By Indi Samarajiva –
I’m a Buddhist and have the utmost respect for the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha, that being the community of practice. There are, however, claimed and robed Buddhists who are a shame to us all, to all Sri Lankans. For example, in Panamai, a mob led by a Buddhist monk has stolen a statue from a Hindu Kovil, a place where it was safe for Buddhists or Hindus to worship. This violent thuggery is an affront to all people of faith, and everyone really.
In a flagrant violation of law and order and the freedom of worship, an ancient statue of God Pillaiyar also known as Vinayagar and Ganesh was seized by a mob and taken away from the Sithi Vinayagar Hindu temple in Panamai /Panama in broad daylight on Monday August 6th.
The “captured” Pillaiyar statue has been taken to the Buddhist Vihare in Panamai by the mob comprising thugs, homeguards and members of the armed forces in civil attire. The entire operation was masterminded and commanded by a Buddhist Priest.
The Pillaiyar statue is now being kept in the premises of the Panama Buddhist Vihare. (DBS Jeyaraj)
Despite the ethnic conflict, there hasn’t traditionally been religious beef. I have worshiped at and slept in Hindu Kovils and temple premises alike. Most temples have a Hindu shrine built-in. Trishaw and bus iconography usually has the Buddha plus a range of other gods, often Vishnu. Lakshmi pours coins from her palm at the front of many buses. Also, in practice, many Buddhists worship at Hindu kovils or shrines, especially if they need a particular result, exam score or something, which the Buddha is not especially attached to.
Also, at the Sri Maha Bodhi shrine in Anuradhapura, services at that holy Buddhist place are done by Hindus, the descendants of a caste that came down generations ago, with the sapling I think.
This long history of community and shared practice makes sacrilegious events like this all the more sad. This and acts like ‘Buddhists’ threatening and evicting a mosque in Dambulla are a shame to both religion and nation. Sri Lanka is an ostensibly Buddhist state, but an open one, not a Taliban. Buddhism itself is incredibly open. On retreats I have always seen people of other faiths, and the libraries have a range of materials. The Buddha himself would never be so unwelcoming or rude.
The very idea of stealing a statue is so anti-Buddhist it boggles the mind. You’re stealing a Hindu statue? Why? There is some twisted permutation of Buddhism that makes this possible, but the fact remains that theft is pretty clearly wrong in our nation of laws, so these errant monks need to be hauled up for doing wrong.
This is against the law of the land, against local custom, and is a great shame to both the Sri Lankan faith and nation. This, what Jeyaraj calls Saffron Terrorism, needs to stop.
Java Jones / August 8, 2012
So what else is new??? What is practiced as Buddhism here is about as far as one get get from the beautiful philosophy of Gautama, who must be cartwheeling in his grave (in a manner of speaking!).
The Sangha should be the first to be replaced if they are out of control – but then look around….
Dinuk / August 8, 2012
The power hungry Panamai safron terrorist monk should be arrested and thrown in Prison. A case must be bought against him. What has happend to the other violent monk in Dambulla – still living it up I suppose after sacking a mosque..
The NGOs who are paid to talk about religious harmony should use some of their bucks to do something real and file case ins court on behalf of the devotees of Panamai against the monk for vandalism, hate speech and disturbing the peace – rather than talking a lot of hot air about religious harmony and making money on hot air!
Enough is enough! Safron military Buddhist terrorism must stop!
Strong_Buddhist / August 8, 2012
There can be criminal energies also among some buddhist monks, christian priests or islamic religious leaders. These is due to the mental states of those individuals. So the mentioned incident should be a deed of a single monk whose mental behaviour cant be representative to the average buddhist monks. So generalizing the buddhists monks because of the incident should not be done – instead the individual case should need to be investigated properly. Leaving comments looking down upon all buddhists because of this incident is very wrong.
Kanda / August 8, 2012
It is not a single monk, who seems to be mentally affected.
What about the violent monk in Dambulla?
Do you really believe in action talen after “investigation” in Sri Lanka, especially these days?
