Mississippi burning

"The peace loving Buddhists know that these monks do not speak on behalf of the Buddha or Buddhism. Rev Ellawala Medanada who was charged with illegally selling his official Mercedes Benz. Recently he lied in a TV program about Rev V. Soratha’s prediction on the President Mahinda Rajapaksa."

By Dr Ruwan M Jayatunge

(November 25, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) On the 5th of November 2009 a mob led by some extremist monks attacked the Jesus Never Fails Good News Centre, No.351, Kaduwela Rd, Koswatta, Battaramulla, Sri Lanka. This event had been captured on a film ( Watch )and broadcast worldwide. This incident brought Sri Lanka a huge black mark damaging the country’s image. We were seen as a society, which is hostile and intolerant to religious and ethnic diversity. In this film we see Rev Athraliye Rathana , Rev Ellawala Medananda of the JHU who had participated in the protest. These monks represent the Parliament of Sri Lanka and therefore it carries an immense weight to the incident. The protesters stated that this religious center was conducting healing sessions converting Buddhists and two women had died during a healing service in Colombo.

Unethical Conversions and malpractice

Some Pastors promote unethical religious conversions using these healing rituals, and sometimes they give money and other subsidiaries to the poor people as an attraction. Hence, person’s traditional religious beliefs are changed and a new belief is implemented. This has been happening in the agricultural areas like Pollonaruwa, Kanthalae and even in the Northern part of Sri Lanka.

Some NGO s promote these types of unethical conversions and malpractices pumping money and giving various kinds of assistance. Some religious fanatics use a variety of religious sacraments to heal diseases and sometimes the results are tragic. As the protesters claim, the death of two women had occurred due to such malpractice. This was not the only incident where deaths had been occurred. Several years ago, Jacqueline Ruby Seniviratne a school girl of Methodist College Bambalapitiya died during such a prayer session where she was not given adequate medical attention.

Faith Healing

Faith healing is a form of spiritual therapy that can be used as an additional tool in the medical practice. The former President of the Sri Lanka Medical Council Dr Sunil Seniviratne Epa has widely written about this topic and according to him spiritual therapy has a vital significance. But this does not mean that the patient should be denied of medication. Faith healing can be used as a combined therapy.

The effects of Dissociation

The patients who suffer from dissociative disorders are more agreeable to faith healings. Dissociative disorders such as psychogenic paralysis, psychogenic aphonia , etc can be cured through hypnotism as well as using the patients religious beliefs. Some researchers point out that faith healing could be used positively in terminal illnesses such as cancer. The belief is the magic bullet. The mind body combination plays an imperative role.

The Unethical Conversions and the Role of the Temple

During the good old days, the village temple had close links with the people. The monks helped the community in their day-to-day problems by giving spiritual guidance. Now days many temples are politicized or commercialized and people have no faith. One can hardly find a monk who can give true guidance using the true teachings of the Buddha. This vacuum has created a group of extremists who preach violence and ethnic as well as religious disharmony.

Religious shrines like Attamasthana and the Dalada Maligava etc get millions of rupees as donations annually. What happens to this money nobody knows. These funds could be used to help the poor Sinhala Buddhists who are vulnerable to religious conversions. However, I doubt this will ever happen.

Give them Food before Preaching

Once the Lord Buddha kept a portion of food, which was offered to him. The Buddha gave this food to a poor farmer who was hungry and exhausted. After the poor farmer had his meals, the Buddha gave him a sermon. This action indicated that without fulfilling the basic needs of a man there is no point of bombarding him with religious stuff.

Consequently, unethical conversions can be stopped if the Buddhist temples are ready to address the spiritual needs of the people and use their funds for the betterment of the poor people. When the Golden Key debacle occurred Rev Bellanwilla Wimalaratna , Rev Aturaliye Ratana lost millions of rupees. Where did this money come from? These millions could be used to rehabilitate the poor Buddhists of agricultural areas who are gripped by the Pastors who do not follow the footsteps of Jesus.

Buddhist Faith Healing

Last year (2008) a man calling him self Elovin A Jewakaya (Kalum Harsha Kamal Weerasinghe) Proclaimed that he has divine powers and started healing patients. He bribed a journalist of the Lankadeepa newspaper and published utter fairytales about miraculous healings. He used Buddhism as a buffer so no one could touch him. As a matter of fact several infants died following his blind actions. But no one protested or attacked his treatment center the Battaramulla healing center.

