25 November, 2020

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Tattoo Of The Enlightened One

By Charles Sarvan – 

Prof. Charles Sarvan

Prof. Charles Sarvan

With reference to the tourist deported because she had on her person a tattoo of the Enlightened One, while Judaism and Islam strictly prohibit any depiction of Jehovah  and Allah respectively, Buddhism, Christianity and Hinduism abound in representations of the divine. It seems to me that the step from representation to tattoo is not that far.

Some Christians wear a cross to signal their belief but I personally haven’t seen Jesus or Mary tattooed on a human body. Perhaps, there are? In a way, a religious tattoo makes sense because one cannot get physically closer. Secondly, a tattoo is permanently, constantly, there unlike, for example, with a cross worn round the neck which can be taken off. Of course, as with much else, it all depends on the intention: is the tattoo meant to ridicule and make fun of or is to express worship and spiritual closeness? If the latter applies to the deportee, then a fervent Buddhist has been expelled, disillusioned.  I find it difficult to believe that anyone would, out of a sense of irreverent fun, tattoo herself or himself: an exercise not without pain, in both physical and financial terms.

Naomi Coleman, 37, was arrested at Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka for 'hurting religious feelings' with her sleeve depicting Buddha on a lotus flower

Naomi Coleman, 37, was arrested at Bandaranaike International Airport in Sri Lanka for ‘hurting religious feelings’ with her sleeve depicting Buddha on a lotus flower

I have wondered at the ready propensity of believers, irrespective of religion, to resort to violence if and when they feel their god has been insulted. Let us say I am a fervent believer in a god called Ogun. I believe Ogun is all-knowing and all-powerful; and that ultimate justice rests in his hands. Now, if someone insults Ogun, should I get infuriated or should I feel sorry for the person, that s/he, unlike fortunate me, doesn’t know the truth of Ogun? Isn’t my Ogun, since he is omniscient and omnipotent, capable for taking care of himself? Isn’t final justice with him? Rather than almighty god protecting human beings, puny human beings feel impelled to protect their all-powerful god or gods.

Or is it that I boil in anger for fear that, if I wasn’t outraged, Ogun will get angry with me; think I didn’t care that he was insulted and punish, not his denigrators, but me?

Or is it that, identifying with Ogun, I see the insult as ultimately aimed at me? If so, isn’t the outrage, violence and punitive action really about mortal me rather than about divine Ogun? My Ogun has been insulted – the emphasis being on “my”. We are in the realms of the psychology and the politics of religion.

If I punish someone who has insulted Ogun, will that help in converting non-believers? Will punitive measures convince non-Ogun followers that Ogun is, after all, the true god? Or will they merely be afraid of me? Fear is often imposed externally; it comes from outside while respect is what we voluntarily accord, however reluctantly. I may fear a bully but have no respect – indeed, only contempt – for him. We humans tend to confuse fear for respect. Shouldn’t I and my fellow Ogun believers opt for the much harder course of winning respect and, eventually, through respect, genuine conversion? But then, it’s so much easier to be abusive, to deport, to assault individuals and to attack places of worship. These reactions and actions have the advantage of leaving me with feelings of self-righteousness; that I am a pious and righteous believer. (Ironically, in its other meaning, “tattoo” has a martial association.) Truly, the greatest damage to the essence of a religious doctrine is done not by those against it but by its most fanatical adherents.

By way of a postscript: I smile wryly when, sometimes, in the windows of obscenely expensive shops in the West and restaurants (never mind that true Buddhists are vegetarian), I see a statue of the Soul of Great Compassion or, for that matter, of Che Guevara – both of whom stood against much that such shops and restaurants represent.  Indeed, one can exclaim,  “O tempora, o mores!”

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Latest comments

  • 8
    2

    “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

    • 6
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      Prof. Charles Sarvan

      Dear Naomi Coleman, Age 37 is a confused Buddhist. She wants to be attached to Buddha, what Buddha clearly teaches that Suffering is due to attache met. Attachment to Buddha and the Image.

      There is nothing wrong in believing in Myths, Buddhist Myths or any other Myth.

      However, she should have kept her Myths inside her head, not all over your her body. The body is something that is the product of evolution. Let this be an example for all Myth believers, to keep their myths inside their heads, as all myths are imaginations.

