The Bodh Gaya Temple Management
Committee (BGTMC) has been without a head for more than six
months. Monks say this is hampering the day-to-day functioning
of the 1,500-year-old temple at Bodh Gaya, located about 110
km from here where the Buddha attained enlightenment 2,550
The BTMC's three-year term ended Sep 10, 2007, but the Bihar
government has not yet issued a notification for forming a
new panel. The Gaya District Magistrate, who is ex-officio
chairman of the BTMC and was appointed to act as the administrator
till a new panel was formed, is running the show.
Bhadant Anand, president of the Bodhgaya Mahabodhi Vihar
All-India Action Committee, says the delay is a 'conspiracy'
by the government to keep the management under the control
of non-Buddhists. 'We fail to understand why non-Buddhists
have the control over the holiest shrine of Buddhists. We
have decided to take up the issue by lobbying support to demand
Buddhist control over the management,' Anand told IANS.
Anand has been leading a pressure group of Buddhist monks
for over a decade and a half favouring an amendment to the
Mahabodhi Temple Management Act 1949 so that management can
be handed over to Buddhists.
'The state government is deliberately delaying formation
of a new panel, which shows the level of their concern for
the holiest shrine of the Buddhists,' Anand alleged.
He claimed the Bharatiya Janata Party, an ally of the ruling
Janata Dal-United of Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, was behind
the delay in forming a new panel. 'The government is serving
the cause of Hindutva forces by delaying the formation of
a new panel because they can hardly tolerate the presence
of Buddhists on the panel,' he said.
'If the management of temples, churches, mosques and gurdwaras
are not under control of other sects, then why not so in the
case of the Mahabodhi temple? Buddhists have been given little
role in managing the affairs of the temple since 1949,' Anand,
who is also president of the Akhil Bharatiya Bhikkhu Mahasangh
(ABBM), an influential body of Buddhist monks, said.
He claimed the non-Buddhist control on the panel was the
reason for mismanagement and corruption in the temple. He
also charged that rare idols and relics have been stolen and
a branch of the holy Bodhi tree had been chopped off.
Another Buddhist monk Pragyadeep, who is associated with
the All India Monks Association, said the delay in re-constitution
of the BTMC was not good. 'The government should take the
matter seriously. After all, the Bodh Gaya temple is sacred
to millions around the world,' Pragyadeep said.
Anup Brahmachari, a Hindu monk, supports the demand of Buddhist
monks that a new panel be set up. 'I fail to understand why
the government is delaying announcement of a new panel,' said
Brahmachari. He had filed a criminal complaint against BMTC
officials in June last year alleging that they had ordered
a branch of the holy Bodhi tree be cut off.
According to the Mahabodhi Temple Management Act 1949, the
panel should comprise four Buddhists and the same number of
Hindu members for a three-year period with the Gaya district
magistrate as its ex-officio chairman and the Mahanth (presiding
priest) of Sankaracharya Math (Saivite monastery, Bodh Gaya)
as ex-officio Hindu member. The state government nominates
a Hindu as chairman for the period when the district magistrate
is a non-Hindu.
Despite repeated attempts, Gaya district magistrate Jitendra
Srivastava was not available for comments over the reason
for the delay.
It has been learnt from official sources in the Gaya district
administration as well as the temple that a senior district
official has been deputed as in-charge to look after the temple
The BTMC has over 75 staff, including 35 daily wagers, who
clean and look after the temple.
The Mahabodhi Temple, declared a World Heritage Site in 2002
by Unesco, is visited annually by thousands of tourists, especially
from Buddhist countries.
From the 3rd century A.D, Buddhism began to spread outside
India, travelling first to Ceylon, now Sri Lanka, and later
to Burma or Myanmar, Cambodia, China and Indonesia. It also
spread to Korea, Japan, Thailand and Tibet. In 1991, the number
of Buddhists in India stood at 6.4 million.