26 July, 2017

Religious Tolerance Under Scrutiny In Sri Lanka

By Nirmal Ranjith Dewarsiri

Dr. Nirmal Ranjith Dewarsiri

The recent attack led by Buddhist monks on the Khairya Jumma mosque located in the so-called “sacred zone” of the Dambulla rock temple in the central province is important even though it did not develop into a larger scale clash between the Buddhist and Muslim communities of Sri Lanka. The Dambulla Khairya Jummah mosque had been in existence for over 60 years and the mosque trustees have legal documents regarding its construction. On Friday the 20th of April 2012 a tense situation arose as regular Friday prayer at the mosque was prevented by a gang led by Buddhist monks who claimed that it was an illegal construction built on sacred Buddhist ground.

Many view this incident as an isolated event led by a group of extremists; an event which was easily quelled as it did not represent the sentiments of the majority Buddhist populace. Although this may be true, this line of thinking conceals some of the realities of the inter-religious relations in Sri Lanka within which the Dambulla incident could be located. In this short piece, I attempt to highlight existing problems in the religious setting in the Sinhala-Buddhist south of Sri Lanka giving special attention to the Dambulla incident.

In my view the Dambulla incident is only one such occurrence among many attacks on non-Buddhist religious spaces by Buddhist elements. Most of these incidents remain unknown to the general public as they are not widely reported given the obvious biases of the mainstream media. For example, in the recent past, there was a series of attacks on more recently established churches belonging to various Christian denominations in Sri Lanka. It was quite obvious that these attacks were well organised. There were also other occasional incidents where clashes took place between Buddhist and other religious communities. These apparently isolated occurrences can very well be located in the context of the “Buddhist revival” that has been underway in the last decade and half in Sri Lanka. This “revival” goes hand in hand with two significant phenomena. First, the formation of several new middle class social layers in the fast expanding Colombo suburban belt and many regional towns. Second, the upsurge of extreme Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that is very well supported by members of these new social layers. Both these phenomena are a direct outcome of the expansion of the capitalist economy in the last few decades in Sri Lanka.

The aggressiveness shown by both lay and clergy members of the mob that intruded into the mosque premises in Dambulla characterises this Buddhist revival. A sign board placed near a famous Buddhist site in Boralesgamuwa, a town in the suburbs of Colombo home to the new middle classes, illustrates very well the religious mind of the Buddhist revival. This reads in Sinhala as follows: ‘Jāti āgam bēda näti sri lankāva bauddha rājjayak vēva!’. This roughly translates to “May Sri Lanka, sans racial and religious divisions, be a Buddhist land!” Clearly the two elements of this statement are mutually contradictory. On the one hand, it appears as if it celebrates peaceful religious co-existence because “Jāti āgam bēda näti” is the standard and official parlance with which ethnic and religious diversity is acknowledged. These words are always uttered by politicians and other public figures in their public speeches. The other part of the statement carries exactly the opposite meaning. This, I propose, symbolises the contradictory nature of the majority Sinhala Buddhist mindset towards religious diversity within the island.

The Rajapakse Regime’s Positions

This paradox became clearly visible in the events that took place around the Dambulla incident. The Mahinda Rajapaksa regime, while accommodating almost every group of ultra Sinhala Buddhist nationalist elements, nurtures a strategically important political alliance with the Muslims. This alliance is more important for the regime internationally than locally, as Muslim countries constitute a major source of support in international fora, especially in the context of growing tensions between Sri Lanka and the Western Bloc. The last thing that the regime can afford at this juncture is to offend its international Muslim allies over sensitive religious issues. It is important to keep in mind that Iran issued a carefully worded statement immediately after the incident expressing its concern over the Dambulla incident, announcing that the government of Iran was hopeful that the Sri Lankan government would take measures to quell religious tensions. It is likely that the regime changed its initial response to the event which mainly aimed at pleasing anti-Muslim elements.

