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Thứ Bảy, tháng 6 18, 2005

No. 0367

Nirvana nightmare

It’s the mecca of Buddhism and attracts 500,000 tourists annually but it’s in a state of disrepair, amid garbage piles, and facilities are non-existent
Posted online: Thursday, June 16, 2005 at 0204 hours IST

BODHGAYA, JUNE 15: In many ways, the Mahabodhi temple complex in this Bihar town is the Mecca of Buddhism. Every year, it attracts 500,000 tourists, 70,000 of them from abroad. There’s every sort of Buddhist here — traditionalist and trendy, old monk and neo-Buddhist. Or just those who gaze at the images carved in rock, telling a story that is at once history and legend, faith and folklore.

But Bodhgaya is no nirvana experience. The temple complex is spread over 14 acres — encompassing the seven different locations the Buddha stayed in for seven weeks following his enlightenment — and has been burdened with iron ladders for over two years. That was when the repair began, and has since been stalled.

Meanwhile, water seepage damages even the flagship Mahabodhi temple. The main gate to the complex — the original is believed to have been erected by Emperor Ashoka, the current one is about a century old — has paint flakes falling off, along with exposed bricks.

Adjacent to the main temple is the samadhi of four disciples of a 16th century Kanchi Shankaracharya. It resembles a graffiti wall. Indeed, the fascination for graffiti is visible everywhere, particularly in the complex near the Muchalinda Lake.

While the Bodhgaya complex is officially plastic-free, the waste is placed next door. Just beyond the lake area wall are piles and piles of plastic.

The 13 guides from the state tourism department are, between them, reasonably versed in English, Japanese, Korean and Chinese — an indication of the pan-Asian appeal of Bodhgaya. That is about the only concession for foreigners.

There are 10 toilets in the complex, each dirtier than the previous. Not one has a WC, not one is disabled-friendly. In October 2004, 25 Walkmans were procured, along with cassettes — there was an option of Hindi, English, Japanese or Korean — that would provide commentary on Bodhgaya. Visitors could use these for solo tours. By January 2005, the system had been discontinued. The 25 cassette players are now kept locked in the Temple Management Committee office.

The private sector is flourishing in Bodhgaya, even if quality control is nobody’s priority. There are some 50 hotels and numerous guest houses here, providing 2,000 rooms. Monasteries set up by Buddhist sects from various countries provide accommodation too. That aside there are numerous PCO booths, internet cafes, private meditation facilities.

Not surprisingly, the Mahabodhi temple complex is the town’s biggest industry. From rickshaw drivers to trinket shop owners, it is estimated 70 per cent of the Bodhygaya Nagar Panchayat’s 30,806 residents (2001 Census) depend on heritage tourism for a living.

What does the tourist get in return? Bad roads — the 1.5 km journey from the Mahabodhi temple to the Sujata temple can mutilate your backbone. Open sewage and the bazaar just outside the complex, the lack of a proper waste disposal system for the Bodhygaya main market: these are a direct threat to the monuments.

The Bodhgaya Temple Management Committee blames the Nagar Panchayat for the urban mess, the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) for the temple disrepair and, probably, The Indian Express for asking pointless questions.

‘‘We have made a proposal for renovation of the temple structure with a budget of Rs 35 lakh,’’ said Kalicharan Singh Yadav, member-secretary of the Committee. ‘‘We have already provided for Rs 20 lakh. Initially they sent a team to the site, but we did not like their work. We then asked ASI to send another expert team.’’

Others point to Yadav himself as being the problem. He is an RJD politician, member of the party that ruled Bihar till February. The Temple Management Committee — eight Hindus, eight Buddhists and the Gaya district magistrate as ex officio chairman — is appointed by the state government for a five-year term. Like everything else in Bihar, heritage too has been politicised.

Yadav says Rs 3 lakh is spent every month on salaries for 66 employees — only 15 of whom are permanent. Others openly allege a Yadav-run patronage network. Asked about the inadequate toilets, Yadav brushed aside the issue, ‘‘Things will be alright once the HUDCO plan is in place.’’ But the HUDCO masterplan for Bodhgaya has a 25-year time-frame!

The HUDCO plan was submitted to the Bihar government in December 2004. It envisaged spending Rs 540 crore over a quarter-century and converting, by 2032, Bodhgaya into a model tourist-pilgrimage town, with quality urban facilities.

As per the plan, a distance of between 500 metres and two kilometres — depending on direction — from the temple complex is to be declared a buffer zone, free of commercial activity. In 25 square kilometres around the complex, business centres, markets and residential colonies are to be developed.

