Colombo Telegraph

Culturing Fear & Hatred In The Sinhalese Mind – An Open Letter To Sinhalese

By  Mass L. Usuf

Mass Usuf

My dear Sinhalese Brothers and Sisters,

You are all aware of the gradual corruption of a great teaching, by some rogue monks who pretend to protect Buddhism and the Sinhala race. Have you given some thought that it is time to make your voice heard and rise up to stop this menace. I am certain that you also understand well the opportunistic politicians who support such activities. They want to fool the average Sinhalese that they are pro-Sinhala Buddhist.  The protection of Buddhism cannot be achieved through harvesting racism, hate and communal disharmony. And, not through nationalism. All of this is pure humbug. A true Sinhalese Buddhist would not want to be part of this.

Innocent Youth

You may wonder why a Muslim is worried about this. The answer is twofold. One, I believe that if true buddhism is practised there would be no other nation in the world to match Sri Lanka – metta (loving kindness) is one simple example. This may sound idealistic but it is the truth. Secondly, this nation and all of its people can prosper and live peacefully. We all yearn to live in such an environment along with our families.

The crass racist indoctrination by a set of asinine monks, correlating buddhism to add value to it, is crossing reasonable levels. Let me highlight and, do so in bold that it is not all of you who belong to this lot but, only a small portion. My point is that this small portion, by virtue of being led by the Sangha, may be a serious number to be reckoned with. More dangerously, the ensnared innocent youth becoming the cat’s paw in the hands of these dubious Mahatmas. The extent of spurious content dissemination in the social media indicates that they have taken leave of their intelligence and common sense. The youth is being systematically radicalised. It can be your own brother or sister, son or daughter.

The type of nonsense that is spread in the social media and the web portals sets a new benchmark for the level of foolishness of these youths. Albert Einstein said, “Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere”.

Wonderful Lot

ISIS and Galagoda Atte Gnanasara make good comparison (See my article in Colombo Telegraph: 28 July 2015).  Even though the Muslims are against ISIS, the global media wrongly accuses Muslims for the acts of ISIS.  Similarly, the entire Sinhalese community will be accused of being racist people because of the aberrations of Gnanasara and a few others.

The Sinhalese people are a wonderful lot. Do not get me wrong. This is not an apologetic or a sheepish statement nor is it to curry favour but, a sincere one. Of course, like in all societies you get the bad people, too, among the Sinhalese. The racists are an example. These unsocial elements are of course, a minority but certainly bring shame upon you, who belong to the respectable rest.

However, I feel that if this errored course is not corrected on time even the moderate Sinhala majority may have to face problems. A time will come when fingers will be pointed accusing you of being unpatriotic, ‘un-Buddhistic’ or ‘un-Sinhalese’. 

What Have You Done?

Philosopher, Rousseau famously said, “The world of reality has its limits; the world of imagination is boundless”. It is evident that false propaganda has taken root and is viral. I question myself as to why they are doing this? Is it out of fear? Is it for strategic socio-economic manipulation?  Is it to incite and whip up Sinhala racial sentiments? Is it to destabilise the government by triggering a racial riot? I applaud the tactical manoeuvring of such exploitative folks. They take the Sinhalese people for a jolly good ride. For them self-aggrandisement takes priority before the interest of the country or the Sinhalese masses. My concern is the status of Sri Lanka, as a nation, with such malignancy metastasize into an uncontrollable pogrom against the minorities.

This should be your concern too. Ask yourself, have I ever spoken against these hate mongers? Have I ever stood up against these rogue monks tarnishing the dhamma? Have I ever discouraged those engaged in false and concocted  propagation?  Have I ever confronted those who spread inflammatory information in the social media? Have I ever had the courage and presence of mind to reply to an inciting message by saying, “please do not send such nonsense to me”. What have you done to bring some sense to these misled youths and these rogue monks?

Racism; Illogical, Irrational

No man is the owner of a race. He simply belongs to a race because by accident he has been born into that race. For example, Gnanasara who is a Sinhalese today, in the samsaric cycle, may be reborn as a Muslim, Tamil or Christian. Therefore, to protect or safeguard race is illogical and irrational. This stand is supported by the Buddhistic Doctrine of Anicca (Impermanence).

Worst case is where such protection is sought to the detriment or endangerment of the other human beings. Again, in violation of the Four sublime states of mind taught by the Buddha:

Loving-kindness (metta),

Compassion (karuna),

Sympathetic Joy (mudita),

Equanimity (upekkha).

Since racism is violently demonstrated by these imprudent halfwit monks, let me refer to a sutta in the dhamma. Like the Brahmins who during buddha’s time spoke high about their caste demeaning the other castes, so is Gnanasara demeaning the Muslims. Gnanasara is behaving just like Ambaṭṭha, who goes to meet the Buddha but is arrogantly proud towards him. He did not show proper social decorum during the conversation. He called buddha menial and of lower status as buddha was not a Brahmin. To learn the truth, Brother/Sister, kindly read the Ambaṭṭha Sutta, Diga Nikaya to see how buddha shatters the arrogance of Brahmanism analogous to Gnanasara’s racism today.

Mankind Versus Racism

Modern biological science proves that mankind is one species. “Buddhism is in accord with the findings of the modern biologists who exploded the doctrines of racism and would urge the biological unity of mankind in support of the concept of a common humanity.” (Buddhism and the Race Question, Professors G. P. Malalasekera and H. N. Jayatilleke) .

Irrespective of whether a person is born a Sinhalese, Tamil or Muslim, he has come from a single species. The Quran states:

“O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise (each other).  (Quran 49:13)

Dear Brother/Sister, do you know how Buddha rebuked a section of his monks who felt superior to the rest in that they had more fame and gain than the others.  The beauty of his analogy should penetrate the brains of these misguided people.  Buddha likens them to worms who, born in dung, bred in dung, and living on dung, feel superior to other worms who are not so privileged in this respect.

Professors Malalasekera and Jayatilleke notes, “Man’s destiny is to develop as a spiritual being and therefore what really matters is the degree of his moral and spiritual development. This has no connection with birth in any particular race or caste since the “meanest”, “humblest” of mankind may have the potentialities for attaining the very highest in this respect in this life, so that we have no right to despise any person whatever his station in life may be. …”

“Race and caste discrimination are also inimical to social progress since they bring about artificial and unreal divisions among human beings where none exist and hinder harmonious relations”. (ibid.)

Rise up now and say, “NO” to these socially regressive and economically damaging racism that is making our great nation an ill-famed extremist hotspot. We have been living for three decades in fear and insecurity.  Peace has just begun to flower and hardly before the nation enjoys its fragrance, we are in the threshold of hate, enmity and violence.

My dear Brothers and Sisters, do we need this?

Thank you.

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