Beneath the tactical alliance between Muslim politicians and the mainstream Sinhala Buddhist political elite, there are serious fault lines in the relationship between Muslims and Sinhala Buddhists. Sinhala Buddhist nationalism generally perceives Muslims to be a grave threat. This sentiment was clearly articulated during the early phase of the present wave of the Buddhist revival by the popular monk Gangodavila Soma whose mysterious death, while travelling in Russia in late 2003, was attributed to an international anti-Buddhist conspiracy. His anti-Muslim outcry even provoked late M. H. M. Ashraff, an influential Muslim politician at that time, to counter him in a live debate on television, which many believed was a setback for the popular Buddhist monk. Most importantly, at that juncture, neither of the two major political parties directly supported Soma’s aggressive campaign which was potentially dangerous for the peaceful coexistence of different religious groups in Sri Lanka.

The political alliance that was forged during the last decade which ultimately brought the present regime to power transformed this aggressive Buddhist revival into a semi-official affair. The dominant player facilitating this state sponsorship of aggressive Buddhist revival is the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU- National Sinhala Heritage Party), a key coalition partner of the present regime.

A trademark feature of this push towards Buddhist supremacy is the invasion of public spaces by raising permanent religious constructions and holding innumerable religious rituals at public places. These activities are supported by the state, local politicians and most importantly the new business elite. This Buddhist revival has reached new frontiers in the post-war North and East, predominantly Hindu and Muslim provinces, where Buddhist activities are facilitated through the active support of the military, mass participation of southern Sinhala Buddhist pilgrims to the North and political support of groups such as the JHU. This emergence of a competing religious space is being cautiously viewed by non-Sinhala Buddhist sections of the post-war North and East.

Organisers of these activities successfully mobilise certain social segments such as three-wheeler drivers, small traders and other groups which constitute unorganised labour. Aggressive in their social behaviour they are ideally suited to carry out these Buddhist activities. Moreover, these activities give them much needed social identity and empowerment. These are the same groups that were mobilised by the military and police during the last phase of the war to support public security arrangements in the South, especially in Colombo.

Although the Dambulla incident did not evolve into a communal clash it exposed serious fault lines existing at the structural level of inter-religious relations in Sri Lanka. These worrying contradictions are concealed by the façade of the official rhetoric of religious harmony.

Courtesy Economic & Political Weekly

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    I expected more from a academic /activists like Dr Devasiri. What he has presented is mere observations of current incidents and their political relationship. One need to go beyond this to deconstruct the Sangha/Sate relationship in Lanka.

    beside the very interesting note he makes on the efforts of the state to mobilize the lower end of the unorganised labour mass as a buffer between the unconstitutional state activities and the citizenship,

    Observations such as above limits scopes to mere journalistic purpose, particularly after pedagogical volumes of literature on the topic is available, (Abeysekara, Berkwitz, Tambiah, Senevirathne, Obeysekere, Malalgoda, Smith, Bechert, Swearer, Kempper etc)

    This fails to unearth the reality of the subterranean forces and their contemporary nature of the historicized role of Sinhala Sangha.

    as a student of Politics of Sinhala Buddhism- I expected much more from a historian/activist like Dr Devasiri

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    This light weight academic has broken all the boundaries to redicule/shame ‘Sinhalese-Buddhists’ in the country. His frustration about NOT seeing the flare up of ethnic clashes out of control is everywhere to see in this article. Are these the quality of people who teache at uni’s in Sri Lanka. Always looking at problems in his narrow eyes (‘expansion of capitalism’, interpreting mind of Sinhalese Buddhists by reading a one sign board, interpreting Dambulla incident as a underline major fault line among Muslim Buddhists communities and only subdued to IRAN interference), this extremist light weight analyst has abondaned the balance that the reader expect from a true academic. Is this the people leading staff unions in Srilankan universities?

