18 September, 2018

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Religious Extremism: The Post- War Reality In Sri Lanka

By Rameez Aboobacker –

Rameez Aboobacker

There is a lot of debate and controversy in the public discourses over the last few days following the  malicious attack on a Mosque in Dambulla by a group of extremist Buddhist led by monks in robes, hampering to perform Muslims’ Jummah prayers on Friday, 20th April 2012, and claiming that the mosque should be demolished or relocated immediately since, what they regard, it is located in a Buddhist sacred area, but the Muslims, on the other hand, rebut the claim saying that the mosque is in existence over the last 60 years with a legal registration. The mosque was also fire-bombed the night before, but fortunately no body was harmed. This incident, considering the gravity of the issue, became a hot topic of public debates not only in the local media, but in the global media as well, and the Muslims across the country became extremely alarmed over what happened to their religious symbols, a mosque in Dambulla and began to raise their concerns, including their political representatives in both ruling parties and opposition parties. In fact, this unfortunate incident shocked and confounded the Muslims across the country and their political representatives since they have recently extended their unstinted support to the government, which was grappled with enormous issues in the domestic and global arenas, in its pursuit of defeating the resolution moved by the US in Geneva as it was constituted as an infringement on the sovereignty of the country by the global forces.

Furthermore, their political representatives and the members (clerics) of All Ceylon Jamiyathul Ulema lobbied vigorously to garner the support of Muslim nations in Geneva to defeat the resolution and they have explicitly succeeded in their attempt of doing so, though the resolution was passed in the end against the Sri Lankan government. This being the case, what happened in Dambulla to their religious symbol baffled the Muslims. Just like the other countries around the world, Sri Lanka is also not immune to the religious extremism that emanated especially in the post independent era. The following section deals with extremism and its dynamics in politics.

Extremism and its dynamics in politics

Despite the fact that it is very difficult to define the religious extremism in absolute term, it can be represented that the people who are too religious or too strict in their religious orientation are regarded as extremists. It is also noted that the extremists are lying on the fringe as they draw their religious orientation within a literal perspective, not necessarily bothering about the contextual perspective. As such, the extremists can be characterized by the following traits: 1) rigidity, 2) exclusiveness, 3) excessive kind of spiritualism, 4) anti-materialism, 5) intolerant of other religion or religious orientation, and 6) anti-western in nature.

The world witnessed a great deal of calamities as a result of the provocative actions of these extremist forces. For instance, Jewish extremism in its quest of establishing the kingdom of God is pushing for dispossessing the Palestine and the West Bank at the expense of perpetrating a heinous crime against humanity, decimating the unarmed and innocent Arab civilians. Christian Zionist movements, Taliban, Moist, Jathika Hela Urumaya, to name a few are some of living examples of the extremist forces in the contemporary world as they fall in line with the traits signified above. In the world history, the extremism, however, has also emanated in the form of Nazism as well as democracy in order to perpetuate its ideologies in the world.

Religious extremism in Sri Lanka

It is significant to note that Sri Lanka had massively suffered over the last 3 decades due to the civil war that occurred between the government forces and the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Ealam(LTTE) on account of number of factors. One of the factors that laid a solid foundation to the civil war was the implementation of ‘Sinhala Only Act’ in 1956, primarily mooted by the Buddhist extremist forces. It is also believed that the Prime Minister SWRD Bandarnayake was shot dead by a member of these extremist forces in 1958 for embarking on a dialogue with Tamils over the power devolution.

