9 August, 2020

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Bigotry Of Sinhalabuddhism

By Sharmini Serasinghe

Sharmini Serasinghe

It appears that the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) and its acolytes have taken a page from the book of the Anagarika Dharmapala (Homeless Protector of the Dhamma) in espousing the same flavour of bigotry as he did in pre independent Ceylon. Intolerance of the religion of the other was the ‘Dhamma’ protected, practiced and propagated by this ‘National Hero’ the Anagarika Dharmapala!

Given the sociological climate of pre independent Ceylon one could appreciate the fact that the Anagarika was rebelling against the British colonial invader who were subjugating the masses in the most deplorable way. But when one takes a closer look at the obvious, he was not fighting the colonial invaders on behalf of all Lankans as a whole but only on behalf of the Sinhalese Buddhists in the country. In such a context can he be regarded as a National Hero?

What is also obvious is that the Anagarika’s reasons for rejecting British imperialism were not so much about the overall political and economic betterment of the country but more about establishing a Sinhala nation as the perceived historical custodian of Buddhism.

Though he died fifteen years prior to British occupied Ceylon gained independence he had aspired for Lanka to eventually emerge as a nation where Buddhism and the ‘pristine glory’ of his Sinhalese people could flourish again. Followers of other religious faith were therefore not included in his equation of a nation. This posture clearly divided the Sinhalese Buddhists of Lanka and the other ethno-religious citizenry of the country.

Therefore the Anagarika cannot be regarded as a pristine model of Buddhism which he aptly demonstrated through his chauvinistic rhetorical fire aimed not only at the colonial invaders but at his own countrymen as well. For him Lanka was only for Sinhala Buddhists and none other!

The Anagarika appears to have suffered from an acute persecution complex with regard to the survival of Buddhism, perhaps born out of a malaise of what he suffered under the British invader. He seems to have entertained a morbid fear of Buddhism becoming extinct.

Therefore he donned the mantle of a ‘Bodhisattva’ and projected himself as the saviour of Buddhism despite the Buddha not having entrusted him with the task of doing so. Nevertheless he did a bad job of it. Instead of spreading the message of the Dhamma and living by example as the Buddha had preached it, the Anagarika added his own flavour to the faith in the form of intolerance of other religions and ethnic groups- the exact opposite of the Dhamma.

The Anagarika’s intolerance of the other was clearly evinced through his customary vitriolic rhetorical fire-

He said “This bright, beautiful island was made into a Paradise by the Aryan Sinhalese before its destruction was brought about by the barbaric vandals. Its people did not know irreligion … Christianity and polytheism [i.e. Hinduism] are responsible for the vulgar practices of killing animals, stealing, prostitution, licentiousness, lying and drunkenness … The ancient, historic, refined people, under the diabolism of vicious paganism, introduced by the British administrators, are now declining slowly away.”

He also said “The Muhammedans, an alien people … by shylockian methods become prosperous like Jews. The Sinhala sons of the soil, whose ancestors for 2358 years had shed rivers of blood to keep the country free of alien invaders … are in the eyes of the British only vagabonds. The Alien South Indian Muhammedan come to Ceylon, sees the neglected villager, without any experience in trade … and the result is that the Muhammedan thrives and the sons of the sol go to the wall.

This posture of the Anagarika contributed to religious tension between Buddhists and Muslims of pre independent Ceylon culminating in what history records as the ‘1915 Riots.’ It is said that the numbers of Lankans killed in these riots were in the thousands. For this the Anagarika too has blood on his hands while giving a foothold for ‘ethnocratic’ politics in post independent Lanka to take root as espoused by SWRD Bandaranaike.

In the end what the Anagarika propagated amongst the masses was a chauvinistic ideology under the banner of Buddhism devoid of the philosophy, intellectuality and a path to self discovery of the truth as the Buddha meant it to be. The Anagarika ‘Buddhism’ also comprised of unearthing Buddhist relics of the past and setting up symbols encouraging his followers to worship and revere Buddhism- the exact opposite of what the Buddha preached. Therefore the Anagarika’s ‘Buddhism’ was from the ‘outside’ and not the ‘inside’.

By doing so he contributed more to Buddhist archeology than to the Dhamma. By doing so he diverted the philosophy to a religion of worship catering to the gullible. By doing so he turned the philosophy into hypocrisy. By doing so he sapped the essence of the Dhamma!

In today’s context it appears the BBS, JHU and the rest of its ilk have chosen the path of ‘Buddhism’ as propagated by the Anagarika Dharmapala. It is precisely what he strived to establish in Lanka all those years ago- a Sinhalabuddhist nation with a subservient other. Therefore what is being observed today by the extremists under the banner of Buddhism is in effect the Anagarika’s ‘Sinhalabuddhism’ and not Buddhism.

Hence, would it not be better for those statues of the Buddha to be replaced by statues of the Anagarika Dharmapala?

Let those of us who wish to observe and follow the teachings of the Buddha as per the Dhamma be permitted to do so since Buddhists do not require statues to worship anyway and let the rest- the Sinhalabuddhist extremists follow their own path to self-destruction. After all this is a democracy!

Given all the above could the Anagarika be regarded as a National Hero or a Sinhalabuddhist Hero? I believe the latter would be more appropriate.

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Latest comments

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    Be careful Sharmini, I was watching a crude body bala fellow on TV, he thinks the entire buddhist, sinhalese , populance of sri lanka are with him and his cohorts.
    He obviously was dreaming

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    Bring back Buddhism!

    True Buddhists should not keep quiet anymore.

    Sharmini, thankssssssssssss

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    I agree about individuals with foreign names trying to prove themsleves as Sinhala buddhist.

    Look at NQ Dias – very good example who begot Gomin Dayasiri a rabid racist just like his father, except that one was Dias and the other, Dayasiri!

    What frauds!

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      What about Prof. Nalin De Silva? I am seriously beginning to wonder whether these buggers under the pretext of safeguarding Sinhala Buddhism, are actually destroying the Sinhalese race who were magnanimous and a hospitable Nation.

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        gamini

        I have repeatedly made precisely the same point in my previous comments.

        Those who are unsure of their own identity make all sorts of claims and counter claims to hide it from others.

        Is Prof. Nalin De Silva trying to hide some thing from rest of the country that would question his own heritage?

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    if only monks could be monks we will solve all our problems and move on; but that does not appear to be something that can ever happen in sri lanka. we are all cursed.

