26 November, 2020

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God In The Buddha

By Kapila Abhayawansa

Prof Kapila Abhayawansa

Prof Kapila Abhayawansa

Articles “God In Buddhism?” and “From Siddhartha Gautama to God” written respectively by Mr. Shyamon Jayasinghe and Dr. Jagath Asoka appeared in Colombo Telegraph gave me the idea to write something revealing the true nature of popular Buddhist practices. It seems to me that not only both writers but also many amongst us who criticize popular Buddhist activities fail to understand the complex nature, different dispositions and the levels of the understanding of the masses in the world. We cannot put all the people in one category due to diverse mental capacity of the people. There is no one single medicine for all the ailments. The Buddha has understood this situation of the world. He made use of different skillful means to take all the people onto one platform. Once, the Buddha proclaimed: “I do not say that one can win the final knowledge at the very beginning. It is had from a gradual discipline, a gradual mode of action and conduct”.  (na āyatkeneva aññārādhanam vadāmi. Apica anupubba-sikkhā anupubba-kiriyā anupubba-patipadā aññārādhanam hoti.-M.I.479).

Most of the Buddhists not only in Sri lanka but also in all the Buddhist countries irrespective of their traditions such as Theravada, Mahayana and Tantrayana perform popular religious activities in their day to day life. We cannot say that all such activities are based on wrong beliefs. It is true that people practice them with the blind faith without understanding their true values. Originally, such popular practices were introduced to the ordinary people by the Buddhist monks in order to keep them away from the unrighteous and bad activities which are harmful to both themselves and others (pāpā nivārenti) and to encourage them to cultivate Buddhist virtues such as liberality, generosity, gratitude, unity, collective responsibility, respect to the worthy ones and so on (kalyāne nivesenti). Usually, ordinary people are unable to grasp anything without an object or a symbol. Direct lessens of ethics or philosophy wouldn’t be fruitful on them. Moral sense can be implanted in their mind through the symbols. For an example, statue of the Buddha has been taken as an object for veneration as a means to be mindful on the virtues of the Buddha. It should be mentioned that early Buddhism recognizes mindfulness on the virtues of the Buddha (buddhānussati) as one of the meditation subjects. We have to understand original implications of all those activities although most of the people make use of them in the wrong way. I do not find anything wrong there if the people practice them grasping the virtues involved with them as a preparatory measure to reach the subsequent step on the path of wisdom acknowledged by the Buddha.

It should be accepted that the masses belonging to any religion do not have deep knowledge about both doctrinal aspect and the practical aspect of their religions. Therefore, they do not know what their religions mean. They merely take the religion only as a means of help in their grievances. On the other hand, only the popular rights and rituals introduced by the religious hierarchy become their religion as well as their culture. In this respect, it seems that Sri Lankan Buddhist rites and rituals were formed in compatible with the Buddhist virtues. Buddha-pujā, Bodhi-pujā, Cetiya-pujā, Daladā-pujā, calibration of Vaisakha  and the like of the Sri Lankan Buddhists came to practice not only as the religious activities but also as the cultural activities. In the real sense they were introduced by the Buddhist monks who were responsible for establishing Buddhism in Sri Lanka as substitutes for the existed religious customs in the Sri Lankan society when Buddhism came to Sri Lanka. They provide the Buddhist masses the way to achieve good qualities introduced by Buddhism as well as cultural entertainment and recreation.

I read an article written by Sharmini Serasinghe appeared in the Colombo Telegraph entitled ‘Mahawamsa – an Insult to the Buddha’ where vain attempt has been made to ascribe the introduction of religious-cultural events of the Sri Lankan Buddhists to the author of Mahawamsa. What is interesting there was that the writer suggested not reading the article by those who oppose to the contents of the article implying that the facts given there are absolutely true. In reality, Mahanama, the author of Mahawamsa has nothing to do with those events. What he has done was that he has recorded what he has seen in the contemporary socio-cultural background and what he heard from the already existed literature. Even prior to Mahanama there was a tradition of keeping records by the Mahā Vihārins about Buddhist religious events took place time to time in the Sri Lankan Society. Really they were the sources for the later written chronicle literature which include the chronicles such as Bodhiwamsa, Thupawamsa and Dāţhāwamsa. Dipawamsa which is the first chronicle of Sri Lanka written prior to Mahavamsa records most of the facts given in Mahawansa. Therefore, it is injustice to put all the blames on the shoulders of Mahanama.

“By converting the philosophy into a religion, Buddhist monks, also converted the Buddha, into a ‘God’, and themselves, as his ‘Messengers’, who must be revered and worshiped; totally disregarding the Buddha’s words” says Sharmani Serasinghe. This statement is totally wrong in Buddhist point of view. Buddhism is not a philosophy in the modern sense of the word. It is really a way of life based on a doctrine which supposed to be personally verified by the Buddha. If we think that Buddhism is a philosophy for a moment, then what is the use of such a philosophy when it is not used into the practice? Most important requirement for a doctrine for its application in the life of the people is to have a confidence on the master and his doctrine. In this respect there is no problem with the intelligent people to have a confidence of the doctrine as they can understand the value of it. But, in the case of ordinary people some other method should have to be followed. Target of the Buddha was not only the intelligent people. Therefore, Buddhist monks who understood the value of Buddhism wanted to have shared it with maximum possible number of people. Therefore, the master, his doctrine and the followers of the doctrine (Buddha, Dhamma and the Samgha) should have to be highlighted in the mind of the people. No one can find anything wrong there. Buddhist monk did not want to have Buddhism as a philosophy confined only to the scriptures. We must not forget fact fact that today we are fortunate enough to talk about Buddhism as the result of the works of those monks. If they did not appear as “his messengers who must be revered and worshiped’ there would not have been even the scriptures of Buddhism.

Here I am not trying to say that all these religio-cultural activities of the Sinhala Buddhists are taking place in Sri Lankan society in the pure form without any blemish. As they are living practices, they also are subject to the admixture of corruptive elements which, is taking place in every sphere of the modern global human society due to different reasons. That the most of the present monks in Sri Lanka who are under the sway of currant global craving for luxuries abuse those practices for their living means is an another story..  What is important in this respect is not to uproot the whole thing but to present constructive critics in order to highlight the hidden values involved in them and to enlighten the people to choose what should be taken and what should be abandoned by them in their practices. That may be the duty of those who think themselves as broad minded and wise in the words of Sharmani.

When we come to the point of God in the Buddha, it is certain that no any Buddhist take the Buddha as the creator God who is the object of prayers in theistic religions. Specifically, Theravada Buddhists who have the religious education believe that the Buddha was a human being who acquired super human qualities (uttari munassa-dhamma) by his own effort with his enlightenment. And also they know that the Buddha, Dhamma and the Sangha are not in a position to give the followers what is expected from the God by the theistic followers. But, the ordinary Buddhists also as the human beings have an idea in a corner of their mind to the effect that there is a hidden power in an unseen world which can help them for the requirements where their material means are unsatisfactory to achieve them. The deviating point of the Buddhists from those who are theistic is that Buddhists ascribe that hidden power to the virtues of the Buddha or Triple Gem. On the other hand even the ordinary Buddhists do not believe that the hidden power of the virtues of the Buddha has anything to do with the creation, maintenance and destruction of the world which are assigned to the work of the Almighty God.

“If you are a Buddhist, you need God more than the Buddha”. Says Dr.Jagath Asoka. I cannot understand on what ground he expressed this Idea. On what data he can have generalization to the effect that “It is a fact that God resides in our minds”. Further,  It seems that he does not want to criticize his view when he says that “I think they are not only fooling themselves but also are trying to fool the rest of us: He has already labeled one who is going to reject his idea as fool. But, I say even with JA’s label of fool that God resides in the mind of one who has no proper critical knowledge of the concept of God. The concept of God is quite similar to the concept of soul in their origin for both arise in the speculative mind and not in the actuality. Emanuel Kant, a great German philosopher going in the line of Buddhism is of the opinion that both soul and God are a Priori concepts of the pure reason which is the faculty of speculation. Both are subject to affirmation and negation which result nothing. When one is conscious of the conflicts in reason generating from affirmation and negation, the concept of God ceased to be in one’s mind.

According to Dr. Jagath Asoka that the Buddha’s first two verses in Dhammapada about mind are an allusion to God. This is really a gross misunderstanding of the characteristics of the mind presented in those two verses in the Dhammapada. In this respect another misconception of JA is reflected from his explanation of the term ādicca-bandhu. It is true that one of the epithets of the Buddha is ādiccabandhu which means relative of the sun. The Buddha gets this epithet as the sākya clan to which Siddhārtha Gautama belonged is believed to be descended from Surya-wamsa. It seems that the description given in the Buddhist Proper names by G. P. Malalasekera is wrongly taken by JA. The term ādiccabandhu does not anyway suggest that the Buddha is considered as God. What I have to emphasis here is that touching the teaching of the Buddha from here and there leads to the misrepresentation of the Buddha.

*Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa, Vice Rector, International Buddhist College, Thailand

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Latest comments

  • 19
    0

    I didn’t read this article. However I have seen recently many article God is Buddha is Buddha God etc etc

    However I want to say this

    Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka is a unique Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhism
    Sri Lanka, BBS, inhala ravays or any one else in Sri Lanka are not the guardian of the Global Budhhism

    So any article written here on CT is confined to the Buddhism as practiced in Sri Lanka…Sri Lanka Sinhala Buddhism…

    Leave the pure Buddhism alone for the real Buddhist ( I am sure there are in Sri Lanka)

    Do not tarnish the image of Buddha by associating with the vulgar Sri Lankan Buddhist, who think the best service they can do to Buddha is to put his statue in every nook and corner of the streets of sri lanka for the crows to craop on it.

    let dissociate Budhha and god

    Buddha is not God and God is not Buddha

    Buddha was a peace loving human

    • 1
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      BUDDAH IS RAVAN IN HINUSAM and SATAN in ISLAM n Christianty

      • 7
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        Sri Lankan Muslim, There is always a person such as you to instigate discord just as much as there is a cock on every dunghill. You sound like a plant.

        • 1
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          he is not Muslim, he is a tamil

          • 5
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            Sinhala Buddhism as practiced today by the great majority of the monks who are saffron clad thugs, the politicians and the military of Sri Lanka today is an INSULT and a violation to what the Buddha taught.

            After the war against LTTE ended Buddhism has become a DISCOURSE to cover war crimes committed by the Rajapaksa brothers. PUBLIC Buddhism in Sri Lanka is NOT Buddhism at all – it is a DISCOURSE and set of PRACTICES to hide crime and murder and bad INTENTIONS, by the most powerful in the land. TO say that Sri Lanka is a Dhamma Deepa is an insult to Buddhism.

            • 3
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              So true. Sinhala Buddhism today should be called Moda Sinhala Buddagama!
              Buddhism in Sri Lanka is corrupt and distorted because politicians have take over the religion to hide their crimes and turned the doctrine and practice of the Buddhism and the temple into a DEN OF THIEVES.
              The more criminal they are the more Buddhist the politicians and military (who are the biggest law breakers in the country) pretend to be – to avoid accountability and ensure their IMPUNITY AND IMMUNITY.
              This distortion of religion can happen to any religion – as Jesus found in the Synagogue that had become a Den of Thieves!

            • 1
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              yes buddhist customs by many buddhists in SL are not according to Buddhist phylosophy. The buddhists go to other palces of worship, still not correct buddhism. The question is how is it related to Mahavamsa?

              The states open display of religion and buddha statues is stupid and one thing i dont agree with it. It must be stopped. But still that is the practice of a gov with no strategy. How does it have anything to do with mahavamsa.

              the problem with you people is pota patalawagena

            • 0
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              Talking about SURYAWAMSA clan, the MIHIDUKULASIRIYA clan has the flag that depicts the BO TREE being SHIPPED to the ISLAND COUNTRY.

              Some JEALOUS fellows passed this off as a Portuguese era invention. Well, hey hey hey,…. in the past century ANURADHAPURA EXCAVATIONS have revealed the verry same BO TREE TREE figure in ancient coins and Royal/state symbols commemorating the event.

              • 0
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                It is the ARSAKULARATNE flag.

                (how can this be, we are no Island country, hey and plains theory is great theory!!)

    • 6
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      Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa says,

      “Ven. Mahanama Thero, the author of Mahawamsa has nothing to do with those events. What he has done was that he has recorded what he has seen in the contemporary socio-cultural background and what he heard from the already existed literature”.

      This is absolutely hilarious!

      First of all, Ven. Mahanama Thero is a member of the Buddhist Samgha who is supposed to record/write about Buddha and his Dhamma and not some kind of RUBBISH insulting the Buddha just because he saw and heard something that is actually NOT what the Buddha said or did.

      Let me draw an example from the Mahavamsa,
      CHAPTER I THE VISIT OF THE TATHAGATA Please read the whole chapter here: http://lakdiva.org/mahavamsa/chap001.html

      The first visit of the Buddha was to Mahiyangane area where Yakkhas lived. The Mahavamsa Buddha did not try to win them over with his compassion as the original Buddha did in similar circumstances. He TERRORIZED the Yakkhas by MANIPULATING natural phenomena. The Yakkhas appealed to the Buddha NOT TO TERRORIZE them if they were not harmed, they would vacate the land for the Buddha. The Mahavamsa Buddha seems to have taken the innate evil character of the Sinhalese. ‘he struck terror to their hearts by rain, storm, darkness and so forth.’ The yakkhas, overwhelmed by fear, besought the fearless Van quisher to release them from terrors, and the Vanquisher, destroyer of fear, spoke thus to the terrified yakkhas:

      “To this great gathering of that yakkhas went the Blessed One, and there, in the midst of that assembly, hovering in the air over their heads, at the place of the (future) Mahiyangana-thupa, he struck terror to their hearts by rain, storm, darkness and so forth.’ The yakkhas, overwhelmed by fear, besought the fearless Van quisher to release them from terrors, and the Vanquisher, destroyer of fear, spoke thus to the terrified yakkhas: `I will banish this your fear and your distress, O yakkhas, give ye here to me with one accord a place where I may sit down. ‘The yakkhas thus answered the Blessed One: ‘We all, O Lord, GIVE YOU EVEN THE WHOLE OF OUR ISLAND Give us release from our fear.”

      The Mahavamsa portrayal of the Buddha’s second visit also shows that the Buddha had been brought down to a level which the Sinhalese could understand. I think even the Buddha won’t forgive the Ven. Mahanama for this. The second visit of the Buddha was to Nagadipa, now identified with northern part of Lanka. Two Naga princes were about to fight fiercely for a gem set throne and bloodshed was imminent. The Buddha made his visit to prevent bloodshed. There too, the Mahavamsa Buddha seems to have used TERRORIST methods of MANIPULATING natural phenomena to frighten the princes so that they themselves offered the Buddha the throne out of fear.

      The Mahavamsa Buddha seems to have taken on a character which the original would not have recognized. Don’t you people think that it is an insult to the original Buddha?

      • 0
        3

        RAVI:

        Always the history is how one person saw the society or the world.

        That Venerable thero, as a buddhisgt monk, gave how he saw the events unfolding in Sri Lanka.

        For example, in Christianism has any historian told that JEsus was a Humanitarian and it is the Romans who created the Political Religion called CHRISTIANITY ?

        Because, the writers wanted their views to be known.

        It is the same with ISlam.

        QURAN was written for 23 years. Prophet Mohomad, in today’s terms is a Mass murderer, Incestous rapist, but he had some paranomal ABILITIES AND LEADERSHIP, and was a good businessman. But, historians had not written it.

        • 0
          0

          JimSofty BBS servant,

          Romans created catholic church. Your knowledge is weak. Quran was not written by Muhammed, and it was written by Muhammed companions 200y after his death. Islam says Muhammed was not able to read and write.

          There are millions of people today Memorized Quran and it was previously too. Many people in the west start to read the Quran to find errors, finally they have been converting to Islam. Try yourself too………..

          Like you, Googling knowledge always a risk….try to learn something and make comments, otherwise the pay will be waste to you.

      • 4
        0

        That’s a good point Ravi!

        Mahanama the author of Mahavamsa is not just a normal man, he is supposed to be a scholarly Buddhist monk of the Mahavihara. A venerable Buddhist Thero of the Theravada Buddhist Samgha cannot write something like this insulting the Buddha. How can a Buddha who taught chastity, temperance, tolerance, compassion, loving kindness, etc do something that is opposite to his teachings and how can a Buddhist write such a thing even if he had heard or read?

        Is Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa so naïve to tell us that it is not Mahanama’s mistake, he only wrote what he heard, saw and read? Leave the Buddhist cleargy, even an ordinary layperson will not write such a thing insulting Buddha.

        In her article, Sharmini Serasinghe very rightly points out,
        “Perhaps at a time, when Buddhism began to lose its popularity in India, The monks of the Mahavihara, especially Mahanama, might have panicked, and therefore decided to make Sri Lanka a ‘Buddhist Country’, in order to ‘protect’ Buddhism”.

        I wonder what Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa is going to say about this. We expect a response from him.

      • 0
        1

        it doesnt matter what he written goes along with the buddhist phylosophy or not. He didnt write a buddhist book, he simply recorded a history as he heard it. Whether he lived by the Dhamma is immaterial.

        • 1
          0

          What a stupid response!

        • 1
          0

          The Buddha who taught and practiced Ahimsa (non-violence), Karuna (compassion), Metta (affection), and Maithriya (loving-kindness) is doing the opposite (violence and terror) according to the Mahavamsa which was written not by an ordinary person but a member of the Mahavihara Buddhist Samgha which is not only an insult to the original Buddha but also a disgrace to the Buddhists around the world.

          The two Top class morons on CT, Jim Stupidity and Sach are saying it is alright for a Buddhist Bikku to insult Buddha because that is what he saw, heard and read. In other words, the Buddha practicing violence and Terror (as per the Buddhist priest Mahanama) is acceptable. Everybody on CT is aware that Jim Stupidity and Sach are two well-known idiots but I do not expect a similar response from Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa.

