Does Christianization necessarily entail a diminution of nationalism?
Posted on February 26th, 2013

R Chandrasoma

 This question is asked in the context of a problematic turn of events in our ancient and besieged Island – an island that has courageously fought off over the centuries repeated attempts to oust its indigenous religio-cultural belief-systems and ideology. That the battle is not over yet is proven by the fact that Christianity is a growing presence in our country and that the intellectual leaders of Sri Lanka are largely Christian. This seminal shift has occurred not through conquest but as a natural consequence of the Buddhist majority slipping again into the unfortunate position of the ‘untutored native’ of yesteryear.

While the Christian convert necessarily interacts with the greater world outside, our unfortunate Buddhist compatriots wallow once again in ancient and muddy waters with no hope of relief. Let us make it clear that it is not the sublime tenets of our ancient faith that is questioned – it is its reduction to a bleak ritual by a priesthood that is gloriously insensitive to the march of history and, in consequence, living vicariously in the past. We have a priesthood that has lost all concept of rational discourse and sees conformity to a set ritual as the be-all and end-all of a great religion that arose long centuries ago by a questioning of the ruling orthodoxy of the day. This questing spirit is gone and has been replaced by rote and rule delivered with a monkish hauteur that kills the very spirit of their professed faith.

This brings us to the sensitive issue of conversion – of Christianization. In the colonial period that we have left far behind, proselytism was the norm – where the power and influence of a governing elite made life difficult fot native believers in the traditional faith. Recognition and reward were reserved for the proselytes and a natural consequence was that the governing class was largely Christian. It might appear to some this is merely historical and has no relevance to the religious ‘problems’ of our age. This is a huge mistake. Is it not true that (nearly) all our Presidents and Prime Ministers practiced an “ƒ”¹…”ersatz religion’ that had Buddhism as a public escutcheon of religiosity but little more.

The great Buddhist Kings of the past reformed the Sangha as first step in the enhancement of public faith. Today a ridiculous game is in progress in which an insincere King fiddles to a Sangha that has lost its way. In such a setting is it a surprise that Christianity is once a gain gaining ground?

A Christian websites boast of a growth of the Christian flock in Sri Lanka by about 11% per year. This is surely an exaggeration but lets halve this figure “”…” a 5% per year has truly ominous implications for the long-term survival of our native religion. Here are some hard facts. Inter-religious marriages are now common among the educated and well-heeled in our country. A striking feature of such marriages is that the next generation is infallibly Christian. It is like a dominant gene spreading through a population. There is an additional factor at work “”…” the more “ƒ”¹…”westernized’ and educated a native becomes, the weaker the hold of Buddhism. This is directly related to the “ƒ”¹…”native expression’ of a religion that has sublimity and high spirituality but nowhere expressed in the praxis of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

The Sangha in our country has no great claims to learning “”…” nor is its behaviour exemplary. This statement will surely cause great offence to the devout but is bitter truth that must be swallowed if we are to stave off that dangerous alienation of the educated English-speaking elite referred to above. Unfortunately the Buddhists of Sri Lanka thrive on myth “”…” the chief of which is that “ƒ”¹…”Buddhism is spreading in the West’. It is certainly true that Buddhism has attractions for the scholarly in the advanced nations of the West. But the adherents of this pristine Buddhism would regard our monkish rituals as a betrayal of the religion that originated in India in Asokan times. Whatever the truth on this matter, the disenchantment of our own kin is seen in marital practices where it is the deed, not he word that signifies true affiliation.

There is a real danger that Buddhism will become a “ƒ”¹…”forest religion’ as in South Korea if current trends continue. In Thailand the temples are opulent and the priests polished and scented. Both counties show how a debased sacerdotalism can masquerade as the religion of the Buddha with great impunity,

20 Responses to “Does Christianization necessarily entail a diminution of nationalism?”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “Does Christianization necessarily entail a diminution of nationalism?”

    NO.

    “Does Christianization generally entail a diminution of nationalism?”

    YES.

    SL MUST remain a Sinhala Buddhist country where people of other faiths also live peacefully.

