18 August, 2019

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Role Of Religion And Religious Men In The Process Of Reconciliation

By Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana thero

Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana thero

There is perhaps total consensus that religion is one of the major factors that exerts influences on the people: nurturing, moulding, and contributing to the development of their character. But religion by itself is not able to exert this influence. This happens depending on how it is communicated to the people. This religious communication is done by the religious men. Therefore, in discussing the issue of reconciliation, which involves both inter-religion and inter-religious harmony, the role of religious men has to be examined very carefully.

There are many religions in the world, and among them there are a number of world religions. I am not focusing my attention on all religions and all religious men, but on Buddhism and the Buddhist monks. This is mainly because I am a member of the community of Buddhist monks.

Buddhism is one of the world religions. It has influenced peoples of different nations and cultures throughout a very long period of over two and a half millenniums. From ancient times Buddhism has served as a reconciliatory force bringing together different factions divided on various grounds and issues: political, ethnic, social, economic, and so on. Sri Lanka itself bears evidence to this. It is with the introduction of Buddhism that the country became united and commenced its forward march to progress in all spheres of life. The world history shows similar histories in countries like Myanmar, Korea and Japan. This shows that Buddhism is a teaching that unites people. It is very necessary to understand this factor when communicating Buddhism.

There are certain factors that contribute to make Buddhism a unifying force. Basically one has to understand that Buddhism is for the ending conflict and for establishing peace. In Buddhist technical terminology these two objectives are explained as dukkha and its nirodha, which means cessation. Dukkha, usually translated into English as suffering, is in fact a term impregnated with different nuances of meaning. The term ‘Dukkha’ covers all human problems: pain, discontentment, dissatisfaction, dejection, conflict and so on. Hence, Buddhism can by simply explained as a teaching dealing with ‘human problems’. Though nonhumans, including animals, are not left out, the main focus is on the human being and his problems. This has to be born in mind when communicating the Buddhist teachings.

While Buddha claims that his teachings present an assured way of completely terminating and bringing about the cessation of all human problems, he explains how difficult it is to attain this state. This is the highest ideal; yet there are states below this ideal level which are harmonious, peaceful, and satisfying. While Buddha says that he presents an assured way to peace, he does not say that what he says is the only truth. He knows very well that if he said so, that will lead to conflicts and disputes. Such a claim would not be conducive to the peace, harmony, and well-being of the masses for which he urged his clergy of disciples to disseminate his teachings. Such a claim would be very divisive; leading to religious fundamentalism and even leading to destructive wars as evidenced by history.

The Buddha spoke about the separate identity of Buddhism. Yet he never attempted to impose Buddhist identity on other religions. Instead, he strove firmly to keep the masses in the track of religion without using discriminatory methods to veer them away from non-religion, especially pure materialism which denies all morals and ethics. In one of the very well-known discourses in the Majjhima-nikaya, namely, the Alagaddupama Sutta, he makes the following insightful observations:

“Some learn the teaching only for the sake of criticizing others and for winning debates, and they do not experience the good for the sake of which they learned the teaching. Those teachings, being wrongly grasped by them, conduce to their harm and suffering for a long time”.

To explain this wrong grasping of the religious teachings and consequent harm that befalls, he cites the simile of one who wrongly grasps a snake by the tail. When grasped in the wrong manner, the person who grasps it is bitten by the snake which causes his death. This is quite an effective simile to all religious men who wrongly grasp religious teachings, perhaps being inspired and urged by misconceived ideas.

Such grasping nullifies the purpose for which religions are preached. Religions are for unity, harmony peace, understanding, trust, and so on. It is mostly through wrong communication by over-enthusiastic, perhaps, well-meaning communicators of religious teachings that religions turn into destructive forces. The Buddha said in the already quoted discourses, that religion should be considered as a ‘raft’ that helps to tide over the numerous problems of life, or dukkha, as Buddhism puts it. One is admonished not to carry the religion on his head, or to load it on his shoulder, but to use it as a device to solve problems.

It is just blind and dogmatic clinging to religion that makes one veer towards religious fundamentalism, decrying all other religions, and communicating religious teachings in the wrong way, inciting the ‘faithful masses’ to all kinds of destructive and disruptive activities. This is happening all over the world.

Religious communicators have to perform their role with caution and insight, without being tempted and misled by personal considerations. Religion should not be made a political instrument nor should religious men become politicians or tools of politicians. It is true that it is very difficult to be above politics in the present political contexts. All have political views, mental inclination towards a particular political system, political views etc. But such views and inclinations should not be mixed up with religious teachings, especially with Buddhist teachings. The Buddha was never a politician, though he presented a political theory for the good of everyone to assure all the enjoyment of all main human rights and privileges.

Emperor Asoka of India adopted such a tolerant religious policy that was conducive to forge unity among all peoples of different faiths. He explicitly stated in his Edicts that one who disparages other religions is disparaging his own religion. Politicians should not entice religious men to serve their political needs. Such an attitude is very harmful in the long run. This makes the Buddhist monk’s role as communicator of the Buddha teaching a very tricky and a difficult task.