    [Edited out]

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    A timely exposition of the zealotry of sinhalabuddhism by Sharmini and a scholarly rendition of comments by Kumar. Thanks.

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    Anagarika Dharmapala (Don David Hewavitarane) was one of the primary contributors to the Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalism and racism in Sri Lanka. His Sinhala-Buddhist ideology sometimes shows close relationships to Hitler’s Nazism. Like Hitler, Dharmapala believed that Sinhalese are a pure Aryan race with unmixed blood. He claimed that Sinhalese women must take care not to mix with the minority races of the country. If this SinhalaBuddhist hero Anagarika Dharmapala lives in western world today, he will be charged for hate crimes. Let`s see the Sinhala Hero`s opinion about the MUSLIMS OF SRI LANKA.

    He once said,

    “This bright, beautiful island was made into a Paradise by the Aryan Sinhalese before its destruction was brought about by the barbaric vandals. Its people did not know irreligion… Christianity and polytheism [i.e. Hinduism] are responsible for the vulgar practices of killing animals, stealing, prostitution, licentiousness, lying and drunkenness”.

    He spewed racist venom against the minorities in Sri Lanka. With Regards to the Muslims of Sri Lanka he said,

    The MUHAMMEDANS, an alien people, who in the early part of the nineteenth century were common traders, by Shylockian methods became prosperous like the Jews. The Sinhalese, sons of the soil, whose ancestors from 2358 years had shed rivers of blood to keep the country free from alien invaders, who had constructed gigantic tanks to irrigate millions of acres, who had built the most artistic temples which have today become the admiration of the antiquarian and scholar, today they are in the eyes of the British only vagabonds….

    The alien South Indian MUHAMMEDAN comes to Ceylon, sees the neglected illiterate villagers without any experience in trade, without any knowledge of any kind of technical industry and isolated from the whole of Asia on account of his language, religion and race, and the result is the Muhammedan thrives and the son of the soil goes to the wall…….

    What the German is to the Britisher that the MUHAMMEDAN is to the Sinhalese. He is an alien to the Sinhalese by religion, race and language. He traces his origin to Arabia, whilst the Sinhalese traces his origin to India and to Aryan sources……..

    By early 1921, Hitler was becoming highly effective at speaking in front of large crowds. In February , Hitler spoke before a crowd of nearly six thousand in Muaround with swastikas, cause a commotion and throw out leaflets, their first use of this tactic. Hitler gained notoriety outside of the party for his rowdy, polemic speeches against the Treaty of Versailles, rival politicians (including monarchists, nationalists and other non-internationalist socialists) and especially against Marxists and Jews.

    In the 1930s Aryan racial superiority propagated by the Nazis in Germany, was echoed in Ceylon through Don David Hewavitharane who changed his name to Anagarika Dharmapala.
    As Sharmini Serasinghe said, a SinhalaBuddhist racist supremacist like Anagarika Dharmapala cannot be called as a National leader or National hero of a multi ethnic, multi lingual, multi religious and multi cultural country like Sri Lanka.

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      Of course Dharmapala had to use strong words to revive Buddhist identity that was facing a decline due to colonial influences which were using minority communities to suppress the Sinhala Buddhists who posed the only threat to their rule. He and others like Migetuwattae Gunananda ( panadura Debate ) were revivalists.

      Did Dharmapala encourage attacks against minorities like Hitler ?

      Go to any democratic country and you will find people like Dharmapala even today

      I dont believe in any religion, but Buddhism is a harmless & intellectual philosophy and Dharmapala was right to fight to save it from extinction in Sri Lanka

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        American Mama

        “Of course Dharmapala had to use strong words to revive Buddhist identity that was facing a decline due to colonial influences which were using minority communities to suppress the Sinhala Buddhists who posed the only threat to their rule”

        How did the colonial power use the minority communities to suppress the Sinhala Buddhists? Could you list incidents.

        Have you worked out the difference between 100% and 1000%?

        If you need any help just ask, my elders, they are very good at abstract mathematics too.

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          @Native Veddah

          Seriously ? Are U still thinking about the 1000% vs 100%. I got Ur attention with that one didn’t I ? :)

          Well I have been away from the mother land for over 30 years now but from what i read when i was young the Brits were into “divide & rule ” big time. That’s where the minorities came in.

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            American Maama:
            Typical of your advanced academic qualifications, you have simply dodged the question that Native Vedda asked. An old trick, this ancient “Koheda yannay, mallay pol” response. Nothing original about it!

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              Appochchi my friend

              The bird once asked the worm “why are U so slippery ?”

              The worm replied ” That’s just the way I am !”

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        Mama,

        So according to your logic, because there are ultra nationalist and racist scums in the Democratic ?? West, with the calibre of Dharmapala, Dharmapala must be right? That is not logic! That is called an enslaved mind, enslaved to the West. The right opposite of what Dharmapala claimed to be fighting against.

        Also, if you stop your bigotry for a minute, you will quickly appreciate that Muslims have actually fought against all three Western colonial powers that occupied us for over 450 years. It is outrageous to suggest that minorities were co opted by the colonialists.

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          @Lionel

          – Freedom of speech has very few limitations. “hate speech” is well defined and nothing Dharmapala said falls under that category. Just saying Buddhists are being exploited by others or are from aryan origin ( which may have scientific facts to back it up such as genetic makeup & language etc )is not hate speech.

          – So any one who agrees with a muslim, a tamil, or any other minority is a perfect, erudite, right-thinking gentleman/woman WHILE anyone who disagrees with what a minority is a bigot?

          – If one of these minorities that U are trying to defend so chivalrously were in the majority in Sri Lanka you would receive first hand experience in what bigotry is like !

          – Don’t try to preach justice & fairplay to me. All humans are dogs and everyone is looking out for their own kind.

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            Madam Americana,

            “Don’t try to preach justice & fairplay to me. All humans are dogs and everyone is looking out for their own kind.”

            That says it all. You are not for fair play! Just to dog around, i mean bitch around!

            A classic example of your bigotry is when you say that minorities in this country were co opted by the Colonialists, whereas there is ample historical evidence to prove that it is not the case.

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              It’s called “divide and rule” my friend.

              The Brits used Punjabis to kill bengalis, Bengalis to kill marathas and Ghurkhas to kill everyone else.