  2. Nanda Says:

    Another enemy of Buddhism, thinking he is the best in English coming out regularly with his jarGON helping the modern day DEVADATTA , recently awaken Ben Silva.
    Where are the so called Buddhist Sunil Ayya, Fran Diaz etc. ect ?

  3. Ben Silva Says:

    Buddhism is an excellent philosophy, with excellent things such as precepts, mindfulness and meditation. It is also part of our heritage and Buddhism need to be safeguarded. However, unproven, ancient Indian myths have got mixed up with Buddhism. If we follow Buddhism as followed by countries in the silk route, we will be backward and would be an easy target for invaders. However, if we practice Japanese Buddhism, which they merely use for rituals and ceremonies, then we could compete effectively and we would win. Our version of Buddhism encourage giving up desires and seeking Nirvana. If we give up desires and do not compete in a HIGHLY COMPETITIVE WORLD, THEN WE WILL END UP AS a third rate group with no power, or money or even no assets. Traditional Buddhism will brainwash us into a passive, lethargic group that is incapable of competing for resources. On top of that we have people like Shelton Gunaratna, who appear to be blinded by the religion mind virus, attempting to prove rebirth, by using meaningless words. There is no evidence, whatsoever of rebirth, Nirvana, sansare or Karma. If this is the case why do we want to believe in these ancient Indian myths, rejected bu even Indians and dig ourselves a grave and voluntarily go for extinction (Nirvana). When in reality we should aim for self preservation and work towards beating competitors. Japs have fine tuned winning and desires and we should follow them and not persons such as Shelton. Persons such as Shelton has never given us guidance on survival but write things promoting extinction.

  4. Voice123 Says:

    ““Does Christianization generally entail a diminution of nationalism?”
    YES.”
    – only when people fall for the American style televangelism, which has more to do with money making than true Christianity. People are promised miraculous riches and told to mindlessly preach to thers. Unfortunately some Koreans seem to have fallen for this. I doubt that it is a permanent trend though. Many traditional SL Christians are very patriotic and passionate about Sri Lanka. (Just look at the post above this one). From my observation in the West, some SL Buddhists tend to passively agree with everything westerner tells them.

  5. aloy Says:

    “Inter-religious marriages are now common among the educated and well-heeled in our country. A striking feature of such marriages is that the next generation is infallibly Christian.”
    This is not true.
    Perhaps what is happening in Colombo is the down throdden people dropping caste baggage through the conversion.

  6. Voice123 Says:

    ““Inter-religious marriages are now common among the educated and well-heeled in our country. A striking feature of such marriages is that the next generation is infallibly Christian.”
    – not true at all. In my observation approximately 75 percent of the children of these marriages become Buddhist, 25 percent Christian. There is alot of peer pressure to be Buddhist. This is borne out by the official statistics. In the 1950s, Christians were 10 percent, today they are 6 percent. Some of this is due to emigration also.

  7. Ratanapala Says:

    “Inter-religious marriages are now common among the educated and well-heeled in our country. A striking feature of such marriages is that the next generation is infallibly Christian.” This is true in its entirety.

    In spite of denials above what usually happens in an inter- religious marriage that involves a Buddhist and Christian couple is that the offspring almost always end up being Christian. In fact they end up being virulently Anti Buddhist as usually the Buddhist partner end up having no say in the upbringing of the children. The marriage ceremony in most cases includes a Christian Church ceremony as well. At this ceremony the Christian priests see to it that the offspring are brought up in the Christian faith. I believe the newly married are made to sign certain contractual documents to this effect. Those who are in the know can vouch for this fact.

    Many a great Buddhist family has ended up being entirely Christian / Catholic along with their inheritance of many generations by the second generation of such union. As an added fad all new Christian children are given Buddhist names to hide their true identity. This happened after the Pope Paul VI ; he opened up the church for use of local customs and conducting Christian mass in the vernacular.

    The Aristotalian (linear) thinking Ben Silva of the Carlo Fonseka school of Buddhism has come out again with his theory of ” Mind Virus”. He certainly cannot fathom Chathuskotika or four valued logic found in Buddhism and now in modern Physics. The actual Mind Virus or the in fact the God Virus exist in the Judeo Christian and Islamic traditions where the follower has no freedom to think outside the dogma. The followers of these traditions suffer from the Stockholm Syndrome for they end up loving their tormentor – all Powerful God.