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    This is a good attempt to start a public discussion and analysis of public religion in post-war Lanka and should be built on. Of course as the comment above indicated there is a need for reform of official public religion and the “Buddhist” establishment which is aggressive, highly militarized and militaristic and supports and legitimizes State terrorism in Sri Lanka at this time. Contemporary Sri Lankan Buddhism is not longer respected in the world.
    There needs to be an analysis of militarized and militant Buddhism, located in the wider study of violence and religion. The contrast to Rajapakse’s militant Buddhism is Aung San Su Ki and the Monks of Burma who have resisted non-violently the military junta there.
    I reckon that all the buried racist muck that the thirty years of war generated among all sides and parties to the conflict is now bubbling up and oozing out! In other words, the shit is hitting the fan and this may be a cathartic process, part of a post war transition, that needs to be steered through by right thinking people.
    It is up to the enlightened talking classes who believe in cultural diversity, pluralism and multiculturalism to stand up and be counted – take the lead and steer through this transition rather than letting politicians who are ethno-religious entrepreneurs profit once again from ethno-relgious violence as they did all through the war.
    Also an analysis of the Muslim political establishment and their spineless leadership which is cooperating with the Regime needs to be taken to task.

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    I totally dsagree with Suren’s comment.

    This reflection by Dewasiri naturally cannot be expected to be a pedagogical work since its objective is a different audience.

    It is a crisp piece of writing which reflects concerns that – as a Sinhala Budddhist from the deep South – I myself have been habouring after the disgraceful incidents in Dambulla

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    Peaceful and richest Srilanka in 10 years.

    Rajapaksa have deep rooted in the island. Please do not waste time writing against them.

    Buddhism will be the only religion of Srilanka and Sinhala is the only race in the country in 5 years time.

    All the others like tamils, muslims, hindus and christians will have to convert themselves or they have leave the island to india or UK.

    Conversion is happening visibly in Northren and eastern parts of Sri Lanka.

    Almost all the 100% hindu temples, churches and mosques will be converted into community centres, wedding halls and other institutions.

    There will be no political,religious or language problems in the country during the next 5 years.

    Sri Lanka will become the most richest nation in the world in 10 years time. The plans of the Rajapakse government are to make investments in all parts of the world and even to finance IMF and World Bank.

    India is fully aware of the policies of Rajapaksa Govt. and they wholeheartedly support the programme.

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      Ha, Ha, very funny. Your talents are wasted in this forum. You should become a full time CLOWN.

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    Thanks, some good points about the current situation

    I feel that many people (Sinhala, Muslim, Tamil, etc) harbor medieval views about religion, expression/identity and other religions.

    I can say from personal family experience, some well to do educated people display uneducated village mentality regarding religious & racial issues.

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      I do agree with Basil. We as a nation could not get out of our colonial mentality [or island mentality] Today there is lack of forums for the academics/intellectuals to come out and talk freely about the situation as they will be termed UN-P-atriotic. Sri Lanka solely missed people like Dr. E W Adikaram today to teach us what religion is to an individual?

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    I think Devasiri is a christian. That is why he is upset.

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      Hey Softy, do’nt label anyone who thinks differently from you!Learn to tolerate different opinions.

      I agree with Basil that the educated people are those who are the most racist and the most chauvinist.

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      So Jim – according to you a Buddhist cannot be upset about what happened in Dambulla. If he got upset, according to your logic, he is not a Buddhist.If Buddha was around he would be very upset about those who are messing up his name.

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    This writer has carefully analyzed without offending the Buddhist, hats off to you for coming forward & write something to safeguard our national unity.

    Its the JHU who is behind to gain sinhala Buddhist vote, disregarding national security, JHU should be banned from politics.