      This is the Basic problem Srimn Lanka has with the Sinhala “Buddhist” Monk Mahanama Believers aka Para-Sinhala Buddhists as per Native Vedddah terminology.

    • 0
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      This video will show you how many times the bbs like violent segments have attacked buddhist, muslims, christians during the last few months.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hcJyqzxisN8

  • 8
    3

    Sri Lanka has become a brutal state with corrupt fascist, murderous rulers and terrorist Sinhala Buddhist monks. Law may be at times enforced at the discretion of the rulers.

    Police and the armed forces are law unto themselves.

    Anything is possible in this land, which is reduced to a farce.

    • 1
      1

      Yes to Thiru, but compare both in space and time.
      SL has become far less brutal than when the LTTE was in power, for 30 years.
      Even in countries where the Tamil diaspora lives, the LTTE extortionists and club wielders are less effective.
      5 years after a brutal war, we should be not too different from how it is in Iraq or Afghanistan, or in Cashmere But we are far better off.
      Give another thirty years, there will be extensive improvements in Sri Lanka’s civil situation.

      • 1
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        LTTE never promised to maintain peace for the Lankans during its tenure, but to fight to the finish.

  • 6
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    Poor Miss Coleman. She had a busman’s holiday. In her day job she is a mental health nurse. On her holiday she should not have had to deal with mental health case but got a bellyful of them, from the taxi driver to the police to the magistrate who invented an adhoc law just for the moment.

  • 3
    1

    Poor Miss Coleman. She had a busman’s holiday. In her day job she is a mental health nurse. On her holiday she should not have had to deal with mental health cases, but got a bellyful of them; from the taxi driver to the police to the magistrate who invented an adhoc law just for the moment.

  • 5
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    Budha never wanted anyone to force someone to follow Budhism. In Sri Lanka killing, torture, robbery, thuggery, abductions, rapes, have become the norm especially among the ruling class. None of these people are free of sins. Why bother with a tattoo. After all it is her body.

    Just by building Budha statues and shrines where there are no Budhists does not make one a good Budhist. But if the money spent on these things are spent on the desperate people who have lost everything to STATE TERRORISM might help the sinners to wipe some of the sins they committed and are committing!!!

    • 1
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      truth

      Read the Monk Mahanama’s Mahawansa,

      You will understand, Why?

      Just Google Mahawansa

  • 7
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    Sri Lanka does not own Budha or Budhism. There is no connection between the Sinhala language and Budhism. Sri Lankan authorities should learn to practice Budhism instead of harassing people!!!

  • 12
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    It is not ok for a british woman to have a tattoo of the Buddha on her shoulder. But it is ok for Gnanasaara to expose his upper body and armpit hairs to all and sundry !
    Isn’t that more degrading and humiliating to the robe and Buddha ?

  • 5
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    I am a Hindu. I might not take offence if Lord Ganesha’s image is
    tattooed in some decent part of someone’s body. So, I believe, may
    be the attitude of Christians. But in today’s sensitive world, Tourists
    are best advised to be conscious of the delicate nature of cultural
    realities – particularly if they visit countries with a surfeit of
    pseudo-nationalists.

    The taxi driver may have been one who had previously benefited by
    tipping off the Police/Army on some innocent Tamils in the Colombo area
    come there for Visa and other necessities. It has clearly become a habit in some of these 3-wheeler patriots – out to make a fast buck while at the same time satisfying their racial prejudices.