This Buddhist extremist ideology in Sri Lanka is fundamentally founded on the following dimensions: 1) advancing the Sinhala Buddhist nationalist ideology 2) upholding the Sinhala as the official and national language and propagating Buddhism as the official religion, and 3) protecting and promoting the national economy of Sinhalese. These characteristics more or less fall in line with the traits of extremist groups signified above. Besides, they have shown intolerance to other religions or religious orientation and resorted to violence as a means of perpetuating their ideology in certain instances. This is a cogent manifestation of the Sinhala Buddhist extremist ideology. Interestingly, not all the Buddhists in the country subscribe to this extremist ideology as the majority of Sinhalese are peace loving, fair minded and pluralistic in nature. Thus, it should be emphasized here that this Buddhist extremist orientation is not representative of all the peace loving Sinhalese Buddhists in the country who are bounded by the teaching of Buddha on social justice, tolerance, non-violence and so on. Interestingly, these Buddhist extremist forces have not been able to appeal to the Sinhala masses with their policies over the years and their entry into politics have not brought any conspicuous and significant success in politics. However, they became a dominant coalition partner of the present government in which one of their representatives holding an influential cabinet position and rendered their irrevocable support to the government in its attempt to defeat the war on terror that came to end in 2009. Clearly speaking, the hegemony of this extremist force became so dominant during the present regime. The sudden decision to strike the Dambulla mosque by these extremist forces advancing the proposition of sacred land might have been stoked on account of a number of factors.

Factors of the attack on the Mosque

There many reasons that can be attributed to the attack on the mosque in Dambulla by the extremist forces on the pretext of its being constructed in the Buddhist sacred zone. Firstly, there is a popular impression among the people in Sri Lanka that Muslims are prosperous in terms economy and assertive in expanding their geographical and economic means across the country. An anecdotal report of the 2012 census indicates that the Muslims have become the first minority in Sri Lanka, outnumbering the Tamils. There is no reason to believe that this perception might have spared these extremist forces. Secondly, Muslims have the habit of expanding their mosques when it is not accommodative to all devotees (mosque goers). It is believed that the attempt made by the administrators (mosque trustees) to renovate the mosque physically might have enraged the extremist forces. Thirdly, in the name of Buddhist sacred land, they might have resorted to expel the Muslims and their religious and business locations from Dambulla, which might provide a room for Buddhists to firmly establish their economy in the area. Fourthly, with the domineering perception of promoting Buddhist nationalistic ideology, they might increasingly have alarmed over the presence of large number of Muslims in Dambulla, which is a sacred area for them. This might be constituted as a fear psychosis among the extremists of losing the Buddhist land contemplating that if this trend continues to persist. Finally, these extremists are under the impression, especially in the post war context that the end of civil war is end of conflict and the issues of minorities and they can continue to marginalize them as much as they can. In their sustained pursuit of subjugating the minorities, firstly they have overwhelmingly succeeded decimating the LTTE, and secondly they may tend to do the same with Muslims, and thirdly with Christians and others as well. This mentality has something to do with the psyche of extremists and suggests their rigidity, exclusiveness, and intolerance.

Argument on Buddhist Sacred land or area

It is a valid argument of the perpetrators that the unauthorized building should be relocated or destroyed in the Buddhist sacred land. However, Muslims are of the view that Mosque has been in existence long before than the decree or resolution on Buddhist sacred land introduced in 1981 and they have a valid legal documents to prove their claim. Even if the argument of perpetrators is valid, in some sense, that the unauthorized building is illegal in Buddhist sacred area, one wonders why they took a long time, almost 31 years since the introduction of the decree, to either destroy or relocate the mosque in Dambulla, let alone the argument of Muslims that the mosque is 60 years old. What is even more surprising is that Kataragama has also been demarcated as a sacred area where one would find that the Buddhist Temple, Hindu Kovil, and Mosque located in close proximity and these places of worship are functioning harmoniously with a significant number of devotees. Arguably, the sacred thesis has never been applied to Kataragama so far. Moreover, as the Buddhists in the country and around the world respect and regard their religious symbols (Temples and other holy elements) as sacred, Muslims also do in much the same way as the Buddhists, regarding their Mosques. In fact, if this sacred thesis is advanced, and then no one with rational thought can deny or refute the claim of Muslims’ perception of sacredness of their mosques. That is to simply say that the label ‘holy land’ applies to the ‘holy mosques’ and ‘holy temple’ (kovils) too. On the other hand, even if the extremist forces claim that Buddhist sacred area should be exclusively demarcated with only Buddhist sacred buildings, then other non-sacred places such as bar and posh hotels should be relocated immediately. Other significant critique of this vexed issue is that had the extremist forces perceived that this mosque was illegally constructed in a sacred area, it should have been legally challenged to establish the fact that the construction or location of the mosque was illegal and be relocated immediately. Instead, taking the law in one’s hand to demolish the mosque in a violent and callous way means that the person or group completely disregards the law and order of the country and thus these perpetrators are entitled to be prosecuted under a number of offences in the country’s judiciary system. Contrary to all arguments, Minister of land and land development, Janaka Bandara Tennakon accented that the mosque lies outside the sacred area declared by a gazette notification in 1981. This contention of the minister discounts all the arguments made by the extremist forces concerning the existence of the mosque.