Was there any action taken against culprits identified in the past investigations?
for eg. the Minister Mervin Silva, and MP Duminda Silva leave alone murders of innocents, opposition MPs, ACF Farm workers
% students in Trinco, etc.. etc….
Nobody will take your comment seriously.
Strong_Buddhist / August 9, 2012
Thanks for you comment Kanda.
How it had been in the past if a monk had reacted in a violent manner. I am afraid, I have no idea how all these have become worst in the course of last two decades in SL. Earlier, I mean prior to 89, Buddhist Monks in general behaved themsevles according to their Seela. To that time even, if there were rare incidents of this kind, but they were single cases. Why cant majority Buddhists react against together with malwathu chapter most sacred monks. Why do they let it go – being that apathetic ?
In my childhood (twenty years ago in SL), we respected buddhist monks a lot. We learnt a lot from their Darma desana. I also went to Daham School on Sundays.I also heard about the incident of a lanken monk from Uk recently – he had been paedophile. All these we almost never heard about Sangayas from SL. Whoever behave violent manner should be given due punishment in compliance with the law govering of the country. Why is that many and even professionals seem to be dead still not reacting promptly ?
Pema Marley / August 16, 2012
Without having any knowledge on Buddhist philosophy, you are simply making it beautiful. Unless and until we strive hard to achieve something, nothing is going to come forward and bring you a peace of mind which is everlasting. I don’t judge humans based on their religions just like every one else are doing here. Simply praying in Temple, Mosque, Gurudwara and etc doesn’t make us the genuine follower of Buddha, Guru Nanak, Muhammad, Jesus & so on, if we fail to respect the fellow sentient being around us. What we have learned after years of early morning prayer and offerings to Gods. Nothing but more hatred in the name of religion. Praying to God, making offerings in the temple are just like a routine for every religion but nobody care to practice the wise words of Gautama, Jesus, Muhammad etc. Humans are insane when it comes to emotion. Too much of negative emotion in the name of religion surely put the record straight that we fail to practice what is being preached years long back? We rather go astray after money and forget the moral values enshrined in each and every religion.(love, compassion, respect for others & oneself)
Blind man / August 8, 2012
Blind man says:
of course … Buddha ceased to deliver for the sinhala buddhists a long time ago. The purpose of Buddha today is to enhance the sinhalese ego and their dogmatic insistence on a fixed sinhala buddhist identity.
Buddhism left both India and lanka simultaneously as the old sasana was a pan indian cultural unity – that was around the fall of polonnaruva
how can these people be buddhist?
in the 14th century they brought Lord Vishnu into the buddhist vihara – and since then the four guardian deities (who also keep changing) are the true refuges of our people –
call these people by their TRUE NAMES
Senguttuvan / August 8, 2012
It is fortunate we have multiple thousands of decent and good Buddhists like the writer. The rowdy and uncouth behaviour of a few
prejudiced and misguided thugs in robes cannot be considered an affront to Lankan Buddhism. Most of these priests are semi-literates seething with religious hatred and anger – features totally alien to the practising Buddhist. The weakness of our Buddhist hierarchy is their reluctance or inability to immediately disrobe the truant in the fold and restore the respect and honour due to this great religion.
Matters are getting out of control. Those of minority religions are in fear as thugs in robes are on the prowl. The world is watching.
Mango / August 8, 2012
Agree. These damn priests need to be controlled and the only language they understand is that of a beating by the Riot Police, who, of course are conspicuous by their absence.
Kotawa / August 8, 2012
For the Riot Police to take any action, Gota must give the order.
This will never happen.
DAS / August 8, 2012
More buddhists attend hindu temples than ever before.Buddhists also worship at Vishnu shrines in the premises of most buddhist temples,where they make vows,offer donations of cash and jewellery,dash coconuts as part of worship and also to curse ‘enemies’.
These shrines are a good source of income for viharadhipathis.
Vishnu is said to be the “Protector of Buddhism”.
The waning attendance at buddhist shrines and increasing attendance at hindu temples in sri lanka (and abroad, even by the President and politicians) is a matter of concern of/for the Sangha, and this has provoked attacks on hindu shrines many times.
This latest incident is one such.
