Leading the Buddhist lay followers away from rituals and Ceremonies to the path of the Dhamma is the duty of the Buddhist Monk.
Posted on May 9th, 2011

By Charles.S.Perera

Rituals, which are procedures for conducting religious practices cannot all be eliminated, because they are the customary practices that kept a belief system alive.  Different religions have different rituals and religious practices some of  which such as animal sacrifice, and  smearing of animal blood are unacceptable  and should be removed  by all means .  Even the worship of « lingam » though it is an ancient custom seems out of place in an environment of sanctity and worship, but they are not connected to Buddhism and therefore no further elaboration seems necessary.

As far as Buddhism is concerned some of the rituals and ceremonies have their origin in ancient religious environment into which the teachings of the Buddha was introduced.  That is more evident in Mahayana Buddhism, Zen and Tibetan Buddhism.  In Sri Lanka most of the rituals and ceremonies are the later additions to the Buddhism, which are a  mild version of rituals and ceremonies of Hindu religious « cults » that had found their way into our Buddhist Temples and Viharas.  For instances the devalas and the statues of Hindu Gods like Ganesh, Vishnu and so on with connected rituals and ceremonies certainly have no place in Buddhist places of worship.

A culture of a people has the religion it practices as its base.  Therefore, some of the cultural symbols , functions and ceremonies have got mixed up with Buddhism, and they remain  an outer covering of the teachings of the Buddha which is the core.  It is the rituals and ceremonies that attract the lay devotees to the sublime teachings, they  play a role in the perpetuation of the « Dhamma » and keeping the people and the Temple together.  The Dalanda Perahera and such other festivities have also taken a religious character, though they are a distant away from the teachings of the Buddha.

Even a  Sinhala Buddhist marriage is a mixture of  many cultures. Specially the low country wedding where the bride wears a veil which is undoubtedly a Christian influence, then there is the auspicious time and exchange of rings which seems to be of  Hindu influence and the “poruwa” ceremony takes  a Buddhist turn in the recitations of gathas which are descriptive of the Buddhist teachings, and invariably there is the recitation of Jaya Mangala Gatha.  Therefore a Sinhala Buddhist Wedding  has a religious character though not performed in a Temple and Buddhist monks.

The Buddha did not speak of the practice of ceremonies  and rituals, but there are instances when the Buddha had given in to symbolic performances of rituals by his followers. One such is when  Anathapindika constructed  the Jetavanaramaya Monastery for the Buddha and dedicated it to the Buddha and his Sangha.  It is said that the people came to the  Jetavanaramaya bringing along with them garlands of followers and other offerings which they left near the Gandhakuti, where the Buddha was residing.

Anathapindika who visited Jetavanaramaya every day, saw that people who came to see the Buddha were disappointed when the Buddha was not there and went throwing away the offerings they had brought with them.   Anatapindika informed this to the Venerable Ananda who went to the Buddha and asked what were the objects of veneration. And the Buddha said  that they are those appertaining to the body (saririka) , appertaining to personal use(paribhogika) and object  reminiscent of the Buddha(uddesika) .

The Buddha told Venerable Ananda that no objects of reverence (cetiya) appertaining to his body should serve as an object of  reverence during his life time, as an object of reverence  reminiscent of the Buddha  has no physical basis ; it is purely mental.  He said that the  great Bodhi tree used by the Buddha  whether he is alive or dead is an object of reverence(cetiya). 

Then the Venerable Ananda told the Buddha of the disappointment of the people who come to see him when he is away from Jetavanaramaya  and asked whether he could bring a seed from the Great Bodhi tree and plant it in the compound of the Jetavanaramaya as an object of reverence for  the people .  Then the Buddha asked him to do so and said  that the tree would be a  reminiscent object of reverence. (The Buddha and his teachings-by Narada Thero) . It is said that when the bo sapling which is now known as the Ananda Bodhi had grown the Buddha sat meditating under it for one whole night giving it a special sanctity.

The Buddhist rituals and ceremonies have a great attraction to children.  The Buddhist children growing up in such pleasant environment of  rituals and ceremonies will remember them as catalysts that awakened them to Dhamma. What a pleasure it is to enter silently into a shrine room of a Temple glowing  in the  weak yellow  flames of oil lamps on a poya day, where the devotees clad in white kneel down reciting  in a mixed mumble the gathas and  see the smiling face of the seated Buddha, and kneel in sacred admiration at the foot of the reclining statue of the Buddha ?