    This does not happen in Buddhism which has no dogma and which gives the followers the highest freedom. In Buddhism there are no commandments as one finds in the Judeo Christian / Islamic traditions. The followers are free to do what they like, of course subject to the forces of karma while they are told of consequences of bad Karma. It is volition or horizontal thinking that brings about Karma – Pure Action leaves no Karmic residue.

    So Ben Silva need not worry about the Sinhala Buddhists – as there are Buddhists who will go through all the hells in the Buddhist lexicon if need be to protect their religion, culture and the motherland. For a Buddhist it is not difficult to go through a military manoeuvre sans anger and hatred thus lessening the full force of Panathipatha – Just doing one’s duty! This is what happened to the LTTE and ended up their dream of their non existing Tamil land – Eelam at Nanthi Kadal lagoon in Muukalan Duwa. Our valiant Rana Viruwoes did a favour to those demented LTTE entities by putting them out of their racist Christian misery!

  8. Ben Silva Says:

    Ratnapala says not to worry about Sinhala Buddhists. Let us look at some facts and evidence. What happened to Nalanda Buddhists ? What happened to Buddhists in the silk route ? What happened to Buddhists in Maldives and Buddhist monks in Maldives ? What happened to Buddhism in India. What happened to Sinhala Buddhists in the North, East, hILL CONTRY. What happened to Sinhala Buddhists in Colombo. If Ratnapala tours the country with eyes open, he will see that Sinhala Buddhist areas being taken over by Muslims, Tamils and Christians. He is refusing to see the decline. The decline is inevitable, if the Buddhists give up desires and seek Nirvana as promoted by Buddhism. If any one gives up desires, that person will end up as a nobody. You need not be a scientist to understand this basic stuff. The only time giving up desires is useful is if you are old or sick and cannot do anything. If this is the case Buddhism is therapeutic. If we want Buddhism then, best to follow Japanese Buddhism, which does not have suicidal, crazy ideas. Just show tiny bit of proof on Nirvana, karma, rebirth and sansare and explain the mechanics. Allah, God and Nirvana are all myths created by man, with no evidence. I am Not a christian but a pure Buddhist, probably following Japanese thinking. I do not think Ratnapala is a Buddhist. He appears to be a follower of Indian myths like Shelton. At least follow Jayasooriya, who is a chartered Engineer.
    . Buddhism and those that follow Buddhism in Lanka is bound to fail, as it is not competitive enough and all the evidence shows it

  9. Ben Silva Says:

    Ratnapala says ‘Buddhists who will go through all the hells in the Buddhist lexicon if need be to protect their religion,’ Nice words, so what happened to Buddhists in the places I mentioned. Looks like they could not defend their religion, what ever Ratnapala says. The way Buddhists defended their religion shows that they did not have the skills,or aBILITY, due to their passive nature, to ‘ oRGANISE A PISS UP IN A BREWERY’ In the past it is our native wisdom that protected us. I do not think I will want to wast my time on people seriously affected by the religion mind virus and will not make further comments.

  10. lingamAndy Says:

    Ben Silva
    You are worrying too much about Bhuddist ! As I am Lankan Saiva Thamilan I can aggred with Ratnapala – there are Buddhists who will go through all the hells in the Buddhist lexicon if need be to protect their religion, culture and the motherland. , last 2500 years Bhuddisam suvived in motherlanka , last one our living experiance at Mullivakkal !
    In Srilanka Bhuddisam live for ever not because of Bhuddism it is (Sin)Hela Nation who prodect bhuddism for ever !!!
    realy specking We both community are fighting last 2000 years for our religien(faith) not for our language – but no one will accept this anyway !!!
    I am not againt Bhuddism or Saivam or any other faith but our problm is our faith (religien) not language !!!

