29 October, 2020

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Sri Lanka: A Tale Of Ethnic Hatred Foretold

By Marwaan Macan-Markar

Marwaan Macan-Markar

After Sri Lankan troops crushed the Tamil Tiger rebels in a final, bloody battle near the north-eastern coast in May 2009, visions of prosperity across the country were bandied by the triumphant Colombo regime. Slogans that satisfied the ruling establishment, under the grip of President Mahinda Rajapaksa, were unfurled. The South Asian island was promoted as a “Wonder of Asia” to attract foreign investors and visitors. The assumption by the national cheerleaders was simple: with the battle won — ending a nearly 30-year separatist war where over 100,000 people were killed — the entire country was fertile ground for an economic take off.

The two-and-a-half years that followed appeared to support the optimism that a peace dividend was on the cards. The country’s small stock exchange, valued at US$ 14.5 billion, reached new heights, even being ranked as the world’s best performing bourse in 2010. The travel pages in the major international media played their part, offering a positive spin to a country that had for years provided headlines about suicide bombers, massacres and grim death tolls after military campaigns. They began promoting Sri Lanka’s assorted mix of beaches, wildlife game reserves, its ancient royal cities, and the tea-covered slopes of the hill country as welcome fresh trails for tourists to explore. Keeping pace was the boom in hotel construction, capped by the new symbol of this age – the Seven Star, 661-room Shangri La Hotel, a US$ 500 million investment being built facing the Indian Ocean in Colombo.

Foreign examples were invoked to strengthen the claim that Sri Lanka had turned a significant political corner. They helped to support the argument that stability was now assured and all nationals were welcome to build a modern economy from the ashes of a civil war. And Singapore became a favourite in this mix. The affluent city-state made its way into public discussions in the press and on websites. That Sri Lanka could be Asia’s next Singapore – or even better – evolved as a favourite line.

There was little mystery why Southeast Asia’s most successful economic story would emerge as a Sri Lankan benchmark to strive for. It is rooted in the belief that Sri Lanka – or Ceylon, as it was then known – was once better than Singapore on economic and social fronts. This sense of one-upmanship over a past fact is hard to ignore. After all, such an insight was revealed by no less a person than the founding father of Singapore, Lee Kuan Yew. During a visit to Ceylon in the late 1950s, a young Lee had not only remarked that Ceylon’s development indicators were far ahead of his island at the time, but he had wanted Singapore to become another Ceylon.

Unfortunately, the visions of Sri Lanka attempting to reclaim lost ground in the race to become a developed, modern success story have only been shaped by physical trappings. A new harbor, a new international airport, new roads and a new performing arts centre funded by Chinese loans and investments are among the visible. So, too, are the new high-rise buildings coming up to redefine Colombo’s skyline. They enabled the government to boast of crossing US$ 1.66 billion in foreign direct investments (FDI) in 2011, the highest ever annual foreign investment flows since the country’s board of investment was set up in the late 1970s. Last year saw FDI come as close, hitting US$ 1.2 billion.

But such indicators avoid a deeper crisis that continues to grip this country of predominantly Sinhalese-Buddhist. It goes back to the days when then Ceylon’s fall from grace began (something that even the Singapore’s Lee took note to avoid copying). It was part of the reason the country’s largest minority, the Tamils, gave birth after decades of race riots to a Tamil Tiger killing machine. It is the crisis of modernism that has haunted most post-colonial states– of striving to find a balanced political order, a fair legal system, and a state and its representatives that respects and protects each citizen as equals. It is the idea that genuinely encourages a multi-cultural landscape, ensuring a sense of equality for both the majority and minority ethnic groups. In other words, an inclusive society.

The island’s history after gaining independence from British colonization in 1948 was drawn to something more emotional, a trend that naturally resonated with the majority community – the politics of reclaiming a past shaped by Sinhala kingdoms. Buddhist monks were pivotal in the quest to reestablish a predominantly Sinhalese-Buddhist polity. So, too, were political leaders who found that appealing to ethnic passions than resolving the economic and social fault lines through good governance more profitable at the polls. This political tinderbox was shaped by both Sinhalese and Tamil leaders, paving the way to a devastating war that put Sri Lanka on the map of countries cursed by toxic ethnic politics.

So, one would have thought that after such a bloodied history, Sri Lanka’s post-war narrative would have given cause for a more enlightened approach. Rather than being only impressed by Singapore’s development indicators, its efficient, functioning system, Sri Lanka’s ruling class could have drawn lessons from the ideas of equality and respect for multiple ethnicities – some of the pillars behind the city-state’s achievements. There are other examples of how a confident, modern state designs its future: always looking forward, driven by new opportunities, being open to new ideas and promoting and rewarding excellence. They are values that enable a country to transcend the narrow confines of religious or ethnic extremism and become a relevant player on the global stage.

