21 May, 2024


Sinhala-Buddhist Culture & Reconciliation

By Upali Cooray

Upali Cooray

Upali Cooray

Since the end of the war against terrorism in Sri Lanka the people’s expectations of a peaceful country to live in was achieved to a great extent in 2009, but unfortunately no government so far has been able to douse the flickering embers of nationalism and ethnocentrism though six years have passed since.

With the present government’s attempts in implementing the UNHRC resolution it co-sponsored with the US in which the ultimate goal is said to be reconciliation among all communities living within the country, there has arisen a tendency even among the so called educated individuals who boldly rundown and despise the cultures which they see as the cause and the curse of ethnocentrism in this country. With the relatively improved media freedom gained after the government change in 2015, there is open disparaging battles we see among those leaned towards this culture or the other.

I was watching in dismay the other day, how one of the participants on a TV talk show analysing the well known story, the origin of the Sinhalese; the story of “Sinhabahu”.

As the narrative goes briefly, a Lion King cohabitated with a royal princess having imprisoned her in a cave in the jungle and had two children by that relationship. Then the grown up son, Sinhabahu rescues the mother and the sister by killing his Lion father and cohabitates with his sister. King Vijaya, who is the progeny born out of the Lion killer prince Sinha Bahu’s relationship with his sister, Sinha Seewalee, is said to be the first Sinhalese who arrived with his entourage in Sri Lanka. A son born by the cohabitation of a brother and sister. That is how the story goes. Vijaya is supposed to have been banished from India with his followers on grave crimes and aggression against people in India

According to this talk show participant, the Lion king a beast living with a human female is “against the law”(Neethi virodee). He did not say whether it is the current law or the law in the era they lived which is applicable!. Secondly, he claimed it is incest when sister and brother cohabitates. Therefore the Sinhalese should be ashamed of their origins. Rationally correct. This be will be commented on later in this piece.

Also, some of the critics claim that many Jataka stories ( Buddhist Birth Stories) are fantasies and myth originated to misguided people.

There have been a spate of such opinions expressed by well known present day Sri Lankan journalists and columnists and others who are stakeholders in justifying the objective they are campaigning for in respect of the ethnic reconciliation in Sri Lanka. One can see that these are disparaging battles rather than expression of opinion by experienced and matured men and women.

The “Mahavamsa” or the Great Chronicle is said to be the main cause for “Sinhala Buddhist mentality” of the majority community which is supposed to have conditioned the Sinhala mind about their culture.

Mahavamsa which is not a part of Buddhist scriptures such as the Tripitaka. It is a poetic narration of Sri Lanka’s history by the Sri Lankan Buddhist monk Mahanama who lived in Maha Vihara Anuradhapura in late fifth or early sixth century. Naturally a Buddhist priest is inclined to give buddhism a prominent position though it is a chronicle on history of Sri Lanka he was compiling. Therefore It is not unusual for the chronicler to creatively include substantial fictional and mythical features but what is important here is many of the socio-political historical facts written in Mahavamsa have been established correct by other supporting evidence such as Epigraphs, and other historical data discovered locally and in India. The edicts of Asoka are the oldest, best preserved most accurately dated epigraphic records of India. The mystery of these epigraphs was unveiled by James Prinsep in 1837 who deciphered the asokan Brahmi scripts of epigraphs and identified King “Piyadassi”of the edicts with king Asoka on the testimony of Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa, in which the title Piyadassi was given to Asoka. There are many more such instances where Mahavamsa has been used to authenticate historical data discovered in India as well as Sri Lanka. Therefore just rubbishing the chronicle as a whole is harebrained.

The Historical facts in Mahavamsa are being distorted by present day analysts to suit their motives such as facts on King Dutugemunu who went to war with Chola conqueror Elara in 205 -161 BC. Nowhere in Mahavamsa it is mentioned that the Sinhalese were intolerant on tamils living locally. The wars of Sinhala kings were always to chase away the conquerors from south India such as Chola and Pandya who were Dravidians. Some ruins remaining in Polonnaruwa depicting dominant Hinduism are the signs of south Indian Invasions. Kalinga Magha was a ruthless Dravidian conqeror ruler who was no second to modern day Prabhakaran. He is identified as the founder of the Jaffna Kingdom and was the first king in the Arya Chakravarthi dynasty 1215 -1236 AD. The moving of Lanka’s Royal kingdom from Anurdhapura to Polonnaruwa was caused by incessant invasions from South India. Ultimately the kingdom was moved to Dambadeniya futher south 1220-1354 AD on account of this threat.

On the other hand King Nissanka Malla who reigned from Polonnaruwa in Sri Lanka prior to Magha in and around 1187 AD was from Kalinga Dynasty in India but was renowned as a pious king who declared that whoever who becomes the king of Lanka should be a Buddhist and embraced Buddhism. He was sensitive to people’s difficulties and reduced taxes and gave away the gold collected in the royal treasury. It appears that this Kalinga King from India won the hearts of the locals and this also shows that the locals were ready to accept the rule of even a Dravidian king as long as he knew how to win them over with righteous rule. The practice of having kings from India through protocal was common during the Kandyan Kingdom in the 16th and 17th century.