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      Jim Hardy, you are absolutely correct in saying that JHU should be banned from politics because they are not protecting the Sinhala Buddhist heritage after coming to power with Sinhala Buddhist votes. The same is true of all the regimes we have had since so called Independence as they have let minorities loot and plunder not only Sinhala heritage land but allowing them to enjoy rights and privileges that denied to the Sinhala Buddhist majority. All these English speaking Sinhala pundits (no doubt Christian)like Dewarsiri should read Palitha Senanayake’s book “Sri Lanka The War Fuelled BY PEACE” and then come for a debate with the Buddhist bhikkus whose extreme tolerance and patience have been abused and misused by the minorities. . What Dewarsiri and the English press giving the English speaking public of SL is PROPAGANDA and NOT true facts. Multiculturalism can ONLY work if there is a level playing field and NOT when the Buddhists are weak and marginalised. Listen on YouTube why Cameron, Sarkoxy and Angela Merkl denouncing “multiculturalism” as a total failure and unlike SL these are leaders of very rich countries. If the Tamils are not happy they should go to Tamilnadu which is TWICE the size of SL and Muslims should go to 27 plus Muslim countries around the World. Where can the Sinhala people go? To Tamilnadu? In Tamilnadu the minorities have to learn Tamil which is the only official language (the minorities have NO rights whatsoever in Tamilnadu)where as tiny impoverished SL has three official languages – has to be the joke of the World. What has America given its owners the Native Indians? or the long suffering Black Americans? Zilch. So much for multiculturalism around the world? The only country that actually practices this multicultural nonsence is Sri Lanka.

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        @S.Mahinda
        So you want Tamils & Muslims to get out of your country, is it possible without bloodshed, will it materialize, what a ignorant scumbag you are later you will want all Catholics & Christians out.

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    “May Sri Lanka, sans racial and religious divisions, be a Buddhist land!”

    This is actually Sinhala – ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: “Āryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhism – Laňkā with one -to – one correspondence!

    The academics and the journalists fail to differentiate ‘Thēravāda ‘ Buddhism from the Mahāyāna Buddhism of Laňkā.

    The Sinhalese claim themselves as the ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists. Mēthānantha Thēra and other ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhists without understanding and accepting the difference between the two sects try to associate all the Buddhist archaeological finds and Buddhist temples with ‘Thēravāda ‘ Buddhism and the Sinhalese!

    The major problem we face with our academics is that they do not UNDERSTAND and ACCEPT that ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhism rejects completely Puranas, literature, symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism, iconography, statues, sculptures, painting, music, dance etc. Only ‘Mahāyāna’ Buddhism accepts these!!

    On the other hand, the academics have not analyzed scientifically the Tamil, Pali, Sinhala and Sanskrit literature and archaeological finds of Laňkā, Tamil Nadu and India and come to correct conclusions.They do not know that the Tamils of Laňkā and Tamil Nadu were ‘Mahāyāna’ Buddhists!

    In short, the ignorance of our academics only caused them to formulate the Sinhala – ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhist nationalism based on the false and imaginary doctrine: “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – ‘Thēravāda ‘ Buddhism – Laňkā with one – to-one correspondence! This was propagated to the Sinhalese by the media, the politicians and the ‘Thēravāda ‘ Buddhist religious leaders!

    Unless the Sinhala nation is rescued from its ignorance, Lanka will continue to face religious problems as well!

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      Exactly Mr Abimanasibgham

      Fine analysis, these Buddhist scumbags are diverting Buddhism to their own likings, Buddha never told to make statues of himself & install in every street corner, & pluck flowers in neighbors garden without his permission, in fact never told to Worship him or put Bana in full volume in speakers irritating others.

      These SB is full of vengeance & hate on other religions incited by JHU monks on a daily basis which should be stopped immediately.

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    The government should issue an order that any religious site which is currently registered with the authorities should not be closed by other people through violent protests or other means. Concerning building of new sites, government should decide through public survey in the neighbourhood. In this way we can prevent building of new Buddhist temples in Tamil areas and mosques/Hindu temples in Sinhala areas and prevent clashes in future.

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    Dewsiri, You have proved like many others before you about your lack of knowledge of what really is happening in Sri lanka or you purposely trying to twist things for whatever reason. If you believe that Sinhala people are not tolerent and anti other religions you are an idiot. I will give you only one example at this stage for you to understand how much Sinhala buddhists have and are tolerating these other religious especially muslim cockroaches in Sri Lanka. Just take your time and go to Bibile road Gampola and see how muslims have built a mosque about 2 years ago. Bibile road has been for many centuries was the road for the Sinhala villages and the road is a public road maintained by the government. These muslims have built the mosque over the road and all the sinhala people including buddhist monks have to walk under the feet of [Edited out] muslims. Do you think it is OK for them to do that? Do you think Sinhala buddhists are not tolerating? More importantly why don’t you have the guts to investigate and write about it and show the world what muslims are doing to provoke Sinhalese? How long do you think you will live after that? You know no matter what you write about Sinhala buddhists you will not be harmed. I challenge you or anyone to do this.

