7 October, 2022


The ‘Mad Monk’ Phenomenon: BBS As The Underside Of Sinhala-Buddhism

By Kalana Senaratne

Kalana Senaratne

Kalana Senaratne

The marauding Buddhist monks, who appear to be tied to a long political leash, have run out of control. They need to be stopped. But it is equally necessary to take a cold look at the complexity of the phenomenon that groups such as Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) have come to represent. This is no freak show, and is hardly an aberration in post-war Sri Lanka; also because we know now that critics such as Ven. Dambara Amila (JVP) who predicted that the BBS was bound to dissipate in a matter of months were hopelessly wrong.

Sinhala-Buddhism & BBS

That it is necessary to take a hard and uncomfortable look at the complexity of this BBS-phenomenon is brought to light when reading the Sunday Island political column written by CA Chandraprema, pithily titled ‘Saffron robed destroyers of Sinhala-Buddhism’ (13 April, 2014). While Mr. Chandraprema is to be congratulated for his bold critique of the BBS and the silence of the Buddhist Sangha community, it is difficult to agree with the broad thesis of his column. For Mr. Chandraprema believes that the BBS is primarily another conspiracy launched against the Sinhala-Buddhist majority of the country; that its aim, far from damaging the religious/ethnic minorities, is to damage and destroy the Sinhala-Buddhists.

This, I admit, may be an obvious by-product, one inevitable consequence, of the action of the BBS. But the BBS-phenomenon is a far more complex one, largely because the BBS, far from destroying Sinhala-Buddhism, is giving expression to the very causes espoused by Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists. Thus, BBS is the underside of Sinhala-Buddhism.

BBS MonksThis is largely because the underlying or foundational reasons that give birth to Sinhala-Buddhism and groups such as the BBS are somewhat similar.

One has to do with the historical grievances and fears harboured by the Sinhala-Buddhist community, given that the promotion of other religions, especially the Christian faith, was central to the European colonizing missions even in Sri Lanka; resulting in numerous forms of discrimination of the Sinhala-Buddhists (numerous scholarly works, ranging from those of Professors KNO Dharmadasa to Susantha Goonetilleke, would point this out). No religion has been, and can be, innocent in the hands of its zealous teachers and propagators. Sinhala-Buddhists would know that all too well.

But the more fundamental reason for the emergence of Sinhala-Buddhism, as well as groups such as BBS, has to do with the inadequacy of the true Buddha-teaching for contemporary political engagement, especially in an identity-seeking, identity-promoting multi-ethnic and pluri-national political setting. In other words, the teachings of the Buddha woefully lack those elements with which you can zealously promote, protect, construct your own identities, your own political interests and prejudices, or engage in contesting those promoted by other ethnic and religious groups (more so, in the contemporary state-centric geopolitical framework). The Buddha-teaching is unhelpful in this political struggle: since that teaching is one which, inter alia, promotes as an ultimate goal the ceasing of greed, hatred and delusion, the realization of all identities as constructed identities; in other words, it is a teaching which helps you to expose the artificial and constructed character of all identities, for they are all without self, without an abiding and unchanging self or core. So from the Buddha, you don’t get a clear teaching on how to defend your state and its sovereignty, how to increase your own kind, how to protect Buddhism, how many times to pray during a day, etc. Even the very idea of ‘protecting Buddhism’ the way it is sought to be done today would be meaningless for the Buddha.

This is what explains the yawning and enduring gap between precept and practice. And it is this vacuum of a solid political ideology which is sought to be filled through the adoption of a culturally-constructed form of Buddhism. In Sri Lanka, this comes to be called Sinhala-Buddhism. And the wonderful thing about this twist is that while you can be attached to the Buddha and his teaching, you can also satisfy many of your political prejudices, aspirations and grievances. That which you cannot do with the Buddha’s teaching, you do with the help of Sinhala-Buddhism.

So with Sinhala-Buddhism, you can pretty much defend a lot of things. You can promote war in the name of self-defence or in the name of protecting Buddhism (or you can be against war too); you can kill terrorists (or you can be critical of the careless use of the ‘terrorist’ tag); you can promote village-level devolution (or you can promote the self-determination of Sinhala and Tamil nations); you can be against the 13th Amendment (or you can call for the need to go beyond the 13th Amendment); you can build more temples in the name of protecting Buddhism (or you can be against such a practice); you can be vociferously critical about ‘Halal’ and call the Buddhists to ban the consumption of such products (or you can promote peaceful engagement and seek ways of ensuring how a valuable concept such as ‘Halal’ can be made useful for the Sinhala-Buddhist community as well in a non-religious way); you can go around crying out in utter filth on the pretext that this is what needs to be done if others are not willing to listen (or you can act in a refined manner); and the list goes on. History would suggest that doing those things stated outside the brackets is more convenient and a sure way of acquiring a greater following, and would help you avoid being bracketed as a separatist. But there is still that indeterminate character to Sinhala-Buddhism which gives you some freedom to construct different political positions. And like any other religion-inspired political ideology, this is the character of Sinhala-Buddhism too; and it is due to this indeterminate character that I am not an outright rejectionist of Sinhala-Buddhism – what depends is what you do with that label, and there is nothing essentially or inherently wrong with it, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with Tamil nationalism).

But what’s problematic (and this is a personal perspective, of course) about contemporary Sinhala-Buddhism is that it is those projects and ideas that were mentioned above (i.e. those which remain outside the brackets) which are the dominant causes of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism today. And interestingly, they are the very causes and projects espoused by groups such as the BBS. The main difference however is that BBS reflects the more grotesque and dangerous expression and promotion of these projects. The BBS reflects the ugly underside of Sinhala-Buddhism; and it is the movement which will literally and forcefully execute the project of Sinhala-Buddhism. What some Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists think, the BBS will do. And that’s what’s happening today.

BBS as a necessity

The importance of a group such as the BBS for promoters of Sinhala-Buddhism of the above kind, lies precisely in this.

