By Sarath Buddhadasa –
We entered Peradeniya university way back in the late 1970s with the hope of creating a future for our families and also to enjoy life while contributing to the progress of society, since it was the people of this country who sustained us in the universities by way of direct and indirect taxes paid to the government to provide us free education.
We were fortunate that the country was saved from the clutches of terrorism by President Mahinda Rajapakse and his team, with the help of many supporters here and abroad, in May 2009. This gave us a new ray of hope and impetus. The nation drew a peaceful breath after 30 years and the people were confident of the country’s future. We were sure that such a dark era will not befall us ever again. We started building peace and rebuilding the much needed trust between communities. There were many efforts and sacrifices made to rehabilitate and re-integrate disaffected youth and peace building was initiated with our Tamil speaking fellow countrymen and women.
Now what is the situation in our country today?
Just like what we saw way back in the 1970s as young university students and caused us to lose our hopes, this nation is again heading or being dragged towards a very pathetic and catastrophic destination. This time it is by a gang called BBS (Boru Bana Sena) creating havoc and frustration at every turn and in every corner in the country in the name of Buddhism.
Although the BBS may say so, I as a Sri Lankan and a Buddhist, frankly doubt whether this country’s Buddhists are against the practices of another faith, adhered to by our partner community. Surely, any true Sinhala Buddhist with a decent IQ level will realize by observing the behavior of this BBS gang that it is undoubtedly against Buddhism and Sinhalese.
Why do I say this? At the outset they created the halal issue. This was amicably resolved with the mediation of intelligent, educated venerable monks like Bellanvila Wimalarathana. Then they attacked business places belonging to Muslims. Later, they attacked Sinhala Buddhist girls and boys alleging that their love affairs are immoral and not compatible with Sinhala Buddhist principles or standards. They organized their ‘golayas’ to attack Buddhists, throwing spoiled eggs at those who patronized businesses owned by another community. Just last week they unfairly criticized our High Commissioner in Singapore, a patriotic lady, Ferial Ashraf and now they are threatening our cricketers.
They are destroying our socio-cultural and economic landscape in an accelerated manner. They destroy the sentiments of peace loving people of this country. They destroy the image of the country. They draw the President and the government into an uneasy scenario, consciously or unconsciously serving the interests of our enemies and extremists.
Is this the Buddhist way of life? The Buddhism we know is not this. What the most Reverend Walpola Rahula did not teach us yesterday and would never have taught us, the BBS is trying to teach us today!
I don’t think this will do any good to Buddhism or Sinhalese. This may serve our international enemies who are trying to destroy Sri Lanka. In that sense, I entertain doubts that this so called BBS is either directly or indirectly supported by some parties who are against Sri Lanka. This assumption is getting re-inforced when you see what is going on in Burma/Myanmar now.
We must be ashamed of ourselves if we allow this gang to continue in this way. I am sure if this virus-like menace is not stopped today, it will drag us to the graveyard tomorrow.
So, this appeal goes to the Mahanayaka Theros in this country and specially the Sinhala Buddhist community. Please unite and create awareness in our society asking each and every citizen not to get deceived by or patronize these anti Sinhala-Buddhist elements. Learn from our forefathers as to how they treated and lived in harmony with other communities in the past.
I remember how I used to go with my parents to the Dalada Maligawa in Kandy and attend the Sri Rajopavanaramaya Dhamma School at Getambe to study Buddhism, striving to mold myself as a person guided by the Buddhist way of life. Since our childhood, we have been trained in our Dhamma schools to chant every night before we go to sleep, the verse ‘siyalu sathvayo niduk vethwa, neerogi vethwa, suwapathwethwa’. This is the Buddhism we know and try to practice.
According to the Buddha, we belong to the human race. When we forget this universal truth and allow these destructive behaviors and trends created by these 21st century Devadattas to continue, are you and I not forgetting about Buddhism?
*Dr Buddhadasa is Managing Director, Business Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd, Sri Lanka