Kathirgaamam – a.k.a ‘kataragama’ – is one ancient hindu shrine (of Lord Murugan), which was completely taken over by buddhists aided by successive governments.The motive was more ‘financial’ than religious -the income from donations was huge.Even now the sale of “Pooja Vatties” is a source of income for many.Vatties purchased and donated in front – at the side of the curtain – reappear from the rear to be resold again & again.When I discovered this – along with many others – I stopped donating Pooja Vatties. So did many.
Sirimavo B. also took over the Ramakrishna Mission Madam in the vicinity of the shrine – which was built by public contributions and was a place of refuge,rest and meditation for all pilgrims and which also gave tasty vegetarian meals to all – by declaring the area as “sacred”, though permission had been obtained before it was built.
It was converted into a hostel for monks.
Now it appears that there is a “Militant Sangha” which hurts buddhism more than hinduism,by such activities,due to waning ‘popularity’ of the former.
The monks are concerned about waning income,donations of food,invitations for ‘dhana’ etc.- this has resulted in many shedding robes and adopting worldly pursuits.
Monks have now entered politics and this is now controversial.
Stealing/misappropriation of a statue from a place of worship is a crime,and should be dealt with,as such.
But,judging by what happened at Dambulla,nothing may happen.The government dares not antagonise members of the Sangha,& thus accelerate its waning popularity among the masses.
Helena Waidiyasekerta / August 9, 2012
These terrorist yellow saffron mafia are so disenchanted with the way of life of the damma that they are now stealing other Gods to bring in the income from devotees who do not visit buddhist shrines, international community are watching this sickening nation of robbers and corrupters, child rapists, hooligans, murders and mafia rulers. Good luck at the destruction taking place for the unborn generations ahead who will not have a decent country to be born into, only a living hell on a paraya island in the sun.
Henry Fernando, / August 11, 2012
I salute Helena Waidiyasekerta, in the comments made as the sinhalese race has alot to learn of their Heritage and learn the principle teaching of Lord Buddha. Buddhist Monks must never be involved in the politics of the country what has been written and said is true and this has been going on for the last past generation. If I may add and say so this beautiful Island must clean up what has been said and the sinhalese race must learn to live in peace with other ethnic groups and know from their history where they came from the North of India, the first inhabitants of this Island being the Veddas who are forgotten,and after the sinhales came the Tamils and the Buddhist religion Lord Buddha being born and being Indian. We all must now try and begin to live in peace and harmony. War and destruction brought about to this beautiful Island when all group of people had been living for centuries in peace was by power hungry Politician Mr.S.W.R Bandaranaike, and his wife and party followers.
Native Vedda / August 11, 2012
Henry Fernando says:
“the first inhabitants of this Island being the Veddas who are forgotten,”
Your words are very reassuring. At least some of you recognise our existence, unlike most stupid Tamils and stupid Sinhalese.
“War and destruction brought about to this beautiful Island when all group of people had been living for centuries in peace was by power hungry Politician Mr.S.W.R Bandaranaike, and his wife and party followers.”
I beg to differ.
There have been numerous wars recorded in various Chronicles. This island has never been in peace with itself since the arrival of Sinhalese and Tamil Kallathonies from India. Indeed from Portugal, Malaya, Holland and Britain too.
The way things are organised in this island you will never see peace forever.
Native Vedda / August 11, 2012
I hate to agree with you for both of us may be wrong. However every rule has its exception therefore I go along with your comments only this time.
“Good luck at the destruction taking place for the unborn generations ahead who will not have a decent country to be born into, only a living hell on a paraya island in the sun.”
Most people think they inherited this island from their forefathers (note not mothers).
However I believe we have borrowed this island from our future generations. We are merely the interim trustees or temporary custodians. We are supposed to exercise due care which is missing in our conduct be it social, political or religious.
cyril / August 8, 2012
This is a consequence of Buddhism enjoying the foremost place in SL constitution and a display of the constitute hegemonic power that the monks derive from that place.
punchinilame / August 8, 2012
I challenge these so-calld Mahanaykes to inquire into the matter and
disrobe the Priest involved, in the good name of S.Lanka Bhuddism, but
I fear no action will be taken nor even a Statement issued!!