It is a special joy specially for the young children, a joy different from any other, to recite the gathas ( the stanzas) together  with the family, imitating the father or the mother ,  in sacred muted voice coyly smiling when making a mistake in recitation, offering flowers  trying to remember the correct gatha praying at the dagaba and light lamps and  inhale the odour of incense sticks in the shrine rooms. These  lead  later to keep the higher precepts to observe ” sil “, and even take to meditation.  Hence the ceremonies and rituals are in a way the stepping stones to follow the teachings of the Buddha.

A Buddhist family goes to the temple on the poya day clad in white carrying with them flowers to offer, oil for lamps, and incense  sticks to burn.  These have been adopted by the laity to venerate the Buddha and his teachings in their way,  though  the Buddha had not given such instructions of what to wear, and what to offer.  But turning away from those practices  which are also rituals, is turning away from devotion to the Dhamma which represents the living Buddha.  The Statues are symbols conceptualizing  the  compassion of the Buddha, mere looking at the statue of a serene Buddha statue reciting silently the nine qualities of the Buddha inflames one’s piety  and devotion to the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha.

Without the ceremonies and ritual the temples and shrine rooms will be abandoned by  the people.  The life of the Buddhist people will be monotonous and boring as it is not all who take to meditation, and it is not all who seek an intellectual understanding of teachings bereft of  rituals, and  ceremonies  The teachings of the Buddha are more pragmatic.  The teachings show that  there are three aspects of worship. There is  generosity (dana) offering of alms to the Sangha, there is the  keeping of the higher precepts on the “poya” days (sila), and then the  meditation (bhavana) .

Generosity or offering  of alms(dana) to the Buddhist monks is shrouded with rituals and ceremonies.  In a home the preparation of alms is done with utmost faith (sardha).  Best vegetables are selected, all ingredients are prepared fresh, sure to keep clean every pot, pan and plate used in the kitchen  in the preparation of the dana. The food is not even  tasted to see whether there is enough salt or condiments.  The rituals continue through faith, saddha or bhakti.

There is a time,  before which the alms offerings have to be taken to the Temple.  Those who carry the food are dressed in white , carrying pots and pans duly covered in white on their head.   There is the  Buddha puja an offering in reminiscent  of the  Buddha, which is preceded by drums (hevisi pooja), flute (horane) and the sound of the conch “sak”.

The offering of the Dana is preceded by the Offering to the Buddha where every one  repeats the stanzas after the Monk who conducts the ceremony.  At the end of it every one is happy that everything had gone off well .  They have accumulated maha kusala kamma.

Even during the time of the Buddha there may have been such ceremonies but less elaborate.  The Buddha after sitting down always asked for the head of the household or the one who offers the dana.

Some of these ceremonies may have been mixed up with those of Hinduism but yet they serve their purpose.  But these rituals and ceremonies inspire the Buddhists  in  Dhamma the teachings of the Buddha.

Certain of these rituals also give psychological comfort, such as listening to pirith ceremony which is a very satisfying experience. Every stanza in “pirith” has a special way of being recited, and one is kept attentive to the recitations.  The “pirith noola”,  which certainly has a Hindu influence nevertheless gives a person who had gone through the whole recitation of pirith a great satisfaction, a mental fulfillment. Recitation of “pirith” and sprinkling of water was even recommended by the Buddha. 

In Vesali there was a famine, a pestilence , and was haunted by evil spirits.  The Buddha asked Venerable Ananda to tour  Vesali with Licchavi citizens reciting the  Ratana Sutta and sprinkling the sanctified water to give protection to the people of Vesali from famine, pestilence and evil spirits.  Venerable Ananda returned Back to the  town hall where the Buddha  and his retinue of Bikkhus had assembled.  Then the Buddha recited the  Ratana Sutta to the people who had gathered  there.

There will always be those who listen to sermons, or recitation of “pirith”, or discourses superficially  pretending to be devout Buddhists but those hypocrites are common but that should not be the  reason to eliminate rituals and ceremonies from Buddhism.

Politics  and spirituality have a complex relation ship.  Some of the Politicians go bear bodied to attend a Hindu Ceremony  in the morning and come in pure white dress to attend Buddhist ceremonies in the evening. Most of them wear excessive number of “pirith nool” even without having listened to the recitation of “pirith’.

There are no doubt the more intelligent who would prefer to practice meditation and follow the path of Buddhism  more meaningfully, but the ordinary people want rituals and ceremonies without which  the Buddha  Sasana will not exist.  Buddha Sasana is not the practice of higher Dhamma and meditation alone, but  rituals and ceremonies are also a part of it.  There should be Buddhist laity  to provide alms, shelter and robes.  Those are also necessary activities expected of the Buddhist laity for the Community of Buddhist monks, which result in  wholesome  kamma for worldly existence.

