24 September, 2020

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Secularizing Sri Lanka; Paradox Of Sovereignty

By Anushka Kahandagama

Anushka Kahandagama

Anushka Kahandagama

Democracy is a complex mechanism which has its highs and lows. While social, political and economic ignorance of people can lead them to elect representatives who are incapable of representing citizens of the country and making accurate decisions, shallow identities created by the neo-liberal economic policies play a major role in democracy making the ‘ethno-religious’ majority powerful. Apart from all the structural weaknesses of the democracy, people have to deal with it and make it better, as it is the existing mechanism of governance in the country. One form of informing strengthening democracy is securing the relationship between the citizens and their representatives. The relationship between the citizens and their representatives locate a legal system which enables sovereignty of the country.

According to Giorgio Agamben sovereignty is a paradox which plays outside the legal system of the country and at the same time proclaims that there is nothing outside the legal system (Agamben, G., (1998), Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life,  Stanford University Press). Thus, the complexity of the phenomena should be dealt carefully as otherwise it would lead to the insidious abuse of power.

Due to the paradoxical nature of sovereignty, it could be influenced by many external factors and sovereignty could distort the legal system and present the ‘unfair’ legal system as ‘fair’ and ‘just’. According to the Article 9 of Sri Lankan Constitution, ‘The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1) (e)’. This is the law of the country and it should not discriminate against ethnic the minority ethno-religious groups who live in the country. By giving the foremost place to Buddhism, state which is responsible for its citizen’s protection discriminate against the minority ethno-religious groups who are also citizens of the country. The article 9 of the Constitution provides an invisible power to Buddhist religious institutions which might harm the sovereignty of the country. The relationship between citizens and their representatives can be interfered by Buddhist religious institution without any obstruction or limitation from the state. Buddhist religious institution is not elected through votes of the citizens to advice the state. Thus, Buddhist religious institution is not over the citizen’s power to represent the state. Further, religious interference could be normalized in the mind of the people, as it is legitimized by the Constitution as well. Citizens of the country belong to various ethno-religious groups and could not be limited or reduced to Sinhala-Buddhists. Although it is reduced to Sinhala-Buddhists, they too represent different political views in the elections and elect members to the parliament to represent their political ideology. Against this background, the power holds by the citizen is immense in a democratic system and it should be secured. However, in Sri Lanka, this power is interfered by Buddhist religious institution. Although there are many examples that can be drawn from the political scenario of the country, it is important to cite a recent press conference which was held by The National Movement for the Protection of Soldiers (NMPS). Addressing the press conference, Buddhist monk Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera, criticized Field Martial Sarath Fonseka who was the then Army Commander and stated that he has asked Gotabaya Rajapaksa who was then Defense Secretary of the former government not to appoint Sarath Fonseka as the Commander of the Army. There might be much political discourse around this narrative. However, the influence one Buddhist monk could have been done over a responsible position of the country, Secretary of Defense, was immense. After, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera further invited people to ask Gotabaya Rajapaksa and ensure the accuracy of his (Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera’s) statement. The normality involve with Buddhist religious institution playing with the sovereignty of the state is immense. Most of the citizens do not question the statement asking ‘from where Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera got the power to influence appointing high ranked position in the military?’, instead most of the citizens accept it as ‘normal’. On the other hand, the Buddhist Monk, Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera represents ‘The National Movement for the Protection of Soldiers (NMPS), and criticizes then Commander who has led the military at a critical time of war. The power holds by the Buddhist Monk is used by many parties in their political agendas by letting the sovereignty of the country in danger.

In Europe, the power of the church has been challenged by the power of the citizen and as a result, the secular state was born. However, even after over 65 years of independence, Sri Lanka still suffers from bridging the distance/gap between the citizen and the state. Sadly, most of the citizens themselves do not believe in their power to elect representatives and participate in the process of decision making in the country, instead constant interference of Buddhism in state governance is sought. Against this background, the sovereignty of the country is damaged and harmed by Buddhist religious institutions and normalized in the Sri Lankan psyche with the support of the constitution which gives more prominence to Buddhism over the other religions.