What needs to be emphasized here is that Sri Lanka and the Sinhalese have been conquered incessantly all along and the locals have battled with these foreign conqerors from South India and Europe all along it’s history. However they were tolerant enough to have South Indians as Kings who were not conquerors but took over the throne through convention.

The history has no evidence to show that the Sinhalese were an intolerant society. They fought battles with conquerors mostly from Dravidian South India but there are no historical evidence to show interior disharmony among communities such as Tamils of Sri lanka. Therefore the claimed “Mahavamsa Sinhala Buddhist Mentality” appears to be a Trojan horse by some forces to undermine the major civilisation in Sri lanka of which it’s majority of people are proud of.

Numerous arguments are being put forwarded by a segment of writers and other media campaigners to prove that Sinhalese were not the early settlers of this country and others such as Tamils were present in Sri Lanka prior to the arrival of Vijaya 543-505 BC. The oldest evidence about the Sinhalese is not Mahavamsa but inscriptional data numbering over 1200 found in rock caves such as Mihintale, Ritigala, Sithul Pawwa, Dambulla and many other places. Most of these have now been copied by the Archeological Dept. These inscriptions prove that a language related to Sinhala in its primary formation in the era around 300 BC. The letters have close similarities to the ancient most inscription found in North India and the languages spoken in North India. This group of languages which includes Sinhala language also, belongs to the category of Indo-Aryan Languages, the bedrock of which is Sanskrit. On the other hand the Tamil language falls into the different Dravidian group of Languages. Of course the Sinhala language had acquired much from the Tamil language over the centuries

The vituperative attacks on “Sinhala Buddhist culture” has become manifold on account of many web sites hitherto blocked in Sri Lanka getting the freedom to access the Sri Lankan readership. The newfound opportunity is being used extensively and adversely to castigate Sinhala Buddhist culture. That is “media freedom” ? Well and good. This trend has gone into the extent of vilifying the annual Kandy Perahera (Pageant) where the Buddha tooth relic is carried in a casket by a majestically decorated Elephant. Whether myth or not, this pageant is a unique reflection of Sinhala Buddhist culture with it dancers, drumming and other related exhibitions of our culture.

On the other hand the counter campaign by the pro-Sinhala Buddhist writers are also making the same mistakes the other side is doing by vilifying the cultures of the Tamils and the Muslims.

Hinduism is the driving force of the Tamil culture in Sri Lanka. and the thoughts and beliefs of such a society are crafted by that religion. The rigid caste system in Jaffna still deprives the lower cast mortals of social privileges they are entitled to, under a free and democratic society though it has become relatively better in recent times. Sri Lanka’s national problem distinctly did not originate over religion. The origin of the conflict during the post-war period was based on socio economic reasons and not over religion. There was a necessity to correct an imbalance of socio economic factors between the Tamils and the majority Sinhalese. Some of these adjustments such as the language policy and education policy had an adverse impact especially on the Vellala caste Tamil community who as the highest tamil Hindu caste in Sri Lanka was a privileged lot under the Colonial system and the loss of their privileges such as special consideration in government employment was detrimental to them. Therefore Sinhala only language policy and other adjustments to balance above said socio economic imbalance was converted by them to a political struggle over discrimination and a consequent call for federalism which eventually transformed to demand for Tamil Eelam. It has to be admitted that some of these adjustments by governments were short sighted violations of democratic principles.

If one looks at Velupillai Prabhakaran’s life story, he was born to a Kariyar cast (Fishermen) family in Valvettithurai in Jaffna. His father being a government servant they were a middle class family. Valvettithurai was a smuggling center between India and Sri Lanka. His cast is generally identified with the fishing community and considered low cast. His education was only up to 5th standard. Therefore he had little or no hope in this strictly caste based social ladder and his first struggle was to get recognition in his own Tamil society with terror. Starting from the Killing of Alfred Duraiappah in 1975 The LTTE under Prabhakaran’s command had killed northern Tamil academics, professionals, politicians and priests and rival groups, including TULF Leader Amirthalingam numbering over two hundred. Prabhakaran’s ultimate goal was to create a casteless serfdom as his Elam but he knew international and Tamil diaspora support will not be forthcoming if this fact comes to highlight. The ideal cover was terrorism against the Sinhalese, based on claims of discrimination. The vellala dominated politicians of Jaffna fed the LTTE with their doctrine of Tamil supremacy to the Tigers till it bit the hand which fed them. So, one could see Hinduism based Tamil culture played a major role in the conflict against the Sinhalese.

However these draw backs in the Tamil Hindu culture reforms have to be effected by the enlightened Tamils themselves from within that socety if reconciliation is to be achieved. It is not the mandate of the Sinhalese to do so.