    R. Varathan

  • 3
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    I am embarrassed at this overzealous pathetic Mullah like reaction to a tattoo. I have seen tattoos of Jesus on people in the USA. Buddha also ceased to exist via the concept of Nirvana. He also preached tolerance for everyone and he preached tolerance of those who insulted him and tried to harm him. The Buddha would not have judged this woman the way half-baked overzealous few in Sri Lanka did with this woman. How is that having a tattoo be an insult to a way of life that is NOT based on Gods and theism unlike Islam or Christianity or Judaism? Buddha spoke out against idols but after his passing away we have perpetuated his teaching via symbolisms. The biggest symbolism of it are statues of him. People just go blindly pray in front of these statues as if they pray to a god. Buddha was not a god. He was a human who became an enlightened person. Instead of focusing on increasing attacks on tourists via rapes adn harassment of westerners, Sri Lankan authorities are going down the wrong path trying to claim we are more moral than others. Yes I have seen tattoos of Jesus weeping, Jesus and cross even on US army personnel. This was pathetic racist ignorant attempt to target a tourist. Whether we like it or not, British tourism is an important source of revenue to Sri Lanka. And this woman did not appear be insulting at all. These ultra nationalist racists are giving Sri Lanka;s Buddhist heritage of tolerance and acceptance a bad name and it is only getting worse because of Government inaction and indifference to thugs like BBS people. I think people need to respect cultures in nations they visit and for example modest dress in Temples is warranted but this was not an obscene tattoo or an insult except for sub educated thugs and ignorant people such as Cab drivers. Buddha would not have been angry.

    • 2
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      How does Buddha look like – Chinese, Indian, Black, white, bald, long hair, blue eyes, black eyes, thin, fat, etc.

      NO ONE KNOWS HOW BUDDHA LOOKS LIKE BUT PRETENDS THEY KNOW. SAME WITH JESUS.

      It was all started by people who were making idols and the most popular ones survived and we call them Buddha, Jesus, etc. Buddha and Jesus did not pose to make their idols or pictures made.

  • 2
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    The taxi driver who drew attention to the cop about the Buddha tattooed on the upper arm of Ms Coleman which led to her deportation on the order made by the half baked magistrate and the unscrupulous lawyer who fattened his purse are all just thought play from the sublime to the absurd.
    When the body of Ms Coleman becomes defunct one day and gets buried or cremated, can any follower of the Buddha’s teachings let us know if the tattooed Buddha would also have attained Nibbana or not?

    • 2
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      Probably out of a miracle that piece of tattoo may stay intact and a future Lankan Government may patronize to offer it’s public coffer to build Dagoba, Chaitya, Aranya, Ambalama & Viharaya naming ‘Sri Knagnapokara Vehera Coleman Nikaya’.

  • 4
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    What a Joke, in this corrupt lawless Banana Republic only criminals, drug lords and terrorists get red carpet welcome. God save former Democratic Sri Lanka.

  • 3
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    Who writes the laws and guidelines for the Immigration department. I am surprised the French embassy has not taken up the matter with the government.
    Is there a law in SriLanka that it is an offence to Tattoo Buddha’s image. How about Krishna’s image or Jesus’s image?.

  • 2
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    They didn’t torture her or anything, did they? They just hustled her to a detention center and then deported her out of the country.

    Now if this picture had been drawn on paper, it would have been one of great beauty and merit. It’s the tattooing that is the problem. To keep pin-pricking one’s body in this day and age, to engrave any picture (especially one that is so large, and of Buddha) is for the most part, perversity. And it is not in line with Lankan culture.
    Also the image might get distorted in the case of weight gain/loss and look very terrible.

    Certain ancient culture might have succumbed to this kind of thing and made it part of their ritual (and probably for good reasons for the kinds of lifestyle they had to endure), but in traditional Lankan life, it was never done. And in modern life, tattooing is one for those who need that extra stimulation (although not out of any impropriety), but certainly out of the Buddhist precepts of calming of senses.

    Therefore it is most correct that Lankan Buddhist culture abhors this kind of bizarre art form. We wouldn’t want our most respectable Lankan Buddhist persons spouting tattoos of Buddha all over their bodies, would we!?

    Therefore, instead of deporting her, they might have told her to cover it up, and put an ankle monitor on her to keep tabs on her.

    ps. what Machang said about Gnanasaara exposing his upper body and armpit hairs to all and sundry ! is very correct, and should be prosecuted also.

    • 0
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      It this the disgusting Leela disguised in Ramona?

      • 0
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        Who’s Leela? What disgusting thing did she do?

        • 0
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          If you are not that disgusting Leela, what bothers you to reply in a question?

          • 1
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            Use a little imagination, will you, instead of going around in rhetorical false causes.

            Answering a question by another question is due to the first question being a total non-starter, and therefore I gain the advantage of asking another question in defense.

            To explain to you further: My question obviously declares myself to be innocent of being Leela. But my curiosity beckons me to query further about her.

