6 August, 2020

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The Middle Finger To The Middle-Path

By Sanjana Hattotuwa –

Sanjana Hattotuwa

A week ago, we disgraced ourselves. Racist louts, some in the garb of Buddhist monks, engaged openly in speech and behaviour so violent, even those who led it were forced to suggest later the footage broadcast on TV and now globally viewed on YouTube was doctored. This was, of course, not the case. Sri Lanka’s tryst with militant Buddhism is not new. It is the fundamental basis of the JHU, which is today deeply embedded in government. As much as the telegenics of last week’s outrageous violence shocked many, it is this very behaviour that most temple-going Buddhists in Sri Lanka have nurtured over decades, and continue to unquestioningly venerate when they support, through silence, word or deed, this violence.

Much remains to be said by the President, government and media on Dambulla. Not so long ago, a journalist – J.S. Tissainayagam – was jailed, tortured and humiliated for writing the government thought incited communal hatred. No such action will even be contemplated against the Mahanayaka of the Rangiri Dambulu chapter Inamaluwe Sumangala thero.  The Ven. Thero joins the ranks of good Buddhists like Mervyn Silva, openly protected, supported and championed by the Rajapaksa regime. Sadly, it is not over Dambulla’s priapic priests that we must be most ashamed about, but our President, his family and government.

There is some hope. On Thursday, fearing more violence, I created a simple blog for people to register their opposition to the soi-disantBuddhism on display in Dambulla. The responses, available online, are a humbling counterfoil to a saffron rage, and showcase a Sri Lanka that’s extremely diverse and refreshingly different. Excerpts from a few I reproduce below. There are literally hundreds more online. Read them, and I urge you, add to them.

I am Mohamed Niyas, a Sri Lankan Muslim, professionally a Teacher. I respect all religions and beliefs in this country and teach the same to all my students of all ethnic groups. I was shocked how can the monks who always preach saamayamaithriyakarunaawa like great philosophies could lead such a racist mob in Dambulla. I feel relieved to know many of Buddhist people in Sri Lanka condemned this violence.

fahima7s: This is the first time the violence towards other faiths has been filmed so vividly. Many churches and kovils have also been bombed and burnt in the past. What do these Buddhist monks want? Don’t they know that our culture is enriched with other faiths? We have already lost a lot of our Burghers and Tamils and we are impoverished by it. Even if we build highways and prosper economically, we will still be poor. Cannot Buddhism flourish without the Buddhist monks protecting it?

Iranganie H. Fernando: Have these perpetrators of this incident of shameful violence learnt nothing from the terrible experiences of the past 30 years? All religions teach love & compassion to all beings and respect for each other… there must be action & strategies to prevent such abominable behaviour. I am a 73-year-old woman who grew up in a mainly peaceful society in pre & post independent Sri Lanka… Certainly these horrific acts of violence are not in my name!

Maithri: During the war, the government tried to show the world and the country that SL is a nation of cultural and religious diversity. And I believed in it, and to an extent that is still true. But this whole thing has just gone to show that the government don’t care about that unless it is in their own interest. Shameful behaviour from them, and members of the sangha who should really know better.

My name is Chhimi Tenduf-La. I am not Sri Lankan but I am embarrassed. I am proud to live in this amazing country and, for the most part, I think you would be hard pressed to find nicer people than Sri Lankans anywhere in the world. Most foreigners would say this (except, to be honest, when driving). The actions of this mob, and the official response which as good as sanctioned it, is very sad indeed. We can only be proud of the brave woman in the video who stood up to these bullies. She is a Sri Lankan. Not really sure what the other people are.

David Blacker: Some of us fought, killed, died, were crippled, and watched our friends die beside us so that this country would remain united and free. We did not do it so that another bunch of violent extremists could divide our country again in the name of religion; nor for you, the government, to support it.

Read Sanjana’s writings @ http://sanjanah.wordpress.com

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Latest comments

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    Yes Sanjana, It’s the sad day for me too but not the first but the second. The first was when the Thailabn dynamite the world biggest Buddha idols to ground while Al jazeera TV is watching. Now when it comes to a country like Sri Lanka which has the history living Buddhism and it’s great protectors the tune change to something different. This Area is a historical area which carry a lot of ancient Buddhist blah blah’s. The value of it is not estimated the way Thailaban or the K.S.A. governments value their religion based theocracy in Sri lanka. It’s valued in our country in a different way. As you can see the middle finger thing can be traced backed to the Sigiri “Kalu Thara” incident. May be you were not even born that time. You must understand the religions has caused us , to the world negative effect rather than positive achievements. Crusades to stoning and Bin Ladin to David Koresh, Jim Jones, Soko Azhara I can write a list. We cave to find the cause of the problem as Buddha said and solve the problem. Cause of the problem is not Marvin Silva or the SLG. So please do not feed the trolls.

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      Dear Brother, destruction of Buddha statues in Afganistan by some fanatics was condemned by all right thinking Muslims. Will you allow anyone attacking your temple while you are praying. Most of the Buddhists have not supported what a few hooligans led by a monk did at Dambulla, though they kept silent. Buddha’s teachings are really great and NONE of them have contradicted with Islamic teachings. You can verify them for yourself if you go through the Quran. Muslims believe there were very many Prophets (God’s Messengers) who came to the world from time to time and Gautama Buddha may be one of them.