Religious men should realize that their task is to bring about unity among those who are divided. This role of the clergy, communicators of the teaching of the Buddha, has been very vibrantly described in a discourse called the Samannaphala Sutta of the Digha Nikaya. This description explains the proper way such bhikhus should use their speech and says that “he should be one to be relied on, dependable, not a deceiver of the world, …a reconciler of those who are disunited and one who encourages those who are united, one who is delighting the unity and concord, and speaking up for peace”. Such should be the role of a good religious teacher.

This very clearly shows how Buddhism serves reconciliation and how a monk should work for the reconciliation of the divided if they really wish to be the sons of the Buddha. When the Buddha sent out the first sixty missionaries to communicate his new founded teaching, he requested them to preach the teachings for the good, well-being, and happiness of all.

This, ‘happiness for the many’ does not mean the happiness of the majority. Those who wish to follow fundamentalism and also wish to work under particular political directions could interpret this admonition in this narrow sense. But, the Buddha has made it very clear that all our actions have to be for the good of oneself and for the good of others. This morality goes far beyond the ‘narrow’ political interpretation of democracy. Buddhism is a democratic teaching, but this democracy does not mean the imposition of the majority view on the minority.

There is no question that the Teaching of the Buddha, his Dhamma, should be for the good and benefit of all. Buddha has shown that this could be done by getting hold of the dhamma in the proper manner, not as a political slogan, not as a propagandist cry, but as a message of peace and harmony. The Buddha has intervened not as a political negotiator but as a spiritual teacher to avert war between clans. It is well known that when the two clans, the Sakyans and the Koliyans, arrayed themselves, fully armed, to wage war against each other over the issue of sharing water of the Rohini river, the Buddha intervened and explained the futility and dangers that follow war. His attempt was to drive sense into warring parties and reconcile, and advice them not to act in a partisan manner that would further ignite the issue.

The Dhamma communicators have a duty to protect the Dhamma. But the protection of Buddhism should not be extended to the imposition of Buddhist identity and sentiments on other religions and religious men. Desecrating Buddhism and showing violent disrepute to Buddhism has to be stopped, and the members of the Sangha have a duty to do so. But this has to be done not by using force, violent behavior, and engaging in disruptive activities, but in a Buddhist way; in a peaceful way. If Buddhist clergy takes the law into their hands, totally disregard natural justice, rule of law and such other basic principles, the whole society will gradually break down, plunging the whole country into darkness and into a miserable state. To protect Buddhism is to live according to Dhamma. Living according to Dhamma itself is an inbuilt kind of protection for those who follow the Dhamma.

Religion is not the only factor of conflict and disunity. There are many other factors. So, in a multi- religious, multi-ethnic society beset with such conflicting issues, all are stakeholders in this process of reconciliation.

It is not only the majority population that bears the responsibility of working for unity and harmony. All minorities are duty bound to cooperate and integrate themselves with the majority. And, of course, the majority merely on the ground of the majority, should not try to dominate or impose their will on the majority or deprive the minorities of their due. Extremism and fundamentalism should be shunned by all, including the minorities. The majority should behave in a way that will not make minorities feel that they are being oppressed and deprived of their legitimate dues. Similarly, the minorities should not make undue demands and use their minority positions as a ruse to gain extra mileage.

It is in this state of conflicts that religion and religious men of moderate thinking and views can effectively play their roles. While properly communicating the essence of the respective teachings to devotes, they should specially impress upon the politicians regarding the role they also should play as ‘reconcilers’. If politicians fail to play their role properly, but use religion and religious men to achieve their own ends, then the whole process of reconciliation is bound to fail. With this observation, I conclude.

Thank you very much for your patient hearing.

*Ven. Prof.  Bellanwila Wimalarathana thero, Chancellor, Sri Jayewardenepura University. Speech delivered by Ven. Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana thero at the National Conference ‘the Role of Religion in Reconciliation’ on July 23, 2013.  

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    This is a nice statement of ideal Buddhism as preached and practices by the Buddha.
    However, in the real world today religion has been politicized and distorted by politicians and by national majorities and MONKS to persecute minority religious groups and attack their places of worship.
    Today in Sri Lanka and Myanmar where Buddhist groups are in the majority they are persecuting minorities. Also in Pakistan, Bangladesh and various other countries where Muslims are the majority they have attacked religious minorities and their places of worship.
    Religion today therefore is a major source of VIOLENCE and conflict in multicultural societies because the monks and religious teachers use religious organizations and institutions to gain power and wealth through supporting CORRUPT POLITICIANS and taking bribes.
    There is no Buddhism in Sri Lanka today – it is merely political religion, rituals and shows used by politicians to whip up hatred against other communities to win votes..
    Buddhism today is DIVIDING and not UNITING Sri Lanka because its practice is a DISTORTION of what the Buddha Taught. This has been done by corrupt monks colluding with equally corrupt politicians and the Sangha which is filled with jealous and envious monks who are greedy for money needs to be reformed and modernized..