Government’s approach

Sadly, these extremist forces have attempted to vandalize the mosque in the presence of the law enforcing officials who were idly watching as they became helpless to take measures to bring the situation under the control. However, it should be applauded that the timely actions of armed forces averted a mass destruction on the mosque. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s abrupt decision without the consultation of Muslim stakeholders to order mosque’s removal in Dambulla and to relocate elsewhere out of the sacred area escalated uproar and tension among the Muslim community across the country and has become a cause of worry on the part of Muslims over the lopsided policies of the government on religious freedom of every ethnic group which has been guaranteed in the constitution of the country. While the Prime Minister wanted the mosque relocated as is located inside the sacred area, Minister Janaka Bandara Tennekon categorically asserts that the mosque lies outside of it. Therefore, it is crystal clear that the government is in a great confusion over this issue. One may inevitably wonder what the exact policy of the government is on this fracas. Nevertheless, it is the responsibility of the government to take a firm and principled stance to ensure the legitimate religious freedom of minorities in this country without being subdued by these extremist forces.

Surprisingly, this is not an isolated incident in the post war context. Last year a Muslim shrine was destroyed in the sacred city of Anuradhapura, even sadly in the presence of legal enforcing officials. There are numerous reports of Hindu temples and Christian churches being destroyed in some parts of the country by these extremist forces too in the recent past.

Conclusion

Some argue that the politicisation of Buddhism as the state religion and the intervening influence it has in politics and social affairs continues to threaten non-Buddhist minorities and hinder peaceful coexistence of all communities. Moreover, failure of the government as a responsible entity in the center to prevent all attack on places of worship, whatever faith, and to fail to take measure to ensure that all religions are accorded with the same treatment and respect will demonstrate a negative perception of the government not only in the domestic level, but in the global level as well. Meanwhile, turning a blind eye by the government to succumb to these kinds of extremist forces, which is a part of the government now, to carry out its ideologies even to the extent of resorting to force and violence as a means will add manifold dimension of entrenched thesis of what we notified above. Therefore, it is appropriate on the part of the government to timely intervene into the Dambulla Mosque issue to restore the trust among the Muslims, minorities and majority peace loving Buddhist in the country, without exacerbating the issue by calling on the Muslims to relocate the mosque. It is also of paramount importance on the part of the government to take measures to curb the growing trend of intolerance of these extremist forces and to act immediately to build confidence among all communities to ensure that the minorities feel secure in every way as people of this country. In the post war context, this is of the utmost importance for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence. It is also imperative on the part of the government to foster an ideal of ‘cultural pluralism’ or ‘melting pot’, especially in the post war context in the best interest of developing the country, regardless of differences based on ethnicity, religion, class, caste and so on. At the same time, this is the high time for religious and community leaders to initiate inter-faith dialogue at all possible levels to ensure that the people of all religions are equipped with an objective understanding of all the religions in Sri Lanka.

The writer is a lecturer in Sociology at the South Eastern University of Sri Lanka, presently a PhD scholar at the National University of Singapore. He could be reached at aramees2001@gmail.com

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    Fine analysis.

