There’s a video doing the rounds on certain Social Media sites. This film is of a small ‘demon’, being restrained and in distress – the story goes that this ‘demon’, I guess comparable to a a so-called ‘hungry ghost’ (preta/peta) was previously a blonde European female. She had travelled to Bodh Gaya and attempted to measure the feet of a prominent image of the Buddha. This act had caused her to be turned her into this petrified and squawking being, the one depicted and trending on the Social Media video.
Clearly the intention is to suggest that the girl had committed some sort of ‘blasphemy’ against Buddhism, against the sassanna. The intention behind her act is perhaps related to the idea of the footprint of the Buddha (Buddhapada). As is well known these are places of pilgrimage and devotion in countries to where Buddhism has migrated. And the footprints are often exaggerated in size. The idea is clearly that the historical Buddha visited these various locations and the exaggerated size is only a problem for the disrespectful outsider.
There could of course be examples of people showing disrespect to Buddhism in the Pali Canon and commentaries and bad things happening to them, though example do not immediately spring to mind – I would be happy to be offered some examples. The episode I am describing is simply a modern version of these stories.