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  • 7
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    Anushka Kahandagama

    RE: Secularizing Sri Lanka; Paradox Of Sovereignty

    Follow Kamal Ataturk of Turkey.

    Keep Religion and state Separate.

    Make secular Laws sit on Top of Religious Laws, so that religions cannot abuse the young, such as Child Brides and Samaneras, 8 year olds.

    Child Ordination -Through A Mother’s Eyes Sharmini Serasinghe

    https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/child-ordination-through-a-mothers-eyes/

    “At a recent alms-giving ceremony I attended, there were many such, of varying ages. Some as young as 7 – 8 years of age, while some of pubertal age.”

    “These ‘little ones’, with shaven heads, and their thin bodies swathed in saffron robes, sat on the floor with their elders. It was hard to miss, their expressions of sheer wonder, coupled with mischief on their faces, as they watched the children of the laity, of similar age, running wild with chocolate smeared faces, brandishing their favourite toys.”

    “One of these ‘miniature monks’ in particular, had his gaze fixed longingly on a teddy bear, and another on a train set. While those, in their mid to late teens, gazed appreciatively, at the pretty young girls prancing around, before quickly hiding their faces, behind their over-sized palm-leaf fans, when frowned upon, by a disapproving adult monk.”

    Islam and children

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_children

    The topic of Islam and children includes the rights of children in Islam, children’s duties towards their parents, and parent’s rights over their children, both biological and foster children. Also discussed are some of the differences regarding rights with respect to different schools of thought.

    Child bride, 13, dies of internal injuries four days after arranged marriage in Yemen
    By MAIL FOREIGN SERVICE
    UPDATED: 10:40 EST, 6 March 2016

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1264729/Child-bride-13-dies-internal-injuries-days-arranged-marriage-Yemen.html

    A 13-year-old Yemeni girl died of internal injuries four days after a family-arranged marriage to a man almost twice her age, a human rights group said.
    Ilham Mahdi al Assi died last Friday in a hospital in Yemen’s Hajja province, the Shaqaeq Arab Forum for Human Rights said, quoting a medical report.
    She was married the previous Monday in a traditional arrangement known as a ‘swap marriage’, in which the brother of the bride also married the sister of the groom, it said.

    Sigrid Kaag, regional director for UNICEF, said in a statement that the United Nations child agency was ‘dismayed by the death of yet another child bride in Yemen’.

    ‘Elham is a martyr of abuse of children’s lives in Yemen and a clear example of what is justified by the lack of limits on the age of marriage,’ SAF said in a statement.

    A medical report from al-Thawra hospital said she suffered a tear to her genitals and severe bleeding.
    The Yemeni rights group said the girl was married off in an agreement between two men to marry each other’s sisters to avoid having to pay expensive bride-prices.

    The practice of marrying young girls is widespread in Yemen and drew the attention of international rights groups seeking to pressure the government to outlaw child marriages.

    Legislation that would make it illegal for those under the age of 17 to marry is in serious peril after strong opposition from some of Yemen’s most influential Islamic leaders.
    The group said that was a common arrangement in the deeply impoverished country.

    Yemen’s gripping poverty plays a role in hindering efforts to stamp out the practice, as poor families find themselves unable to say no to bride-prices in the hundreds of dollars for their daughters.
    More than a quarter of Yemen’s females marry before age 15, according to a report last year by the Social Affairs Ministry.
    Tribal custom also plays a role, including the belief that a young bride can be shaped into an obedient wife, bear more children and be kept away from temptation.

    Last month, a group of the country’s highest Islamic authorities declared those supporting a ban on child marriages to be apostates.
    A February 2009 law set the minimum age for marriage at 17, but it was repealed and sent back to parliament’s constitutional committee for review after some politicians called it un-Islamic. The committee is expected to make a final decision on the legislation this month.

    Some of the clerics who signed the decree against a ban sit on the committee.
    Further imperilling the effort is the weak government’s reluctance to confront the clerics and other conservative tribal officials, whose support is essential to their fragile hold on power.

    The issue of Yemen’s child brides got widespread attention three years ago when an eight-year-old girl boldly went by herself to a courtroom and demanded a judge dissolve her marriage to a man in his 30s.
    She eventually won a divorce, and legislators began looking at ways to curb the practice.