Of course there are certain influences that have crept into the ritual and ceremonial aspect of Buddhism which should be removed lest we loose the importance of the teachings of the Buddha.   These are the worship of Hindu Gods in Buddhist temples.  There are the  Kapuralas conducting their thevavas as a part of Buddhist worship with their different Devalas dedicated to Vishnu, Pattini, Natha, Ganesha, Dadimunda and Huniyamn devathavo within the Buddhist Vihara premises.  The statues of Gods in the Shrine rooms of the Buddhist temples should be removed. Devales should not be allowed to function within  Buddhist temple premises.

Katharagama Devale has become a shameless business enterprise.  These Diyawadane Nilames  and Kapuralas have no place in a country dedicated to Buddha Dhamma and Sanga by the good King Devanampiyatissa at the behest of Venerable Arahat Mahinda more than 2300 years ago.

Then there are the rituals around funerals where a Mataka vastha is offered to the Sangha, followed by a Mathaka Dana.  There are pinkamas to transfer merit from the third day after the death, then the seventh day, third months and one year after death.  Then there are also Bali and Thovil to chase away evil spirits.

 These rituals console the people but the necessity to turn them away from these false views ( micca ditthi) is the duty of the Maha Sangha.  The Buddhist monk has to protect the Buddha Sasana and therefore they should be alive to the fact they are suitable for that task.

 These rituals that have crept into Buddhism  are outside  the teachings itself of the Buddha, but nevertheless they            are a part  of the Buddhist culture. The Buddhist culture  which are the customs, rituals and ceremonies, and the teachings  of the Buddha  are bound together and one cannot remove one without removing the other.

 It is therefore the duty of the Buddhist monk  to  lead  the Buddhist laity  away from  the rituals and ceremonies  towards the  path of the Dhamma.  This the Buddhist monks could do by making every Temple in Sri Lanka a meditation Centre, so that any villager who wants to meditate could do so at his convenience by coming to the temple and asking for meditation instruction from the monk in charge of meditation.

 That is why  the Buddha organized the Order of the Sangha from those who gave up their householders lives  to follow a homeless life which is bereft of rituals and ceremonies a middle path leading to meditation and Nibbana.  When the Buddha had 60 disciples who had attained the state of  noble Arahats, he told them:

 Charatha Bhikkhave charikam, bahujana hithaya bahu jana sukhaya- Go Bikkhus, not two in the same direction and spread the teachings for the good of all beings.

30 Responses to “Leading the Buddhist lay followers away from rituals and Ceremonies to the path of the Dhamma is the duty of the Buddhist Monk.”

  1. Nanda Says:

    A good , true explanation as usual. Any Sri Lankan would agreed to what Charles is saying.
    But one man saying we should keep all this and drop “Nirvana”. What do you say to this person ?

  2. Nihal Fernando Says:

    Nanda,

    Without Nirvana there should not be any Buddhism. The bottom line of Buddhism is Nirvana. Nirvana is the final full stop to the transmigration or Samsara in the process of birth & death and vice-versa of all beings. Nirvana is not a creation by Buddha but it has been existing since the very conception of the universe, long before the Buddhas were born. It is the only way to put an end to endless physical & mental sufferings by ourselves in this world. Buddha found the way and he preached it to the world. Nirvana is the core of Buddhism. Also, Buddhism is not Buddha’s own opinion but the Truth (The Dhamma) was only discovered by Him. There is no invention.

    So, Charles or anybody else can’t modify, revise or edit the Universal Truth discovered and preached by Buddha. If he thinks that Nirvana is a suicidal extinction the only short cut to Nirvana would have been contraceptives to prevent any birth then and there, in the first place. But, the entity’s gaining birth elsewhere as per its Kamma cannot be prevented by anybody. Only Nirvana can prevent the re-birth.

  3. Nihal Fernando Says:

    CHARLES S. PERERA,

    My humble apologies to you. In my comments I have inadvertently mentioned your name.

    It was not you who had told drop “Nirvana” but some other person. You have given a very descriptive and well explained article that we all Buddhists laymen/women and Monks should adapt to revive the Buddhism, ritual and its ceremonies while aiming at the Nirvana.

    May you and your family be bestowed by the Noble Triple-Gem!

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Our sincere thanks to Mr Charles Perera for clarity on Buddhism & lay practices. Please permit me to bring in soem queries regarding Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

    We saw a short write up on the Lanka Page the other day, from the BBC, asking the President to bring in a rule so that Buddhist monks learn the Tamil language in order to propagate Buddhism among Tamil people of Lanka and elsewhere. We have some queries regarding this rather odd request carried through the BBC.

