By Sharmini Serasinghe –
It is indeed ironic and tragically hilarious, that while Sri Lanka boasts of a 2500 year-old culture, and one of the highest literacy rates in Asia (the ability to read and write), those claiming relationship to a four-legged beast (lion) today; its ‘Sinha-Le’ tribe, is unable to separate allegory and myth, from fact. After all, the ability to read and write doesn’t guarantee intelligence, common sense or wisdom, does it?
What is most hilarious is that, by claiming bloodline to a beast, they are also admitting to being subhuman, the qualities of which, they have no qualms about displaying unashamedly, in the public arena. Is this what our 2500 year-old culture has produced?
This unique beast-blooded tribe, which also appears to have inherited its level of intelligence, also seems unable to distinguish between the Dhamma, and the Mahavamsa. Yet, they insist on calling themselves ‘Buddhists’, and the ‘guardians’ of Buddhism.
The lion that gave rise to this progeny must surely, hang its head in shame, while those of us Sinhalese, fortunate to have human blood running though our veins, can only shake our heads in despair!
Sinha Le is their latest tragicomedy. And, with no surprises once again, it is the lion blooded saffron-robed, who are its main actors, performing at their best.
When oh when, will these fallen despots cease using the saffron-robed, as a means to their dubious ends?
While all human-blooded Buddhists agree, that the Dhamma needs no protection from any force or anyone, the image of Buddhism in Lanka; marketed as a Buddhist nation, has suffered immensely, not at the hands of others, but the paws of the subhuman Sinha Le-Buddhist tribe; a tribe unto themselves!
Attempts by the incumbent regime, to rein in the rampaging lion-blooded saffron-robed, through the Theravadi Bhikku Kathikawath Bill, has already come up against its first obstacle; a petition to the Supreme Court, challenging the constitutionality of the Bill.
The ousted despots now worming around, with neither credibility nor status worthy of mention, will manipulate their robed puppets, and go to the ends of the earth, to stop this Bill ever seeing the light of day. Or else, their ‘weapon of mass destruction’; the saffron robe, will cease to be, the power it now wields.
For the sake of peace and stability of this ravaged country, I hope they fail in their evil endeavour!
What we are now seeing today, is recent history repeating itself, when a similar attempt was made in 2012, to contain the systemic decay that has been eroding the character of the Sangha, for decades. As was the norm in the days gone by, the then government’s favourite whipping boy; “international conspiracy” was blamed for this move, and shouted down.
In late May 2012, MP Wijeyadasa Rajapakshe tabled a Private Member’s Bill in Parliament, seeking an amendment to Sri Lanka’s Constitution, to prevent a priest of any religion, becoming a member of Sri Lanka’s legislature.
Reportedly, the MP’s intention, in doing so, had been to maintain and preserve the integrity and dignity of all religions. It is obvious, that the MP had the Buddhist clergy in mind, as no priest of any other religion, is a Member of Parliament.
As was to be expected, the most strident opposition to the proposed Bill was, from the Jathika Hela Urumaya (JHU), of the time. The Bill was doomed, when President Mahinda Rajapaksa reportedly, informed the parties of his ruling coalition, to vote against the proposed bill. This was despite, the entire process by which the Bill was arrived at, having received the blessings of the Chief Prelates of all the four main Nikāyas in Sri Lanka.
Regards the latest Theravadi Bhikku Kathikawath Bill, amongst the many grievances put forward by the ‘Sinha-Le’ monks opposed to the Bill, is that their wings will be clipped if passed; thus, preventing them from meddling in issues of national interest and occult practices.
Regarding national interest, why do we need Buddhist monks also stirring the pot of national interest, when we have an abundance of the laity in parliament, to do the needful?
For centuries past, the Sangha merely played the role of advisors to the rulers of the country, as opposed to actively engaging in politics. They didn’t meddle in matters of governance, and become a nuisance to the public, as we see today. Hence their active interference in national interest thus far, has only been to the nation’s detriment; making the process of peace and reconciliation, a near impossibility, in this land!
National interest is the business of the laity, not of the Buddhist monks, who are supposed to have renounced all; broken the fetters that tie them to lay life, in order to follow the path of the Dhamma. However if they insist, they must disrobe and do so. But, they will not, for without the saffron robe, they wield no power. Hence the need to, eat the cake and have it.
On engaging in occult practices, where in the Vinaya Pitaka or anywhere in the Tripitaka is it mentioned, that a Buddhist monk is permitted to do so? In a pathetic attempt to justify their meddling in witchcraft, they have, reportedly, lumped it together with Bodhi Pooja, defining the harmless latter, also as an occult practice.
Since time immemorial, Buddhist monks, contrary to the very teachings of the Buddha, have been involved in witchcraft and casting of horoscopes; the latter borrowed, from Hinduism, as is the case, with all the practices denounced by the Buddha, found in Buddhist culture.
Hindu cultural practices, including idol and symbol worship which the Buddha denounced and did away with in Buddhism, were introduced to the Buddhist laity as ‘Buddhism’, by none other than Buddhist monks themselves. This they did, for their own advantage, and the sole purpose of ingratiating themselves into lay society. As a result of this confusion, most Buddhists today, cannot distinguish between the Dhamma and Buddhist culture, as they regard both, as one and the same.
Instead of interfering in matters of national interest, the Sangha needs to return to their true calling, and practice as well as propagate the message of the learned one; the Buddha. The moral depths the Sinha-Le tribe has sunk to, is an indictment of how the messengers of the Buddha’s teachings (Bhikkus), have failed in their mission thus far.
Sri Lanka’s post-independence political history is replete, with how the interference of Buddhist monks in issues of national interest; peace and reconciliation, have been, to the detriment of this land. Is this to be a tradition continued, in matters of national interest?
How much longer are we to allow it?