    In September, a 12-year-old Yemeni child-bride died after struggling for three days in labour to give birth, a local human rights organisation said.
    Yemen once set 15 as the minimum age for marriage, but parliament annulled that law in the 1990s, saying parents should decide when a daughter marries.

    • 3
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      Anushka Kahandagama

      RE: Secularizing Sri Lanka; Paradox Of Sovereignty

      “Two truths cannot contradict one another.” Is it the Secular Truth or the Religious Truth?

      Averroes quotes famous quotes by famous people. a 13th Century Islamic Philosopher, who enticed Thomas Aquinas and many others. He was an Aristotelian Islamic Philosopher.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ui6_WKpuh9Y

      Published on Nov 1, 2013

      Quotes from Averroes. Famous quotes by Averroes. Averroes quotations. Best quotes from Averroes.

      Two truths cannot contradict one another.

      Knowledge is the conformity of the object and the intellect.

      The Law teaches that the universe was invented and created by God, and that it did not come into being by chance or by itself.

      If teleological study of the world is philosophy, and if the Law commands such a study, then the Law commands philosophy.

      The world is divided into men who have wit and no religion and men who have religion and no wit.

      The necessary connection of movement and time is real and time is something the soul (dhihn) constructs in movement.

  • 7
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    When you look at the Buddha’s statues or drawings. It shows Buddha wearing ornaments and hair style. It looks he used to do lot of makeup and worldly things apart form divine activities.

  • 6
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    Secularizing Sri Lanka…..
    No chance, as long as sinhala modaya Buddhist fools believe in bed time mahavamsa stupid stories….sorry…damn no chance.

    • 4
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      J.MUTHU

      “No chance, as long as sinhala modaya Buddhist fools believe in bed time mahavamsa stupid stories….sorry…damn no chance.”

      Do you mean to say that the Mahawansa Chronicles are stupid stories? Do you think the idea is to put children to sleep and put adults to sleep too?

      Do you think Mahavamsa is n Insult To The Buddha?

      https://www.colombotelegraph.com/index.php/mahavamsa-an-insult-to-the-buddha/

      Are they are Myths? Sinhabahu was not a Lion? Vijaya’s grandfather was not a Lion? Buddhas did not come to the Land of Native Veddah Aethho 3 times? The “Adams Peak”, Samanala Kanda Foot Print was not that of Buddha? Buddhas did not fly in a Giant Peacock Machine? The tooth at the Kandy Temple does not belong to Buddha?

      Just curious to know the Mahawansa Truths.

  • 7
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    A sane voice, in the wilderness! What a contrast. Anushka Kahandagama, your learning shows!

  • 5
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    Democracy is a complex mechanism which has its highs and lows.

    Where does this exist ?

    If you say it exits in some where, it is only for certain groups of people.

    It is not for everybody.

  • 9
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    It makes one sick to read borrowed ideas like:
    “According to Giorgio Agamben sovereignty is a paradox… (Agamben, G., (1998), Homo Sacer: Sovereign Power and Bare Life, Stanford University Press). Thus, the complexity of the phenomena…” and “Due to the paradoxical nature of sovereignty”.

    The writer should thinks independently about the concept of sovereignty without being imprisoned by deceptive rubbish written by Agamben (whoever he/she is), or the Stanford University Press.

    Think about your home, and the scenario of someone from your village or the next coming and dictating to you as to how you should be living.

    If you appreciate that, and can live with that, you will accept such absurd views on sovereignty.

    But thank God, most people who do not live on Agamben’s rubbish will not accept others meddling with someone else’s soveregnty. The issue is as simple as that.

    Think before accepting traps desguised as ‘high flown’ academic ideas.
    Hopefully you will stop questioning sovereignty because there is no alternative to it!

  • 5
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    Anushka
    Happily, you have liberal thinking and have the guts to question ethno-religious fundamentalism.For better effect, please polish up your language. Maybe, it is a translated version of a narrative that you had originally prepared in Sinhala. Anyway, please keep up your good work. Good luck!

