the Mahabodhi Temple of Bodh Gaya. What we see today is not the original tree. 

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