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            American mama:
            How about defining the statement that, ‘“hate speech” is well defined.”

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              Appochchi my old friend,

              U are very internet savy quite obviously. The answer you seek can be easily found on google by using ”define hate speech”

              So why waste many paragraphs of space as well as the precious time of CT moderators, defining such trivia.

              I don’t believe in lengthy discussions. Short & sweet. Say the needful

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    a wide ball,nothing important :P
    typical anti-sinhala buddhist’s mentallity.

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      Your’s is a dead ball. You chuck but still can’t get it right. Stop wetting your pants and argue like an adult.

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    Sharmini Serasinghe’s anxiety for a peaceful co-existence of all religious communities in the country is reasonable. But upon an analysis of the events that occurred during the period of Anagarika Dharmapala, it is difficult to arrive at a conclusion that he was instrumental for today’s tension and conflict between the religious communities. He only saw the decline of Buddhism. That does not mean he was against other religions. It should not be forgotten that Anagarika Dharmapala participated at the World Parliament of Religions held in 1893 at Chicago, representing Buddhism., while Swami Vivekananda also participated representing Hinduism. Dharmapala was the pioneer in the revival of Buddhism in India. The religious leaders and scholars were only exchanging their views. Though he recognized the basic differences in the beliefs and practices between Hinduism and Buddhism, he saw a basic commonality, which made co-existence possible and desirable. Dharmapala attributed the decline of Buddhism and Buddha rule to Muslim invasion from the North-West. In fact, he was sad because the religion of enlightenment was nowhere to be found. Neverthless, Dharmapala asserted that he saw a link between the ideas expressed in the Bhagavad Gita and Buddhism. Dharmapala proposed the notion that Buddhism was materialistic. He maintained that Lord Buddha was never an agnostic and reiterated that Buddhism rested on realistic idealism. Further, Dharmapala reminded that Lord Buddha asked his followers to avoid the extremes and stick to the middle path, which is a very practical and noble way to live and be happy in this world. It is this middle path that would lead to peace of mind, higher wisdom and full enlightenment, known as Nirvana. Dharmapala was of the view that these ideas would be acceptable as the society progressed in terms of education and intellect. In the premises it is difficult to think that Anagarika propagated amongst the masses was a chauvinistic ideology under the banner of Buddhism devoid of the philosophy, intellectuality and a path to self discovery of the truth as the Buddha meant it to be. He may have been emotional, but he was only concerned of how Buddhist principle’s Dharma being neglected because of the political events at that crucial period. As politicians also contributed a major role for laying the foundation of a Sinhala Nation, it is unfair to blame Anagarika Dharmapala fully. It could be said that the politicians utilized Anagarika Dharmapalas action for establishing a Sinhala Nation. Moreover, had the British established a Federal structure during their period, today the Sinhala and Tamil Nations would have certainly co-existed peacefully. As he was aware about the co-existence Hinduism and Buddhism, it is very unlikely that he would have desired that Sri Lanka is meant for Sinhalese only, though he was stressing that India would have been better had Buddhism been given priority. Perhaps Anagarika Dharmapala could have failed to read the minds of the Indian scholars who always accommodate every religion and practiced tolerance or that he would have failed to realize that Hinduism accommodates every religion within its fold. Hinduism always encourages others to follow their faiths in its true perspective. Hinduism never believes in conversion. Anagarika Dharmapala was also aware of the links Hinduism had with every religion such as Judaism, Islam, Helenism, while Saivaism, Buddhism, Jainism, Vaishnavism, Sakthism and Sikhism are considered as off shoots of Hinduism and co-existed in India since time immemorial. Hinduism is a Universal religion. Every religion teaches the path to reach God. Only the approaches are different. Extremism is not a healthy sign. Because of his strong passion for Buddhism when it was on the verge of being it neglected, Anagarika Dharmapala was really interested in revival of Buddhism. But it has become a sordid state of affair that a group of men had formed Buddhist Organizations such as BBS, etc to paint a picture in the minds of the public that they are the champions of Buddhism. It is the moral obligation of the government to remind that non-violence is the nucleus of every religion for which control of emotions is a vital factor. Anagarika Dharmapala was engaged in engaged in reviving Buddhism when the rulers were British and the people were Sri Lankans. Today the BBS is engaging with emotions on the pretext of reviving or saving Buddhism when the rulers are Sri Lankans. Perhaps the rulers could have adapted tactics to deviate the attention of the public by arousing such religious animosity among the communities because the country is marching towards its downfall on account of its malignant economic policy and lack of the Rule of Law, with the view to secure their stay in power and accumulated wealth. Had Anagarika Dharmapala been alive today and smelt the threat to Buddhism, he would have urged the government to invite all the religious leaders and scholars through the Ministry to have a healthy discussion on the unification of religions. Otherwise all his efforts to revive Buddhism would have been in vain, which the BBS should have in mind.

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    Even God can be shown in a bad light I guess (not that I believe in God )

    Some time back Christopher Hitchens wrote a very negative article criticizing mother Teresa stating that she was after publicity and that the funds collected by her organization were not being used appropriately etc etc. But I am sure Mr Hitchens who passed away recently and who I admire very much never for once in his life did or would do what Mother Teresa did for the poor & destitute in Calcutta.

    It is very easy to sit behind a computer and write theories about anyone. There are champions of certain causes and Dharmapala was one of them. He was trying to instil religious and ethnic pride into the Sinhalese Buddhists who were relegated to the bottom of the totem pole at the time & had losttheir identitiy due to colonial influences. Maybe he was not perfect. But he certainly was no Hitler.

    The writer ( who demonstrates a very venomous personality judging by the contents of her article )should try writing such a vitriolic article about a mullah in an Islamic nation and see whether she & her family can survive for long. That is the value and beauty of Buddhism that the Anagarike fought so hard to preserve.

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      American Mama

      “It is very easy to sit behind a computer and write theories about anyone.”

      Such as 100% = 1000%.

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      Madam from America,

      there isn’t a lot that this ‘Buddhist country’ can be proud of! There are 4 to 5 women being raped daily here. Perhaps you should divert your energies to fight against something like rape, instead of trying to defend those sowing seeds of discord such as BBS, and their guru, Dharmapla!

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        Call me uncle (mama) darling !

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          If you that turns you on, then i will. But not in public though … :P.

