The Current Issue
Sri Lanka has seen yet another incident of violent behavior motivated by hate, greed and arrogance. The attack on the Masjid (Prayer Centre) on Swarna Chaitya Road, Grandpass, during prayers no less and just after the Holy month of Ramadan is a despicable act by one of the so called Buddhist armies, formed to protect “Sinhala Buddhism”, as the Buddhist “temple” bell rang out..
New Kind Of Buddhism
One needs to look for this new kind of Buddhism, which is a hybrid of ethno religious nonsense. Why do real Buddhist feel apologetic? Why do “real” moderate Buddhists feel that the behavior of Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balaya and Sihala Ravaya is highly unacceptable? It is simply because the very names are anti Buddhist as there is no force in Buddhism. Let us call them the Buddhist Armies as that is exactly their behavior. Very similar to the wars of crosses in the past. Ironically Buddhism which was never given at the point of a sword, today sees this great philosophy being used by force to practically ethnic cleanse areas to gain territory for the Sinhala Buddhist cause, calling it the protection and restoration of sacred areas, protection of Buddhists against exploitation of halal certification and citing various other reasons.
The attack on this mosque in Grandpass and surrounding houses could not have been done with the fervor of protecting the Sinhalese Buddhists. Nor could these activities be done without state patronage and support, with blatant disregard for communities who live alongside each other. It is quite clear therefore that the Buddhists, a majority who are moderates need to raise our VOICES – loud!
Incidents Against Muslims And Religions Other Than Buddhism
This incident brings the count to over 160 incidents against Muslims by the Buddhist Armies, in the last six months. The incidents are a mix, most being attacks on religious places of worship, business establishments, houses and personal attacks. The Centre for Policy Alternatives has compiled another report on Attacks on Places of Religious Worship (only), which collates the descriptions of the attacks on mosques, churches and kovils, totaling 65 since the end of the war from 2009 to March 2013.
The Story Of The Water War
Four years after his [the Buddha’s] attainment of enlightenment, a war took place between the city-state of Kapilavastu and that of Kilivastu over the use of water. Being told of this, [the Buddha] Sakyamuni hastened back to Kapilavastu and stood between the two great armies about to start fighting. At the sight of Sakyamuni, there was a great commotion among the warriors, who said, “Now that we see the World-Honored One, we cannot shoot the arrows at our enemies,” and they threw down their weapons. Summoning the chiefs of the two armies, he asked them, “Why are you gathered here like this?” “To fight,” was their reply. “For what cause do you fight?” he queried. “To get water for irrigation.” Then, asked Sakyamuni again, “How much value do you think water has in comparison with the lives of men?” “The value of water is very slight” was the reply. “Why do you destroy lives which are valuable for valueless water?” he asked. Then, giving some allegories, Sakyamuni taught them as follows: “Since people cause war through misunderstanding, thereby harming and killing each other, they should try to understand each other in the right manner.” In other words, misunderstanding will lead all people to a tragic end, and Sakyamuni exhorted them to pay attention to this. Thus the armies of the two city-states were dissuaded from fighting each other.
The 3 Buddhist Armies of Sri Lanka have totally ignored the teachings of the Lord Buddha on peaceful coexistence. These yellow robed masqueraders, have taken it upon themselves to decide who lives where, which religious place should be located in a particular area, what women should wear, what people should eat, how many children a family belonging to a particular ethnic group should have are dangerously out of control. The public of Sri Lanka (at least the ones who cannot be hypnotized by the current government) sees this as a very dangerous trend in a multi ethnic, multi religious society.
The Government Standing By Aiding And Abetting
The irony of the whole situation is that the government of the day, uses these Buddhist armies shamelessly to portray the image of a pious, Sinhala Buddhist protector, governing over a state that should be ”Sinhala Buddhist”, where others live only on sufferance. The Sinhala Buddhist masses have got hoodwinked by this idea and the prospect of living in an ethnically homogenous state. In reality some of the Sinhala Buddhists feel insecure when looking at the prosperity and education of some of the ethnicities lesser n number. The Buddhist armies use this fear to build a feeling of insecurity. The masses do not realize that if one community generates wealth for the country, it has an impact on the GDP of the whole country. If one community has a child academically superior, this is for the advancement of the whole nation.
The Buddhist Armies also postulate that it really does not matter even if a community lives in a particular location for over 150 years, or even if a sacred area has been the spiritual ground of any other religion except Buddhists for centuries. Thus Muslims are loosing Kooragala’s Jailani shrine, just as much as there is an attempt to chase out the Muslim communities of Devanagala, in the Mawanella area. The Buddhist armies which seem to have state patronage, work in concert with the Dept of Archaeology in such instances. While the Dept surveys and cordons off lands, the Buddhist armies have a campaign of ethnic cleansing. Speeches are given, mainly playing to the gallery of the vulnerable Sinhalese, promising them that once the Muslim families are chased out, their nice little houses and the lands vacated will be yours. This also works the other way around, where the Buddhist armies do their campaign and are followed by various government departments to consolidate this effort. Exactly how an army operates – clear and consolidate. Does this ring another bell as from whom this tactic is deployed?
While Rome was burning Nero fiddled. In Sri Lanka, while the country is burning with hundreds of violent incidents compounded by rampant corruption, the state has organized not a fiddle, but an orchestra. Orchestrating a drama of “we the great protectors” of a new kind of Buddhism – Sinhala Buddhism.
Does the majority in this small island nation want to be isolated internationally with this triumphalist attitude? It must be remembered that either through religion or ethnicity there are large numbers out there who take up the cause of the Muslims and the Tamils. The insecure Sinhalese are but a small number within Sri Lanka and outside.
Or as a country should we not use all mechanisms and organs to safeguard all Sri Lankans and live harmoniously with the rest of the world? Should not all Sri Lankans have the same freedoms and rights in reality and not merely by rhetoric?
Betrayal By Commonwealth Leaders
The Commonwealth led administratively by Dr Kamalesh Sharma, a man who tries to please everyone and finally pleases only a cow boy government like the Sri Lankan state has betrayed the innocent people of Sri Lanka by persuading the heads of State of Commonwealth countries to come to the summit in Sri Lanka.
Commonwealth Leaders, do you see what’s happening beyond the war and war crimes of the past 30 years? Do you see that this government is fundamentally flawed and that you cannot reason with them by having a mere summit? Do you see that conducting such a conference with big fan fare is only serving to consolidate the state by hoodwinking the masses with this Commonwealth pageant? Do you not see the expense and burden placed upon the people who have to pay for generations for corruption in the past and record corruption levels now?
A Call To Citizens
This piece of writing is a call to all our Citizens! Forget political machinations of all parties and wake up to this bugle call after a bloody war of 30 years. Dialogue in public and tell the so called leaders what it is that we want as Sri Lankans. Prominent Sri Lankan businessmen, academics, sportsmen, artistes, professionals, social development workers who are key opinion leaders need to unite to make a statement that enough is enough. They need to deliberate on a future path for Sri Lanka. These same leaders must disseminate the correct information to other Sri Lankans who do not have access to the right information, these same leaders need to deliberate and form a council of reconciliation when incidents such as the Masjid in Grandpass yesterday.