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      “If you believe that Sinhala people are not tolerent and anti other religions you are an idiot.”
      YOU JUST PROVED IT!

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    If everyone follow their own screptures properly there will be NO any

    misunderstanding or problums.

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    Now that the war is over this seems to be the most suitable time for Sri-Lankans to have no religious tolerance.Buddhists,Christians,Muslims and Hindus should kill each other and settle the matter as to who is right once and for all.Then only Sri-Lanka will become the aschariya.

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    I can fully understand why the Buddhist bhikkus lost their cool re Dambulla incident when English press and the English speaking Sinhala people are so anti Sinhala and anti Buddhist. It is an open secret that both the Catholic and Protestant churches vehemently supported the pro LTTE elements like the National Peace Council. While these churches were openly hostile and treacherous against the UNITARY status of SL none of the English language press or media condemned these churches but every English language article I have seen is criticising the Buddhist monks for daring to protect the Sinhala Buddhist heritage. Buddhist bhikkus clearly have become a soft target for the English highly biased press. Muslims building unauthorised Mosques clearly targeting SB heritage land (Deegawaapiya temple lost 12,000 acres to the Muslim land grabbers) but NOT a single article appeared in the English language press regaring the planned systematic land grabbing SB holy lans. The GOSL and the JHU are turning a blind eye to all these transgressions by the powerful minorities of SL where they have Catholic & Protestant churches around the world, India, Western countries and the Muslim countries behind them where as the Sinhala Buddhists have no one including the JHU to speak on their behalf. They are the most marginalised and beleagured indigenous majority since Black majority of South Africa during the apartheid era. I totally blame the Rajapakse regime and all the so called Sinhala regimes since independence for not demarcating and protecting Sinhala Buddhist heritage land.

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      Mahinda
      You keep on talking about SB (Sinhala Buddhist) heritage. All I can say it is all BS (Bull S—).
      There were/are many Sinhala Christians who fought against the LTTE. Some of them died too.
      Buddhism did not come from Sri Lanka but from India. Buddha was from Nepal.
      Stop crying about Buddhism being ill-treated around the world. There are many Buddhist temples in Australia, Britain, Canada, Germany, Israel, New Zealand, USA etc. Nobody is bothering them because they practice tolerant religions.
      But in Sri Lanka (the supposed dharmadheepa) religion intolerance is extremely high. Not because of Buddhism but because of “radical racist buddhist followers” (like JHU).

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        By the way, there is no such thing as a “Buddhist heritage land.” It is a figment of imagination of some people.