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            Darling,

            The last time I checked, I was a man. So it is ‘mama’ as in uncle. Not ‘mama’ as in ‘momma.’ It’s that crazy vernacular thing again :)

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              oh! that was the last time! Check again! I sense major changes. :P

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    Sharmini has touched the untouchable. An icon stands debunked. She has called his vestments nothing more than emperor’s clothes.Let the glimmer begin to glow more.

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    Anagarika called us Sinhalabuddhits Aryans right?. How cool is that?.

    Especially when some of our own sel claimed Sinhalabuddhism followers look full on pure Aryans.

    According to Ms Shirani’s dating, Anagaraika also predicted. that the West is all about “Love Sex and Drugs”.

    And that is long before Bob Dylan was even born.

    60 percent of Sinhala Buddhists who are under the age of 40 wouldn’t have a clue who this Anagarika is or was.

    The few Facebooking Sinhalabuddhism followers may think Anagarika is a cool dude for his predictions.

    Jogging on the roof top of my rented Wellawatta pad this morning, all I heard was bells and the drums of the Ramakrishna Temple.

    No Pirith , no Prayers at all and it was 6 AM.

    Wonder whether our nasty Sinhalabuddhists and their new enemy our Arab descent brethren are lazy asses who sleep in?

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      You are a coward and an imposter. Your embalm and writing style is completely different to that of real K.A Sumanasekera. Shame on you.

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      K.A Sumanasekera

      “No Pirith , no Prayers at all and it was 6 AM.”

      Because you don’t have any Buddhists in this island anymore. All what you have is the Sinhala/Buddhists who don’t give a toss about Buddha’s teaching.

      I suggest you better convert to Buddhism and liberate Buddhism from Sinhala/Buddhists who are the curse and not the blessing.

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    Sharmini
    I admire your intellectual honesty and courage. Now I understand why you could not fit into an environment of Dharmapala followers and admirers. If you are still in Sri Lanka – I do not watch TV nowadays – better leave the country

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    Since Sinala- Buddhism and its implications for Sri Lanka are the topic under discussion, I present below a review of a book on the topic written by Richard Gombridge and Gananath Obeysekera:

    Reviewed book: Buddhism Transformed: Religious Change in Sri Lanka. By Richard Gombrich and Gananath Obeyesekere. Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1988. Pp. xvi + 484. $49.50.

    Oxford Indologist Richard Gombrich and Princeton anthropologist Gananath Obeyesekere, two of the world’s leading scholars on Theravada Buddhism, have written a very significant, challenging, and controversial book on the changing nature of Sinhala Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Although Buddhism Transformed was published in 1988, their research, based largely on their own personal interviews and perceptions of changes, was conducted for the most part in the 1960s and especially in the 1970s. This means that, with the exception of several sections near the end of the book, Buddhism transformed is not analyzed in terms of the tremendous transformations arising from the ethnic riots of 1983 and the Tamil-Sinhala civil war ever since.

    Especially noteworthy is the attempt by Gombrich and Obeyesekere to grasp recent changes in Sinhala Buddhism as directly related to rapid changes in Sri Lankan material and social life. While avoiding any oversimplified reductionistic causal explanation, they provide invaluable background information and analysis: on the destruction of traditional village community and identity; the emergence of new class formations; and rapidly escalating population, urbanization, educational opportunities, and unfulfilled expectations.

    The authors differentiate three forms of Sinhala Buddhist religion: traditional Buddhism — the Theravada of the Buddha, the sangha, and the Pali Canon; “spirit religion,” to which they devote almost half the book; and “Protestant Buddhism,” to which they devote most of the second half. In the last few chapters, they show how the spirit religion and Protestant Buddhism have interacted and mixed recently in complex ways, with the spirit religion providing the major influences; they speculate on possibilities for new religious syntheses not unrelated to earlier developments in India’s Hinduism.

    “Spirit religion,” which is defined at one point as the non-Buddhist part of the religion of Sinhala Buddhists, is nothing new. Deities, such as the gods Visnu, Natha, Saman, Vibhisana, and Kataragama and the goddess Pattini, demons, and the manipulation of supernatural powers have long been a part of Sinhala Buddhism. Spirit religion deals not with Buddhist soteriology, the ultimate aim, but rather with mundane aims and worldly welfare.

    Emphasized is the tremendous recent growth of spirit religion, especially among the “lower” classes of the oppressed and suffering urban poor, where new “cult groups” provide a desperately needed sense of community. Detailed accounts are provided of the increasing prominence of three deities: Huniyam, Kali, and especially Kataragama. An outstanding characteristic of recent spirit religion, in contrast with the rational and humane traditional Buddhist emphasis on dispassionate awareness and control of desires and emotions, is the prevalence of the highly emotional, more traditionally Hindu bhakti religion, with its many contemporary Sri Lankan forms of “possession” and “ecstasy.”

    “Protestant Buddhism, ” a term previously coined by Obeyesekere, started in the late nineteenth century under the formative influence of Anagarika Dharmapala. It was strongly influenced by the “modern” values of the British colonialists, it incorporated the characteristics of Protestant Christianity, and at the same time it represented a modern Buddhist revival and protest against the privilege and domination by the British in general and Protestant Christian missionaries in particular.

    Unlike spirit religion, Protestant Buddhism appeals to the more privileged urban middle class and reflects the cultural values of a bourgeois Protestantism. In departing from traditional Theravada, it blurs the sharp dichotomy between the hierarchically dominant and indispensable monks and the subordinate laity, emphasizing the greater capacity of the individual to seek his or her own salvation without the need of intermediaries and traditional authorities. Within Protestant Buddhism, this has contributed to the laicization of much of the religion, the undermining of the status and role of the sangha, greater social egalitarianism, and the increased status of women (including the reemergence of monastic orders of nuns) — but also greater social fragmentation and some rather bizarre new phenomena often described as Buddhist “fundamentalism” and claiming to be more authentically Buddhist than traditional Theravada.

    For those trained in the Pali Canon and Theravada, initial encounters with Sri Lankan Buddhism are usually perplexing and disconcerting. For example, Buddhist temples often seem to feature deities and practices one has previously been taught to classify as Hindu and non-Buddhist. Sinhalese justify all sorts of modern behavior by referring to teachings of the Buddha nowhere to be found in any scriptures and often directly contradicting scriptural doctrine.