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      How could this be a fine analysis when it is totally one sided and obviously biased and provocative. The language used is highly extreme (but minorities are allowed to be extreme in SL and anything only becomes racist or extremist if used by the majority). An example of extreme biasness is to call the “Official Language Act” by its derogatory or provocative “Sinhala Only Act” which anyone who knows our past history should know is a complete falsehood. The Official Language Act allowed full use of Tamil in the North and East and also as the medium of Education for Tamil people all throughout the country which was not available to the Tamils until the enactment of this Act in 1956. Up to 1956 the Tamils were NOT able to use their mother tongue as the medium of education and had to use English only. WHICH MUSLIM COUNTRY IN THE WORLD ALLOW MINORITIES ANY RIGHTS LET ALONE THE RIGHT TO USE THEIR OWN LANGUAGE? WHAT RIGHTS DO NON MUSLIMS ENJOY IN MUSLIM COUNTRIES? HARDLY ANY. SAME COULD BE SAID OF TAMILNADU WHICH IS TWICE THE SIZE OF SRI LANKA. In Tamilnadu non Tamils have to use ONE OFFICIAL LANGUAGE which is Tamil. They are not allowed to use Telegu, Kannada or Malyalam but in tiny SL we have 3 official languages.
      Another deliberate falsehood that is doing its propaganda rounds is “the 30 year war plus all problems with Tamil minority started with the enactment of the official language act”. It is not that Rameez Aboobacker do not know the past history of SL but the truth or the true history does NOT suit his own agenda of attacking the Buddhists as extremists so that they can carry out their carefully planned agenda of targeting all Buddhist heritage temple land in order to gradually wipe out the Buddhist heritage and its land like they have done in Deegawapiya where 12,000 acres have been reduced to a mere 600 acres which would never happen if it was Muslim holy heritage land without world war 3 taking place. We have always had Tamil invasions and wars throughout our long history of 30,000 plus years but the seeds of the recent 30 year war were sewn by the British with their divide and rule policy plus Chelvanayagam was clamouring for a separate state in 1949 which was way before 1956 when the Official language act came into being. Muslims like R Aboobacker keep spreading falsehoods and distorting the true history because it suits their agenda of gradually taking over our land like they have done with Buddhist Malaysia, Indonesia, Afganistan, Pakistan, Maldives, etc. The fact that they have 27 plus Muslim countries and we only have one Sinhala country does not sto their land grabbing greed. Since Independence Sri Lanka has allowed them to build more Mosques than we have built Temples but this is not enough for them that they have to grab our heritage temple land as well to put put up Mosques like a fast speading weed. If we do a count of all the Mosques in SL I am sure it exceeds the 10,000 temples we have. Kathankudy is another example of how they are turning tiny SL into a Nazaristhan. So according to Aboobacker the GOSL should hand over the country they saved from the LTTE to the Muslims as gratitude for their support at the UNHRC in Geneva. Do not worry Mr Aboobacker, the rate the majority is being marginalised by the GOSL you will soon have your Nazarithan out of tiny SL. According to every Muslim writer every bit of land in SL is your holy land which has existed for hundreds of years (even the unauthorised Mosques being built today is hundreds of years old because you have been living on Sri lankan soil for hundreds of years)- this is not an exaggeration by me but these have been the farsical claims made by all prolific Muslim writers saying the same things that LTTE have been claiming previously in their propaganda battles. They had the best propaganda mechanisms and full marks to all those old Tamil women (who wer brought by the bus loads to public arenas of all the Western countries)who could lie through their teeth and cry buckets full of tears to legitimise their lies to a gullible Western audience. These are great tips for you to copy in your future propaganda battles to justify your endless land grabbing and targeting of Buddhist archeological heritage land to which the GOSL turns a blind eye. SL so far has been an easy target for land grabbing because corrupy govt officials and ministers will always turn a blind eye and the extemely tolerant and gullible Sinhala Buddhist majority is blissfully happy to hand over the land to you and dance baila. This time, not even a Col Olcott could save them from Oblivion.