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      Don, you are indeed correct! Buddhism in Lanka needs to be reformed and cleansed of the Rajapassa curse, politicization and militarization..
      As Thisaranee says: Rajapaksas have embraced Sinhala-Buddhist supremacism as the façade-cum-vehicle for their project of familial-rule and dynastic-succession.
      The saffron-fanatics have been let loosed on the corridors-of-power and encouraged and assisted to raise the flag of militant Sinhala-Buddhism. The military, transformed into a familial tool behind an ethno-religious veneer, has been inducted it into this new power-bloc. The building of temples by the armed forces in the North is symbolic and symbiotic of this Sinhala-Buddhist military which is the ultimate defender of the Rajapaksa project.

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      Don Stanley…your response no doubt prompts one to retort ‘casting pearls before swine’

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    It is best to teach one who tries to follow Buddhism to start practicing it on the foundation of the four brahma viharas-Metta, Karuna, Muditha, Upekka. The one who spreads these to his or herself first and then to all other living beings, will develop just these, not arrogance towards other religions. The one who meditates and penetrates Sakkayaditti (personality view), will never entangle religion and ethnicity ( see my article on “a brief note on religion, ethnicity, and peace” on groundviews). Unfortunately, in many Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka, followers are encouraged to give importance to peripheral things like “bodhi puja”, expecting things from external forces rather than developing moral values from within.

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    Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana,

    Sir,

    I.m no expert in religions, but you are ,as I believe.

    When do religious leaders ever say it’s Hinduism that brought religion to this human world & created all other religions, Buddhism is 90% of Hinduism & Prince Sjddhatha was a Hindu before he became Lord Buddha * Jesus crist was a Scholar of Buddhism & 90% what he said in original gospels were non but Buddhism & Islam was an off spring of Christianity ( Muslims accept Christ was a true prophet though they fight against Christianity for over 1500 years).
    In my humble opinion that religious leaders of all faiths tell the truth, nothing but the truth & absolute truth that all the major religions are from one source, i:e: Hinduism, but they created different exclusive clubs to gain more & more followers to their club & & favors from those followers & said some thing like ” if you drink Whisky from our club you will go / get to Heaven /Moksha/Nirvana”

    This world would be the Heaven on Earth if religious leaders of all the religions say the truth.

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      Correction, “in my humble opinion that religious leaders of all faiths “SHOULD” tell the truth, nothing but the truth & absolute truth”

      word “should” was missed in typographical error, my apology

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      John:

      You are not only an expert in Religions. Look like you don’t know what you are talking. There is no such thing as Hinduism except that name is given by the westerners, Hinduism just like india is a collection of so many brahminical religions. Eventually, Indian – buddhism became Hinduism because that is how others social conditions changed it.

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        JimSoft,

        Your comments on Hinduism shows that you are an expert of that.. Ha ha :-)
        You are correct in one, lot of Indian Hindus believe Hinduism is only a Way Of Life. It is not taught at schools or priests/monks, manly by parents and the society.. Pan Sil and even Arya Ashtangika Margaya are in RigWades. It talks about Moksha/Nirwana and but not in detailed how to reach there, which is Buddha focused on. Read Bhagavad Gita analysis by great guys like Ghandi or Eknath…
        In short, Hinduism is for 99% of average people and Buddhism is for 1% of elite people who can understand complex theories of human mind and who can develop their mind into highest state of total awareness.
        Anura

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    I am a Muslim, raised in Sri Lanka fortunately among all communities. My parents never encouraged we seek Muslim friends exclusively, instead we were encouraged to seek and mingle with kids of good manners, ones that were tethered to the path if education and of good parentage. I am by no means a “devout” adherent to my faith as I do not have such a need or urge and am happy this way. I respect Buddhism and love good Buddhists. I habe respectfully helped very Buddhist monks that are some of the nicest people I know. This speech by Ven. Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana thero is not only enlightening and succinct but also delivered/drafted in such a manner that it does not single out any element of our society nor does it throw egg at another…there is much to realize in this. This also proves Buddhism is no joke to laugh at. Such a lovely message by the Buddha, passed on in a careful amd harmonious manner without compulsion – I draw parallels with this and the message of Prophet Muhammad. In fact, Buddhists and Muslims (not referring yo unruly, or extremist elements within any if these labels) are two follower groups that can coexist in an exemplary manner! I wish our beloved and respected Ven. Bellsnwila Wimalarathana thero good health, long life and many opportunities to help us think and realize peace within us! Thank you CT for publishing such a phenomenal speech, thank you!

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      Nice comment. You are a reconciler who can live side by side with others of different beliefs. I salute you as a true patriot.

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        Rasheed talks about live and let live; which is very good. If we are to follow that principal both Muslims and Buddhists must respect each others religion.

        Lets talk the truth. Tripitaka clearly says Buddha had argued against the existence of the Brahma (the so-called creator God. So, no Buddhist believe in Allah. But Buddhists can respect other those who believe in Allah because no where in Buddhist scriptures did Buddha looked down on non-Buddhists or condemned them or degraded them as vile animals.