But as Sri Lanka approaches its fourth anniversary since the war ended, a ghost from the past has reappeared. It is the story of making Sri Lanka an even stronger Sinhala-Buddhist nation as a primary political and cultural objective. This time, an aggressive network of Buddhist monks – rallying under the banner of the ‘Bodu Bala Sena’(BBS or Buddhist Power Force) – have set their sights on tormenting the country’s second largest minority, the Muslims, in the latest assertion of extreme majoritarianism. Public rallies in cities and towns have been held to plant the seeds of hatred among the Sinhalese-Buddhists – who make up nearly 75 percent of the country’s 20 million population – against the Muslims, who account for nearly nine percent. In addition to campaigning against Muslim food habits and the clothes Muslim women wear, the BBS has also accused popular Muslim-owned clothing stores of distributing sweets to Sinhalese women that lead to infertility, and selling belts to Sinhalese men that damage their testicles.

If the rise of the Shagri La Hotel in a seafront stretch of Colombo is what the Rajapaksa regime wants to hold out as a sign of post-war Sri Lanka’s future direction, then the BBS clearly offers other ideas. This group, which has the support of Gotabhaya Rajapaksa, the powerful defence secretary and presidential sibling, achieved this through its treatment of another building – a Muslim-owned clothing store, Fashion Bug, in a Colombo suburb. It was attacked.

The mob that led the recent assault included stone wielding Buddhist monks. Other signs of the state — even the police — supporting the BBS have continued elsewhere, exposing the trap Sri Lanka still finds itself in. It is an imprimatur that has provided sufficient oxygen for such a troubling spectre to grow. Undermined, as a result, are more pressing needs of the hour, such as a rise of a genuine civic nationalism. And this, sadly, leaves room for one obvious outcome: a tale of fear and ethnic hatred foretold.

*Marwaan Macan-Markar, a Sri Lankan journalist, is a foreign correspondent who has been reporting from Southeast Asia since 2001, following a posting in Mexico City. A version of this essay was published in The Edge Review, www.theedgereview.com, a new Southeast Asian magazine launched in Kuala Lumpur

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    The Natives, Racism and Religions of Sri Lanka

    Sinhala Buddhists Monk Mahanama and Tamil Hindus and Racism

    1. A fraction of Sinhalese Buddhists now are racists. They were NOT racists to begin with. They were TAUGHT by Monk Mahanama to be racists with MYTHS written to Mahawamsa. This was perpetuated later on by other monks and other racists. In fact, DNA analysis of the so-called Sinhalese will show that they are not much different genetically from the Tamils of South India and Sri Lanka.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinhalese_people

    2. Sri Lanka was originally Animist, Hindu and Jain with Veddah, Yakka and Naga people. Even Vijaya and the other immigrants were either Jain or Hindu. Even Lord Buddha’s parents were Hindu.

    3. Monk Mahanama and other monks used the kings, and the kings used the monks, to reinforce each other’s position and hegemony and promoted Sinhala Buddhist Nationalism. This has nothing to do with Buddhism. Like Arab Nationalism and Islam.

    4. Buddhism and racism became rallying points for the monks and kings. This monk-king axis has nothing to do with achieving Nirvana and rebirth, which are all MYTHS.

    Studies looking at the origin of the Sinhalese have been contradictory. Older studies suggest a predominantly Sri Lankan Tamil contribution followed by a significant Bengali contribution with no North Western Indian contribution,[42][43] while more modern studies point towards a predominantly Bengali contribution and a minor Tamil and North Western Indian (Gujarati & Punjabi) contribution.[44][45][46] Multiple studies have found no significant genetic difference between the Sinhalese and the three other major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan Tamil, Indian Tamil and Sri Lankan Moor).[43][47][48][49][50][51]
    It is debatable whether the Sri Lankan population have genetic links to Far East Asian populations however due to their close links to North East India, there is a likelihood of some traces of East Asian genes.[52]
    Original Natives were Vedda, Naga and Yakka, who came from South India.
    Veddahs were the First to arrive in Lanka, like the Australian Aborigines and the Native America Indians, After they left East Africa about 70,000 years ago, Yes, the Veddahs are the Original Natives.
    Everybody else is an Illegal, Kallathonis.

    That includes the Subsequent Migration of Dravidian (Tamil) Hindus and Dravidian Tamil Janins from South India.

    That includes the Kalinga-Orissa-Bengali who were Hindus and Jains.

    Later Dravidian Tamils.
    Later Malayalees.
    Later Buddhists.

