Buddhism was introduced to
in the 3rd century BCE. Thereafter
became an exclusive Buddhist country.
Later Sri Lanka Sri
Lanka was subject to attacks first by the South Indian
Tamil marauders, who may have plundered and ransacked
and monasteries. Later in 205 BCE a
Chola Prince Elara set up a Kingdom in Buddhist Temples .
During which period Hindu Kovils were built in once exclusive Buddhist
land. King Dutugamunu defeated King
Elara in battle and re-established the Anuradhapura
in Rajarata in 261BCE. Sinhala Kingdom
It marked a great revival of Buddhism bringing it back to the glory it was before the foreign invaders. The Buddhists monks are said to have accompanied the armies of King Dutugemunu, while at least one is said to have disrobed to take part in the battle against Elara. The monks were of course there to provide protection to the King and the army chanting prayers and giving them moral strength to fight the enemy and bring back the lost prestige of Buddhism under the Hindu ruler
After that Buddhism flourished in
until the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505. Royal seat of power was then in
Sitawaka, with a separate Kingdom in Sri Lanka Kandy, and
the power struggle within the Royal family helped the Portuguese to entrench them-selves
in . After the death of Mayadunne his son Rajasinghe
I became the King of Sitawake and fought against the Portuguese and defeated
them in many battles. Though Rajasingha was acclaimed as a brave King for his victories over the Portuguese
armies, he later became an enemy of Buddhism.
His reign was a sad period in the history of Buddhism in
. The King Rajasinghe was converted to Hinduism
and appointed a Hindu as his Chief adviser.
Many Buddhist Monasteries were raised to ground and land handed over to
Hindu Kovils. The Buddhist monks were
put to death, and the Buddhist Sacred books were kept hidden in the hill
country. Buddhism was entrusted to lay
people dressed in white called “ganninanse”.
They played the role of the Buddhist monks. Sri Lanka
It was King Kithsiri Rajasinghe who revived Buddhism from scratch. Advised by the great Buddhist monk Venerable Welvitiye Saranamkara maha thero , the king invited 18 monks from
to re-introducing higher ordination of Buddhist Monks in the tradition.
This was the beginning of the Siam Nikaya. Thailand
The Portuguese came to
with two objectives, one was to guarantee its spice trade and the other the
conversion of heathens to Catholicism.
The Portuguese and then the Dutch that followed them, and the British
that came last, all had the intension of luring the natives away from their precious heritage
of Buddhism, introducing them to their faith of an invisible god, explaining
his invisibility in stories of miracles he had performed such
as making the blind see, the paralyzed walk or even the dead rise from the tomb.
They assured them the love of the god that
will come to them in “ believing without seeing or asking questions.” Sri Lanka
The God of the Bible had no love for others, but only for his chosen people the Israelites. Therefore the West (initiated by the Greek writers) burrowed the God of Israel providing him with a son. The most convincing story to help the conquerors to convert the non-believers was the narration of the myth of a immaculate conception that gave the God a son to take on himself the sins of the people. Of course they also tempted the natives to accept their religion with “education in Missionary schools” and providing them jobs in their colonial administrations, as they are doing now for the conversion of poor villagers in some parts of
, offering them money and
gifts. Sri Lanka
The Portuguese had weakened the Sitawaka Kings, making it easy for them to convert the members of Royal families to Catholicism. Don Joao was a Sinhala Prince, who later fled to
and became a Priest. Portugal
The Portuguese wanted King Karalliadde Bandara’s daughter Princess Kusumadevi baptised as Dona Catarina to be placed on the throne of
. But Konappu Bandara defeated the
Portuguese, married Dona Catarina and was crowned as King Vimaladharmasooriya I
of Kandy .
This period saw the utter brutality of the Portuguese who set fire to the city and killed cows in Buddhist temples. Many Catholic Churches were built and there was none to protect Buddhism and the Buddhists.
The Buddhist monks who made an effort to make the people aware of the threat to Buddhism and rouse them to rebel against the Portuguese were hunted down and thirty of the them were hanged, thus discouraging any future uprising of the people against the Portuguese. King of the
bitter lessons learnt during the Portuguese occupation seemed to have had no alternative other than invite
the Dutch in 1638 to help him defeat the Portuguese. Kingdom of Kandy Vimaladharmasuriya
But the Dutch making use of the kindly relations with the King, established Missionary Schools and spread Christianity. It was during this period that Christianity built a strong hold of the country.
The rule of
by the British beginning from 1815 was a disaster for Buddhism, equal to what
it was under the Portuguese. It was
again the Buddhists monks who took the fore front to rebel against the British rule.
