4 December, 2021

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Sinhalabuddhism In Sri Lanka

By Sharmini Serasinghe

Sharmini Serasinghe

“A tyrant must put on the appearance of uncommon devotion to religion. Subjects are less apprehensive of illegal treatment from a ruler whom they consider god-fearing and pious. On the other hand, they do less easily move against him, believing that he has the gods on his side” Aristotle

If Lord Buddha were here now there is one thing he would do- ban Sinhalabuddhism in Sri Lanka! – With apologies to Mark Twain.

As a Sri Lankan and a Buddhist by faith I take it upon myself, as others have not the right, to define the significant differences between the philosophy of Buddhism as per the teachings of Lord Buddha and what is practiced by the majority in this country under the umbrella of Buddhism. This I do, not to wear my religion on my sleeve but to explain to my fellow multi religious Sri Lankans and others who may be in a confused state regarding the current goings-on in this country by the name of Buddhism.

To start with the majority of Buddhists in this country who label themselves ‘Buddhists’ are those who were born to Buddhist families. Therefore they did not become Buddhists through an understanding and conviction of the Buddhist doctrine but were simply born Buddhists.

Buddhism in its pure form is too deep and complex a philosophy to be understood by the average and undisciplined mind; its teachings, therefore, are greatly misunderstood and misinterpreted by ‘born Buddhists’. Hence a majority of those Sri Lankans who label themselves ‘Buddhists’ and practice it as a religion do so with their own perception of the doctrine.

Therefore what is practiced by most Sri Lankans under the Umbrella of Buddhism is a conjured up blend of ritualism and symbolism that bears no resemblance or relation whatsoever to the philosophy of the Buddha.

For instance Lord Buddha never asked his followers to go to temple on Full Moon (Poya) days or any other day for that matter and offer flowers stolen from a neighbour’s garden and deposit them in front of a clay or stone statue perceived to be his image. He never told his followers that by doing so a great load of merit would be bestowed on them.

Lord Buddha never asked his followers to pour pots of water on the ‘Bo tree’ (Bodhi Puja) thereby encouraging it to rot and die. He never told his followers that by doing so a great load of merit would be bestowed on them, deliver them from their misery of a ‘bad period’ resulting in ill health, loss of employment, wealth etc.

Also Lord Buddha never asked his followers to invite home Buddhist monks to lunch (offer alms) in order to transfer merit to dead people so that they will go straight to heaven. He never told his followers that by doing so even rapists, murderers, child molesters et al will be born as angels in heaven or attain nirvana, courtesy almsgivings.

Therefore as illustrated above, ‘Buddhism’ as practiced by most Sri Lankans is a theory that satisfies the simple minded uneducated and unenlightened majority of a ‘need’, whatever it may be.

The root cause of this phenomenon is that Buddhism has no God to appeal to in times of crisis like in other faiths. The average human being needs a supernatural power to look to when faced with a crisis, so the first instinct of a Sri Lankan ‘Buddhist’ is to run to the temple, pile flowers in front of statues, pour gallons of water on the Bodhi tree, visit the Hindu Kovil and break coconuts and even run to a Church and plead with Jesus, Virgin Mary and Saints, etc.,

All these above-mentioned and more rituals are performed in the fervent hope that one be released from suffering or to gain merit (Pin) in order to acquire more and more materially. Therefore the Buddhist theory of ‘Karma’ (cause and effect) the fundamental doctrine in Buddhism has no place in Sri Lankan ‘Buddhism’ for it offers no divine salvation in times of need.

This is not to say that there aren’t any Sri Lankans both amongst the Buddhist clergy and the laity who follow Buddhism as it should, but the majority unfortunately, politicians included, observe the other- Sri Lankan Buddhism.

According to Sri Lanka’s political history it was the late SWRD Bandaranaike who threw scruples to the wind and propagated the concept of ‘Sinhalabuddhism’ much to the detriment of Sri Lanka as we now know. Recognising the fragility and weaknesses of the Sinhalese who were mainly ‘Buddhists’ which made up the majority vote base, he himself a born and buried at death Anglican Christian, became a pro tem ‘Buddhist’ for political mileage and created a mass hysteria under the banner ‘Sinhalabuddhist’ the curse of which has today become the root of all ills plaguing this nation. As ‘Karma’ (cause and effect) would have it Bandaranaike was gunned down by none other but a pistol-toting Sinhalabuddhist in saffron robes.

This demonic concept of a ‘Sinhalabuddhist’ introduced by the late SWRD Bandaranaike was to become sine qua non for future politicians of Sri Lanka especially in his SLFP to garner votes at elections. The UNP regarded more as a bourgeoisie party practiced ‘Sinhalabuddhism’ more subtly. The late JR Jayewardene portrayed himself as a prima facie Buddhist as per the Dhamma and therefore never openly encouraged ‘Sinhalabuddhism.’

His successor however, the late Ranasinghe Premadasa turned Sinhalabuddhism into a form of art. Not satisfied only with what ‘Sinhalabuddhism’ afforded him, Premadasa went on to embrace Hinduism as well. With this he set the trend for subsequent politicians to pray to Hindu Gods at various Hindu temples in Sri Lanka and India for more and more of whatever they desired.

So here we are today in ‘Sinhalabuddhist’ Sri Lanka reductio ad absurdum thanks to the myopic and selfish politicians of a bygone era. We are now nothing but a decadent nation of murderers, rapists, child molesters, rogues et al, with an Idiocracy for a government mostly made up of ‘Sinhalabuddhists’ and a ‘Sinhalabuddhist’ ruler who reportedly assures that “the government, while ensuring religious freedom for all communities by enhancing interreligious harmony and tolerance, is always duty bound to safeguard and foster Buddhism”.

I believe what he meant was “safeguard and foster Sinhalabuddhism”.

Today in the name of Sinhalabuddhism, the revered saffron robe donned by disciples of Lord Buddha has been turned by some into a uniform of bigots of ‘Sinhalabuddhism’ who propagate intolerance, cruelty and disrespect of other religions; the very opposite of Buddhism as per the Dhamma.

As a lay-student of the world renowned most Venerable Piyadassi Maha Thera I consider myself privileged to have had such an eminent Guru of the Buddhist order. Rev. Piyadassi as I referred to him had been a close friend of my family for generations with whom we had frequent interaction. Here was a Buddhist monk who would insist that we sit with him at table and have lunch along with him while I as a curious teenager bombarded him with questions on Buddhism which he answered patiently and clearly. This type of interaction with such teachers is what is required today.

With Rev. Piyadassi’s demise in 1998, in my eyes at the time, he left shoes too big to be filled. But now I know better. For there are many Buddhist prelates and monks of his caliber out there who are worthy of being revered and worshipped as the true messengers of Lord Buddha’s philosophy and they are those who can guide Sri Lanka’s future Buddhist generations on the correct path.

If Sri Lanka’s incumbent President sincerely wishes to safeguard and foster Buddhism in its pristine form then it is his bounden duty to disband all those ‘Sinhalabuddhist’ bigots in saffron robes and either rehabilitate them or put them away for good preferable behind bars, so as to ensure they will never sully our nation or the Dhamma again.

Furthermore, the President must also take it upon himself to bring forth a system whereby our impressionable younger and future generations of Buddhists are taught the Dhamma by intelligent and educated Buddhist prelates as opposed to those stick-in the-mud Buddhist monks who by no stretch of one’s imagination are pristine models of Buddhism to do the job.
Further it would augur well if the incumbent President was sincere when he reportedly assured “religious freedom for all communities by enhancing interreligious harmony and tolerance” to consider introducing the subject of Comparative Religion to all schools.

The primary benefit of this would be to afford our children at a very early age to acquire a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophy of different religions practiced in Sri Lanka.

A child who has undertaken such a course of study will undoubtedly have a much deeper understanding of human beliefs and practices and therefore be more tolerant of each other and not feel threatened by the religion of the other.
This would ideally lead to a finally peaceful Sri Lanka where all ethnic groups and religions could live together in harmony as Sri Lankans under the undivided umbrella of Sri Lanka!

The question is, are our politicians selfless enough to take up such a challenge?

Read the Sinhala translation here.  Translation by Yahapalanaya Lanka.

*Sharmini Serasinghe was Director Communications of the former Secretariat for Coordinating the Peace Process (SCOPP) under Secretary Generals Jayantha Dhanapala and Dr. John Gooneratne. She counts over thirty years in journalism in both the print and electronic media.