    Later Muslims, the ethnic stock is actually a mixture of Middle Eastern traders who were trading with Sri Lanka before the advent of Islam, called “Yonaka”, and these foreign traders who were mostly Middle Eastern converted to Islam, and got absorbed to both South India and Sri Lanka. So the gene pool of Sri Lanka Muslims contain Middle Easterners, South Indians, native Sinhala, and others. However, it is likely a large percentage of this pool is South Indian, but is not exclusively South Indian.
    Later Portuguese
    Later Dutch
    Later Malays
    Later English
    Later Estate Tamils.
    All these arrivals have one thing in common. Myths.

    However, one good thing happened. The genes became diversified, and created a more healthy population, instead of too many birth defects due to inbreeding.
    Myths of Rebirth, Nirvana, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory etc.
    The monks, priests and mullahs exploited the people, in order for them to stay in power and have hegemony over the people.
    In Sri Lanka, Monk Mahanama with his myths tat are being believed by many is the cause of the problem.

    It is really sad, that Lanka did not stay Native Veddah all these years.

    Religion is the Opium of the masses-Karl Marx. How true today.

    The Earth Still goes around the Sun,despite all the preaching by the priests, monks, mullahs, and Joshua stopping the Sun!
    Sri Lankan Muslims, and a host of other inhabitants in Lanka,Veddahs, Tamils, Yakkas, Nagas, Kalingas, Bengalis, Sinhala etc. originally came from East Africa between 70,000 and 100,000 years ago, as Homo Sapiens, through Arabia, yes Arabia.

    On the way they picked up many MYTHS of Religion, Race,beliefs etc, and these were promoted by those in power or in collision with those in power.

    http://www-03.ibm.com/press/us/en/pressrelease/35877.wss
    The Genographic Project Confirms Humans Migrated Out of Africa through Arabia
    New analytical method approaches the unstudied 99% of the human genome.
    WASHINGTON, D.C., – 02 Nov 2011: Evolutionary history shows that human populations likely originated in Africa, and the Genographic Project, the most extensive survey of human population genetic data to date, suggests where they went next. A study by the Project finds that modern humans migrated out of Africa via a southern route through Arabia, rather than a northern route by way of Egypt. These findings will be highlighted today at a conference at the National Geographic Society.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

    There is a Table There that shows the gene diversity and original location of the genes.

    SOUTHERN INDIAN GENE POOL:
    Mediterranean 4%
    Northern European; 2%
    Southwest Asian” 58%
    Southeast Asian 35%
    Southern Indian 4 2 58 35

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      Well said. Let the people know that they are fighting their own people. Hating your own gene.

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      Amerasiri,
      Reading a bit from here and there from Wikipedia one cannot dig into how Sinhalas came to be 75% of the population of Sri Lanka today. Cynics may attack Mahawamsa for racism ad myth but if not for Mahawamsa they would never have come to know of the ‘original natives’ of Sri Lanka or of the Tamil kings like Ellara. Tell us where else is written about Ellara? They all quote ‘Mahawamsa’.

      Confused Tamilian ‘mindset’ like yours cannot understand nor analyse the work of Monk Mahanama leave out the greater monks of MahaVihara.

      I suggest you read the introduction to the English translation of ‘Vissuddhimagga’ by Oxford scholar, Bikku Nanamoli or Osborn Moore to learn what its original writer Buddhagosha has written in his 900 page 5th century AD writing about MahaVihara, the king of Lanka at the time and above all why he came to Lanka. Then read your own Tamilian, Karthigesu Indrapala’s ‘Evolution of an Ethnicity’ to understand writings in Mahawamsa.

      Set of words you have written may have been picked up from here and there but together they form nothing but gibberish. You have no idea whatsoever even about basic Buddhism. So how can you know Buddhist interpretation of ‘Nirvana, Rebirth, Heaven, Hell’. It is obvious that you have been confused about it with insight of ‘Nirvana, Rebirth,’ of Hinduism and ‘Heaven, Hell’ of Christianity. Silly boy!
      Leela

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        How much you know about “Mahavamsa”? Bhikku Mahanama came from Kanchipuram with his sister who married king Datusena, the father of Sigiri Kasyappa and Moggalana. Maoggalana, from another wife but she too came from Kanchipuram Pallava Royal family.

        Kasyappa who killed his own father and lost support from the Tamil Pallava relatives and defeated by the same relatives. They helped Moggalana to get the crown.

        Mahavamsa written by bhikku Mahanama whose nephew was in trouble. Surely he cried against TAMILS because Tamil relatives defeated his nephew and helped Moggalana.

        Do you know who was Pallava Royals of Tamil nadu or Kanchipuram? Buddhaghosa too came from the same Kanchipuram!

