‘Stop unethical conversions of Buddhists’
Posted on July 6th, 2012

By Janaka Perera

Senior Vice President, World Federation of Buddhists (WFB) Dr. Ananda W.P. Guruge has called for a mass campaign to prevent unethical conversions of Buddhists in Sri Lanka.

He made this appeal when he delivered the keynote address at the ceremonial launch of the English edition of the report on “ƒ”¹…”Unethical Conversion of Buddhists’ at the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress hall, Colombo on Monday, June 2.  ACBC President Jagath Sumathipala presented the English edition to Dr. Guruge who assured that he would draw the attention of the World Buddhist community to unethical conversions in Sri Lanka.

The report is the result of a commission which the ACBC President appointed in 2006 at the historic Mihintale sacred site, with retired Supreme Court Judge Sarath Gunatilleke as its Chairman.  The Commission first issued its report in Sinhala in 2009 after touring the country for almost four years collecting evidence from the Buddhist clergy and the laity on unethical conversions. A total of 348 witnesses had given evidence before the commission.

The report contains important evidence on devious and unethical means used for converting Sri Lankan Buddhists into other religions, identifies the organizations behind it and various other threats facing Buddhists within the country.

Having been associated with the Buddhist Committee of Inquiry of 1956, Dr. Guruge observed he could see Buddhists continued to face today virtually the same problems which are yet to be solved. No proper steps had been taken to deal with them for the past 60 years.  This according to him is the very reason for the current crisis.   Now as then the biggest problem was the flow of unlimited foreign funds to evangelists and proselytizers who were using the money for converting the poor and to mislead the young.

Dr. Guruge recalled how in the past some non-Buddhists gave Christmas presents to children from both Christian and Buddhist families.  The boxes which Christian children received contained presents whereas the ones which the Buddhists received were empty. The latter were told that if they continued to be Buddhists there would be no presents for them.

“I witnessed this and felt very sad. Such crafty methods are still be used for alienating the young from Buddhism, according to him. Some tricks are so subtle that it is very difficult to identify them.”

Dr. Guruge called such dubious means to convert others a great crime. He stressed the need for state intervention in this matter and emphasized the importance of eliminating poverty among Buddhists to stem the tide of unethical conversions.

Ven. Thirikunamale Ananda, Anunayake of the Amarapura Dharmarakshitha Sect and Chief Incumbent of the Vajiraramaya, Bambalapitiya, drew attention to so-called Buddhists trying to distort the essence of Buddha Dhamma.

He expressed regret that despite many written recommendations made at different times for arresting the decline the Buddha Sasana is facing in Sri Lanka those in authority had taken no action.  The Ven. Ananda urged that immediate steps be taken at least now to implement the recommendations made in the report.  He said that enemies of the Buddha Sasana were both outside and within the Buddhist community.  This is a very serious situation, according to him.

He also referred to the destruction and vandalizing of archaeological sites which symbolize the country’s Buddhist heritage.  The Ven. Ananda noted certain non-Buddhist religious fundamentalists, in order to undermine the country’s Buddhist foundation, had even served the separatist agenda during the 30-year anti-terrorist war.  He said the need of the hour was the unity of all Buddhist organizations since only such a step would help to overcome the challenges Buddhists are facing today.

The Venerable Professor Induragarey Dhammarathana of the Sanskrit Studies faculty of the Kelaniya University delivered a special sermon on this occasion.

ACBC President Jagath Sumathipala delivered the welcome address.  Other speakers were retired Supreme Court Judge Sarath Gunatilleke, Dr. H.B. Jayasinghe and Dr. Hema Goonatilake.

12 Responses to “‘Stop unethical conversions of Buddhists’”

  1. herman Says:

    Devious and unethical conversions will have no bearings if Buddhists in Sri Lanka are better “equipped”. Most Parents of today are not well versed in the Teachings and are only namesake Buddhist, so how about the children? Parents and Buddhist monks must take immediate steps to evaluate and make good this malice before its too late and stop blaming others!

  2. AnuD Says:

    Janake Perera:

    Christianity is a business and it cannot survive without converting.

    Yet, understand how Lord buddha converted people at the beginning of his time. During the 45 years of buddha time, there were some 60 odd other religions, philosophies or doctrines. Out of that, Jainism was the worst. Yet, buddha converted so many. Buddha did not even allow Sanghato use magics. Buddha believed in the basic method.

    Buddha stopped converting ONLY at the end, because most of the jain leaders came to a stage that they would starve without foods. That is why buddha stopped converting and any one wanted to be disciples was asked to go and agree with his master.

    SO, Why I buddhist monks can not go to BASICS. Some monks, are not in the vilages and they are in forests. We can not expect anything from them.

    but, think about the ones living in villges and living in temples. They are more concentrated expanding the temple and not reaching to other people.

    In BRIEF, Buddha converted very HOSTILE India filled with HINDUS and buddhism was well accepted by the time buddha achieved Parinirvana. Why, the buddhist monks can not do the same now ?

    They are focused on material gains. expanding the temple. Some monks engaginge in politics do an excelent job and their service is required. But,there are so many who are engaged in things that monks should not do.

    If monks reach to muslims, christians and HIndus as buddha did at the beginning as ad buddha ahd asked to monks to we can achieve the same.

    I know even when monks come here, they are not interested in reaching to non-buddhsts. Instead, they want a temple and to expand the temple. There is high desire for buddhism here. But,monks are not interested.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Why can’t the govt stop this madness?

    How long they are dragging their feet on this?

    Ban ALL foreign funded religious activities in the island. Problem solved.

  4. Dham Says:

    AnuD,
    Buddha did not convert a single person. From where you learned these nonsense ?
    If you do not know keep quiet, because it is very dangerous ( to you).