In a broad sense, and contrary to what critics would say, this is precisely the vehicle that powerful elements within the Sangha community would require to promote Sinhala-Buddhism. The Sangha community and its leading monks would, indeed, be quite uncomfortable about the particular modus operandi of the BBS. But there is hardly any rejection of the causes that the BBS stands for. This was most strikingly reminded to me at a recent public talk given by Nirmal Ranjith Dewasiri at the Colombo University. During the discussion that ensued after the talk (which was on the theme of recent Buddhist political resurgence), Nirmal posed a question to a leading monk who kept on articulating the broader BBS-line (about the illegality of certain Muslim mosques, etc). Nirmal asked what the Buddha’s teaching was as per the Metta Sutta, the Discourse of Unlimited Friendliness. And then came the unabashed reply from the monk: it was the Metta Sutta that made life difficult for them! (i.e. a statement to the effect that ‘karaneeya metta sutraya thamai apita weraduna thena’!). This was a clear but extremely rare admission of the gap between precept and practice. But more seriously, it was damning evidence to suggest that the BBS is not without its use for contemporary Sinhala-Buddhist politics.

The broader necessity of a BBS-type movement is more acute in a post-war context wherein the promotion of Sinhala-Buddhism and establishing the dominance of the Sinhala-Buddhist ideology appears to be the fundamental and defining political goal of a government. We see this happening given the pace at which the building of temples and Buddha-statues take place (ably supported by the domestic film industry as well). This is not a project that can be carried out without some forceful entity in the backdrop. But also, a movement of this nature appears to be necessary for distracting purposes, given also the mounting international pressure, especially for a government which is not ideologically committed to adopting policies that are any different to those which have been adopted since the end of the war. In other words, the very political circumstances of the present make groups such as the BBS necessary.

So it is not the case that the BBS is determined to destroy the Sinhala-Buddhists. Rather, the BBS is the natural end product of unchecked and unrestrained Sinhala-Buddhist fervor; especially in a post-war context where the political victory and spread of Sinhala-Buddhist ideology is the principal and determining goal of a government. This is why the government rushes to ban Tamil diaspora groups (some of which promote separatism), but not groups such as the BBS. This is why a government would not see groups such as the BBS as a serious threat. If the BBS was out to destroy Sinhala-Buddhism (as Mr. Chandraprema claims), the government would have banned this group sometime ago.

Silence and Support

Critics such as Mr. Chandraprema are angered (rightly so) and startled by the relative silence of the Buddhist Sangha community. He points out, for instance, that the Chief Prelates or the Ven Mahanayake theros and other senior monks cannot be unaware of the danger the BBS-type monks cause. Mr. Chadraprema refers to the “moral pressure” that can be exerted which would compel these groups to change or modify their behavior.

But then it’s difficult to expect groups and entities giving moral support for these groups to exert moral pressure to change their behavior.

The BBS receives this support, perhaps a bit grudgingly, by the leading monks (as explained before) because the BBS appears to be the contemporary vehicle through which an uncomfortable message can be spread most speedily within a population; a message that is in any case central to the Sinhala-Buddhist project (for e.g., one cannot expect the Mahanayaka theros, or even lay figures of leading Sinhala nationalist parties, to get on the podium and demand Sinhala girls to make more children; but that’s the task the BBS-monks did). In any case the promotion and protection of (Sinhala) Buddhism along with the nurturing of political leaders to take up that task, has been one of the defining historical roles of the Sangha community in Sri Lanka. Mr. Chandraprema considers these monks to be unknown during the war-time. But then, some of the leading monks behind this phenomenon are those of the caliber of Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi (who is the founder of the Buddhist Cultural Centre of Sri Lanka). That’s how serious the BBS-phenomenon is. And perhaps this involvement of the Sangha community also explains the relative silence maintained by the likes of Ven. Sobitha. After all, the saffron robe carries tremendous political clout in the country; and politically ambitious monks like Ven. Sobitha know this all too well, having been in the forefront of the political movement that rejected devolution for the Tamil community some decades ago.

The BBS-phenomenon derives moral and ideological support, not only from the Buddhist monks, but also from political entities and the state apparatus. And it is surprising how an astute political analyst and the distinguished author of such works as ‘Gota’s War: The The Crushing of Tamil Tiger Terrorism in Sri Lanka’ did not deal with this aspect and pose the question to the government in his column. Furthermore, the BBS-phenomenon can be expected to receive much ideological support from Buddhist scholars and Sinhala-Buddhist nationalist writers.

These are then, to borrow a fantastic line from Prof. Nalin de Silva (who uses it to explain the ideological forefathers of the LTTE), the granduncles, uncles and cousins (the seeyala, baappala, ha massinala) of the BBS. Their silent acquiescence is not a consequence of their inability to understand what’s going on; but precisely because they understand the underlying project promoted by the BBS.


A critical question then is about damage and destruction: who is the BBS trying to destroy? Is it, as Mr. Chandraprema thinks, the Sinhala-Buddhists? Groups such as the BBS would not intentionally destroy Sinhala-Buddhism. This is also because their attack is more widespread. There is, for example, the targeting of the Muslim because he is a Muslim, and therefore a particular ethnic and religious bias is clearly evident in BBS-inspired action. Apart from the attack on the ‘Halal’ logo, we gather this from the statement once made by a monk about Muslim restaurant holders spitting into the food that is served to their (non-Muslim) customers; a practice which, according to this monk, is sanctioned by the Quran. This is one specific way in which a Muslim is targeted for being a Muslim.

Also, the sense of fear and terror spread by groups such as the BBS is not something felt by the Sinhala-Buddhists alone; rather it applies to all ethnic and religious communities. This is irrespective of the claim made by some that many there are certain sects within the different religious groups that are not targeted by the BBS.

Therefore, in short, the BBS needs to be stopped, not primarily because it is destroying the Sinhala-Buddhists but because it is a menace to the Sri Lankan polity and its constituent peoples. The BBS and such groups need to be stopped because they are generating such hatred that people will come to view violence as the only practical option available in the face of the marauding monks approaching them.