        Remember Mahavamsa was written by a TAMIL Pallava Bhikku Mahanama and not by any Appuhamy!

        Buddhism still a “hard” subject to undestand by Sinhalese because they are too in a mentality of the Tamils of Tamil Nadu!

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          Sivanandan,

          According to Geiger, there were three authors to the Mahavamsa as it exits today. Most of us tend to believe that entire text was written by Bhikku Mahanama. The second author had Kanchipuram connections. I had reproduced Geiger’ s article on this subject as part of my ccmment on a different thread in CT, recently.

          Dr. RN

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            Check the history of Sigiri Kasyappa.

            Geiger did not do anything to find out the origins of Mahanama. But he was the brother in law of king Datusena.

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          M.Sivananthan

          “Bhikku Mahanama came from Kanchipuram with his sister “

          You have been consistently telling us the same story since our Transcurrent/DBS Jeyaraj days.

          Could you site evidence.

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            You are an ex-LTTE man and it is hard for you to believe some truths.

            Check who was King Datusena and his wives! Read Maha Vansa again!

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          M.Sivananthan,
          No Buddhist is concerned whether Bikku Mahanama is Tamil or Buddhaghosa is not a Tamil. As far as Sinhalas are concerned Monk Mahanama has done a great job. Segregation is not MahaVihara tradition. Emperor Asoka’s son, Bikku Mahinda started MahaVihara during 300 BC; he is not a Sinhla. MahaVihara had its ups and downs but once you are admitted to MahaVihara, you become one of the monks there. Your race does not matter. I suppose, its like French Legionnaires. You join the legion, you become French. Only difference is Legionnaires cannot leave but MahaVihara monks have no such compulsion.

          Bikku Nanamoli, Vissuddhimaga translator says details available about personal life of Buddhaghosa is limited to few pages. Whether Buddhaghosa is a learned Brahman from central India as Mahawamsa says, or as you say from Kanchipuram or he is from Gaya near Bodhi Tree as Burmese popular novel called ‘Buddhagoshupattni’ says, it does not matter. What matters is Buddhghosa had mentioned in epilogues at the end of his various commentaries about the Sinhala commentaries, MahaVihara and the King of Lanka at the time.

          What I want to emphasize here is in Buddhghosa’s words, he came to Lanka to read ‘three pitakas and Sinhala commentaries’ and translate them to Magadhan language. That means MahaVihara monks had used Sinhala as a written language long before Buddhagosa’s arrival in Lanka in fifth century AD.

          Evolution of Sinhala that started by Pandukabhaya in the fourth century BC may have developed a great deal by the time Buddhghosa’s visit to Lanka in the fifth century. Otherwise how can there be commentaries in Sinhala for Buddhghosa to study.

          Buddhagosa had not mentioned in any of the prologues or epilogues in any of his numerous commentaries that he is translating ‘three pitakas and Sinhala commentaries’ into Tamil. There may have been Tamil Buddhists at the time but it seems they haven’t put much of their Buddhist knowledge in to Tamil writing.
          Leela

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            Dont run! Better learn Mahavansa which is the Sinhala political bible now.But alas.. it was written by a Tamil bhikku!

            Your “Sinhala” claims are in water if you agree Bhikku Mahanama was a Tamil. Not only you but the “Tamil” EELA champions too lose steam!

            Buddhism never support supersitions but Lankan buddhists tells Mahinda flew from Maghada to Mihintale.. Those days no Jets.. But Sinhala racist minds dont tell the truth.

            Are you telling Buddhism took a “direct flight” to Hambantota by passing Tamil Nadu?

            Presentday Tamil- Sinhala problem is a creation of the Christian rule but Buddhists and Hindus swallow the the christian lies without question.

            Are the Sinhalese tell no Tamil connection after the war of Gemunu and Elara?

            Kings of the old days never had any problems based on language!

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          So, even the history had been the same. It is the Tamils who went against Tamils always.

          It is the tamils who killed tamils and supported Sinhala people.

          When it comes to talk, every one else living in Sri Lanka is a saint except Sinhala – buddhists.

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            JimSofty

            It is official, Sinhala/Buddhists are racists according to Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thera.

            “It is true we are racists. It is true we are religious fanatics. Yet, we are not the authors of racism and religious fanaticism in this country,” Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thera, Leader of the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU) said.

            Ceylon Today
            7/5/2013

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            During the days of the KINGS no Tamil No Sinhala. Get it?