Looking for myths in the Sinhala Buddhist Culture or analysing “Mahavamsa mentality” could be challenged conveniently as no religion or no culture is free from phenomena of mythical believes and superiority complex. In such an event the concept of a creator itself is vulnerable as a myth. Religious fables.practices, beliefs which are exclusive to certain major religions of the world can be denigrated by those bent on doing so. The canons of Major religions are full of such mythical stories. One should understand that Buddhism is an offshoot of Hinduism in an era practices such as animal sacrifice was the norm. Rigid caste differentiation, Sathi Pooja were considered part of Hindu life. Lord Buddha’s passive revolt against this extremities of Hindu religion was the cause for the origin of Buddhism. Buddha is considered as an avtar of Vishnu by the Hindu’s. However the strong influence of the Hidu culture remained in Buddhism despite Buddha’s preachings and the Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka is not devoid of such practices. As much as Sinhalese make vows at Kataragama for god Skanda Kumara they make vows at The Sri Maha Bodhi at Anuradhapura to sight one example.

In looking for a most suitable definition of culture among numerous definitions, I found the following appeared to serve my purpose.

“Culture refers to the cumulative deposit of knowledge, experiences.beliefs,values,attitudes, meanings, hierarchies,religion,notions of time, roles, spatial relations,concepts of universe and material objects and possessions acquired by a group of people in the course of generations through individual group striving”. (ENR (2003). Culture shock challenges firms looking abroad. Vol. 250, No. 23. New York: McGraw Hill.)

Nowhere does a culture consists of rational thinking or rational behaviour as essential. Therefore the Talk show participant who questioned the rationality of the origin of the Sinhalese should understand that cultures cannot be rationally analysed to look for what belongs to it or not or the veracity of what is believed by the group that belongs to it. Some anthropologists have argued that there are no proper ways in being human and the “Right way” is almost always “our way”; that “our way” in one society almost never corresponds to “our way” in any other society. Proper attitude of an informed human being could only be that of tolerance.

The phenomena of Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya and Ravana Balaya or “Sinha -LE” are warped recent intolerant formations based not on Sinhala Buddhist culture which is tolerant as argued above, but are instruments used to justify claims that there is religious and cultural intolerance in this country. Whoever who is behind these small cliques of Buddhist priests and some laymen are neither representing Sinhala Buddhist people nor Sinhala Buddhist culture. I tend to believe that there is a hidden hand with an agenda in these activities to see that the international image of this country as racial and religious intolerant and hence need to be hounded till whatever the ulterior motives that are achieved. How these cliques are funded and their foreign jaunts have to be probed thoroughly. Whether Buddhist, Christian or Hindu, extremism should be wiped out incessantly. The uncertainty of the political will to do so is another pitfall in such an attempt. Sinhalese have tolerated Hinduism, Christianity and Islam over the centuries.The subcultures of Catholicism in and around Negombo, Islamic sub-culture in and around Bentota,Akurana and Pothuvil have had harmonious relationships with Sinhala Buddhists in most of the times in our history. In fact these subcultures have absorbed and adopted certain aspects of Sinhala Buddhist culture as well. Buddhism practiced in Sri Lanka has borrowed immensly from Hindism. Majority of Sri Lankan Tamils live among the Sinhalese and not in Jaffana which some want to make the Capital of Elam.

In the circumstances reconciliation if ever to be achieved what all parties should keep in mind is that there should not be any other motives than tolerance of cultures of each other on which basis problems have to be settled within the communities than external interference.

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Latest comments

  • 14

    The author has analysed well on most aspects of the fundamental issues of communal disharmony in Sri Lanka. However, he avoided the fundamental reason as to why the Sinhala Buddhists cling on to the Mahavamsa myth along with animal and people cohabitation and incest, it is so absurd as it sounds, it is because, they are chronically insecure. There is no real threat that the Sinhala Buddhist community needs to worry about as they are the overwhelming majority. But this inherent fear that had been stalked by the Anagariga Dharmapala and expediently exploited by the past and present politicians that the Sinhala Buddhist race is in mortal danger of being overrun by the 60 million South Indian Tamils is the primary reason that they are intolerant to the Other!

    The author has also over played the Tamil caste issue as the primary reason behind VP rising violently against the Sri Lankan state! The casteism in Jaffna in particular was endemic and profound over the years. It was so entranced that people knew of their places in the society. When I was growing up in the 70s, it was there in the background but it was palpable that it’s absurdity was being felt. To destroy the author’s assertion that the caste system in Jaffna played a major part in VP’s revolt against the state, the 1977 general election proved that the TULF candidates were overwhelmingly elected with the Vuddukoddai manifesto! The Tamil people jointly and severally demonstrated against the majoritarian hegemony that transcended the caste barriers!

    I completely disagree with the author that pulverising caste system was the primary reason that VP took up arms. More like the Sinhala Buddhists conveniently justified to themselves that their mishandling of the nation-building and self-promotion of the Sinhala Buddhists with democracy as cover, was not the reason that the Tamils revolted!

  • 14

    Do you ever recognise the significant contributions made by Tamil Buddhist scholars to Buddhism?