Venerable Wariyapola Srisumangala Anunayaka Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter pulled down the English flag
and re-hoisted the lion flag of Sinhala in defiance of the British. Sri Lanka
He later hid the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha lest it would fall into the hands of the British. The British caught him, and convicted him for high treason. The rebellions against the British by the Sinhala leaders were carried out with the blessings of the Buddhist monks. The Tamils and the Muslims were insignificant in numbers, but the British feared opposition by the Majority Sinhala Buddhists, and therefore appointed Tamils and Muslims to official positions in their colonial administration.
In Wellassa the British appointed a Muslim as a Muhandiram, and treated the Sinhala using the motto “ famine, sword and fire”, which caused the rebellion in 1817. It was quelled by the British shooting the leaders on the spot and burning villages, and killing males over 18 years to discourage future Sinhala uprisings. A Buddhist monk Venerable Kudahapola Therunnanse was shot dead at Bogambara in his robes to insult Buddhism, and end further rebellions.
At each of these periods when Buddhism or the country was under threat, there were those great Buddhist leaders who came forward advised by the Buddhist monks to protect Buddhism and bring it back to the fore front of the lives of the Sinhala people.
Buddhism is a far greater “religion” than the monotheistic religions. It had been then the bête noir of the conquerors, as it is today for those monotheistic faiths such as Islam , and Christianity in
. Buddhism did not teach to pray to an
invisible god to get favours done for them. Buddhism is a pragmatic “religion” which emphasised that it is within oneself that one should find solutions to problems, and not through
prayers to a creator God. Sri Lanka
Violation of Human Rights with which the West is trying to charge
is an artificial arm of
to destabilise and subjugate developing Nations. The Buddhists of Sri Lanka respect not only
human life, but also that of all forms
of living beings, hence the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka is the last to
violate human rights, in real life or in war. Sri Lanka
There is unfortunately an increase of violence and criminality in
which cannot in any way be related to the Buddhist teachings they follow, but it
is largely due to the Western influence which has distorted their life style
with excessive interest in wealth, drug
dealings, sex, and intoxication. Sri Lanka
The British got down different Christian Missionaries to
. They built Schools for Boys, Convents for Girls, and commenced Christianization of Sri Lanka. They sent Christian Priests out into villages
to distribute books and pamphlets that
criticised and ridiculed Buddhism, and praised Christianity. Sri Lanka
In that situation when the Buddha Sasana was in peril a young novice Buddhist Priest Venerable Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thero challenged the Christian Missionaries for an open debate, which resulted in three debates in 1873, the last of which was held in Panadura.
“The Panadura controversy, which lasted for a week, was the most important of them all. It was the culmination of his efforts and it led to a Buddhist reawakening. The controversy was to take place in the presence of leading Sinhalese Christians and Buddhists. Rules were laid down so that the meeting could be held in a fair manner. The leading English newspaper of the time, The Ceylon Times, sent a special representative to report the proceedings. A complete report of all the speeches corrected by the speakers themselves was published in English day by day.
The controversy ended with victory for the Buddhists. The Buddhist orator not only replied effectively to the fallacies of the Christian speakers, but also enlightened them on the principles and tenets of the Buddhist doctrine. When the Christians retired from the debate defeated, the Buddhists were overjoyed. Festivities were held in every temple to mark their triumph and the effigy of Gunaananda Thera was carried in procession in every village.” (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/perera/wheel100.html)
It is therefore very clearly seen that right along in the history of
ever there was a threat to the Buddha Sasana, it was the Buddhist Monk who took
the leading role as the protector of the
Buddha Sasana and the Buddhist people.
Therefore, one should not be surprised when the Buddhist monks raise
their voice while the Buddhist laymen lie in lethargy to speak out against those who are a threat to the
existence of Buddhism in Sri Lanka . Sri Lanka
The first time the Muslims came against the Sinhala Buddhists was in 1915, when they opposed a Buddhist procession going past their Mosque which they claimed disturbed their prayer sessions. The Muslims were in fact provoking even at that time the Sinhala Buddhist sentiments relying on the special treatment they received from the British Colonial rulers, by haphazard construction of Mosques in
and Gampola areas. Kandy
Sir Robert Charmers was the Governor at the time and he took the opportunity to send the British forces to come hard on the Sinhala Buddhists, which came under criticism to the extent that the British government was forced to recall the Governor and replace him with Sir John Anderson, who settled the issue ordering that the Buddhist Procession “ Esala Perahera” should not be interfered with restrictions.
Thereafter, the Sinhala- Muslims relations existed peacefully more due to the patience of the Sinhala Buddhists. The Muslims continued building their mosques every where without restrictions, or even without permission from neighbours or the government, and started using loudspeakers for Muslim call to prayers-the Adhan by the Muezzin five times a day beginning from early in the morning without any concern for the followers of other religions.
