By Gamini Dullewe –
There could not have been a better recipe, than mixing Religion with Politics, to bring up on us the havoc we experienced after Independence, for the breakdown of Law and Order, cultivating hatred, jealousy and the slow development of the country’s economy, was solely due to the Political visionary of our half-baked Politicians who climbed the social ladder with their catchers after entering the field of Politics, once the flood gates were opened for them in ’56, by their erstwhile Leader SWRD Bandaranaike, who preached a brand of Socialism that was supposed to be the panacea for all social inequality, to wipe out class differences and make all equal in society. The Western Educated Middle classes were ridiculed as ‘Pukka Sahibs’ who were looked down up on, by these Pseudo Patriots who shunned using the English Language, their dress code, or their life styles, only to imitate them better than the Pukka Sahibs, after sixty years with their progeny, all receiving Degrees from Foreign Universities, certainly not in Swabhasha.
Swabhasha was meant for the Hoi-Polloi only. Although some of these Vernacular critics, have had a very good English Education, they were the most vociferous, to denounce English, even shunning Western attire and starting to wear the newly found National Dress to pose off as the Saviours of Sinhala and Buddhism. English was hated by them, so much so that they cultivated a culture in Schools and Universities, to resent any who spoke in English.
The situation was so bad, that the new administration in all govt departments who succeeded the English trained, were very offhandish to the English speaking in society, when they went to transact business with the State. The English speaking in society were totally at the mercy of the vernacular counterparts who handled all State work, strictly in Sinhala. This Policy of the State, led many of the educated to leave the shores of this country with their families to foreign climes.
Prior to ’56, be they Buddhists, Christians, Islamists or Hindus all practiced their beliefs in harmony without interference from the State or another and Religion was a private affair. There was no state sponsoring of any Religion, not even for Buddhism. People too were very religious and were genuine in their belief. Then the change after ’56 where the Buddhist Priests after supporting SWRD Bandaranaike to form the SLFP govt, started to demand a due place for Buddhists in the country, claiming provision is enshrined in the Constitution that led to a plethora of problems that divided the society. It should be noted here, that the founder of the Philosophy, Lord Buddha had not made such claim, when he preached his doctrine in India at that time, when there had been over 63 beliefs in practice.
It is not that Buddhism was poorly practiced by the majority who were Buddhists before Independence, but the new custodians who took the reins of managing Buddhism under a separate Ministry, began to unfold a brand of new Buddhism with Political patronage, that all govts were at the mercy of these forces. All govts from ’56 have willingly connived with the Buddhist Sangha and Buddhist Organizations to appease their demands for the Sinhala Buddhist vote in return to win elections.
Today there are many Buddhist Organizations heavily involved in spreading not only the Dhamma but intolerance and are grouping the Sinhala Buddhists, collectively herding them to Nirvana. They instill fear and insecurity that Buddhism is at risk of being overrun by other faiths. Therefore the Buddhists are up in arms trying to defend Buddhism with all their might and support to keep the flag flying. If all these Buddhists who feel they are threatened, only try to find out whether the number of Buddhists in the country had declined at the time of Independence or on the contrary have been increased with their input since 1956, other than natural increase due to population expansion, will enable them to understand, whether their effort of making Religion Compulsory in the Educational Curriculum and the impact of trying to regiment the children in a Religious order has improved the stock of Buddhists in the country?
Sadly Buddhism has degenerated from what it was before Independence by Religion being made compulsory, infringing one’s fundamental rights of what to believe or not to believe. Ironically all the villainy, corruption and violence committed in society today had stemmed after the introduction of this new Buddhist order after ‘56. Therefore it cannot be said, it is due to the lack of Religious observances in society that had led to the break down in the system. The breakdown certainly is due to an overdose of Religion, poured down the throats of society.
A Religion should be left for an individual or the family to practice and the State should not get involved in promoting one Religion or another, for political expedience. It would be a blessing for all Sri Lankans, the day the grip of these parasitic priests who act as the intermediaries are made to release their hold on society. After all why have an intermediary, to act on your behalf, if you have faith in your own belief?
Therefore the parasitic priests should not be promoted by the State for the benefit of the Politicians, at the expense of the masses. It is no secret that mixing Religion with politics after Independence had helped Nobodies in society to become Somebodies today. Politicians, who did not have the means to build monuments for their dead parents, are so wealthy today as they are the biggest Capitalists in society, that they yet use public funds for the purpose. This gimmickry of selling Religion by the State should stop and allow the public to practice their faith, as it was done before Independence. Lord Buddha never sought State sponsorship to propagate Buddhism, then why is the Buddhist Sangha allowed to do so today?