  • 10
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    Secularism is not the problem it is highjacking of the religious organisations by the corrupt politicians is the issue. If the humanism of buddhism is correctly applied then there would be a sense of fair play for every body. Secularism unfortunately was the tool of the west to alienate the populace from their culture so that western imperialism can influence countries. Unfortunately the elite have swallowed the bait.

  • 6
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    Buddhism is an agnostic ideology or “ism” just like western liberalism.

    Buddhism accepted gender equality 2500 years ago when western liberasim espoused gender rights post WW2.

    Western liberalism hasn’t caught up recognising animal welfare anywhere equaling Buddhist precepts.

    Buddhism respects religions when religions themselves are mono-theistic.

    Sinhala Buddhists probably will accept another “ism” when it sees an upgrade to Buddhism.

    In many respects going for Buddhism to Western liberalism is a downgrade.

    • 3
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      Vibhushana,
      “Western liberalism hasn’t caught up recognising animal welfare anywhere equaling Buddhist precepts”

      Why does Sinhala Buddhism insist on “ordaining” 8 year old children to be “trained” by lecherous old men?

      Give me a straight answer along with your usual abuse.

      • 2
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        Old Codger,

        Why does Sinhala Buddhism insist on “ordaining” 8 year old children to be “trained” by lecherous old men?

        The minimum age set by Gutama Buddha is 15. Both parent consent is required.

        The exception was he allowed 2 orphans in dire straits.

        So if you see 8 year olds getting ordained its against the rules.

        • 0
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          Vibhushana,
          Have a look at this excerpt from the Sunday Times,30th May 1999:

          In the footsteps of the Buddha, 16 boys don the saffron robe at Vesak
          Now he is a sadhu
          By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

          The scene was heart- breaking and poign- ant. Amidst pin-drop silence broken only by the stifled sobs of many a mother and a father, 16 young ones were bidding their final goodbye to their parents and in a sense to the material world. That would be the last time they would pay obeisance to their elders.

          Moments later it would be the other way round……..all elders including their parents would pay their respects to these boys, aged between eight and 17. For they were to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha……..renouncing all worldly pleasure and childish joy.

          This was a special occasion at the vihare on Walpola Road, Ragama— the ordination of 16 samaneras, who had come from villages off Akuressa to the south and Polonnaruwa to the north.”

          Ther was a picture in the Daily Mirror just last week too.

      • 2
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        @old codger

        “Why does Sinhala Buddhism insist on “ordaining” 8 year old children to be “trained” by lecherous old men?”

        It’s probably more to do with the economic situation of the parents rather than religion – and anyway, such questions (and others) can be equally extended to other faiths as well (Polygamy Mormonism/Islam), child-brides, Catholicism, child abuse and the “celibate” priest and nun, the church selling babies of unwed mothers.. horrific animal abuse in the name of one religion or another and so on )

        • 5
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          maalumiris

          “such questions (and others) can be equally extended to other faiths as well (Polygamy Mormonism/Islam), child-brides, Catholicism, child abuse and the “celibate” priest and nun, the church selling babies of unwed mothers.. horrific animal abuse in the name of one religion or another and so on )”

          Thanks for following others to justify what is completely wrong within the Sinhala/Buddhist monastic slavery.

          Good to hear that you learn from other religious practices.

          • 1
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            Dear Native

            You have learned computers and internet from others technological practices. You have (presumably) learned English and use it to express yourself in these pages disregarding that which is the language of others. You have adopted Western morals (again the morality of others) as your own. I am willing to bet that you also practice a faith that is not of this region either.

            How come what is good for you to do is not good for me to do ?

            Why so elitist ?

        • 1
          1

          Maalumiris,
          Yes you are right about the other religions, but isn’t Buddhism supposed to be better than the rest?
          BTW, even the Catholic Church doesn’t openly encourage child abuse,
          whereas we get devout Buddhists defending child ordination.

          ” It’s probably more to do with the economic situation of the parents rather than religion “

          So, when Christian fundamentalists take advantage of poverty, they are evil, but the Sangha can do the same without criticism?

          • 1
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            Old Codger

            “better than the rest” ? Hm., I don’t know about that – I would imagine that an adherent of one faith would tend to believe it is the best but that is very subjective

            Personally, I don’t subscribe to the notion that Buddhism or any other ‘ism’, ‘ity’ or ‘am’ is better than any other.