    • 5

      As I read, Buddhagosha who wrote VisuddhiMagga was from current Tamil Nadu state… At least his last known place of residence was current Tamil Nadu before he came to Anuradhapura to do this great work, …
      (Path of Purification – VissudhiMagga –> considered as one of the best analysis of Therawada Buddhism and this book is learnt by every SL Monk)

      • 4

        As far as is known he was from Magadha near today’s Bihar.

        • 4

          Okay, you can tell us where you ‘heard’ this.

          Tamil Buddhists contribute to Buddhist scriptures

          It was at this time that Tamil Nadu gave some of its greatest scholars (both Theravada and Mahayana) to the Buddhist world. Tamil Nadu boasted of outstanding Buddhist monks, who had made remarkable contributions to Buddhist thought and learning. Three of the greatest Pali scholars of this period were Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, and Dhammapala and all three of them were associated with Buddhist establishments in the Tamil kingdoms.

          Buddhaghosha is a Tamil monk, who made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He stayed and studied Buddhist precepts at Mahavihara in Anuradhapura. The Visuddhimagga was the first work of Buddhaghosha which was written while he was in Sri Lanka.

          After Buddhaghosha, the important Theravada monk from the Tamil country was Dhammapala. Dhammapala lived in the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. He composed paramathadipani which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s work on Khuddaka Nikaya and Paramathamanjusa, which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga. A close study of the three Buddhist monks viz Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosha and Dhammapala shows that Tamil Buddhists were closely associated with the Sri Lankan Buddhists around the 5th century AD.

          Source: http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=43,9583,0,0,1,0#.VsY8Ivl96Uk (they have much much more on this)

          • 2

            While acknowledging the contribution from tamil country, one should not forget that srilanka was and is the main intellectual centre for theravada buddhism.

            I recently read on srilankan monks were present in ancient buddhist temples in andhra pradesh as 2000 years ago!

          • 0

            The famous debate in Paandiya country in the 9th or 10th Century between Buddhists and Manikkavasagar apparently had Lankan participants. If they were not Tamils they would have been well versed in Tamil.
            Tamil has he only extant major Theravada Buddhist classic as a complete text. Another exists in parts.

      • 4

        Covering up of the followship of Buddhism and rich Buddhist culture is very intentional. No wonder why the Sinhalese people do not know anything about this. Superficial experts (!) try to mislead others further.

        Let’s see what the Buddhist Chalnnel (Bringing Buddha Dharma Home) articultes:

        Although Buddhism flourished in South India in ancient times, the 5th century AD Pali chronicles such as the Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa written by the Mahavihara monks of Anuradapura (Sri Lanka) remained silent about the introduction of Buddhism to South India. This is because, when Hindu/Brahmanism started reappearing in India and posed a threat to Buddhism, the Mahavihara monks of Anuradapura (Sri Lanka) due to their strong devotion to Buddhism and desire to consolidate and protect this religion in Sri Lanka wrote the Pali chronicles Deepavamsa/Mahavamsa just to glorify Buddhism and the Buddhist kings of Sri Lanka and not to record objectively what happened.

        They go further:

        The `Lion Ancestry` and the myths about the origin of the Sinhala race as pre-destined, true custodians of the island of Sri Lanka and guardians of Buddhism is a myth of the creative authors to protect Buddhism and is not the common true history. The ancient Sri Lankan Kingdom (Anuradapura) was ruled by both Buddhist and Hindu kings. There is no evidence what so ever to prove that they were Sinhala. An analysis of the Pali chronicles (Deepavamsa/Mahavamsa) makes it very clear that the Mahavihara monks who authored them in the 5th century AD have created the ethnic identity Sinhala, yoked it with Buddhism and created a new ethno-religious identity in Sri Lanka known as Sinhala-Buddhist to sustain the religion in the country for 5000 years.

        It is believed that most of the Tamil Buddhist literary work has been destroyed during religious controversies. The loss of Tamil Buddhist literature was a death blow to Tamil Buddhism. Apart from the Brahmi inscriptions and other archeological evidence found in Tamil Nadu and the available Tamil literary works, the Rock-Edicts of King Asoka also sheds much light on this subject. Even though the Pali chronicles did not mention the ethnic background of the ancient Sri Lankan Buddhists and the Buddhist kings right from Devanampiya Tissa, the Mahavamsa referred to the Non-Buddhist kings as Tamils (invaders).

        Interestingly, they go very deep into Tamil Buddhists contribution to Buddhist scriptures:

        It was at this time that Tamil Nadu gave some of its greatest scholars (both Theravada and Mahayana) to the Buddhist world. Tamil Nadu boasted of outstanding Buddhist monks, who had made remarkable contributions to Buddhist thought and learning. Three of the greatest Pali scholars of this period were Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, and Dhammapala and all three of them were associated with Buddhist establishments in the Tamil kingdoms.

        Seek knowledge, gain wisdom… (paraphrasing Buddha)

      • 0

        Whatg are your evidence to say that Monk buddhagosha was from tamilnadu ?

