| by Nalin de Silva

( July 9, 2014, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Whether the Deputy President of South Africa is touring Sri Lanka as a visitor, diplomat trying to solve the ‘ethnic’ problem in Sri Lanka a la South Africa or enjoying a few matches between the South African and Sri Lankan cricket teams, the average Sinhala person is not bothered by his presence. The average Sinhala person would not write to the press even in Sinhala and is not influenced by what the so called educated, meaning of course western educated, whatever the medium of instruction may be, people in various fora have to say. When I said over a television channel somewhere in March 2013, that western science is pattapal boru (blatant lies) almost all my middle class friends and relatives thought that it was a blunder, and of course they did not approve the way I ‘behaved’ in that particular programme. However, the reaction of the common people I met on my visits to various parts of the country was entirely different. Whether they understood what I said the way I understood it or not they approved ‘my views’, and said that I had done my duty by the ‘gama’ (village).

These people had understood the Kalama Sutta in a different way from the educated though the latter did not behave in a way different from the common man in principle. However, there is a difference in selecting the Vinnus. The common man always had the Vinnus in the Sinhala Buddhist culture whereas the educated hypocrite without referring to Vinnus (they had not read what I call part II of Kalama Sutta) followed westerners as Vinnus. (I wrote an article in Divaina more than twenty years ago on Part II of Kalama Sutta and as usual the educated ignored it) They always quoted western Vinnus in their articles and speeches though they pretended to follow only Part I of Kalama Sutta ignoring Vinnus. I am glad to find Prof. Carlo Fonseka now referring to Part II of Kalama Sutta though most of his Vinnus are from the west.

Recently, Derana TV concluded its Dream Star season V and the last 48 contestants were selected by SMS. I watched some of the programmes and I was not surprised to find the winner was essentially a singer who sang songs by Jothipala, MS Fernando and the likes. The second and fifth places went to singers who mainly sang songs with a "deshiya" (national) flavor, and not the Amaradeva types. This implied that those who sent SMS to Derana were mainly interested in music that is not to the liking of the educated who are supposed to be "prabhuddha" (enlightened). Twenty seven years ago when Jothipala died thousands of fans flocked to Kanatte and no "prabhuddha" artiste had ever been respected by so many people at his/her funeral. The funeral of Jothipala made Dr. Sarath Amunugama (the present minister) as a western sociologist to write an article on "janapriya sanskrthiya" (popular culture), of course using a western sociological concept. I was a "prabhuddha" fan then and I replied to him demeaning the so called "peachang" (third rate) artistes. It was Jothipala who had previously asked the pregnant question "Api peahangda" (are we third rate)? The judges of the Derana contest, especially Nadeeka Guruge, a former member/sympathizer of the postmodernist X group that calls me a fascist writer, tried to give respectability to "peachang" artistes, but it is very unlikely that the "prabhuddha" fans were interested in what they had to say.

The educated are conditioned by the education that they receive at schools especially after the GCE (O/L) and universities irrespective of the medium of instruction, and the so called dropouts are conditioned by the Sinhala Buddhist culture. Dalai Lama has made a statement that has been written by somebody else, on so-called harassment of Muslims by Buddhists in Sri Lanka and Myanmar, and it is the ‘prabhuddha’ who are disturbed by these statements publicised by by the western media. The common man does not have to worry of these statements by so called international figures. It is unfortunate that Theravada countries are not only poor but also disunited. Perhaps it is this disorganization that has made some western sociologists to state that there is no Theravada Civilization as such. It is the Theravada countries Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand that are blamed by the western media for so-called harassment of Muslims as if the Muslims enjoyed unbridled freedom in the western countries.

In Sri Lanka for the last five hundred years there have been attempts to weaken, if not destroy, the Sinhala Buddhist culture and the west has accelerated their programme in preparing for the Presidential Elections any time during the coming months. While doing everything possible to tarnish the image of the country and the government ‘internationally’ the west is trying to promote the candidature of Ranil Wickremesinghe for presidency nationally. Ven. Sobhitha Thera is only a vote splitter in the eyes of the west that will try to alienate the Sinhala Buddhists from the government. However, though it is only the ‘prabhuddha’ lot that the west would be able to convince, the government should seriously consider the western project. It is unfortunate that the government is surrounded by advisors who were Marxists, Liberals only the other day and also by former student leaders of the Independent Group of the University of Colombo. The media is manipulated by these anti-Sinhala elements and they have to be told that the South African experience is entirely different from the Sri Lankan experience.

It is true that there is a similarity between the two countries in the sense that the majority was exploited and harassed by a minority with assistance of western Christian colonialism. However, the similarities end there and South African experience has no relevance at all to the Sri Lankan situation. In South Africa influential of the majority had been converted to Christian culture and culturally the west could not lose anything buy transferring the power to the black majority. In addition through a deal with Mandela, the west was able to make sure that the economic power remained in the hands of the white minority and the west did not lose their control by admitting that the majority blacks were discriminated against and harassed by the minority whites. Further there was a nation building process that had to be carried out in South Africa as there had been no nation in the country, whether in a Liberal or Marxist (Leninist) sense of the word.

Though the ‘prabhuddha’ lot in Sri Lanka may not understand after their exposure to the western education, the majority Sinhala people had been discriminated against by the west and their agents among the so called minorities for centuries now. The west would never admit that, and hence the ‘prabhuddha’ would not ‘understand’ it, as the admission amounts to harassment against Sinhala Buddhists. The common man and the Maha Sangha feel this harassment and discrimination in spite of theories (stories) by western intellectuals to the contrary. In South Africa the west did not face such a situation and they could admit harassment of the majority by the minority.

Then, there are other differences as well, some of which we have mentioned previously, but one of the main stumbling blocks is associated with the so called nation building. If a ‘prabhuddha’ with all his knowledge was to tell a ‘peachang’ in the village that the nation has to be built the latter through his Buddhist upbringing would not enter into an argument with the former, but as far as the latter is concerned it is an insult to the already existing Sinhala nation.

As mentioned previously Theravada countries are not united and the Sinhala Buddhists are accustomed to think as a nation for millennia without any reference to the other Theravada countries. It is not difficult to formulate criteria for a group of people to become a nation in order to show that the Sinhala people constitute a nation. The concepts of nation and nation state have been formulated by the western intellectuals to justify that first the English and then the other Europeans formed nations and these concepts like the other concepts are all relative and not absolute.

The projection of Sinhala people, especially the Sinhala Buddhists and the Bhikkus as hate mongers only adds insults to the injury, and the ‘prabhuddha’ by comparing the Sri Lankan situation to South Africa are only helping the west to harass and discriminate against the Sinhala Buddhists further.