  11. Senevirath Says:

    Sinhala buddhists are ready to fight for self defence but not to convert others or to destroy others. Very few wise buddhists only follow the pure dhamma AND GO ON MEDITATING . Others respect them because they too know that it is the only way to stop birth BUt THEY ARE NOT UP TO THE STANDARD OFa meditator. they will take more time to realise the PARAMA SATHYAYA. until such time these people will try to protect the buddhist lifestyle like DUTUGEMUNU DID.

    LIKEWISE THERE ARE GRAMAVAASI BHIKKUS AND ARANYAVAASI BHIKKUS DOING TWO “jobs””
    I AGGREE THAT SOME GRAMAVAASIS ARE NOT GOOD
    IF U DO VIPASSANA BHAVANA FOR A LONG TIME U WILL UNDERSTAND WHAT NIRVANA IS. U HAVE TO DEVELOPE “”manasa”” TO UNDERSTAND THIS A fish will never understand about walking on the earth.

    THE NAME SINHALA BUDDHIST IS MADE TO SHAW THAT THERE ARE SOME BUDDHISTS WHO CAN SACRIFICE THEIR LIVES TO CLEAR THE PARTH FOR OTHERS

    IF “””hela”” DO “”s i n”” LIKE lingam says i would like to say that we dont ” S I N ” by kissing linga.

  12. mjaya Says:

    Ben Silva’s motive is clear.

    Do whatever you can to discredit the history of the Sinhalese.

    The political face of the planet changes constantly. How many Christians live in the birth place of Christ today (i.e. the Middle East)? Very few, the Middle East is almost entirely Muslim.

    Had someone said that Christianity was a “weak religion incapable of defending itself” (Jesus Christ did say to offer your other cheek to someone who slaps you) then there would have had nothing worth defending. Had the Muslims had petrodollars back then, there would be plenty of people like Ben Silva preaching this anyway! The result, no crusades and the whole of Europe would have ended up Muslim. But we all know that it wasn’t the case.

    We all know how that Buddhism is the life blood of the Sinhalese people. We have seen throughout history Kings like Dutugemunu, Walgamba fighting to protect Buddhism. Buddhism by all means discourages violence but does not forbid self defense. We all know that the LTTE was defeated by a majority Sinhalese Buddhist military (no disrespect to the countless non-Buddhists who fought against the LTTE). Buddhist monks always give blessings to those who defend our country!

    These are some of the things Ben Silva’s highly selective memory doesn’t mention!

    If Ben Silva is so adamant about evidence, wonder if he has a DNA test to prove his father is indeed his father or any evidence that his father loved him!

    So people, lets get our priorities right. No one bothered about philosophical issues when fighting the LTTE. Now we have a priority to defeat Jihadis in Sri Lanka. We can debate and argue as much as we like once the job is done!

  13. mjaya Says:

    We should not be surprised at the sudden flurry of activity of characters like Ben Silva when Buddhists (and others) are rallying against Jihadis.

    During the LTTE days, remember how many people said that Buddhists should be non violent?

    Ben Silvas are the other side of the coin. Either side favors the enemy.

    The good thing is that nobody bothered much of both of them, so we defeated the LTTE with the blessings of Buddhism!

  14. Marco Says:

    I tend not to comment on Religious matters (especially in Sri Lanka as i see some dark clouds gathering). Religion is a personal matter and should be kept as such. However..
    Ratnapala in his comment says..
    “In spite of denials above what usually happens in an inter- religious marriage that involves a Buddhist and Christian couple is that the offspring almost always end up being Christian. In fact they end up being virulently Anti Buddhist as usually the Buddhist partner end up having no say in the upbringing of the children.”
    I assume Ratnapala has very much witnessed what he states.
    I’m a Christian married to a devout Buddhist. When we got married in Sri Lanka we had 3 ceremonies. The Civil, The Poruva and the Christian Blessing. Our Children until the age of 16 at that time (living in the UK) had no choice but to attend Church on Sundays, attend Buddhist Temple at Chiswick (old and new) and as a family the retreat at Amarawathie on more than 3 occasions and also the one at Los Angeles (i cannot remember the name)
    As a family unit we (my wife and I) give a our children the choice and admirably they have total respect for both religions.
    The six winter months we spend in Sri Lanka we are more than frequent visitors to Belanwilla temple and St Michaels, Polwatte as a family unit.