Nonetheless, the good relations between the Communities continued to a certain extent until after the end of Terrorism. The old Muslim leaders have given place to a new set of Muslims who influenced by the Saudi Arabian Muslim extremism, have become vociferously active going beyond all respectful norms establishing an Islamic influence in the country and society introducing halal, Sharia Law, breaking the peace and goodwill that existed between the Communities.
Added to this is the Muslim Minsters of the Government such as Rishad Badiudeen, and Rauf Hakeem who are aggravating the rift between the Sinhala and Muslim people. Rishad Bathiudeen has taken the law into his own hands to establish unauthorised Muslim settlements claiming the lands to be their ancestral homes. If this is not stopped now
face another ,
political and a social upheaval as it had been before with the Tamil terrorism. Sri Lanka
After the end of the thirty year of terrorism in which Sri Lanka saw many Buddhist monks killed, temples and ancient Buddhist ruins destroyed, and the most Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth bombed, it appears that the path has been cleared for the Muslims in Sri Lanka to establish themselves as a political force and attack Buddhism, its places of worship, land grab under the theme of “ancestral homes”, reminiscent of the Tamil terrorists’ call for a Home Land.
In this new threat to Buddhism and the Buddhist People it is no Surprise that the Buddhist Clergy has this time formed the Bodu Bala Sena, as political leadership is unfortunately caught in an International call for reconciliation of Communities, which has restricted the Government to be lenient towards the Muslims in their most provocative activities, not second to another form of terrorism against Sri Lanka and its people.
Rishad Bathiudeen is taking the mean advantage of his position as a Minister and the Government’s embarrassment in its promise to the International Community for reconciliation of Communities, to get maximum of advantages to the Muslim Community, at the expense of Buddhism and the Buddhist people. It is right that the Bodu Bala Sena has challenged him, though the way it was done may not be considered conventional.
The Bodu Bala Sena is an essential evolution for the protection of Buddhism which is again under threat by a new Islamic terrorism. But to face this threat the Buddhists and the Buddhist monks should not be divided. This should be made an occasion for yet another Buddhist revival.
But the Bodu Bala Sena commencing from Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara thero should not let themselves be carried away from the vastness of the Challenge they have before them. They should keep their comportment within their professed vocation as Buddhist Monks, as they are called upon today to meet another threat to Buddha Sasana, as it had been through out its history, beginning from the South Indian incursions.
For the Buddhists people the Buddhist Monks are one of the Sacred Gems worthy of worship. They should always keep in mind this respectful place they have amoung the followers of Buddhist teachings. Therefore, they should never act in a way that degrade the Buddhist Monkhood. Their behaviour should not be like that of the laypersons. They should be compassionate, speak gently, without using harsh language. If they behave like the ordinary laymen, there is the fear that they will be treated like them, and not taken seriously.
We have seen Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero and others behaving like thugs , angry and aggressive attacking another monk. This is not in keeping with the behaviour expected of them. The police respected the yellow robe they were wearing, otherwise they would have been arrested handcuffed and taken away by the police. The monks have no right to take the law into their own hands. The Buddha never spoke harshly to ordinary lay people, though he did not hesitate to reprimand his disciples using strong words.
In a way the Buddhist Monks have been compelled to be aggressive in order to stop the provocative behaviour of the Muslim politicians. Therefore the Muslims should change their present behaviour, which is mostly influenced by the fundamentalist and Muslim terrorism of the
The Muslims have not become a nuisance only in
, but also in Muslim
countries. An Egyptian court recently sentenced to death 683
Muslim Brotherhood supporters. Sri Lanka should
therefore be vigilant, and Bodu Bala Sena should nort be blamed for the action they are taking,
though the way they are doing it is not conventional. It is Bodu Bala Sena that
highlighted the Wilpattu Muslim settlements. Sri Lanka
The Government seems unable to stop Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who has become a law unto himself. Minister Bathiudeen is abusing his power as a Minister to settle Muslims in large numbers clearing forests, and building roads into forest reservations, while the displaced Sinhala Buddhists are still waiting to be resettled. What is wrong if Bodu Bala Sena steps in to point out irregularities of which the government seems to be unaware ?
Bodu Bala Sena is not an organisation that should be condemned, it is an important solution to face the latest threat to Buddhism coming from a determined Islamic revolution that is threatening the civilised world today.
But to be effective and accepted by the Buddhist people, Bodu Bala Sena should adopt a different method to solve the problems, keeping their behaviour pattern in terms of the teachings of the Buddha. The whole world is watching the Bodu Bala Sena, therefore they should adopt a more acceptable manner of speech, and action in dealing with their adversaries who are becoming a threat to Buddha Sasana and the Buddhist society in