In the short run, the plan will be painful. It will require 350 shops to be relocated and removal of the makeshift, biweekly Bodhgaya market. It will break down structures and realign roads, as in any town planning exercise.

In April 2005, the Nagar Panchayat was sent a copy of the HUDCO report. All hell broke loose. The local traders’ association called a two-day bandh, coinciding with the April 23-24 visit of a UNESCO conservation team.

‘‘The HUDCO plan will spell doom for us. They are planning to drive us out,’’ said Ashish Sinha, whose paan shop stocks a good number of foreign cigarette brands. Two thousand years after the Buddha, Bodhgaya awaits enlightenment
No. 0366 (Hạt Cát dịch)

Một ngôi chùa Phật Giáo bị kiện tụng vì tài khoản cúng dường

Nguyên cáo nói rằng vợ cũ dấu diếm ông ta đã cúng dường 300,000 dollars

Article Last Updated: 06/18/2005 03:58:23 AM

Tử Liên Tự, một tổ chức dự định sẽ xây dựng một trung tâm Phật Giáo đồ sộ và một trường học bên cạnh Công Viên Fredmont’s, SanFrancisco, bị kiện cáo bởi một người đàn ông nói rằng vợ cũ của ông ta đã bí mật cúng dường hằng trăm ngàn dollars tới tổ chức trước khi họ ly dị, căn cứ trên văn kiện của tòa án. Một người Ðài Loan, ông Ho Nien Au, 68 tuổi, sống tại HillsBorough, Sanfrancisco đã đệ đơn lên tòa án đòi ban tổ chức xây dựng Tử Liên Tự phải trả lại phân nửa số tiền $330,000 mà vợ cũ của ông ta đã đóng góp từ năm 1992.

Ðơn kiện cũng nêu đích danh vị lãnh đạo tinh thần của ngôi chùa là Ni Sư Samantha Chou và một vài thành viên khác. Tổ chức Tử Liên Tự trước kia vốn là hiệp hội Tử Liên USA, là một chi nhánh địa phương của hệ phái Chân Phật Tông thuộc Phật Giáo Mật Tông Trung Hoa do Ðại Sư Liên Sanh sáng lập . Tổ chức này đã kêu gọi yểm trợ trên trang nhà của nhóm cho ngân khoản xây dựng ngôi chùa chu vi 55,000 square –foot và một trường học rộng 33,000 square foot tại Fredmont trong khuôn viên 52.5 acres.

Trong đơn kiện, ông Âu nói rằng vào năm 1992, ông biết được vợ ông đã dấu diếm ông cúng dường 101,000 từ trong trương mục ngân hàng đứng tên chung. Ông Âu, một họa gia, thi gia và là một nhà kiến trúc người Ðài Loan, sau đó đã đến gặp Ni Sư Chou, cho biết là ông ta không tán đồng việc đóng góp và khuyến cáo tổ chức Tử Liên Tự là không nên tiếp nhận sự cúng dường trong tương lai của vợ ông, bà Rose.

Bất kể những cảnh cáo trên, ngôi chùa vẫn tiếp tục thu nhận thêm $229,473 trong suốt thập niên sau đó. Ngân khoản đóng góp từ $2,300 từ năm 1994 lên đến $64,189 trong năm 2000. Bà Rose cũng cúng dường cho các cở sở khác có liên hệ với Tử Liên Tự.

Luật Sư Robert Aaron, đại diện ngôi chùa đã không hồi đáp những cú điện thoại gọi đến hỏi han về vấn đề này, tuy nhiên họ cũng đã viết thư cho luật sư của ông Âu nói rằng “ Những công đức mà bà Rose đã cúng dường trong thời gian qua thuộc dạng cố định và được thu nhận bởi Tử Liên Tự trong thiện chí.
Một bản sao của đơn từ kiện tụng sẽ đang được đăng tải trên trang nhà www.theargusonline.com. Muốn biết thêm chi tiết về Tử Liên Tự mời vào trang web www.purplelotus.org/.

Buddhist temple fights lawsuit over donations

Plaintiff says ex-wife gave $330,000 without his knowledge
Article Last Updated: 06/18/2005 03:58:23 AM

The Purple Lotus Temple, which wants to build a massive Buddhist temple and school next to Fremont's Quarry Lakes park, is being sued by a man who says his ex-wife secretly donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the San Bruno organization before their divorce, court documents show.
Thomas Ho Nien Au of Taiwan, 68, who also has lived in San Francisco and Hillsborough, filed a lawsuit asking that the Buddhist group give back half of the $330,000 his ex-wife contributed since 1992, plus damages.

The suit also names Master Samantha Chou, the temple's spiritual leader, and other unnamed parties.