            After all, what does one base the notion of “better” on ? If the measure is “orange vestments”, then for sure Buddhism is way better.. If the measure is “lots of seats for the faithful to sit upon”, then it would likely be Christianity.. or if it is “Prostrating oneself in front of the Almighty”, then Islam wins

            “even the Catholic Church doesn’t openly encourage child abuse”

            I do hope you don’t mean that behind closed doors, the church DOES encourage child-abuse with a nudge, a wink and a “hey father, how are the altar-servers today” ? Or was that more to suggest that Buddhism does encourage abuse ?

            Correct me if I am wrong but I was rather under the impression that such abuse (regardless of the faith) was not the norm and was committed by a few rather than the many. To make a sweeping generalization that all Buddhists support child ordination is fundamentally invalid (unless you are Tissaranee Gunasekera, of course)

            “when Christian fundamentalists take advantage of poverty, , they are evil,….”

            No, not evil but I see a difference between giving someone a sewing-machine or motorbike in exchange for his eternal soul or whatever the currency is for “Christian Fundamentalists” these days and a parent giving up a child because they cant afford to put food in it’s mouth.

            Anyway, Buddhism is pretty short on charity and social service.

            As far as ordination is concerned, I am unsure of the statute or how it is practiced or can be enforced. @Vibushana seems to have some insight into this area.

            However, the motive for each and every ordination may be different – some in ignorance, will certainly do it for what they believe is good karma.. others may do so because of desperate poverty, there may still be cases where the ordination may be a matter of choice.. or lack of choice and the decision imposed by someone else.

            Personally, I do not support the ordination of children

            • 0
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              Maalumiris,
              “I do hope you don’t mean that behind closed doors, the church DOES encourage child-abuse with a nudge, a wink and a “hey father, how are the altar-servers today”
              Even if they don’t encourage it, they do a pretty good job covering up.

              “Personally, I do not support the ordination of children”
              That’s my position too. Why don’t more people speak up and put an end to it? Isn’t this more important than the fate of temple elephants?

              • 0
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                “…., they do a pretty good job covering up.”

                Yes, but I must say that this is not peculiar to the church alone but true of ANY large organization. The first instinct of the Mandarins and Grand Poobahs is to Bury the Scandal by shredding documents (Watergate), wiping hard drives or disposing of the offenders.

                It’s only when the scandal refuses to be buried that heads roll. Just ask the PM of Iceland!

                “Why don’t more people speak up and put an end to it? ”

                Your guess is as good as mine. IMO poor education of the laity is one culprit. The Sangha is complicit because it needs to replenish it’s ranks and speaking up against the practice will not do that cause any good. The Sangha is also for the most part, poorly-educated and ill-administered. The time of the educated monk is gone and in it’s place, we have businessmen & thugs

                Finally, most people just don’t care unless it affects them directly. In that sense, we are a very passive society. The “Monawa Karannada Syndrome”

                As for temple elephants (all captive elephants in fact), I am against that as much as I am against child-ordination. At least the child monk does not have his legs and neck chained together and made to run during ‘avurudu’ festivals and is not strung up with lights, made to stand on his hands, shot for his teeth or poked at with a bull-hook

    • 1
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      Vibhushana
      I would rather say that Buddhism like Jainism was atheistic. Unlike Jainism it denied soul as well.
      Sadly, after the Buddha, Buddhism got mixed up with Brahmin Hindu beliefs and practices at various times.

      Buddhists in Sri Lanka worship more Hindu gods than Hindus do and believe in astrology more than Hindus (who are more tempted by numerology which offers to change one’s whole life by a simple but not logical change of the English spelling of one’s name), and despite Kovoor’s hard work believe in witchcraft, again a little more than Hindus do.

      The Sinhalese should upgrade their Buddhism by giving all superstition a long holiday.

      Liberalism is neither Western or Eastern, it is an outcome of capitalism. Secularism is more ancient and Asia had plenty of it.

      I have one question: if there is God, why should it be just one? The Hindus have designer gods too.
      Orientals have all manner of gods and goddesses but none almighty and dictating codes of conduct to people.