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    Leela mentioned Kalama Sutra in several comments. I wonder whether she knows what Kalama Sutra Is? Kalama Sutra says that just because some religion or philosophy is given to you by tradition, by custom, by birth, by parents, by learned teachers, by acceptance by majority of people or in other instances- Do not believe or accept anything. How should we accept a teaching or religion according to Kalama Sutra? – Just analyze it and see whether the practicing the said religion does any good to you and to others. Will it harm you or others? I if you find that it will harm others do not believe it even though you feel good. Traditional Buddhism we learnt wanted us to follow rituals. Worshiping the Bodhi tree and gods. Building Buddha status in all places and worshiping Buddha status with food and other things. Chanting Pali verses most of the people do not understand. Traditional Buddhist clergy practise caste systems. Sinhalese Buddhism is full of misconceptions. If we follow Kalama Sutra, we should not follow all the things our Sinhalese Buddhist monks preach or coming to us by tradition or by parents, blindly. We have to study Buddhism by learning and studying original Buddhist texts and interpretations given by Scholars. Then we will realize the Sinhalese Buddhism is much different to real Buddhism Buddha taught. Impermanency, Suffering and Soullessness (Anithya, Dukka, and Anathma) are the basics. Then Buddha offered 4 noble truths and 8 fold path as the solution. Anyone who has a slightest idea of these concepts will not advocate communalism. Anyone who has slightest understanding of Buddhism would not discriminate against people from other religions or communities. What Leela, KA Sumanasekera , Don Carolis are suggesting is that only people who want to attend Nirvana should study real Buddhism and others would be alright if they just practice rituals in Sinhala Buddhism. My dear friends there is no difference between one who is following just rituals and one who does not have any religion at all. There is rush to study Buddhist philosophy, meditation techniques all over the world. Psychologists, Scientists and Doctors often use Buddhist techniques in their work. Meditation classes are conducted in even in remote cities in the world. It unfortunate and sad that majority of the Sinhalese Buddhists live still lives with ignorance and illusion that they are the best Buddhists and guardians of Buddhism, and do nothing to follow what Buddha taught.

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    Phew Sami!..your own pitiful religious stance shows its nakedness in the way you write and address this woman, who, as is her right has given a view point and a challenge that is obviously way beyond the grasp of the likes of you Sami… Yes and helo, you too mercenary Leela,( how much do they pay you machang for following these posts and adding your brand of dung ? and of course our pitiful masochistic KA Sumanasekera(who gets excited by a good bashing!)and Jim Softy and The Karolis chap(such APT names boys wow!)
    If you were anywhere near true Buddhists or at least self respecting analysts you would:
    1. be able to give this piece a balanced and dispassionate critique
    2. See the merits of this article in the light of the urgent need for snuffing out racism ..and a racism draped fashionably in saffron robes at that!
    3. Put the needs of the country at this time, ABOVE your own wee rather disgraceful agendas (and boring hackneyed conspiracy theories..yaawn!)
    4. Know the skill of making a worthwhile response on a space like this and not disgrace your selves by serving up the drivel you have in your pitiful contributions.

    I note a particularly low standard of critical ability here..as compared to other articles.. has your testosterone perhaps taken a beating ?? Eh Sami ??(aiyo machang! amaaru the?)she really gets your goat doesnt she?? Have you STOPPED TO THINK WHY?? ( or are you sitting on that thing you think with?)

    This woman has done more to safe guard real Buddhism than these bird brains can aspire to do in their life time!

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      Shanthini,
      Please read my comments and particularly the one at far below and tell me from where you, Sharmini and the so-called real Buddhists learned your real (pure) Buddhism.
      Leela

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      Shanthini

      Please ignore Leela, he is an executive member of the BBS and will not tolerate a dissenting voice :)

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    Native ,who is one of my few mates here says keep Sinhala and Buddhism separate.

    How can we ,when Ms Senarasinghe says we are born with Sinhala Buddhist tattooed on our foreheads?.

    It is the Sinhala Buddhist who protected Buddha and his teachings when his own brethren including his own caste Brahamins destined his philosophy to the dust bin of history in India.

    Thanks to our Sinhala Buddhist President Prema, Buddha’s history is back and alive in his birth place.

    And brings in a decent income in FX to the poor natives in the region.

    Rather than banning us Sinhala Buddhists, Lord Buddha would have given us inhabitants a pat on the back and said well done dudes.

    One thing Ms Thisaranee has forgotten or left out is the freedom that us Sinhala Buddhists enjoy with respect to our right to practice religion.

    As Ms Thisaranee pointed out inhabitants are the only Buddhists who have compassion and faith in other religions too.

    Putiting a few bucks in Poosari’s pocket to ask for few favors from his Lords, or praying to Virgin Mary and making a vow to go to St Annes.are examples of genuine freedom and tolerance of other religions.

    No Mahanayaka can excommunicate us and stamp never admit in our passports even if we rubbish our own religion and our monks.

    s

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      K.A. Sumanasekera

      I know you are weak in arithmetic.

      Buddha’s teaching has nothing to do with Sinhala/Buddhists which my elders consider a regressive socio political force, actually it is a fraudulently constructed identity.

      Buddha renounced kingdom, family and everything he once possessed. Sinhala/Buddhists exercise total political power, grab land, can be easily bribed, don’t respect for life, ……………above all irredeemably stupid.

      Sinhala/Buddhist don’t practice what Buddha taught. They live in Dukka and make others suffer Dukka.

      There are about 400 million Buddhist living through out the world who don’t consider themselves as Sinhala/Buddhist. Most of them are adhered to Buddhism and the appear much happier.

      There is no end to Buddha’s teaching. However I am not sure whether Sinhala/Buddhism can survive another 30 years.

      On the side I am working on liberating Sinhala people and Buddhists from Sinhala/Buddhists.

      How can you help me?

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      K.A. Sumanasekera

      Buddha’s teaching belongs to the world but Sinhala/Buddhist identity belongs in the trash bin.

      You are free to chose between the two. Do you know which one to chose if you want to avoid Dukka and really want to attain Nibbana?

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        And the trash bin belongs to the world isn’t it. Very confusing.

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    KA
    Time you retired to bed you are now confusing even the author of this with some other woman..and your reference to Native.. helo?! he hasnt even written in..good night! ( Take the hint man!)

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    Sri Lanka became multi religious because Sinhala women were ready to court with foreigners.

    That trend continues even to date.

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      Jim Softy

      Are you a irrational male chauvinist p.g?

      You say:

      “Sri Lanka became multi religious because Sinhala women were ready to court with foreigners.”

      This amounts to public scrutiny of women’s private parts. Don’t the men court white skin women? Or do the Sinhala/Buddhist men court white skinned men?

      There may be important reasons for women choosing foreigners:

      Local men are not good in bed shall we say impotent.
      Local men are horrible and repulsive.
      Local men cannot have hold intelligent conversation with local women.
      Local men are stupid.
      Local men enjoy sex but do not understand love making.
      Local men cheat.
      Local men ……………..

      These are few of the reason as to why local women chose to go out with foreigners.

      As a result local men rape local and foreign women.

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        Native;
        Do you have any liking to reply to Maniacs and Psychopaths LIKE THEIR BOSSES.

        I think, It is Waste Of Time, and theses Lot never Ever learn as they are Paid to Comment

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          JULAAMPITYE AMARAYA

          “I think, It is Waste Of Time, and theses Lot never Ever learn as they are Paid to Comment”

          If they are paid they are not doing a good job at that.

          MR should be the greatest stupid to hire these paid cheerleaders.

          I know MR is like his fellow citizens, a stupid but he is not that stupid to hire fellow stupid.

          These people support and provide MR free service without any request.

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        Softy is right (in a way). The rate of marriage between diaspora Sinhalese females and Western (white) men is quite high. That is why I said elsewhere that, in fact, Sinhalese are liberal. They assimilate very well in Western nations.

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    Great piece of work. Thanks Sharmini.
    Ignore the comments made with hatred. Those authors are collecting bad karma for themselves.

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    After reading this article, I looked up Piyadassi Thera, the venerable teacher the author mentioned, and read a little about him and some of his work. Read his introduction to his translation of The Book of Protection: Paritta

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/piyadassi/protection.html#s4

    From just reading his introduction, it appears to me that her teacher would not have spoken so harshly regarding the rituals that are important in people’s lives. By starting off criticizing how she thinks the majority of Buddhists in Sri Lanka practice their beliefs, she set herself apart and lost the opportunity to get her main point across. My impression was that she was mocking other people, which to my limited knowledge does not reflect right speech. I admit I know very little about Sri Lanka but I admire the kindness and integrity of the Sri Lankans I know. I am a “Westerner” who as such many who posted here may criticize and who may tell me to mind my own business. However, I mean no offense to any of you and I wish the best for all of you. I appreciate all that I have learned of the Dharma from the work of Buddhist monks in Sri Lanka who have translated the Pali Canon and have made it accessible to people around the world, like me.

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      Mary Jane McEwan,

      Rev. Piyadassi Thera was a popular Buddhist prelate both in Sri Lanka and around the world because he was able to translate the teachings of the Buddha to the educated and the uneducated with equal finesse.

      With the less educated, he didn’t denounce the Buddhist rituals performed by the average Sri Lankan but explained in simple language what the symbols involved in these rituals meant.

      Take for instance the offering of flowers to statues. The Buddha compared the similarities of a flower with the human body, “Just as these flowers fade, our bodies will undergo decay and fade.”

      Likewise, the ritual of watering the sacred fig tree (Bodhi or Bo tree).This tree provided shade while the Buddha meditated and so his followers kept nourishing the tree with water.