Contrary to what I had thought a few years ago, it is extremely difficult, perhaps impossible, to critique or reform a phenomenon like the BBS from within. One cannot be attached to the contemporary project of Sinhala-Buddhism and seek to dismantle groups such as BBS. In other words, BBS is just the ugly underside of Sinhala-Buddhism; but they are, in their view, clearly and convincingly on side of Sinhala-Buddhism.

In the short term, BBS will perish only if it decides to clash head-on with the most powerful in the country, President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa. The chances of that happening are slim. But for a phenomenon like the BBS to be rooted out, what is needed is a radical rethinking and re-articulation of what it means to be a ‘Sinhala-Buddhist’. It is only such a re-thinking and re-branding of the Sinhala-Buddhist identity which would make groups like the BBS redundant, unnecessary, deplorable.

That again, however, is a long-term political project; one which has little support on the ground anyway. In the face of the actual dangers posed by BBS-like entities, swift and quick action is required. Perhaps Mr. Chandraprema’s provides the hint. He calls the BBS-phenomenon a “mad-monk phenomenon”; and he considers the monks involved in this movement to be “mad monks”. So the message ought to be clear. It is customary to lock up those who have gone mad.

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Latest comments

  • 7

    ‘In the short term, BBS will perish only if it decides to clash head-on with the most powerful in the country, President Rajapaksa and Defence Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa’

    This is the vital sentence in the whole article.
    BBS is nothing but same Mahinda & Gothabaya.
    This PonnaSara is a barking dog which is dancing to the tunes of the above two. This dog has been protected well for the time being until he become a ‘billa’ one day.
    To eradicate this social virus uproot this regime. If its hard then use so called white vans. counter attack is the best possible way.

    • 4

      There will be never a head on clash between BBS and President Rajapakse or Gotapaya unless Sinhala masses throw away Mahinda because BBS is under the direct instructions from Gotapaya and Mahinda.

    • 0

      RE: The ‘Mad Monk’ Phenomenon: BBS As The Underside Of Sinhala-Buddhism

      Dear Kalana Senaratne –

      The proper Title Should be

      The ‘Mad Monk’ Phenomenon: BBS As The Underside Of PARA-Sinhala-Buddhism

      Thus it shows that they are all Paras- foreigners in the land of the native Vedda. They, the Para-Sinhala, should take the Para-Tamil as well,

      They should all go back to their Native South India.,

      DNA and Geologic evidence proves that.

  • 3

    Its like this….I always argue that whatever the filth coming out of Terrorist Gnanasara is the exact words of Mahinda.

    All those filth which is emanating from Gnanasara’s mouth is the words that never came out of Mahinda in Public. Mahinda loves it.

    Maybe, he might have had a grudge during the heyday of SLMC’s Ashroff when he was the King Maker moving with the Royals freely in the corridors of power. Mahinda has a small dirty heart and it won’t allow to see anything good in any event or incident.

    That’s why Mahinda has now become his own threat. His arrogance and his childish display of power and pamper in events and mega shows has driven him nuts like a monkey got hold of a garland (Wandurata mal maala dunna wagey).

    His moda choon in posing for Photo ops with famous people and leaders in the international arena all indicates that psychologically he’s a multi faceted unstable maniac.

    Ultimately, when GOD decides to destroy a nation, he gives them a leader who is cranky according to their hidden wishes. Mahinda has gone MAD, he will die like PRABHA who died by blindly helping his own killer MAHINDA (in election by preventing Ranil from coming to power).

    GOD HAS THE ULTIMATE PLAN – MAN WILL NEVER EVER KNOW IT UNTIL WHEN IT STRIKES IN A FLASH. The history of mankind is full of such stories.

    Let’s wait for GOD’s Final sign before annihilating this monster MAHINDA and his cronies once and for all.

    • 2

      Buddha is no God
      Buddhists do not believe in the myth of a Creator God.

      • 1

        I am no muslim

        “Buddhists do not believe in the myth of a Creator God”

        I hate to agree with you however Sinhala/Buddhists believe and worship Vishnu (Bodhisattva), Natha, Vibhisana, Saman, goddess Pattini and god of Kataragama. A hypocritically convenient arrangement.

        Sinhala/Buddhist could pray to gods and deny their existence.

        Thanks for informing us you are no muslim.

        Are you a Sinhala/Buddhist?

        • 1

          NV I am surprised at your ignorance. Sinhala Buddhists pray to gods but deny a supreme creator God. These gods they pray to are merely beings in a higher plane of existence. They too are subject to kamma and rebirth. You, NV could end up as one for a while! Don’t forget your fellow posters if you do!

          • 0


            “NV I am surprised at your ignorance.”

            I am not an ignorant but bit thick.

            Please reread whole of my comment.

          • 0

            “..Beings in a higher plane of existance..” :-) :-) So as for the creator god, is there any evidence for these “beings in higher planes”? Is there any evidence for Karma, for re-incarnation, for nirvana? Just as for Chistians and Moslems, us Buddhists and Hindus have our own dogmas. So lets not congratulate ourselves without too much cause.. We all beleive in one dogma or other.

            • 1

              Dingiri, yes there is evidence if you want it. You are in a higher (happier)plane, an animal is in a lower (unhappy) plane.

              Regarding evidence for kamma, nibbana etc you are using logic and reason to ask this question. Buddhism has no dogma. The Buddha’s discovery is beyond logic and reason. It can only be known through direct intuitive insight. The way to achieve this is through meditation.

