Is it justifiable to address Sri Lanka as predominently a Buddhist country?

| by Dr.Sripali Vaiamon

( August 23, 2013, Brampton, Sri Lanka Guardian) True enough! Majority of the inhabitants in the country are Buddhists.Over70%.But that alone is not sufficient to qualify the country to call itself PREDOMINANTLY BUDDHIST. It should be satisfactorily comprised with Monks, Nuns, Upasaka, Upasikas, the four-fold assembly of Buddhist congregation and should also be free from minor or major dissensions of ethnic wise or religious wise in the country to satisfy the compassionate Buddha’s doctrine of nonviolence, equanimity and Anathma contextualisation. We must not forget that compassionate Buddha’s sublime doctrine got grossly polluted by adulterated with Brahmanism and Hindu rituals during Kandy period under the South Indian kings. Certain atrocities in the country past and present could be surmised as the results of so-called adulterations with the caste rifts and ritualistic contaminations of the era. However the presumption of the Buddhist ideality is to promote non-violence and peaceful living with tolerance to other religions. For this paradigm country and the environment should be free from dissensions. Buddhists must refer to Edict # 12 of the Emperor Asoka, which goes as: One should not honour only one’s own religion and condems the religions of the others’, but one should honour others’religions also. So doing,one helps one’s own religion to grow and renders service to the religions of others too...(Views of Buddhism Vol 1, 175-76( by Dr.S.Vaiamon) He who offered the Sri Lankan with the highest Faith and the propound philosophy the Buddhalogy through his son and daughter. Buddhists must be familiarised with that particular Edict as well as Buddhist concepts.Hardline Buddhist Organizations must not make vitriolic and inflammatory speeches to hurt those who profess other religions. The prime concept of Buddhism is non-violence. However, if a mad dog runs towards you it will definitely attack. You have to kill the animal for your safety as well as that of the neighbours. Even a tiny malaria mosquito settled on your arm you must eliminate immediately before infect you and those who are in the surrounding.

Minor dissension on Halal, comprised in Islamic Faith do you think it will harm you? If male Muslims enter the mosque wearing a cap you need not bother.It is according to their personal convictions. Halal means before slaughtering an animal they prey to their God. In other words obtain permission for that deadly act...Muslims consume such meat. If others like they too could consume but need not concern about Halal lebel.It won’t make any harm to you. Muslims came to the Island in the 8th century, before the dawn of Islam. Since then we are living with them like brothers and sisters.Responsible Minister,Champika Ranawake, a progressive Brain,relevant to Grandpass incident should not just white wash as impunity didn’t occur.His utterances were strained indifference. Minister Rishad Bathudeen handed over a DVD with evidence relevant to the incidence. He should have discussed with the Minister concerned and mitigate those affected with a proper settlement amicably for the sake of both communities. Now of course proper authorities have indulged in and pacified the position.

On the same basis, none can deny there were no discriminations to Tamil during the past. It was not the only reason why there was an uprising. Their caste rift was most abominable. Low caste poor people were treated by Vellallas as stray dogs. So they were waiting for an opportunity to go against them as well as the Government for the discremations as alleged by higher category of Tamils. For the oppressed and agonizing Tamils Prabhakaran was a mighty leader. He had dual targets in his annihilation effort. He won from one but lost the other. I have well illustrated with facts and figures the entire episode in my novel ‘The Therapy’ and the historical volume, ‘Prehistoric Lanka to end of Terrorism’.

Thanks to the Present Head of the Country and well trained and experienced Defence Secretary with his military precision the abominable wretched Tiger hostilities were crushed with minimum casualties by gaining ground for all communities to live in peace, unity and harmony in the Island where Banki Moon or Navi Pilley couldn’t extend any beneficial support to either parties. Just like that they are deaf and dumb for inhuman atrocities and bloody massacres taking place daily in Kashmir,Pakistan and Afganistan.It is good Pilley is coming over to Sri Lanka at least to get a right hand information on her community people who lost their bread winners, school children who couldn’t lift a gun engaged by Tigers as shields for the forerunners and houses and properties lost due to wretched war.

In the same basis recapitulating dissensions in the country among minor communities the revival and recognition of the missing link, the Meheni Sasna is the prime important subject that should be taken up with the President who has Executive Powers in the country now people have realized without his intervention no satisfactory solution could be expected for complicated issues although there is a big appendage of ministers, commissionars and authorities.

Mr. Amarasiri weeraratna contributing a comprehensive article on the revival of Bhikkuni Order in Sri Lanka on 4th April 1998 to The Island News paper, concluded with these appropriate words: Now the Sri Lanka is emerging from a backward third world country with a poor record of human rights to a modern democracy, which recognises women’s rights the prospects of the Bhikkuni Order gaining its rightful place as in the Anuradapura period are bright and full of promise.

