14 November, 2018

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Part 2: Worries Of Bodu Bala Sena

By Rifai Naleemi 

Dr. Rifai Naleemi

I take extra precaution when I write this series on Bodu Bala Sena. It is not my aim to hurt feeling of any religious groups or sects in Sri Lanka rather I try my best to understand the problems, challenge and social issues of Sri Lankan communities.  It is my primary objective to examine these issues objectively with sympathy and empathy from different perspectives: The majority community ought to understand the concerns, and challenges of minority communities from the perspectives of minority communities to appreciate their concerns and worries. This should be done with empathy to their feeling and needs.  At the same time minority communities ought to understand the concerns and worries of the majority community.   They should look at into them from the perspectives of the majority community with empathy to their feeling and sentiment.

I will try my best to be impartial and neutral in writing without any prejudice in my argument. I will try to substantiate my writing with some rational and logical evidence as much as possible. It is not my objective to create more divisions and more disunity among Sri Lankan communities.  Rather I would like them be united as Sri Lankans.  Sri Lankans should live as one family with Lankan Identity with diversity in our faith and culture. Multicultural nature of our communities in Sri Lanka should not be an obstacle and barrier to build a strong Srilankan identity.  It should enrich our nation.  It should bring prosperity and economic growth to our nation.  This could help each community to flourish in this Island of Paradise.

While I’m writing this series I may be wrong in my perception of some sensitive issues.  I shall be more than happy to correct or amend my perception.   Once the incorrectness and wrongness are duly and appropriately highlighted by our readers with logical and rational arguments I shall be happy to amend them.  It is my firm conviction that we need unity, peace and communal harmony among Sri Lankans today than any time in Sri Lankan history.  To that end we all need to adjust our mindsets and behaviours beyond narrowness of communal thinking. Creating that broader Lankan identity with diverse cultural identities should be the number one priority of Sri Lankans today.   If we do this collectively, all community could live in peace and build a prosperous Sri Lanka in a few decades.

It is argued that since the early periods of colonization Sinhalese Buddhists were subjected to alien cultural onslaught.  Indeed, there is no doubt that the Sinhalese Buddhist people were marginalised and deliberately neglected by the colonial powers for different political, economic and religious reasons during colonial periods.  While those who converted into Christian faith relatively enjoyed all educational and employment opportunities, the rural Sinhalese Buddhist people were totally neglected during the colonial period particularly during the Portuguese colonial period of Ceylon:  Prof. Tennakoon. Vimalananda argues that Portuguese arrival was a Dark Age in Ceylon history.

They changed the cultural heritage of Sri Lankan Buddhist history in very sense.   This process of marginalization of Sinhalese continued even during the British rule under the divide and rule policy of British Empire.  Anagarika Darmapala raised his voice against this injustice but he went further extreme to spread hatred campaign against minority communities in Sri Lanka. He tried his best to instil and infuse Sinhalese nationalist feeling among Sinhalese public.  He was in deed succeeded to some extent in his radical ideas. His speeches and writings were full of hate instigation. This nationalistic campaign was further proclaimed by SW Bandaranayke in 1958 when he made Sinhala as one and only official language of Sri Lanka.  This time it was for  a pure  political reason.

Moreover, after the independence the entire political authority of Sri Lanka was given in the hands of Sinhalese population. As they are the majority of population they have been holing the grip on the political power in Sri Lanka without sharing it with minority communities. It seems that they feel they had been victimised for more than five hundred years in Sri Lanka by successive colonial powers.  Now they feel the pinch and wanted to marginalise all minorities for tit for tat stratagem. Even in pre-colonial periods the relation between Sinhalese and Tamils was not that good. This historical enmity once again re-emerged after the independence.

Though Tamil and Muslim members of Parliament are being elected, the fundamental rights, aspiration and needs of these communities are not rightfully met to some extent.  Tamil issue is still not being solved.   Tamil language has not been yet given any official status, No Tamil/ Muslim members of Parliament has been elected as  a PM in Sri Lanka yet, this shows political marginalization of these minorities communities.  Moreover, Now Tamil and Muslim culture, language, religious heritage are in a great danger because of the Budu Bala Sena’s anti-minorities campaign in recent times. It seems that BBS is following the path of their spiritual Guru and intellectual mentor Anagarika Dharmapala in their anti- minority campaign.

BBS has got many concerns and worries in their minds. Some of these concerns are against the successive Sri-Lanka governments which they claim have failed to protect and promote Buddhism in this country.  There are some concerns in the minds of these BBS members about Sinhalese community itself for its failure to follow pure Buddhism in Sri Lanka. They have concerns about economy and population growths of Sinhalese community. Some of them wrongly assume that their race is in the brink of extinction. These are some of the internal concerns of BBS.  No doubt these may be genuine concerns of BBS and yet, they should know how to address these concerns in a democratic and polite way in this modern world.