              Regarding evidence for reincarnation, there is actually plenty of proper scientific evidence if you are interested in it. Here is just one of many sites

  • 5

    The BBS is only the latest in a long line of groups and individuals who have bastardized the noble message for the sake of personal and political advantage. The organisation of the Sangha along caste lines is just one example. These latest groups took the victory over terrorism in May 2009 as a catalyst for a Sinhala-Buddhist revival; victory in 2009 was achieved by Sinhala-Buddhist Armed Forces and, having subjugated our Tamil brethren, the spotlight was turned on the next two thorns in the side of those who yearn for a Sinhala-Buddhist hegemony, namely the Muslims and the Christians. Let the warning go out loud and clear to ALL SRI LANKANS of goodwill who yearn for a true peace, this present evil must be confronted and defeated head on before it is too late and we descend into another thirty-year hell.

  • 5

    The most intelligent piece I have read by a Sri Lankan this year, so far.

    • 4

      Dr DJ I agree with you.
      It is dissapointing despite the fact that you rush pen to paper more often than this guy.
      perhpas you have gone mad. The remdy is here.

  • 0

    It is good to read the refreshing thoughts of young Kalana Senaratne on contemporary political matters. He appears to be free of religious, ideological and racial baggage. While C.A. Chandraprema’s critique of the BBS in last Sunday’s Island is to be welcome – coming it does from a Buddhist journalist – CAC makes several serious errors in his article. The chief of which is the many nuances on Jewish and Western interests accusing BBS to destroy Buddhism in Sri Lanka. In coming to this conclusion CAC may have been influenced by the surprising visit of a BBS delegation to the USA recently with Galaboddaathe Gnanasara Thero playing the lead role there. Who invited them? Who financed them? Why?

    Interestingly Kalana touches upon a line of thinking that may help us to both propagate classic Buddhism and serve the cause of unity in the country. Note his comment “the inadequacy of the true Buddha-teaching for contemporary political engagement, especially in an identity-seeking, identity-promoting multi-ethnic and plural-national political setting” …..” that teaching is one which, inter alia, promotes as an ultimate goal the ceasing of greed, hatred and delusion, the realization of all identities” As a non-Buddhist – but with interest in true Buddhist teachings – I hold the view if the essence of true Buddhism is understood by the young and others and is vigorously taught, we might still produce good and practising Buddhists. This canresult in many from other faiths keenly following the Buddhist way of thinking and living – often referred to as a scientific religion. The challenge is to close “the yawning and enduring gap between precept and practice.


  • 1

    @ kalana

    Very good.


    “But there is still that indeterminate character to Sinhala-Buddhism which gives you some freedom to construct different political positions. And like any other religion-inspired political ideology, this is the character of Sinhala-Buddhism too; and it is due to this indeterminate character that I am not an outright rejectionist of Sinhala-Buddhism – what depends is what you do with that label, and there is nothing essentially or inherently wrong with it, just as there is nothing inherently wrong with Tamil nationalism).”

    Are u not being a bit too free here? After having said what you said of the emergence of the project?

    Concepts, as the Existentialist used to say, follow existence and not precede it. Mostly.

    We do not have here a mere label that has potential to be tagged on this or its opposite that: it is a name chosen as appropriate and by what was already real: an exclusivist project, promoted by tagging on a positive brand and its apparatus.

    When we learn to talk about constructions, we must also learn not to play down the reality of the character of the constructed. And as you certainly are not unaware, very strongly constructed and buttressed.

    You talk of an ugly underside. I doubt whether there is a third dimension here.

    And for the bracketed purposes you imagine, why this particular composite and not something less exclusivist like Vyavahaara B, Political B or even Lankan B?

  • 2

    The imminent threat to Lanka is from the fanatical Islamic terrorism that is taking deep roots in Eastern Lanka and is many other parts of the country. BBS is only a rather unsophisticated response to that threat.

    BBS must mature and become more like an Israeli Mossad, using same tactics and strategy to counter the threat. They must rally the people to deal the Islamic terrorists a lethal blow and annihilate Wahabbism from the country.

  • 0

    The intelligent Kalana Senaratne, has sprinkled some precious nuggets in his ingeniously worded discourse.

    * With the patronage of the President and the Defence Secretary, BBS is there to stay.

    * The many political prejudices of Sinhala-Buddhism is not the Buddha Way of life.

    * The Metta Sutta makes the ways of Sinhala-Buddhists untenable.

    * Devolution of power to the Tamil community is the politically correct thing. (You yourself could extract the same with a careful read.)

    Thank you, Kalana. You are a Gem.

  • 2

    Dear Kalana
    People like you give dignity to Sinhala Buddhists of SriLanka despite their recent disrepute. The most important thing is for people of your caliber to write for the Sinhalese masses who cannot understand Colombo Telegraph. A sinhala journal either online or in paper is the need of our current situation. Education at grass root level is the bedrock of democracy.

  • 2

    Kalana, I would very much like you write here explaining what is the root cause like BBS or Ravana Balaya suddenly sprung up in SL. In the history of SL when there was a threat to Sinhalese or the Buddhism these kind of monk sprung up to show and guide the Sinhalese. From Ven.Variyapola Sri Sumangala thero, Migettuwatte Gunananda thero ,Ven.S.Mahinda thero, Ven.Ariyadhamma thero, Ven.Soma thero were few of them in last five centuries. And now the Galabodaththe Gnanissara thero.

    In recent history when SATALITE and RA-BLUE were ruling this country there were trend that they put promote Christianity and gave step motherly treatment to Buddhism. They were promote multi religious,multi ethnic policy. And that hurts Sinhala Buddhists. And the result is creation of JHU. JHU fought against Christianity and the dragging of war against LTTE.

    Now the LTTE is gone and there is another threat to Sinhalese and Buddhism. Now the muslims trying to do the same thing what LTTE did in a different way. They were very cunning and organised.

    So the Ganansara thero screaming against the illeagal land grabbing and erecting prayer stations and mosques all over country. Why muslims need so many prayer stations and mosques in SL? Why did not muslim’s obey the law in SL? Or they think that their law is Sharia? They are living in SL not in Arabic country. How come they settle their people in a rsstricted forest?