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    Still makes more sense than a lot rubbish spouted here in better English!

  • 1
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    In many ‘European countries’ so called secular by the writer there exist monarchies rooted in the concept of divine rights of the Middle Ages, if not earlier. Even in the ‘republics’ the alignment to church is well entrenched.Ignorance is bliss! Can one say?

  • 1
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    It is not surprising that this man, hm…Amarasiri quoting Kemal Ataturk. He was born just Mustapha.

    Ataturk who is supposed to have led the Turkish army against the British/ Australian forces in the first world war is honoured in these countries as a hero. Why?

    Because he conspired to ‘modernise’ Turkey by staging the ‘young turks’ revolution against the Sultan in 1909 and then putting army in to power constitutionaly-the only country to do that. Then he ‘modernised’ Turkey to remove Islam, and bsnning the name Mohamed.

    This was the situation until the election of Recep Tayyip Erdoğan Pm in 2003. Turkey is slowly crawling back, but now the EU is fishing for them to further undermine Turkey so that Isreal could be safe.

    Ask Emil van der Pooten if you need more information.

  • 2
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    The US Army has Buddhist chaplains.

    http://buddhistmilitarysangha.blogspot.ca/2008/08/requirements-to-become-buddhist.html

    The post has demanding qualifications – academic and personal.
    Sri Lanka should do likewise.
    The Buddhist clergy will then get a better perspective of duties of a soldier and will be able to advise the Ministry of Defence.

    Duties of a soldier are laid down by a monk who was a Brigadier General in the army earlier.

    http://www.beyondthenet.net/thedway/soldier.htm

    • 1
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      Crazy idea. A real bhikkhu can have nothing to do with the military.

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      Buddhism flourishes in America.

      http://www.kusala.org/

      The monks are pious and follow their Buddhist way of life, strictly.

  • 1
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    Dear Anushka Kahandagama and Intellectuals!

    The Constitution of the Republic of Sri Lanka does not give specifically the FOREMOST place in the country to anything other than BUDDHISM!

    Then what should the National Flag of Republic of Sri Lanka that gives the foremost place to Buddhism in the country depict?

    Should it depict Buddhism, or some other thing?

    It should depict Buddhism!!

    Does the present National Flag depict Buddhism?

    No!

    The Lankan Buddhist Religious Institutions do not know the answers for the following very important questions:

    i) What should be depicted on the National Flag?

    ii) What Symbolizes Buddhism?

    iii) Our country is said be a Buddhist country for the last 2300 years. Was there not any Buddhist Flag in use in Sri Lanka for the last 2300 years?

    iv) If there was, what was it?

    v) Could not that Flag be used now as the National Flag of the country in accordance with the Article – 9 of the Constitution?

    So what is there to listen to the ignorant Buddhist Religious Institutions?

    What is the real motive behind giving the foremost place to Buddhism?

    It is for the formulation of the false and imaginary Doctrine “Aryan” – Sinhala – Sinhalese – Theeravaada Buddhism – Lanka with one-to-one correspondence to eradicate the minorities in the country!!

    The real problem is with the citizens of Lanka. Ignorant citizens of Lanka elect the Ignorant citizens as their representatives!!