      • 1
        0

        In Sri Lanka, 95% of the Sinhala-Buddhists believe in the story that the Buddha made 3 magical visits to the island and the one and only one source for this belief is the MAHAVAMSA CHAPTER I, THE VISIT OF THE TATHAGATA written by none other than a Buddhist monk from the Mahavihara Buddhist Samgha.

        In the Mahavamsa (if we read chapter 1), its author Ven. Mahanama Thero has converted the Buddha into a Barbarian and Buddhism into Barbarism.

        Being a professor in a Buddhist intuition, Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa cannot be considered ignorant, he must be well versed in Buddhism (Pali cannon) and the Buddhist history (Pali chronicle). How can a person in his capacity write an article like this telling us that Mahanama, a responsible member of the Buddhist Samgha only wrote (blindly) what he saw and heard/read without even thinking for a moment that what he (Mahanama) is writing is an insult to Buddha and his Dhamma?

        Mahanama has already fooled a large number of gullible and is Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa also trying to do the same? If that is the case, Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa is not fit even to be a normal Buddhist layperson leave alone is academic credentials, his credibility as a professor in Buddhism is questionable.

        Ms Sharmini Serasinghe is absolutely correct when she said,
        “Who and what distorted the Buddhist philosophy, in Sri Lanka? I say firmly, the blame must be laid fair and square, at the feet of Mahanama thera, and his ‘book of Buddhist tales’- the Mahavamsa.”

        Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa’s response to this is,
        “Mahanama, the author of Mahawamsa has nothing to do with those events. What he has done was that he has recorded what he has seen in the contemporary socio-cultural background and what he heard from the already existed literature.”

        I am sure the broad-minded and the wise readers will be able to understand the difference between what Ms Sharmini Serasinghe is saying and what Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa is trying to say. We need your response on this, professor.

  • 5
    5

    This explanation shows that the irresponsible views of people like Shyamon Jayasinghe (who is anti-Buddhist due to his own religious background he has been unable to break free from) and Jagath Asoka (a wannabe pseuo-intellectual?)arise from ignorance.

    Buddha’s primary aim was to eliminate ignorance and people who write to public forums on complex issues, like this writer has demonstrated, need to be humble and responsible.

    Most of all, they must try to ‘understand’ before dipping their pens, or opening their mouths.

    • 1
      1

      Excellent comment.

      Jagath Asoka should have got at least THREE PASSES from Advanced LEVEL examination thanks to THE TUITION MASTERS. So, he got the scholarship to UKRAINE to MSC, the first degree in that region, THANKS TO HIS PARENTS POLITICAL INFLUENCE IN SRI LANKA. SO, a PHD was not a far away. Then to get more he went to the Greener pastures of the USA. ONLY there he found that he was nothing in the western world.

      Anyway, in order to find his bread and butter (not Rice and curry)
      he is bashing Buddhism.

      Otherwise, he does not have a religion or a DHAMMA nad he is for every thing. He is just culturally lost…

      • 0
        0

        JimSofty,

        “Excellent comment, Jagath Asoka should have got at least THREE PASSES from Advanced LEVEL examination thanks to THE TUITION MASTERS. So, he got the scholarship to UKRAINE to MSC, the first degree in that region, THANKS TO HIS PARENTS POLITICAL INFLUENCE IN SRI LANKA. SO, a PHD was not a far away. Then to get more he went to the Greener pastures of the USA. ONLY there he found that he was nothing in the western world. Anyway, in order to find his bread and butter (not Rice and curry) he is bashing Buddhism. Otherwise, he does not have a religion or a DHAMMA nad he is for every thing. He is just culturally lost…”

        Above comment is more relevant to you than to anybody else. In order to be thrown at a few meatless pieces of bones, you are prostituting yourself with and get your ass assaulted by Rajapakshas. What a filthy animal are you?

    • 0
      0

      “Most of all, they must try to ‘understand’ before dipping their pens, ….”

      even their penis…as monks do in Sri Lanka

      • 0
        0

        RajasH,

        Ask JimSofty for more about the “dipping in penis” feeling. He is an expert on that.

  • 4
    0

    Dear Prof Kapila Abeywansa,

    “Most of the Buddhists not only in Sri lanka but also in all the Buddhist countries irrespective of their traditions such as Theravada, Mahayana and Tantrayana perform popular religious activities in their day to day life. We cannot say that all such activities are based on wrong beliefs.”

    “It should be accepted that the masses belonging to any religion do not have deep knowledge about both doctrinal aspect and the practical aspect of their religions. Therefore, they do not know what their religions mean. They merely take the religion only as a means of help in their grievances.”

    Well summarized. Thank you for the very thoughtful write-up that takes into Buddha’s teachings and the folk practices of the different sects of Buddhism, through the ages in different cultures. One one trace the acquisition of such practices chronologically. Greek influence (The Buddha Statues), Mahayana Buddhism making Buddha Divine and into a God and Monk Mahanama Sinhala Buddhism turning Lanka into a Buddhist Racist Culture, the Dhamma Deepaya. Faith Island. However, irrespective of facts and observations. people will follow their folk practices they have been brainwashed and hardwired by childhood neurons.

    Of course, this is not exclusive to Buddhism. You can find the same practices in Hinduism, Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Martin Luther challenged the Catholic Dogma and practices in 1517 and was successful in partially reforming the Christian reliefs, but still retained many of its dogmas. The Islamic Philosophers failed in the struggle between Reason and Observation vs. Reevaluation in the 12th century. The Europeans succeeds and resulted in the Age of Reason and Enlightenment in the 16th century.

    Even today, more than 25% of the US and Europeans and the rest of the World still believe in the age old Illusion that the Sun goes around a stationary Earth, a kind of folk practice, that was favored by the prominent early Greek natural philosophers, despite all the evidence to the contrary.

    So, a fraction of the faithful believing that Buddha was God, given the multitudes of Gods in Hinduism, from which Buddhism originated is natural and in keeping with the culture.

    The real question is that, are they practices harmful to the others who do not believe or subscribe such beliefs. Given the behavior of Mahanama Sinhala Buddhists, Wahhabi and Taliban “Islamist” and some Christian and Hindu fundamentalists, Karl Marx’s statement
    “Religion is the opium of the masses” says a lot.

    Read, The God Delusion the Age of reason and may other references.

    DeJa Vu.

    • 2
      0

      “Even today, more than 25% of the US and Europeans and the rest of the World still believe in the age old Illusion that the Sun goes around a stationary Earth, a kind of folk practice, that was favored by the prominent early Greek natural philosophers, despite all the evidence to the contrary.”

      If you don’t know anything “Sun goes around Earth”

      If you know something “Earth goes around Sun”

      If you know more and apply relativity it can be either way “Sun goes around Earth” or “Earth goes around Sun” depending on your assumed base

    • 0
      0

      ‘ Read, The God Delusion,the Age of reason and many other references.’

      Listen to message –
      ‘RAVI ZACHARIAS ANSWERS ATHEISTS’

      ‘JESUS AMONG OTHER GODS’

      (YouTube.com/rzimmedia.)

    • 0
      0

      Amarasiri:

      Now, I believe you.

    • 1
      0

      Dear Prof Kapila Abeywansa,

      You need to read up on the alternate views by many who use reason, such as Richard Dawkins and Chris Hutchins.

      The God Delusion

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_God_Delusion

      In The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that belief in a personal god qualifies as a delusion, which he defines as a persistent false belief held in the face of strong contradictory evidence. He is sympathetic to Robert Pirsig’s statement in Lila that “when one person suffers from a delusion it is called insanity. When many people suffer from a delusion it is called religion”.[4]

      Also Chris Hutchins God is not great, gives alternate views.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/God_is_not_Great

      God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything is a 2007 book by the author and journalist Christopher Hitchens (1949–2011) in which he criticises religion. It was published by Atlantic Books in the United Kingdom as God Is Not Great: The Case Against Religion.
      In the book, Hitchens contends that organised religion is “violent, irrational, intolerant, allied to racism, tribalism, and bigotry, invested in ignorance and hostile to free inquiry, contemptuous of women and coercive toward children” and sectarian, and that accordingly it “ought to have a great deal on its conscience.” Hitchens supports his position with a mixture of personal stories, documented historical anecdotes and critical analysis of religious texts. His commentary focuses mainly on the Abrahamic religions, although it also touches on other religions, such as Hinduism and Buddhism.

  • 4
    5

    Finally an article of value , Thank you prof

    instead of idiot nonsense spewed by morons like jagath asoka , shamon jayasinghe and senasinghe . Write about things you know . Dont expose your idiocy to the world . Fools should heed that silence is golden ,and that a fool is as wise man till they open their mouth . !!

    • 4
      2

      As said,’Fools should heed that silence is golden and that a fool is a wise man till he opens his mouth’. Fits Abhaya perfectly. Hope you learn from your own advice. Further please refrain from murdering the Queen.

      • 0
        0

        gamegodaya tamil

        What makes you a genius . being a tamil refugee living in Scarborough ?
        Taking a fake sinhala name does not make you any more intelligent . lmao

    • 1
      1

      Abhaya,

      Aren’t you aware, that it’s impolite to misspell a person’s name?