      The average Buddhist who has no understanding of the significance of these symbols have turned them into rituals in the hope of gaining merit and a better afterlife. This is contradictory to the teaching of the Buddha.

      Similar is the offering of alms (food) to Buddhist monks. The death of an individual is a Rite of Passage and so Buddhists invite monks to the home where the departed lived and offer alms in memory of the departed. This act of sharing food and good thoughts help the living relatives to feel less sorrow at the absence of the departed. But many Buddhist who perform this ritual believe that the merit gained by this act could be passed on to the departed.

      In ancient times the Buddhist temple (abode of monks) was the center of social activity unlike in modern times. So the temple became the gathering place for the community to do something together. Hence the rituals of offering flowers to statues, watering the Bo tree etc became
      the Buddhism they could relate to. The Buddha never asked his followers to perform these rituals so they could obtain merit. But the less educated Buddhist believe otherwise.

      Rev. Piyadassi Thera didn’t denounce these practices which are harmless anyway but they are still performed for all the wrong reasons despite him having explained the symbolic significance of these practices.

      Peace Dove

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        Dear Peace Dove
        Yours is the best comment on this page. It is written in the Spirit of Buddhism, recalling the Brahma Viharas or Divine Abodes of Meththa and Karuna, (Kindness and Compassion).All of us do not have the Learning and Intelligence to understand the Buddha’s Teaching in all its entirety, but we do love to honour him as a Man who reached a High level of Mind that is attainable by all humanity. Everyone has to start at the bottom, and it is the duty of Buddhist Monks and Teachers to lead us through the first steps of the Noble Eightfold Path, even if it means social rituals and chanting, at the start. As Sharmini points out it is the selfseeking Politicians who are making a mockery of the Buddha’s Dhamma.

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        Dear Peace Dove – I guess this is the Buddhist teaching needs to be revived. Thank you.

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          Hussain Fahmy

          Buddha’s teaching should be liberated from Sinhala/Buddhists.

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            Dear First Generation, Native Vedda – His teachings Should be polished and re-introduced to the Sinhalese in its pristine condition. Perhaps it should be started with the Sinhellist (BBS/JHU/SR)

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    Shamini Serasinghe, well written. But it is a tragedy that rulers are politicizing Buddhism. This is the curse for the country.

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      I think it is a two way business going on in Sri Lanka politics and Sinhala Buddhism.

      Why did SWRD Bandaranaike who was a Christian and a St.Thomas and Oxford graduate came to Sri Lanka and changed to a Buddhist…..and also changed National language as Sinhala only in 24 hours.

      There are many I could write…….but now both Politicians and the Buddhist Priests have hi-jacked our country to fulfill each others requirement.

      I still feel that Mahayana Buddhism which is practised in developped Eastern and Western countries is more realistic, more nourishing and more into Buddha preaching than Theravada Buddhism which is been practiced in Sri Lanka and other under developped countries.(please check Google to see the difference and what the comments say)

      BUDDHISM AND SRI LANKAN POLITICS NOURISHING EACH OTHER FOR POWER GRAB AND USED AS A WEAPON TO UNDERMINE AND SUPRESS OTHER RACES AND RELIGIONS.

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    Mary Jane McEwans

    I appreciate your response and the spirit in which it is made (thoughtful, founded on research, and sensitive to all)Many have a lot to learn from this approach to dialogue on a space such as this. I disagree with you however on your take on the authors criticism and your impression that she was ” Mocking other people”.

    I appreciate that our Srilankan way of calling each other to account may be blunt,harsh and so direct it may grate on your sensibilities. However this author is probably a very local woman, like my self who has been raised among,seen,tasted and been nauseated by the relentless abuse and distortion of the purity of faith principles for political and other gain.A degree of divergence, dialogue and soul searching about ones faith among a community of faith practitioners is I believe healthy and necessary to keep the belief wholesome, relevant and not a tool of evil in wrong hands. This author has stimulated such a dialogue.

    Ms McEwans, we have lived through 26years of the horrors of war which were incited by racism and a racism couched and cossetted in this aberration of pure Buddhism.There are times you have to call a spade a spade. With our kind of bloody history, we cannot afford to pussyfoot and flirt with dangerous racist thought processes any longer. I would forgive her this harshness, in fact I understand where it comes from and I go as far as appreciating her courage to challenge her own faith community KNOWING very well of the penalties of going against the majority in a country like ours.

    I love my homeland dearly and its that love that drives many to want to see truth and justice prevail and the see the end of racism.(sadly others cant get beyond their”conspiracy theories” to interpret this love)Thanks for your comment Mary.

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      Who said this woman is a very local product, she is more westernized than Ms. Mcevans. Don’t have to make excuses to a woman who thinks all these traditions local people practice is mockery. She must read a bit on psychology. There are certain things people do to bring solace to one self in grief and in other situations, as long as they are not antisocial but innocent rituals such as, offering flowers(she thinks they are stolen from a neighbor), offering Dane. Bodipuja etc. are very good deeds. May be Buddha did not ask to do them, but over the years some of them have got in to tradition of a culture. Why does she want to kill that innocent culture , who is or what NGO is behind it.

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        Ado pea-brain Banda, you are obviously intellectually retarded and can’t understand the message in this article. So shut up and get lost. The rest of us are trying to engage in an intelligent debate here. The likes of you nitwits are wasting space on this thread.

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          Where is your intellect, may be in your ass, touch and see whether you have any left you bloody karawalaya.

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        What is wrong in being Westernised, Banda? Have you got an Inferiority Complex that you believe all things Western are Bad? When you have your Cup of Tea in the morning, you are imitating the British who introduced Tea and Coffee to Sri Lanka so many years ago. Think about all the things that you do, that have come from the West, and be thankful that you have them. You seem to like to live like the Proverbial ‘Frog in the Well’. The Key word now, is Globalisation, not Westernisation!!

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          Who said it is bad. I only replied to somebody saying she too is a typical local woman. That’s all. What’s this globalization , westernization, what else, muslimisation etc etc , can go on.

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            Banda there is no west without the east. If you destroy the east the west will be gone? It is all in your hands.

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    THIS IS THE SINALA BUDDHISM
    * The Sinhalese are the sole owners of the Buddhism.
    * They have no compassion for the Tamils and the Muslims.
    * The Sinhala Buddhist priests safeguard the caste system by ordaining only those of their own caste.
    * They do not want the Tamils and the Muslims to be Buddhists or Buddhist priests.
    * They have the right to own private property.
    * They give priority to rituals, not to the noble teachings of the Lord Buddha
    * They have never attempted to stop violence against other ethnic groups.
    * The Buddhist temples are the private property of the heads of the temples.
    * The owners of Buddhist temples are not willing to share their wealth even with the poor Sinhala Buddhists.

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    I agree with the previous writer Ms. McEwan.
    While Sharmini Serasinghe has her viewpoint about the way Buddhism should be practised, and Buddhism entitles her to follow it her way, it is the harsh manner in which she has approached the issue by denigrating those who practise Buddhist religious philosophy differently to herself that bespeaks of intolerance.

    I do not think the Buddha or for that matter Bhikku Piyadassi would have approved of her attitude as it is stands contrary to their approaches to teaching of the Dhamma, which shuns Arrogance and instead fosters Compassion and Understanding.

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    A great article. Congratulations to the author. As can be seen it has elicited very good response, if one one were to exclude the views of the uninformed. It has answered my long standing question ( not articulated in public ) why the Budhists sought salvation from Hindu gods such Ganadeiyo, Amman. Bhatrkali etc.

    One because Budhism is an intellectual phiosophy too preistine for the ordinary Bhuddists to understand. Second, not being a religion it did not offer remedies and salvation as the other religions did. Hence they continued to observe the Hidhu rituas whiast being a Bhuddist.

    Thanks Sharmini

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    Dr.Rajasingham Narendran
    There was no coyness or shyness what so ever to declare that Sinhalas have Tamils blood. I emphasize Yaksa, Naga, Raksha and Deva for they were first people join up for the formation of Sinhala race by Pandukabhaya.

    My wife is western educated but a typical Sinhala Buddhist like many villagers here. Once a year I have to go to Munneswaram with her for otherwise, she says she feels uncomfortable. However, I do not participate in any of the poojas there. Instead, I spend my time walking around to observing the reasoning behind the poojas by different type of devotees. So, I cannot but agree with you when you said, “Rituals have evolved into an attempt at bribing the God/ Gods in Hinduism today.” But I do not believe as you say they (Buddhists) have been reduced to the level of blind faiths and beliefs today. Here are some reasons for it.

    But first a brief answer to Mahendra de Silva is a must. I am no historian. However, if you are a thinker, you should have explored deeply into what I have briefly written few comments above yours about the evolution of Sinhala Buddhists before criticizing them for worshipping Bodhi tree and gods. If you cannot dig that deep, at least try find out why all Christians assemble Christmas trees in their homes and hang presents in it. Can you think of why do they congregate at various churches and pray for their Lord or Yahweh at mid night on that day. Had Jesus commanded them to do so? No. There is not a single verse that says Jesus was born on December 25th in any of the four chosen Gospels leave out hundreds of other Gospels that were discarded by Constantine when he assembled the present day Christian Bible. These are habits copied from Roman pagans afterwords. Christians said to have imported the Saturnalia festival in to Christianity in the 4th century CE hoping mass conversion of pagans into its fold. There was nothing intrinsically Christian about Saturnalia. To remedy this, then Christian leaders named Saturnalia’s concluding day, December 25th, to be Jesus’ birthday.