Yes, we realized it two weeks back when the map of Sri Lanka changed by reclaiming nearly 600 hectares from the sea to construct the Colombo South Harbour Terminal. In the chain of rapid progress in the Island this is one of another outstanding development projects. The prestigious UNP who ruled the country for more than 30 years could do only Mahaveli as an outstanding project.

The controversial ‘Mehani Sasna’ is also an outstanding subject where President should lay his hand. He is aware very well Bhikkunis in Sri Lanka are not being recognized. They do not get ID cards. Their monasteries could not be registered. They are not getting financial support for their studies. In short they are not been recognized as male counterparts, the monks. This is an insult to a Buddhist country like Sri Lanka.Even in country like Australia,in Perth Theravada Bhikkunis have been well recognized.If I quote from an introduction of a book ‘Wisdom Born of Stillness”-Dhaammasara nun’s monastery in Perth is sharing the world of future of Buddhist monasticism for women.It is a unique monastery where women may take the full Bhikkuni Ordination as established by the Buddha and live in perfect seclusion in a pleasant natural environment....But we talk lot about our country as predominantly Buddhist..

Now let us investigate into this religious controversy that has cropped up mainly due to stubborn attitudes of certain Senior monks who attempt to make a mountain out of a mole hill. There is permission in the Vinaya Chulavagga for monks to ordain nuns. But they are more proned to Brahmanism than Buddhism in this issue. Because in the era of Kandy under the jurisdiction of South Indian kings Buddhism got polluted so badly with Hindu rituals and concepts. We may have to go to the very beginning although this is the 21st century, to convince the Buddhist prelates. I wonder whether you are aware these Brhaministic human creatures do not take their wives to the same bed if they have periods! This prototype exists in other fields mixed up with caste hierarchy, where Buddhist people in Kandyan era were highly embraced with a royal pride. Their Radala genealogy originated with the concubines who were at the harems of Kandyan Dravida kings. They depict that annually in the Dalada procession by carrying two palanquins with Randoli and Yakadadoli.

The assumption and the comparison that male is sophisticated in functions of religious domains and female in that respect is inferior.This assumption had been proved by industrial countries as a misconception.Senior monks are not living in the modern atmosphere and as such convincing is arduous.The above creates a sense of opposition.This opposition follows from a persistent asymmetry in fundamental assumptions about gender in religion.The corollary to the assumption that maleness is the primary form of human being is the assumption that femaleness is a secondary and by comparison deficient form of human being.This idea itself is defunct today.Particularly in developed countries.

A female child may prove even to be a better offspring than a male, says erudite scholar Dr.K.Sri Dhammananada elaborating women in the Buddhism in his exemplary book, “What Buddhists Believe” Where he says, “Women‘s position in Buddhism is unique. The Buddha gave women full freedom to participate in a religious life. The Buddha was the first religious Teacher who gave this religious freedom to women. Before the Buddha, women’s duties had been restricted to the kitchen; women were not even allowed to enter any temple or to recite any religious scripture. During the Buddha’s time, women’s position in society was very low. The Buddha was criticized by the prevailing establishment when he gave this freedom to women. His move to allow women to enter the Holy Order was extremely radical for the times. Yet the Buddha allowed women to prove themselves and to show that they too had capacity like men to attain the highest position in the religious way of life. Every woman in the world must be grateful to the Buddha for showing them the real religious way of living and for giving such freedom to them for first time in the world history.”

This implies Buddha was totaly against Brahaminic conceptualizing. Our senior monks who often abide by Hindu conceptions do not appreciate Buddha’s attitude. What a Pity!

They do not allow females to enter the Udamaluwa to pay homage to Sri Maha Bodhiya as they are not aware the sapling was brought to Sri Lanka by a female, Theri Sanghamitta.

They do not allow females to enter the chamber where the tooth relic is placed as they are not aware it was brought to Sri Lanka by a female,Hema Malini.As I said earlier they believe women are always obsessed with –periods. As such they are –impure!

Let’s take a few examples from unfamiliar areas of even early history:

In Akkadia, the river valley people who migrated to Indus valley as Aryans in 2285 BC. Had a priestess, a nun, by the name Enheduanna. She had the equel status as the high priest.

In ancient Greek Religion, Gerarai was made priestess of Dionysus, who presides over Greek festivals and rituals associated with the God.

Romans had two priesthoods that were jointly perform functions. They were a married couple, Rex and Regina.