            In other words, I go a step above, by merely answering the first presumptuous question by asking my own very cogent question.

    • 0
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      “They didn’t torture her or anything, did they? They just hustled her to a detention center and then deported her out of the country” And you, Ramona Therese, pretend you are a do-gooder writing on this, that and the other. Imagine you work for an year or two and go for a much looked-forward-to vacation to a place claimed to be Paradise on Earth
      and where citizens are innocent practising Buddhists. Only to be insulted by taxi drivers, low level Policemen, unlawfully hauled up before an uncaring Court on a charge not in the Statute, threatened and fleeced by sex maniacs in Govt clothes, intimidated by cheap crooks going as women’s prison guards, cheated by 2-bit “lawyers” and so on. When the heat builds the Govt releases her under the orders of a dumb Court/Immigration. For all the damage the Govt offers her a Business Class ticket as compensation and wryly announces she is welcome again. Why? For a repeat performance???

      I won’t be surprised if the lady institutes legal proceedings with accompanying global negative publicity. The issue has hit the global networks already – as I learn from friends in North America, the UK and Australasia. Our Tourism has been given a further hammering by corrupt officials down the line. Mother Lanka has her nose rubbed in the mud – once again by a zombie jamboree that calls itself a Govt.

      Frank N. Stein

      • 0
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        I agree! We a quick to find perversity in White and other foreign persons (even small ones away from “traditional” Lanka culture), but fail to see the grossness and shame of our very own people. Thinking further (after your comments), she should have not been hustled out of the country, but told to cover it up, and if she didn’t, then retold to, by honest Lankan citizens.

        Lanka should have very specific laws on these, stated at the ports of embarkation before tourists come into the country.

        • 1
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          I am impressed by the graceful response of Ramona Therese. Equally
          touching is the response of the Ven. Walpola Piyananda, Chief Sanganayaka of America – featured in a Lankan English daily today – regretting the folly of the many Lankan “authorities” down the line and declaring Ms Coleman innocent. The Ven. Sanganayaka is also vehemently critical of the uncivilised and unlawful treatment Lankan officialdom meted out to this practising Buddhist, who chose our Island among many to visit as a practising Buddhist.

          This is one more instance when dregs in the street are encouraged to do police and quasi-judicial functions – something unheard of in civilised societies living under the Law. Such incidents take place only in Police States. This taxi driver and Police Constable may have benefited earlier by
          exploiting the plight of Tamil visitors from the North-East coming to Colombo to attend to their travel formalities. I am told hundreds of them were blackmailed – and, I believe, this still continues.
          I hope responsible Police, Immigration and other connected officials take note of these observations.

          Frank N. Stein

  • 2
    1

    Will the govt. do the same if she had Mohammad (PBUH) or Aisha’s tattoo?

    Or a tattoo of Sivalingam?

    Why double standards?

    • 1
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      …or a brailled tattoo in Pukaseema’s frailed lingam.

      • 0
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        Oh I say, Louis, your comment has conjured up all sorts of amazing visions of Pukaseema’s tattoo’d hydrolic lingam as it rises and falls twenty times a day (and more when a bus journey is involved). To think that this poor sentient woman only had what to all intents and purposes was personal and harmless. I identify full with the comments of the the Ven. Walpola Piyananda.

        • 0
          0

          Spring Koha

          “(and more when a bus journey is involved).”

          “Wisdom comes from experience. Experience is often a result of lack of wisdom.” Terry Pratchett

          Your wisdom comes from personal experience I suppose.

          • 0
            0

            Ah the searching inspection of (the last?) Native Vedda; nothing escapes. When you invoked the patrician Sir Terence, memories came flooding back of those days when the children were wooed by his fanciful but nevertheless fictional tales when I simply wanted them to read about the gods and goddesses of old Rome and Greece. Native Vedda, guardian of our blessed land, there is an altogether painless alternative to experience; observation. For me, personally, I cannot make up my mind between the 154 Moratuwa-Kiribathgoda or the 155 Mt Lavinia-Mattakuliya – both carry the best and worst of our citizenry. Actually, you may say that about most of our bus and train services. I have observed things on our public transport that would make a Tunisian pimp blush. So my noble man, observation, and listening, – the most valuable (and painless) alternative to experience