    Buddhism Transformed is full of fascinating, detailed case studies of recent myths, rituals, leaders, and other developments that help us to make sense of these changes in Sinhala religion. One gains considerable understanding, for example, of the profound Tamil Hindu influences on Sinhala religion and the Sinhalicization of Tamil Hindu tantra and bhakti. In terms of the changing, desperate socioeconomic conditions and unmet needs, one begins to grasp why, say, the Buddha or even traditional Sinhala deities such as Visnu are “too distant” and “too moral,” whereas deities, such as Kali and especially Kataragama with their “dark sides,” have greater emotional appeal and can be related to magic, sorcery, and immediate worldly aims, including vengeance and other morally suspect motives.

    Case studies of new Sinhala religious developments are often presented as clear departures from traditional Theravada: Buddhist marriages and other rituals, clearly influenced by Christian models, and involving life-cycle events outside the traditional Buddhist domain; Sarvodaya models of development involving monks in worldly activities; lay leaders assuming religious leadership traditionally restricted to the sangha; and new religious leaders who are self-ordained, ordain others, and may be self-proclaimed Buddhas.

    Well-documented recent illustrations, such as the national popularity of the new “Bodhi puja” and the Buddhist appropriation of Kataragama, are related to specific socioeconomic, historical, and political changes. Within a Sinhalese Buddhist context, one sees how obviously new and recent phenomena are justified by claiming that they represent the “true,” “original,” uncorrupted, previously lost, or forgotten teachings of the Buddha; or how a Hindu myth of Kataragama is redefined, omitting traditionally Hindu features, adding new Buddhist features, and providing Sinhala ideological justifications.

    Buddhism Transformed is a controversial book. The authors are willing to take risks and offer their own judgments of religious changes, many of which they find a disturbing departure from a humane, ethical, and rational Buddhism, often offering desperate responses to devastating social and material conditions and often having dangerous economic, political, and ideological consequences. Their treatment of religious developments and individuals is at times very uneven; even bizarre worldly forms of spirit religion are often interpreted with considerable compassion for the plight of suffering Sinhalese Buddhists, while Ariyaratne and his Sarvodaya are treated with no generosity.

    Most controversial are dramatic claims, sweeping generalizations, and speculations found throughout the book. In a few places, Gombrich and Obeyesekere qualify their presentation, inserting a sentence to the effect that they have studied only a fraction of the religious phenomena, or that certain traditional phenomena continue to flourish, or that some leader such as “the Sun Buddha” has only a tiny following. But the overwhelming impression throughout is that the studied new cult groupings, practices, and leaders are in some way paradigmatic of widespread themes and trends, revealing significant changes in Sinhala Buddhism.

    To what extent are many of the case studies somewhat idiosynchronic and of limited influence, and to what extent do they reveal widespread changes in Sinhala religion? Have Obeyesekere and Gombrich overgeneralized from their largely Colombo-based studies and exaggerated the influence throughout Sri Lanka of an “urban” lifestyle and the almost total destruction of a traditional village life? To what extent have they overemphasized and overextended the influences of Protestant Buddhism and minimized the force of the more traditional Theravada in resisting, subverting, and redefining modern phenomena? To what extent do the extreme prevalence and specific forms of spirit religion, manifestations of gods, godlings, demons, magic, sorcery, possession, bhakti, tantra, and so forth represent a significant change, and to what extent were such phenomena an influential part of traditional Sinhala religion?

    Gombrich and Obeyesekere are certainly correct in claiming that Buddhism is going through significant transformations in Sri Lanka (and elsewhere) and that it is necessary to identify rapidly changing socioeconomic and political conditions in order to make sense of these religious changes. For those trained in philosophy, who usually analyze Buddhist philosophy in a very abstract, decontextualized manner, it is essential to grasp how radically different socioeconomic conditions have contributed to new suffering, needs, expectations, alienation, and frustration, and how new forms of Sinhala Buddhism have arisen from and responded to these new conditions.

    (http://ccbs.ntu.edu.tw/FULLTEXT/JR-PHIL/allen.htm)

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    ANAGARIKA DHARMAPALA IS A GREAT HERO I LEARNED WHEN I WAS A KID. Or rather they forced me to learn that just like everything else. He was born in a time Sri Lanka was one of the richest countries in Asia and there were rich elite group of locals, who own ships and even received knighthoods. Dharmapala belong to that privileged few. There is nothing wrong with that. It gave him chance to complete his grand tour in Europe and in the New World, and finally joined with a American NGO, goes by the name of Theosophical Society.

    THEOSOPHICAL SOCIETY is a racist organization that believed in root race call Aryans which originated from a place call Atlantis. They intentionally or unintentionally presented philosophical support to Nazi party and work toward to achieve supremacy of Aryan society.

    Sri Lankans were divided by castes, but we were never divided by racial grounds until British came up with their brilliant “divide and rule” policy, that creates problems every corner of the world to this day.

    Dharmapala rode his automobile village to village playing his Phonograph, preaching Sinhalese to wake up and compete with other races. Until Phonograph, humans never heard of anything talks other than a living and breathing human. Talking machine was magic. In America, they charge a nickel to play this gimmick for a minute. And then there is this Anagarika Dharmapala playing the magic talking machine to villages for free. Doing exact thing what white rulers wanted him to do. Divide. And he was doing his part in a big plan. There were Tamil leaders doing exactly the same as British wished them to do too. And Darmapala competed them. You need two sides to play ball.

    This Sinhalese nationalist and Tamil nationalist (correctly, Sinhalese racist and Tamil racist) movement created by both elite Sinhalese and Tamil leaders, later on gave opportunity for Sinhalese nationalists to grab power. By people like Dharmapala creating race base movement, they silence deferent sort of uniting movement to grow in Sri Lanka. He made been a racist a cool thing. And he did that with American aid.

    I don’t say Anagarika Dharmapala or his NGO no good at all. Indeed they did good things. Without them there won’t be an YMBA, where we have annual shoe sales or strip malls. But he did so many things I wish he didn’t. I wish if he was like Gandhi. But he was not a one.