    As I have said before in my comment, from the time of Devanmpiyatissa, various concepts from other cultures have been absorbed into Sinhala Buddhism. If not for such absorption of other cultures into Sinhala Buddhism, there would not have been any Sinhala Buddhists or even Sinhalas in this country today. So, I am least surprised self declared kalu suddhas like Shamini and her ilk and their separatists backers in the NGOs attacking Sinhala Buddhists for not following real (pure) Buddhism.

    Talking about the so-called rituals of Sinhala Buddhists what kalu suddhas and their ilk hadn’t understood is that Sinhala Buddhists never put Buddha at the head a pantheon of Gods. Indeed, Sinhala Buddhists believe pantheon of gods have worshipped Buddha. For instant, take the case of Vishnu in Hinduism: Dr Narendran may correct me if I am wrong. Hindus consider Vishnu is a form of Brahman and in that sense we can consider him as an immortal being. But in Sinhala Buddhism, Vishnu is not immortal but a bodhisathva who would attain Nibbana in the future. Also, Hindus integrate Buddha into the Hindu culture in the form of an avatar of the god Vishnu. I wonder whether the likes of Shamini and co that criticize Sinhala Buddhist do understand such simple differences of judgment even a villages upasaka amma is well acquainted with.

    There is another point. Alongside the Theravada tradition Mahavihara, we had the Mahayana tradition Abhayagiri side by side for sometime. Unlike Sinhala Buddhist Bodhisathvas, the Mahayana Bodhisathvas are immortal and live indefinitely in abodes of Sukhavathi etc. In fact, certain Mahayana sects have made the Buddha also to be immortal. But none of the major Mahayana tradition were assimilated or absorbed to Sinhala Buddhism.

    In his introduction to translation of Vissudhimaga, Oxford scholar Ven Nanamoli says that during King Mahanama’s time (412-434) Ven Buddhagosha of Kancipura, India, heard there were many valuable Sinhala commentaries of tripitaka in Lanka and he came to read them and compile them into one volume of Pali commentary and take it back to India.
    It is a known fact that many such Buddhist texts at Nalanda and elsewhere in India was burned and destroyed during the Muslim rule afterwards. Books that were available after that were the ones from Burma, Siam and etc. Talaing Chronicle of Burma mentions an elder named Buddhagosha of brahman stock who went from Thaton to Lanka to translate the Buddha’s word to Talaing and bring it back.

    That means the tripitaka and its commentaries like Vissudhimaga that is available today in English were the originals that were translated from Sinhala to Pali. In the circumstances, I like to know from where this Sharmini and co, the so called real Buddhists learned their real (pure) Buddhism.

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      Leela,

      Thanks. My readings and understanding of the history of this island indicate that,
      1. The Sinhala identity has evolved on the basis of the language and Buddhism. Buddhism , a philosophy ,was overlaid on a Hindu base, and acquired a religious mantle. Sinhala- Buddhism is a political ideology, that has been progressively developed painstakingly over a very long time. The belief that Lanka is the land where Buddhism will be preserved in its pristine form implies that the Sinhalese are the custodians of pristine Buddhism. However, this mixture of Buddhism, Sinhala language , Hinduism and political ideology has some or other eaten into the vitals of Buddhism as a philosophy. We are the poorer for this.
      2. Yes, the Hindus believe that Lord Buddha is an avatar of Lord Vishnu. This syncretism has permitted Buddhism to be absorbed Into Hinduism. A similar syncretism is at greater play in Sinhala- Buddhism. The word Hinduism itself is a misnomer. There is no monolithic belief called Hinduism. It is a British invention. Hinduism as it stands today, as it has been always, a collection of beliefs that have a common thread running through them. This is why Buddhism was not able to sustain a distinct identity in India. Buddhism swept through South India at one time and this was an Age of Enlightenment and literary creativity. Buddhism made India more humane and gave birth to Mahatma Gandhi’s adoption of ahimsa as the founding principle of satyagraha.

      3. I should mention the story of German Swami of Sella Sannathy in Jaffna. He was a German born in an aristocratic family. In pursuit of Truth, he was attracted to Buddhism and was ordained a monk. He travelled through India and later came over to Sri Lanka. He could not find what he wanted in the Buddhism being practiced in India and Sri Lanka. Disappointed and frustrated, he was yet searching for someone to show him the path to truth- a guru. He was told of Yoga Swami of Jaffna. In him, he found a guru and was shown the path in Saivaism. As a teenager I was made to stay in his ( German Swami’s) ashram by my father and there I learned lessons that are deeply embedded in me.

      The morale of this story, is that Sinhala- Buddhism is a religion that is in practice sans the philosophy and intellectuality of Buddhism. It is a religion of the common folk now. It is not a path to truth and does not encourage the personal discovery of the truth. Hence, it is becoming a banner of the crusaders of majoritarianism in this country. It is becoming less and less tolerant with the passage of time. This intolerance is unfortunately a growing phenomenon among its monks and intellectuals. I theorise the adoption of Christian tactics to advance the cause of Buddhism in the Colonial era has given the monks and some intellectuals the crusaders mindset.

      I view this development with much sadness. This not mean that the Sinhala – Buddhists are bad people. definitely not. They are a great people, in whom the concepts of Metha, Karuna, Muditha and Upekka are a way of life. But, unfortunately they have been rendered a people, whom as I have stated earlier, who are not seeking the truth by a step by step striving towards Nibbana. Sinhala- Buddhism has sapped the essence of Buddhism in this country.

      Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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        Dear Dr.Narendran Rajasingam, there are interpretations for the word ‘Hinduism’ which needs consideration. The derivation of the word ‘Hindu’ from which the word India has gradually developed with the passage of time is an interesting subject. The origin of the word ‘Hindu’ has led to numerous views. Whether it refers to a place or people practising a specific faith or a culture has to be analyzed in the context of religious texts and possibly with archaeological finds in the absence of recorded history.
        The ancient Hindu religious text known as Birhannaradi Pura gives an account of the derivation of the word ‘Hindu’. One of the verses states :
        ‘Himalayam samarabhya yavat bindusarovaram
        Hindusthanmiti gyatan hi antaraksha-rayogath’

        There are two words in this verse namely ‘Himalayam’ and ‘bindusarovaram’. Himalayam refers to the Himalaya mountains and bindusarovaram refers to Cape Cammorin sea. The combination of these two words indicates that the region or country between the ‘Himalayas’ and the ‘Bindusarovaram’ is Hindusthan. This is endorsed by a Sanskrit scholar, Swami Mangal Nathaji. The compound letters ‘Hi’ within the word Himalayas and the component letters ‘ndu’ within the word Bindu could have led to the formation of the word ‘Hindu’ or Hindusthan.
        In the Rig Veda, Bharatha is referred as the country of ‘Sapta Sindhu’ – the country of seven rivers. Sapta means Seven and Sindhu means rivers rivers. It is should be noted that during the Vedic period, Zoroastrianism was practised by the Parsees in Iran. There was no Pakistan at that time. Avasta was their religious holy book. In Sanskrit the sound of ‘S’ converts to ‘H’ in the Parsee language. The word Hindu found its way in the Zoroastrian’s holy book of Avesta. Hence Zoroastrians express the people across the people as Hindus. Since the Zoroastrian’s scripture Avesta mentions of Sapta Hindu, it would have given birth to the word Hindu.
        Moreover, the name Hindu began as a designation of a group of people or to a people of a specific region. Hence there is a possibility that the Zoroastrians could have adopt the usage of the word Hindus to those people living on the eastern side of the Indus river.
        I think this will help you to analyze the subject matter.

        Moreover, there are some historical evidences to show that Sinhalese are people from the State of Orissa – taking into consideration of their dress, behaviour, Buddhism, script, the boat that was drifted with a Prince towards the Palk Strait, etc. Even the Nagas tribes are reported to be living in the region between States of Andhra Pradesh and Orissa. It has to be taken into account that Saivaism, Vaishnavism, Buddhism, Jainism and Sakthism all existed in India, During the 300 year rule of Kalabras Jainism and Buddhism were promoted and encouraged. There is also report that a Sinhalese poet (I cannot remember the name) was in Tamilakam during Kalabra’s period engaged in works on Buddhism. Mention should be made that during Kalabra’s period Brahmins were arrested and detained which saw the downfall of Saivaism.

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          Citizen,

          Thanks for the scholarly expiation. While the origins of the words , Hindu and Hindustan, as you explain it are feasible, it is likely the British, who could not at the beginning of their colonial rule, understand the differences between the many related faiths existing in India- Hindu/ Hindustan-, who called the collection, Hinduism. I will welcome hearing of any alternative explanations.