Sri Lankan people are quite familiar with Catholic Sisters, nuns in Cloisters or Convents. From early time they are rendering a yeoman service to the mankind, particularly to girls for their studies.Buddhist women started their nunnaries much earlier than them and engaged in innumerable services to the mankind.But they were hitherto not recognized!

Buddha who had first a monastic Order for males and later allowed for females. It was when Mahapajapath Gothami, the aunt and foster mother of the Buddha ordained as the first Bhikkuni.

Theri Sangamitta, the daughter of great Emperor Asoka who introduced Bhikkuni Order in Sri Lanka during the reign of king Devanampiyatissa and executed an enormous service to the religion and mankind. In the 5th century of Yuonjia, a delegation of Theravada Bhikkunis was taken over to China by a ship owner Nanthi and they lodged at Jingfu temple at the Capital of Song.They Ordained some of the nuns by a monk. In the 10th year of Yuonjia, ship owner nanthi brought another 11 nuns from Sri Lanka. Higher Ordination was given to them by erecting a platform at Nanlin temple.More than 300 Chinese nuns obtained second Higher Ordination.

Ven.Panditha Narawila Dhrmaratana, who paid great efforts to the revival of Theravada Bhikkuni Order in Sri Lanka, had led a delegation to a peace conference in Peking, China. Studied the Bhikkuni Order in China and found that it has been established on a firm Vinaya footing by Sinhala nuns from Anuradhapura in AD 429.

At the rate our Prelates are creating objections for the revival of establishing the Theravada Bhikkuni Order,wonder whether assistance has to be sought from China as presently Sri lanka is getting almost all the helps from that generous country to uplift the economy and the infrastructure developments in the Island.And they are ever grateful to Sri Lanka for inducing China in that ancient era the most reverential Bhikkuni Order.

As a sequel to the public interest on this problem, late Ven.Mapalagama Wipulasara,who was the Principal of Parama Dhamma Chetiya Pirivana and the President of Mahabodhi Society held and Ordination ceremony on 8.12.96 at Saranath Temple,India. At the ceremony eleven selected Dasa Sil Mathas were ordained by South Korean Preceptors.This took place after 980 years since the Order was disappeared and became defunct in Sri Lanka.

Ven. Dr.Kusuma Devendra.MA.PhD.Fully Ordained Theravada Buddhist nun.

She is the first woman in Sri Lanka to don the robe of a Bhikkuni after laps of the Bhikkuni Order for nearly 1000 years. She received her PhD. In 1999 from the Buddhist and Pail University of Sri Lanka for her doctoral dissertation on Bhikkuni Vinaya.Which has been released as a hand book for Buddhist nuns.

Bhikkuni Kusuma lives in Sri Lanka in a meditation retreat; Ayya Khema International Buddhist meditation Center, Olabodaduwa.Off Horana as well as Ayya Khema Meditation Centre at Kirulapone.She is the Abess.She has made every possible attempt and spoken in many a conference for Govt. To recognize Meheni Sasna and reastablish in Sri Lanka.All her attempts have not been hither to successful totaly.

Commissioner and the ministry official refused to issue ID cards to nuns.Their monasteries are not being recognised, they do not receive any monetary assistance to purchase books for their studies, whereas their counterparts, male monks get all these benefits.

Ven.Kirama Wimalajothi MahaThera, Director, Buddhist Cultural Center, Dehiwala, who is known to me well and obliged and helped to publish two of my books, “Views of Buddhism,Vol 1 and Bodumathi Mathanthra,” when I was in Sri Lanka.Now he has constructed a monastery for Bhikkunis at Horana in a quiet area at a top of a hill with a meditation center, preaching hall,dormitory,refectory, kitchen and all other modern necessities.

Almost immediately after the Ordination ceremony at Saranath, India Ven.Inamaluwe Sumangala Maha There of the Dambulla Rock Temple which is 2200 years old, has been taken a correct stride facing many difficulties and obstacles to re-introduce the Order of Bhikkunis with the association of Buddhist nuns of some eastern countries.

Since then now there are 427 Bhikkuni monasteries. Over 400 Bhikkunis are preaching mostly in rural areas.There are 2000 novices(Samaneras) preparing for ordination as well as 3000 Dasa Sil Mathas.These developments should be celebreated by anyone who appreciates Buddha’s plan for a four-fold Meheni Sasna of Bhikkus,Bhikkunis,Upasaka and Upasikas.

During Kandy period Buddhism was in a very low ebb.Certain Buddhist monks engaged on jobs and earned a name Ganinnanse.Some have become drummers, some even have become washermen.There was a conspiracy to kill Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe in 1730, with the idea to get down a prince from Siam.Samarakkodi Adhikaram who has organized this was beheaded.The Marakkala Mudlier who gave the secret news was awarded with lot of lands.