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        Leela,

        They Sinhalese came to be 75 % of the population because of their tremendous capacity adapt, adopt, assimilate and progress. They are not conservative sticks in the mud. Anyone who was ready to learn the Sinhala language and preferably become also a Buddhist, became a Sinhalese. If not Neelaperumal would not have become the founding father of the Bandaranaikes, who became a political dynasty. The same applies to the Mahamarakkaka gentleman who became the forefather of J.R. Jayawardene. Jeyaraj Fernandopulle was an example of this work in progress. The ‘Ge’names of many Sinhalese reveal their roots. While interviewing individuals for various positions in Saudi Arabia over the years, I came across many Tamil or Malayalee ‘Ge’ names, in otherwise 100 % Sinhalese

        I admire this characteristic of the Sinhalese. But it involved in time past, a co-existence with others, that encouraged assimilation through substantial cross-breeding, in favour of the Sinhala identity at the margins. The post-independence Sinhala identity crisis, has resulted in alienation and set back the evolutionary assimilation process. However, the linguistic and cultural cross pollination continues strongly to this day, contributing to a progressive Sinhala community.

        Dr.Rajasingham Narendran

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          Dr.Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,
          I am in full agreement with you.
          Leela

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          Dr.Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,
          I am in full agreement with you in this and for your proposal for ‘National’ Provincial Council For The Northern Province though I oppose the Provincial Councils and 13A in general.
          Leela

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          “Sinhalese came to be 75% of the population because of their tremendous capacity adapt, adopt, assimilate and progress” ????
          I have read much better stuff from my friend.

          Senguttuvan

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            Why not you tell us about it, ISS? After all, we are eager listeners.
            Leela

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            Sri Lanka was the US of the past. The land of riches.

            Just as the Irish who were despised, became the whitest of white All American with Kennedy and Clinton becoming President.

            No different from Sri Lanka/Sinhalese ethos in the past.

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      Lanuage based racism is a product of the CHRISTIAN rule and not belong to any Sinhala/Tamil Kings!

      Even the majority people of Jaffna has no roots in Tamil nadu.

      But you never mention the relationship between GENES and Language.

      Language is not a genetical property.

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        Sivananthan
        Didnt you comment many years ago (1995 or so) on soc.culture.sri-Lankan.
        Nandi was the pseudonym used then right.

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      Amerasiri,
      Do you beleive that The Buddha visited sri lanka seven times as is stated by many?

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        Justice,Asks:
        “Amerasiri,
        Do you beleive that The Buddha visited sri lanka seven times as is stated by many?”

        Just use common sense.

        1. No, because there is no independent believable evidence. Besides, Nepal was too far from Lanka. Lord Buddha visiting Lanka ob the day Vijaya landed were some of the myths of Mahanama and others. Besides, if this occurred, it would have been about 100 years before Emperor Asoka.

        2. Mahawanssa has two parts. Historical part, that is generally considered to be accurate, and the Mythological part which is all Myth and Hype.
        My objections are to to myths,Sinhala Buddhist myths, and the perpetuation of these myths, which is getting in the way of building a just society in Lanka, and tearing the nation apart. The monks and politicians are using these to their own advantage, and the Sinhala Buddhists are being brainwashed.

        3. Myths can be found everywhere. One needs to separate the Myth from the historical facts.Lord Buddha lived is real. For example, the flight of Prophet Mohamed to Jerusalem and he Heaven, but the life of Prophet Mohamed and the Quran are real.

        4. Some Mahanama Myths:
        a) Vijay’s grandfather was a lion.
        b) Vijaya landed on the day Lord Buddha was in Lanka.
        c) Lord Buddha visited Lanka seven times.
        d) Lanka was given to Sinhala Buddhists as Dharmma Deepaya.
        e) The natives were demons.

        The kings had their palace.
        The monks of Mahavihara had their palace or Mahavihara.
        The people toiled to support the kings and the monks. They looked after each other, bust usually their self-interest.

        As Homo Sapiens, we are endowed with a decent brain,. We should use that wise, and be in a position to separate Myths from Facts, and use good logic and reason, when supporting data is limited.

        There is a thing called the Scientific Method.

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          In mysticism a phenomenon called ‘ Transmigration’ is recognized,where a spiritually advanced person can be in more than one place at the same time. This phenomenon has underscored many stories in Hinduism and Buddhism. I got a glimpse of tof one aspect of this phenomenon through modern science, while reading the book ‘ Life After Life’ by Raymond Moody, a medical scientist, a few decades back. Interviewing near death survivors, he found that all them had similar experiences, where the consciousness ( Soul?) separates from the body and is aware of what is taking place around the body. The conciousness returns to the body on its revival, but the memory of the experience persists.

          It is thus possible Buddha, a liberated soul, was able to travel through space and be where he was reported to have visited. There are phenomenon beyond the capacity of science to understand yet, because they are on a different plane of our existence.