          Dr. RN

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            Correction: the word intended was ‘ explanation’ and not ‘ Expiation ‘

            Dr. RN

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        The word Hinduism may have had its origins in the Persians referring to individuals living on the other side of the Indus river. This said, it is an internally coherent intellectual world view based on the concepts of Dharma, Karma, Samsara and Moksha. It emphasized the trivarga/muppal i.e. Dharma/Aram, Artha/Porul and Kama/Inpam.

        This world view influenced the history of Cambodia and Indonesia, not to mention India and Nepal. It influenced Tamil identity.

        Buddhism was a parallel philosophy undoubtedly linked to Hinduism and Jainism – much as Judaism, Christianity and Islam are related to each other.

        Buddhism in turn decayed in several places at different times – China, Korea, Japan and India while growing resilient elsewhere – Burma, Thailand and Tibet. Lets not unduly criticize Sri Lankan Buddhism which remains dynamic regardless of the Rajapakse types.

        The criticism that I have with Sharmini Serasinghe’s otherwise honest article is that it confines Buddhism to philosophy. But Buddhism always had its lay dimension as witnessed in the Buddha himself encouraging the laity to repeat the Paritta to safeguard themselves. The Buddha himself taught the Karaniya Metta Sutta, the Ratana Sutta and the Khanda Paritta to ensure the protection of the monks or laity.

        Regardless, I pray for a day when Tamil Hinduism and Sinhalese Buddhism engage in a constructive dialogue in Sri Lanka given the evident parallels in philosophy, tradition and practice.

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        I disagree with Dr. Rajasingham Narendran when he says ‘The word Hinduism itself is a misnomer. There is no monolithic belief called Hinduism. It is a British invention’.

        This is the standard missionary line!

        As I had stated in my previous comment, there is a significant internal intellectual consistency that provides uniformity to the Hindu religion. Further, no religion is monolithic – not Buddhism, nor Christianity nor Islam.

        A highly symbolic and ritualistic Tibetan Buddhism is distinct from the Pure Land Sect of Japanese devotional Buddhism which in turn is distinct from the intellectual Theravada

        Now to the Kalabhra point made by Citizen. The Kalabhra interregnum in Tamil history is usually considered a dark period as it entailed the end of the Sangam-era and the inflow of a northern Prakrit into what was until then an indigenous Tamil literary tradition.

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          Leela, Citizen and DD,

          On reading your comments, I refered to Dr.S.Radhakrishnan’s book titled ‘Indian religions’. He says ( Page 170), “Buddhism did not start as a new religion. It was an offshoot of the more ancient faith of the Hindus, perhaps a schism or a heresy. While the Buddha agreed with the faith he inherited on the fundamentals of metaphysics and ethics, he protested against certain practices which were in vogue at the time. He refused acquiesce in the Vedic ceremonialism. When he was asked to perform some of these rites, he said: Änd as for your saying that for the sake of Dharma I should carry out the sacrificial ceremonies which are customary in my family and which bring the desired fruit, I do not approve of sacrifices for I do not care for happiness which is sought at the price of others’ suffering.”

          He also says (Page 163), “In the life of the Buddha, there are two sides, individual and social. The familiar Buddha-image is of a meditating sage, absorbed and withdrawn, lost in the joy of his inner meditation. This is the tradition associated with Thervada Buddhism and Asoka’s missions. For these the Buddha is man, not God, a teacher and not a saviour. There is the other side of the Buddha’s life, when he is concerned with the sorrows of men, eager to enter their lives, heal their troubles and spread his message for the good of the many: bahu-jana-sukhaya bahu-jana hitaya. Based on this compassion for humanity, a second tradition matured in North India under the Kusanas (70-480 A.D) and the Guptas (320-650A.D). It developed the ideal of salvation for all, the discipline of devotion and the way of universal service. While the former tradition prevails in Ceylon, Burma and Thailand, the latter is found in Nepal, Tibet, China and Japan.”

          In another book titled ‘Our Heritage’ Radhakrishnan says ( Page 66), “What is that makes the message of the Buddha so attractive to people who are cultivated, who are intellectual? Because his message is something which is deeply rational and profoundly spiritual. Rational, because he looks at the world and finds out what the problems of the world are and pursues a quest and reaches the fulfilment of that quest.”He gets out of the Prince’s home, looks at the world, sees the image of a dead man, a sick man, an old man and says: “Is this this the world full of death, sickness and old age? Is time the final arbiter of all things? Are we to be content with sickness, old age and death? Or is there a way out?”

          It appears the faith/ sof the Hindus ( The people of Hindu- the land), came to be known as Hinduism. However, the definition per se is not central to the discussion.

          In terms of what Radhakrishnan sees in Buddhism, where does Sinhala-Buddhism, Theravada no doubt, stand? How does the Bodu (Budu?) Bala Sena fit in? Where are the rationality and spirituality? Where is the meditation on the real issues confronting this country and her people?

          Sharmini, thanks again for a thought provoking article.

          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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            Agreed. For your information Hinduism is actually termed ‘Sanathana Dharma’. Dr.S.Radhakrishnan and Swami Vivekananda maintains the same. Hinduism is a vast topic originating in India (known as Bharatha) about 12,000 years ago or even earlier. Similarly Islam also preaches brotherhood. But Bodu Bala Sena is a creation by the rulers to divert the attention of the Sinhala people and secure their position and power. Religious animosity should not be encouraged, but politicians attaching a religious stigma for illegal activities cannot be tolerated by civilized Nations. That is why Western countries view some Muslims with suspicion, because of the heavy damage on lives and property they have inflicted. If every religious can consider that a country is a home to live peacefully, then there won’t be any problem Sharmini’s effort has to be appreciated as she has condemned extremism with the final paragraph which states that when a child undertakes to acquire a deeper understanding of the fundamental philosophy of different religions practiced in Sri Lanka will undoubtedly have a much deeper understanding of human beliefs and practices and therefore be more tolerant of each other and not feel threatened by the religion of the other. This is a message that everyone should appreciate.

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      LEELARATHNE;

      After your reply to Dr N R,

      now only I understood that all over the world,[Burma , Siam , Vietnam, China, Korea], now they are believing and practicing your SO CALLED Sinhala Buddhism.

      AS per my knowledge Lord Buddha preached to all ,

      ” COME, INVESTIGATE, UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE”.

      HOW CAN I BELIEVE A GREAT LIE?.

      pLS EXPLAIN TO THIS O/L EDUCATED RE-CONVICTED CRIMINAL.

      Julampitiye amraya.

      [a Buddhist, Sinhalese.by birth]

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        What a pathetic illustration of hatred towards a majority religion in the country. Only sympathize. Education does not matter there are plenty of Sinhala Buddhists even without o/l in the villages who have more understanding and insight than the moron who wrote above.

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          Dear Dalu Banda;

          I cant help that, that you are a moron,

          I can Only Say Pls Try To,INVESTIGATE, UNDERSTAND AND BELIEVE.

          First, Buddhism is not a Religion, only a great Philosophy.

          When I Pray In Sri LankA, I don’t say or memorize;

          SINHALA BUDDAHANG SARANANG GACHCHAAMI.

          When I was in Singapore,I did Not pray/Say; Singapore BUDDAHANG SARANANG GACHCHAAMI.

          Henry Steele Olcot did not say,
          American BUDDAHANG SARANANG GACHCHAAMI.

          Even My Teachers,
          VEN DIulapitye Wimalarathna Thero or
          Ven Darmitipola Rathnasara thero did not tell me, that, There are Buddhists ,but not So Called SINHALA BUDDHISTS.

          From now on Try to say; BUDDAHANG SARANANG GACHCHAAMI only.

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    Why do all the people get so excited about a thought of a person . Who has just put her ideas in a journalistic manner.
    That’s her opinion . Let’s respect that.

    In the same way we must not forget that that none of us are born to this world
    With a perticular religion.
    The only thing I think everybody born to this world, has one thing and one thing only that’s wisdom.its how you develop you wisdom that you react to other person ideas. Ideology differs. Ideology is your upbringing . ideology is what you learn and come to belive in.it depends on your surroundings , learning and history.HISTORY PROVES THAT.
    There has never been perfect world . There has never been perfect person.
    let’s not insult
    Each other . At the end of the day if all the religious leaders that each of us BELIVE in even had slightest clue that there
    So called creation of humans are now fighting over RELIGION,ETHNICITY ,COUNTRIES, CAST, CREED you name
    It . May be there might not have had human animals.
    So kindly all of us let us be wise enough use you’re are wisdom and live in peace.

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    Ms Mary Jane McEwan.

    You Are Most Welcome and we all appreciate your comments on this and it is open for all of us.
    that opportunity given by the COlombo telegraph .

    As Buddhists and with a limited Knowledge of Buddhism, we are expressing our ideas,
    So do I.
    For The Buddhist Philosophy, There Is No Barrier as to that Race , Nationality, or Other Beliefs.
    Only for the who can Follow the Path of Truth.

    Lord Buddha’s Teachings, preached to be based on all living being’s lives.
    Specially the Life of humans and changing of their behavior pasterns to get away from all sufferings and attain Nibbhana.