      Further, the first letter of a proper noun is spelt with a capital (upper-case).

      Instead of advising others against exposing their “idiocy to the world”, you should heed your own advice.

      • 1
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        Ok Mahadena H- tta . thank for letting me know .

  • 4
    5

    Prof. Abhayawansha:

    I am still not clear with the intentions of Shayaman Jayashinghe.

    With respect to Jagath Asoka, he began ridiculing Buddhism. then he wrote an article against Buddhism as a THIEST (both christian and Muslim) favouring the Creator.

    Now he says, He is Buddhist and a religiophile. That statement itself says that he does not know what he is talking because,Buddhism is not a religion and he says he is educated which means he should have a brain. Only thing, he does, is that he wants to be some one that who can criticize Buddhism at will. Because he says he is a buddhist.

    Ready carefully, what Shayamani Serasinghe writes. she had been a buddhist by birth but she had been educated in Colombo convents. Because of that she has grown up as AN ANGLICAN – CHRISTIAN. She does not know at least to talk about KARMA, when her supposedly – bosom friend is in trouble, and she talks about SOUL, GOD etc., etc.,

    So PLEASE NOTE, what ever they say their intention is to make Sinhala-buddhists GUILTY.

    • 0
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      JIM SoFTLY BUDDAH IS SATAN…

      • 0
        0

        Propeht Mohomad is a, according to the modern LAWs, INCESTOUS RAPIST and a MASS MURDERER.

        CHRISTIANISM is a political Religion created by the ROMAN KINGDOM POLITICIANS.

        EVANGELICAL CHURCH HAS 10-15 HIV-AIDS PATIENTS,Anglican Church’sad is a woman from a DYSFUNCTIONAL family; that church has it’s own murderous history; now it is BANKRUPT and the ARCHBISHOP QUITE THE JOB. CATHOLIC CHURCH … another story and every body knows it.

        BLAME BUDDHIST SANGHA aka MONKS. THEY ARE HUMANS and ARE TRYING TO ENLIGHTEN AND THEY MAKE MISTAKES. LORD BUDDHA, THE ALMIGHTY KNEW IT.

        • 1
          0

          LORD BUDDHA, THE ALMIGHTY???LOL

          It is the same as GOD BUDDHA, THE ALMIGHTY!!!

          I thought this guy is only a STUPID but he is also a good JOKER.

    • 7
      1

      Looks like Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa did not understand the article that Sharmini Serasinghe has written. Sharmini is not talking against Buddha or his Dhamma. She is only exposing the un-Buddhist practices that the Sinhala-Buddhists are engaged in the name of Buddhism. She is very clearly telling us that even though both Mahavamsa and Tripitaka are written in a language (Pali) that the Sinhala-Buddhist laypersons cannot understand. In the name of Theravada Buddhism, the Sinhala-Buddhists have adopted various beliefs and practices that are not found in the Tripitaka but only in the Mahavamsa. A few examples are, the Sinhala-Buddhists believe that Buddha visited Sri Lanka thrice, he blessed the island (Dhamma Deepa), he chose the Sinhala race as the sustainers of Buddhism for the next 5000 years and he chose God Vishnu to protect the Dhamma Deepa for 5000 years until the next Maithree Buddha arrive. They also believe in Buddha’s huge footstep on Adam’s peak and the huge tooth at the Dalada Maligawa. What Sharmini is advising the Sinhala-Buddhists is to adopt pure Buddhism (Tripitaka) and not Mahavamsa-Buddhism (a hybrid of both Mahavamsa and Tripitaka) as they are doing now.

      Buddha has very clearly said, worshipping his Dathu (tooth), the bo-tree (bodhi puja), his footstep at Adam’s peak, the Bramanical Gods (Devale), etc are all useless, it will not give any kind of salvation. Buddhism is not a belief system like other religions where you expect God to perform miracles, it is only a way of life (philosophy). Unfortunately, the Sinhala-Buddhists have converted Buddhism into just another belief system and the main cause for this the Mahavamsa.

      • 1
        1

        Janaka Fernando:

        I read you comment very carefully. I think you have understood WHAT BUDDHA SAID IN A WRONG WAY.

        JUST REMEMBER, THAT LORD BUDDHA NEVER asked devotees to use sex as a tool to achieve NIRAVANA. But, Tantric buddhism uses SEX, even homosexual sex, to realize NIRVANA (TOO MUCH FOR IGNORENTS).

        With respect to SHAMINI SERASINGHE (Is she a wife of a former FAILED politician ? , she is not correct. She is either does not know what she is talking, IF she is genuine, OR she is talking what she does not know.

        • 2
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          Jim Stupidity,

          Janaka fernado is not talking about Mahayana Buddhism, Tantric Buddhism, Lamaism, Jainism, Christianity or Islam. He is talking about Theravada Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka comparing it with what Buddha said.

          To attain Nirvana, Buddha did not say you can attain Nirvana by engaging in sex, neither did he say you can attain Nirvana or solace by worshipping his Dathu (tooth), the bo-tree (bodhi puja), his footstep at Adam’s peak, the Bramanical Gods (Devale), etc.

          If you are saying that Janaka has understood WHAT BUDDHA SAID IN A WRONG WAY, then are you saying all the above practices are what Buddha actually said and they are the RIGHT WAY?

      • 2
        0

        Janaka,

        What you are trying to say is, Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa did not understand the article that Sharmini Serasinghe has written.

        This is exactly why Sharmini has given a Caution right at the beginning:
        “The following is more suitable for the broad-minded and the wise. Others are kindly advised to pass!”

        Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa may be an educated and knowledgeable person but from his article we can assume that he may not be broad-minded and wise to understand Sharmini’s article.

      • 0
        1

        “She is only exposing the un-Buddhist practices that the Sinhala-Buddhists are engaged in the name of Buddhism. “

        what are these practices got to do with mahavamsa? And how does these prctices are unbuddhist? Offering flowers, lighting lamps are not unbuddhist.

        “She is very clearly telling us that even though both Mahavamsa and Tripitaka are written in a language (Pali) that the Sinhala-Buddhist laypersons cannot understand.”
        That may be your understanding. Any buddhist knows what is in buddhist phyloshophy. One of the greats in Buddhist Philosophy is Walpola Rahula Thera. he wrote the book history of Buddhism in Ceylon. Knowledge in Philosophy and mahavamsa are two different things.

        “In the name of Theravada Buddhism, the Sinhala-Buddhists have adopted various beliefs and practices that are not found in the Tripitaka but only in the Mahavamsa. A few examples are, the Sinhala-Buddhists believe that Buddha visited Sri Lanka thrice, he blessed the island (Dhamma Deepa), he chose the Sinhala race as the sustainers of Buddhism for the next 5000 years and he chose God Vishnu to protect the Dhamma Deepa for 5000 years until the next Maithree Buddha arrive. They also believe in Buddha’s huge footstep on Adam’s peak and the huge tooth at the Dalada Maligawa.”

        Shamini doesnt discuss them. She discusses very trivial things like offering flowers and buddhist rituals. Only thing she is slightly correct is on Sri Pada. Again what is wrong in such a belief. Religion is a set of beliefs anyhow. The other rituals she talk about has no mention in Mahavamsa. Even Dalada is not discussed heavily in Mahavamsa.

        “What Sharmini is advising the Sinhala-Buddhists is to adopt pure Buddhism (Tripitaka) and not Mahavamsa-Buddhism (a hybrid of both Mahavamsa and Tripitaka) as they are doing now. “

        Who is Shamini to do that? what a buddhist practice or their ritual is totally a person’s private matter. As long as it doesnt go against the law in the country no one can say he/she has to practice the religion in the pure form.

        This talk about removing cultural traditions and those talk about pure religion sound like islamic Taliban who are hell bent on removing cultural aspect of muslims. :) Isnt that funny

    • 0
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      Jim Softy,

      Please heed your friend Abhaya’s advice-

      “Write about things you know . Dont expose your idiocy to the world . Fools should heed that silence is golden ,and that a fool is as wise man till they open their mouth . !!”

  • 1
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    With regard to the title of this Article;

    I read an article in a SRI LANKAN newspaper which said that the GOD – concept may have been begun because of the LORD Buddha.

    Just understand the beliefs of native tribes in the world (Natives in North America and Australian Aborigines – two examples). Their ancient beliefs are very similar to what Buddhists believe.

    NOTE: that Buddhism is the only “RELIGION” which says that LORD BUDDHA’s had been born on this earth as sand grains on the ground. So, what those Buddhas told MUST HAVE AFFECTED the views of these people on earth.

  • 1
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    Sir

    We thank you , and encourage you to continue to enlighten us .

  • 5
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    Prof Kapila Abhayawansa: It is an interesting article, and thank you for your edifying thoughts.

    • 1
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      An “interesting” article! Is that all you have to say?

      What an arrogant and ignorant prick to not acknwledge the depth of the mud hole he is swimming in!

      Repent, moron.

      • 4
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        Rattaran, Your cruel comment indicates that you are not a Buddhist, for a Buddhist would have ‘metta’, karuna’muditha, upekha, in his response. You had none of it.

