By Granville Perera –
“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.” ~ His Holiness the Dalai Lama – Spiritual leader of the Tibetan Buddhists
Gnanasara‘s spittoon filling Mahanayakes have come out to dabble in politics and governance. Now, there is no need for a government, cabinet, or a parliament. They can dictate terms to the President and H E Maithripala Sirisena would bend backwards, oblige and implement their dictates. They have become dictators overnight to the government on policy issues that they do not posses an iota of knowledge of. Is it the Avant Garde funds of Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe that is doing the trick or a threat of a Sinhala military coup by Gotabaya and Mahinda Rajapaksa? The President turned chicken by this threat, rushed to Kandy and assured the head prelates that he will bow down and get their approval for any government action on constitutional reforms. Another of his January 8 hypocritical promises thrown in to the dustbin. It’s unprecedented in the history of Sri Lanka that the Mahanayakes have exerted such pressure and a government with 2/3 majority in Parliament has conceded. This may be the beginning of the dominance of the saffron robe in every aspect of our lives that needs to be censured by all citizens, the Buddhists included. Should we regret that Mahinda Rajapaksa is not sitting in the Presidential chair to bomb them as he threatened to do when they wanted to convene a Sanga Sabha meeting and issue a proclamation against the arrest of Sarath Fonseka. Remember that, anyone?? Where is Gota? Yahapalanaya needs him as a consultant for twisting arms or hold the gun to the head.
The Asgiriya Mahanayake, with his Sanga Sabha meeting on June 20, 2017, set the stage by censuring the Government’s efforts to rein in Galagoda Atte Gnanasara’s violent behaviour against the minorities. This gave Mahinda’s Joint Opposition another slogan to scream on arresting Buddhist priests and conspiring to change the unitary state of the country. This was also another opportunity to launch a campaign to destabilize the Government claiming the constitution would be amended to favour the minorities. This is similar to the call made by the founder of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party (SLFP), S W R D Bandaranaike with the Sinhala only declaration. Ironically, a Sinhala Buddhist Bhikku took his life. Former President, Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga who now heads the Office for National Unity and Reconciliation (ONUR), I’m sure, must be ashamed when she is reminded of her father’s racism. If the current SLFP leader, President Maithripala Sirisena is to follow the saffron robed dictates, there is no need of a Legislature, Judiciary or any other governance mechanism. Earlier, the Asgiriya Mahanayake’s accolade of Gnanasara’s action against minorities is as good as killing the noble Buddhist precept of Maithri in Lord Buddha’s teachings. Today, some of the Saffron robed thugs are worse than the Sicilian Mafia. Even the Sicilian Mafiosos who are ardent followers of the Catholic faith and the Pope will not promote such hate and intimidation against Christians or other faiths. When there are hundreds of videos as evidence of rogue monks violently attacking Christian churches, the guardians of Buddhism are threatening human rights defender Lakshan Dias for bringing such atrocities to the public forum. With the European Union and other like-minded ambassadors censuring the Government on the hate against the Muslims, the Buddhist extremist stand is exposed to the world. The evangelical Christians too have also met the EU ambassadors and briefed them on the continued harassment of the Christian faith. These will become the initial scrutiny for the UNHRC to decide whether the Government of Sri Lanka is abiding by its commitments. The Government’s two year grace is not to dance the devil. The Asgiriya declarations certainly are not going to be of help. The strong Tamil Diaspora will dance the devil during the next UNHRC sessions in September. The Christians and the Muslims will no doubt join them in Geneva.
These Prelates who are providing the manna for extremism don’t seem to have an iota of Buddhism in them. We also have a Cardinal who is using his cassock to create tension amongst the Christians, Tamils and the Sinhalese. He managed to get in to Sirisena’s inner circle by making public announcements that Buddhism should have primary status in the constitution. Has anyone challenged or denied this status? This is his cassock politics that has brought him immediate results with Sirisena and the extremist Buddhists towards the Catholic Church. This is an extension of his politics during the Rajapaksa era.