    Maybe Ven.Gnansara’s language might not digest for some people. But majority Buddhists do not pay any attention to his language but listening to the Facts he questioning. Kalana and other writers here only criticise the language monk Gnanasara using. The monks in the Past used the same language to wake up Sihalese when they in deep slumber. Monks can follow what in Karaneeya Meththa Sutra in SL if only the Sihala Buddhist living. Unfortunately monks have to live with Cunning Muslims and Tamils. Also IF the SL monks work according to Karaneeya Meththa Suthra in SL the tamils and muslims cut monks throats in near future[that’s what happening now in Rohingya,Bangladesh] while they are in meditation and buy more monks to promote Islam like Wateraka Vijitha.

    Most of the commntor’s here telling one thing. Monks must not engage in politics, monks must not question about what illegal activities of minorities doing and must stay inside the temple doing meditation etc… If monks steyed like that manner in SL, the Sinhalese and Buddhism already vanished.

  • 0

    Bodu Bala Sena,Sihala Ravaya, and Ravana Balakaya are Saffron Robed Destroyers of Sinhala Buddhism.



    Can there be a more loathsome sight on earth than that of rampaging Buddhist monks in saffron robes?

    The sight is made doubly loathsome, because a ‘rampaging monk’ is a contradiction in terms – something that cannot be. The Buddhist expectation is that a monk in particular will have at least an outward demeanour of restraint.  Those familiar with the Vinaya rules will know how much emphasis is placed on the maintenance of this outward appearance of poise and self control by monks even though the monk may not be feeling any calm at all within.

    In Buddhism, inward calm is acquired through understanding, but the emphasis in the Vinaya is to control the outward appearance of the monk regardless of his actual state of mind. It is said that Emperor Asoka of India first evinced an interested in Buddhism because of the outward demeanour of a novice monk he saw on the street. Had Emperor Asoka seen a marauding monk as in latter day Sri Lanka, instead of that novice monk of yore, he would have personally seen to it that every Buddhist monk in his empire was beheaded and the religion itself destroyed.   

    Last week TV viewers once again saw the sight of Buddhist monks threatening, intimidating and almost assaulting another Buddhist monk at a press conference at Hotel Nippon when the Bodu Bala Sena invaded and disrupted a press conference called by a new organisation calling itself the Jathika Bala Sena.  This has serious implications. The last thing that we want is for rival political organisations invading and disrupting each other’s press conferences simply because one does not agree with what will be said at that meeting.

     This is a country where not even press conferences of the Tamil National Alliance is disrupted even though the whole country is fully aware that they are plotting day and night with international conspirators to create a separate state. Apart from the implications for the secular politics of this country, the Buddhist faith itself is under stress as never before because of this mad monk phenomenon.  This writer has said this earlier and wishes to say so again that this is not a conspiracy launched against the minorities; it is a conspiracy launched against the majority community of this country by overseas conspirators with a handful of Buddhist monks as collaborators.

    Anybody familiar with the way political parties in this country work will know that every political party highly values politicians and activists who can muster a crowd at short notice. Even among politicians, not everyone can do that. But some, by throwing money around, doing favours, doling out patronage and being with the masses, have the ability to muster a crowd with just a few phone calls. Such individuals are valued by leaders of political parties because it is such people who bring crowds for political activities at short notice. Everybody knows that nobody can do this unless there is money and patronage available.

    In the past couple of years we have seen the rise of not one but several organisations led by Buddhist monks who can muster crowds at short notice and who appear to have no shortage of toughs to do their bidding. All these organisations have goons who assault people in public with no care for the consequences. Even politicians do not have followings like that. The question that emerges is who is funding these operations? How is that these monks who were complete non-entities just two years ago, are suddenly able to muster gangs of thugs and go all over the country interfering in all and sundry?

    Targeting minorities

    Very often, what we hear especially from anxious minority community members is that organisations like the Bodu Bala Sena, Sihala Ravaya, and Ravana Balakaya are targeting the minorities. On the face of it, that appears to be the case. Even the latest incident is apparently due to an alleged settlement of Muslims on the border of the Wilpattu forest reserve.  Though these shows are organised to oppose something that is done or not done by some minority community, the actual casualties are not the targeted Muslims but the Buddhist faith. Last week what the Buddhist faithful saw on TV is the sight of one monk threatening another senior monk, addressing him as ‘miniho’ and actually raising his hand as if to assault that monk. These are sights that shake the faith of the Buddhists.

    The Sinhala Buddhist public has been so disgusted by such behaviour of these marauding monks that there now is no danger of any Sinhala action against Muslims. The Bodu Bala Sena first started this hate campaign by calling for a boycott of certain Muslim business establishments. There is now not the slightest chance of any such boycott succeeding as what captured the attention of the Sinhala Buddhist public was not the alleged misdemeanours of the Muslim businessmen concerned but the deplorable behaviour of the monks.

    The vast majority of the Sinhala-Buddhist public are now indifferent to the shrill allegations against minorities being made by these mad monks. But just as the LTTE was never dependent on the support or goodwill of the Tamil people of the North and East for their survival, organisations of Buddhist monks like the Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya and the Sihala Ravaya do not appear to be dependent on the goodwill or support of the Sinhala-Buddhist public. Some mysterious source keeps them funded and regardless of how many members of the public they distress by their behaviour,  these groups are able to carry on their activities.

    Consider the following facts.

    1.       Until just a couple of years ago, all these monks belonging to the Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya and Sinhala Ravaya were not heard of by the Sinhala Buddhist public.

    2.       Even during the war, not one of them had gained any kind of prominence by trying to protect the Sinhalese from terrorism. One would have thought that given the concern that these monks now profess for the rights of the majority community, they would have taken up residence in the border villages and rallied Sinhala resistance to Tamil terrorists who were trying to destroy Sinhala villages in the border areas. But we saw no such thing.

    3.       All these organisations, the Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya, and Sihala Ravaya emerged suddenly out of nowhere. None of the monks active in these organisations had ever even had a reputation as skilled preachers before they suddenly burst in upon the scene. All of them owe their notoriety entirely to acts of violence and unseemly disturbances perpetrated in full view of the public.