        Did Muhammad do the same? No. The Koran instructions to Muslims are completely opposite to that of Buddha. For instant, Koran 8:55 says “Surely the vilest of animals in Allah’s sight are those who disbelieve (in Allah)….” Koran 7:176 compares unbelievers to “panting dogs” with regard to their idiocy and worthlessness. And Koran 7:179 says unbelievers are like “cattle” or worse. Not just that Koran 4:141 says Allah will never grant unbelievers to triumph over believers. Buddha had never said such things. So how on earth Rasheed says he can draw parallels with Buddha’s message and that of Prophet Muhammad.

        Koran 3:28 tells Muslims to not to take those outside the faith as friends, unless it is to “guard themselves.” So, if Rasheed is a true Muslim, he cannot have friends outside his faith. Either Rasheed is deliberately lien or he is a bad Muslim.

        Rasheed is playing the trick Muhammad had introduced to deceive non-Muslims. Koran 16:106 permit Muslims to lie to non-believers under certain circumstances. That is, Muslims are allowed to lie to gain trust of non-believers or draw out their vulnerability and defeat them. It is called taqiyya and kitman in Arabic.

        Buddhists must be extremely careful of these tricksters.

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    The leadership of the majority religion being present and actively engaging in the current national discourse in the search of unity and
    reconciliation is absolutely vital. It is far more important for the
    Venerable Mahanayake priests at Asgiriya to actively and transparently
    participate in the process at a time such as this when the country traverses a delicate period in its recent history.

    The Sangha has a fine history of coming to the defence of the King and the country in trying times in its long history. We are again in such a situation currently except presently the country is – that was enlarged by invading Colonial powers, inter alia, for their own “administrative convenience” – formed of other significant minorities as well. The advise of the Sangha at this juncture will be very useful.

    One recalls with gratitude a welcome attempt by the Sangha to engage in such an exercise in recent years when they called for a Great Gathering of the Maha Sangha in Kandy. But this, unfortunately, did not materialise then. The country stands to benefit if the respected Sangha gets engaged in the National Discourse that can only expedite the early arrival of a solution to the National Question/s.

    Senguttuvan

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      Senguttuvan

      Here is the catch:

      It is not only the majority population that bears the responsibility of working for unity and harmony. All minorities are duty bound to cooperate and integrate themselves with the majority.

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        Dear NV,

        No catch there. That is the norm and logic. I’ll go along.
        But the prescription has to be reasonable and not based on
        majoritarianist machinations such as the Referendum trap.

        Senguttuvan

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          Senguttuvan

          The catch is in the second sentence:

          “All minorities are duty bound to cooperate and integrate themselves with the majority.”

          What does he mean by “duty bound” and “integrate”?

          Why cannot all minorities remain as they are and yet contribute to the common good?

          Integration leads to assimilation which I consider too boring. Linguistic and cultural diversity should be encouraged not subordinated to dominant race and their culture.

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    a great article by a good human being practising Buddhism wish others are like that

    lets see what Leela says he will that Bellanwila Thero is acting under Sambandan of TNA in accordance with the INGO’s dictates to harm the majority inhabitants hahaahahahah

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    Dear Prof. Bellanwila Wimalarathana,

    I appreciate your expression of thoughts on the role of religion and religious men in the process of reconciliation in relation to the island currently known as Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon,…..). In principle I agree that religions and religious people can contribute constructively for reconciliation and bring peace, harmony and unity.
    My questions are:

    1.Do you agree that the Buddhism or Buddhist Monks along with politicians played a key role for the problems of the island including disunity among people since independence?
    2. Why the Buddhism and Buddhist Priests failed to act according to Buddhist teachings in bringing unity, peace and harmony over the decades?
    3. We are currently face violence against Muslims, Hindus and Christians organized by Buddhist clergies. Is it the right way forward for bring unity? How you can deal with such fundamentalism?
    4. Recently the highest ranking Buddhist priests of Asgiriya and Malwatte chapter called for abolition of Provincial Council in support of the group that opposes devolution of power. Do you agree with this kind of involvement of Buddhist leaders?

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      Ajit,

      Answers to your 4 Questions.

      1. Buddhist Monk Hegemony.

      2. Alignment of Buddhist Monk Hegemony with Political Hegemony.

      3. Marrying the Sinhala with Buddhism.

      4. Discarding the principles of Buddhism, fir Mara ism, in order to maintain Monk Hegemony. The Sinhala people and Politicians are used for that.

      It has nothing to do with Nirvana, Nibbana, Rebirth, Sansara and other myths.

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      Dear Ajith and Belanwila Sadu,
      To me, this Bellanwila Sadu and other Sadu’s speeches are a waste, does not pass any meaningful message to ordinary SL people. Why he talks about Dukka, these are complex concepts. If you ask 100 SL Buddhists what is Dukka is, they would give you very different answers.