Desilva / August 8, 2012
IS THIS HOW THEY ARE IMPLEMENTING THE SO CALLED ” LLRC “?. COME ON, LET US HEAR WHAT THEY HAVE TO SAY IN GENEVA.
Navin Weeraratne / August 9, 2012
The Buddhist establishment in Sri Lanka needs to publicly denounce these people and derobe the relevant priests. If not, they will become a laughing stock, and go on to create a negative stereotype for Buddhism globally.
Native Vedda / August 9, 2012
“The Buddhist establishment in Sri Lanka needs to publicly denounce these people and derobe the relevant priests”.
The Buddhists including Tamil Bauthers need to do much more than what you suggest.
There are all kind of monks, killer monks, monks who drink regularly, business monks, land grabbing monks, racist monks, political monks, pedophile monks, angry monks, flashing monks, womanising monks, raping monks, robbing monks, violent monks, ………anti people monks, uneducated monks, ……..
Abolish Sangha and amend THE CONSTITUTION OF THE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALIST REPUBLIC OF SRI LANKA.
Navin Weeraratne / August 9, 2012
Clearly there are too many monks…
I agree, Sri Lanka needs to be a Secular country that is governed on principles of human rights and equality alone. Religious freedoms will be a given in such a system, though that would mean a lot of people who use their religions or ethnicity to make themselves feel special will have to swallow the sour pill of understanding that they are in fact not so special, and actually, very much the same as all others…
Helena Waidiyasekerta / August 11, 2012
This is a good one, you forgot the monks who print forged currency and the ones who chant evil to the others and get down young women and rape them, also not forgetting the Phedophille Pahalagama thero who has been senteneced for abusing 2 girls in the UK.
Anti-Boru / August 9, 2012
This hypocrite, Indi Samarajiva ..
This comment was removed by a moderator because it didn’t abide by our Comment policy.For more detail see our Comment policy
DAS / August 9, 2012
The vows of poverty and celibacy laid down for his disciples by the Buddha,are very difficult to adhere to,lifelong. Those monks who succumb to worldy pleasures and pursuits are led astray by designing laymen and commit acts incompatible with the teachings of the master.
Selection of novices is non-existent – young boys of ten years and older are expected to ‘give up the worldly life’.
The present militant/political/businessmen monks are the products.
In burma & thailand,selection for monkhood is strict – in both countries,monks commit ‘pindapatha’ each morning.
Retired persons are allowed to become monks and live in monasteries for periods of 2-3 years and revert to family life later.
People donate sacks of rice and veggies to monasteries daily.
The Sangha of Sri Lanka, has to carry out reforms & expel misfits/imposters.
Else,an intolerant/militant/political tribe of monks will ruin the adherants of buddhism and the country.
Blind man / August 10, 2012
Blind man says:
I want to take this to a deeper level – if you like to dive with me…
The writer starts by saying that he has the utmost respect for the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha….
I would suggest that this respect is the root of the problem. when you conceive respect for things outside yourself you become a perpetual child. Sinhala Buddhists may never realize this – but perhaps this writer would.
The first Zen patriarch Bodhidharma said these words – and they need to be recited in every temple and every buddhist home:
“If you envision a buddha, a dharma or a
bodhisattva and conceive respect for them, you
relegate yourself to the realm of mortals. If you
seek direct understanding and don’t hold onto any
appearance whatsoever you’ll succeed. I
have no other advice.”
RT / August 11, 2012
AC / August 11, 2012
You should treat other people the way you want to be treated. Imagine if a hindu priest forcefully take a buddha statue from a temple (vihara) how the country will react? I admit still some people like editor living in the same country and follow true buddihisim.