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    Dear brother carl,

    dear carl everyone respect their religion and belives , we respect all my busdhist friends , we love my country , lets you and me not misguided and trap in the violent. we had enough in the past with LTTE , lets enjoy the life with family and friends together with all sri lankans regardless of budhist ,hindu,christian or muslim

    You comments very bad about muslims , Just read and watch

    1)How 100,000 Britons have chosen to become Muslim… and average convert is 27-year-old white woman
    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1343954/100-000-Islam-converts-living-UK-White-women-keen-embrace-Muslim-faith.html#ixzz2LtDtYPXI

    2)Why do Western Women Convert?
    Read more
    http://standpointmag.co.uk/features-may-10-why-do-western-women-convert-julie-bindel-islam-female-conversion

    3)Women & Islam: The rise and rise of the convert
    Three-quarters of Britons who become Muslims are female. Now a major new study has shed light on the difficulties they face in adjusting to their new life.
    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/women–islam-the-rise-and-rise-of-the-convert-6258015.html

    4)WHY YOUNG BRITISH WOMEN Converting to ISLAM? – BBC Documentary
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YPwaJSMCGTE

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      Oh please. Spare us the usual propaganda. No one is interested.

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    BBS Monks worried about the diminising /reducing singhela budhist in sri lanka , Then why dont they get married and produce some children as a role model.

    if we give birth to more children , IS BBS is ready to compensate the additonal cost of living ?

    Who is responsible for reducing population in sri lanka is BBS Monks Because they making producting people who can make childs to non producting by converting them to monks.

    iT WILL BE EASY FOR BBS Monks to produce more children because they gey free food.

    [Edited out]

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    tahnks Kumar David
    We still seem to suffer from the Aryan inasion theory that you so skill fully have documented as a racialisation process introduced by the Orientalist. In Buddhas time – The Gautama Buddha was addressed as a Arya- A learned one. The orintalists read this Arya to racialise to fullfill their own prophesies
    We Tamil too have bought itnto it- Hence the Draviadian movement…

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    SHARMINI
    IF YOU WROTE A LETTER LIKE THIS LIVING IN A MUSLIM COUNTRY TO A MUSLIM HERO YOU WILL BE CHOPPED OR STONED TO DEATH BY MUSLIMS.IF YOU WROTE AGAINST A CRISTIAN HERO, CIA WILL DISAPEAR YOU OR WILL PUNISH YOU SOME OTHER WAY.HINDUS ARE THE SAME
    YOU STILL LIVE HERE AS WE ARE BUDHISTS EVEN YOU INSULT A GREAT HERO .TO THE MAJORITY .BUT REMEMBER THIS METHOD HAS TO BE CHANGED AND BUDDHIST HAS TO ACT AS OTHER RELIGIONS BEHAVE. YOU HAVE CONVERTED TO CRISTIANITY AS YOUR FATHERS OR GRAND FATHERS BETRAYED THE BUDHISM TO OBTAINED
    YOU BELONGS KALU SUDDAS GENERATION AS CLEARLY STATED BY ANAGARIKA DARMAPALA

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      Pradeep,

      You may not compare Buddhism with other religions.
      That is the main difference between Buddhism and other religions.

      Buddhism is no comparable to Islam, Christianity or Hinduism. It is just a philosophy. So Buddhists are not anchored by gods. So one is free to criticize how it is being practiced.

      But Buddhism is accepted as a religion in many countries.

      Meaning of a the word -Religion

      http://oxforddictionaries.com/definition/english/religion

      Those who re real buddhists – they adhere to budddhistic way of life because of the freedom that the philosophy itself has provided.

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      Pradeep, if you regard Buddhism as a religion, it goes to show how little you know about it.

      And if you regard Anagarika as a “GREAT HERO” you are as much a bigot as he was.

      As the saying goes “Little knowledge is a dangerous thing”.

      So either you educate yourself on the philosophy of Buddhism, check the English dictionary for the definition of “HERO” or SHUT THE HELL UP!!!!!!

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    Wasn’t Anagarika a homosexual? Not that it’s wrong or anything i’m just seeing if its true. I have heard many stories about this can someone confimr this please?

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      Yes Mahanama, I have heard this story too.

      The story goes that since this man lived during a time when homosexuals were thought of as worse than common criminals the only way he could vent his frustrations and make himself feel important was to make a big noise and an issue of something.

      So he chose Buddhism as a diversion tactic and ended up tarnishing the Dhamma.

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    DEAR BOB ,
    EVERY RELIGION HAS A PHILOSOPHY,YOU CANNOT TAKE AS BUDDHISM JUST A PHILOSOPY ALTHOUGH IT DOESNOT ACCEPT ALMIGHTY GOD.THERE ARE WORSHIPING WAYS TO BUDDHA STATUES .

    THIS IS NOT THE ISSUE. WHY INSULT IN PUBLIC TO BUDHIST CULTURE AND HEROES BY THE OTHER RELIGIOUS FOLLOWERS LIVING IN THE SAME COUNTRY.WHY HATE YOU BUDHISM AND BUDHIST LEADERS.WE KNOW THE REASON.THE HISTORY SAYS HOW THE OTHER RELIGIONS SPREAD THEIR TEACHINGS .BY FORCE WITH GUNS NOT LIKE BUDHISTS. THIS INSULT THEY DO IN ORGANIZED MANNER.
    IT IS BECAUSE THE CHALLENGE OF SURVIVNG.OTHER RELIGIONS SURVIVE WITH THE POLITICAL POWER .BUT BUDHISM BECOME A CHALLENGE FOR THEM.CRISTIAN WANTS WHOLE WORLD TO BECOME CRISTIANS AND SAME AS MUSLIMS.

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      Pradeep, I am afraid you have misunderstood when false practises of individuals are being associated with Buddhism for the advantage of some, being pointed out to say it is an act of hating Buddhism. No these issues are mostly pointed by us who practise the Philosophy and not by non Buddhists including the writer of this article.

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    This is ridiculous real nonsense. Only those betray the mother and earn money only value this article.Biased, lunatic, pshychic writing. Those who hail it are betrayers as ever happen.

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      Are you Modawanse penning under another false name- Nimantha? Curious coz your english is horrendous

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    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZuCjqV357Zc

    Hi Friends,

    this is worth watching VIDEO

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    After 1910 a number of Sinhala leaders gradually emerged who were to leave an indelible mark on the political life of the country. Similarly, Sinhalese-Buddhist nationalism took hold, in the beginning led by reformers in the name of religion.

    One of them was Anagarika Dharmapala (1864-1933). His original name was Don David, a clerk by profession. He was the son of Mallika Hewavitarne and Don Carolis. His father was a furniture dealer from Pettah, Colombo, who became an apostle of protestant Buddhism.

