30 September 2014

What exactly do the Buddhists in Sri Lanka fear?

If Sri Lanka’s 70% Sinhala Buddhists are today surprised that their grievances are not being locally or internationally articulated the reasons lie with the Christian dominated media, the commercially bribed political establishment, the urban Buddhist clergy hypnotized towards inter-faith ideology and majority Buddhists still unable to comprehend that the reach of Buddhism from Persia to far East Asia has trickled down to just 5 majority Buddhist nations facing the same incursions that lost the Buddhist territory historically. In such a scenario can the Christian or Islamic world blame Sri Lanka or the remaining Buddhist nations that fear their very existence, the future of an indigenous ethnic race and one of the oldest religions in the world? Nevertheless, given that the present predicament behoves a better explanation of why the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and the rest of the world are upset and given that mainstream media does not provide a balanced coverage, it is opportune to highlight some of these reasons often drowned by vilifications and name-calling.
The differences
·        Clear clash of ideology – Buddhism and other Dharmic religions work towards the salvation of the soul while Christianity and Islam aims at world domination.
·        World domination through Government sponsored programs – Christianity and Islam competing to widen their bases while each using the other for destabalizing tactics. Pope John Paul II asserted that the mission of Church in 3rd millennium was to spread Christianity in Asia in the 3rd millenium (Church conquering Europe in 1st and Americas in 2nd millennium)  
·        Role of Media – While the majority media channels belong to Church sponsored Governments and entities the remaining are controlled by the Muslim world, journalists and media houses end up towing their global goal. A content analysis of media’s personalized attacks against Buddhists and Hindus in particular will reveal the exact nature of the objective. In Sri Lanka, the Press Commission report of 1964 remains valid even in today’s context where the Commission headed by Justice K D de Silva was established following grave dissatisfaction expressed by the public, Buddhist organizations, even Members of Parliament about the state and activities of the Press. “Buddhist leaders have been falsely accused of being intolerant, their hopes and ambitions receive scant consideration, and the rightful place due to their religion has being denied to it by the newspapers. This has been deliberately done in order to help the minorities, in particular, the Christian minorities, to perpetuate the unjust privileges acquired by them during the last four centuries at the expense of the Buddhist Majority. " Paragraph 212, Page 90 Final Report of the Press Commission (1964) We are in need of the same consensus to investigate the conduct of the national media in view of not just the disharmony being made an object but the larger plan of using the Government apparatus to foolishly remove the State /Constitutional status given to Buddhism (even by paper) so that it will work well in the larger plan while short term it will attempt to fool the Government into feeling happy about adorning the multicultural/secular medal while long term it will lead such Governments to lose the faith of the numbers that bring them to power. Governments now need to not only pay attention to the numerical realities but realize that by their own actions and inactions the very day they remove the state patronage given to Buddhism, they would have handed Sri Lanka’s Buddhist civilizational identity no different to what happened in Maldives and Malaysia and scores of other nations that simply yielded to the pressures.
·        Examples of vilification of Buddhist monks and Mahanayake Thera of Malwatte Chapter
o   Despite a very clear constitutional provision that the Government in power protects and fosters Buddhism under Article 9 of the Sri Lankan Constitution, Governments have disregarded that duty. Sunday Island 27 April 2014, the non-Buddhist columnist describes monks as ‘monkish thugs’ ‘saffron robed barbarians’, ‘modern day Devadattas and Bhuddarakkithas who are out to destroy Buddhism’ alleged that ‘Malwatte Mahanayake has turned himself into a cipher’, ‘most revolting of all is the capitulation of the Mahanayake of the Malwatte Chapter in the face of this unprecedented monkish thuggery’. The columnist goes on to refer to Buddhist monks as ‘terrorists’. Can a Buddhist in a Christian majority nation or living in a Muslim state be able to call a Christian or Muslim clergy as a ‘terrorist’ without the regulatory authorities taking action either against the columnist or the newspaper? Simply because the Buddhists have remained silent and allowed name calling to reach the level it has with editors and media owners shamelessly allowing or rather creating the planned dissent. Most media houses are all linked to or are aligned to some foreign counterpart that are invariable linked to one of the 2 world dominating religions? Is the non-violent nature of Buddhists to be treated as a battering ram simply to test the patience and then cry foul after reacting? Why are the reactions being condemned while the actions for the reactions never get highlighted?  

