Friday, 28 May 2010
Christian Church of Sri Lanka, Buddhism, our ancestors, and our real roots.
The Christian Missionaries followed the invaders, and while their armed gangs robbed, killed, and occupied the territories, the Missionaries began their campaign of saving the lost souls- the heathens by converting them to their Christian faith. The Sinhala or the Tamil heathens some who may not have known the deeper philosophy of Buddhist teachings, or read the Hindu sacred books, the poor people in the coastal areas, the fisher men, the others of the upper strata who liked mixing with the “kindly” Missionary whites were the victims of the proselytising campaign, or enticements of the Missionaries.
Later with the opening up of Schools, with catechism classes, and then hospitals with Catholic nuns attending to nursing of the sick, conversion became a more fruitful campaign, that helped the conquerors to settle down in security with the heathens turned Christians working for them. It was the same with the British colonies in Africa of which they say that when the British left Kenya, the Africans had bibles in their hands, while the British had their lands.
Buddhism was a very old religion of which the conquerors knew nothing and may have looked at our Buddhist monks and devotees, with humorous superiority, as some of them do even to day .
A young British Civil Servant Rhys Davis a son of a Christian Minister, who was sent to Sri Lanka in the early days of British Colonialism came across a Buddhist text in the course of his administrative functions which interested him and learnt the language of the Buddhist text and later translated the Buddhist Canonical writing into English.
He was greatly influenced by the Buddhist Canonical writing, of which he had said that “………Buddhist or not Buddhist, I have examined every one of the great religious systems of the world, and in none of them have I found anything to surpass, in beauty and comprehensiveness, the Noble Eightfold Path and the Four Noble Truths of the Buddha. I am content to shape my life according to that path."
He was later dismissed from the Civil Service, probably because of his undue interest in Buddhism, which may have affected the conversion campaign of their Missionaries.
However, the Colonialists beginning from the Portuguese , then the Dutch and lastly the British with their proselytising of the heathens, they stole the religion of their forefathers and the culture that came with it. They have left us with Christians more Christian than their counterparts in the Christian West. While the more and more intelligent Christians, academics, and scholars are turning to Buddhism, the Churches disturbed, and confounded by the phenomenon, are doing every thing possible to turn the tide by every means at their disposal.
They write Books condemning Buddhism.. The latest that has been launched is “Buddhsit Warfare” by Michael Jerryson and Mark Juergensmeyer. They have mixed up religion with human beings and their activities . They condemn , and accuse the government of Mahinda Rajapakse for war crimes as the Sri Lanka Armed Forces were predominantly Buddhist Sinhala.
The Western Christians desecrate the Buddha image by , opening “ Buddha Bars” with alcohol served in bars around a statue of the Buddha, making the Buddhist statue an article of decoration, and making womens ‘, and mens’ under wear in clothes printed with the images of the Buddha. In Sri Lanka the converts to Buddhism are made to make their prayers standing on floors covered with Buddha images covered with mats put over them.
We see even in the internet the Buddhist Forums are not left alone. There are numerous “bible” vendors who infiltrate into them like “ viruses “ and spam to make the Buddhist Forums unusable by Buddhists. There were many very good Buddhist Forums that had to be closed because of this menace.
When the Western Christians treat Buddhism with scant respect, subjecting Buddhism, Buddhists and the Buddha images to ridicule, there is nothing wrong in our speaking out the truth about the Church and the Christians. But when Buddhists do it, they are immediately pointed out as intolerant, narrow minded persons.
We have also our Christians Kumar Davids, Sonali Samarasinghe, Nimalka Fernando , and the late Lasantha Wickramathunga and the likes to criticise the government because it consists mainly of Buddhists, and it suits them to please their Western religious partners.
These Sinhala Christians like Nimalka Fernando of Sri Lanka mothers and Daughters Association which funded by the NGOs who speaks more to please the contributing NGOs, even runs down the Sinhala and even the Sri Lanka Flag with its lion image.
Even with ethnicity, the Tamils call Sinhala by all sorts of names, but if a Sinhala Buddhist speaks in the same manner ( which is very rare), he is immediately labelled a racist, a Sinhala supremacist.
The Church continues to maintain the communal difference in Sri Lanka. It gets involved in the partisan politics along with reactionary forces, interfering diplomats, and the likes. They get together with the reactionary Buddhist monks, who work according to there own political agenda.
At least now the Church in Sri Lanka should learn to co-exist with the Buddhists, without getting involved any further with conversion campaign of the former times. Instead it should help the indigenous religion of the Sinhala to be preserved in its ancient glory, without interfering into it . That way the Christian religion will also be respected, and find its peaceful existence among the Sinhala Buddhists, each participating in each others activities without harming the religious harmony.
After all even the Sri Lanka Bishops and Archbishops, leave alone the rest of the Christian faith, are of the Sinhala or Tamil origin. They have affinity with Buddhism and Hinduism those being the religions of their ancestors, though they cannot claim such affinity with the early Christians of Bethlehem, who were neither Sinhala nor Tamils. That is one more reason they should take into serious consideration, when they are critical of Buddhism, which was after all the religion of their own ancestors.
It was observed with regret that despite the Sinhala Buddhist Soldiers who protected the Madu Church from being damaged and some of who gave their lives in so doing, no Church in Sri Lanka or abroad had a Church service to commemorate their deaths.
The Sri Lanka Church and their Bishops and Arcbishops, should be the real builders of bridges amoung the Communities forgetting their religious role, as more important today is the unity of the people without distinction of their community and religion. We should work together to make a Nation of Sri Lankans , not mere Communities with equitable or satisfactory political devolution offered to them.