8 December, 2019

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Thoughts On Balloth Ekka Bae

By Jagath Asoka

Dr. Jagath Asoka

When a dog bites a man, there is no story to tell, but when a man bites a dog that story is worth telling. That was my sentiment after seeing the Sri Lankan play—Balloth Ekka Bae—in Staten Island, New York.

I saw something that I have never seen before. All of us have either seen or heard the stories about sleazy, venal politicians; impudent, presumptuous secretaries;   and impotent government officials; how the creator of this play chose to tell the story of our present Sri Lankan society, using a politician, his secretary, a government official, a prostitute, two Buddhist monks, and a make-up artist impressed me. Like all the actors of this play, the actor who played the role of the make-up artist did a wonderful job, but I think a better role would have been a spineless journalist who indirectly supports the current regime for perks, while giving the impression that he is criticizing the government. After seeing the play, one gets the impression that being a prostitute in Sri Lanka is much more honorable than being a politician, a government official, or an impious monk.

For nearly two hours, the actors could keep my attention. Usually, I am the first to leave a show—sometimes within ten minutes—if the show is not entertaining. I have done it several times; most people think that I am crazy to leave a show within ten minutes. I think to squander your time and money when you are unaware of what you are getting into is ignorance, but to continue on that path when you are convinced that the show is going to be bad, is stupidity. During this show, for nearly two hours, I even forgot about Freud’s thoughts about artists: One who desires intensely “honor, power, riches, fame, and the love of women,” but lacks the means to attain them; frustrated the artist becomes introverted and turn with unsatisfied longing from reality to fantasizing; however, the artist is gifted with a mysterious ability to reproduce his daydreams in such a way as to afford satisfaction to other frustrated souls. So, the artist earns the gratitude and admiration of other frustrated souls. Even though I agree with Freud to some extent, I could not help but admire the artists because they gave a wonderful performance.

I don’t think that I should tell the entire story because that would not be apposite.  The new element of this story is the portrayal of the politician and his secretary disguised as Buddhist monks:  The politician and his secretary disguise themselves as Buddhist monks to escape the usual harassment after losing an election.  The creator of this play cleverly mocks our impious Buddhist monks in a carnival-like lese majesty, in his particular case, mockery of monks who are usually revered by people. We proudly say that Buddhism is not just a religion in Sri Lanka, but our proud heritage; therefore, mocking monks was taboo in our society, but that taboo has been broken because monks have become members in our Parliament, and some monks have become the violent, virulent, and spitefully hostile members of social groups such as Bodu Bala Sena: the scourge of Sri Lankan Buddhism.

This play cleverly reveals the sad state of Buddhism, particularly the behavior of some Buddhist monks in our society. Not only we have heard of monks using vituperative language and drinking Black Label Johnnie Walker but also committing heinous crimes such as murder, rape, adultery, etc; however, such stories were extremely rare, like a man biting a dog. The act of mocking unctuous, venal, barbaric characters in our society has been always valid and apposite, except when it involves the Rajapaksa clan. But now mocking applies to our impious Buddhist monks as well, because such stories of Buddhist monks have become so pervasive in our society, like a dog biting a man.

Given the history of Buddhist temples in New Jersey, USA, I think that those who made the decision to invite Balloth Ekka Bae for a fund raising event for one of the Buddhist temples in New Jersey inadvertently created a festival of a Saturnalia, where the object becomes subject, and the subject the object. In the festival of the Roman Saturnalia social tables were reversed: masters served their slaves, and a mock king who could break rules as he pleased was elected. During a Saturnalia, a slave can insult his master, but not even a word of reproof would be uttered for conduct that at any other occasion would be rewarded with severe flogging, imprisonment, or death. I felt like a participant in a Saturnalia in a carnival-like atmosphere where the audience participated indirectly in an act of mocking impious Buddhist monks who have become tartuffes. I think most of these actors are probably Buddhists; otherwise, the Bodu Bala Sena would have a field- day. The creator and the actors of this play are courageous, clever spirits, who have trodden a difficult path of revealing a theme that was once taboo. But it is also obvious that the creator of this play and its actors did not want to touch the untouchables in our Sri Lankan society: The Rajapaksa Clan.

I hope that soon our artists will figure out a way to break this taboo as well. After all even the Buddha resided in heaven until the right conditions were ripe.