One hand, the minorities are complaining that their culture and religious identity are in danger in Sri Lanka. They argue that after defeating the LTTE Sinhalese people are invading the North and East.  Moreover, they are occupying the cultural and religious sites with support of three forces: Sri Lankan army, navy and police. On the other hand, Budu Bala Sena argues that Sinhalese heritage and sacred places are being destroyed in the North-East.  They argue that Buddhism and its heritages are danger in all other part of country.  BBS feels that their religion, culture and heritage are threaten by all alien religious practices from Muslim, Christian and Hindu cultural invasions while Tamils in North East feel that their culture and religions are invaded by Sinhalese Buddhists.

This is indeed a paradoxical situation.  How do we reconcile between these ironical and two countertrading arguments. How do we see these contrasting arguments objectively without bias and subjectivity?   Is it true that Buddhist culture and religion are in the brink of extermination and extinction in Sri Lanka as it was claimed by BBS and its cohorts?  Is it true that Tamil culture and heritage are being destroyed by Sinhalese in the North East parts of Sri Lanka?  To what extent these arguments could be justified and to what extent these arguments are true?  Who should be blamed for these ironical situations in Sri Lanka?  Who are the  people responsible for the decline of Buddhism in Sri Lanka as it is claimed?  Is it the politicians? Is it Buddhist monks? It is Sinhalese public who want to go away from Buddhism? Or is it minority communities?  These are some of the fundamental questions that BBS and its cohorts should evaluate and gauge objectively. They should not blame other communities for the decline of Buddhism in Sri Lanka rather they should evaluate shortcomings of teaching and preaching methods of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

It is generally argued by BBS and its cohorts that once many Asian countries were Buddhist countries in history. Countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives and other parts of Asian countries were Buddhism countries.  Now people of those countries have become Muslims. They predict and over exaggerate that in 2050 Sri Lanka would become a Muslim country. They argue ostensibly unless necessary steps were taken to curtail rapid increase of conversion into Islamic faith and expansion of Muslim population growth this could happen in 2050.  What a superficial argument is this? This argument does not have any logical credibility rather such an enigma has been deliberately created to spread false alarm and panics in the minds of public. These are some of mere assumptions and prediction.  There is no solid evidence to suggest this would happen in three decades.  I think that this fear or phobia is unnecessary and illogical in every sense.  We shall deal with this issue next week.

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Latest comments

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    Though Tamil and Muslim members of Parliament are being elected, the fundamental rights, aspiration and needs of these communities are not rightfully met to some extent.

    Muslims fundamental rights are their need to religious expansion.

    Tamil fundamental right is their need to establish tamileelam by the side of Tamilnadu.

    Do sinhala – buddhists have any rights Or their right to exist is secondary to those of these so called minorities. Remember Muslims are about TWO billion all over the world and Tamils are 100 million and 65 millionin Tamilnadu alone.

    Sinhala People are seventeen million and Sinhala buddhists are lesser than that.

    So, what minorities you are talking about in this global age ?

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      Jim Softly, your statistics if they are correct, may justify BBS concerns, BUT should a group that calls itself Buddhist, act in the way that BBS does? The role of Buddhist Monks who follow the Teaching of the Buddha, should be to advise the Head of the Country, about the way He should act towards the Minorities, Ethnic, Religious and Cultural! ‘Truth’ (or Dhamma) is neither Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Muslim, or any of the other labels we choose to give it! It is Universal.

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    How could be seventeen millions. Sri Lanka has got 20 millions in total. 74% are singhalese, Tamil including upcountry Tamils are 18%, Muslims are 9% and 3 % are others. It could be 14 millions sinhales and out of it 2 Millions may already converted into Christianity . Many be around 2 millions are already in abroad for works and jobs. Then, 10 millions are left in SL now. Out of that may be more than 5 millions are not real Buddhists rather secularists/ westernised or atheists/ agnostics/ so, that you could say singhalese race in the brink of extinction in SL. Please do something for that without blaming all others for the fault of your community. It is easy to point the finger on others

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      ‘Truth’, If Buddhists convert to Christianity or Islam or any other religion, whose fault is it? Wouldn’t it be because the so called Monks are not following the Path that the Buddha intended. It is possible that some people become Monks in order to get a free meal, which is why there should be Regulations and Rules from the Mahanayakes as to who could become a Monk. The practice of ordaining children should also be abolished, for what could they understand about this great Philosophy at that young Age. Learning to chant Pirith as a Magical Invocation, and performing Ceremonial Rites is not what the Buddha had in Mind. You could do that in any other religion too! That is why right thinking people in the West are converting to Buddhism, as taught by Enlightened Modern Masters.

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    The bottom line is that WE DO NOT WANT ARABIC CULTURE CREEPING INTO SRI LANKA on the disguise of Islam….