    I fear Sri Lanka is slowly revolving into another unwelcome conflict that it can ill afford and cannot win.

    My last comment on religion.. Sri Lanka does not own Buddhism.

    I fear

  15. lingamAndy Says:

    Marco
    My last comment on religion.. Sri Lanka does not own Buddhism. – agrred but Bhuddist think they own Mother lanka !!!
    We saivar also agrred with this disaggred with our Sinhela Bhussit say , Mother lanka own to you Bhussist & Thamil Eelam own to us Saiva Thamilar !!!

    but end of the day we both community know We fool ourself as we do not own any thing in this world We came here empty hand ( even We did not bring a peace of cloth to hide our private part of our body) & We go to grave yard empty hand !!!

    live & let live
    Anpe Aivam !!! love is God !!!

  16. RohanJay Says:

    Sri Lanka has a sizeable number of Christians including the likes of comm enters like Marco. Because Sri Lanka was successfully subjugated by three Christian Nations between 1506 to 1948. The Roman Catholic Portuguese and the Protestanism of Holland and England. The Christian rulers during this period in Sri Lanka ensured that a new nouveau elite class was created. However we have to remember the Christians are the power in the world. For 1,400 years the Vatican has dominated Europe. Europe has dominated the world. In reality there is a good case that the Pope is probably the most powerful man in the world. Honestly given the history are we really surprised that Sri Lankans are dominated by Western Christian values? Personally I don’t subscribe to Religion especially the 3 Abrahamic Religions. Somewhere deep in the Buddhist Scriptures I believe lies the REAL TRUTH for Humanity. However whether people are intelligent enough to understand those profound Buddhist Truths is entirely a different matter. To me Buddhism was never a religious Organisation. Despite its faults I am glad there are still Buddhist Countries like Sri Lanka people who are disillusioned with religion can run to in this world.

  17. Senevirath Says:

    ONLY VERY WISE PEOPLE QUESTION RELIGIOUS PHILOSOPHIES AND TRY TO FIND OUT THE TRUTH. OTHERS JUST FOLLOW THEIR PARENTS BLINDLY.

    CHRISTIANS IN OLDEN DAYS KILLED MILLIONS OF OTHER RELIGIONISTS. THANKS TO FREE THINKERS AND NOT TO OTHERS THEY HAD TO STOP KILLING BUT MUSLIMS FROM THE BEGINING OF THEIR RELIGION GOES ON KILLING OTHERS EVERY BODY KNOWS ABOUT THESE THINGS.

    SO HOW A WISE MAN CAN GO TO ALL THESE PLACES? WHY BERTRAND RUSSEL AND EINSTEIN PREFERED BUDDHISM THAN OTHER RELIGIONS? REASON IS THEY CAME TO KNOW THAT BUDDHISM IS MORE PHILOSOPHICAL THAN OTHER RELIGIONS WITH BLIND FAITH. THEY WERE WISE ENOUGH TO UNDERSTAND WHAT IS CORRECT AND WHAT IS WRONG

    WE HAVE TO USE THE BRAIN AND DEVELOPE THE MIND OR THE “”m a n a s a””” ONLY BUDDHISM ENCOURAGE THIS . READ KAALAMA SUTRA.
    IF OTHERS TRY TO DO THIS THEIR GODS WILL SEND THEM TO H E L L

    I CAN RESPECT OTHER RELIGIONISTS WHEATHER THEY ARE WISE OR NOT BUT I CANT RESPECT RELIGIONS WHICH ARE AGAINST MENTAL DEVELOPMENT OF THE MAN KIND

    TO FIND THE TRUTH WE HAVE TO QUESTION PHILOSOPHIES. IF ISLAMISTS GO ON KILLING PEOPLE WHO QUESTION ISLAM I WILLNEVER RESPECT THAT RELIGION OR THEM. I AM SURE MARCO WILL NOT LIKE TO SEND HIS CHILDREN TO A MOSQUE IF HE LOVES THEM.

    I GO TO POLONNARUWA AND SEE SHIVA DEVALAYA -“”()-PENIS ERECTUS—-“”) BUT IDONT WORSHIP .