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    Rohanana!
    You talk about Muslims building Mosques in the South. You go to the North and East and see how many new Buddha statues and Buddhist Temples have been erected all over where not a single Thēravāda Buddhist or Sinhalese live to worship Lord Buddha! In Mannār, near the Pālāvy Tank of the ‘Saivaite’ Thrukēthīswaram temple, a Buddha statue has been erected! No Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhist live there.
    The Government and the Sinhala – ‘Thēravāda’ Buddhist Extremists erect the statues of Lord Buddha and build Buddhist temples at selected places with the plan to settle Sinhalese there. In the place near Murukandy along the A-9 Road, over 5000 acres have been cleared and houses have been built to settle what they call as families of the army personnel.
    In the places where Buddhist archaeological finds were discovered, Mēthānaņtha Thēra and other Sinhala – Thēravāda Buddhist extremist claim those places as “Sinhala” Buddhist heritage!
    Mēthānaņtha Thēra and the Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhist extremists do not want to accept the truths that Mahāyāna Buddhism also existed in Laňkā and the Tamils of Laňkā and Tamil Nādu had been Mahāyāna Buddhists from ancient time.
    Our historians, archaeologists, numismatists and the ‘learned’ failed to differentiate Thēravāda Buddhism from Mahāyāna Buddhism. They failed to understand and accept the fact that Thēravāda Buddhism rejects Purānas, symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism, iconography, statues, sculptures, paintings, music, dance, drama etc. If you go through the articles and books written by the historians and archaeologists, numismatists, you could confirm the face they did not study and analyze symbolization and symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism. Mahāyāna Buddhism only accepts Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism!!
    Thus, they could not differentiate the archaeological finds that belong to Mahāyāna Buddhism! Thus,they came to wrong and imaginary conclusions and associated all the Buddhist archaeological finds with Thēravāda Buddhism and the Sinhalese.
    With these imaginary and false conclusions they build new Buddhist temples and claim the places as the “Sinhala Buddhist Heritages.” A classic example for such a claim is the book titled “The Sinhala Buddhist Heritages of the North and the East of Shri Lanka” (2005) written by Mēthānaņtha Thēra ! But if you go through his book you could confirm with ample evidence that Mēthānaņtha Thēra does no know anything about symbolization or Symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism and have come to imaginary and false conclusions on the archaeological finds of North and East.
    In the place called ‘Kantharōdai’ (called as ‘Kathurugoda’ by the Sinhalese historians and Mēthānaņtha Thēra, you find a cluster of small Stupas. Similar cluster of Stupas was discovered in Maldives also! These do not symbolize Thēravāda Buddhist temples!These belong to Mahāyāna Buddhism. During excavations statues of ‘Saiva’ Gods and Vishnu statues were also discovered.
    The problem with the Tamil, Sinhalese and Western archaeologists and historians is that they do not understand that Lord Siva, Lord Muruga, Lord Ganapathy, Lord Vishnu are the imaginary creations of the Tamil Mahāyāna Buddhists based on Lord Buddha and his Preaching. They do not understand that “Saivaism” and Vaishnavam” are actually the perfected Mahāyāna Buddhist Philosophy!
    This is the reason why we find shrines of these Gods in the Mahāyāna Buddhist Temples of the South as well and separate temples for these Gods.
    This is the reason we sculptures of Lord Ganesh in the Vahalkade of tyhe Kanthaka Ceithiya of Mihintale. This is the reason for having processions of the temples of these Gods and Patthini with the sacred Tooth Relic of Kandy!
    The Tamil epic ‘Cillappathikāram’ is one of the Mahāyāna Buddhist literature. This particular epic emphasizes the ‘Married Life’ while the other, the Manimēkalai’ emphasizes the ‘renounced life.’
    As Lord Buddha had been symbolized with the animals lion, horse, elephant and bull and with a pair of foot, in coins, seals, statues, sculptures, paintings etc. we find these symbols in combination with other symbols that symbolize what Buddhism has emphasized.
    In Mihintale Kanthaka Ceithiya, we find the statues of lion, elephant, horse and bull looking into four directions. In ‘Sigiriya’ we find statue of Lion. Sigiriya is one of the classic architecture of the Mahāyāna Buddhists symbolizing Lord Buddha reappearing on the Earth from the Thushita Lōka and re-establishing Dhamma in Lanka in the year 1616 Buddhist Year. It is mentioned in the Mahāyāna Buddhist Tamil epic ‘Manimēkalai.’ The Year 1616 Buddhist Year corresponds to (1616 – 543) 1073 Common Era. In this year only, after expelling Çōlas in 1070 and re-organizing Sangha, building a temple for the sacred Tooth Relic in Polonnaruwa and repairing the the damaged Buddhist Temples, Vijayabāhu the first crowned himself as the Buddhist King of Lankā!! It could be confirmed with the Tamil inscription of Polonnaruwa as well.