I have a feeling that I am going to see more Sri Lankan plays in Staten Island, New York.

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    <<<<<

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      Good one! Thanks for this review – shall try to see it – good to know that the Sinhala diaspora is being educated about their great political leaders of the day!

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    Dr Jagath Asoka,

    You do have a way with words – great writing.

    However that is where my accolades will rest. It is well and good to satirise Sri Lankan social issues, however when it comes from the warped eyes of a resident of a distant land, it really is vexing. The ground rules in Sri Lanka are different and neither the actors nor the writer of the play seems to have much sympathy on how we do business here.

    You Dr Asoka along with all those so called emancipated people watching ‘Balloth Ekka Bea’ in Staton Island are atypical Sri Lankans dwelling in foreign lands– you think you know better. It is true that the average Sri Lankan respects you and looks up at you for the simple reason that you have made it to the land of the dollars. But it is the height of arrogance built over years of conceit for you to believe that you are better than us – the way you caricaturise us in your write up.

    You are no better than us, I tell you. The ways of the west that you have adopted will not suit us. The great US that seem to shape the way you think, the political fabric through which you seem to measure us, is in actual fact, littered with more subterfuge, deception, corruption and skulduggery, so much so, it pales present day Sri Lankan errors into insignificance. Your great US tried to impose democracy in Iraq and see what a mess they made. See what a useless war they fought in Vietnam. See how your politicians fall over each other to placate the Jewish lobby who create hell in the Middle East. You and all those lofty conceited so called high society people watching ‘Balloth Ekka Bea’, smirching, clapping and backslapping each other, to us, are non entities. You are welcome to have your fun at our expense. However we are doing ok without your advice – thank you very much.

    Dr Asoka, neither Christianity nor Islam became great religions just reading the bible or the Koran respectively to the uninitiated. They went about spreading their religion through so many other means – some means were ok, some others definitely not. If we leave the great philosophy of Buddhism in the hands of people such as you it will shortly die a natural death. We at least are trying to do something.

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      Ha ha ha what a joker

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      When will you gain the courage to take a close hard look at yourself without comparison to others? Every time someone puts forward the argument that the USA is worse, it is a tacit acknowledgement that Sri Lanka is bad (but, hey, not as bad as the USA).

      What is your argument supposed to convey? That we can kill, rape, thumb our noses at the rule of law, deny people their basic human rights like access to clean water, subjugate an ethnic group and foster religious intolerance, because hey, the USA does it worse than us? What a shallow mind, and bankrupt view of what Sri Lanka should aspire to. And you think that you are the chosen one to defend the precepts of Buddhism?

      Regards
      GTBP

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        You have a point GTBP. That doing bad things in Sri Lanka is not justifiable on the basis that the US is doing worse things in the world. Well I did not say that. However it is vexing when people who are citizens of the US try to point the finger at us for our wrong doings. Dr Jagath Asoka would be well adviced to take issues with his government, a governement mired in human rights abuses all over the world.

        I agree we should not kill, rape, or thumb our noses at the rule of law. That is a matter for the government of the day to deal with. BBS is not the government. There are also elements within Sri Lanka who get up to thuggery and intimidation and put the blame on BBS.

        We are not the chosen ones to defend Budhism. But show me anyone who is trying to do anything about safeguarding what is our birthright.

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          What does your birthright need safeguarding from?

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      Dear BBS Rep,
      You have done one intelligent thing by staying back in SL. Don’t try to get into those boats to cross over, it is dangerous…
      I also suggest that you should refrain from using these IT technologies and languages which have very strong roots in Christian civilization… If you have used internet or Kindle to learn or read Buddhism, please stop it as these too have strong links to US and Christian civilization. ..
      Obata Gnanasara Pihitai !!!

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      BBS Rep,

      Good to see you back. I thought you were busy revising your memory of the 12,000 pages of the Tipitaka. Remember, you BBS monks will be born as women in your next birth, due to all the bad Kamma you are committing in this birth, and in turn will be abused by the next set BBS monks.

      “You ( Dr, Jagath Asoka), are no better than us, I tell you. The ways of the west that you have adopted will not suit us.?”

      ” If we leave the great philosophy of Buddhism in the hands of people such as you it will shortly die a natural death. We at least are trying to do something.”

      Well said, following Maras and Devadatta’s footsteps. Boys and women watch out!