Govindan / August 11, 2012
Hi, I believe that Panama case was misreported. Panama case cannot be understood from the point of either Sinhala or Tamil nationalisms. Unfortunately, the incident has been misreported by outside reporters. Panama Sinhala and Tamil people represent a hybrid decent. Both the temple and the kovil is run by a group of relatives. The statue was taken to the temple so that to protect a statue (a symbol) belongs to Panama people traditionally when a new statue is placed in the renovated Hindu temple. Panama people are Buddhsits-Hindus or Hindus-Buddhsists. I hate bad reporting. The reportes should have been educated properly about the issue without popularly labelling all the incidents according to the politics of vicious politicians. Anyhow, that is the nature of Journalists
garawi / August 11, 2012
Wait a second! You cannot generalize and blame ALL Buddhist monks for the actions of SOME monks. There are rogue
monks/priests/mullahs/poosaris in all religions. It is unfair with the very dedicated ones. Therefore be careful of what you say and write.
I am not against other religion. But the writer doesn’t seem to be a true Buddhist as he says he worships in Hindu temple. Buddha preached NOT to worship gods. If the write does it in religious tolerance then he should go to mosques and churches too to worship! He says he goes to retreats! If he means Buddhist retreats, I cannot see what he can do there when he believes in Hindu gods!
His ignorance in Buddhism if visible in his statement that the Hindu kovils in Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura was brought along with the Bo sapling! He needs to read more about Buddhist history and how to be a correct Buddhist!
Walter / August 11, 2012
It will take forever for the mentality of people to change. However, I feel it is necessary for the Sinhalese people to realize that Buddhism and Sinhala race are two different things. As long as we call ourselves ‘Sinhala Buddhists’ the problems will persist. Fortunately or unfortunately Lord Buddha was not a Sinhalese. He never claimed he is a Nepalese Buddhist. His teachings are for all races and religions. Those who claim to be Buddhist must follow Lord Buddha’s teachings not those of racist monks and their followers.
Danapala / August 11, 2012
So called Bodubalasena is behind of all this thuggery backed by JHU and the politicians i read some where in news couple of days back these Bodubala sena has taken there future proposed plan to high priest malwattha chapter and got his blessing plus his support to the cause..
well folks lets be patient and see these people will one day go down in to drain dragging along the Buddhism with them. if you read the papers you can see its already started rape my monks,drunken,stealing,monks having secret family life the list go on there are thousands unnoticed.so lets wait
Rand Jay / August 11, 2012
The Buddhists monks were in the forefront in the war against the Tigers. I am a Catholic but must say the Buddhist Monks were in the front to save mother Lanka. Sri Lanka remains a sitting duck and one day Eelamists will strike back with Indian assistance while the Sinhalese fight among themselves. I as a patriotic of the Motherland expressed my views several times in the Daily Mirror and the Island news papers but my comments were never published instead the views of the anti government people were published. The Mahavamsa points out the divisions among the Sinhalese and the betrayals of them among their own rulers do its history repeating itself. There are those in the UNP and the JVP that demand the dismantling of army camps in the North and the East. This says it all. Some like Dr Lalsiri and Mangala Samaraweera wants the war hero Hota to resign just because he told of Fredrica Janz who is neither a Singhalese or a Tamil where to get off. There are traitors among us which will enable the terrorists to regroup. SriLanka should enter into a security pact with China and Pakistan do that external threats could be averted. One day the Sinhala Nation will cease to exist because of the traitors within.
parthi / August 11, 2012
As any Hindu living alongside Buddhists here I have only had cordial relationships and understanding. The Panama statue saga is an exclusion to this mutual respect. It has very little to do with religion and all to do with the rule of the jungle. As such it is incumbent on any right thinking person to voice concern and stand up against such incidences. It only takes a small spark to ignit3 something horrible in a volatile state as ours.
Islander20XX / August 11, 2012
Why do we call Buddhism the national religion of Sri Lanka? It is not a religion with a deity but a philosophy. There are Sri Lankan buddhist monks NOW living in Los Angeles, California that preach to white folks that they could practice the buddhist philosophy and still remain christians, mormons, muslims etc. I wonder what these monks teach their saffron robed brethren in Sri Lanka.
Mohamed Iqbal / August 11, 2012
All types of terrorism weather it is Budhist,Hindhu,Islam or Christianity should be eradicated from our beautiful country by the heart of people.