Galagoda Atte Gnanasara continues on a racist anti Muslim and Christian campaign at the behest of the powers that are trying to destabilize and topple the incumbent government. He has managed to hype up anti Christian and Muslim sentiment through a campaign of hate and terror. He is ably supported by other racists in Yahapalanaya, namely Champika Ranawaka, Wijeyadasa Rajapakhe, Athuraliye Ratana Thero and of course President Maithripala Sirisena himself. Are they having a nexus with Mahinda Rajapaksa and his Joint Opposition cabal? Their primary objective is to drive the minority votes away from the UNP showing that Yahapalanaya has done sweet nothing to protect them before the 2020 General Elections. The coordinator of this group is none other than one time NGO KAAKKA Shiral Lakthilaka, now turned Buddhist extremist. He sits in President Maithripala Sirisena’s office and provides the administrative support needed for Buddhist extremism. It really baffles me how Dilanthe Withanage, stooge and a wheeler-dealer of the famous Norwegian/CIA spook Arni Fejatoft and Shiral Lakthilaka who kissed the as…s of the Swiss-German entity, Bergoff Foundation could turn out to be such racists. Wonder what Shiral’s former colleagues at Bergoff Foundation including his boss Norbert Ropers has to say about the sudden turn around of their friend as a racist. Do not forget, Shiral Lakthilake was once the pet of senile G L Peries.
The Asgiriya Mahanayaka’s political declaration has shocked the Buddhist more than any other; yet neither the Government nor any other recognised institution has protested this extreme racist comment from one of the most respected Buddhist chapters in Sri Lanka.
In Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition, the title Mahanayaka is held by the heads of the chapters of all three main sects, Siam Nikaya (Estd.1753), Amarapura Nikaya (Estd. 1803) and Ramanna Nikaya (Estd. 1864). Appointment of senior Buddhist monks to the Mahanayaka position in Sri Lanka began with the establishment of Upasampada higher ordination in 1753 on the initiatives taken by Sangharaja Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinha of Kandy. The deputies of Mahanayaka theros are known as Anunayaka theros who generally succeed the Mahanayaka position, after the death of an incumbent monk. Next in the hierarchy are Chief Sanghanayaka theros who have the jurisdiction over monks in a region, province, or a district, while the Nayaka theros have the precedence in a temple or a group of connected temples.
It is regrettable that a person who is so high in the Buddhist order comes down so low to the level of a street thug and recognizes a hate campaign against Sri Lankan minority groups by this fascist Gnanasara. It is even more regrettable that they have now banded together to declare that the Constitution need not be changed as promised by Maithripala Sirisena in his run up to the Presidency. It is rumoured that former President and architect of the presidential system of government in Sri Lanka, Junius (Genius) Richard Jayewardene quipped that “No one sitting on the presidential chair would want to get up” when some moderate politicians tried to convince him against the executive presidency. It was proved beyond any doubt by Chandrika Kumaratunga, Mahinda Rajapaksa and now Maithripala Sirisena that the presidential chair is very comfortable. The only ones who didn’t attempt were Ranasinghe Premadasa, (the LTTE made sure that he didn’t get those ideas) and D B Wijetunga – a president who was deaf and blind to the world.
Maithripala’s ambitious attempt at a second term is being well positioned by Wijeyadasa, Champika and Athuraliye camps through the Buddhist hierarchy. Outwardly, Maithripala is showing disgust at the Mahinda led joint opposition, but in reality they are working on a 2020 come together strategy where Maithripala will attempt a second term and Mahinda Rajapaksa will lead as the Prime Minister until his Namal baby is ready for some serious politics. God Shave Sri Lanka. As a prelude to this, attempts are being made to portray constitutional reforms as sacrificing the sovereignty of the nation.
The Asgiriya Chapter through its Karaka Sangha Sabhawa has declared that a new Constitution was not the need of the hour. They convened the Sanga Sabhawa which is headed by the Asgiriya Mahanayake the Most Ven. Warakagoda Sri Gnanaratana Thera and declared that there are more important issues than an amendment to the constitution. They have not specified the more important issues. The Council had also resolved that the foremost place accorded to Buddhism and the unitary character of the country should be retained and the executive powers of the President should not be scrapped. No one has spoken about down grading the position of Buddhism in the constitution. The Opposition’s rabbit pops out of the hat and exposes it’s nakedness. The need for electoral reforms has been accepted by the Sanga Sabha and advised that reforms could be introduced in the form of a constitutional amendment. These electoral reforms proposed are to ensure that they could demarcate districts where the minorities become insignificant. They also accused that the draft proposals for constitutional changes had been discussed with the involvement of NGO representatives who were advocating power devolution. They complained that the Buddhist hierarchy (Maha sanga) was not invited for any meeting.
There is no doubt that the Buddhist Prelates have decided to dictate terms on how this country is to be governed. This does not auger well for the future of the nation. The Government must take the bull by the horns and resolve this once and for all. Ranil must not allow Sirisena to scheme any more. We have experienced violence for 30 years and we should avoid another hundred years of violence.