·        Reciprocity from Christians/Islamic world. In a world where Buddhism is not recognized by state governments how can we expect Buddhism to be treated equally at the same level as Christianity and Islam? Do Buddhists enjoy the same type of privileges as those enjoyed by minority Christians and minority Islam in non-Buddhist countries? With new mosques, madrassas, Arabic colleges all springing up throughout Sri Lanka and Churches and faith-healers setting themselves up in all corners of Sri Lanka can a Buddhist take even a Buddhist statue or photo of Lord Buddha to a Muslim nation without having it confiscated and destroyed in one’s presence at the airport? For allowing 300,000 Maldivians to work and live in Sri Lanka is there reciprocation by the Maldivians to grant a Sri Lankan wanting to reside in Maldives without converting to Islam? While we are grateful to the Muslim nations for voting against the Resolution is it not because their self-interest also mattered when country-specific resolutions are brought up at UNHRC?
·        A fact not many would know or would acknowledge is that until the late 1950s, the Sri Lankan Army Coups were three fifths Christian Tamils and Burghers though population-wise they were just one tenth of the total population. The Sinhala Buddhists who were 70% of the population had only two fifths of the officer corps.  (Historian, K M de Silva).
·        Governments should not rely on Buddhists alone to protect Buddhism – from the current silence of the Sri Lankan political circle which includes those in power and opposition, what is obvious is that they are relying on the common masses to protect Buddhism and thinking that is sufficient for the survival of Buddhism and the Buddhist identity of Sri Lanka. Obviously with the calibre of politicians in parliament we cannot expect them to know history or even realize how the Buddhist world had diminished over time and under what circumstances and with their desire for power, money and glory they tend to overlook the startling fact that these aims will remain wishful thinking no sooner the Buddhist identity of the country is snatched under their very noses. None of the political gimmicks or deals that politicians are famous for will work when the country borders such a situation. East Timor is one example pre-12th century AD Buddhist Maldives and South Korea too are good examples.
·        The morality of pointing accusing fingers – The Church has yet to apologize for the millions murdered during the Church inquisitions in Asia, the take-over of nations, raping of women and children as state/Church policy, the paedophilia racket that continues to this day, the killing and culling of indigenous aboriginal communities and building ontop of their dead bodies the modern nations of America, Australia, New Zealand and Canada, dashing babies heads to death, burning and slitting wombs of pregnant native women, pounding testicles of men, killing millions of animals with the intention of starving indigenous natives and killing off fertile lands and replacing them with export-oriented cash crops leading colonized nations into the debt trap through Western-manipulated trade, loan and other financial systems. Such an entity cannot come forward to speak of morals without fulfilling their moral duty of atoning for sins and compensating for the crimes committed over 500 years. Moreover with the Vatican recognized as a State and functioning as such the quest for world domination is ingrained into that political agenda no matter what excuses are being made to the contrary by local apologists and media commentators when the Pope himself has clearly declared the ultimate objective of the Church and delegated the mission requirements to the priests to discharge as their duty. Predatory behaviour of both Christianity and Islam is nothing that can win debate in the light of historical realities.
·        Buddhism/Hinduism victims of multiculturalism/secularism/interfaith dialogue –  common ‘religious’ session ends up with the dialogue set by either Christians or the Muslim world and thereafter none of the incursions or fears that the general Buddhist and Hindu public share ever get discussed or debated or even solved. It is always the Buddhists/Hindus who are asked to be the living examples of secular, interfaith and multicultural norms by opening their doors while Christian/Islamic nations will not budge on their state laws/regulations giving pride of place to their religious order. How many Buddhist/Hindu clergy and lay representatives seen this major fallacy? Why have these multifaith forums not ever included on agenda the fears of Buddhists/Hindus? The world likes to refer to Buddhists/Hindus as terrorists but let it not be forgotten that Arabs and Turks invaded India killed all Hindu-Buddhist scholars and turned their precious religious scriptures/texts into cinders. The requests of non-violence made to Buddhists have never seen reciprocation throughout history. Buddhists have had ancient Buddha statues dynamited and broken and defaced, archaeological sites have been ruined or ransacked, museum items of Buddhist valuables have been stolen or destroyed and some of these examples have occurred this side of the century denying either Christians or the Muslim world to project themselves as victim. A good look at the current examples given in Sri Lanka all lead back to some provocation or some mischief making to project an international condemnation against Buddhists for it falls in line with the greater plan of bringing disrepute to the Government that is subject to regime change at different levels. The unfortunate tragedy of the situation is that the Government cannot see that in alienating itself from the Buddhist identity of Sri Lanka it is only paving its way to ruin.  

