Colombo Telegraph

Gautama Buddha For Sale

By V. Kanthaiya

You don’t need to go to Kovil and worship the god at all. What the god wants from you is very simple. Be a good person in your life. That’s enough. If you be evil, what’s the point in worshiping the god?” – Told to to V. Kanthaiya by his mother while he was a kid, when he asked why he should go to Kovil and worship the god.

I ask you a question. Do we really need a religion to interact with the God?

To answer this, I would like to define the parameters. Who/What is the god? The concept god is that he/she/it is the grand designer and the operator of the universe and every element in it and he/she/it is indefinite and beyond all boundaries.

What is a religion? Well, for that we need to first familiarize ourselves with the basic concepts of business and marketing.

We have several needs. One such is called spiritual need (not liquor). From the day we started to think, we are trying to find the answer why we exist at all. The concept of God came to fill this need. Religions are intermediaries between the common man and the almighty god. They are a set of institutions who act as the sole agents of God, each just creating different brands, out of the homogeneous product. This can simply be explained through the smart phone operating system market.

Google releases its nexus phones with its ‘pure’ android version, where as other players such as Samsung, LG, Sony, HTC and one plus one add their own flavor to the android OS, in terms of user interface and release under their own brand. This is what every religion practically does. They use the so called messengers, Jesus, Mohamad and some other rituals to prove that their product is superior to their competitor.

I made the following interesting observations how this ‘religion’ industry operates. Every religion is tailor made to suit the needs of the early followers. For example, Hinduism and Buddhism vehemently oppose killing domestic animals for any reason and call it a sin. However the religion of peace (as per Izeth Hussain) and Christianity allow it. The reason is that Rigvedic civilizations were dependent on the domestic animals, especially cattle, thus it was banned to kill them, whereas the Middle Eastern civilization were primarily nomadic, thus it was allowed to consume the meat of the domestic animals saying god has created them for mankind.

Please note. There may be a god or may not be a god. That is out of the scope of this article. The institutions like Rashthriya Swayamsevak sangh (RSS) of India, the Catholic Church, the Maha Sangha of Sri Lanka ( hope no need to mention about religion of peace) act as the governing bodies of the respective religions, and safe guard them. The most striking commonality is that they work hard for the existence, survival and the growth of their institution, not necessarily to promote the core values. Of course, this is what every institution does, including every business entity in the world, government of United States of America, government of Sri Lanka, LTTE, SLFP, UNP, JVP, and the management of every reputed government/semi government school. They are more concerned about their own survival and growth as an institution and of their leadership inner circle rather than about the common man.

LTTE would be the best example for this. First the organization emerged to fight for the rights of the Tamils. Then once they successfully emerged as a well-equipped de-facto government, they expected the Tamils to sacrifice themselves for the organization and the LTTE leadership. On the other hand, Sri Lankan government is not ready to investigate the Matale mass grave (there is no point in discussing the numerous mass graves in north and east), which is of the Sinhala youth massacred during the JVP rebellion. Government of Sri Lanka will never punish its soldiers for the massacres they have done, because those massacres were done to safeguard the government. Not only to the Sri Lankan state, this is applicable to every government in the world. What about the Catholic Church? Is it ready to thoroughly investigate the child abuse allegations on the priests and publicly disclose what are the actions it has taken to prevent such things in the future?

Alright? What irked me to write all these global phenomenon?

Last week the media reported that the Buddha Sasana Karya Sadhaka Mandalaya, an umbrella organization comprising Maha Sangha and several other right wing Buddhist organizations has urged the government of Sri Lanka to not to alter the foremost place given the Buddha Sasana in the article 9 of the constitution.

First of all, why Buddhist organizations are very much concerned about the survival of their religion? From whom the religion face the threat and what kind of threat is that? The claim that Buddhism is unique to Sri Lanka is completely false. It is widely practiced in Cambodia (97%), Thailand (93%), Myanmar (80%), Bhutan (75%), Laos (66%) and Mongolia (55%) along with Sri Lanka (69%).

Is Bhuddism indigenous to Sri Lanka? Mahavamsa tells that it is brought by the Buddhist missionaries from the present Madya Pradesh of India, notably by Mahinda, the son of king Ashoka. In other words, Buddhism is a religion imported from India, just like Hinduism, Religion of Peace and Christianity which came from different parts of the world in different period of time.

If the constitution is supposed to give prominence to a particular religion, logically it should be given the mysticism or whatever the religion practiced by the ‘Veddas’ (Indigenous People) of this country because their culture and tradition are at a grave risk and the religion is the endemic religion of Sri Lanka.

Then why the self-claimed guardians of Buddhism are urging the government to give prominence to Buddhism in the constitution itself? Because they thrive on it. Buddhism, the belief of the common man on Gautama Buddha as the God is the sole resource these right wing organizations have for their own leadership inner circle’s survival, growth, fame, power and wealth.

The whole purpose of these institutions is not spreading the teachings of Gautama Buddha who preached non-violence. In Sri Lanka (also in Myanmar), right wing Buddhist organizations use violence to promote non-violence. So manly lives have been destroyed. So much blood has been spilled, so much of suffering has been endured. And all these are justified as necessary evils to safeguard the teachings of Gautama Buddha. Is this what Gautama Buddha wanted his followers to practice?

A distinct group in our society obtains power, fame and wealth just by selling Gautama Buddha, and not his teachings. They claim they are the guardians of his teachings and the values he has left for mankind. No one dares to question this, because he/she can be branded as an insane.

How long the present society is going to believe whatever they are told. When will it start to think and realize that they are being fooled? When will they realize that the best way to promote the teachings of Buddha is to practice the ‘pure’ version of his philosophy?

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