Au's attorney, Benjamin Ballard of Tiburon, said temple administrators are entitled to their opinion, but that after a year and a half of fact-finding, he still is convinced his client has a strong case.

"I think the claim was valid then, and I think it's valid now," Ballard said.

A trial is set for Aug. 22 in San Mateo County Superior Court.

The organization, formerly known as the Purple Lotus Society of the USA, is a local chapter of the True Buddha School. It is soliciting donations on its Web site to help fund a 55,000-square-foot temple and 35,000-square-foot school in Fremont on 51/2acres between Quarry Lakes Regional Recreation Area and the Union City border.

"We are still far from our target, but we hope to break ground in two years," the posting reads.

It's unclear whether any of the contributions from Au's wife, Rose Moo Lan Au, are earmarked for the $20 million project.

It was in August 1992 that Thomas Au first learned that his wife — without his knowledge or consent — had donated
$101,000 to the temple from their joint account, the suit states.

The Taiwanese artist, poet and university instructor then met with Chou, informing her he had not authorized the donation, according to the suit. He added that the temple should neither ask for nor accept future gifts from his wife.

Despite those warnings, the temple accepted an additional $229,473 from Rose Au during the next decade. Gifts ranged from $2,300 in 1994 to $64,189 in 2000. She also would give additional community property to other organizations affiliated with the temple, the suit states.

Attorney Robert Aaron, who represents the temple, did not return phone calls seeking comment. But the temple wrote in a letter to Thomas Au's attorney, "The donations made in the past by Ms. Au were irrevocable, bona fide on their face and accepted by the Purple Lotus Temple in good faith."

A copy of the suit is posted online at www.theargusonline.com. For information about the Purple Lotus Temple, log on to www.purplelotus.org/.

Staff writer Scott Wong can be reached at (510) 353-7002 or swong@dailyreviewonline.com.
No. 0365(Tinh Tấn dịch)
Chư Tăng tại Monywa khổ sở vì dịch tả

Được viết bởi Myo Gyi, Mizzima News
Ngày 17 tháng 6, 2005

Khoảng chín mươi vị Tăng của Tu Viện Phật Giáo Maha Zawtikayama ở Thành Phố Monywa, trung tâm Miến Điện, đã chịu đau đớn trong một trường hợp bệnh dịch tả trầm trọng và đã được nội khoa điều trị.
Cơn bệnh dịch tả này, đã tạo ra hoang mang giữa Chư Tăng của tu viện lớn nhất ở Monywa, bắt đầu ngày 12 tháng 6 sau khi Chư Tăng thuật lại là đã thọ thực những trái cây “cũ và chín muồi”.
Hôm qua, một vị Tăng tại tu viện nói: “ Tình trạng bây giờ không đến nổi nào. Vài vị Tăng đã được phép trở về tu viện.”
Một bác sĩ hướng dẫn một nhóm cán bộ y tế đã mở một trạm cấp cứu bên trong khu vực tu viện cho các Chư Tăng bị bệnh. Ngoài ra, vài vị tăng đang được điều trị tại bệnh viện dân sự ở Monywa.
Theo tường trình, ngoài 74 vị Tăng được điều trị tại trạm cấp cứu, trên 30 vị đã trở về tu viện sau 3 – 4 ngày chữa bệnh. Trong khi đó, 8 vị trong số 13 vị Tăng được đưa đến bệnh viện dân sự đã phục hồi sức khỏe.
Gần đây, có ít nhất 3 tử vong được tường trình ở quận Myaing trong trung tâm Miến Điện, nguyên nhân do cơn bệnh dịch tả tương tợ.

(tinhtan dich)

Monks in Monywa Suffer From Cholera

Myo Gyi
Mizzima News (www.mizzima.com)
June 17, 2005

About ninety monks of Maha Zawtikayama Buddhist Monastery in Monywa Town, central Burma, suffered from a severe case of cholera and have been given medical treatment.

The cholera case, which created panic among the monks of Monywa's largest monastery, started on June 12th after the monks were reportedly consuming "old and over-ripe" fruits.

"The situation is not that bad now. Some of the monks were allowed to return home," one monk from the monastery said yesterday.

A team of health staff led by one doctor opened an emergency clinic within the monastery compound for the sick monks. Apart from this, some monks were being cured at Monywa's civil hospital.

Reportedly, out of the seventy-four monks who received treatment in the emergency clinic, over thirty have returned home after receiving 3-4 days treatment. Meanwhile, eight out of the thirteen monks taken to civil hospital recovered.

Recently, there have been reports of at least three deaths in Myaing Township in central Burma, caused by a similar cholera disease.