    (1) Will it serve any real useful purpose if Buddhist monks learnt Tamil ? We suggest that all Buddhist monks learn some English, that this may serve better as all Tamil people too will be learning some English in the near future, and the essence of Buddhism may be conveyed to Tamils via English. Also, Tamil people of Sri Lanka could learn some Sinhala in order to learn Buddhism, if they are keen to do so.

    (2) Why would President Rajapakse have to bring in a rule re the language used by Buddhist monks ? He is not a spiritual leader like the Dalai Lama. Any Buddhist monk can learn Tamil if he wants to, without the President having to say anything on the matter.

    (3) Were the suggestions to involve the President with the Tamil language & Buddhist monks done with some mischievous
    intent ? As the suggestion came from the BBC, our alarm bells do ring that it is not a sincere idea, but done merely to cause some friction between the President, the monks as well as the Tamil people.

    On another note, as Buddhists do not have any jurisdiction over other religious bodies, their acts of Ignorance will impinge sharply on the rest of Lankan society. A case in point is animal sacrifice which is pagan, and another is the belief that the world will end in 2012, the latter a scaremongering tactic to weaken societies.

  5. AnuD Says:

    Lord buddha told that discipline of the monks to be important inorder to exist the Saasana for along time. So, of monks give clear leadership lay people will be better off and they will be more spiritual. Unfortunately, most monks are not so. I think, mostly monastry living monls are very spiritual.

    Again, even Buddhists have understood Buddhism wrong. Even though the Nirvana is the ultimate that Buddha taught. Buddha did not preach ultimate truth to every one. Very often, Buddha explained to many what happiness is, what is their role in this life etc., etc. Because of that, We don’t have to be attached always thinking about Nirvana. Instead it is better to live the moment properly, day to day life properly and Buddha has talked about that so often.

  6. Nanda Says:

    Nihal Fernando,
    I am sorry my mistake of not giving the name to put you in trouble. You must read an article before responding.

    http://www.lankaweb.com/news/items/category/ben-silva/

    Please read the aritcles written by abovementioned person. This also RED ALERT to all Buddhist. He is like a meeya and gradually bringing this extremely moda ideas. Please read all. Even his evideance to LLRC contained the same stupid idea.
    This guy is surely going to hell.

  7. Charles Says:

    It would be good for Buddhist monks to learn Tamil rather than study, Geography, Economics, Law and Political Science.

    To give a Buddhist discourse in Tamil one should know the language well to use the nuances of the language to make the listener understand the implication of the Buddhist teachings. Dhamma is not complicated , it is simple but very profound.

    Nirvana is not a concept it is one of the for ultimate truths( paramatta Dhamma) of which the world is made.

    A being is composed of materiality and mentality (nama-rupa) Nama is the consciousness, thoughts –citta, and mental factors (cetasika). Rupa is the form. The form is made of the four primary elements and when the mind departs at death the form or body decays and disintegrates. It is the mind that is reborn with a another form elsewhere. Therefore, in ultimate reality(paramatta dhamma) a person (a being) does not exist . A being is a mere combination of mind and form (nama-rupa) interacting with one and the other during each span of life.

    The teachings of the Buddha which are his discourses had been made in conventional terms (vohara bhasa). The conventional terms are the names or labels that we give to every thing around us to recognize them as persons, animals, forms such as trees, stones, houses, and emotions. These names or labels are concepts.

    We can understand our environment only according to these labels we have given to all phenomena. But beyond this conventional world we know, is the real world- the world composed of the ultimate realities(paramatta dhamma)? The ultimate truths are the form , thoughts, mental factors and Nibbana. The ultimate truths are not concepts, where as the conventional world is composed of concepts that do not really exist. They are only mind made. They are called sankhara in the teachings of the Buddha. All concepts are impermanent ( sabbe sankhara aniccati)

    The world itself is mind made- with the mind interacting with the sense faculties of the body . What we see is the visual world, what we hear is the world of sound, what we smell is the world of smell, what we taste the world of taste, what we touch is the world of feeling.

    The Buddha did not explain Nibbana , but said that it is where there is no attachment, where there is no anger and hatred. It is a sublime state . It cannot be understood by the worldlings because their minds are defiled by desire and clinging, being entrenched lust, desire, and enjoyment.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    Dear Mr Charles Perera,

    Thank you for your response regarding monks learning Tamil. Re learning another language for purposes of communication, isn’t it better for monks to learn some English rather than Tamil ? More and more people learning the Tamil language in Sri Lanka will lead to increased “Tamilisation” of Sri Lanka with its attendant problems of caste, etc. and other ideas not conducive to progress in general for the masses. What progressive ideas could be gleaned by learning Tamil ? It is not a language given to technical studies either.

    It would be better for monks to learn English and Science & Technology, rather than Tamil & Arts degree subjects such as Geography etc. Learning English would be a plus to learn Science & Technology, together with learning computer skills.