  • 1
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    Many comment both negatively and positively about being a monk, at what age etc! May I quote what Ajahn Brahmavamso has to say about the monk ordination!
    For those who are not familiar with Ajahn Brahma may I add the following first from Wikipedia!
    Ajahn Brahmavamso, known as Ajahn Brahm (born Peter Betts on 7 August 1951) is a British Theravada Buddhist monk. He came from a working-class background and went to Latymer Upper School. He won a scholarship to study theoretical physics at Cambridge University in the late 1960s. After graduating from Cambridge, he taught in high school for one year before traveling to Thailand to become a monk and train with the Ajahn Chah Bodhinyana Mahathera. Brahm was ordained in Bangkok at the age of twenty-three by the Abbot of Wat Saket. He subsequently spent nine years studying and training in the forest meditation tradition under Ajahn Chah.
    According to Ajahn Brahmavamso:
    “The candidate (to become a monk) must be 20 years of age or more, counting from when “consciousness first appeared in his mother’s womb”. Because of the obvious difficulty in knowing when this occurred, it is usual to insist on at least 20 years since birth. If, by mistake, he was ‘ordained’ under the age of 20, the candidate remains a ten precept novice and is not a monk.
    The candidate is then briefly instructed about the ceremony and given his new name, a monk’s name to always remind him of his new life’s purpose. He is sent to stand outside of the gathering of monks and then two senior monks are chosen to go out and question the candidate on his suitability to be a monk. They ask him if he has any infectious diseases, if he is a human being (to prevent nagas), a man, a freeman (to prevent someone on the run from the police), without debt, free from government service, that he has his parent’s consent, he is over 20 years of age, that he has his bowl and robes, and that he has chosen a Preceptor. Having successfully examined the candidate, the senior monks return to the gathering of monks, inform the monks of the examination and then call the candidate back into the gathering. The candidate is asked the same questions again within the gathering just to make sure.
    The Preceptor will then usually instruct the new monk on the four disrobing offences (sexual intercourse, stealing, murder and falsely claiming high attainments), and the four basic needs of a monk (food gained on alms round, robes made of rags, a shelter under a tree, and medicines made from urine), adding that anything more than this is to be regarded throughout his monk’s life as an unnecessary luxury! With this lesson in the four dangers to his monkhood and the encouragement in frugality, the ceremony comes to an end.
    In spite of this instruction in monastic frugality, parents and well-wishers often continue by offering gifts to the new monk! Having received the gifts, however, he can later give them away if he wishes! After all, ordaining as a monk is all about letting go.”

  • 0
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    To Abimanasigham,

    You say: “The real problem is with the citizens of Lanka. Ignorant citizens of Lanka elect the Ignorant citizens as their representatives”.
    Who are these ‘ignorant citizens’? obviously it’s you and me who elect them! Am I correct or what?

  • 0
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    To Abimanasigham,

    You say: “The real problem is with the citizens of Lanka. Ignorant citizens of Lanka elect the Ignorant citizens as their representatives”.
    Who are these ‘ignorant citizens’? obviously it’s you and me who elect them! Am I correct or what?

    To J.MUTHU and Amarasiri!
    You need to read Mahawansa carefully with undivided attention just like you read the articles and comments written on TC if you want to understand the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth.

    • 0
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      Dear White Liar

      I am almost 70 years. In my life time I have not cast my vote in any of the Parliamentary or Presidential Elections. I got voting opportunity when I was an Engineering student in the University of Peradeniya. I made a correct decision at that time and even now I think my decision is correct.