      Buddhism The Great — Part 1

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

      Buddhism The Great — Part 2

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=clcs2PSze0I

      Child Abuse by a Monk in Habaraduwa

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yNSC93mPs4I

      Is Habaraduwa in the USA?

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        Hello Amarasiri,

        You are welcome to your opinion. Paying lip service is not our thing. We are trying to do something about the encroachment of other religions into our domain. Sometimes we get carried away when in a mob situation, contrary to the general direction we wish to go. This is unfortunate but is a fact of life.

        What is wrong with being born women? We must not insult womanhood.

        There are Buddhist monks and there are bad Buddhist monks. Please don’t paint a picture that all Buddhist monks are bad. Just like Christian priests who are paedophiles or Muslim Mullahs who get up to mischief. Does not mean all Christian priests are bad or all Mullahs are bad.

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          Gonbella,

          “What is wrong with being born women? We must not insult womanhood.”

          I completely agree with you, and the lack of a Y Chromosome should not be hindrance, and that is how the female species evolved.

          My comments on women, was directly related to what a pious Sinhala Buddhist Upasaka told me and is the general consensus among many Buddhists, related to good and bad Kamma, and as to where they end up in the next birth. This problem or downgrading of women, is common among many religions or the many religious practitioners.

          Read what the Master told Ananda about women.

          http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/hecker/wheel273.html

          Shortly before the Buddha died, Ananda asked him a question concerning women: “How shall we relate to women, Master?” — “Do not look at them.” — “But if one sees one, Master?” — “Do not address her.” — “But if one talks to us?” — “Keep mindfulness and self-control.” (DN 16).

          This question was posed by Ananda in view of the imminent death of the Buddha, just before the preparations for the funeral. This problem must therefore have been an important one for him. For himself he did not need an admonition to practice self-control; sensual desire had been overcome by him for 25 years. But during the years he had seen how the problem of the relationship between the sexes again and again stirred the emotions.

          The question may have been asked by him for this reason, but also on account of the warning of the Buddha that the Order was endangered through the foundation of the Nun’s Order and its lifespan shortened. He wanted to give his contemporaries and his successors a last word of the Buddha on this topic.

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    We all know the the BBS – Boru Bana Sena?? Or Bald Bastards of Serendipity are NOT Buddhists, they are using this lovely religion to create chaos between Sri Lankans. The BBS is a group of hypocrits and I hope the US government will not let them open any temples there… they are not men of God – they are crooks and thugs who are using Buddhism to to do evil things. One can say that the BBS are blaspheming Buddhism. They should be given the death sentence…

    The irony is that we Lankans are PAYING these rouges to screw us…

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    This guy didn’t leave within ten minutes because prostitute was in that drama

    just expecting more thing will show

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    Ha…haa…was Jagath Ashoka talking about our very own Malinda SeneviRotten when he said, “The actor who played the role of the make-up artist did a wonderfu job, but I think a better role would have been a spineless journalist who indirectly supports the current regime for perks, while giving the impression that he is criticizing the government.”

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      P J;
      Are You Sure about that is MALINDA SENAVIRATHNA,
      as he said.
      “A roles would have been a spineless journalist who indirectly supports the current regime for perks,
      while giving the impression that he is criticizing the government.”

      WHAT about other members of the clan Bandula senavirathna, Rajpal abenayaka, C Ahandraprema, Huduson Samarasingho, including

      Permanent members to the Save the Rajapassa clan on Madia [C T Commenters], K A SUMANA, JIM SOTHTHTy, and Fuku Simba.

      What a shame?????????????.

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    Well,this writer would know that even in Lord Buddha’s time, there were political monks who were power crazy, wanted to play politics, and collect taxes and graft that rich donors were giving tot ehe stablishment for the welfare of the menedicants. That was the Devadatta mob, which incidentally was and even today despised by Buddhist devotees despite their learning to forgive.

    Lord Buddha hardly had any control of the Devadatta Mob that happened to be the creation of his cousin, and was supported by the unruly son of King Bimbisara. Do you now see the connections and comparisons with today’s BBS that is supported by corrupt politicians and operating totally outside Maha Nayaka’s 3-line whips (if any?

    Crooked people don robes to deceive the public and to do all kinds of criminal acts, terrorism, brainwashing of people…….. there is no end to their misdemeanors. It is the same society of humans, only technology has changed over the milleniums and not the human behaviour.

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