    • 0

      Who are those Tamil buddhist Scholars ?

      Can you name those ?

      • 5

        Jim softy the Dimwit

        You stupidity knows no bound.

        Tamil Literary Works by South Indian Buddhist Authors

        The Poem Maṇimekhalai
        Vīrasoliyam (Basis for Sinhala Grammar)
        Bimbisāra Kadai

        Eminent Buddhist Teachers who Lived in South India

        Aravaṇa Aḍigal
        Bhikkhunī Maṇimekhalai
        Sīthalai Sāttanār
        The Coḷian Bhikkhu Saṅghamitta
        Commentator Ācariya Buddhadatta
        The Mahā Thera Buddhamitra
        Ācāriya Dignāga
        Vice-Chancellor Dharmapāla of Nālandā
        Badaratīrtha Dhammapāla
        The Theras Buddhanandi and Sāriputra
        Dīpaṅkara Buddhappiya Thera
        Coḷa Kassapa Thera
        Anuruddha Thera
        Dhammakitti Thera

        Buddhism in South India
        Pandit Hisselle Dhammaratana Mahāthera

        Buddhist Publication Society
        Sri Lanka

        For your information,

        According to 1871 census there 12,000 Tamil Buddhists lived all over this island. They to have become Sinhala speaking Buddhists/Christians.

        I suggest once in while you come out of your bunker see the world around you for you will start learning for the first time in your stupid life.

        You will not benefit from reading books on Tamil Buddhism:

        Buddhism in Tamil Nadu: a New Perspective by Dr. Shu Hikosake

        Dhamila Bouthama by Prof Sunil Ariaratna

    • 2

      Buddhism was Tamil, long before there was any such thing as Sinhala Buddhism. There always were Tamil Buddhists and Tamil Buddhist societies in Jaffna and South India, just as there are Tamil Muslims in Lanka and South India.

      After all Sangamitta went to Lanka from South India, and there are many Tamil Buddhist texts including Silapattikaram and Manimaikalai.

    • 2

      Thank you Upali Cooray. Your analysis is correct in so far as BBS and Sinhe Le is an insult to What the Buddha Taught. AHIMSA, METTA, KARUNA, UPEKA, MUDITA.

      SinhaLE, Ravaya Balaya and Bodu Balu Senava are the vehicles of the Mahinda Jarapassa family dictatorship to fool the SInhala MODAYAS and DISTRACT them by DIVIDING and RULING the people of Lanka by attacking minorities.

      Please do not be naive Mr. Cooray.

      BBS is the Saffron Wing of the military dictatorship that Mahinda and Gota Rajapaksa were building in Sri Lanka. They still long for this family dictatorship with a Sinhala Buddhist MASK to legitimize their GREED for wealth, power and the hi life!

  • 15

    problem is when Sinhala people let these Muslims or Tamils an inch they want to rule Sinhala people by economically making them poor ,we had only few Muslims in sri lanka 200 years ago and now they are breading like rats to overtake sri lanka, Tamils always burn or destroy what ever Sinhala people built during last 2000 years, to keep our way of life Sinhala people need to fight all the time , Muslims sell drugs to Sinhala people they import from Pakistan and Afghanistan, Tamils all over the world trying to undermine Sri Lankan independence to take half of the country so we need to keep fighting these sinister forces , we have been doing it for last 2000 years, you people are migrants to sri lanka , so adapt our way of life,

    • 13

      well said, san….

    • 14


      you have eloquently amplified my point about the Sinhala Buddhist chronic insecurity! What a man you are!

      It is this destructive belief that Sri Lanka belongs to the Sinhala Buddhists alone based on fabricated history is the heart of the matter.

      What have you built during last 200 years? How did you conclude that it was Sinhala Buddhists who built them? Why are the Sinhala Buddhist bone-idle? Why cannot endeavour to prosper on an equal playing field? Why are you jealous of the Tamils and Muslims?

      • 3

        @Burning Issue
        Just like the person you are critiquing, you have no evidence for what you are claiming either!

        • 5

          What exactly you are on about? Is it my assertion about the Sinhala Buddhist insecurity? If so, please use the web you get plenty of materials for you to ponder about!

      • 0

        You are talking stupid.

    • 4

      Sinhala Buddhists? Don’t blame others for your own slow growth rate caused by impotency and low fertility. This can only happen in high indulgence and addiction to drugs, smoking and alcoholism, promotion of safe sex is acceptable, but misuse of contraception and contraceptive methods, too much freedom given to unmarried children causing indulgence and experimenting in sex before marriage. This will eventually lead higher rate of abortions caused by unplanned pregnancies, a high rate of marriage break-up and separation due to higher migrant workforce, conversions to other faiths. Finally, it all adds up to a sizable decrease in population growth.