        • 3
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          hope not that the average may reach to Rattaran^s dispecable levels.
          How can any buddhist be that aggressive ?

      • 1
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        Rattaran:

        what a cruel response.

        Jagath, may be swimming in a mud hole, but do you not think we should all gently guide him out of it?

        If you were in that same mud hole, I am certain that Jagath will be the first to help you out.

        BTW: I do not agree that Jagath is in a mud hole; he is just excited about a new found hobby – writing, to the best of his ability. We need to encourage him and bring out the best in him. He could end up being our Sri Lankan “Khaled Hossein”!

        Have some compassion my friend

  • 0
    5

    Whatever you meant to say, honourable professor the fact remains the happenings of the world are not coincidences and there is a power behind it. Whether you call it God or else is up to you but Buddhists need God too! The statues of deities on whom dust and gecko droppings fall without hindrance surely cannot solve human problems despite belief otherwise. Belief is one of those roads that when taken far inwards tend to pollute your wisdom!

    • 1
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      “fact remains the happenings of the world are not coincidences and there is a power behind it”.

      Respectfully Samanthi, this is clearly an opinion of you and the likes of yours, not a fact because this so called power has, conspicuously, been missing in action for the past 1,800 to to 2,000 years.

  • 4
    1

    Dear Prof.
    A good article, but I beg to differ in some of the aspects. Buddhism as a philosophy is fine no doubts about that, what is important is to practise it( which is what we should be preaching and insisting that we practise it), which you correctly have said. Religion is all about faith, and Buddhism is not articulated around faith. Whilst we may try or many have tried to make this philosophy a religion but then see the disastrous results we have around us. Even the great philosopher himself would be disappointed how this whole thing has turned out be.

    M/s Jayasinghe and Asoka and also Ms Serasinghe did make very interesting insights, points and views. It was good to read your perspective of this interesting theme.

  • 3
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    Well written article clarifying the misconceptions and misunderstandings.
    I like the last sentence best.”What I have to emphasis here is that touching the teaching of the Buddha from here and there leads to the misrepresentation of the Buddha.” thank you prof.

  • 3
    2

    Thank you for this excellent analysis Kapila. It is a pity that someone of your standing had to waste your breath to defend some baseless allegations made by a ‘baala’ individual like Jagasoka who is not qualified in any sense to analyse Buddhism. This is not to say he is not entitled to hold any view whatever that make him fulfilled.

  • 3
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    Good article. Bravo.

  • 2
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    “… to encourage them to cultivate Buddhist virtues such as liberality, generosity, gratitude, unity, collective responsibility, respect to the worthy ones and so on “

    This is not in Sri Lanka Sinhala Buddhism as preached BBS and Sinhala Ravaya and encouraged by the Sri Lankan state who are constitutionally the guardian of the Sri Lanka Sinhal Busshism.

  • 2
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    I read this interesting series begun by Dr Jagath Asoka, through Shyamon Jayasinghe, Jagath Asoka again and now Prof Kapila. The three persons have made very useful contributions as they take up different facets. Whether it is Buddhism or politics or economics the important thing is to encourage open discourse like this. One must not show the same bigotry that Christians show when discussing their religion. Unfortunately some commentators are doing just that. The whole subject of Buddhism is open to interpretation and this is why so many Buddhist sects have come up over the years.

    • 0
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      Aloka Giragama,

      “I read this interesting series begun by Dr Jagath Asoka…….”

      Permit me to correct you, but “this series” as you put it, was not started by Dr Jagath Asoka. It was started by Ms Sharmini Serasinghe.

  • 2
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    A great piece of writing by Prof Kapila Abhayawanse!
    My focus has, however, been very different. While Professor deals with textual analysis my interests is in the broader issue of the sociology of Buddhism. Sociologists like Max Weber have dealt with this very interesting phenomenon.Weber argued that Buddhism transformed itself to accommodate “plebeian religious needs” which consist of “intercession in physical and psychic distress in this world, and promise of heaven in the hereafter”. That “transformation” made the Buddha a “super-deity” (devatideva). Nirvana was made an eternal, blissful existence when in the Buddha’s definition it was no more than “extinction of attachment” (tanhakkhaya). Isn’t this true?

    • 0
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      The goal of religion ought to be to lead us live our lives to the best of our abilities at all times. Dharma (for that matter any religion) is only be a raft that take us to that destination. It is subordinate to – and not sitting above -the humanity.

      Human nature being what it is, no two people view what religion means to them in the same way. Individually taken, we will be fooling ourselves to assume that my view or the interpretation of it is the only correct view…

  • 0
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    As I see it, Buddha, Jesus, God, Krishna are all changing with time. (All these Gods and values reside in your consciousness, nothing is outside). 200 years back, what Buddha or Buddhist teaching to a person was what the local village monk taught them, same with Jesus and concepts of Gods. Now we have all sort of information and much improved literacy skills and we absorb so many new interpretation and concepts of same religions taught thousands years back. These complex information create new Buddhas, New Gods in our consciousness..
    However, to Prof. Kapila and most of others who commented here, God is only a Creator, almighty power… New Gods we have are more complex than this.
    Now lot of people see & feel God as their Invisible Friend, Father of all human being, God is within, pure good and power of good, Nature (with capital N)…..
    Simplest meaning I can give is “everything and anything that is NOT Evil is God”.
    Krisna is a God, because he was pure good while he lived. To me, all Buddha, Jesus and Krishna are Gods, they all were enlightened people who wanted to make rest of us to have joyful and meaningful life.
    Anura

  • 3
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    Prof Kapila Abhayawansa, thank you for your valuable insight on this subject kicked-off by Dr Jagat Asoka.

  • 1
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    BUDDAH is SAtan

    • 4
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      Sri Lankan Muslim,

      Most Muslims respect the Buddha, and understand Buddhism, far more, than Sinhala-Buddhists, like you do.

  • 4
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    Lot of pansala people camping around the CT,now. The start was the reason of Sharmini Serasinghe ‘s article named “Mahawamsa – an Insult to the Buddha”. Now the meaning of that article has been completely distorted. The article was harsh, but not intended to insult the innocent or to ridicule the Buddhism, it was not even meant to the common. It was meant to correct the trouble makers.

    It was attempting to find solution for the country’s current problems like dictatorship, corruption, power abuse, division, economical down fall, moral and cultural decay(fastest growing industry is sex industry, other new Casino, Gamblingetc though Buddha himself live a Sanyasi).It was not meant carry out down to the root, real, religious research on Buddhism.

    Recently, in Jaffna, even NPC Chief Minister CV pointed out some good things from that articles.

    Mahawamsa has been extended by King’s family too. Now, it includes the celebration of May 19th 2009, with the fireworks. The only intention of this was to consolidate the power by fooling the ignorant. The same way, the purpose of introduction of the Lion in the Mahawamsa is not anything different from this May 19th, 2009 fireworks. Even at that time, a learned person like Mahasena wouldn’t have had doubted about the inability of a woman sleeping with a wild Lion. He concocted that to achieve his object. The basic message of the Lion is the story means Bravery, Victory, Superiority, Enslavement, ……;Mahasena did not write anything different from Kings family’s Mahawamsa extension.

    In that article Sharmini Serasinghe proved that she is from god fearing Buddhist family. This established that it was not against anybody. Then she went to say the intention of Mahasena did not appears to be honestly sharing the Buddhists’ virtue with the sinful. In contrast, it was about Machismo, Heroism, …. and there were no consistent, pious preaching to salvage the one sought help.

    I do not want to fall into religious debate like others are doing. It is obvious the correction Sharmini Serasinghe looked for the religion was the one to get the country out of the current mess. She appeared to be looking for a fresh start and new future for the country. She appears to be believing those who understand the Buddhism still on the correct path, but those who took the Mahawamsa for granted only got misguided.

    She started with Mahanasena-Buddhists,(even his name “Maha – Sena” appears as not his original name and he might have been a warrior and got this name from a war front victory that he achieved) but she was talking about the country as a whole, Buddhist, Christians, Hindus, Muslims.. Basically Sharmini Serasinghe argument was Buddha showed the path for those who sought, but the Sri Lankan Bhdhism of making others Modhayas and celebrating with fire works started with Mahasena’s extremism.
    In additions to Sharmini Serasinghe article, the honest Buddhists should look at last year’s Time Magazine cover page too. This is telling it is not just everything on Mahasena, the excessive faith and wealth getting collected around pansala or south Indian temples will produce only BBS and Shiva Sena like destructive forces(this different from Al-Qaeda’s activities; there everything was done conscientiously by organized gangs but, here tricky people abusing peoples power) To save the country, the culture of infusing the dope of Buddhism started by Mahasena has to go away. The fake idea of Buddha wanted to carry out ethnic cleaning to preserve his teaching to be wiped out of Mahawamasa. From the side of the government, a non religious, secular constitution has be installed, that is important even for the Buddhists to live with out the fear of BBS gangs.

    • 5
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      Mallaiyuran, Agree with you. Sharmini Serasinghe’s attempt was to highlight the incongruity of Buddha’s teaching, and how it is practised in Sri Lanka. We cannot be Buddhists if we are cruel and uncaring.