      These Sadu’s should emphasize on Love, Kindness, Tolerance, Empathy, and Forgiveness, but not complex Buddhist theories.
      Since lot of SL Buddhists believe in Sanasara and Reincarnation, these Sadu’s can explain them using simple facts like those Tamils (hardcore or women or children) could be their Sinhalese Grand Mothers in their previous life. Can they hurt their reincarnated grand mother? These Sinhalese live now could be born again as Tamils or Muslims in their next life, (possibilities are there according to general SL beliefs) this type of simple messages from influential guys like these Sadu’s could open ordinary Sinhalese eyes and give them good feeling of Empathy and start respecting their small (minority) brothers and sisters with the simple understanding of that we ALL ARE the SAME. No Separation….. AHAMKARAM or egoistic does not bring happiness… Reduce attachments to your country, your religion.. because there is no YOU so can’t be your’s…
      This leads to Unity based on NO separation …..(essence of all religions)
      Anura

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    I am a Tamil who studied Sinhala under a Buddhist Monk. My parents made sure that we seven children gathered enough knowledge of all the major religions in the world. My Father has taken me and my sisters to public meetings held by Buddhist Monks, Hindu Priests, Muslim Priests, Christian Preachers and others. In fact I was sent to learn Kandyan dancing under Gurunnanse Nithawala Gunaya until my 13th birthday. My Father always told us that we are Sri Lankans and I am a Tamil only because I was born to Tamil Parents but my blood is same as that of the Sinhalese and Muslims. Even being a Tamil, twice a year we gave Dane to Buddhist Monks, I have washed the feet of these Monks when they came home for the Dane. We all should remember we are Sri Lankans and we are a multi linguistic and multi ethnic society, but we all are same.

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      This country needs multiple thousands of Radhas – both in the Sinhala and Tamil communities if we are to realise peace and unity soon.
      You have every reason to be proud of your secular parents, dear Radha.

      Senguttuvan

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        Thank you Senguttuvan. In fact my brother did Buddhism for his subject- Religion in his OL. In fact during the month of Ramadan my mother promoted me to fast as well as my best friend at that time was a Muslim.

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          Radha,

          You live clearly in a Buddhist majority environment. That is fine.
          While I am glad you have the good sense to learn from other religious practises, I expect you will not abandon the primordial Sanaatha Dharma tradition you come from. Attempts are now being made to weaken us with reminders of ancient Casteism. But progressive inclinations such as the one you display is response that the accident of birth by caste is giving into education and a more enlightened world. India too is fastly changing by the same drivers. The change will not come suddenly.

          Senguttuvan

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      Radha I respect what you say , and admire you for your outlook and your awareness of who you are. Wish more Sinhala Buddhists thought like you.

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    Dear Professor Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thero,

    “This religious communication is done by the religious men. Therefore, in discussing the issue of reconciliation, which involves both inter-religion and inter-religious harmony, the role of religious men has to be examined very carefully.”

    We have great respect for learned Professors who also happen to be religious leaders. I had great respect for Mahaushada Panditya in Ummagga Jatakaya. We need such people, to straighten the people away from the BBS and Sinhala Ravaya Monk Angulimalas.

    Yes, there is a dire need for inter-communication. The religious leaders need to learn, as civilized humans, to RESPECT EACH OTHER’S Theologies and Beliefs and Myths, however crazy and invalid when subjected to the real test, scientific or otherwise.

    In the 16th Century Europe, yes there was inter-communication with the religious leaders. After the communication, the Inquisition tortured and burned people. Fortunately, Martin Luther escaped, thanks to an understanding Prince. See what the Church tried to do, to suppress the truths revealed by Copernicus and Galileo?

    The religious men have the most go gain, by maintaining their hegemony, and controlling the rulers and people. The people are innocent and are programmed, just like rhe computer hardware that is controlled by the operating system software (Religion).

    Given below are the beliefs of Human over the millenia, ever since humans spread out from East Africa, 70,000 years ago.

    Karl Marx Claimed that Religion is the opium of the masses.

    What did the Enlightened Buddha Teach? What are they practicing in Sri Lanka?

    Read and Watch, the Story of God and Alternate views.

    Richard Dawkins: The Arrogance of Religious Persons

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SC58vglNOOo

    Atheism is NOT a religion – Sam Harris

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dKNNCfyXaps

    (BBC) The Story of God – Part 1: Life the Universe and Everything

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8G96kWVCvEM

    (BBC) The Story of God – Part 2: No God but God

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fld6sLBJ_rM

    The Story of God Part 3

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMvibwRVYNA

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    @ Radha – I salute your parents , what a perfect way to bring up children esp among a multi cultural society.

    Actually as far as Colombo is concerned the children of all faiths get along well, as long as they do not get programmed ….

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      Ben

      Yes.

      The earlier generation of Children, before 1956, learned to get along well, they were not fully programmed by the Wahhabis and BBS, but there were only a few hegemonic monks.

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        Amarasiri, the Buddhist Monk who taught me Rev. Kalyana Sekera was also studying Tamil.

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        YOU ALWAYS MENTION WAHABIS.

        COULD YOU DEFINE A WAHABI?