    Anagarikas are lay preachers who wore yellow robes, take a vow of celibacy and withdraw from most of the commitments of lay life. Dharmapala was a dynamic orator and attracted a large following among the middle class and in villages. He began a tireless campaign to safeguard Buddhism and Sinhala nationalism.

    Dharmapala preached that Sinhalese – the Lion Race – are a superior people descended from pure Aryan stock. “No nation in the world has had a more brilliant history than ourselves. There exists no race on Earth today that has had more triumphant records than the Sinhalese,” he wrote, even though his claims were based solely on myths and legends. His exhortations brought about a fanatical Sinhala-Buddhist national consciousness. The new wave of Buddhist awakening began to turn against non-Buddhists in general, and against non-Singhalese in particular.

    This Buddhist revival in fact illustrated the birth of a new breed of chauvinistic Sinhala nationalism rather than a religion. It was argued that it was the way to make people feel about their language, customs and of their history.

    Religious-ethnic preaching, however, gradually emerged as a communal hatred campaign against minorities. Sinhalese attacks on Muslims started in Kandy on the anniversary of the birth of Buddha which fell on May 28, 1915 and continued spreading from the central province to the western and northwestern provinces until June 6, 1915. Muslims sustained heavy losses. According to available records, losses sustained included 86 damaged mosques, more than 4,075 looted boutiques and shops, 35 Muslims killed, 198 injured and four women raped. Seventeen Christian churches were also burnt down. This was going on while Britain was at war with Germany. The colonial government arrested many prominent men on charges of treason and their houses were searched. Those arrested included D C Senanayake, his brothers, F R Senanayake, D S Senanayake (later the first prime minister of Ceylon), D B Jayatilaka, W A de Silva, F R Dias Bandaranaike, E T de Silva, Dr Casius Ferreira, C Batuvantudawe, D P A Wijewardene, John de Silva, W H W Perera, Martinus Perera, John M Senivaratne, H Amarasurya, D E Weerasuriya, Reverent G D Lanerolle, E A P Wijeyeratne, Harry Mel, A H E Molamure, D B Jayatilaka, A E Goonesinha, Battaramulla Unanse – a monk, Edmund and Dr C A Hewavitharatne, the brothers of Anagarika Dharmapala, who was also interned in Calcutta, where he had been during the unrest. After the arrests, riot compensation was exacted under threat of force.
    Edmund Hewavitharatne died in prison while several Sinhalese were summarily executed inside Welikade prison. Punjabi soldiers were brought from India, and many innocent Sinhalese were shot on sight.

    Sir Ponnampalam Ramanathan, the Educated Ceylonese Member of the Legislative Council, was urged to intervene by the Sinhalese. He appealed to the governor for an interview, which was initially denied. Later, he was given an appointment, where he gave his views on the causes of the riots to the governor, as well as to Stubbs, the Colonial Secretary. Sir P Ramanathan subsequently delivered a series of six memorable and impassioned speeches in the Legislative Council denouncing the ill-considered and the high-handed measures taken by the government to suppress the riots and the tyrannical and oppressive conduct of the officers. He pleaded for the repeal of martial law by describing the atrocities committed on his Sinhala brethren by the Punjabis, the local police by led the Inspector General of Police, Sir Herbert Dowbiggin, and British troops.
    Soon after Sir P Ramanathan’s representations, Governor Chalmers was recalled, martial law was repealed and Sir John Anderson (1916-18) was sent to Ceylon as the new governor. The Sinhalese leaders and people honored Sir P Ramanathan, for he had served them with selfless gallantry and single-minded devotion in their hour of dire need.

    Sir P Ramanathan returned to Ceylon after his successful mission from England on February 17, 1916, on the P&O Malawa. Sinhalese leaders organized a grand welcome and a reception committee of Sinhalese leaders was formed at Colombo harbor. Accordingly, A E Goonesinghe, A W P Jayetilake, R E W Perera, P N Jayanetti and Lionel Kotelawala (later Sir John Kotelawala, the third prime minister of Ceylon) were on hand with garlands to greet Sir P Ramanathan. Sinhalese leaders carried him all the way on their shoulders to his residence, Sukhastan, at Colpetty, a fitting gesture accorded to a hero.

    Muslims, however, took the Singhalese attacks hard, and since then, they have remained a subdued ethnic group, subservient to the majority communities. Indeed, they have, from then, preferred to change their political colors according to the demands of the current political situation. Nevertheless, over the years there are no records of open conflict on a large scale between Muslims and Sinhalese-Buddhists. When trouble did flare, inevitably the Muslims were on the receiving end and were subdued.

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    Can one of you of the learned please educate me on why Anagarika Dharmapala went into self-exile in India vowing never to return to Lanka?

    Is it because he was disappointed because he was unable to fulfill his dream of an exclusive Sinhalabuddhist nation?

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    I am really impressed by this article. Thank you Sharmini Serasinghe. I was a ‘Born again Christian’ and a Sinhalese who watched in horror as thugs carrying Buddhist flags burnt down Tamil businesses in Kollupitiya in 1983. It was repulsive and I was under the impression that is what Buddhism is. I had numerous doubts about Christian teachings as well which directed me to Science of Mind and Quantum Physics. The answers were revealed through them. Then I discovered real Buddhism being taught to westerners by people like Ajahn Brahm. I am amazed by the sensible teachings of Buddha and as Albert Einstein stated it surely is the only religion for today. Fortunately I am learning true Buddhism from many teachers and am thoroughly disappointed by the CRIME ‘Bodu’ Bala Sena is committing against the greatest teacher who ever lived. If they want to carry on with their narrow minded racism in the same way as Hitler did in Germany they must change their name to ‘Sinhala Bala Sena’. Bullying a minority is never right but at least this way it will cease to insult Lord Buddha and His teachings.

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    I am a supporter of Bodu Bala Sena and I can very proudly say that our Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalist Patriotic government and specially our defense secretary are with us. We will not demand or do anything without our Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalist Patriotic government’s blessings. We are grateful to our Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa who opened the new Buddhist Leadership Academy to train our Bodu Bala Sena members. The Buddhist clergy in the Eastern countries is well known for martial arts. They learned it for self defense. As long as the present Defence secretary is with us we have no fear but to defend ourselves in Sri Lanka in the future, we may have to form our own Bodu Bala Sena regiment/saffron brigade, a separate army to protect the Sinhala-Buddhists from non- Sinhala-Buddhists who gets help from several countries that are hostile to us. Our Sinhala-Buddhist clergy entered into politics in order to protect Buddha’s blessed Country and the Sinhalese people whom he chose to protect his doctrine (Dhamma).