      • 0
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        Again how is it connected to Mahavamsa

      • 0
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        “We cannot be Buddhists if we are cruel and uncaring”

        WICKRAMASIRI:

        Unlike Ignorant – CHRISTIANS, MUSLIMS or OTHER HINDUS, WE Buddhists have to go the HARD WAY until we reach our GOAL.

        BECAUSE< AS HUMANS< WE MAKE MISTAKES. THAT IS HUMANITY.

        LEARN IT IF YOU DON"T KNOW IT.

        LEARNING PROCESS is a very difficult one.

        • 2
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          Jim Softy,

          ” LEARNING PROCESS is a very difficult one”.

          Very true.

          But for you, it seems an impossible one.

        • 1
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          Jim Softly, Your words do not convey any meaning. A person who does not follow the Buddha’s teaching is not a Buddhist. Can you not understand that? For instance you are not a Buddhist even though you may be registered at birth as a ‘Buddhist’.

  • 0
    1

    Buddha is another son of God sent by to this world by the Almighty during changing times likewise, Jesus, Mohamed, Krishna………….

    They are all sons of GOd sent at different times as deemed necessary by the Almighty to bring forth a message of peace.

    Unfortunately, the respective Clergy have turned these followngs to cults or to make money or to gather Intel or Kill or spy or to control people’s lives.

    Today the Clergy and the so called holy institutions are run by those for ulterior motives.People do not need them. We can do well without them.
    We the people can pray to the Almighty direct or through the intimidiaries sent by Him.

    SRI LANKA MUSLIM…. LEARN TO RESPECT. WHAT DO YOU GAIN BY SAYING BUDDHA IS SATAN??
    LIKEWISE WHAT DOES ANYONE GAIN BY CALLING THE HOLY PROPHET A SATAN?
    GROW UP MAN. WE DO NOT NEED TO IGNITE HATRED VIA RELIGION.

    • 0
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      THERE IS NOT ALMIGHTY OR THE CREATOR.

      So, there can not be any SON’s of GODs’

      All our imagination.

  • 0
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    Prof Kapila Abhayawansa,

    “Originally, such popular practices were introduced to the ordinary people by the Buddhist monks in order to keep them away from the unrighteous and bad activities which are harmful to both themselves and others (pāpā nivārenti) and to encourage them to cultivate Buddhist virtues’

    Very true, but see what such “popular practices”, devoid of a genuine understanding of Buddhism, has got us.

    Perhaps you have been away from Sri Lanka for too long in the recent past, to realise, what a mockery Buddhism has been turned into in this country today, by some of those “popular practices” practicing Buddhists.

    i.e JHU, BBS, Sihala Ravaya, Ravana Balaya etc. including several ruling politicians.

    • 0
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      MAHA DENA MUTHTHA is a LTTE – TAMIL.

      What we can expect from him,

      At least from an Anti-Sinhala Tamil…………

      • 0
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        ” MAHA DENA MUTHTHA is a LTTE – TAMIL.”

        Really?????????

        Now, when did you go peeping at my birth certificate?

  • 3
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    Prof:

    Articles “God In Buddhism?” and “From Siddhartha Gautama to God” written respectively by Mr. Shyamon Jayasinghe and Dr. Jagath Asoka appeared in Colombo Telegraph gave me the idea to write something revealing the true nature of popular Buddhist practices. It seems to me that not only both writers but also many amongst us who criticize popular Buddhist activities fail to understand the complex nature, different dispositions and the levels of the understanding of the masses in the world. We cannot put all the people in one category due to diverse mental capacity of the people. There is no one single medicine for all the ailments:

    ****I fail to understand when you say there is no one single Medicine for all the ailments when the Ailment is ” RACIAL INTOLERANCE”

    Just consider the following:

    Buddhism, a faith practiced all over the world, is marked by individualism, equality and concern for the welfare of the earth and all “sentient” creatures. But when it is harnessed to ethnic intolerance and extreme nationalism, it can turn mindlessly violent, as it has been and continues to be evident in Burma, now also known as Myanmar.

    Buddhist violence, including lethal brutality against non-Buddhist minorities, is not a phenomenon confined to Burma. In recent decades, Sri Lanka’s ethnic tensions have been ignited and reignited by Buddhist zealots. As in Burma, they find sympathizers in Buddhist-dominated governments and the military.

    When you have doctors ( Government & Clergy) treating the Ailment refuse to prescribe the correct medicine ( Preaching Tolerance instead of Hatred ) there is no cure. So Lord Buddhas teaching is all in vain.
    SAD.

    • 1
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      Kali, You said it all!

  • 3
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    Thank you Professor for your great insight,

    I would be thank full if could please clarify following from your article.
    • Quote “It is true that people practice them with the blind faith without understanding their true values. “ Unquote

    While admitting the ritualistic practices are wrong and not in accordance with Buddha’s teaching you try to justify it by giving the reasons why it was introduced.
    Don’t you think that in worshipping the Buddha statue, it is natural for someone to get the same perception as when he worships a god in Kataragama. Buddha advised a monk who admired Buddha’s physical body that Buddha can be seen only through his teachings.
    Don’t you think it is high time that we think of following real Buddhism beyond ritualistic practices?

    • Quote “It should be accepted that the masses belonging to any religion do not have deep knowledge about both doctrinal aspect and the practical aspect of their religions. Therefore, they do not know what their religions mean” Unquote
    In the above statement you correctly admit that for most of the Buddhists in our country, Buddhism is nothing more than ritualistic practices consisting of various Puja’s offering alms to monks etc. and do not have a deep knowledge on the doctrine..
    Although I do not agree with Sharmini fully, she expresses her disappointment in a very strong manner for what you have admitted. The difference between you and Sharmini is that you while admitting the situation try to justify it. Sharmini criticises it expecting it will open the eyes of our religious leaders. Readers should decide who is more correct on these two views.

    Do you believe that above situation is a matter of concern for Buddhist leaders and steps should be taken to educate the masses of the real meaning of Buddhism? We need not worry about other religions. Don’t you feel sad that Buddhism being such a peaceful religion which provides intelligent and logical solutions to all our problems is being misinterpreted by some Buddhist priests in our country?

    • Quote “Buddhism is not a philosophy in the modern sense of the word. It is really a way of life based on a doctrine which supposed to be personally verified by the Buddha. If we think that Buddhism is a philosophy for a moment, then what is the use of such a philosophy when it is not used into the practice? “Unquote

    You reject Sharmini Serasinghe’s suggestion that by converting the philosophy into a religion, Buddhist monks, also converted the Buddha, into a ‘God’, and themselves, as his ‘Messengers’, who must be revered and worshiped; totally disregarding the Buddha’s words”
    Then you go on to say that Buddhist philosophy as preached by Buddha is no use to our masses. Professor, I beg to disagree with you on this point. You know in Western Countries there is increasing number of people who became interested in Buddhism, practicing the virtues of Moral conduct, and meditation regularly without doing the rituals. They study Buddhist Sutra’s and expand their knowledge through learned Buddhist Monks further. Do you sincerely believe if Buddha is alive today he would approve how we follow his teachings in Sri Lanka? We worship the tree that helped him to attend enlightenment, we worship what we believe his body parts, but we do not attempt to understand his teachings, but practices in a different way to suit our needs. Do you still think we can be called followers of Buddha? I understand your point that ordinary people cannot understand the doctrine. But justifying it and not trying to correct the situation has to be condemned.

  • 2
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    To spare the agony of the readers in citing the whole text of the article presented by Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa for scrutiny, I will take one issue where he tries to absolve Ven Mahanama of the falsehoods stated in Mahawamsa.

    I read an article written by Sharmini Serasinghe appeared in the Colombo Telegraph entitled ‘Mahawamsa – an Insult to the Buddha’ where vain attempt has been made to ascribe the introduction of religious-cultural events of the Sri Lankan Buddhists to the author of Mahawamsa. What is interesting there was that the writer suggested not reading the article by those who oppose to the contents of the article implying that the facts given there are absolutely true. In reality, Mahanama, the author of Mahawamsa has nothing to do with those events. What he has done was that he has recorded what he has seen in the contemporary socio-cultural background and what he heard from the already existed literature. Even prior to Mahanama there was a tradition of keeping records by the Mahā Vihārins about Buddhist religious events took place time to time in the Sri Lankan Society. Really they were the sources for the later written chronicle literature which include the chronicles such as Bodhiwamsa, Thupawamsa and Dāţhāwamsa. Dipawamsa which is the first chronicle of Sri Lanka written prior to Mahavamsa records most of the facts given in Mahawansa. Therefore, it is injustice to put all the blames on the shoulders of Mahanama.

    Prof. Abhayawamsa claims in reality the author of Mahawamsa has nothing to do with those events. The author Mahanama has only pieced together what was there in the socio cultural background and what he heard from the available literature. So in other words Mahanama did not concoct this, he only reported by recording the events. What a pathetic display of Mahanama’s intellect? Does the Prof. at least agree that such distortions only that have led to the detriment of Buddhism to have given birth to BBS/Ravan type of Organizations today?