    Islam is welcome not Arabic culture….

    Arabic culture is not Islam… its time Muslims woke up and realize this.

    The hijab and niqab are not Islamic – it is Arabic culture…

    Those who want to practice Arabic culture – go to Arabia…

    Those who want to practice Islam and live like Sri Lankans – remain in Sri Lanka

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      Well Said Nandana ! IT IS THE “ARAB CULTURE” that we do not welcome, (except for peoplse like Sharmini, who has fallen in love with the the ‘abaya’ !) not the MUSLIMS !!!

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    I do not think that the majority of Sinhala Buddhist are followers of Anangarika Dharmapala or other nationalist leaders. Most Sinhala Buddhist I know are followers of the Buddha, plan and simple. They are not racist or extremist like BBS. I think it is just a few elements who are trying to spread hatred and disharmony.

    Today the buddhist are facing some challenges in society. As a result people like BBS are trying to revive the religon by sounding an alert and rousing people. Unfortunately the method they resort to is the very anti-thesis of the sublime doctrine of Buddhism. People get roused when they hear various allegations. The word of those who wear the robes is generally accepted. As a result there has been a lot of damage done to the nation and also to the great religon of buddhism.

    My view is that if anyone tries to stress too much on religon it will backfire. Personally I will not do anything if I am forced or I feel that someone is trying to force me. I think it is the same with most people, that we value our personal freedom and liberty above anything else. Similarly I observe an overdose of religon by all parties. It seems that there is no freedom to relax and enjoy life without being told to do this and do that. I observe children engaged in religous activities even on holidays. Shouldnt children be allowed at least a day of the week to enjoy life and be happy?

    The people who preach come across as bigots and extremist who have nothing better to do. It would be better if the religous leaders set an example by leading pious and exemplary lives and by helping the community. The example of Mother Theresa is before us. But many religonist do not practice what they preach.

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    Copernicus published his seminal book, The Motion of Heavenly Bodies, in 1543, that over the years shattered the Church Myths as well as the Aristotelian myth. Now molecular biology and genealogy is shattering many racist and religious myths.

    Since, the Religions are based on Myths, Until the Myths are exposed, there will not be peace between religions. Science is most suited for this task, but it will take generations.

    Can look at the Sri Lankan and Indian genes, the Southern Indian Genes.

    Can also get the geneology tested inexpensively. The marvels of modern genetic technology that breaks down the MYTHS of Monk Mahanama is now readily accessible.

    Here are some answers, and we all need to look at the mirror for more answers and get our DNA tested.

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

    How true. The Southern Indian gene pool.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

    Adam and Eve are Myths, The closest to Adam and Eve is in East Africa about 70,000 years ago.

    There is NO such thing as the Sinhala Race. You can talk about a Southern Indian Gene pool.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

    There is a Table There that shows the gene diversity and original location of the genes.
    SOUTHERN INDIAN GENE POOL:
    Mediterranean 4%
    Northern European; 2%
    Southwest Asian” 58%
    Southeast Asian 35%

    METHOD.

    1.Test the DNA samples of the so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims light-skinned and dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala, Portuguese Descendants, Burghers light-skinned and dark skinned, Dutch Descendants and English descendants and Veddahs.

    2. Categorize the source of the gene pool, like the project below.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genographic_Project

    This will give, with a sufficient number of statistically relevant samples, the truth.

    Now I speculate, what the results are likely to be

    Group 1: Predominantly South Indian

    The so-called “High” Caste Tamils, “Low” Caste Tamils, “Sakkiliyas”, “High” Caste Sinhala, “Low” Caste Sinhala, “Rhodias”, Western Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Eastern Seaboard Muslims dark skinned, Estate Tamils, Up Country Sinhala, Low Country Sinhala,

    Group 2: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of West Asian and Mediterranean.

    Light skinned Muslims from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

    Group 3: Predominantly South Indian with high percentages of European and Mediterranean.

    Burghers from the Western and Eastern Seaboards.

    Group 4: Mediterranean and European
    Portuguese, Dutch and English

    Group 5: South Indian
    Native Veddahs

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    Rifai Naleemi

    Please wake up and smell the coffee!

    The ” BBS and its cohorts” (your description) know the real facts, but choose to ignore them because they are driven by a different agenda.

    Don’t waste your time and effort by pouring water on the BBS duck’s back!

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    “It is argued that since the early periods of colonization Sinhalese Buddhists were subjected to alien cultural onslaught. Indeed, there is no doubt that the Sinhalese Buddhist people were marginalised and deliberately neglected by the colonial powers for different political, economic and religious reasons during colonial periods”.

    Absolute Truth,
    That’s why some Sinhalese think they got real “Independence” in 1956 ( though abandoning English was a mistake) & no doubt separatism started in 1920’s was decimated for good in 2009 would go down in history as real “liberation” of Sinhalese at least for next 2000 years.