    4.       Had these monks been doing anything to promote Buddhism in and around their temples they would have gathered a large following in the outlying areas even before they gained national notoriety and they would have been controlling perhaps whole electorates and towns. Even politicians would have had to talk to these monks first before being able to talk to the people of the area. But none of these monks appear to have any influence in the areas where they are usually resident.

    5.       Even a prominent monk wielding much influence in the towns and villages around his temple, will find it difficult to muster crowds for activities outside the area. So the question arises, how do these complete non-entities find the resources to launch operations in Colombo and indeed all over the country? If such resources and organising ability were always available to these monks, how is that that they were not known to the public earlier?  

    All these are questions that go unanswered. Most inexplicable of all is the fact that being monks, all of them seem singularly oblivious to the effect their behaviour would be having on the minds of the Sinhala Buddhist public. Each of these monks seem to be vying with one another to behave in the most violent and outrageous manner possible, to cause as much disgust and loathing among the very Sinhala Buddhist public they claim to be representing. Even with regard to last week’s incident, what gained the attention of the public was not the alleged settlement of Muslims on the border of the Wilpattu forest reserve, but the behaviour of the monks. These monks are not stupid. They should be fully aware that their behaviour is causing more consternation than the issues they claim to be protesting about. This is why this writer is completely convinced that all these organisations, the Bodu Bala Sena, Ravana Balakaya and the Sinhala Ravaya are all parts of an international conspiracy to destroy Buddhism in this country.

    That would be the ultimate revenge for the international forces opposed to the Sinhala majority. After the war against Tamil terrorism was won conclusively in 2009, in a manner that amazed the whole world, the Sinhalese were riding high. Earlier, the impression was that the Sinhalese were weak, irresolute, fickle, cowardly and no match for the Tamil terrorists. That was put an end to with the war victory and the enemies of the Sinhalese were rendered speechless.   They have now responded with a conspiracy to destroy Buddhism from within, as a way of getting their own back on the Sinhalese. This mad monk phenomenon all started with a trip to Norway funded by a shady foreign organisation. The monks who went on this trip were not as mad as they now are before they went to Norway. Before this trip to Norway, all monks, even those who were directly involved in politics were acutely aware of the need to maintain an appearance of calm and restraint that the public expected of a monk.  After this trip to Norway however, all restraint vanished.

    Now bhikkus engage in violence in public and justify it on the grounds that they are doing all this due to the concern they have for the country and the Sinhala Buddhists. The Sinhala Buddhists for their part have been more scandalised by the behaviour of the monks than by any of the ‘issues’ real or imagined that these mad monks have been talking about. With each such incident were monks engage in unruly behaviour clashing with members of other organisations, or with the police and even with other monks, Buddhist sensibilities are outraged. If Buddhist monks had behaved in this manner during the colonial rule of the Portuguese, Dutch and British, this country would by now be a completely Christian country.

    Clearly, these agents provocateurs are out to discredit the saffron robe that has in many ways symbolised the Sinhala Buddhists. If these people were bona fide nationalists who are actually concerned about the activities of various minority communities, they would disrobe first if their activism necessitates behaving in a manner unsuitable to a Buddhist monk. But in this case we see that the saffron robe is being used as a shield to prevent action being taken by the police. Take last week’s incident for example. Had the individuals who invaded that press conference been laymen, the police would have baton charged and dispersed the crowd, and some of them may have even been remanded. But because the invasion was by Buddhist monks, the police took no action although they have initiated action on a complaint lodged after the incident. The police too have not yet evolved the procedures and practices to deal with monks who behave in this manner. Even the government is still groping its way around as no previous government had to deal with a phenomenon like this.

    It is true that there were monks who did even worse than this in the past. Even the marauding monks of today have not been able to reach the peak attained by Buddharakkitha and Somarama who planned and carried out the assassination of Prime Minister S.W.R.D.Bandaranaike. But at that time, it was just two monks acting in secret. Buddhism survived Somarama and Buddharakkitha because until they carried out this assassination, there was no public misbehaviour by monks aimed at outraging Buddhist sensibilities. Somarama and Buddharakkitha targeted only one man whereas their latter day successors are targeting the whole Buddhist dispensation in this country.  They are out to destroy Buddhism as completely as the Sri Lankan military was able to destroy the military arm of the LTTE.

    Cannot be unaware

    The Ven Mahanayake theros as well as senior monks cannot possibly be unaware of the danger that these mad monks pose for the future of Buddhism in this country. Because of the actions of a handful of monks, the saffron robe has now become a symbol of disruption and political tension.  Like the government itself, perhaps the Mahanayake theros may have been waiting in the hope that this phenomenon will die a natural death when support from the public is not forthcoming. But as last week’s incident showed, it is not dying a natural death or at least it is not dying a natural death fast enough. As we pointed out earlier in thus article, these monkish organisations are (as the LTTE was earlier) not dependent on the Sinhala public for their goodwill or support.  A reaction to this phenomenon is taking place within the Buddhist clergy (albeit not vigorously enough) with one Nikaya prohibiting monks belonging to that organisation from participating in demonstrations, protests and other such activities.

    But this phenomenon cannot be controlled with just one nikaya which is just a small part of a larger nikaya banning such activities. So far,  the Mahanayakes of the three nikayas have not taken any action to control the behaviour of their own monks. However when it comes to a matter concerning laymen, the Mahanayakes are quick to issue statements. Casinos are not a matter that concerns monks. Laymen should have a right to gamble or drink if they want to. The Mahanayakes who show much concerned about laymen (and foreign laymen at that!) going to casinos do not show any concern when it comes to Buddhist monks behaving in a manner that threatens to destroy the entire Buddhist dispensation in this country.  A few private mutterings of discontent will not do in situations like this. The Ven Mahanayakes have to wrest control of things from these thugs masquerading as monks.