      On the other hand, Muslims by and large are prohibited consuming alcohol and drugs by stricter enforcement in their religion, off-spring are closely guarded and protected to prevent mingling. All Muslim parents expect their children to be chaste until marriage, and most marriages are still arranged when young and ready for it. Planned parenthood is encouraged whilst abortion is discouraged and avoided at all cost. Contraception is usually not an option until children are born and further, rare cases of conversion to other faiths.

      So the message is don’t feel jealous of Muslims, as they don’t intend to harm anyone. But at least pick up a thing or two from them and bring it into practice.

      Yes, you are right, there is only one Sinhala Buddhist country in the world, whereas there are nearly 53 Muslim majority countries speaking many languages and dialects. Even the birth place of the founder of Buddhism could not be saved and was overrun by Hindus, unlike the birthplace and resting place of the last Prophet of Islam – Mecca and Medina are teeming with millions of pilgrims from all over the world every year round, and every day of the year.

      Don’t get me wrong, I am not being provocative in any way. I value my many Buddhist friends and my neighbors will vouch my sincerity to maintain closeness and affinity with them. But when you alienate and dispossess us for being Muslims and disqualify us equal stakeholders in this, our own country – the land of our birth, that really hurts.

      • 0

        ‘Sinhala Buddhists? Don’t blame others for your own slow growth rate caused by impotency and low fertility’

        there was a story a few years back on a Muslim caught selling flour or something to that nature with chemicals which cause impotency specifically to the Sinhalese.

        Muslims have a very high growth rate even among the poor but how do they sustain their finances? Is the mosque funding them? I think so.. and from where does the mosque get it’s funds?… foreign NGO’s or even govt’s?

        We are not jealous of muslims.. why should we be? Look at Iraq ad Syria. Muslim nations were blessed with oil but they better keep praying to find more reserves to sustain the future generations. Muslims have constantly been provocative towards all religions in Sri Lanka, they try and convert and start building mosques around every corner even in and around holy Buddhist and Hindu sites. Sri Pada (Yes Sri Pada, not Adam’s Peak) was proclaimed to be a Muslim site and there is even a mosque in the premises of Kataragama.. I have heard of Mosques coming up in the vicinity of Somawathie Chaithiya as well.

        The Muslim attitude has changed in Sri Lanka and the Buddhists are simply reacting to it.. we aren’t like the Buddhists in Myammar who commit genocide against muslims but you portray to be as such.

      • 1

        “Even the founder of the birth place of Buddhism could not be saved it was overrun by Hindus……..”
        ” thee are nearly 53 Muslim countries speaking many languages and dialects….”
        Muslims were not there in India when the Hindu prince Siddartha founded a philosophical base to a way of life that the people of the subcontinent lived by. It was called Buddhism the meaning of which has it’s origin in the word ‘buddhi’, meaning intellect.
        Buddhist philosophy was scientific and not ritualistic like the Hinduism that the ordinary people follow.
        Coming back to your boast about 53 Muslim majority countries, we know that you will lie through your teeth that they became Islamic peacefully and not through deception or at the point f the sword, nor will you be honest enough to admit to the fact that it was through Muslim invasions of India that the Buddhist universities of Takshashila and Nalanda were destroyed and annihilated.
        Without elaborating further let me end this by saying that Tamil Himdus and Sinhalese Buddhist in this island have more in common between themselves than you Muslims, even though may speak Tamil and your agenda for world domination through the ISIS will will hit the barrier before long.

    • 2

      San, you may cry over the inability and incapability of the Sinhala Buddhists but it makes no sense grumbling over the abillity and capability of others. It is the Sinhalese who run the administration of the country and if they have failed to do it properly and allowed others to do wrong that affects the Sinhalese who are to be blamed. You are blaming the Muslims on drungs. What about liquor. Can you point out a single Muslim owing a liquor shop or bar. You will not fail to find a liquor shop in any Sinhala Buddhist majority areas. You will not fail to find long queues outside these shops particularly on the day before the poya-day and you will not fail to find that the sale of meat in the neighbouring meat stall is more on such days than on any other day. A bit of self-criticism would be useful befor blaming others.

    • 2


      “problem is when Sinhala people let these Muslims or Tamils an inch they want to rule Sinhala people by economically making them poor,”

      You are wrong as usual.

      If Sinhala/Buddhists noisy minority work harder and smarter then they can prosper, not expecting 8 measures of free rice imported from the moon.

      Actually, after 68 years of self-rule the people are so fad up, Tamils, Sinhalese and Muslims want foreigners to rule them. At least, they will have a common enemy to fight aginst.

      “we had only few Muslims in sri lanka 200 years ago and now they are breading like rats to overtake sri lanka, “

      Census Records states:

      Sinhala population in

      1881, 1,846,600,

      2011 15,250,081 an increase of 725% over 130 years

      Tamil population in

      1881, 687,200

      2011, 3,108,770 an increase of 352% over 130 years

      Muslim population

      1881, 184,500

      2011, 1,046,926 an increase of 467% over 130 years

      Now you tell us who has been breeding like rats only if you understand how percentages are presented?