    Unfortunately as Sharmini Serasinghe mentioned, only a very few adhere and follow buddhism.
    It Is shame to say that some of the Buddhist monks do not follow the lord Buddha’s Philosophy / teachings and only wear the Yellow Robe, not the real guardians of BUDDHASAASANA AS they claim.
    however We hope that, including you,
    All living being may enlighten and attain NIBBHANA.

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    I have discovered a very strange coincidence on this thread and and others on CT. There is a group of people comprising Leela,Jim Softy, K.A. Sumanasekera and a few others including newcomer ‘Banda’ who repeatedly accuse authors of articles on CT as NGO agents.

    It is very obvious they they have no proof of this fact, but they rant and rave anyway just like landing s–it on a fan.

    Now. who are the most anti-NGO clan? MARA & Co., of course. So what is the obvious conclusion? This group of traitors mentioned above are on the filthy pay-roll of their masters. This type of scum will even part with their mothers, wives and daughters for filthy lucre.

    Leela in particular had better watch out, because despite all the ‘Bana’ he preaches,the fact that he is a rogue who played out so many people for hundreds of thousands of rupees, has ensured him a special place in hell.

    This group of muck should be banned from CT because they are generating a lot bad karma at themselves.

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      It’s not us who are ready to part with the mother , daughter or brother etc, for money.I have told earlier in a comment about it, which the karawalaya has stolen. The NGO lot will do anything for a few dollars more. We are the ones who will rescue this nation from those dollar kakkos.

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        Banda dont worry NGO will bring your own share too. Like a true Buddhist be patient. I hear some Buddhist NGO cropped up very recently. Naturally you will exclude them and say the great Sinhala Buddhist word “Only” non Buddhist NGO that is a better way of putting your point – Sinhala Buddist way.

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        ANE BANDA.

        “”We are the ones who will rescue this nation, With U S passports and Begging bowels,”

        they came to save, Rescue [Sic,] This nation from whom???????????.

        “”””THIS IS AN ANOTHER WESTERN CONSPIRACY AGAINST OUR PLANS TO LOOT SREE LANKA,
        BROTHERS, TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY.
        ARRANGE WHITE VANS TO ABDUCT ALL THOSE DISBELIEVERS OF SINHALA BUDDHISM AND SEND AARAKSHKA GOONS WITH KUDU VERMIN TO ATTACK AND MAKE THEM DISAPPEAR””””.

        TRYING . FEW DOLLARS MORE.

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          I don’t think this needs any response as you are only an anti government campaigner. Any comment or analysis is from that base. I have no political affiliations other than love for my country. Any party that has a love for the country irrespective of color or creed is ours. But will not betray the country for a few more dollars.

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            Yamang Bando Vesak balanne!

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            aney DALU BANDO.

            ANTI GOVERNMENT ?

            YES OF COURSE,

            WE ARE AGAINST OF THIS TYPE OF CORRUPT GOVERNANCE LIKE THIS WITH THE PRESIDENCY OF A NO 1 CROOK AND BOGUS PATRIOTS LIKE YOU,

            Then what affiliation you have with this type of
            looters, and killers.

            Helping Hambanthota had Many Millions Of dollers.

            Not few more dollars,????????????.

            talking big about PATRIOT S???????????.
            My A X X.

            Ask Your Next pay check in Dollars.

            then go and worship praying Sinhala buddahang Sarananag Gachchaami.

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        Banda,

        With your kind of brains I’d rather not be rescued by you or your type.

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        Banda,

        With your kind of brains I’d rather not be rescued by you or your type.

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      If you want to take my comments personal and wish to shunt me out of this blog by pointing fingers at me I say you are sadly mistaken. I couldn’t care less about your kattakarawala lies.
      Leela

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        When using the word ‘pointing finger’ we should also remember that other fingers are pointing reversely at the same time without one’s knowledge. This applies to everyone including myself. So let us have a healthy exchange of views.

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    Ms Serasinghe
    I think most readers have misunderstood you because of the title of your article. My reading is that you were trying to address two aspects of the Sinhala ethos; one the acculturation of the Sinhala people over the years, the other, their practice of Buddhism.
    I am not sure if these two aspects of our people can be treated together, despite the two being interconnected. Historically Saivaites and Vaishnavaites have had a strong influence on the Sinhalese and as the Sinhala culture evolved through the ages. This ritualism is to be expected. Muslims too are influenced as the Dravidian converts to Islam continued their ritualistic practices and even to this date Ceylon Moors as they are described, practice rituals similar to those practiced by the Saivaites and Vaishnavaites such as alms giving etc., practices alien to Islam and Muslims across the rest of the world. While you pine for a pure form of Buddhist practice, I don’t see harm in the way Sinhalese practice their form of Buddhism.
    I have heard that the Muslims are having the same debate, such as the debate on Kanthuris (a religio-social gathering and feast). There are those who defend the right to practice it without discontinuing, despite it being contrary to Islamic teaching. It is argued that a Kanthuri is a reason for families to get together and doing away with it may remove the reason for people to get-together. Muslims have borrowed rituals such as tying of the thali kodi etc from South Indians, so have the Sinhalese, some minor aberrations that shouldn’t bother anyone.
    Many readers who have commented on Shamini’s article take umbrage for the wrong reasons and do not address her core argument. She is focusing on the implications of misinterpreting Buddhism. Naturally the lack of deeper understanding of any religion, philosophy in this case has its attendant problems while the politicization of religion can have disastrous effects.
    She bemoans that lack of political will to prevent the perversion of Buddhism, as averred by the constitution, not mobilizing the resources at the disposal of a government to impart the quality of Buddhist teaching that is expected from those who profess that their bounden duty is to ensure the continuity the pristine form the philosophy!
    Finally, her plea for inter-religious harmony is pragmatic and can be easily implemented. Our country is divided based on Language and religion and we practice a form of segregation such as was done on colour by the whites. If we are willing to dismantle these walls, and also teach comparative religion to our children we can begin to rebuild trust among each other. I would also add one more aspect, a rather controversial one at that; revise our history books that portray the Tamils and Muslims as marauding invaders and present a more nuanced and fact based history.
    In conclusion thank you Shamini, you should take comfort on from a quote in the bible “A prophet is not without honor except in his hometown” Luke 4:24

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    ‘Dhamma'(meaning, to hold on) is not something a person searches outside himself, because in the final analysis, man is Dhamma and Dhamma is man. Therefore, true religion, which is Dhamma, is not something outside us that we acquire, but the cultivation and realization of wisdom, compassion and purity that we develop within ourselves.

    Buddhism is not mere mumbo-jumbo, a myth told to entertain the human mind or to satisfy the human emotion, but a liberal and noble method for those who sincerely want to understand and experience the reality of life.

    Kudos to you Sharmini, for right perspective

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      Karma is action and reaction or cause and effect. It has both internal and external dimensions. Dharma also has both internal and external dimensions. One’s inborn nature is Swabhava and is dictated by karma or genetics. One’s personalised values in terms of what is wrong and what is right develops as a result of interactions between inborn nature and environment ( the circumstances, family , friends , teachers, values etc., a person is exposed to) . This is called Swadharma. There are concepts of Dharma- rights and wrongs, duties and responsibilities-that are established in every society and taught through parental and societal example, and through parables, proverbs, religions and philosophies. This is also Dharma. Tamils have defined this concept as Aram. The first alphabet is taught to children with the profound words , ” Aram seiya virumbu ( desire to do what is right)”. Aram is further defined as ” Theemai ilaatha seyal ( actions that are not harmful)”.

      Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

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    “I know of Buddist who feed ants with sugar but will not hesitate to kill his neighbor” – Somebody said thsi

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    Lanka Liar – I know a respected political leader, in the aftermath of the 7/83 pogrom, appropriately remarked in a Press interview “Sunday
    Sil – Monday Kill” Of course, the 7/83 organised pogrom began on a Monday. I say this not to open old wounds but to emphasise we must learn from our past mistakes.

    Senguttuvan

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      ISS,
      Mark my word. As I said may times before, such things will never ever repeat in this country for the UNP will never come back to power and everything is in affable hands of an astute politician.
      Leela

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        Dear Leela,

        Although this comment is a departure from the concerns of the related article, I have to respond to a part of your comment.

        Affable – yes. Astute- yes. politician- yes. However, although he won the war, tried and did his best for the IDPs, restored normal life to a onsiderable extent in the north and east, and got the much needed infra structure develoment cum urban renewal projects in motion- which are to be much appreciated-, he has failed to address the fundamental problems in this country and has in fact made them worse .