  • 1
    0

    Hindu religion is nowhere telling when or on what a Hindu should feel offended. But now, Hindus have opposed others printing Hindu gods’ and goddesses’ pictures on their garments, swimsuits and others. I do not see a difference between printing a picture on a sari, on a swimsuit or on underwear.(after all everybody has been wearing only amudaya or Koomanam those days) Soul’s maturity is achieved only by self-development. Not by disciplining others. This is what Buddha taught too. But the monks all over world now dying with the philosophies they themselves wrote eventually on Buddha’s name. Buddha kind of Nirvana can be achieved only by self-development. We Hindus have seen this in eventual high caste Brahmin, Sankaracharya, and Ramakrishna. They did exactly what Buddha did. Threw away their caste identity (the Religious Status Symbol) and went as homeless Sanyasis. Until, the modern days Brahminical monks come ready to wipe out their status symbol, (the dress, the head, the book) they will not able to understand Buddha. Buddha never achieved anything by reading philosophical books. Only way to achieve that is by Sanyasam, not Brahminical Styled monkhood. By reading philosophical books, all what you can earn is, Western styled PhD. Not Nirvana.

    Hindus Valley preacher, Shiva’s theology was corrupted when the Aryans invaded. Ashwamedha Yagna and other animal related obscene ritual started. Eating animals and sacrificing them too were introduced by the New Aryan Brahmins. At this time, the Siva Gurus'(Siva Brahmins) place was stolen by Arya Brahmins(Arya Brahmins did not had the spiritual achievements like the way the Siva Brahmins had; They were just warriors, only-imposed whatever they liked on the Siva Brahmins and stole their IDs). Varnashrama-dharma (new Arya casting system) introduced. But the native peoples who lost the war to Arians did not forget their old religion(it stayed latent). They did not have the authority to practice as it was. This was not unique to that time. This how during Muslim invasion, European invasion the Hindus survived. In their belief, Krishna supposed take birth and clear the obstacles time to time. So as the 9th birth Buddha born and revived the old practices. 5000 years old terracotta clay stamps shows Shiva sitting in Yoga position. This religion,which faced and interruption and restarted after the birth of Buddha. Buddha took the role of the Shiva. The difference in the modern day appearance of Buddha was created by coping Greeks sculpturing, who invaded North India. Other than that Buddha, is exact replica of the Hindus Valley Shiva. Not just on the shape, but on the teaching too. the separate, new religion, Buddhism started long after Buddha departed. Buddha opposed Aryanic rituals of sacrifice, Varnashrama Dharma…. and others. But eventually Aryans took over the new religion, Buddhism too. Most of the extremism you see in that is the Aryans’ addition. Buddhist monks should not have status, same like Hindu Sanyasis. When the Aryan influence increased in the religion, they adopted the Aryanic Brahmanical religious status for them too.

    But Buddha revived Hinduism. It is not in violent way the Saivam was converted into Brahminical Hinduism. So Brahminical Hinduism was never abolished. Rather it did not lose lot of its control in north India. So Hindus have Aryan Brahmins and Siva Sanyasis, both. Buddhism, which was created long after Buddha, picked up only Sanyasa and lost it Arianism. So they have the modern Brahminical styled monks (who are status dependent to maintain their religious recognition). Statusless monk is not desirable for any Buddhist in the world over. This is not draw back just in the Mahavamsa Buddhism.

    These all were happening only in the north. A little over 2000 years ago, Aryan Brahmanism, and Aryan (or Brahminical) styled Buddhism came to Tamil Nadu. They(TN) still had the Hindus Valley Siva Brahminical system. Valluvan, a Hindus valley styled Brahmin (by caste too), or simply a Sanyasi, was puzzled to see the Both Brahminical Styled Buddhist and Arian styled Brahmins.

    So he has said many things in his couplets, after observing these new Hippocratic groups.

    1).
    TRANSLITERATION:
    Mazhiththalum Neettalum Ventaa Ulakam Pazhiththadhu Ozhiththu Vitin

    TRANSLATION:
    What’s the worth of shaven head or tresses long, If you shun what all the world condemns as wrong?.