          Dr. Rajasingham Narendran

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          Dr.Rajasingham Narendran,
          If you have time, please read ‘The Buddha and His Teachings’ by Narada’. I think, it is specially written for non-Buddhists. I have a hard copy. But free Download is available.

          It is well written and explains the Buddhist view of Creator, Soul, Kamma and Rebirth, what happens to ‘Arahnts after death’ and also to others. Bikku Narada compares Buddha’s view with many scientists like Robert Oppenheimer.
          Leela

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          Amerasiri,

          Your comments on the genetics of Sinhalese people and the myths and legends within the Mahavamsa are interesting. I agree that all humans (not just Sri Lankan or Indian ones) evolved in and migrated from Africa over the past tens of thousands of years, rather than hundreds of thousands of years as I once thought.

          However, the apparent contradictions that are mentioned in the Wikipedia posts you have shared with us are more related to lack of data and testable hypotheses than establishing that there is “no significant genetic difference between the Sinhalese and the three other major ethnic groups in Sri Lanka”. The key word here is “significant”. Reasonable conclusions cannot be drawn on the size of the samples that have been used, so far. Interesting work, in this area, is being done by Dr Siran Deraniyagala, the son of the famous Paul Deraniyagala who discovered and described the 30,000 year-old Balangoda Man and Neolithic Balangoda culture.

          The stone tools (microlith technology)of this culture, from at least 25,000 BP were far in advance of those being used in Neolithic sites in Europe (or India) at the time. Presumably these people were the ancestors of today’s Veddhas, but, as I understand it, Veddha merely means hunter. Those who were engaged in agriculture (and there is evidence of barley being cultivated in the Horton Plains as early as 10,000 BP) presumably became the Yakka/Yaksha clan and maybe the Naga people also. Back in 1927, the Indian historian V R Subramanian wrote that the Naga people once lived all over India, and were slowly displaced south and east, partly under pressure from horse-riding people with lighter skin invading from Iran and the Central Asian Steppes (the Aryans). At the time Subramanian wrote this thesis (1927) the discovery of the ruins of the Indus Valley civilization from 3000 BC had just been discovered.

          Since then, enormous advances have been made in our knowledge of the Indus Valley civilization, including the fact it was very much bigger than the contemporary Egyptian and Mesopotamian empires combined. It boasted extensive irrigation and sewerage systems in its large cities, like Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa. Mitochondrial DNA studies are very promising, but cannot take the place of older methods of ascertaining the truth about the distant past. These include archaeology, linguistic study and careful analysis of literature, and oral myths and legends.

          Regarding your list of the “myths” in the Mahavamsa – I agree that Vijaya’s grandfather was not a lion, and I doubt many Buddhists think he was (though some are doubtless full of superstitions as are devotees of other religions, and some who profess no religion). Many, if not most, Buddhists would regard this as symbolic or allegorical. King Asoka’s emblem included the famous lion statue, and the lion is depicted in the moonstones of Anuradhapura, carved before the monk Mahanama wrote the chronicle.

          Regarding the visits of the celebrated and famous sage Siddharta Gautama to Sri Lanka (I have read that he visited three times, only), this is not at all unlikely, given the long history of trade, religious and cultural exchange between Sri Lankan and South Indian kingdoms and those in what are now Malaysia and Indonesia (such as the Srivijaya maritime empire in Sumatra and the Rajapahit empire in Java). Also, as I have heard it, Vijaya arrived in Sri Lanka on the day the Buddha died (rather than on the same day as the Buddha). This, I agree, is a legend and may well not be true. In fact, the character of Vijaya himself is a legend rather than verified truth.

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    Very good article with facts, numbers and reality, hopefully our cheerleaders, war mongers and brokers like Dayan and Rajiva use their chance to understand it. Markaar is not a political scientist, not a diplomat, but he understands the real economic situation of this island

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    On the front advertising a new and developing country, Shangrilla, Kris Tower, Marriot, roads etc. At the back a scarcely disguised tale of medevial skullduggery and ethno religous hatred. The not so secret attempts to crush the minorities and enjoy the whole cake.

    The arrest and incarceration of Azad Sally is symbolic of the ruthless face of the regime as are the countless murders, abductions and disapperances of dissidents like Lalith, Kugan, Lasantha, Pradeep. This is the dark face of the Secretary of Defence, Gothabhaya Rajapakse who operates under the umbrella of the Ministry of Defence and Rajapakse regime. Himmler and the Gestapo personified.

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    A well thought out and clearly written article, avoiding cliches. Quite edifying

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    Macan -Markar conveniently forgets to inform Singapore is virtually a dictatorship with Lee Kuan Yew family controlling the country. Lee Kuan Yew ran the country for 30 years 1959-1990 and then his son Lee Hsien Loong became the Prime Minister
    .
    Lee Kuan Yew also changed Singapore from a majority Malay country to a Chinese majority by encouraging emigration from China and mainly Hakka ethnic group.