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    It’s so wonderful and cngtrz bro !

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    It is high time that GOSL settle the Muslims that were displaced in the north by the eelamist terror movement.. and funding the building of a great Nothern mosque.. and as compensation give more land for farming purposes to those muslim communities espically Land of those eelamist terrorist who now reside in notorious places such as scarborough, norway, Australia etc etc.. They who have supported the eelamist terror which cleanesed the land of the north of its muslim and sinhala popoulation must forfeit as they are not fit and proper people to have land in a UNITED sri Lanka.. GOSL must do this as ASAP.

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      @ SJV C, your type of mindset will not help resolve the issue, with rabble rousing comments. Only genuine reconcilliation will.

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    The eelamist tamil terror movement is no friend of the muslim.. espically with their 30 years of violence and ethnically clensing against the muslims stand as a record. eelamist terrorist movement which is based of the principles of ethnically clensing. of all races stood for 30 years testament.. in the Eelamist controled north and east..

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    Have you ever bother to find out how many sacred/historical Buddhist places had been destroyed by Muslims while you are saying that these extremist have destroyed so many Muslim’s & Christian’s sacred places ??? if u didnt plese & try to write a blog for them as well.

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    This article represents a major effort to highlight contemporary religious freedom in Sri Lanka with theoretical insight. It is a nice descriptive work and data gathered extensively from recent news media and previous academic works. It is chronologically brief religious extremism in Sri Lanka. He identified important factors and predictions for recent attack on Mosque which are provide interesting insight of the incident. His argument part and government’s approach highlights his academic background of experience in the research.
    Interestingly, when he writes Muslim’s mosque problem in this article he traces Hindu and Christian temples’ destruction in the recent past. It is clearly shows his impartiality or bias free.
    Finally, in his conclusion he recommends interfaith dialogue to establish religious harmony among plural society of Sri Lanka. It is a good suggestion to heal broken mind-set of the people in this controversial situation.
    Mr. Rameez, it is an excellent starting point to ponder your knowledge in writing field. You have responsibility to do more writing in the all aspects of Sri Lanka such as socioeconomic and politics…. Wish you good luck.

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    The Sinhalese claim themselves as ‘Theravada’ Buddhists. In Lanka we find ‘Theravada’ Maha Sangas only. But, in Lanka ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism also existed from the ancient time and there have been hundreds of ‘Mahayana’ Buddhist temples. To mention a few, the Dambulla cave temple, Kataragama temple, Dalada Maligava, Sigiriya and others belong to ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism!
    The problem with the Sinhalese ‘Theravada’ Buddhists and the Monks is that they consider all the Buddhist Temples as ‘Theravada’ Buddhist temples and try to associate them with the Sinhalese! When a Buddhist archaeological find is discovered, at once they associate it and the place where it was discovered with ‘Theravada’ Buddhism and the Sinhalese. They fail to differentiate between ‘Theravada’ Buddhism and ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism. It should be kept in mind that the Tamils were ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists in ancient time and that the ‘Theravada’ Buddhism rejects Puranas, literature, Symbolization, Symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism.
    Our archaeologists, historians, numismatists and Buddhist religious leaders could not conduct a scientific study on symbolization and symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism. Thus, they are unable to understand what the Brahmi, Tamil, Sinhala inscriptions, ancient buildings, statues, sculptures, paintings, flags, coins. seals etc. discovered in Lanka actually symbolize. They fail to understand that all these were designed and produced by the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists and not by the ‘Theravada’ Buddhists!
    On the other hand, the ‘Theravada’ Buddhist Religious leaders and the ‘learned’ could not explain scientifically why the statues and small temples of the so-called ‘Hindu’ gods are found in a number of Buddhist temples of Lanka! For them to understand this, first of all they must understand the fundamental difference between Theravada Buddhism and Mahayana Buddhism and study Saivaism and Vaishnavam and the creation of different Gods.
    In short, the Root Cause of all the problems we face in our country is IGNORANCE!