    We are not against the use of the Tamil language in general terms of communication. However, it would be wiser for the Tamil people of Sri Lanka to learn more Sinhala & English in order to communicate.

  9. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Perera cry for Buddhism. That is a fun. This guy is unable to giveup his nasty PORTUGEUSE name to a Sinhala Name but this Christian monkey cry to change the uddhist practices of thousands of years.

    Charles Perera:
    Do you know the goal of the souls in Hinduism? The same thing in the Buddhism! You cry to destroy Buddhism step by step! You people are PARANGI Buddhists. If you dont like Buddhism, go and bend to Nazi POPE!

  10. jimmy Says:

    Great article Charles Thank you . I am not a Budhist I respect good things from every religion
    I salute you for your suggestion for monks to learn tamil . Absolutley a good idea
    Tamils should learn sinhala also
    Great article from below
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/sinhala/news/story/2011/05/110508_buddhist_monks_tamil.shtml

    Fran
    not sure why you say Monks do not need to learn Tamil. Why not ?????
    It will help unity doesn’t it??
    not sure why sometimes good learned people are against good ideas?
    I hear people are learing mandarin in Lanka why not learn sinhala and Tamil ?
    It should have happened years and years and years ago ( My great grand parents time)
    We are in the mess because of the previous generation

    we should never ever make mistake

  11. Charles Says:

    It is true that the Language of the Majority should be studied by all those of minority communities, which is essential for the unity of the people as a Nation. In France , UK, Spain and Italy the minority communities learn the language of the Majority without causing any problem to those governments therefore it should be the case in Sri Lanka as well.

    But since the end of terrorism we have to reconcile with the minority communities and make the Buddhist Temples and Priests present in the Tamil Areas in the North and East along with Sinhala people settling in the areas a Buddhist Monk who could converse with the Tamil population may even be the catalyst fo them to learn Sinhala.

  12. jimmy Says:

    With all respect Charles
    Tamil Kids should learn Sinhala and Sinhala Kids should learn Tamil If they can learn urdu or malay go for it
    Srilanka is for all community Muslims, bergers, Malays Chetiyars, Indian Tamils, Tamils and Sinhalese

    NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO TALK NONSENSE.

    We all should get along . We can not make mistakes

  13. douglas Says:

    It is very opportune to discuss this subject when Sri Lanka is cleleberating the 2600th “Buddhathwa Jyanthi” with the popular theme of “Prathipathian Pelagehamu”. So, please discuss it in that spirit. Last week there was a similar article by Dr. Wimalawansa and I too tried to contribute some ideas, but met with stiff resistance who even branded me as a “Cult” member. I did not mind it, because those remarks are not my cup of tea.

    However, I was only trying to say how some of these rituals originated in Hindusm and slowly found their way into Buddhist practices. This was well explained in some of the lectures given in 1800 by Swami Vevekanand, some of which were published in 1972. In his approach (from a point of view of Vedantha philosophy) he discribes how all these types of rituals could be made use of to lead the people towards a higher state. This is what Mr. Charles Perera too, trys to say. (Never mind his name “Charles”) It is better to learn something good from whatever existing and presented. It is also the duty and a great task that should be undertaken by the Monks.

    If people who are practicing these rituals are to be guided properly, it is the responsibility of the Monks and the well informed knowledgeable people to watch out and direct them in the proper path so that they will not commit to practice “Seelabbatha Paramasa”, which I believe is the greatest hinderance to practice Buddha Dhamma.

    I invite somone who can make a presentation on the subject of “Seelabbatha Paramasa” so that it would immensely benefit all of us.

    I is also relevant to point out another view expressed by Huxley in his book “Heaven and Hell” in relation to physiological effects of spiritual practices. He points out that spiritual practices such as “yogic breathing” and “Chanting” increased carbon-dioxide in blood: “fasting” decreased blood sugar: “flagellation” reduces histamines and adrenaline. Please remember this is purely a “physiological” analysis.

    However, we all know that some of these so caled “rituals” like “chanting pirith and listening to it in a meditative mental state; offering flowers and making Bodhi Poojas etc, make a person calm and collected and that in turn bring about wholesome physiological effects on the material body. It is from this state one could be guided to a higher state and make him or her understand what is meant by “Amisa Pooja” and “Prathipatti Poja”.

    I appreciate comments on my opinion. Please do not indulge in unwanted, unconnected insinuations that distract the attention of a discussion of this nature. I wish to learn something more and clear my understandings.

    In Metta.