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    Macan Markar,

    The article shows your superficial understanding of what is Sri Lanka. If you are related to the Macan Markar’s in Sri Lanka, call them and try and understand this issue. The Macan Markar’s in Sri Lanka were not Burqa clad Wahabi Muslims. They integrate well with all the communities.

    Sri Lanka has also been invaded by fundamentalist Wahabi Muslims and their Madrasas. They appear to have gained supremacy over the Sufi Muslims, sometimes violently. The large number of Burqa clad women has changed the character of Sri Lanka.

    Bodu Bala Sena is a fundamentalist Buddhist organisation with foreign funding, opposing them. They do not accept religious freedom and destroy the new Christian places of worship, with the politicised police powerless to interfere against the men in robes.

    This is not Sri Lanka. These fundamentalists are a small minority, perhaps with the support of one member of the Rajapaksa family with his US Citizenship.

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    well written but for most of the ignorant sycophants with their mediaeval mentality this is mana from heaven. Unable to cope with their inferiority complexes’ they have to find scapegoats. What is new about The Miracle of Asia. We will never learn it is the curse of Queen” KUVENI.” After being jilted by Prince Vijaya.

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    Surely Macan Makkar is not up to speed.

    Otherwise how could he miss the story of M-TNA leader?

    And also the 6 star Hyatt Regency?.

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    We cannot compare Singapore with Sri lanka. Lee quan ruled there for 30 years without any opposition. One elected MP Jeyaratnam also was jailed later.

    If Marikkaar compare Singapore and appreciate it, I hope Rajapakse too now on the same path of Lee Quan! Conguradulate him instead of crying for opportunistic politicians like Salley!

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    I am not saying for a moment that stone throwing is a correct act for a Buddhist monk to engage. But is one monk throwing few stones at a Camera so hyenas for you to highlight ‘stone wielding Buddhist monks’ as if sky had fallen on your head. Not only there were no deaths before or at that incident but no similar incidents have taken place after that. No Muslim mosque is touched after that leave out a house. That shows how much the government is in control and indiscipline of Sinhala Buddhists. Is it not something to be praised when consider what’s happening around the world?

    In Sri Lanka, Muslims have attacked Muslims much much more than others have attacked Muslims. Did not Wahhabi Muslims ransacked Muslim mosques in Kathankoody, Beruwela, Ukuwela and etc. Did not Wahhabi Muslim mob invaded the Meditation Centre of a Sufi named Abdullah on December, 15th 2006 and knocked down its minarets and even removed his body from the grave and burned it. Did they not destroyed 117 houses belong to Sufi followers of Abdullah afterwards? But you chose to put all those under carpet and highlight a stone throwing incident by a monk as if Muslims here have been innocent pussy cats.

    Sinhalas want their complaints answered. You should have looked in to reasons why such a situation have arisen in Sri Lanka. You should have looked in to why there is a so much hate against Muslims. Don’t you think BBS is minority group. Minorities are the ones that cover-up what I wrote above and white wash your tactics, I mean, the commentators here and those that carried candle light vigils and that walked the walk.

    Sinhalas do not like Wahhabis and their madrasses and their violent teaching. We do not like the invasion of their associated gonibilla culture. We do not like your screaming through hooters crying out to pray for Allah five times a day, seven days a week, every month, all 365 days in every town, sometimes several places in the same town. We do not mind you pray ten time or even twenty times but yelling we hate. If Muslims can pray without screaming through hooters in your much appreciated Singapore, London and so many other cities why yell here. Why want to demonstrate other that you are praying here? Why do you want to be a nuisance to others? I mean 90% of the people do not like your invasion. What if we built temples around your mosque and put pirith at the same time?

    Look at what’s those five times praying bearded Muslims are doing all over the world. Dhaka in Bangladesh three policemen and twenty eight Muslims died when they rioted with police demanding deaths for blasphemy. Motijheel in Bangladesh, A policeman is hacked to death by Islamists chanting ‘death to those who insult Allah’. al-Arish in Egypt, Four fundamentalists shoot a bartender to death for serving alcohol. Mahmoudiya in Iraq, Mujahideen invade a home and shoot a man and his son to death. Njilan, Nigeria, Islamic extremists stage a Sunday morning attack on a church and a nearby cattle market, killing at least ten. Mogadishu in Somalia, Eleven people are ripped to pieces by a Fedayeen suicide bomber. Now that was only killings for yesterday and that is also with out killings in Syria. But those are all Muslims killing Muslims.