    The role of the Jathika Hela Urumaya also has to be questioned.  On an earlier occasion when one hysterical monk burned himself to death demanding a ban on cattle slaughter, the JHU tried to make hay while the sun shone by trying to emphasise that this monk had sacrificed himself for a cause. Now once again when marauding monks invade a press conference and threaten another monk, the JHU leaders are talking about Muslim settlements in Wilpattu with nothing at all being said about the behaviour of the monks who invaded that press conference. One would have thought that the JHU in particular would be more concerned about the image of the Sinhala Buddhists than that.

    The JHU seems oblivious to the fact that the behaviour of these monks is shaking the faith of the Buddhist laity and giving an added fillip to the wave of conversions to Christaianity taking place in the country. Earlier, if poor Buddhists had to be given various incentives to convert, today even middle-class Buddhists may be motivated to convert because of the thuggery, bigotry and sheer boorishness displayed by a handful of monks. If politicians belonging a political party were to behave like that in public, the popularity of that political party will plummet. Just imagine the effect that unruly clergy will have on a religion. The fact that the JHU appears oblivious to this fact is quite inexplicable.

    Some may argue that while middle class Buddhists may be scandalised by the behaviour of these monks, that the Buddhist hoi polloi see these marauding monks as heroes who are championing the cause of the downtrodden Buddhists. But that does not seem to be the way things are turning out. If the Buddhist hoi polloi were grateful to these marauding monks who claim to be doing things on their behalf, then each of these thuggish monks would have a following bigger than Gangodawila Soma thera.  Does it look as if these marauding monks have been acquiring a following among the ordinary Buddhist masses even to the extent that crackpot monks like Pitiduwe Siridamma have, much less Gangodawila Soma thera? Besides, when it comes to expecting restraint and good behaviour from monks, there is no class divide. This is a matter central to the Buddhist philosophy and the code of conduct for monks.

    The biggest joke of all is the political activism of a senior monk like Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera, who sees the executive presidency as the biggest danger to the country in a situation where Buddhism is being destroyed from within more surely than the colonial powers ever could from outside. That the Ven Mahanayakes of all nikayas are issuing press statements about casinos and Ven Sobitha Thera is campaigning against the executive presidential system at a time like this would have been hilarious if it was not such a tragedy.  Besides, what does it look like when senior Buddhist monks who cannot put their own house in order and ensure at least the bare minimum standard of behaviour expected of a monk in public pontificate on how laymen should behave and criticise political institutions in the country? The senior monks are now like failed school principals who cannot maintain discipline among their students.

    To be sure, the Mahanayakes have less control over Buddhist monks than principals have over their students. However, there is something called moral pressure. If the Mahanayakes in one voice condemn unruly behaviour by monks, the thuggish monks too will be compelled to modify their behaviour as everything is finally dependent on public acceptance. As of now, because the Mahanayakes are keeping quiet, the marauding monks continue in their mission of destroying Buddhism and the public passively watch the goings on with mounting disquiet.  If the Mahanayakes take a united stand against this kind of behaviour by monks, the public will at least feel that the Buddhist establishment is untainted and that these marauding monks are just an aberration like Buddharakkhita and Somarama. But today, with the Mahanayakes keeping quiet, it appears as if the entire Buddhist establishment is acquiescent or paralysed in the face of this monkish thuggery.

    The question that we have to ask ourselves is whether these monkish thugs have threatened and intimidated the Mahanayakes as well, the same way they intimidated that monk on TV? These are matters that have to be looked into by the authorities concerned. If Nero fiddled while Rome burned, what are the Mahanayakes doing while Buddhism is being destroyed from within by people with shady foreign contacts?  This is a conspiracy to turn Sri Lanka into another South Korea which turned from a largely Buddhist to a largely Christian country not due to colonial domination but through proselytization.  What better aid to proselytization than giving the targeted public the feeling that the religion that they belong to is a barbaric, Neandethral faith?

    What is the face of Buddhism in this country today? It’s that of Galagodaatte Gnanasara!

    Did we win the war against terrorism and restore the self respect of the Sinhalese in the world only to end up at such a pass?

    COURTESY:The Island

  • 1

    TRAC Clasified BBS a terrorist group , next step to list as many country and refuse visa for the CEO of the terrorist BBS dilantha and his family AND OTHER MEMBERS

  • 2

    Mr. Kalana Senevirathne:

    I say you stepped on your own tail.

    Sinhala Buddhists Don’t have to protect Buddhism. Remember something called sinhala – buddhist civilization.

    Lord buddha has told exactly when buddhism disappear and exactly what buddhism is. For example, meditation is becoming popular and Scientists are studying the effects of meditation on brain function etc. That is not Buddhism.

    Anyway, Sinhala civilization is interwoven with the Buddhism. The day, Buddhism disappears from Sri Lanka, Sinhala civilization also should disappear.

    If you say Sinhala Catholic/Christian or sinhala Muslim cultures are the true sinhala civilization, that is the day that true Sinhala civilization disappeared.

    • 1


      “Anyway, Sinhala civilization is interwoven with the Buddhism.”

      What is Sinhala civilisation?

      “The day, Buddhism disappears from Sri Lanka, Sinhala civilization also should disappear.”

      The day Sinhala brand of Buddhism disappears it is a good day for this island. People of this island could follow Buddha’s teaching in its pristine form.

      I am looking forward to that day.

      • 0

        Lord buddha has said exactly when buddhism disappears from earth.

        Buddhism in Sri Lanka centuries ago. As it existed some where on earth it was brought back to Sinhale.

  • 2

    The reasons that garner support for BBS are things like destruction of archelogist sites in east and most importantly the lack of a strategic think tank for the sinhala masses. It is this vacuum filled by the likes of BBS. Sinhala people need a leader an intelligent one

  • 2

    Kalana, you are also pimping for para minorities….you are a disgrace to our nation

  • 0

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  • 0

    Mad Monk Phenomenon – Gandasara behaving in an uncontrolled manner. Violent gestures and muscular spasms. Shouting out loudly. Emotionally distressed and irrational. Spewing out abuse and filth.