  14. Nanda Says:

    Douglas,
    Vedanta was there even beore Buddhism, but Vedic theories are not the Hidu religion. Hindu religion was a modern religion than Buddhism because if you say Buddha’s day there were Hindus , then what ther were doing those days was not Ahimsa but killing animals and offering to Gods. Buddha stopped this nonsense and then the Hiduusm gradually eveolved to todays Hiduism.
    Budhhism on the other hand DID NOT CHANGE. It is Aniccha , Dukkha Ananthma and four nobel truths those days as well as now.
    The word “Nirvana” was much earlier than Budhha’s days. However it has a different meaning to Buddhist Nibbana.
    That is why Vivekananda’s ideas should not be mixed with Buddhist truth just using the words only.

  15. Fran Diaz Says:

    Jimmy: You & I both know that It is a pointless exercise for Buddhist Monks to learn Tamil. If Buddhism is what Tamil people wanted, by now Tamil Nadu would be at least a mostly Buddhist State ! You & I both know that Caste Issues rule Tamil Nadu. To escape low caste issues, only a few Tamil people have turned to Buddhism in Tamil Nadu. A Tamil Nadu person known to us said “only low castes are Buddhists !”. So, I ask you, why on earth a Tamil person would turn to Buddhism when it appears to advertise his low caste beginnings, at least in Tamil Nadu. Unless there is an absolutely committed, truly learned and charismatic Buddhist person to lead the whole of India to Buddhism, Indian identity lies with Hinduism. The aim of the low caste Indian (including Tamils) is to be seen as ‘equal’ with higher caste Hindu people. Please read the book “Untouchables” by Dr Narendra Jadhav, an Indian Dalit who escapes his low caste birth through education. Today Dr Jadhav is the Director of the Reserve Bank of India. His father, in his old age, followed Dr Ambedkar, a charismatic & renowned Indian of Dalit origin, who became a Buddhist through understanding the self empowering nature and truth in Buddhism, and at that time converted a large number of low caste status Indians to Buddhism. The Indian government rewarded such conversions through special privileges. In spite of these moves, to be accepted by higher caste Hindus as equals remains the main aim of low caste people of India.

    But, Dr Ambedkar’s time has passed and unless another charismatic & highly educated Indian comes forward as a Buddhist to teach Buddhism, not many in India will follow the Teachings of the Buddha. Hinduism is the main religion in India and will remain so.

    Buddhism is the main religion in Sri Lanka and will remain so. But, unless there is an exceptionally charismatic Buddhist monk who may convey a feeling of love & caring to Tamil people, Tamil people will remain Hindus with some becoming Catholic/Christian. Buddhism in Lanka will be for people who are born to a Buddhist family, or for a person who is an exceptional seeker of Truth/God, or converts for some other gain. At least, this is my view in the matter.

    In Sri Lanka, we think it is better for Buddhist Monks to learn some English along with Science & Technology. Tamil people in Sri Lanka should do the same along with learning at least some spoken Sinhala. They can then communicate through the English or Sinhala languages, on Buddhist matters as well as on other topics. That would be real progress. Besides, Sinhala & Tamil are not world languages. English is. The idea here is to COMMUNICATE with another person.

    Importance of language is in accurate communication. The world is moving toward the English language as that is the world language of the Computer & Commerce. Knowing how to use the Computer (by knowing English), opens up the world of knowledge to us all. Learning Science & Technology is far better than learning any foreign languages, other than English. Even the Chinese learn English as do Tamils of Tamil Nadu. Therefore, learning other languages is a waste of time when that time can be better spent.

    Also, you yourself is a Christian and not a Buddhist. Mudali, another Tamil person, is a staunch Hindu and not a Buddhist. Neither of you have become Buddhists. But both of you communicate with the Sinhala people through the English language. English language is the common ground here. In Sri Lanka, almost all the minorities here opt for education in English wherever possible.

    Also, we all know the benefits of a Science education. I do not need to expand on that.

  16. Fran Diaz Says:

    P.S.: We suggest that spoken Tamil could be learnt by Buddhist monks living in mostly Tamil areas.

  17. Charles Says:

    Douglas

    In ancient India at the time of the Buddha, there were 62 philosophies. Vedic teachings brought with it the rites and rituals. Hinduism was a departure from the Veda, retaining the rites such as animal sacrifice. Later on a school of philosophy of Wise sages propagated the idea that animal sacrifice and rituals to gods will not serve the purpose of coming into communion with the Brahman . For that they philosophised one has to purify the mind and reach Divinities through mental development

    They began concentration of the mind using an object which they called Kasina or by the repeated chanting of a manthra.. They developped this methods of purification of the mind to attain a deep concentration called dyana. They further developed this process of purification in eight stages. At the final stages of these dyana attainments, the yogis were able to enter into mental conversation with higher minds, which they thought were the divinities. A mind purified in to the eight Dyana had considerable power.