        1. He has failed to address the so-called Tamil political grievances , despite his promises to do so. By this he has to be also labelled deceitful. Worse, he added insult to injury by banning the singing of the national anthem in Tamil and initiating moves to shut the doors on Diaspora Tamils seeking dual citizenship.
        2. He has foisted on the Tamils,men and women, who are unacceptable as leaders. This questions his judgement.
        3. He has recruited thousands of graduates into the state sector, who are twiddling their thumbs and do not have work to do. This questions his management skills.
        4. He is tolerating massive corruption, bribery and wastage in the public sector, which questions his value system.
        5. He has undermined the constitution and the judiciary, and worsened the law and order situation, which questions his understanding of the principles of governance.
        7. He encourages agriculture, but ignores the need to secure a reasonable return to the farmers and reasonable price for the consumers, symptomising the knee jerk and shallow reactions he and his government manifest towards many problems besetting this country.
        8.The manner in which he is responding to the BBS phenomenon and its anti- Muslim and extreme agenda, also makes me question his vision for this country.
        9. The manner in which he is managing our international affairs, makes me question his wisdom.
        10. The quality of persons he has appointed to the cabinet, makes me question his judgement, again.
        11. His insensitivity to the burden, cost of living has become to most people, shows that he has chosen to live in an ivory tower.
        12. He is misusing his charisma and credit accrued from winning the war and his acting skills to hide a whole rotten pumpkin in a plate of rice. This is betrayal of a people who trusted that he was the messiah this country needed.
        13. The on-going program to name structures, schools and even projects built with public fund,in his name, during his life time, is cheap, ugly and nauseating.

        The list can go on and on. I have ended it with the unlucky thirteen.

        I am very disappointed and sad that a man given opportunities and the circumstances, few before him had, epecially in terms of popular expectations and much hope, could have failed the people and country so much.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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    Mary McEwan,

    For those who seriously study the soothing teachings of the great wisdom contained in Buddhism – seriously and sincerely, it will be seen one acquires true peace of mind and body. When the Buddha was asked by an acolyte what he gained from meditation he answered
    “Nothing” He added “However, let me tell you what I lost – anger,
    anxiety, depression, insecurity, fear of old age and death”

    What this country and our society will be if the mass of our people
    really understood and practised this great process of philosophical thinking. When I visited Burma (Myanmar) – in a delegation lead by Minister Laksham Kadirgamar – we were deeply touched by the dedication and practise of the Buddhists there. With very little, they remained calm, serene and said about their poor economic condition “it is Karma. It will change – if not now, perhaps later and our children will be happy” My prayers are this hope of that pious lady and mother will come true soon. Signs are it may well be.

    Senguttuvan

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      Being in the company of the Late Kadirgamar: cannot see some of his diplomacy rubbed in.

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        With your eyes closed you cant see a thing you know. Try opening it. You don’t need a Kadirgamar for that

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    This needs to be translated in Singhala &Tamil should be published in daily news papers.

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    All these comments clearly shows how divided Sri Lankans are. Unless we are prepared to listen, understand, reason out and discuss the various schools of thinking, Sri Lanka will become a paraya state soon.

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    including SHARMINI SERASINGHE most of the comments include bullshit!

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      Then Why you read Them????.

      WE DID NOT TELL YOU TO READ THEM.

      Again I remember that Hival ModaWangsa’s quote ” BABA HUKUN”

      This is called “” Hiding This thing, Trying to do That with some other-thing.””

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      If you enjoy BS hang out in the company of Waduge and the dirty dozen at the most racial lanka web.

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    Thank you Sharmini. I do appreciate the article. You have obviously made your point judging from the harsh comments against you. But I thank you for making us aware of the difference in “Sinhalabuddhism” and the teachings of the Buddha.

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    I am a supporter of Bodu Bala Sena and I can very proudly say that the government and specially the defense secretary are with us. We will not demand anything without the government blessings. Our main problem right now is the Muslims. If you see the population growth in Sri Lanka from 1981 to 2012, the Sinhalese have a growth of 38.2% and the Tamils have a growth of 20.3% where as the Muslims have a growth of 78.6%. The Tamils were only asking for a piece of land by waging a war but the Muslims will take over the whole country very peacefully if we allow them to grow at this rate.

    Whether you like it or not, Sri Lanka is blessed by Buddha (Buddhist country) and it is none other than Buddha himself has chosen the Sinhalese as the sustainers of Buddhism. Sinhala-Buddhists should always be the majority in Sri Lanka, only a Sinhala-Buddhist should rule Sri Lanka (President). In this regard, the government agreed to ban family planning methods that control birth. We will be starting a programme to educate the Sinhala-Buddhists to produce as many children as they can. We are working on introducing new laws to legalize Polygamy so that there will be no legal restrictions in Sinhala-Buddhist men and women taking multiple partners with the objective of producing more and more children. Our Sinhala-Buddhist clergy took entered into politics in order to protect Buddha’s blessed Country and the Sinhalese people whom he chose to protect his doctrine (Dhamma).

    The Buddhist clergy in the East is well known for martial arts. They learned it for self defense. As long as the present defense secretary is with us we have no fear but to defend ourselves in Sri Lanka in the future, we may have to form a Bodu Bala Sena regiment/saffron brigade, a separate army to protect the Sinhala-Buddhists.

    All the ancient archeological artifacts found in Sri Lanka are only Buddhist and Hindu. Muslims and Christians are aliens to Sri Lanka. The colonial invaders forced the Buddhists and Hindus and converted them to Christianity. Similarly, the Arab traders who came to Sri Lanka married Buddhist and Hindu women and converted them to Muslims and even today they are doing the same. There are several cases of Sinhala-Buddhist women marrying Muslim men; they are forcefully converted to Muslims.

    Halaal and other issues are not very major compared to the above but we have to nip it in the bud before it becomes a custom. We should never allow the Muslims and Christians to control anything in Sri Lanka. The law and the legislature should always be under the control of the Sinhala-Buddhists. Sri Lanka is a gift from Buddha to the Sinhalese. The Sinhala-Buddhists are very peaceful and compassionate towards others and that is the reason why we allowed others to live in our country. We know what the Muslims have done to countries that were Buddhist once upon a time (Bangladesh, Afghanistan, and so on). We do not want that to happen in our land. We are very grateful to the present government for giving us full support and strength to carry out our programmes very smoothly.

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      Bodu Bala,

      Is this the official position of BBS or it your’s under the chosen name of Bodu Bala?
      It is rather nauseating in this time and age. Is the cat getting out of the bag?
      Dr. Rajasingham Narendran.

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      Settled the Tamils and now Muslims –
      https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=380652985366237

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      Gosh this is just sick….agree with Dr RN that the cat is definitely out of the bag…the government is in full support of th BBS ….i wonder whether these supporters of the BBS have ever enjoyed a biryani or thosai or even a pizza for that matter….all non sinhala Buddhist food no!! Also i hope you or any of your supporters don’t have relatives working abroad in non sinhala Buddhist countries!!! A lot of this is pure hypocrisy an i can only shake my head in amazement that there are folks who fall for the rhetoric …..and just to make a point how different are the sinhalese from the south Indians ?????? Surnames like gunaratne , weerasinghe etc only take a consonant at th end to make them Tamil!!!, and food like appa ,indiappa are also south Indian!!! So much for sinhala uniqueness and others taking over th country!

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      Bodu Bala,

      1.Buddha wasn’t a God, so he couldn’t ‘bless’ anything or anyone.

      2.Where does it say that Buddha chose the Sinhalese as sustainers of Buddhism? Please tell my where I could find such proof.

      3. If Sinhala Buddhists are to have many children, is the government going to pay for their upbringing?

      4. Finally is it possible to fight your battles without desecrating the saffron robe?

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        Moreover, if MR and co. are very buddhistic, is it correct to kill thousands of civilians in the final stage of the millitary offensive against the rebells ?

        In an Interview, previous presidents reiterated, if one would not focus on the civilians, any president would have succeeded the war against rebells. One would not destroy entire housing compelxes in elemination of the Dengue in THE COUNTRY. So, to claim a war victory, to kill all together is a far from buddhistic views.

        Bodu balu sena are more or less like interpret all issues according to them. That is not acceptable. Buddhism is a great philosophy, only the educated folks can comphrend it… today´s safron robed so called monks are just a maligancy to the nation.

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      this looks tongue in cheek, doesn’t it? :)

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      Mr. Bodu Bala,

      Instead of banning Halal could you please ban the slaughter of animals in this country?

      If people want to eat the flesh of animals, it could be imported and sold at a high price just like the government is doing with tobacco products and alcohol.

      If you want this country to be a an example of a Buddhist country, then you must do this.