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    As an addendum to the above comment of Abimanasingham Uthayakumar, one reason for the establishment of a small shrine for the Dieties in Buddhist Temples and for small Buddhist shrines for Buddhist worship at the Devaleys of Natha, Katharagama, Vishnu and Paththini is for the reason that when the Queens of Royalty being Hindus worshiped their dieties while the King although a Malabar had embraced Buddhism and the Buddhist shrine was for the King to worship. However with the passege of time the citizens not being fanatical then, had adopted the practise of worshipping the Hindu dieties as well.

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    suz suggest to destroy all tmples,hindu kovils,churches and mosques,and rebuild common religious complex like common srilankan old toilets.that is what journalists request.

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    Dear Gamini,
    All the Buddhist temples having any one or more statues or shrines of Natha, Kataragama God, Muruga, Vishnu, Pattini and Ganapathi or Ganesh etc. actually belong to ‘Mahayana’ Buddhism. ‘Natha’ is a God of the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists. ‘Pattini’ was based on ‘Kannaki’ of the ‘Mahayana’ Tamil epic ‘Cillappatikaaram.’ Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu were actually Gods created by the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists on the basis of Lord Buddha and his Preaching.
    For you to understand this, first of all you must study the Tamil literature and the subjects Symbolization and Symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism.
    As an example: Lord Vishnu carries a conch by his left hand and rotates a Chakkra or disc by his right forefinger. On his forehead we find ‘U’ shaped mark placed above his nose.
    If you ask the Vaishnavite Religious Leaders or archaeologists what these three severally and jointly symbolize, they will not be able to give you any scientific explanation!They would tell some Puranas!
    A conch, like a bell, hand drum, flute and others, makes sound that could be heard by everyone in the surrounding without any discrimination.
    Therefore a conch could symbolize announcing or preaching something to all without discrimination.
    The Cakkra rotated by the forefinger symbolizes the Middle Path, the fundamental philosophy of Buddhism. No other Preaching speaks specifically about the Middle Path.
    Thus, a conch and a rotating Cakkra could jointly symbolize preaching ‘the Middle Path,’ the Buddhist Dhamma, to everyone!
    Thus, Lord Vishnu having a conch and a rotating Cakkra is an imaginary God created on the basis of the Preaching of Buddha.
    This could be further confirmed through the ‘U’ shaped Mark placed above the nose of Lord Vishnu.
    The ‘U’ shaped mark placed above the nose also symbolizes the Middle Path. Any symmetrical geometric figure could also symbolize the Middle Path.
    Thus, Lord Vishnu is associated with the Middle Path like Lord Buddha!
    Therefore, Lord Vishnu is an imaginary God created on the basis of Lord Buddha and his Preaching!
    Lord Siva is also an imaginary creation by the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists.
    Lord Siva carries a hand drum, a tri-suula and burning fire. On the forehead of Lord Siva we find Triple -Stripe marked.
    If we ask the Saiva religious leaders what these severally and jointly symbolize, like the Vaishnavites, they will also tell some Puranas!
    A hand drum could symbolize announcing or preaching something to all.
    In the Tri-suula carried by Lord Siva, the two outer limbs are little curved and point opposite directions. The middle limb is straight. Therefore, the Tri-suula carried by Lord Siva could symbolize the Middle Path. The burning fire symbolizes light or Enlightenment.
    Thus, hand drum, Tri-suula and burning fire jointly symbolize Preaching to everyone the Middle Path that produces Enlightenment!
    Therefore, Lord Siva is an imaginary creation based on Buddha’s Preaching!
    Lord Siva has the Triple Stripe marked on his forehead. The Triple Stripe also symbolizes the Middle Path. Thus, Lord Siva is associated with the Middle Path like Lord Buddha.
    Therefore, Lord Siva is also an imaginary creation based on Lord Buddha and his Preaching!
    Like wise, Kataragama God and Lord Ganesh are also imaginary creations based on Lord Buddha and his Preaching. Kataragama God carries a spear and a bell. He also has Triple Stripe marked on his forehead. A spear could symbolize the Middle Path. A Bell could symbolize making public announcement or preaching something to all. Triple stripe symbolizes the Middle Path.
    In addition, the Kataragama God is placed at the middle of two women of extremities: VaLLi and Theivaanai. This also associates Lord Kataragama with the Middle Path!
    Likewise, Lord Ganesh is also an imaginary creation. That is reason why we find sculptures of Lord Ganesh in the Vahalkada of the Kantakka Ceitiya of Mihintale.
    An integrated analysis of the symbols found marked on Brahmi and other inscriptions, coins, seals, statues, sculptures, paintings of Lanka and Tamil Nadu will reveal the fact that Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism had been employed centuries ago by the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists.
    Lord Buddha had been symbolized with the animal Lion, elephant, horse and bull and with a pair of foot.
    The Tamil ‘Mahayana’ Buddhist epics and other literature also confirm this.
    Literary symbolization of Buddhism was also employed by the Tamil ‘Mahayana’ Buddhists.
    By Placing stanzas that praise Buddha, Dhamma and Sanga or Buddha alone at the beginning of a literature or a book, the particular literature or book could be identified with Buddhism.
    There are a number of Tamil, Sinhala and Pali ancient literature and books in which stanzas praising the Triple gem or Buddha alone are being placed at their beginning.
    In the Sinhala literature ‘Vayantimaalaya’ that tells the early life of Koovalan and Kannagi, stanzas that praise the Triple gem are placed at the beginning. This confirms that the Tamil epic ‘Cillapptikaaram’ is a ‘Mahayana’ Buddhist literature.
    Also, in Lankan literatures Budugunaalankaaraya, Guttilakaavyaya, Parakumbuaasirita, Sasadaavata etc., the Triple gem is paised at the beginning.
    In the ancient Tamil literatures like Raamaayanam of Kamban, Cillappatikaaram of Ilango and KuraL of Thiruvalluvan, the Triple Gem is praised at their beginning.
    In the ‘Mahayana’ Buddhist architecture also, symbolization of Buddhism was used. The Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eight fold Path, the Three steps: Siila, samaadhi and Pannaa etc. had been used.
    As a example: The Dalada Maligava of Kandy is of octagonal shape symbolizing the Noble Eight fold Path. Its roof is designed in such a way, the whole structure symbolizes the Three steps: Sila, samaadhi and Pannaa.
    In the Kandyan Kingdom where the sacred Tooth Relic has been placed, the British captured three flags in 1815 that had a lion holding a sword placed at the centre of a rectangle with four pinnacles at the corners.
    The Sinhalese and the Theravada Buddhist Monks came to a wrong conclusion that the particular lion symbolizes the ” Aryan Sinhala Race!”