    Marwaan, you should be at least grateful that Buddhists are the majority in Sri Lanka and therefore Rajapakse will not allow Muslims to kill Muslims to please their Allah through sectarian slaughter here.
    Leela

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      Leela,

      Have you wondered why the Shiites (Borahs and others) have held many of their international annual Conferences here in Colombo coming here by many thousands – even before 5/2009?
      This was in preference even to secular Mumbai and Delhi. That is because they were certain they will not be bombed, shot at, thrown acid
      or otherwise slaughtered by their very same religionists (as it happens almost daily in Pakistan, Iraq) – although their adherents 24/7 insist the religion is Tolerant and Merciful.

      Although I find many features of the BBS objectionable, having spoken to some of their key men, I know they are deeply concerned, inter alia, of what happened to neighbouring Maldives post-1970s. Let us be reasonable. Buddhists here have been forced to have fears too.

      Senguttuvan

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    What a shame we lost people like you, Marwaan – Manel

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    Leela, you have clearly explained why all the other communities hate the Wahabi Muslims. I treat BBS as the Sinhala equivalent of the Wahabi Muslims. If they have succeeded in keeping the Burqa clad women out of sight, I say thank you to BBS.

    Madrasas have been a curse, where ever they are. If we can get rid of them, Sri Lanka will be a happier place for all and specially the Muslim women imprisoned by the Burqa.

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    Dear Leela,

    Thanks for your historical wisdom and explianing why there are so much hatred towards the muslim community in Sri Lanka. Specially 10% of the muslim community attempt to dictate everything that they believe or practice to other 90% of the population.

    The muslim population in Sri Lanka needs to ask the question why there is a so much hatred toward their practices and beliefs. They need to address those things before they blame the BBS.

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    I had to write something in defense of Marwaan. First, Marwaan was born and bred a true Sri Lankan. He is a Royalist, not because his father rented someone’s electric bill to get him there. The Macan Markars have been neighbours of Royal college for generations. To the village idiots who take time to display their stupidity and ignorance about all things, Marwaan wrote some of the best pieces I have had the pleasure of reading when he resided in Sri Lanka. Today, he is based in Bangkok I think, because he is an international correspondent for a news agency.

    It was our loss to have him seek greener pastures. Not that some of you would know what that is all about!

    The fact that some need to wake up the dead from eons ago, to justify their false arguments, is ample proof of how empty vessel is.

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    Dear Upul,

    “The Macan Markars have been neighbours of Royal college for generations. To the village idiots who take time to display their stupidity and ignorance about all things, Marwaan wrote some of the best pieces I have had the pleasure of reading when he resided in Sri Lanka.”

    80% of the Sri Lankans are village and non-royalals. They are the people who really understand the true hearts and minds of the Sri Lankan people. (I must render my apology for my language). Not the “F….ing” royalists. I live and work in a developed overseas country but I still my admire my village upbringing. That is the most imporant thing given to me in my life.

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      Sunil,

      Sri Lanka’s finest features – as in India – are in its villages. The Wewa, the Dagoba and the Dhamma School formed the basis of an unspoilt
      rural people. It was divisive politics and negative foreign influences that weakened this cultural wealth. But we can still regain our past.

      I have a friend, who went to Cambridge and then for a long stint at the UN, who returned to the country about 15 years ago. Brilliant economist, excellent writer and delightful public speaker he always identifies himself, voluntarily and happily, as a product of a regional Central school. He is seen in Colombo circles in milk white “National” In my many inter-actions with him I have found him to be a gentleman of whom any society will be proud to claim as their own. There are many here like that who have reached the heights of education and knowledge who have discovered the richness of our simple ways.

      What goes as “prestigious and Big schools” in Sri Lanka matter very little when you compare them to their counter-parts in many countries. But that is not to take away the useful role they have played in moulding young to make them useful and good citizens.

      Senguttuvan

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    Sunil Dahanayake – Hats off to you Sir!! Let not the sons
    of the soil, those who come from villages, be trampled
    and buried by the illiterate elite. They are like the lame
    who are heroes before a cripple. Learn or get out.

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    Mr. Dahanayake,

    I was very specific in my language. You chose to conclude that I referred to everyone. That sir, you have to figure out.

    The quality of a human being has been contributed by many. Caring teachers, a loving progressive home, and society at large. A child from rural Sri Lanka can be as gifted as any other. That was not what Marwaans’ article was about and neither was my response.

    You did not choose where you were born but, you are who you are, because of the choices you have made. A Royalist has what he has, and if you do not understand that, get over it! You were not asked to accept it.

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    Greetings! I’ve been following your site for a while now and finally got the bravery to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!

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