Native Vedda / August 11, 2012
I hate to agree with you.
In the beautiful island until the people have been wisened up there is no chance of redeeming themselves from their parochial outlook of this world.
As far as I understand 99% of problems are common to all people of the island respective their race, religion or region.
Rather than solving the problem nationalists on all sides of the divide make use of it to promote their narrowly defined stupid agenda.
Democracy is not just voting for the party in elections every few years. It involves how to run the country democratically. Stupid people vote for the most stupid people and for a political package which may include 8 measures of free grain or kill the minorities. On the other hand political violence and terrorism keep the masses voiceless.
There is a lot of work to be done.
Work cannot be done until we accept the existence of problems.
I am not hopeful as both the Sinhalese and Tamils determined to remain stupid.
Rand Jay / August 11, 2012
People now a days talk of media freedom. But does the media act impartially? Sri Lanka remains a sitting duck and one day Eelamists will strike back with Indian assistance while the Sinhalese fight among themselves. I as a patriot of the Motherland expressed my views several times in the Daily Mirror and the Island news papers but my comments were never published instead the views of the anti government people were published. The Mahavamsa points out the divisions among the Sinhalese and the betrayals of them among their own rulers do its history repeating itself. There are those in the UNP and the JVP that demand the dismantling of army camps in the North and the East. This says it all. Some like Dr Lalsiri and Mangala Samaraweera wants the war hero Gotabata to resign just because he told of Fredrica Janz who is neither a Singhalese or a Tamil where to get off. Gota is the man who reorganised the armed forces and ensured the war victory and who is Janz? There are traitors among us which will enable the terrorists to regroup. One can bever trust India. They trained the terrorists. SriLanka should enter into a security pact with China and Pakistan do that external threats could be averted. One day the Sinhala Nation will cease to exist because of the traitors within.
Basnayake / August 11, 2012
its right time SL Buddhist realize going to temple and worshipping Buddha is not real buddhism. Present leader give the impreesion very staunch buddhist but break all 5 principle (pansils) but masses happy to consider him buddhist (how fooled as he has always done. Rate of deterioration of buddhist values will eventually lead to eradication of the religion.
Desgen / August 11, 2012
Quite agree with you. Great comments.
Regime leader and his close confindants (Mervin, Keheliya and the other henchmen) are so called buddhists who break all 5 Pansil paha by all means. Nevertheless, most of the commentators on these threads seem to be with MR the great.
I believe – majority lankens (paraphrasing – majority so called lanken Buddhists) deceiving themselves.
By listening to a local radio sender y day, I myself realized – not only Mervin but also several other Ministers are shamelessly linked to bogus agencies to sending innocient people to Italy. These poor people have been cheated not once many times by those palath saba ministers (provicinal council ministers) lossing several lacks of their own monies. The victims have become life long debtors not being able to repay their loans to the banks. All these can be traced by legal govt bodies easily, but the fact that high rank ministers support those agencies and the police – block every efforts of the victimzed.
Desgen / August 11, 2012
what you get to hear from Lanka present day is horrible.
A country whose majority folks are buddhists – kill their school headmasters brutally. Politicians dont help enforce the law and order of the country – but stay silent not ordering police to react accordingly. The situation is worsening day to another.
Some examples that some buddhists react in their day today life:
Ian / August 11, 2012
Great work Indi, these people have forgotten that Lord Buddha was himself a Hindu. I can only hope that these religious extremists and power hungry politicians could all take Sri Lanka down a path of self-awakening. These people forget that the majority of Sri lankans, some of the most intelligent people in the world, can see right through their lies and propaganda, we are together now more than ever before.. its only a matter of time machan!
Emil van der Poorten / August 17, 2012
Indi Samarajeewa is Mahinda Rajapaksa’s acolyte (via Milinda Moragoda).
This fraud who has actively supported a government that has made a hell-hole of this country and now is paid for producing his crap by a newspaper OWNED by a member of the Rajapaksa clan, has the b…s to pretend to be some kind of holier-than-thou democrat!
In reality, sleazeballs like this should, as in the “old west,” be tarred, feathered and run out of town on a rail!