Sinister attempt to usurp place of Buddhism & its heritage, culture, festivals in Sri Lanka through bogus ‘shared values’ program
Ever since western colonial invaders arrived on our island the policy of the western administrators was to eliminate Buddhism and indoctrinate the Sinhala Buddhists. Buddhism stood in the way of totally controlling the people & the island. They divided the Sinhalese by religion creating Catholics/Christians upon whom was tasked the objective of diluting the place of Buddhism and promote Christianity. Ever since independence sinister attempts have been made using ministries, government policies and society groups to dilute the place of Buddhism. The present ‘shared values’ program is one such insidious wolf in sheeps clothing attempt riding on a bogus multicultural multi-religious dogma.
The latest casualty is likely to be Vesak if the Buddhists of Sri Lanka and Buddhists in general do not wake up to understand the writings on the wall.
Vesak honors 3 great events in the life of Buddha – the birth the enlightenment and the Mahaparinibbhana also known as the ‘themagula’. It delivers an universal message of peace, to do good and turn away from evil. In 1999 by Resolution 54/115 the UN General Assembly decided to annually commemorate Vesak in UN Head office and UN offices globally. An International Buddhist Symposium is to be held in Colombo this year but unlikely to even raise the challenges to Buddhism as no one wants to upset non-Buddhists but it is fine for non-Buddhists to smear Buddhists!
The cultural aspect of Vesak is the lanterns, lamps, Pandals depicting stories in the life of Buddha and the Jataka stories that provide guidance to adults and child to live a compassionate life. Buddhists are very charitable people, always giving dana to the underprivileged but at Vesak that is extended further by arranging dansal – free lunch, dinner, snacks, drinks, ice creams etc. Vesak is a time when the entire country is illuminated in lights. For several years attempts had been made to even adopt symbols of other faiths to the Vesak pandols. Would Islam /Christianity or Catholicism put a single Buddhist symbol alongside their faith unless it is with the plan to project the notion to ignorant masses that there is no difference between Buddhism and Christian/Islam!
Buddhism is a dharmic religion. It can never be cobbled with Abrahamic religions many of which have been usurped and are preaching a totally different ideology to the original teachings. Christianity today as over 3000 denominations. Islam has been taken over by British created Wahhabi-Islam. There are quarters trying Hinduinize Buddhism. All these are challenges that Buddhists face and without addressing these challenges it is a futile endeavor to commit to shared values when there are no values to share in how institutionalized religions are currently being practiced.
Both the Church & Islam stand guilty of pursuing historical objective of world conquest and domination of non-Abrahamic territory. In ancient times it was using the gun, in present times it is by conversions, power of money, political arm-twisting and increase of birth. Today’s weapons are ‘human rights’, liberal theories of democracy, freedom of speech, religion slogans all of which the West has a tight control over. Slavery during Christian colonial rule has been replaced by the trade monopolies of IMF, World Bank dictating slave labor in the form of immigration. The newest notions are humanitarian interventions, military interventions, self-determination all insidious attempts to take over non-Abrahamic territories. Though we presume that Islam has challenged the Christian West we are confused how the many terrorists groups that prevail have links to Western intelligence operatives who are supplying them arms, training even funding.
Apart from a handful of Hindus, the 1billion Hindus globally prefer to not challenge the status quo but want to take diplomatic use of Buddhism to expand Hindu However, when Buddhists raise alarm bells and expose the insidious attempts, the response has been to use the might of media to denounce Buddhists as rabble rousers, racists, fundamentalists, completely denigrate Buddhist leaders who are highlighting some of the wrongs taking place and even go so far as to create incidents and accuse Buddhists of being culprit. But, when Buddhist places of worship are attacked, when Buddhist temples are burnt, when statues of Buddha are broken from the head, when museums are attacked and all Buddhist items are destroyed other than a passing statement nothing is done. The Dalai Lama may call himself a Buddhist leader but at no time has he spoken against these acts or highlighted the wrongs and injustices Buddhists today suffer from. Even the heads of the Nikayas in Sri Lanka stand guilty of their silence over the years when Buddhists and Buddhist sites in particular ancient sites have been intruded upon and taken over and places like Sripada which were once only Buddhist places of worship have suddenly become multicultural-multireligious sites! There are enough of examples to show how Buddhism is being targeted – newspapers in the hands of non-Buddhists are regularly out to denigrate Buddhism, contributors to the newspapers are regular Buddhist-bashers, articles on Buddhism are not commiserate to the composition of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. The religious and cultural Buddhist festivals are being diluted. We somehow overcame the attempt to remove the perahera elephants using the bogey of elephant torture but silent over animal ritual sacrifice showing the double standards and duplicity.
Name a single Islamic country that follows multiculturalism or multi-religion? Do they ever agree to dilute the place of their faith and culture? Yet, they demand other countries to adopt to their faiths and more often than not their faith has to be given priority status. Only Austria and Russia has given status to Buddhism as a religion. Temples are not allowed to be built in Muslim majority countries but Muslims want to build mosques even next to Buddhist sacred sites and play the azan to purposely disturb Buddhists in prayer/meditation. The number of mosques in sacred city of Anuradhapura is daily rising. The number of Christian/Evangelical missionary centres are daily rising with no efforts from the government to monitor them.
A Buddhist conference is of no use unless the participants and organizers are not prepared to lay on the table the challenges that Buddhists and the Buddhist world face and draw up a plan on how to address them. Church & Muslim nations annually meet and devise action plans on how to take their institutionalized faith forward globally. Buddhists need to have an effective mechanism to protect and preserve a history of over 2500 years. The tragedy is that those countries that do not have history or cultures or their history and cultures are blood soaked at the one’s out to destroy Buddhism.
Of late there have been attempts to use media to denigrate Buddhists and thus use that as a logic to denounce and deny the state patronage while completely ignoring the fact that the Church & Islam has billions to promote their faiths and lobby their cause while the handful of majority Buddhist countries have just their government backing based on the notion that these countries historically protected and preserved Buddhism and associated entities to continue to do so.
What needs to be said about the present attempt to bring in ‘shared values’ concept is that anything that comes without reciprocity should not be accepted. You cannot demand what you are not prepared to concede.
Buddhists do not enjoy any of the privileges in other countries that non-Buddhists are presently demanding of Buddhists in Sri Lanka. Moreover, simply promoting a new liberal concept, it is immoral and unethical to terminate and replace a country’s history and heritage. What the obvious plan is to make all Buddhist-only places as multicultural and slowly bring in other faiths into these domains and then with time given that there is no spokesman or institute for Buddhism, slowly and clandestinely remove the Buddhist history, architecture and culture and replace them with either of the Abrahamic faiths or even with Hinduism. South Indian invaders & colonial invaders and presently Islamic incursions have all attempted to replace Buddhism with theirs and their global institutions and political powers are being used to facilitate this objective.
If Buddhists are not aware of these challenges and are unable to pick up these sinister designs and comprehend the ulterior motive and plan, before too long Buddhism will end up in the mantelpiece. With time those that usurped Buddhism will give a western/Islamic/Hindu twist and re-introduce it with a changed history as can be seen in the manner that even the school text books are currently being written and the syllabus is being designed with this intent in mind.
Shenali D Waduge