    Schizophrenia remains a mystery for many patients and doctors, but in his new book Schizophrenia: The Bearded Lady Disease (now available through AuthorHouse), J. Michael Mahoney offers evidence for a theory that would not only explain the cause of this particular ailment, but the root cause of all functional mental illness.

    Mahoney has spent 40 years investigating this theory about mental dysfunction. In this collection of 639 quotations from psychologists, patients and the biographers of famous schizophrenics throughout history, he outlines the theory that severe, unconscious bisexual conflict and gender confusion are the primary causes of all mental illness. He draws from the writings of other doctors who believed that such gender identity crises sparked abnormalities in the brain, and their opinions, in addition to the dozens of other ideas, provide “unshakeable truth” to this hypothesis.

    “This is a fixed law of nature, unassailable and constantly operative in every case,” Mahoney writes. “No other species but man is afflicted with mental illness because no other species has either the intellectual power to repress their sexual feelings, nor the motivation to do so.”

    Solution – Subject Gandasra to a phsycoanalysis and determine his sexuality. Allow Gandasara to marry at least 5 wives.

  • 0

    In many countries where there were ‘true Buddhists’ (followers of Buddha’s original teaching metta, karuna, muditha to the letter), people were apathetic to face the marauding ‘true Muslims’ (followers of Muhammad’s Koran and Hadith to the letter), and Buddhism had been wiped out with no resistance. Afghanistan and India are just two examples. During Eelam war 1V, many an Eelamist tried to make us ‘true Buddhists.’ Little they realize monks like Theraputtabhaya had given up the robe to fight for the country and returned to monkhood afterwards. Anyway, monks taking to the forefront when the country is in danger is nothing new. That has happened throughout our history. Perhaps that’s why these fellows talk about Sinhala Buddhism?

    We have witnessed a Wahhabi phenomenon in Sri Lanka where moderate Muslims have been overwhelmed by ‘true Muslims’ of ACJU. Later, we’ve seen Wahhabi and Salafi thugs of ACJU exhumed dead bodies of Sufi saints and burned them in Kattankudy, and demolished the minerates of mosques, and burned 150 houses belong to followers of Abdullah ‘RAH’, and rampaging on Sufi mosque throughout Sri Lanka. They even killed three Sufi Muslims in Beruwala.

    With the sole aim of undermining the Sinhala Buddhists, Kalana has joined the Colombian mafia to write about Sinhala Buddhism. But we all know that there is only one Tripitaka for all Theravada Buddhists. Buddhist practices may differ from country to country, but there is no special Tripitake written for each country let alone one for Sinhala Buddhists.

    Problem for Kalana and many others is the BBS phenomenon. BBS speaks the language schemers and traitors understand. No wonder Kalana sees the BBS as ‘the ugly underside of Sinhala-Buddhism.’ But he does not perceive the excesses by Muslim practices such as Adhan. Adhan is the very loud call-out we hear from every mosques five times a day. I bet Kalana not know what they say through the hooters five times a day. He thinks it’s just a call to prayer. Of the seven lines starting with ‘Allāhu akbar, Allāhu akbar’, twice say “There is no deity but Allah”. And that’s a very bad saying.

    Buddhists believe Gods like Vishu, saman, Katharagama etc. Hindus believe in them as well and many other Gods. Christians believe Jesus is the Lord God. If so, to say that “there are no Gods but Allah” deafeningly through hooters five times a day in the midst of Buddhists, Hindus and Christians neighbourhood is a deliberate provocation. It’s an insult for other religious followers. Muslims offend them again and again. I thought this Muslim cry is much more offensive to 90% of this country than what Gnanasara said all his life. But no interfaith liberal has called to stop that degrading call.

    The Koran contains at least 109 verses that call Muslims to war with unbelievers for the sake of Islamic rule. And Hadith gives example of how Muhammad cruelly dealt with unbelievers on day to day basis. These verses are being memorized by Muslim youth daily in Madrassas throughout Sri Lanka. Muslim scholars teach Muslims to be truthful to each other. But lying is permitted under taqiyya and kitman. Kalana should read about it because Muhammad’s aim has been to gain the trust of non-believers like him and draw out their vulnerability and defeat them. We have seen those who follow taqiyya and kitman to the letter when they tried to tricks ‘Halal badge’ on everyone. First step of making Sri Lanka an Islamic country.

    Kalana visualizes an ‘inadequacy of the true Buddha-teaching for contemporary political engagement’. I think they are proceeding with their ‘true Buddhism’ project. And that’s why he doesn’t mention about true Muhammad-teaching. He must tell us ‘True Islam’ is compatible with democracy and human rights engagement.

    The man is truly out of touch on what I have written at the outset. He doesn’t see the danger Sinhala Buddhist faces today. Or is he helping them to flourish their cunning schemes.

  • 0

    BBS is a phenomenon somewhat similar to KKKlan in US, the National Front (now British National Party) of UK and other Nazi and nationalist parties of Western Europe. However, the BBS is less extreme and non violent in comparison to their US and European counterparts. The governments of US, UK and Europe have not done enough to dismantle those extremists on their soils but pretend to manage them for reasons best known to them. Their members have killed many Jews, Muslims, Afro-Americans whereas BBS have acted without causing harm to Muslims, Christians and Hindus. One cannot blame President Rajapakse for not acting any different to Presidents and Prime Ministers of the so called defenders of human rights. Perhaps President Rajapakse is looking for a few clues from those know-alls how to deal with BBS. The BBS phenomenon isn’t as bad as it’s made out to be)
    (Three innocent Jews were shot and killed by KKKlan this week in US. Dutch opposition party calls for evicting Muslims. British facists want coloureds depeorted. German Nazis openly attack Asians and Africans in trains and buses, Indians are attacked in Australia)

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