    Swami Ramakrishna, and Swami Vivekananda were some of the Hindu sages who developped dyana, without following rites of purification and animal sacrifice. They were végétariens devoted to their selected path of communion with God.

    The Buddha on the other hand as the Ascetic Siddhharha first studied meditatrion under two great Hindu philosophers at the time. First with Alara Kalama he learnt to attain to the first seven Dyanas, then going from him to Uddaka Rama Putta he learnt to attain to the final stage of the higher Dyana. But the Buddha found attaining Dyana is keep the mind in deep silence without uing its purity to investigate the life and the reason for inherent suffering in existence.

    Therefore the Buddha sought a means to use the mind purified in Dyana, to understand the reality of existence in Samsara. He after a long search meditated attaining the Dyanas and decending from them to investigat e the causes of suffering and the no-self nature of a being. He in that effort reached enlightement of perfect knowledge.

    Then he had to declare his attainment to some one who would understand the great « truth ». It was then that he thought of his Hindu Sages who were his first two teachers and thought they would understand his « discovered truth », but then he found that they were both dead .

    The Buddha according to his enlightened realisations showed the middle path to end suffering and find a state of non-suffering- the Nibbana. To attain this there are no rites and rituals, no animal sacrifices, no bathing in rivers, no causing physical suffering, chanting of prayers , or smashing of coconuts. But you have to follow a moral code to prepare for meditation without any guilt of unwholesome living to avoid hindrances from arising, and to concentrate and attain Jhana( dyana) and then to Dhamma investigation in insight meditation( vipassan).

    The first stage of purity on the path to Nibbana is to attain first the «  Stream entry », secondly to become a once returner, thirdly a no-returner and from there to attain to be an Arahath who is one who has attained Nibbana.

    To attain this path stage by stage one has to overcome what are called fetters(samyojana). The fetters are those hurdles one has to jump over to reach a higher stage of purity, from the one in which he is at present.

    Of the ten fetters the following three have to be completely overcome to reach the next .The first three fetters are: 1.personality belief (sakkaya ditthi), 2. Sceptical doubt (vicikiccha), 3. Clinging to rites and rituals
    ( silabbata paramasa)

    One who completely overcomes these three fetters, becomes a Stream Entrant (sothapann), r…….

    This is the shortest answer I could provide on Silabbatha paramasa.. If you would like to know more please contact me through Lankaweb.

  18. jimmy Says:

    Fran
    I should say SInhala kids should learn tamil and tamil kids should learn sinhalese
    it is nothing wrong learning each others languages

    May be not necessary for Monks to learn tamil then

  19. M.S.MUdali Says:

    Fran:
    Sinhalese and Tamils can exist without English in Sri Lanka. But you cry to learn English to separate the Buddhists and Hindus. After the rule of Englsih only this Sinhala-Tamil politics erupted in our society.

    I dont need English to communicate with my Sinhala relatives and neighbours. I speak in Sinhala and they speak in Tamil. Problem solved. But you are a Catholic cry that ENGLISH to be learned and show your stupidity. You like to continue the British era DIVIDE and RULE policy.

    That is why your Catholic Church support LTTE in the North and Sinhala Catholics bark at Tamil Hindus only!

  20. Fran Diaz Says:

    Tamil language is quite safe in Tamil Nadu as there are some 60 Million Tamils there and a few million in the rest of the world. It is the Sinhala language that needs some attention as it spoken only in Sri Lanka, which is just a small island.

    English is spoken all over the world and when it comes to jobs, ‘kids’ with English get the jobs – so good jobs get reserved for Catholic/Christians where the religion & the English language go hand in hand !
    We think some spoken Sinhala & Tamil is enough for ‘kids’ to communicate.
    It was never necessary for Buddhist monks to learn Tamil in depth as only a few Tamils will ever come to Buddhism. But it may be useful for them to have spoken Tamil in Tamil predominant areas for the purpose of communication with the general public.

    Mudali: You are wrong you are in your assessments – I am not a Catholic !. You are too hung up on names and genetics and go into ‘attack & destroy’ mode too easily. No need to worry about Hinduism – your religion is quite safe in India.
    If Hindu folk want to be left behind without English, go ahead. I am fairly certain that the Sinhala people would certainly like English as a strong second language.

    Look for solutions.