        THERE IS NOTHING CALLED WAHABISM.

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      Thank you Ben Cassim. Please read my reply above to Senguttuvan.

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    I respect load Buddha and his teachings.Load Buddha said that the people,especially the Buddhist monks should follow a policy of detachment from all wealth,comforts and desires. But the reality is totally different when looking at the most of the Buddhist monks in Sri lanka. Most of the chiefs of the different sectors of the Sangha are always go with rulers for their benefits.They get everything from the rulers in return.They go to temple trees to bless the king.They approve everything done by the king and also support morally and physically. The religious leaders are also divided as supporters of political parties. They never maintain an independent status but become followers of the party leaders. In most of the times they support ruling party and bless them to freely commit crimes against people including minorities.

    They have a different kind of interpretation to the buddhism when they support war. They say that this was permitted. They bless soldiers who go for war and effectively participate in victory celebrations.Most of the other religious leaders also follow the same policy.They give interpretations to the religious teachings according to their convenience.

    Religious leaders come together for common prayers but strongly divided when it comes to politics and ethnicity etc.

    It is evidenced that the majority Sinhala Buddhist hegemony was really oppressing and suppressing all other communities constitutionally and through other forms in the country.

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    The message of the learned Ven Bellanwilla Thero is is most welcome. Given the present circumstances the people are badly in need of the advise and guidance of the clergy.

    Due to the influence of a few misguided people a problem has arisen amongst the people of different faiths. Religion has become a tool in the hands of thugs and politicians. It is clear that the actions of these groups have little to do with the true teachings of religion.

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    There is no doubt that the Lord Buddha is the greatest human being.He said it was wrong to discriminate others on grounds of caste or race.But our Buddhist priests are very very reluctant to ordain Tamils.Some Nikayas (sects),including Siyam Nikaya, the Nikaya of Rev. Bellanvila Wimalarathana Thero never ordain children of so called lower castes.it is a known fact that they ordain only the children of Govigama caste.It is nothing else but going against the noble preaching of the Lord Buddha.I personally know there are Buddhists among the Tamils.But the Buddhist monks are never in touch with them.What’s more.Our monks have turned Buddhism into the property of the Sinhalese. I do not hesitate to say these so called Buddhist monks are the enemies ( Dewadattas) of true Buddhism.I appreciate Rev Bellanwila Wimalarathane Thero for giving an important message on peaceful co-existance

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      Punchisingho,

      Why there are no Tamil Buddhists? Did the Enlightened Buddha Ban Tamil Buddhists? Karave Buddhists?

      There is considerable support for the Monk Hegempny in Sri Lanka.

      Read

      http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2011/9/70564_space.html

      The plight of the Sinhala `DALITS`- Karava, Durava, Salagama, Berava and Rodi. Caste discrimination in Sinhala society.
      Friday, 9 September 2011 – 10:42 AM SL Time

      Excerpts:

      “This caste alignment did not emerge out of the blue. There had been a long history of Kara-Govi rivalry in diverse quarters and at various social levels from the 1860s if not earlier. Let me detail some facets without claiming that this brief review is comprehensive. “

      “Caste divisions are not unknown in Sinhala Buddhist history. The Govigama-Karave competition intermittently resurfaces in our history. The Govigama are the farmer caste akin to the Tamil Vellalar. The Govigama are perhaps 50% of the Sinhala population while the Karave are likely 10%. The Govigama unfairly dismiss the Karave as a fishing caste. “

      “The 13th century Sinhala literary work, the Pujavaliya went on to assert that a Buddha would never be born in the Govigama caste The Govigama reaction was swift. Kandyan Buddhist civil law as later documented in the Niti Nighanduwa, placed the Govigama at the top of an elaborately ordered caste hierarchy. “

      “The Kandyan Buddhist clergy – the Siam Nikaya – DENIED ENTRY into the Buddhist monkhood to the non-Govigama. They EXCLUDED THE KARAVE. This led wealthy Karave merchants in the maritime districts to finance the journey of Ambagahapitiya Gnanawimala Thera to Amarapura in Burma for the ordination into the Buddhist monkhood in 1800 AD. While the newly founded Amarapura nikaya had 21 sub-sects defined on caste lines (i.e. Karave, Salagama and Durave), it nonetheless offered a rare opportunity for the Karave to join the Buddhist religious order. “

      “Other Karave ABANDONED BUDDHISM ALTOGETHER AND CONVERTED TO ROMAN CATHOLICISM to seek caste emancipation. 50% of the Karave caste might well be Christian today. At present, Karave Christian youth have the best education outcomes in Sinhala society. “

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        Dear Amarasiri,

        Bhikku Mahanama, who is widely believed to be the author of the
        Mahavamsa, was Tamil. During that time when the great Tamil epics
        Manimegalai and Silappathigaram was gifted to the world by Tamil Buddhists. When I visited Polonnaruwa a few years ago I saw many ancient ruins bearing stones carved in Tamil – at a period of history when many in the area, with a high Tamil population, were Tamils. I am sure there may be some dedicated Tamil Buddhists even today. After all Buddha came of a Hindu background.