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        Your understanding of Islam or Buddhism is very disappointing. Let me remind you the differences. Buddha never claim that he is God.But other prophets did. Jesus said the he is the son of God and Mohammed said he met God. Buddha said that he will not do it for us but we have to do it. But Jesus said that he will do it for us. Talking about apples and oranges. Buddhism is about living harmony and other religions are about bribing to enter a fairy tale mythical world which do not exist. So it’s time for you guys to get your bolts tightened. Please do not let me to write about Islam or Prophet Mohamed it will be bad for your health.

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    Bodhinayaka, I can imagine your age now. But you have to grow up more, otherwise you will become another idiot among these young guys.I read your other comments also.

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    The biggest destroyers of Buddhism in the modern-day are not the Muslims, but the Chinese. Other than destroying a few statues in Afghanistan, the Muslims have not done much to harm Buddhism. See here:

    Destroyed temple: http://jameswhitlowdelano.photoshelter.com/image/I0000YtGWBOvrWTw

    Monk on fire: http://cdn.theatlantic.com/static/mt/assets/international/lois%20jan17%20p.jpg

    The Dalai Lama has been refused entry to SL on several occasions; even the SL cricket players were forbidden to meet with him.

    But I have never seen the Sinhala-Buddhist protesting against MR for doing good business with the Chinese. These thoroughly stupid people do not know about anything which goes on beyond their borders. They think SL is some kind of holy land. They are not aware that their neighbor to the North has nuclear submarines which, given the population density of SL, can finish off at least half the island (monks, temples, even the holy arrack trees) in a few minutes. War and nationalism are not the answer anymore. Now the answer is to become industrialized, self-sufficient and secular, and have a large quantity of technical workers.

    I would also recommend that all government schools immediately switch to the use of English as a medium of instruction; promoting a village language like Sinhalese will definitely ensure that most of the country remains in delusion for all time to come.

    And no need to take human-rights lessons from paid NGO stooges like Sanjana Hattotuwa, who do not have the educational background to even successfully run a bicycle shop.

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    I am firstly a Sri Lankan. Others may label me a Sinhalese. The dambulla incident was so appalling to me that I walked into a mosque yesterday and gave a donation to buy korans to replace any damaged by the lunatics in dambulla. Btw I am catholic and I have many relatives who are Buddhist. Factually our migrant workers work in the gulf, our tea industry heavily exports to the gulf, the Moslem countries voted for us in Geneva. We get most if not all our oil from gulf countries. Considering that and also Is it not a constitutional right to be allowed to pray and worship in freedom? Are we asking fellow citizens to go to another city to pray and treat them like second class citizens? Shame on us. I recommend we all help rebuild any damaged Hindu and Moslem shrines and start treating ourselves like the twenty first century citizens we should be. This incident is should be outclassed by our generosity of our diversity. Yesterday was the first time I walked into a mosque – and I am happier that I gave that donation.

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    Thank you, Brother Amitha for your kindness and generosity,

    A true christian gesture.

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    Every one seems to be running around trying to catch their own tail and Sanjana is cheering all the way.
    The incident in Dambulla was primarily a land dispute and not a religious war. There was nothing said or done against Islam or the muslims. Yes,the behaviour was appalling and something should be done about it. Now,I know most people are saying the same thing. The police for once acted very wisely to avert any untoward incident the mob was cleary trying to provoke.
    In the “grease yaka” episode in the east and the upcountry lot of damage was done to property and life for nothing,but it was let go without any culprits being punished. Likewise many incidents were let off for the sake of peace and quiet of the society.
    I have seen some people blame and some even insult the prime minister for what said and did. What he did was to persuade the people who were using the prayer house to move to another place promising them a better mosque. People affected agreed but later politicains from Colombo rejected that and refused to leave. Wether the PM was right or wrong in what he did,he did it with the agreement of the people concerned.
    Now since the problem has come to square one,the muslim community can take their case to a court of law where the chief monks status and power is null and void.
    If,as they claim that they have the right to this land,they can get the courts to ensure that and in mean time get a restraining order against the monk to prevent further disturbance.

    Now why is Sanjana

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    Now why is Sanjana using this incident to attack the President and his family?
    Does he belive the President should take a side and act accordingly?

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    Islam is a thoroughly useless religion that does not benefit the larger society in any meaningful way. But the problem, as I have pointed out before, is that Sinhala-Buddhism is equally useless. Thugs in yellow robes telling politicians what to do. An army of 300K men (most hailing from dirt-poor villages in the South), in a developing nation, whose sole purpose is to promote Mahavamsa mythology in Tamil-dominated areas. You can remove these mosques, sure. But replacing the mosque with a Buddhist temple is equally foolish. Religion in general is foolish. What society needs now is a rational secular ideology .

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      Society also needs to educate racist idiots who go around bashing religions and showing their ignorance on public forums. By “Tamil-dominated area”, do you mean Eastham or Wembley? Anyway, there is no Mahawansa popularising programme in either of those areas.

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