    The animal lion has nothing to do with a sword. Therefore the lion should symbolize a human. Here the lion holds a sword. What does it symbolize? Here only one has to know the Tamil language.
    In Tamil, a sword is called “வாள்”(VaaL). The Tamil word “வாள்” means a sword as well as light or enlightenment. This could be confirmed through the grammar book for Tamil language, the Tolkaapiyam. One of its suutras in the ‘Urichchol’ Chapter says: “வாள் ஒளியாகும்” (VaaL oLi Aagum). Therefore, the lion in the flag is an enlightened lion! As explained earlier, Lord Buddha had been symbolized with lion, elephant, bull and horse. Therefore, the lion holding a sword could symbolize Lord Buddha!
    This could be further confirmed with the rectangle with 4 pinnacles at the corners.
    The rectangle with four pinnacles at the corners could symbolize the Four Noble Truths.
    Lord Buddha who realized the Four Noble Truths adhered to the Noble Eight fold Path emphasized by the Four Noble Truths. Therefore, the lion holding a sword placed at the centre of the rectangle with four pinnacles at the corners symbolizes Lord Buddha who realized the Four Noble Truths!
    Therefore:
    1. The Lion flag of the Kandyan Kingdom symbolizes Lord Buddha who realized the Four Noble Truths;
    2. The Lion flag is the Buddhist Flag;
    3. The Ignorant Sinhala Theravada Buddhists and some Buddhist foreigners designed another flag as the Buddhist flag;
    4. The Lion emblem does not symbolize the “Aryan Sinhalese Race;”
    5. As the Tamil word “வாள்” was used to symbolize enlightenment, the Kandyan flag was designed by a Tamil ‘Mahayana’ Buddhist scholar Monk;
    6. The national flag of Lanka is actually a symbol of IGNORANCE disgracing Lord Buddha and Buddhism.