    BBS activities would last only another couple of months at most, so traditional Muslims have no reason to fear, as history has it, Muslims themselves were protected by Sinhala Buddhists during last 700 years or more.

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    You are conferring undue respectability on the BBS when you raise their main objective to the `noble status’ of ensuring the continuity of the Sinhala Buddhist majority in the country for ages to come. The BBS leaders be in robes or in civvies may be Buddhists by birth, but certainly not by conviction. Because their very conduct is unbuddhistic.

    The BBS is one of several extremist outfits founded by henchmen of the MR regime to be conveniently used as a bulwark against a possible threat to the stability of the repressive regime. These outfits claim to represent the voice of the Sinhala Buddhist majority- the political power base of the regime and they would rush to the defense of the regime whenever a formidable movement for democracy, good governance and human rights gains ground in the country. The leaders of these extremist outfits are in the habit of labeling advocates of democracy, good governance and human rights as anti-buddhist stooges of American imperialists and international conspirators, LTTE sympathizers and secret agents of foreign-funded NGOs and intelligence services. These extremists have no interest in promoting Buddhism or safeguarding the interests of the Sinhala Buddhists. They have to be exposed! They are a coterie of self- centered shysters singing for their supper. Is it not quite evident that they are enjoying the state patronage and immunity from crimes they commit while MR extols the virtue of communal harmony and equal rights for all citizens for the world to hear?

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    Mr Naleemi.

    No boby is destroying anyones cuture and or religion.

    4 storey Hindu Temple in the heart of Colombo.

    3 totally refurbished Hindu Kovils in the heart of Galle.

    Brand New gigantic Hidu Temple next to Nagdeepa.

    Numerous , beautiful Big mosques in all the above areas and the East.

    And most of these have sprung or refurbished after Nanthikadal.

    So where is this alleged destruction?.

    The way things are panning out Norwegians need the BBS more than the inhabitant Sinhala Buddhists.

    Muslims in Srilanka are good people who have been living among the Sinhalese for nearly one hundred years without any hassles until BBS started.

    Now there are vultures watching for opprtunities to move in.

    Some Muslim leaders have expressed same sentiments, which is good.

    All what we want is for writers like you to help your community to continue to live in peace and harmony.

    And not allow the radicals to join the Vulture Brigades.

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      then what abt dambulla? and askin for boycott? destroying muslims business places? asking to ban halal? what are those?

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      Please note and correct sri lankan muslims were living in sri lanka for nearly a thousand years not 100 hundred.

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      What you were saying is we will do what we want but you Muslims shut up and listen to us. What did you mean by 100 years? Muslims came to Serendib before the Portugese. Do you say there was no distructions? What an igrorant commenter you were? What did Mudalali Inamaluwe do in Dambulla and in Anuradhapura the shrine.
      Gota is trying to distroy an ancient mosque is Kuragala? You want all muslims to keep shut and watch the fun?
      If Muslims start to resist, its purely becasue we have pushed them to do so. iam sorr not we, its you and your gorilla rajapakse. He looks to me a gorilla everytime I see his picture. Therefore one cannot expect fair just governance from those uneducated uncultured goons.
      BBS is not here to promote or protect Buddhism, they are here with an agenda to protect rajapaksas for next several years. We will see if they can?

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    Here it comes!!!!”It is generally argued by BBS and its cohorts that once many Asian countries were Buddhist countries in history. Countries such as Afghanistan, Iran, Indonesia, Malaysia, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Maldives and other parts of Asian countries were Buddhism countries”the expansion of the ideological base. Now we have the basis for a greater “Buddhist”project. The ideological vehicle is being put in place. Soon the ‘Fuhrer’ will ride again as I warned that Dr Dayan many years ago.

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    Is it worth reading this article of yellow robed thugs

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    Through the conduct of the followers of Islam and the teaching of true Islam, the Buddhist people in those countries, accepted Islam because their Kings/Rulers accepted it. Islam spread not through sword but through PEACE. Even centuries ago Islam was the fastest growing religion in the world as today. Those who comment negatively about Islam and Muslims should try to research and understand Islam. Islam is a revealed religion. A complete way of life. Islam does not disrespect other religions. It is against the reaching of Islam to disrespect other religion. Muslims have never been a threat to the followers of other religions. No one should judge Islam by the follows of Islam. Islam is a religion of Almighty Allah. It is not man made.

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      Ayesha Arambepola,
      First of all define Religion.
      Then give an account how it spread through love. Do not forget how Zoroastrians were massacred mercilessly in Iran and the invasion of India through Afghanistan. Recently I read a comment by one Mustapha that Lingam is penis without realizing its actual meaning – column of fire. Is this how Muslims respect other’s religion. All religions teach us non-violence and preach love and affection. Also do not forget to define God.

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