By Vishnuguptha –
Would the rise of Balakayas cast a blemish on Buddhist Order in Sri Lanka?
An open letter to Malwatte and Asgiriya Mahanayake Theros…
Most Venerable Sirs,
Let’s not go into the legal and theological mumbo-jumbo. The person who calls himself Galagodaaththe Gnanasara is no Buddhist Monk nor is he a guardian of the teachings of the Great One. He may well be a safe keeper of certain temples and shrines that pretend to be preaching the Four Noble Truths and Arya Ashtangikha Marga (Eight Noble Paths) but he is indulging in all sorts of unholy mundane practices and greed. Such charlatans can be found not only in saffron robes but also in ungodly cloaks of other religious garbs.
But the immense shame and disrepute that his recent actions have heaped upon the pious and devoted Buddhists who, day in and day out attempt to practice and observe so enthusiastically and passionately the fundamentals of the Dharma of the Great Teacher, Gautama the Buddha, have been accumulating over the last two years. The cumulative ill-effects are almost infinite; the disgrace that these pretenders have caused to the purity and serenity of the Teachings is beyond the pale and irrefutable.
Yet the most unfortunate aspect of this entire ‘crusade’ undertaken by these dishonorable ‘Monks’ is that not a single prelate of the Buddha Sasana has had the courage or the willingness to call it what it really is. One can well understand if lay leaders are keeping quiet about these shenanigans committed by these ‘dusseela’ (impious) members of the Sasana. But as those who receive all accolades and reverence from the lay followers and pious devotees of the Dharma, you, Most Venerable Sirs, have an inherent right and obligation to uphold the basic principles at lofty levels. In trying to do so, keeping those dusseela Monks away from the Sasana is of primary significance. If any disciplinary action is deemed necessary in order to keep the Dharma unspoiled, unsoiled and holy, such disciplinary action must be taken forthwith.
The least Your Reverence could do is issue a public statement denouncing the crude and ‘unBuddhist’ behavior of this Monk in question. Keeping quiet would not only encourage this lunatic person to continue his mad and hasty run towards total destruction of our faith in the spirit in which the Sasana was established by the Buddha; it would also, by implication, signal that this outrageous conduct on the part of this Monks is being condoned by the High Priests of the Order. I am not sure that such a state of affairs is what is desired by Your Reverence nor would it be a legacy that you would desire to leave behind. And it won’t be tolerated by the reasonable and pious lay devotees of our religion either.
Barging into a press conference like an overfed punkish Mafioso, this demented man intimidated, screamed at and nearly manhandled another Bhikku. Intolerance of other beliefs is a no-no as far as the Teachings of the Buddha are concerned. Yet this man displayed for the entire world to behold how a member of Buddhist Clergy should not conduct himself. But the inevitable question remains: What can we do about it as responsible and reasonable members of a civilized society and what can Your Reverence do to prevent such atrocities being committed by a member of your own order?
At a time when the entire country is being engulfed in a phony sense of nationalism which is mistakenly identified and defined as patriotism and when non-Buddhist religions and their clergy are being subjected to inhuman and completely shameful disgrace, I as a fervent believer in the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Noble Paths, and as a reasonable human being, appeal to you to initiate some action with a view to arresting a fast-declining situation. If timely action is not taken to arrest these acts of sheer brandishing of untruths and desecrations of fundamental human values and if Your Reverence choose to keep muted about this approaching disaster, then the scorn and fault-finding by future generations would fairly and squarely be hurled upon you and the rest of the Buddha Sasana. You will be indicted on the count that you fell asleep while the unruly and uncouth elements entered the hallowed precincts of the Sasana and committed carnage to its sacred values and teachings. Their visceral relationship with their own beliefs and prejudices are undoubtedly based on some primordial instincts of man that have made man more beastlike than a reasoning organism. And that primitive organism seems to have taken possession of these counterfeit-saviors.
Even now, it’s not too late for Your Reverence to do something, something which might just save the day and not so much for you personally but for the continuation of the Order without a major catastrophe. But that action you might take should not be ambivalent nor should it be ambiguous. It should be categorical and uncompromising for what is at stake may be much more than you care to realize. Bodhu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya and all such fringe organizations do not represent the Maha Sangha; they do not preach nor do they practice the sublime Teachings of Gautama Buddha. On the contrary, they are a threat to the very continuation of the Dharma and Sasana.
No lay organization nor any political party including leading politicians would undertake such an awesome responsibility of calling the bluff of these ‘terrorists in saffron robes’. In fact some of the politicians willfully back these pretenders and provide cover and refuge in the hope that driving a frenzy of phony patriotism would reap a harvest of votes at the next elections. Those who really think otherwise are too afraid to call a spade a spade. But in this cruel world, nothing is crueler that a coward. Fear not for any worldly paybacks including white vans for the downward slope that these Balakayas are taking the lay devotees is feverishly volatile; its slippery slope is inviting yet dangerously clogged up at the end and it’s not that they’re going down alone, they’re taking you also down with them.
Reasonable men got rules, criminals don’t. These extreme elements that are dominating the socio-political drama today don’t seem to obey the rules of a civilian and civilized society; they don’t seem to recognize that there is an alternative to every shade of thinking and thought. In a civilized society, differences are settled in an amicable, decent and civil manner within the confines of the law. We should not be just a country of men and women. We are a country of laws. That should be shown to these lawless elements in no uncertain ways.
Allow me to lay down some options that are available in this regard to the higher echelons of the Sasana:
- Issue a public statement enunciating what is being done by these Balakayes and their patron Monks is plainly wrong.
- Tell the world that you denounce these acts most categorically and unequivocally.
- Tell the world that these persons in saffron robes who propagate ethnic violence and ethnic disunity have no place among the pious Monks of the Buddha Sasana.
- Tell these Monks in question to seek professional help in psychiatry and behavioral-management before they step into society again.
- Make an appeal to all politicians to refrain from hate-speech
- Ask all politicians to stay away from funding the organizations that engage in hate speech and racial discrimination.
All you may be able to do is make an appeal. I fully realize that, in terms of the Order of the Buddha Sasana, individual Monks are not subject to any hierarchical disciplinary action. But what would stop Your Reverence from making an appeal in the name of humanity, in the name of the Dharma that you are purported to protect and disseminate and in the name of the continuation of the Buddha Sasana? Standing in the middle doesn’t get you anywhere. You have to take the turn in the right direction.
May the blessings of the Triple Gem be with you and this land of ours!
*Writer can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org