  • 9

    My views on Prabaharan aside…

    //If one looks at Velupillai Prabhakaran’s life story, he was born to a Kariyar cast (Fishermen) family in Valvettithurai in Jaffna. His father being a government servant they were a middle class family. Valvettithurai was a smuggling center between India and Sri Lanka. His cast is generally identified with the fishing community and considered low cast. His education was only up to 5th standard. //

    First, Prabaharan is from a well to do family. His family was not in the fishing profession.

    Who said Prabaharan dropped out of school with his 5th Standard? The only picture the government machinery had when they were looking for him was taken for his G.C.E (O/L) postal identity card.

    This link has his biographical details and one of his pictures from his teenage. http://www.asiantribune.com/node/889

    JVP’s Rohana Wijeweera was also a Karawa. Did JVP fight against caste oppression as well?

    Karaiyar caste was not a subordinate or suppressed/oppressed caste. They were proud about their trade.

    Well, the writer doesn’t seem to care about the facts. So be it!

    • 1


      “Well, the writer doesn’t seem to care about the facts. So be it!”

      The writers always have this itch in their fingers to type and a writers block in their head to say stupid things.

      The Sinhala/Buddhists always blame the victims and absolve their own sins by attributing all causes to others.

      They find it very dishonourable to own up mistakes, say sorry and move on.

  • 18

    Mr.Upali Cooray,

    I have to laud your concluding paragraph. What you prescribe is the right medicine for our chronic ailment.

    I have never subscribed to the ‘ Mahawansa Mentality’ proposition. It is more a sentiment put forward by the Tamil political elite. However, the Sinhala-Buddhist identity that is being promoted as a political tool, by the Sinhala political elite is not acceptable either. The crisis in Sri Lanka centers around language related ethnic identities. Why is the religious factor being introduced in increasing doses into what has become an intractable ethnic problem, starting with the ‘ Catholic Action’ movement directed against the Catholics and now the Muslims? Why are the modern cellular research findings that show the Sinhalese and Tamils are almost the same people finding greater traction. Why are these studies not brought to the attention of the people by the media. Why are facts that the Aryan and Dravidian classifications have no basis, not brought to the attention of the people?

    Why are attempts being yet made, with State support, to change Tamil place names in the South to ones that sound Sinhala (eg. Uddappu to Udappuwa). Is it not an attempt to deny the historical presence of the Tamils in the island? Why yet the attempts to create villages named in Sinhala in the north and colonize them with Sinhalese? Tamils have no objections to Sinhalese settling voluntarily in the North. We know the historical fact that Sinhalese lived in Jaffna during the times of the Jaffna Kings. Even low caste Sinhalese who could not get ordained in the South were ordained in a Vihara in Punkuditheevu in Jaffna! Why is the fact that there were Tamil Buddists in Jaffna and other parts of the island not publicized?is this not a tragedy and a travesty?

    You also believe in the concocted theories propounded by those who have something to gain from them. You say Vellupillai, Prabakaran’s father was a government servant. He also held a senior rank. However, you go on to say that Prabaharan as a person of the Karaiyar caste had no chance to climb the social ladder. How could a boy who played truant and showed no interest in studies, climb the social ladder? Further, how can you imply that he killed Alfred Duraippa for reasons of caste? He was killed because of his support for the Sirimavo government.

    Further, you call the Vellahla’s are a previleged lot in terms of the Sri Lankan polity? Yes, they were a dominant and dominating caste within Jaffna, a situation that was the result of historical evolution, however unacceptable it is now. However, they had better educational opportunities due to once again a historical accident that synchronized with a hard working ethic and desire for learning that already existed. It was not a favor granted by the colonialists to a minority as portrayed. The British Governor of that time, basically exiled the American missionaries to Jaffna because of its remote location and distant war being fought between the American Freedom seekers and the British. They established schools and this triggered an education revolution in Jaffna. The Hindu elements also organized themselves to establish Hindu schools to compete with missionary schools. There was a thirst for education that was quenched. The benefits followed. The Jaffna man, particularly the Vellahla’s benefited in the government employment field as a result. They were also much in demand in Malaya and Singapore. Was this a fault of the Tamils? Was it justified to punish the Tamils post-independence, whatever their political compulsions were?

    We have to divest ourselves of our perverted understanding of history and look at a our affairs rationally. We have to accept that we are equal citizens, who need equal opportunities and security. The Sinhease as a majority group would cumulatively have 70+ % of the opportunities and benefits. They will yet dominate and their identity prevail. They will not be threatened by permitting the minorities their share of the national pie. If the minorities succeed and are prosperous,this country as a whole will benefit. We should learn to look at ourselves as citizens of Sri Lanka first and foremost and not try to take advantage of numbers to disadvantage others belonging to smaller groups. This is a lesson we should all learn. We should also stop insulting each other based on myths, misconceptions, ignorance and mischief.

    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

    • 2

      Dr Narendran
      Thank you for this fitting reply

    • 3

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

      “The crisis in Sri Lanka centers around language related ethnic identities. Why is the religious factor being introduced in increasing doses into what has become an intractable ethnic problem,”

      The combination of language and religion had produced a lethal cocktail of parochial nationalist forces.