    Whether the others like it or not, Sri Lanka is a SinhalaBuddhist country and the SinhalaBuddhists are the majority. If you are living in SinhalaBuddhist country like Sri Lanka then you should follow the SinhalaBuddhist way of life. Buddha blessed Sri Lanka not once but thrice before introducing Buddhism to Sri Lanka (a Buddhist country). It was none other than Buddha himself who chose the Sinhalese as the sustainers of Buddhism. That is because he knew that only SinhalaBuddhists can protect it from others. Therefore the Sinhala-Buddhists should always be the majority in Sri Lanka and only a Sinhala-Buddhist should rule Sri Lanka (King/President).

    As SinhalaBuddhists who follow the Buddha’s teaching, we are always very peaceful and compassionate towards others and that is the reason why we allowed others to live in our country but they are also supposed to be calm and compassionate towards the SinhalaBuddhists. They should Never Ever even dream of retaliating under any circumstances if we try to discipline/moralize them to our way of living. We will not tolerate if they do not obey us.

    All the ancient archeological artifacts found in Sri Lanka are only Buddhist and Hindu. Only the Buddhist and Hindu statues are found in all our ancient places of worship such as the Kandy Dalada Maligawa, Anuradapura Sri Mahabodi, Katharagama, etc. The others such as the Muslims and Christians are aliens to Sri Lanka. The colonial invaders forced the Buddhists and Hindus and converted them to Christianity. Similarly, the Arab traders who came to Sri Lanka married Buddhist and Hindu women and converted them to Muslims and even today they are doing the same. There are several cases of Sinhala-Buddhist women marrying Muslim men; they are forcefully converted to Muslims.

    Our main problem today is the Muslims. If you see the population growth in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 2012, the Sinhalese have a growth of 38.2% and the Tamils have a growth of 20.3% where as the Muslims have a growth of 78.6%. The Tamils were only asking for a piece of land by waging a war (it was open so we very easily crushed them) but the Muslims will take over the whole country very secretly and peacefully if we allow them to grow at this rate. We cannot allow the Muslims to become a majority in Sri Lanka. At any cost we have to stop it. We SinhalaBuddhists sacrificed our lives in tens of thousands in freeing our country from the LTTE not to hand over to the Muslims on a platter. Birth control should be enforced only for the Sri Lankan Muslims and it should be banned for the Sinhala-Buddhists. In this regard, the government agreed to ban family planning methods that control birth. We have also started a programme to educate the SinhalaBuddhists the importance of being the majority and the advantages of producing as many children as they can. We are working on introducing new laws to legalize Polygamy so that there will be no legal restrictions for Sinhala-Buddhist men and women in taking multiple partners with the objective of producing more and more children. It is Buddha’s wish that we Sinhalese should multiply to be the sustainers of Buddhism in this world.

    Muslims have been living in this country since 7th century and now only they want to have Halal food in Sri Lanka. Population wise they are only 5%. If we allow Halal, next time they will try to introduce circumcision on us. We have to nip these in the bud before it becomes a custom. We should never allow the Muslims and Christians to control anything in Sri Lanka. What is Halal to Muslims is Harem to SinhalaBuddhists. Slaughtering cow and eating beef should also be banned in Sri Lanka. Instead, we should promote pork. We are glad that the parliament has re-introduced pork in their menu. Hijab, burqa, niqab and purdah should be banned in Sri Lanka. The law and the legislature should always be under the control of the Sinhala-Buddhists and our Nationalist Patriotic president. After all, Sri Lanka is a gift from Buddha to the Sinhalese. We know what the Muslims have done to countries that were Buddhist once upon a time (Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and so on). We do not want that to happen in our land. This is the only way we can protect our SinhalaBuddhist country, our SinhalaBuddhist religion and our SinhalaBuddhist race from these aliens.

    We are very grateful to the present Nationalist Patriotic government for giving us full support and strength to carry out our programmes very smoothly.

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    It is extremely distressing to note how you have implicated our esteemed president & the defense secretary in your absolute crap. The president & defense secretary saved this country from terrorism & will not want to start another terrorist problem in the south. You are a imposter. Shave your head go to temple & learn Buddhism.

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    BOASTING KATAKARAWALA,

    ALL YOU SEEMS VERY REVENGING FOR THOSE WHO TALK FOR SINHALA BUDHIST HEROS AND BUDHIST CULTURE.LTTE,TNA,EXTREME CATHOLIC MOVEMENT ,AND MUSLIM EXTREMISTS ALL WANT TO ATTACK THE BUDHISTS.THEY ALL ARE PARASUDDAGE GENERATION(OF BLACK WHITES)YOUR THOUGHTS ARE VERY VENOMOUS AND DESTRUCTIVE.PLEASE HAVE A HABIT TO RESPECT BUDHIST CULTURE IN OUR COUNTRY.
    THAT IS ALL I SEE IN ALL THESE COMMENTS

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      Pradeep,

      Your comment makes no sense. Either learn proper English and make yourself understood or make your comments in your mother tongue which you are obviously more familiar with. You are only making a fool of yourself by trying to comment in a language you are obviously not fluent in.

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    very very

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    I invite this psuedo intectual Sharmini Serasinghe to read a book called `Anagaarika Arbudaya` by A.P.Gunasekera Abhayaratne 1905/06(? ) and also do some real reasearch to find out how Anagarka fell out with Olcott.By reading a couple articles over the internet people become pundits overnight! Read the very First Editorial of Sinhala Bauddhaya. Read some of the early Mahabodhi Magazines and his contributions. He did NOT have a good knowledge of Buddhismn Your Sinhala-Buddhist hero says: “Brahmanism and Buddhsm – Gauthama Buddha or Sakya Muni , taught the ignorance produces desire, unsatisfied desire is the cause of rebirth., and rebirth is the cause of Sorrow. This is the same as Brahmanical doctrine o Chathurvyaha or the Four Noble truths” Mahabodhi Journal vl.iii) So your Hero says that the Four Noble Truths was taght by Brahmanism before Buddha!

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