    So, unless a scientific study is conducted on symbolization, symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism, history of Buddhism could not be be understood correctly. Our Theravada Buddhists will continue to act on their false and imaginary Sinhala – Theravada Buddhist nationalism and cause problems in the country.

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    Sad that a sociology lecturer is so ignorant and racist.

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    This is nothing to do with Religious Extremism the Land is a heritage land. Heritage land should be protected for the future generations. Governments are obligted to protect such land.

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    Latest version of the Camel in the tent!
    “It is a valid argument of the perpetrators that the unauthorized building should be relocated or destroyed in the Buddhist sacred land. However, Muslims are of the view that Mosque has been in existence long before than the decree or resolution on Buddhist sacred land introduced in 1981”
    If the argument is valid that building is unauthorized and should be relocated,other views are hardly relevent.
    Wether this is really a mosque is the most pertinat question. Those who use this premises claim that it is only a prayer house while out siders who are trying to make an issue out of this claim it is a mosque. But the building itself does not look anything like a mosque we see elsewhere.
    Those who claim ownership of the land for 60 or more years must not forget that the Rangiri Dambulu Temple has been there for over thousand years.
    Behavior of Mr. Rauff Hakim as the Minister of Justice is most pathetic to say the least and the President should seriously consider his continuation in this office. If he refuses to accept any land given by the government to relocate the prayer house he is welcome to find his own location at his own expense.

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    There was no shouting by Muslim leaderships when Bamiyan Ststue of Buddhist value was blasted by Muslim Talibans! Trying to destroy a temporary shed used as a mosque like at Dambulla is creating so much of furore!

    On the other hand if it is located outside the Sacred Area, is not it unfair not to allow the mosque to be operative? Article 12 of the Constitution provides for such religious practice.

    What duplicity in thinking?

    Cannot we become a reasonable nation?

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    Muslims in Sri Lanka are in a form of quitely conquiring Buddhist heritage lands in the country. They are fond of building mosques very close to Buddhist heritage sites. Probably thinking of acquiring entire site in a later date. This is true in Kataragama,Anuradhapura and now in Dambulla. Most of the Buddhist archialogical sites in the eastern parts of the country are taken over forcefully by Muslims. One such place archalogical department found a toilet was build on the top of the Buddhist site and found a very valuble stone carved buddha head in a kitchen of a nearby Muslim house they have no knoledge on the value of these things. Remember in Afgernistan Taliban destroy Barobudoor statute. All this because Sinhalese Buddhists are tolerating other religions and they dont speak up. This is the first time they came out to prtoest. Now the media and anti Buddhist forces trying to use this protest as religious extremism. These buddhist lands has to be preserved for the future generations not just becase of its connection to buddhism but because they are part of world heritage. Those who dont know the value of the culture should not allowed to manipulate these sites.

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    My Dear, Abimanasingham Sitthawatthai Uthayakumar – Your comments are better than the article. I am living in SL for 54 years but yet to meet a real Theravada Buddhist. They talk about Theravada but absolutely follow former Hindu Gods of them who are all over Buddhist temples in SL. But still more than 90% of Sinhala Buddhist are lovely human beings, which is the truth.

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