Only Mr Gamini Viyangoda had courage to challenge this Charlatan. According to Mr Viyangoda’s investigations, this faith healer was in prison in India for counterfeit operations. Although he claimed that he was qualified as an Engineer, the man had failed in his OL math at Nalanda College Colombo. Mr Viyangoda pointed out the fake photos that he used to con the readers.

I challenged this man via Lakbima newspaper and asked him to heal one incurable patient who will be sent by a group of Physicians of the Ministry of Health. But he never took this challenge and the journalist stopped his weekly news report and the faith (fake) healer went under cover.

Buddhism and Extremism

Buddhism is the most tolerant religion and extremism has no place in true Buddhism. What those monks demonstrated at Koswatta, Battaramulla, had nothing to do with Buddhism. In this film we see no difference between the mob and the extremist monks who behaved like thugs. Actions on the film reminded me the Chrystal night.

When I was working in the Combat Trauma Treatment Center at the Military Hospital a young soldier came to me and said he wanted to become a suicide bomber and kill Tamils. I stated that the Sri Lanka Army does not train suicide bombers and we don’t do such things. But he kept on insisting. Then I looked into his psychosocial background. First I thought he was from an endangered villages like Gomarankadawala, Gonagala etc where the LTTE used to attack civilians. But he was not from these arias and never had any bad experience with Tamils.

This soldier was ordained as a monk when he was five years old and spent his time until the age of 18 in various temples in Kandy, Ampitiya and Colombo. He told me that since he entered the robes most of the nights he was sexually molested by older monks. Some nights he was raped by five or six monks. He disrobed and joined the military as an escape route. The traumatized soldier focused his anger not towards his abusers but towards the Tamils. After hearing this firsthand account whenever I see monks go in to violent protests I suspect the elements of sexual trauma.

The Revival of Buddhism by Rev Gangodawila Soma

Rev Gangodavilla Soma was a popular monk and fought against Hindu rituals that had been absorbed by the Sri Lankan Buddhists. He was an excellent orator who spoke to the emotions of the Sinhala Buddhists. I liked to watch Rev Soma s ITN program Nana Pahana where he discussed various topics with Dr DVJ Harishandra – Consultant Psychiatrist.

When I watched this program, I doubted whether Rev Soma preached the teachings of the Buddha or something that Rev Soma had invented. I had my own doubts.

File Image: Monks in Sri Lanka:

"Once the Lord Buddha kept a portion of food, which was offered to him. The Buddha gave this food to a poor farmer who was hungry and exhausted. After the poor farmer had his meals, the Buddha gave him a sermon. This action indicated that without fulfilling the basic needs of a man there is no point of bombarding him with religious stuff."

In 1985 I closely worked with Mr Alec Robertson whom I consider the best Buddhist English lay preacher. (When I see the Buddhist discussions of the Chief Justice Sarath N Silva explaining Dhamma using a limited vocabulary and sometimes using words such as that thing and this thing I wish Mr Robertson was there) I produced the SLBC radio programs like Buddhist Forum , In the Steps of the Shakyamuni etc. I had the privilege of associating true Buddhist scholars like Professor Roderick Ninian Smart Prof L.G Hewage, Rev Piyadassi , Prof Jothya Deerasekara and many others. Their thinking was somewhat different from Rev Soma.

Often Rev Soma came with illogical and irrational sometimes-extreme statements in this program. Although Dr DVJ Harischandra knew the emptiness of these words, he did not utter a word only we could see some facial gestures of Dr DVJ. But as an intellectual he could have advised Rev Soma regarding these specious statements, unfortunately it never happened until Rev Soma s death. Dr DVJ Harischandra always kept silent. This signifies the pathetic silence of Sri Lankan intellectuals who are afraid of giving their true views.

Religious Disharmony and Social Violence

We Sri Lankans experienced a 30 year war following the mismanagement of ethnic tensions. We saw death and destruction. A lot of blood was spilt and those who love humanity would never expect another war between religions. This madness has to be stopped before it reaches the climax. There are democratic and non-violent ways to protest these NGO s and fanatical pastors. These JHU monks must grow up and come back to the Buddha’s path.

The peace loving Buddhists know that these monks do not speak on behalf of the Buddha or Buddhism. Rev Ellawala Medanada who was charged with illegally selling his official Mercedes Benz. Recently he lied in a TV program about Rev V. Soratha’s prediction on the President Mahinda Rajapaksa. Kusal Perera challenged the bogus story that Rev Ellawala Medanada told in the media. So do they truly practice Buddhism? Are the protesting to protect Buddhism? On the other hand, are they using these protests to gain petty political gains or to fulfill their aggressive and savage instincts?