    In the Kandyan flag and the flag supposed to be carried by Duttagāmani, we find lion holding a sword. Tamil word for a sword is “வாள்” (VāL). The meanings of the Tamil word “வாள்” (VāL) are: sword and light. Thus, the lion with sword symbolizes enlightened lion, Lord Buddha and not the Sinhalese race as said by the historians, Buddhist religious leaders and the Governments of Sri Lanka!
    The Sinhalese Thēravāda Buddhists without studying Sinhala, Tamil, Pāli and Sanskrit literature and symbolization of Lord Buddha and Buddhism try to give false and imaginary explanation for the archaeological sites like Mihintale, Sigiriya, Dalada Māligāva, Kataragama, Dambulla cave temple, Kantharōdai. Thirukkethīswaram, Munīswaram, Thirukkōneswaram (Trincomalee hill Temple) etc. etc. The Thēravāda Buddhist archaeologists and historians do not understand Mahāyāna Buddhist architecture also. In the Mahāyāna Buddhist architecture, Buddhist buildings and temples are designed with structural parts that symbolizes what Buddhist preaching emphasizes.
    Mostly, the Mahāyāna Buddhist architectures symbolizes the combination of the Middle Path, the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eight fold Path, Dhamma Chakkra, the Three steps: Sīla, Samādhi, Paññā.
    The basement could be of square or rectangle symbolizing the Four Noble Truths. The main structure could be octagonal symbolizing the Noble Eight fold Path or circular symbolizing the Dhamma Chakkra. The roof structure could be designed to symbolize the three steps Sīla, Samādhi, Paññā.
    The Dalada Māligāva main structure symbolizes the Noble Eight fold Path at the bottom (Octagonal structure)and the top roof structure with stepped structure symbolizing the three steps. In Buddhism, the Noble Eight Fold Path that determines the Middle Path, the Dhamma, emphasized by the Four Noble Truths should be practiced in Three steps!!
    If the main structure is circular, it has to be of three steps and at the top a pinnacle should be placed so that with the circular structure it symbolizes the Middle Path!
    The Thēravāda Buddhism rejects completely the symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism, it should be understood that almost all the ancient Buddhist architectures in Lanka belong to Mahāyāna Buddhism and not Thēravāda Buddhism! Also it is idiotic to speak about Sinhala architecture with Buddhist Buildings and Temples. It is Mahāyāna Buddhist architecture that could be spoken about!!
    The Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhists could not explain with evidence why shrines of Vibīshana are found in the Buddhist temples because they did not understand what the mahā Kāvya ‘Rāmāyana’ is. It is based on the re-establishment of Buddhism in Lanka after expelling the Çōlas. Lord Buddha from the Himālaya region is made Lord Rāma from Ayōtiya; Dhamma is made Sīta, Çōla domination is made the Rāvana,; Vijayabāhu the first made Vibīshna and the Tamil Buddhist Monks made the monkeys of South India.
    Thus, Keleniya Temple where we find Vibīsha shrine does not belong to Thēravāda Buddhism, but to Mahāyāna Buddhism!!
    Likewise, there are hundreds of Brahmi, Tamil, Sinhala inscriptions of the Tamil Mahāyāna Buddhists in the South.
    Our Historians, archaeologists and numismatists have to study scientifically the subjects literary analysis, symbolization, symbolization of Buddha and Buddhism before they talk about Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhist heritages of Lanka.
    However, with the release of Gen, Fonseka, Sinhala Thēravāda Buddhist nationalism is taking a new violent course through Gotabhaya, Mēthānaņtha Thēra, JVP etc.to gain support from the Sinhalese people.

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    The real test of a truly multi-racial/cultural/religious country or society claiming to be democratic – dominated by an overwhelming majority – is the degree of real peace and security the minority within it enjoy. In the contemporary world, largely due to the advent of various forms of religious fundamentalism or recent origin, the hitherto tranquility is often under challenge.

    It is in strong plural societies like in Britain, France, the USA, Canada, Switzerland, Australia one sees this reality. Closer home,
    arguably, in Singapore; while India is not far behind.

    Senguttuvan

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