  • 0
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    “Against this background, the sovereignty of the country is damaged and harmed by Buddhist religious institutions and normalized in the Sri Lankan psyche with the support of the constitution which gives more prominence to Buddhism over the other religions.”
    This is the neo-colonial cat that has come out of the bag of this article!
    Unfortunately, Sri Lanka is a country invaded and plundered by three Western powers from 1505 to 1948. Before that it was a few South Indians who did the devil’s job. They all failed miserably due to a determined nation that defended their country despite the fact that every citizen (Sinhala, Tamil, Muslim) was deprived of his/her livelihood, rights and means of survival in his/her own country. Many western-educated intellectuals who have no sense of Buddhism, Buddhist teachings, Buddhist culture and civilization repeatedly say, just like Ms Anushka Kahandagama that in Europe the power of the church was challenged by citizens and the secular state was born. Some intellectuals are really worried since it did not happen in Sri Lanka, unlike in Africa and Latin America?
    My humble request to you is not to compare Buddhism with the church (or any other God-based religions). As far as I know the church supported the brutal invader in the name of God and tolerated a lot of atrocities against the native people; example: the burning of innocent aboriginal people alive in North America, Australia, and New Zealand. I don’t want to say much about what the Church did to innocent aboriginal kids since various Popes and churches have repeatedly apologized and paid compensation in millions of dollars to the victims of those aboriginal communities throughout the conquered world. Since Sri Lanka has not made similar demands to Portugal, the Netherlands, and Britain you may probably think that Sri Lankans have forgotten this unforgettable past!
    If you like to know the facts please do a bit of research on Sri Lanka’s colonial history: it is Buddhism that protected the Sri Lankans from being slaves of the mighty European invader. Poor Sri Lankans did not have the fire-power to face the invading brutal armies and mercenaries, but, fortunately they had a powerful philosophy to guide them and bind them to victory at the end!
    Your claim in the article is false and it is malicious propaganda! I have never heard of any Buddhist institution that had interfered with Government affairs before or after 1948. Your example of Bengamuve Nalaka is a joke and gross misinterpretation of the actual ground situation! He is not an influential religious leader but a monk who heads a local movement. You know there are more powerful, foreign funded NGOs in Sri Lanka than this monk’s movement. It is not a secret that certain NGOs influence the President, PM, cabinet ministers and opinion leaders of Sri Lanka in an undemocratic manner! As a citizen, any monk has a right to make a request but, in this case, did Mr. Gotabhaya Rajapaksa (Defence Secretary) accept the monk’s request? I am sure it did not happen since SF did become the Army commander! It means this monk was not as powerful as you have claimed and your point becomes baseless! At least, if a Mahanayake (chief prelate) had made such a request and if it had materialized, you could have taken it as a powerful example.
    My point is very simple: Buddhism means not a bunch of unruly monks who wave colored flags at political rallies! Buddhism is not the BBS of Gnanasara either as many international media and reputed websites including CT perhaps portray! Buddhism is a set of teachings that respects each and everyone and everyone’s life including humans’, animals’ and plants’ too. I have not come across a single sensible human who objects to the non-violent values taught in Buddhism. As far as I know, Buddhism is the only religion that does not permit you to take up arms even in self-defense! For obvious historical reasons, Buddhism is considered a religion in this Topsy-turvy world and placed in the same religious basket with Christianity, Catholicism, Judaism, Hinduism, and Islam. Nevertheless, most Sri Lankan intellectuals know that it is a philosophy with strong cultural ties to the country’s people that guides every one of them: both Buddhists and non-Buddhists, especially when there is no help from others including the almighty God! Therefore Sri Lankans should safeguard Buddhism as a heritage and a guiding star!
    Even before Buddhism was given the alleged nominal ‘place’ in the Constitution (or honestly put it, even after it was systematically forced to die by invader’s colonial parliamentary acts and ordinances) please ask this question of yourself: didn’t it survive? It did. Therefore it will definitely survive with or without a ‘place’ even within your neocolonial constitution!

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    To: Abimanasigham Sitthawatthai Uthayakumar !.
    Every eligible citizen has the right to vote (or not to vote) in SL. Nevertheless, voting is not just about supporting your favorite candidate or party or color; it is mainly about supporting a set of ideas and proposals (known as the election manifesto) that could make or break your country. For instance, in Canada, if you vote Bloc Quebecois you are sure you are supporting to separate Quebec from Canada. It is as simple as that!
    Elections can bring important/unimportant issues out into the forefront of a nation. Even if you plan not to vote at a particular election the percentage of non-voting citizens may become a subject for fair discussion. Your ‘political’ will is the driving force behind you! Citizens with a similar political will need to make sure that the will of the people is an inherent driving force and an important factor in the success/failure of the country as a whole. And it is also about supporting a peaceful and consistent transition of political power probably from one set of ‘rogues’ to another. Ironically, you are the only one who could stop both if you have the political will to do so. However, you should make sure not to make a political vacuum out of your political will.
    In SL, there is no Paradox of Sovereignty; but the writer suggests it as a fact and points the finger at Buddhism. In short, if there is a paradox of sovereignty in SL it is not because of Buddhism or Buddhist institutions. Most western-educated writers repeat this ‘nonsense’ to create a political vacuum within small nations like SL where they take an opportunistic chance to discredit Buddhism and Buddhist institutions with the belief that Buddhism means a bunch of monks who demonstrate in front of the US embassy. We all know that it is wrong but it has been happening in SL after colonialism failed and collapsed. The aim of these writers is to let their foreign masters to have a solid foot-hold in the country so that they could manipulate everything from economy to language and culture. This is the sad story of our time!

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