      Therefore we need to urgently liberate Buddhism from Sinhala/Buddhists and Tamil from Tamil/Saivaites.

      Sadly many liberal Sinhalese do not seem to understand this in their hurry to preserve Sinhalese as a unique race. Instead what they have done is to lend support to the growth of a fascistic tendency which has caused self destruction among the Sinhala speaking people.

      The combined manufactured identity of Sinhala/Buddhism is not going to save them either.

  • 0

    [Edited out]

  • 9

    Mr.Upali Cooray,
    1. Are you invited for the Path in Poole at Navagamuwa Pathini Temple on the 8th March International Women’s Day ? The prayers are for MaRa.

    2. Since you have a surname ” Cooray “,
    have you done any genome analysis on your parambarawa.?

    3. All the Christian Schools gave admissions to students regardless of their cast, religion , race or economic status.
    Also the Hindu Schools started by individual philanthropists big or small never practised cast based admissions at least since 1900.
    Above all, after the introduction of free education by Kanagara in 1944 the social mobility increased across the various communities. Since the 1960 so mainly because of the effort by leftist parties Hindu temples in the NE opened the temples to all.

    3. Not only the Tamils, Sinhalese also have cast system particularly when it comes to personal lives like marriage, obtaining
    Religious services from the respective priests. How about names like Silvas , Fernandos , and casts like Salgadus, Karawas,Goigama and so on ?.

    4. Since independence what dominant cast the majority of the Sri Lanka Leaders belong.

    5. Mr Cooray please do not stirr up thongs using outdated tactics or maneuvering.

  • 9

    I too have been amazed at the level of racism against the Sinhalese and Buddhists on this website – especially by the commentators – most of whom I doubt live in Sri Lanka.

    History is history. Almost all historical documents contain myths – check out those from India, China or from Scandanavia for that matter. To take these myths as factual statements and then condemn them using the modern terms of “rationality” is an indication of ignorance, and lack of intellectual maturity.

    The easy access to print thanks to the Internet has created many demons – self appointed historians, cultural commentators, journalists, not to mention ISIS followers.

    So real rational people need to take what’s written as factual in the internet with not just a pinch, but rather a barrel of salt!!

    As a Sinhalese and a Buddhist, I am proud of my culture in what it has achieved in Sri Lanka, including the fostering of a literary tradition for Theravada buddhism. I am also proud of the fact that we have hosted foreigners, and over time integrated them in to the Sri Lankan cultural milieu. Consequently our sinhalese culture too has changed. That is nature. None of us humans is a mono-cultural product. We are ALL hybrids, culturally. Instead of being ashamed about these diverse influences, we should CELEBRATE our ability to incorporate foreign elements to strengthen ourselves intellectually, culturally, artistically etc.

    The closest relatives to the Sinhalese are the Tamils. We are brothers and sisters to each other – never forget that. We have lived amongst each other for millenia, and will continue to do so. We will continue to influence each other, and hopefully mutually benefit each other’s culture.

    Let us not commit fratricide, any longer, by giving into the ultra-nationalist morons (from both ethnicities) on the Internet and the media who want nothing but power and money.

    • 2

      Well said!
      Every single “culture” and ethnic group and religion has a mythological component, that is part of being human..abstract thinking and imagination. Take for instance Hindu mythology, which is part and parcel of Hindu religion, would anyone reject Hinduism because of the complex mythology attached to it? No. I don’t think so. Perhaps followers of that great religion can enlighten the rest as to whether their faith is compromised by the mythology attached to it?

  • 5

    Analyse, criticize and keep writing. One thing for sure is that the island and its people have survived all of this before and they will survive and withstand it for many generations to come. Those who try to undermine the country’s history and culture have only made attempts and have failed miserably. People of Sri Lanka are not brainless and can careless about the petty propaganda and politics and will stand united at the needed hour. However the overseas non-returning Sri Lankans don’t see it this way and will continue to consume much of their time in a frozen bygone period. Sometimes people just need to respect history, realize the reality and face the future, because you are only wasting everyone’s time.

  • 0

    Re: “Since the end of the war against terrorism in Sri Lanka the people’s expectations of a peaceful country to live in was achieved to a great extent in 2009”

    The author should have mentioned about who started the war against innocent Tamils,who were caught unawares all over the island in 1958 and continues up to now!! He seems to be having severe amnesia! He should refresh his memory about the burning of the Library, schools, bombings of the churches and temples with thousands and thousands of men, women, children, old and infirm sheltering inside!! Thousands of innocent lives lost due to starvation, deprivation of medicine, milk food and other essentials!!Young men and women made to disappear and held indefinitely without charges!! Thousands of Tamils made homeless and living in makeshift camps while the murderous army is occupying their houses, farms up to now!!

    Pirapaharan is the creation of Sinhala Budhists cruelty!

  • 0

    The battle between the two schools of Buddhism: very tolerant?

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