    Take the very 1st one. the Buddha was on his way from Bodh Gaya to Varanasi when he met an ascetic who was impressed by his radiant appearance. The ascetic said, “What is it that you have discovered?” and the Buddha responded: “I am the perfectly enlightened one, the Arahant, the Buddha.”
    This ascetic thought this man should be trying too hard and mad to say that and walked away.

    You talk about Jains. Jain leader sent his best lay follower to convert Budhha. But he lost in argument and understood Buddha was right and asked to make him a monk. Buddha refuced saying that you must not stop giving dana to your ex-teacher just because you understood this and asked him to come 3 months later.

    People came to Buddha all the time. He only visits places and when people ask questions he answers. If he found some one with capability, ofcourse he visits him and give them the opportunity.

    People come to Buddhism. Buddhist will not convert others. It is the same now and should remain the same.

    But as Lorenzo says it is the Governement should stop this nonsence.

  5. sena Says:

    History says Buddhist priests in India were so distant from day to day life of the people and when invaders came there was not much enthusiasm among people to protect the religion. Similar situation exist in present day Sri Lanka where priests have not much interests in social services and making the society righteous. Most panders to power and remain silent in face of misdeeds. Many temples have considerable amount of disposable wealth (may not be as much as the church) and have the potential for raising funds outside the country if they are interested in social work as much as the church. But very few Buddhist priests are active in social welfare which is unfortunate considering the widespread need including under nutrition. Situation has become worse under the present government due to widening gap between rich and poor (despite Mahinda chnitanaya) and the gap may widen as much as in India. Like Buddha said in Kalamer Sutte, no one should force anyone to believe in anything. If the common person does not see a reason to stay with his/her belief system, the problem may lies elsewhere

  6. AnuD Says:

    Just how did Lord buddha begin spreading his DOctrine in a very hostile world where JAINISTS and Hindus were opposing ?

    Lord Buddha Told Sangha to walk in different directions for the benefit of the world.

    Does that happen in Sri Lanka ?

    WE promote DANNA (giving). Instead our buddhist leaders stay in the temple and expand the temple.

  7. AnuD Says:

    DHAM:

    [Buddha did not convert a single person. From where you learned these nonsense ? ]

    Conversion may not be the suitable word. You may be meaning fraudulent conversion which uses trick to convert.

    I mean how did Buddhism spread in a very hostile world where Jainism and other Brahminists were very hostile.

    Our Buddhist leaders stay in the temple and expand the temple. Others are simply CHEEVARADHARINs and they are no different from the civilians.

    Lord buddha did not use the country’s law to protect the Buddhism. Lord Buddha was very transparent and did not hide things.

    I also agree, that fraudulent conversion by many should stopped. they say people go on their own which is a lie. I know how it happens here and how they send missionary groups to different countries to convert people. Even here, they are very hostile to other religeons (not openly) and do not stop efforts to convert us. Because, it is a business for the pastor. He collects from REVENUE from the attendance. Sri Lanka, it should be different.

  8. AnuD Says:

    I think, if Sangha involves with the public more, not only radio, they can do it again. Sangha have to do that knowing what they do. If the individual does not have the self control and is not ware about what he is doing, they can not do. Buddhists are people who like to give. Do that in a way it becomes useful.
    helpful to the country too.

    Both major party leaders have connections to Mithya drushti. So, being politicians with very ambitious plans be the heads of the country, I don’t think that they are dead serious about Sinhala-buddhidts or the Sri Lankan Buddhist civilization.

    I heard, there is a “Maithri buddha” even in Toronto. He had been a former Soldier. It is good that they feel very attached to Buddhism. Spreading false views, whether it is their own initiation, or some one else pushed them into that, need to be found.

  9. Fran Diaz Says:

    Here is an opinion on the living Teacher/Master :
    When the Buddha was living, the people who came to hear him speak had a very profound experience that changed their lives forever. The FEELING was good – a sense of deep peace, fulfillment and contentment flooded their inner being. Those people liked this good feeling and they followed him around and became his disciples. There are many wonderful stories to support this fact.

    When Jesus christ was alive, it was similar.

    It is the living Teacher/Master that makes the difference. We cannot expect the present Buddhist monks of the present times to have that same charisma and power of the living Buddha or Jesus.

    To learn more about the nature of Life, please view the free videos at : http://www.wopg.org

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    I agree with Sena. It is definitely the social service aspects that are not emphasised in the Buddhist temples of Sri Lanka. Podi Hamuduruwo of Gangarama Temple is the exception and provided a new way of thinking. it would be wise for other temples to follow his example.

    To keep the Buddhist flock from ‘straying’ into other folds, it is essential that the flock be looked after by the Buddhist Temples. To this end, we suggest that the Temple lands be used to grow organic crops giving employment to the villagers in the surrounding areas. This would ensure that the land is used gainfully, whilst bringing an income to the Temples as well as to people. The Temples can also act as local Seed Banks, now becoming essential in Sri Lanka with encroachment of GM seeds from abroad a possibility. GM foods are proving to be a health hazard.

  11. ashokgourav Says:

    i thnk some ppl here don’t know anything about Jain religion. Read history then u will come to know that the most anicient religion is in this world is Jain religion. here were two culture were in existence since Sindu Ghati Civilization, these were Vedic & Shraman- Vedic- Hindu Shraman- Jain
    Jain king never looted anyone temple, other religion women as history proves but give me proof that in other religion ruling these things were not done. So dont tell anything about such a great Jain religion.

  12. Dham Says:

    AShok Gura,
    We know Jain religion is older than Hinduism and Buddhism.
    Was this “Jain” religion came from Nighanta Natha Putta ?
    Since you Indians know better please let me know.

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