    THANKS TO SCIENTISTS AND FREE THINKERS WHO WENT AGAINST DICTATOR GODS , CHRISTIANS HAD TO CHANGE THEIR BARBARIC WAYS. BUT THE WORLD IS SO UNFORTUNATE THEY COULDNOT STILL CHANGE MUSLIM BARBARISM

  18. Senevirath Says:

    I F SRI LANKAN CHRISTANS GO THROUGH THE HISTORY THEY WILL UNDERSTAND HOW THEY BECAME CHRISTIANS AND WISE CHRISTIANS WILL BE ASHAMED OF THOSE BARBERIC CONVERSIONS.
    HOWEVER THEY LIKE TO HIDE EVERYTHING UNDER “”sarva aagamika ___etc multi religious multi culture ETC

    who can compare DUTUGEMUNU WHO DEFEATED ELARA THE INVADER BUT RESPECTED ELARA AS A .. HUMAN BEING EVEN AFTER HIS DEATH WITH MUSLIM WARRIORS WHO DESTROYED ALL THE OTHER
    CULTURES AND RELIGIONISTS .

    BUDDHIST KNOW WHEN AND WHERE TO FIGHT AND WHEN TO FORGIVE. YES IN ONE WAY WE OWN BUDDHISM . OR ATLEAST WE PROTECT BUDDHIST LIFESTYLE .
    SOMETIMES WE POSTPONE NIRVANA TEMPORARILY FOR THE BENIFIT OF OTHERS

  19. Senevirath Says:

    M ARCO I ALWAYS DISCUSS AND ARGUE WITH MY CHILDARENABOUT RELIGIONS I CRITICIZE
    EVEN BUDDHIST OLD COMENATORS LIKE VEN.. BUDDHAGOSHA SOME TIMES I AVOID GOING TO SOME TEMPLES BECAUSE THEY ARE MORE LIKE KOVILS. I SHOW THEM THE DEFFERENCE BETWEEN ARANYA AND GRAMAVAASI BHIKKUS. I DONT WANT STUPID CHILDREN

  20. Ratanapala Says:

    I believe what Marco says is truth with respect to his family. I thank for his forthrightness as well as for being broad minded in bringing up his children.

    The unfortunate thing is that majority of Buddhist are neither devout nor are proud of their heritage. Some think getting married in to a Christian family as advancement in their social status. In a mixed religious marriage the dominant partner with respect to religion usually the mother if she too is of the virulent kind ensures that virulent behavior is passed on. Anti Buddhist kind sees to it that the offspring are not given any grounding in the partner’s Buddhist religion. Often the children are made to fear to even enter a temple. Some Christian fathers too under threat of not excommunication from the church sees to it or bring enough pressure on the wife to see that children are brought up in the Christian faith. Some Buddhist spouses who are not firmly grounded on the tenets of Buddhism even change their religion after marriage.

    The fault lies mainly in the Buddhist tradition that it has no part to play in the marriage ceremony. However the Christian priest enters the marriage ceremony sometimes quite unknown and sometimes to the bewilderment of the Buddhist party and registers the marriage in the Church too. This I believe entails bringing the offspring in the Christian faith and subsequent baptism in the church. The bonus benefits to getting good schools as well as a lifetime of good Christian ‘connections’ and net working opportunities are offered to the unwary.

    On the other hand if the children are afforded an opportunity to appreciate both religions and their tenets then there is no conflict. When one religion quite literally does not afford the opportunity to see any good in the other the road ahead becomes a one way road to extremism. Children should be afforded this opportunity especially in a mixed religious marriage to see the good in all religions where good actually exists – for there is downright wickedness in some religions too. eg death to infidels!

    Usually for the Buddhist partner in an unequal relationship with respect to religion as he or she has no safety net on the side of the Buddhist establishment. This is unfortunate in a country where it is written into the country’s constitution that the state will take an active role to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana :

    Chapter II, Article 9: The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    The Chapter II, article 9 remains a dead as it is given the least importance by successive governments as always the Buddhists in Sri Lanka are taken for granted and the Buddhist establishment in Sri Lanka remains silent, weak and a non performing establishment for all purposes and intents.

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