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      Dear Bodu Bala Sena, your fear is reasonable, because of the recent attitude of the Muslims. The fact that they are allowed to have four wives which results in the rapid growth of their race is a growing concern not only in Sri Lanka, but also in Europe as well as in India. It is reported that the comparison of the their growth rate with other races in Europe is shown as 8 : 1 or sometimes 2. Having four wives could have occurred as a case of necessity on account of the constant wars between the Muslims and other sects in the Middle-East and Western Asia. This is a silent method of capturing the world. I think Europe will be the first target. Even in Sri Lanka, upon a perusal of sequent of events for the last 20 or 30 years, coupled with the illegal activities in compliance with the illegal objectives of the Islamic Terrorist Organizations, one tends to think whether Muslims have posed a threat, despite their repeated pleas that they are law-abiding citizens. (I assert this allegation because Hindu temples in Batticaloa, statutes of Swami Vipulananda, etc have been damaged by some undesirable characters. Further, I had the experience of how the Muslim politician wanted to do away a person, who had come to know about the illegal activities of Muslims and transferring Police Officer). This is not a racist comment. Apparently there are Muslims with good heart, who wants to integrate with the rest of the communities in Sri Lanka. We have to accommodate the Muslims as our brothers and sisters. Moreover, one should not forget that the concept of Love and Compassion preached by Lord Buddha. The fact that Sri Lanka was blessed by Lord Buddha should not be distorted to create communal flames. We should also realize as to how Sri Lanka was prior to the birth of Lord Buddha. Remember Buddhism had its roots in India and that Lord Buddha was a Hindu, who wanted everyone to live peacefully. The moment the word ‘Sinhala-Buddhism’ is uttered, you are digging your own grave. Even Adolf Hitler uttered this type of word as ‘Germans are the mighty race’ and finally saw his downfall. Buddhism, like other religions, is a way of life practising tolerance. Please remember, whether one is a Buddhist, Hindu, Muslim, Christian, etc., they are all human beings. It is true that archeological artifacts found in Sri lanka are only Buddhist and Hindu. At the sametime it should also be taken into account that civilizations had perished from time to time on account of natural disasters. That does not mean we should re-claim everything that is lost due to natural disasters. What is required is that man has to refine himself with clear ideas with mutual respect for each other. If everyone build their attitude that a country is home for everyone, irrespective of any discrimination, there won’t be any problem. In Sri Lanka, the basic problem lies in the tussle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. Would all these incidents emerge, had there been Federalism either on the Canadian or American model. This is the curse of the counrty. I have suspicion that fanaticism is been utized by the politicians to secure their power and wealth, by deviating the attention of the majority for which Bodu Bala Sena is created. The manner in which Bodu Bala Sena raised its tone, I don’t find any difference between the terrorists and Bodu Bala sena.

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        Citizen,

        In my short existence on earth, I have met only two men who have a second wife. I am envious cos seem to be privy to a lot of information about Muslims. I am a proud Muslim who has the option of marrying four, but is happy with one.

        Most men have affairs outside their marriage; the test of character is to have the opportunity to do what you please but having the power to say no.

        Since you have not the option, I am not sure you are qualified to comment. Also if you would AGAIN ask you to quote statistics from a source.

        If you persist, I am afraid this forum will treat you for what you are, a ludicrously obtuse apology for a human being

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          Dear Nabil, I have an interesting case for you. I just want to know whether Muslims are law-abiding citizens. When they arrive in a country that cherishes civil liberty, can you let me know how they should respect the law. Even I am confused. The case is given below.
          Now there is a dispute between a Muslim barber and a woman who has requested service. The Muslim barber refused because his Muslim faith from touching women. As far as the woman is concerned, the Muslim barber’s religious freedom is against a woman’s right to request without discrimination. The woman who wears her hair short did not seem to expect the response she received. Now the woman filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario stating that she was treated as a “second-class citizen” because she was a woman. The Muslim barber’s position is that if he is forced to cut the woman’s hair, would violate his religious rights. In a country where civil liberties are cherished, what would happen if there is conflict between two equal human rights.
          Over to you Nabil. Even I have close relatives married in Muslim community, and that too in high society.

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      Bodu Bala,

      I see what you say and the ground reality of the country. Yes take the country back to Buddha era……when Bana, pirith and gatha are preached 24 hours of the day while electricity, petrol and house hold gas prices are climbing over the roof……thereby making people to live with coppara lanterns and travel in gon karatte while cooking with dried cow dung.

      Sleep more in dark while have dozen children with ample malaria mosquitos around and recite bana and eat punnakku and grass curry.

      I think this is what Hambanthota Ga…s gem….a also want to take our country…….after robbing the last left over from National Museum.

      Why don’t you go early to Nivana….and leave us alone.

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      Saffron-robed Bhikkhu brigade was the only thing missing. Ordain the Sinhala-Buddhist kids as Buddhist monks and send them for military training and put them in the front line like what the LTTE did. BBS is nothing but Sinhala-Buddhist Taliban or just another terrorist organization. These skin headed punks are thugs in yellow robe. Today they attack Mosques and churches, tomorrow what?

      Buddhism was a good religion/philosophy once upon a time before it got into the hands of the Sinhalese. Unfortunately, today the Sinhalese have converted Buddhism into Barbarism and renamed it as Sinhala-Buddhism. Buddha statue has become the symbol of Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony and racism. It is planted at every corner where they find a boo tree irrespective of whether there are Buddhists in that place or not. Emperor Ashoka must be grieving in his grave/tomb for giving Buddhism to Sinhalese, the primitive savages/uncivilized Barbarians. These Buddhist Barbarians want to make multi-ethnic/religious Sri Lanka into a Sinhala-Buddhist only country.

      Like what Sir John Kothalawela once said, someone should apply TAR on their bold heads as well as on their butts.

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        Kumar,

        Correction. Buddhism was and will always be a great religion and philosophy no matter who tries to desecrate it. Like in all religions it is the uneducated who try to sully the faith. Likewise those who try to make a mockery of the Dhamma either by word or deed are only spitting at themselves.

        The Dhamma will last forever as long as there are intelligent and enlightened people to abide by its teachings.

        Peace Dove

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      BBS is nothing but Buddhism Betraying Soldiers.

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    We have the Zionist claiming their promised land by God. Now we have the another race following them and claiming a far fetched promised land. A serious connection between Zionism and BBS is beginning to brew. Did Buddha live in Sri Lanka? How can a Napali/Indian national establish holy land in Sri Lanka? Perhaps the United Nation and the International community should get involved to discredit these claims and take action to avoid another disaster.

    The infiltration of the Zionist ideology and their initial funding to the BBS/JHU and the formation of an Atheistic Sinhellism (coined this word to separate the good apples from the rotten ones) movement similar to the belief of Zionism is gaining momentum in Sri Lanka. The warmongers (US/EU) and their captains of weapons industry are sowing the seeds of conflict with Sinhellists (BBS/JHU) and Muslims. The silence of the majority peace living Sri Lankans are a disturbing fact and every evidence points out that the Rulers are complicit with them.

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      Hi everyone,

      After nearly 12 months of my personal time and money spending on most controversial topic about the birth place of Gouthama SakyaMuni, finally I have proved to myself that nearly 200yrs we were being mislead by British Historian.

      Colonial rulers created our history in our recent past, and in the past it was rewritten by Buddhgosha (17 volumes of Buddhist teaching distortion in so called Visuddhi Marga ) and Mahanama (Mahawamsa limited to 37 Chapters) both of Indian origin and later a successful result of a plot they burnt down our history books in the conflict of Abayagiri Monastery.

      Here I have included an article from the Budusarana Paper and a web site created with valuable reading on the subject.

      Personally I have come to the conclusion based on a very scientific facts that the Gouthama Sakya Muni was born and delivered his world’s most greatest teaching on human existence and psychology in our little Island call pearl of Indian Ocean.

      Please have an open mind and do your reference carefully. It is not necessary to believe what I say here.

      Yes I Lord Buddha was born in Sri Lanka, Now his teaching has come to the surface in the purest form.

      May every being attain nibbana in the path of Bu-Uddha

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        Ahtnayirp

        “Yes I Lord Buddha was born in Sri Lanka, Now his teaching has come to the surface in the purest form.”

        Thank you for your scholarly work and I am indeed indebted to you for highlighting the distortion in ancient myth.

        I have always thought my people are the descendants of Buddha. Can you confirm this fact?

        Now you have made another history.

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    a very good analysis of the mind-set of the sinhalabuddist politicions who spreading hatred among the srilankans .If halal is condemned how is it that halal money from middle east that the sinhala buddhist bring home
    is good!!

    muslim

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    “Being in the company of the Late Kadirgamar: cannot see some of his diplomacy rubbed in” un-necessarily and unsolicited says one more member of that grouping the Dutch MP Wilders and many others identify as “irrationally and mentally disturbed” The sick of his ilk are now forced to learn matters in perspective. Predictably, delusions of conquering the country and the world with swine droppings every few months has exploded in the face of this “pure and clean” variety.

    Diplomacy, Decency and the like are not spoken of in the same sentence with these degenerates blinded by revenge, hatred and conspiracies from the time the cancer showed up in the world. “This is what we get for giving them room to live in this land – when they had no where to go. Now they lay came to our land” say the BBS. They complain it is the story of feeding milk, out of pity and Compassion, to the viper from the bush. The occasional words of peace, reconciliation etc coming from the pen of such dregs, they know, is believed by none.

    Senguttuvan

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    I DONT KNOW WHY PEOPLE ARE CRITICIZING THIS ARTICLE AND THE AUTHOR. BUT AUTHOR AND THE ARTICLE IS VERY TRUE. IF WE PRACTICED REAL BUDDHISM SRI LANKA WOULD NOT HAVE THIS MANY PROBLEMS. ALL POLITICIANS FROM SWRD BANDARANAYAKE UP TO THE PRESENT ONES HAVE DESTROYED THE COUNTRY.

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