  21. jimmy Says:

    well I could agree Frank
    may be spoken sinhala and tamil could be taught in schools no need of grammer or written

  22. jimmy Says:

    sorry for the misspelling
    it was meant to Fran

  23. douglas Says:

    Nanda – Thank you for the reply. Please read and I suppose you would have already read what Charles said in reply to my submissions. That explanation is self esplanatory and I do not wish to deal with it any more. You will see what Vedanta try to to say and who Vivekananda was. I never wanted to mix Vivekananda with Buddhsm and I know they are aprat. I only tried to see his point of view in regard to “rituals” and how he tried to go a different way than that of Hindusm

    Charles – Thank you for the explanotary note in reply to my submission. You certainly gave an insight to what Buddha tried to provide the man to attain freedom from sffering. In an ideal of life of Arahatship HE pronounced the three stages of “Sothapanna” “Sakodagamin” “Anagamin” which lead to “Arahatship”. A man who wish to attain that state has to burst the ten fetters and he becomes an “Arahath”.

    It is not certainly an easy task, but it is a possibility. So let the Monks and other Scholars lead people step by step (even beginning with rituals) to that higher state.

    Thank you both again.

  24. Nanda Says:

    douglas,
    I read what charles said but I cannot agree to everything. The idea is there.
    I clallenge him( and you) to show me any Buddhist script which says “there was a religion called Hinduism”.
    There was Nighantas and there were many teachers based on Vedic tradition but there WAS NO HINDUISM. Main religion was Brhaminism , which has now evolved to be Hiduism. Nighantas pracitced Ahimsa to extrime but were naked. Even their religion later borrowed Buddhist ideas and became Jainism today. Bhraminism gradually evelved to become Hindiusm.

  25. KingSasanka Says:

    If I am not mistaken, (the last) Mahaveer was born much earlier but similarities are there in both doctrines.

    And I do not think that this was a case of one borrowed (plagiarized in modern term) from another but expounding the universal truth at two different times.

  26. Charles Says:

    Nanda,

    Yes one may not accept everything or anything another writes. That is normal. There is nothing called Buddhism as well. It is the teachings of the Buddha that is called Buddhism. You have already answered the question you have challenged me on in your comment itself. The Buddha does not speak of Hinduism but speaks of Brahmins. So as you have mentioned it could be argued that it was the philosophy of the Brahmins that came to be called Hinduism. But in the internet there is whole lot of Articles on Hinduism- See Wikipedia on Hinduism for instance.

  27. douglas Says:

    Nanda – You are correct. Hunduism spread with the decline of Buddhism in India. What I meant to say was that during these latter days some of the rituals creapt into Buddhist practices. I am sorry for not being clear on that point. However, the subject under discussion was “rituals” in Buddhist way of practicing a religion.

    You are also correct in saying that Brahmin was the religious tradition that existed before Buddhism. Infact Buddha originated in Brahamin clan. The bible of Brahamin “Rig Veda” explains how the four basic divisions of humanity sprang from parts of “Brahma”- the GOD Spirit. “HIS mouth became the Brahmin. HIS arms became the “Kshatriya”. HIS thighs are the “Vaisya”. HIS feet became the “Sudra”. The Brahmins were the “divine”. Kshatriya the worriors, Vaisyas the merchants and Sudras the labourers and Chandalas.

    Buddha born a Kshstriya was the only worrior who revolted against this Brahaminism and gave sanity and salvation to this class systemof the humanity. HE was the first to say that individuals were higher or lower, not according to their birth, but according to their character.

    Above, I said outside the main topic under discussion and please bear with me for venturing into this history.

    Charles – Thank you. I will participate in a discussion as an when someone educate us on the subject “Seelabbatha Paramasa”.

  28. Dham Says:

    Douglas,
    All rituals are seelabbatha paramasa by definition, since if one believes he could eradicate suffering by practising rituals – that is never going to happen.
    In that sense, even wearing a robe (alone) will not lead you to end of suffering. But seela means discipline an it is the first key to start the process. Therefore even rituals that help in developing seela need not be considered as seelabbatha paramasa.

    If some one is doing bodhi puja to get cured of a disease is an entirely different thing and ( it is of cource seelabbtha paramasa) may be even out of Buddhism. But if one is doing it to create calmness in mind , followed by meditation that may help in achieving jahnas and then can go into the path of Buddhism through vipassana.
    Therefore , seelabbatha paramasa are very clear and should not be confused with Pansil,pirith etc but depend on the intention.

  29. Dham Says:

    Folks,
    One thing very clear is believing in a creator God , almighty or Brahman is pure ignorance and totally unBuddhist even if those words were used by wise men like Vivekananda , Ramakrishna , Ramana Marrshi or Sai Baba.
    There were wise man like that in Buddhas time as Charles said. But they were useless as they could not go beyond Jhanas.

  30. douglas Says:

    Dham – At the end – ‘LET FLOWERS BLOOM IN EVERY TREE’

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