A Lesson from Rev Narada

When I was a student at the Vajiraramaya Dhamma school Bambalapitiya Rev Narada once told us a story. It was about how Buddha faced false allegations. Some people who were jealous of the Lord Buddha’s glory killed a woman named Sundari and accused Buddha and his disciples. Buddha had the full support of King Bimbisara and could have had the conspirators arrested. But he waited for natural justice. He did not go on protesting. Eventually the truth was revealed and conspirators lost.

This story gives the protestors wisdom. Do your best to the society and justice to the people. If you are rightful, you can give spiritual guidance. Then no pastor or anyone can change the faith of your devotees.
-Sri Lanka Guardian
paul said...

Buddhists are human too. What about the large nuber of Buddhists and millions of people who were killed brutally in the name of God.Read the Bible propaly.Both Old and New Testaments tell Christians to kill people of other faithss. So God officially sanctioned killing of people of other people. I will give the references if some one asks. If this article is not published I will take this Web Site is biased which I hope is not. This is my right to replyand if any thing is incorrect any body can challenge me.

paul said...

Do any body has evidence to substantiate the facts in above article?

Anura K said...

Thank you sir, for speaking up. As a Buddhist I am fed up of what is happening in my country. Are we really practising what was preached by the Buddha?
There is no doubt that unethical conversions are taking place in Sri Lanka. But is this the right way to counteract it?
The 90% of the Buddhist Clergy in my country is nothing more than money-grabbing opportunitists, veering to any side or any way to enrich themselves.
How long can we go on sir? It is upto to the millions of practising Buddhists to speak out.

paul said...

Rev Medananda highly respected Archeologist and fighter to keep Buddhism, getting destroyed by unsavory elements, such as LTTE must be appreciated. He fearlessly went to east during the war and drew attention to protecting Buddhist Archeology sites. But he has lot to explain about, our President holding a prestigious position in the university at the age of 14 years. Rev Soma appeared for destroying Deegawaapi land and many archeological sites. I have visited this places in East my self and seen for my self. It is presumed it was by Muslims and there is evidence as these lands are now occupied by Muslims. Whatever the faith, we must preserve our Heritage. Though India is predominantly Hindu, they have preserved most Buddhist sites and earn a huge income through Pilgrims from S.L. alone.
As for this spiritual healing, Dr. Sunil must have been the S.L.M.C. president about 40 years ago, as it has no place in modern Medicine. It is totally different from Spiritual Health. Of course Daha Ata Sanniya has some similarity with Cognitive Behavioural Therapy. I have witnessed some of these sessions my self and it looks very phony and Barbaric. Our people have a short memory and forgotten that a child was forcefully imprisoned in one of these places and died subsequently of Septicemia. Large No. of deaths have gone unnoticed. I know a lady near my house , who was having a Coma due to elevated sugar, who died because her family was advised not to take hear Hospital, but Pray.
Then there is a living example of a 15 year old very pretty girl with Cancer, and these killers took her around the country exhibiting her, promoting their Faith and collecting Money. They showed her results have become normal, as a result of Gods work.
Actually it was due to Huge effort by the Consultant and the other Doctors and the Medical staff. She had a good chance of getting cured. Their family switched off their mobiles when we tried to get her back. She did not come for the second course of treatment.. After 3 Months now she is back in the Hospital with a relapse and this time she is slowly and painfully dying. Please all Sri Lankans , don’t get cheated by this Criminals, and go to the hospital, if you have a Health related problem. If you have seen the Child who died , Little Children of the dead mother who are asking for their mom and this girl dying in hospital, if you are sane, whatever the faith you are, you will want to flatten these buildings and hang who are responsible. I am not saying this in vengeance, but to Educate and save our fellow citizens, whatever the faith or ethnicity they are. After all we are all Sri Lankans.

Unknown said...

Hey Paul,
Answer to the facts put forwarded by the author of the article. The author himself a Buddhist criticize the violent behavior of the mob led by Buddhist monks. I totally agree with the author of the article. See how infective the police in that situation and police behave like eunuchs. The same violent behavior created Tamil tigers years ago and I am sure this kind of violence will lead to extremism in Christian community. It is the responsibility of the government to take action to stop these kinds of acts.