    I am beginning to feel that Wignasewaran is justified to have asked that Sti Lanka’s History should be re-written and for Buddha’s sake let there be his Doctrine alone for people to seek solace and not the interpretations of others.

    • 0
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      Gamini,

      You have summed it up, brilliantly.

    • 0
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      Gamini,

      You are absolutely correct.

      Prof. Abhayawansa appears to be condoning all the superficial ‘Popular Buddhist’ practices, instead of asserting his authority, on focusing on the importance of the Buddhist doctrine.

    • 0
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      Gamini says and quotes,

      “..that Sti Lanka’s History should be re-written and for Buddha’s sake let there be his Doctrine alone for people to seek solace and not the interpretations of others..”

      Very true and correct. Let there be his Doctrine alone…and not the interpretations of others! We must all pursue this goal if we are to restore any sanity from this madness.

  • 0
    0

    As we like to read, if somebody like to save Mahanama from criticisms, they can put forward some evidence showing the lion story, Buddha request to save his teaching in Sri Lanka etc are all in Dipawamsa too. But, all what that is going to do is shifting the blame somewhere else. (Mistake not going to disappear.)It is pointless to shift the blame of Mahanama to the writer of Dipawamsa.

    The questions is whether he concocted(many believe that is what he did) or borrowed from somebody else, did he believed on it? did he wanted the readers believe that? did wanted the readers believe the others subjects he wrote on the same book, like Buddha’s teaching? How can he evaluate these things are equally good things like Buddha’s teaching and put these rubbish on the same book? Will people like to go a Vihara if that Vihara officially starts to sell Arrack with flowers? How did every one went buy Arrack and pray at the same Vihara? How did this rubbish got mixed up there? Why didn’t this author question about it and put a halt to it at his point?

    In the history of Tamil Sanga there was a chief poet named Nakkera was presiding the Sanga at the time of Shanpaka Paandiya’s ruling. One day a poem was sited at the Sanga claiming that some women’s hair can have natural scent. It was written in that way because writer’s expectation was the King wanted it as prove for his claim that his queens’ hair also has natural scent. When song came to court King very happy and wanted give present for that poem. But the Chief Poet refused to recommend it for the reward. King was in a awkward situation. It seems many others tried to convince the poet, but he simply said nobody’s hair can have natural smell. Eventually the poet was killed because he refused to accept even Goddess Parvathi’s hair can have natural smell.
    This is a 2200 years old incident. Here is another saying about 2000 yeas old.
    Thirukkural Couplet 423:
    “Though things diverse from divers sages’ lips we learn,
    ‘Tis wisdom’s part in each the true thing to discern
    Explanation:
    To discern the truth in every thing, by whomsoever spoken, is wisdom
    Transliteration
    Epporul Yaaryaarvaaik Ketpinum Apporul
    Meypporul Kaanpa Tharivu”

    Here Mahanama either did not has wisdom to separate the right from the wrong or purposefully left it there. We know the first part can not be true so it is the second is the correct one here.

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      “Will people like to go a Vihara if that Vihara officially starts to sell Arrack with flowers? “

      ha ha ha I love it

      never mind the flowers people will be queing up…

      and it’s irnoic you put this Conundrum…as this is in fact a reality in Sri Lanka…monks drunk on arrack and vandalising place of worship of other religions…

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    As you say there are different people with different intellects. It is pretty obvious that your level of intellect is not the same as that of Dr Asoka !

    As for me I find it much easier to relate to Dr Asoka.

    I fear that you belong to the school of thinking that will soon relegate Buddhism to a “dead” religion.

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       Wow! Please read my comments below; you belong to the same category, Excellent!    
      Jagath Asoka

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    Dear Prof Kapila Abhayawansa,

    I’m amazed at how a learned person, such as yourself, could misinterpret Shyamon Jayasinghe’s and Sharmini Serasinghe’s articles on this subject.

    Even a child could understand their simple, yet brilliant styles of writing.

    Since you have not analysed Shyamon Jayasinghe’s views, I can only comment on what you have to say of Sharmini’s.

    For instance, I quote you “What is interesting there was that the writer suggested not reading the article by those who oppose to the contents of the article implying that the facts given there are absolutely true”.

    It is interesting to note, how you have interpreted Sharmini’s words of caution “The following is more suitable for the broad-minded and the wise. Others are kindly advised to pass!”

    If an intellectual such as yourself, could have misinterpreted this statement, how can one expect a lesser mortal to do so?

    Does this go to prove, that wisdom is not sine qua non, for intellectuality?

    Of the above comments I have read so, I find Janaka Fernando, Mallaiyuran and Wickramasiri are amongst the few, who have understood Sharmini’s article as it was meant to be.

    For myself and others of my profession, these recent articles by Sharmini, Jagath Asoka, Shyamon Jayasinghe and now you, Prof. Abhayawansa and comments they attract, are a fascinating study, of how the human mind works.

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      Wow! Please read my comments below; you belong to the same category, Excellent!

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       Wow! Please read my comments below; you belong to the same category, Excellent!    
      Jagath Asoka

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    As correctly pointed out by Mallaiyran, Sharmini’s article was forced us to rethink what we have gained from Mahavansa version of Buddhism over last 2000 years. For most of us, religion is nothing but part of our identification so unfortunately agony cannot be avoided when someone questioned their faith.
    I see no difference between average Buddhist Upasaka and Prof Kapila Abhayawansa, who struggled hardly to justify Mahavansa Buddhism by his excellent scholarly approach. I totally agree; most of the religious activities developed with time have deep meaning even small habits like Muslims wear a hat while praying and Buddhist remove the hat and shoes while entering a temple.
    As far as High school or university concerned, there is nothing wrong with the intellectual approach to spiritual teaching, which will be limited to grasping only literal meaning of text, but if we need more benefit, we definitely need a different type of approach beyond sense perception. Decoding text can only happen when we develop our senses and what unseen intellectually will be seen even in the pitch dark, with the correct approach. For example, many of you have quoted about Eight-fold path, but I doubt how many of you deeply understood it. To avoid series of questions let me ask, what is the real meaning of “SAMMA” (Kamma) ? Let’s say “Right” Karma for a moment, then what is the definition of Right? Something right to you can be wrong to another, and something right yesterday can be wrong tomorrow ! Killing Humans to protect religion is right according to Mahavansa, so, did the great king Dutugemunu performed Samma Karma?
    So dear professor, as long as we are not defined or decode the words “God,” “ Creation,” , “word” separately, we never ever able learned the real meaning of “GOD CREATE the WORLD” due to trap of the mind caused by “ linear time” . That’s why such scholarly and intellectuals keep asking million-dollar question, “then who create the God ?” It is only who pondering over it, will break the concept of time and realize that time is an illusion created by mind. When Buddha tough Sathipattana Suthra to understand this, all other religion uses different approaches with filtering systems, so it is true, all cannot enter through the door until time comes.. Barrier is nothing but the ego. So your understanding about Soul, God can be reviewed.
    Coming back to the topic, are you all satisfy with available version of Buddhism ? For me, more than half century I have never seen our country or society developed to a higher level of consciousness collectively. Need not to say about outcome as you all read newspapers etc. Some suggest non-religious constitution, but I doubt it will help as long as mental insecurity and fear exist.
    We need religion, mainly for protect Dharma. Nibbana is not an immediate requirement at this stage, as we need to live first in peacefully. On the other hand, Journey to the eternal world is very personal goal and doorway to eternality is Dharma, righteousness. When I say Dharma, it is nothing to do with religions, but natural low of the universe. Respect each other, respect to low, etc.
    My question is why Buddhism is unable to transform human consciousness to a higher level, especially in Theravada counties? Anything wrong with Buddha’s teaching or we had a wrong version of teaching? Why Sinhala Buddhist mostly use index finger to command while Buddha used Gnana Mudra (tip of the index finger touches Thumb) ?
    Answering this will be very lengthy and painful, it will be like “Dembareta Gal Gahanava” . Please remove yours hat (of conclusions), and allow the fresh knowledge enter.
    ———————————————————————–(Please note kindly, I am not a good English write at all, just trying to contribute with my limited vocabulary)

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      KH my dear fellow,

      You claim that you are not a good English writer, but I understood your comment very well. So, your knowledge of English, is good enough for me.

      Well done!

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      Excellent! please read my comment below related to Suresh. I have to say the same thing about you. Do not be too modest; your English is better than mine!

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      KH, That was excellent.

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    Have this Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa, Vice Rector, International Buddhist College, Thailand ever lived in Sri Lanka? If yes, then is he suffering from some kind of Amnesia?

    Being a professor in a Buddhist institution, it is alright to talk about all the good things about Buddhism, Buddha and is teachings but he is pretending as if he does not know about the actual Buddhist practices in Sri Lanka which is against Buddha’s teachings.

    Ms. Sharmini Serasinghe, Dr. Jagath Asoka and Mr. Shyamon Jayasinghe have exposed the actual facts, the situation that is prevailing in Sri Lanka, the Buddhist practices that degrades Buddhism and insults the Buddha. If Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa was a genuine Buddhist, he should have commended these people for exposing the truth. He should have addressed the issues, what is true Buddhism, why these practices are bad (against Buddha’s teachings) and how to remedy them instead of criticizing them.