Mahanayake Theres of Kandy whose lineage started in the era of Dravidian kings at Kandy have voiced their disapproval over the recognition of the above nuns and stand by their claims that it is not possible to re-establish the Bhikkuni Order according to DhammaVinaya.during the Kandy period there was a big tussle between Asgiriya and Malwatta Chapters.It was disclosed in a booklet called-‘Seema Sankara Vinodini’written by a Bhikku at Malwatta Chapter.

Honourable Registrar of the Asgiri Chapter and lecturer of the Bhikku University at Anuradhapura Ven.Anamaduwe Dhammadasa There, further elaborates, the most venerable Mahanayaka Theras of this country, who protect the Theravada Buddhism, have not accepted those nuns in our country as Bhikkunis.Pointing out the reasons for not accepting nuns as Bhikkunis that with the fall of Anuradhapura to Chola invaders in1017, the Bhikkuni Order disappeared and became non-operational.

Because of these rigid rulings established during Kandy period intermingled with caste deliberations started by appointing of Siam Nikaya based on caste basis, Brahmanism mixed up with Buddhist practices grossly. Since then Buddhist devotees who enter the image house with utmost piety,flowers full in hand and pay homage to the Buddha and at the end wish NIR + VANA, to be freed from crazyness. Thereafter get the blessing by the Kapuwas by paying something who stand in front of the Hindu Gods.Tie a coin and make a vow to get specific personal benefit.Ultimately go to the Hindu Shrine or the gigantic image of Katharagama or Vishnu and beg all the material requirements which arouse the crzyness, quite contrary to what they wish at the front of the Buddha image. Even to get a handsome huband for their beautiful daughter!They are not aware that the Buddhism is an Anathma theory and Hinduism is an Athma concept. They strictly observe Nekath, although Buddha clearly expressed in the Nakkatha Jathakaya those who observe Nekath are fools. But it is alright as Sri Lankan never perform any duty at specific time.Nekath force to abide by the fixed time.

Almost all these rituals originated from the Kandy period grossly mixed up with Hindu mythyalogy. All the Buddhist Sects started with Siamise sect based rigidly on caste system which is far from Buddhalogy as Buddha never acquiesced with caste hierarchy. The division created among Sangha is a ANANTHAVEDANIYA PAPAKARMA. Paharad Sutta clarifies this position by the Buddha very intelligibly. High time primarily for Buddhist clergies to do away with SECTS based on caste feculence prior to fall them along with lay Buddhists into the position of DALITS in India.

The Brahmanist conceptualization giving prominence to God. Who is God? What is God? The great German Philosopher Friedrich Nietsche said Gott ist ein lustige Luuge. Prof.D.T. Zusuki well recognized Philosopher, defines that God is only a concept.These images viz.Vishnu,Kataragama,Shiva,Kali,Paththini,Saman,Natha etc are just the fertile imaginations of artists. In my last article to Sri Lanka Guardian I illustrated the grotesque formation of god Katharagama with six heads and twelve hands.

Meheni Sasna has nothing to do with Brhaminism.Buddha had no caste,no creed,no ethnicity for him all the human beings were alike. This philosophy was taught to me very clearly by the late Ven.Kirinde Dr.K. Sri Dhammananda,who was the Incumbent Priest of Buddhist Maha Vihara at Kulala Lampur, Malaysia. When I was participating in a German Seminar as the President of the Carl Duisberg association of Sri Lanka along with members of several other communities. He advocated all those profess different religions and belonged to various communities are all human beings. We have to treat everyone of them alike. This principle I highlighted in my novel, The Therapy, based on Sri Lanka,Maldives and Canada, which consists of more than 500 pages.Published by iUniverse.USA.

Late Dhammananda Thero had a discussion with His Excellancy the President of Sri Lanka on the non-approval of Meheni Sasna where he said a table won’t be completed without four legs, similarly Buddha sasana is incomplete without the assembelage of Meheni Sasna.

It has now Bhikkus,Upasaka, Upasikas only.Mr.Amarasiri Weeraratna in his article had clearly quoted-There is permission in the Vinaya Chulawagga for monks to ordain nuns. This permission could easily be used if the monks are willing to restore the Bhikkuni Order.

So I briefly suggest two things-This could be materialized only if Exacutive President’s intervention who is above everyone in the country govern by a big mandate.For the proper establishment of Buddhism in the country the addition of Brahminism in to Buddhism along with the caste heirachy should be obliterated. Action on this is also in his hand. Thereafter only this Buddhist country could be proudly address as Predominently a Buddhist country where Buddha’s sublime doctrine is meticulously profess.