Whereas some Christian clergy have been carrying out anti-national activities openly and continues to do so not a single columnist or newspaper takes on any campaign to vilify these clergy and denounce their anti-national actions linked to actual terrorists whereas the Buddhist clergy are being called names and abused simply because their way of putting the grievance of the Buddhists on the table is not liked by some.

1.     Conversion – conversion tactics of both Christian and Islam continues to draw a major obstacle in developing a common agenda for peaceful co-existence devoid ulterior agendas
2.     Increasing mosques/churches – in majority Islam/Christian nations of the world other than the Buddhist structures that prevailed since ancient times any new structures are forbidden by state policy whereas in Sri Lanka one can count the number of Churches from Colombo to Negombo and madrassas/mosques from Colombo to South and even East of Sri Lanka
3.     Loud speakers at mosques – The issue of loud speaker usage was dealt with via an interim order by the Supreme Court however mosques continue to violate the order while also enjoying an exclusive radio channel given by the state to announce azan. No such entitlement is given to any Buddhists living in non-Buddhist nations. While reciprocity by Buddhists are all the while demanded why has no empathy been given to the fact that in Buddhists most sacred site mosques have been purposely set up and loud speakers disturb Buddhists in meditation. Why has no one chosen to empathize with the appeals made against this disturbance?
4.     Increase in projecting an Islamic identity – If Muslims had been living in Sri Lanka for decades there was never a question of insisting on halal foods/.halal labels, Sharia financial systems, Sharia legal structures. However currently a visible change is seen in middle class and poor Muslim men and women who are wearing full black, men in white garments, long beards and these were sights people had not seen before making Buddhists to wonder the reasons for self-segregation while claiming that they were being sidelined whereas by their own behaviour they have separated themselves from the majority society.
5.     Foreign funding to create ghetto Muslim areas – the Buddhists also fear that funds are pouring to purchase land of non-Muslims giving above the land value prices to purchase property and secure Muslim ghetto areas and long term consequences of this are frightening the general public.
6.     Muslim births – the calls to increase Muslim births and procreate to dominate world by numbers is another key fear that Buddhists share.
7.     Buddhist sacred areas being taken over and turned into multicultural sites – Sri Pada was where Buddha arrived, it was a place of worship exclusively for Buddhists today it has been turned by default into a multicultural site even referred to as Adam’s Peak. Can any Buddhist simply because he visits prayer sites of other nations demand a Buddhist nomenclature to these non-Buddhist sites? Vast tracts of sacred Buddhist land in particular temple lands have been taken over and in some areas of the East Muslims deny Buddhists to even place a statue. These are allegations that the police unit responsible to maintain peace needs to investigate.
8.     Muslim politicians – the actions of minority politicians joining as coalition partners and by virtue of the allegiance being given plum portfolios ending up using position to receive funds and sponsorship from external sources have led to anti-national agenda and are responsible for much of the incursions that form the grievances of the Buddhists. The Wilpattu example is one incident of authorities not wondering how a Muslim village will expand once the families start to increase when the village is allowed to be established on the border of Wilpattu?
9.     Some examples of incursions
a.      Muhudumaha vihara
b.     In Buddhists sacred site of Anuradhapura, claims made about a mosque which was just a shed
c.      Dambulla – mosque issue. General allegations that shops/houses are subtly turned into makeshift prayer centers which end up palming hands of local politicians or municipal officials to enable them to run as churches/mosques
d.     Manipulating education circulars – Demanding Buddhists schools turn into secular/multicultural schools in a bid to deny the Buddhist identity among Buddhist students and insistence on enforcing Buddhist schools to accept Muslim dress code.

The response is generally to claim that Sinhalese Buddhists have over active imaginations, fears have no basis, exaggerating incidents etc.
The solution they offer is that Buddhists should follow the word of Buddha and turn tolerate, be compassionate and be calm.
The global goal of both Christianity and Islam is world domination. They are both fighting to dominate lands and territories.
When Buddhists are asked to keep quiet and tolerate what does that imply and what does that eventually mean for Buddhist Sri Lanka?

Today, despite the pressures exerted by varying forces the global public can be reached. There are enough of fair minded, rational and balanced thinking people in the Western hemisphere, there is the alternate media who are ever willing to highlight what mainstream media refuse to do. They can carry the message of the wrongs being done. It is time that the Buddhists not just in Sri Lanka realize they are fighting to save the 5 majority Buddhist nations and their identity and they owe that much to the ancestors who passed down a civilization that we can be proud of and that which we need to pass down to our next of kin as well.
We cannot break the civilizational history by our own follies, lethargy or self-interest.

Shenali D Waduge