        Senguttuvan

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          Senguttuvan

          “Bhikku Mahanama, who is widely believed to be the author of the
          Mahavamsa, was Tamil.”

          If true as you suggest could you site any material to confirm this belief.

          According to 1871 Census there were 12,000 Tamil Buddhists who lived through out the island. Where are their descendants?

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            Native Vedda,

            “According to 1871 Census there were 12,000 Tamil Buddhists who lived through out the island. Where are their descendants?”

            Just speculating, so I cannot cite references, and take it for what it is worth.

            1. Tamil Hindus and Tamil Christians would not marry Tamil Buddhists. So they converted to Tamil Christians.After all many Tamil Hindus and Sinhala Buddhists converted to Christianity.

            2. The critical mass was too small to self sustain the community of Tamil Buddhists.

            3. The Tamil Buddhists got disgusted with the Sinhala Buddhist Ethano Racism and wanted nothing to do with Buddhism.

            4. Some were killed in the riots of 1958 and 1983.

            5. Add your speculations as well.

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              Amarasiri

              Thanks for your speculation. I need evidence.

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              Amarasiri:- As I see it, Tamil speakers whether they were Buddhist, Hindu or Muslim were willing to change with the times, and converted to Christianity when they saw the opportunities that came with it. They got English schools and a better education than the Sinhala Speaking Buddhists who would not change their religion for the perks that came with it. Tamil Speakers, a minority, were pragmatic. Sinhala Speaking Buddhists were not concerned, as they thought that they were safe, as a Majority. Some of them, of minority Castes, converted of course to Christianity for the advantage they got over the Majority Caste. This is the predicament that we now find ourselves in. Politicians are taking advantage of the majority Sinhala Speaking Buddhists, who find themselves left behind by those who converted, and got a better education and better employment in this modern global world of ours. The extremist BBS etc, are being conscripted, to dance to the tunes of their Patrons, the current Polticians who like to pretend they are Sinhala Speaking Buddhists!

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            Dear friend NV,

            You will have to go beyond Karthigesu Indrapala/n for your confirmation. Perhaps the more credible Profs. Sudharshan
            Seneviratne and Shiran Deraniyagala might oblige. But they
            too have a tendency to avoid hot potatoes – and in these times
            when the hordes are running amok with blessings “from above”

            Senguttuvan

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              Senguttuvan

              “Perhaps the more credible Profs. Sudharshan Seneviratne and Shiran Deraniyagala might oblige. But they too have a tendency to avoid hot potatoes – and in these times when the hordes are running amok with blessings “from above””

              All honest historians are caught up in “Prisoner’s dilemma” or shall we say “Historian’s Dileama”. There is no incentive for them being intellectually honest historian. Politicians creating their own vrsions of history. So are many commentators in these forums.

              Coming back to my original question,

              Where did to you first learn that Mahavamsa, was Tamil?

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          Ofcourse there are Tamil Buddhists. They have Sinhala names now.

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    Radha,
    Washing the feet of a guest entering a home was an ancient Indian custom from Vedic days.One had also to feed a visitor before one partook of food. Now we separate a Bat-guliya and keep it away as a symbol of that. If my father ever saw a man in the street who was in want, he called him and gave his plate of food and he went hungry.This is aremnant of our Vedic roots. As a Vedic man, though Sinhalese by nomenclature, I am very touched by your practice. it is from Vedic practices that Brahmins and Bhikkus came to be treated with these practices. But the invasion of the strict Hindu caste system disturbed these ancient practices and they came to be confined only to some like Brahmins and the Sangha and the like. Some even became untouchables whose very sight was considered polluting.Has anyone read the Buddhist Matanga Jataka? Matanga was a Chandala who was despised and ridiculed. He decided to die in front of the King’s mansion.People protested and wanted the King to give the daughter away to him and relieve them of the indignity of a Chandala dieing in the city.Matanga was happy.Took away the princess as his bride. But he wanted to show that the Princess was not shamed as a result. He asked her to go around the city and announce that her husband was not a Chandala and that he would emerge from the moon. So on a fullmoon day as people watched, he emerged from the moon! And the people shed the prejudices against the Couple. Whether man can emerge from the moon is questionable. In modern times, the Palestnians who fought for Ayotullah Khumeni of Iran to gain power during the recvolution had spread a similar story of the Ayotullah emerging from the moon.Even after his death one could see posters suggestive of the Ayotulla’s face the Cresent moon appearing in Iran. That is how the moon symbol was used to convey a message.
    Is this a “Yanne koheda ? malle pol” blog.If so be it so. The purpose is to appreciate Radha’s demeanour.

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    This is indeed a good reply to BBS and its cohorts. We know well that 95% of Buddhist people are peace loving people and they even do not harm any one. It is shame on these some extremists: extremism is in each and every religious groups it should be banned and shunned for ever. Sri Lankans should realise this in the interest of nation.