    Let me ask Prof. Kapila Abhayawansa,
    Are the Buddhist monks (samgha) in Sri Lanka practicing Ahimsa (non-violence), Karuna (compassion), Metta (affection), and Maithriya (loving-kindness) towards fellow humans (irrespective of race/religion) or are they in the name of Buddhism promoting ethno-religious (Sinhala-Buddhist) chauvinism and hatred?

    The Sinhala-Buddhist Monks in Sri Lanka are the most corrupt, most racist, and the most dangerous. Buddhist monks are supposed to have given up all the worldly things (Materialism) but in Sri Lanka, it’s a different story. The Sinhala-Buddhist Monks are Corrupt to the Core.

    These so called Sinhala-Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka do business, handle money, have Bank accounts and apply for Bank loans. It was found that a very large number of Sinhala-Buddhist monks had invested money in Sakvith Ranasighe’s illegal financial companies. They even sell the ata pirika (robes and other stuff) that the people donate them to earn money. Some of them are even employed. They engage in gambling, buy and sell shares, buy lottery tickets and so on. See the number of Pin-keta (tills) in the Buddhist temples. What they do with all the money they collect? Most of the culprits caught in printing fake currency notes were found to be Sinhala-Buddhists monks. They make money by selling the Car permits given to them. They print, record and sell books, magazines and Bana/pirith CDs, etc. and earn thousands of rupees in a short period.

    Buddha Business has made the Sinhala Buddhist monks very rich. They own bungalows and real estates and have luxury cars and vans, employing drivers. Very soon they will also apply for driving license. They also have the latest most expensive mobile phones, lap tops, etc. They do not go from house to house with the begging bowl as instructed by the Buddha, instead the villages bring food to the temple and also the Sinhala Buddhist monks employ cooks in the temple. We have also seen Sinhala Buddhist monks selling posters, begging for money, going from door to door asking money. Buddhist-monk led politicians wheeling and dealing in imported Mercedes Benz and being caught with the pants down illegally selling tax-free motor vehicles.

    They grow hair and make themselves attractive, adopt customs, habits and lifestyles like normal people, have secret love affairs, some of them live in boarding houses instead of temples, they listen to music and watch movies and have illegal sex with women or young boys. They keep mistresses in the temple (Buddhrakitha Thero and Ms. Vimala Wijewardene), and even take part in criminal/terrorist activities such as assassinating Prime minister (Somarama thero). Some of them drink alcohol, I have heard about monks who even keep Beer in their fridge. Some of them even form trade unions/associations; there was a time when the leader of the Nurses trade union in Sri Lanka was a Sinhala-Buddhist monk.

    Some of them perform false miracles and pretend to heal sick people with pirith water. They tie pirith thread and bless people expecting the people to fall on their legs and worship them. Some of them preach their own Bana (sermon) instead of Buddha`s Bana. Some of them even recite benedictory verses (seth kavi) and to curse (vas kavi) for the gods (devas).

    The Sinhala Buddhist monks were War mongers, they supported and encouraged war. They take part in racist politics criticizing and condemning all other religions and races and creating communal hatred among Sinhala Buddhists and others. They take part in protest rallies, burning flags and effigies and also engage in fast unto death and now, self-immolation. Some Buddhist monks shredded their robes to take AK-47s and earn more respect. We saw how monks were involved in brawl in the parliament with blood soaked faces. The Sinhala Buddhist monks lobbed a grenade at the Shah Rukh Khan show in Colombo. At present the Sinhala Buddhist monks are engaged in violence against the Muslims and Christians. They stormed the Fashion Bug, verbally abused the Muslims (hambaya, goni billa), and threw rotten eggs at shoppers, attacked and destroyed several Mosques and Churches.

    Another new trend is the love for eating non-veg food (Meat and fish) among Sinhala-Buddhists monks. A new school seems to see nothing wrong in Buddhists eating animal flesh (including fish). An article by Ven. Dr. Vilegoda Ariyadeva thero, a former University of Ruhuna academic is a giant step toward guilt-free `Buddhism-friendly` meat eating. Dr. Ariyadeva thero claims meat eating is customary in Theravada Buddhist societies. Now a days when the Sinhala-Buddhists monks visit houses for Arms-giving (Daane) they expect expensive sea food and sometimes meat too. There are also Sinhala-Buddhists monks in Sri Lanka consuming food/drink in the afternoons/night even though they are not supposed to do so.

    Even though Buddhism does not have any caste system, caste is used among Sinhala Buddhist monks more than lay people. Different nikayas are formed according to the caste.

    Most of the Sinhala Buddhist Monks do not even follow the 5 basic moral principles (Pancha sila) what Buddha has preached. These monks are a damn disgrace to Buddhism? The Buddhism preached by the Sinhala Buddhist monks is no longer able to provide any vision or guidance or constructive power but are only occupied in maintaining their own petty positions in an already atrophied hierarchy resting on a utterly disillusioned and rapidly crumbling society from which the spirit has long since departed. They have subordinated the interests of the society to national goals and the narrow ambitions of nationalist and racist leaders. Not only the Indians but even the Sri Lankan Tamils gave up Buddhism and accepted Hinduism. Even if someone advice them to return to Buddhism, for the Tamils to go back to Buddhism, has 2500 years of Buddhism in Sri Lanka (the so called Dhammadveepa) influenced any major changes in the Sinhala society (the so called guardians of Buddhism chosen by none other than the Buddha) in terms of attitude, character, behavior, morality and so on or has it failed very miserably?

    And that is what good Sri Lankan Buddhists like Ms. Sharmini Serasinghe, Dr. Jagath Asoka and Mr. Shyamon Jayasinghe have exposed very clearly elaborating the facts in their articles.

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      Let me answer your accusations in point form. 1. Buddhist monks in SL are corrupt, business minded and not much into the Vinaya in Buddhism. – As in any religious organization monks in SL too are prone to corruption. Buddhists in SL accept there are corrupt monks and many reject such monks. Actually such monks lose people’s support as soon as their deeds are revealed. And I don’t reject monks in SL (some of them) do not live according to the vinaya. That is a problem that existed in Buddha’s time too not specific to lankan Buddhist monks. In such occasions Buddha asked them to leave the sanga. If Buddhist monks are corrupt and do things against the law of this country, the state can act against them. There is no special protection for them. However if the monks do not act according to Buddhist vinaya, no one would be banishing them or state cant intervene. There is no religious police in Buddhism that acts against monks who not living according to Buddhist vianaya. Buddhists think if these monks goes against vinaya that they will face their bad karma in the future or just shun them. We don’t go policing around them. Corrupt, money minded and lustful monks are not something special to Buddhist monks in SL. Even in India I have heard many stories of Hindu priests doing exactly the same. The same applies to church and mosque. This is what happens when unsuitable people enter monkhood. 2. Buddhist monks in SL are racist. ————————————-Some may be, some may not be. I don’t reject that racist Buddhist monks are in SL, there are. At the same time there are many who are not. For example Dimbulagala monk was murdered by LTTE in early 90s, but in 2004 Tsunami, the tamil villagers in that area were given refuge in the very temple that Dimbulagala monk lived. There can be racist monks as there can be racist people in any society. For example Rayappu Joseph is a known supporter of LTTE, terrorists. He is accused of discriminating against Sinhala catholics as well. Does that mean the whole Tamil catholic monks in SL are racist? NO! 3. they do not go with the begging bowl as the Buddha does. ——————————— So what? Going with a begging bowl is not a must for a Buddhist monk. This just displays your ignorance on Buddhism and its practices. 4. Monks are not vegetarian. ———- Again, so what? Vegetarianism is not in Buddhism. Even Buddha rejected it. I mentioned this elsewhere. If any monk wants to be a vegetarian he can but it is not a must. That is the case for Theravada Buddhism whether it is in SL or Thailand. 5. Sinhala Buddhist monks are war mongers and supported and encouraged war. —————————————– So the war continued in SL because, Buddhist monks in SL supported it. If we go with your logic majority of the commentators here are war mongers. SL didn’t sustain a war, SL was defending her territory. The ones who sustained and supported a war, we all know who they are. Also even if SL monks took the side of war, why cant they do that? They are entitled to have an opinion on any issue and they too have political rights like everyone in SL have. -6. Monks practice caste system ————————————- I have mentioned before how it came into being. This was started in Kandyan perion. Many kings came with a Hindu background and they were believers of a caste system. As these kings had to touch the feet and worship all monks whatever the caste they come from, they adopted a new strategy. These kings started a new monk order that ordained people only from high caste and treated these monks. 7. Sri Lankan Tamils gave up Buddhism and adopted Hinduism. —— ———– In India Buddhists were persecuted by Hindu kings and many attempts were made to convert them. Actually the Buddha in Bagavat Geetha as an Avatar of Vishnu is an attempt to absorb the remaining Buddhists in India. That is how Buddhism was lost in india. Same way the invading armies from TN made Sri Lankan Buddhists, Hindus by force and murder. Much like the religion of peace!

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