    MEANING IN ENGLISH:
    There is no need of a shaven crown, nor of tangled hair, if a man abstain from those deeds which the wise have condemned.

    He apparently did not like the way Brahmins growing their hair and monks shaving their hair (as a sanyasi -by birth an old styled Siva Brahmin- he did know how the hairs on his body looked like). He out rightly called it as acting.

    One more on the interesting saying

    TRANSLITERATION:
    Andhanar Enpor Aravormar Revvuyir Kkum Sendhanmai Poontozhuka Laan

    TRANSLATION:
    Towards all that breathe, with seemly graciousness adorned they live; And thus to virtue’s sons the name of ‘Anthanar’ men give,

    MEANING IN ENGLISH:
    The virtuous are truly called Brahmins (Anthanar); because in their conduct towards all creatures they are clothed in kindness.

    So the Siva Brahmin or the Anthanan is completely an ID changed person from the Ariyanic Anthanan or Brahmin. This took place during the Aryan-Dravidian in North.

    The woman’s Tattoo is nothing other than a showy behavior. (Just like Brahmins growing their hair and Monks saving their hair- she just want to declare her religious status with that tattoo.) There is no deep religious making coming out of it as she is claiming. But, when a woman thinks she is beautiful and she adds up some make up to her body, why we would not have anything to say about, it is the same way we do not have anything to comment this woman’s tattoo. Especially as it is not a WCS’s tiger picture, she is certainly not an LTTE. There is no reason to deny her entry into the country.

    • 0
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      I’m confused, Arya Brahmin & Saiva Brahmin, last time I checked there is only Brahmin(no offence). Buddha revived Hinduism, last time I checked it was revived by Shankaracharya(no offence once again). Aryan theory was propagated by vested interests discredited by none other than BR Ambedkar(Dalit leader). Accordng to Periyar even Lord Ram is Aryan but we know that Harium(Lord Ram is avatar of Vishnu alias Hari), Sivanum onnu, Aryiathavargal vailla mannu!!!

  • 1
    2

    It is best that in the future a strip search be made of all arrivals at the Sri Lanka international airports with a representative of the BBS present. Bensen

    • 1
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      The BBS volunteers would be confidently out of their dogma when they find the secrets of the tilts and whistles of the hyper-pilgrims.

  • 1
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    I believe its ok to have a tattoo of any religious leader as it clearly says that how much you have faith, trust, respect for that religion.

    For eg if you have tattoo in you hand saying “Amma Buduwewa” does it mean that you disrespect your mother.?

    As a matter of fact there are so called BUDDHIST MONKS who ruin Buddhism in Sri Lanka right now than these few with Buddha tattoos

    As usual and not surprisingly “SRI LANKAN POLICE IS WATCHING”

    • 0
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      If a arm talks “Amma Buduwewa” does it mean that the other arm should say “Thaatta Bangawewa”?

  • 1
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    people must look what is going on the country.monk are acting like animal without having any human dignity and respect.they are taking law in to their hand all senior monks are just sitting without having even words while young people act like the way no human being acts. we really would like to see what kind of basic disciplines they must follow while in the yellow rube and during the public.these trugs acts like animals.so this lady with tattoo has great respect to Buddha and only that reason she would got this tattoo from Thailand during the visit.our monks act like their are the custodian trusty of Buddhism.some time we need to understands that this is the only religion has such freedom and follow.so sending this innocent lady who came to have vacation here was not a appreciate thinks.

  • 1
    0

    Some people make money by selling pictures and small statues of the Buddha. So called Sinhala Buddhists erect huge Buddha statues in public places in the open air so that crows can sit and shit on the head. To prevent such degrading why not get each statue to wear a top hat or a fez? Some Buddhist monks make money by performing Bodhi Pooja. Some others charge money for their `Bana Preaching` What hypocrites these people are! In Sri Lanka it seems that there are greater Buddhists than the Buddha himself!

  • 2
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    The poor lady had the decency to have the tattoo on her upper arm. What if she had decided to have it on that part of her body where the sun never shines. We should be thankful that at least she had SOME respect for the great disciple.

    • 0
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      In the beaches of Sardinia, the sun, mooon & stars ever shines over the triangle of offense.

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