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    None-buddhists talking here do not want to understand that Innocent religions need to be left alone and people should live as well others to live. It is not easy to be perfect buddhists when politically motivated, aggressively expansing Abrahamic faiths are doing their best to convert Sri Lanka to do their faith.

    What ever it is, buddhists have never killed in the name of Religions or buddhists never instigated wars or Islamic – Conquests.

    Lord Buddha has talked how long buddhism would exist and Today buddhism is popular among many intellectuals and scholars. So, that is not a question. buddhism also knows when would it vanish from earth. the question is 2500 year long Sinhala-buddhist civilization.

    Buddhists are not enlightened people and they do wrong thing until they become enlightened. That is how the samsara works.

    So, it is the church and the Mosque that should understand first how to live with others.

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      Jimsofty, according to your theory a Buddhist monk can attack a mosque and we all have to consider the action as an action of a person who is not enlightened! I am sorry to say its time you get enlightened first.

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      Jim Softy,

      1. “Lord Buddha has talked how long buddhism would exist and Today buddhism is popular among many intellectuals and scholars.”

      Yes, theoretical Buddhism is very popular, just like theoretical Christianity and Theoretical Islam?

      What About Practical, as Practiced Buddhism, Christianity and Islam?

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNOfTGSADdY

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcs2PSze0I

      Here is Buddhism: Homework for you. You give the examples for Christianity and Islam.

      2. “So, that is not a question. buddhism also knows when would it vanish from earth. the question is 2500 year long Sinhala-buddhist civilization.”

      Buddhism was and is the Curse of Sinhala. The Sinhala were animist, Jain and Hindu, and peaceful without the Sinhala Buddhist Govigama Monk Hegemony and had a great civilization.

      King Ravana was Hindu. Bali Indonesia is 94% Hindu and praceful

      http://www.lankanewspapers.com/news/2011/9/70564_space.html

      The Kandyan Buddhist clergy – the Siam Nikaya – DENIED ENTRY into the Buddhist monkhood to the non-Govigama. They EXCLUDED THE KARAVE. This led wealthy Karave merchants in the maritime districts to finance the journey of Ambagahapitiya Gnanawimala Thera to Amarapura in Burma for the ordination into the Buddhist monkhood in 1800 AD. While the newly founded Amarapura nikaya had 21 sub-sects defined on caste lines (i.e. Karave, Salagama and Durave), it nonetheless offered a rare opportunity for the Karave to join the Buddhist religious order.

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    what does K.A. Sumanasekera think?

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    parakrama

    “what does K.A. Sumanasekera think?”

    Does it matter?

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      THE PROBLEM IS THAT HE CANNOT THINK, THERE IS NOTHING INSIDE HIS HEAD.
      THIS IS APPARENT FROM THE COMMENTS HE MAKES.

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    Radha’s example is more touching and more effective than Bhikku Wimalaratana’s article. Bhikkhu Wimalaratana is talking about ideals, which can be found in any religion. You can have ideals but that does not equate with practice. What we have in Sri Lanka is not Buddhism but Sinhala Buddhism. What is needed is to find a way to make people internalise the ethical values of Buddhism, which are the same as the universalist human values of the post enlightenment Europe. These values also signify the civility that we associate with modernity.
    Sri Lanka was in the process of slowly marching on that path of civility and modernity. The Sinhala Buddhist nationalism that peaked in 1956 laid the foundation for destroying that ideal, and that destruction has peaked in the Rajapaksa regime.
    Political monks of the 1940s in particular must accept a major share of blame for destroying that humane ideal, which is as Buddhist as it is modern. It is the Eksat Bhikshu Peramuna led by political monks of Vidyalankara and Sri Lanka Vidyalaya that are most to blame for bringing in religion to politics. Their activities led to making our secular state into a religious state starting with the Sirima Constitution of 1972.
    If Buddhist monks want to serve the country, they must first train themselves in civility and modernity to do so. In short they must begin by becoming true Buddhists themselves. There is no such training for monks, or for that matter anyone else at present.
    It is clear that the majority of the Buddhist monks are not interested in the ethical values of Buddhism. If Bhikkhu Wimalarata is, he can show it by action rather than empty words. He can set an example and found a movement for ensuring the internalization of the ethical values of Buddhism among the people.

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      Agree with you. I am rather surprised at the silence of the Mahanayakas of Malwatte and Asgiriya during the BBS violence. Have these monks given up Buddhism?

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    Nice appreciative article

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    “When the Buddha sent out the first sixty missionaries to communicate his new founded teaching, he requested them to preach the teachings for the good, well-being, and happiness of all.”

    It is a collective responsibility of us to work for happiness of all as this is the teaching of Buddha as well as the Islam. Islam demands for Muslims to be as mercy to entire humanity.

    Today it is very clear that the MR government is only concern with short term political gain unethically by promoting hate by its actions and inactions while lacking a greater plan to address the national questions in terms of economy, education and higher education, employment, dignity and freedom for all citizens.

    As a way forward I kindly request the honorable Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thero to extend his hand to build a pluralistic project to address the national questions and build the way to implement good, well-being, and happiness of all citizens of this country.

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