TISSA JAYATILLEKE’S ‘WESAK THOUGHTS’
Posted on June 13th, 2013

By Sugath Samarasinghe

This is in reference to the article by Tissa Jayatileke in the Mid-Week Review of 26/5, on his “ƒ”¹…”Weak Thoughts’. Tissa had had stated there- in that the Government should emulate the “ƒ”¹…”Dutugemunu  Model’ as given in the Mahavansa in respecting one’s foes as recommended by Somapala Gunadheera and condemns the Victory Day celebrations by the government. He also quotes copiously the Buddhist Scriptures to re-educate the government and particularly the “ƒ”¹…”wayward’ Sinhala Buddhists on how to handle the post-“ƒ”¹…”war’ peace making delicately.    

The parallel of king Dutu Gemunu honoured king Elara and the applicability of the restrained way he is reported to have celebrated his victory to today’s situation, remains a moot point. It will take a lot of space to discuss the pros and cons of this view, yet there is little prospect of arriving at an agreement. Hence, it may be an exercise in vain. But what is interesting is that right through this eelam “ƒ”¹…”war, there was a set of people who tried hard to discourage the government and the people of the South from seeking a military option, saying that this was an unwinnable “ƒ”¹…”war’ and explaining the futility of war. They also alleged that the Mahavansa mindset of the Sinhala Buddhists of their “ƒ”¹…”racial superiority’ was the bane of this conflict. They said that the Sinhala Buddhists were brain washed by what they called the “ƒ”¹…”Mahavansa Syndrome’, a mythical chronicle’ that deluded SBs to think that they were the sole owners to this land and that, this notion and the Buddhist Monks were the main obstacle to peace etc. etc.

 They also discouraged the people from joining the Armed Forces and succeeded in reducing the numbers seeking to join the Services and the Police to a trickle. As a result, Gen. Anuruddha Ratwatte was unable to hold the real estate that the forces had wrested from the LTTE. The situation was so bad that he had to deploy the police in a special operation, to arrest the Military deserters, in order to put them back to the battle front, in spite of which he failed to hold on to the captured land in the Vanni.

Now that the “ƒ”¹…”unwinnable war’ has been fought and won despite those disincentives, the same people are coming back in a different garb, with a “ƒ”¹…”Dutugemun model’ of victory celebration, this time quoting chapter of the same  Mahavansa, the mythical fictional “ƒ”¹…”history’ that they discredited as what  stood between “ƒ”¹…”war and peace’, now extolling its virtues! This is the kind of reasoning that the foolish Sinhala Buddhists dismiss with just two words:  vaedi bana.!!

Then, Tissa finds the Victory Parade as abhorrent and a crude display of “ƒ”¹…”triumphalism’. Firstly, I did not see anything “ƒ”¹…”crude’ in this Victory Parade which was not different from any other dignified ceremonial parades of the Military. I am sure the Military manuals specify the types of parades that befit different occasions. I did not see anything different or particularly “ƒ”¹…”crude’ in this parade. It is all in the eyes of the beholder I believe. They observed a two minutes silence in honour of those who died in the battle. The Only difference was that of the wheel chair squad of some of the injured soldiers looking smartly to the right at the saluting base, which was a heartbreaking sight. I thought it was a fitting tribute to them who are maimed for life in the service of all of us irrespective of community. They are all worthy sons and daughters of our own people. They fought and maimed themselves to safeguard the territorial integrity of this country. Is that a sin or immoral? On the contrary, I thought that the entire audience should have had the courtesy of giving them a standing ovation. Their failure to do that of course is crudity and insensitivity.

Tissa thinks that the parade was a display of “ƒ”¹…”triumphalism’. Here, the people are remembering the deliverance they had from the dragon of terrorism which was stalking their lives for 3 decades. Is it not a matter to be celebrated? Not an occasion to remember and honour the people who sacrificed their life and limb to win back this deliverance to us at long last? Are we not relieved to get about in life free of fear of life on ourselves or on our beloved as were used to feel for the last 30 years? Are the parents of the Northern and Eastern provinces not relieved that their sons and daughters are not plucked away by the Terrorists? Are they not relieved to be assured that there they would be able to resume their peaceful life unless of course their own compatriots make efforts to disturb their hard won peace? The innocent people in the so called “ƒ”¹…”boarder villages’ who now do not have to spend the nights in the jungles with their little children, have a cause to celebrate that they no longer have to do this and can have a peaceful night’s sleep. The likes of Tissa Jayatilleke  living in the secure areas of the capital city may not feel this relief acutely. If he would watch the film “ƒ”¹…”Gamani’ made by Rear Admiral Sarath Weerasekera, he would be sensitized to the desperation and despondency of these people in the “ƒ”¹…”Threatened Villages. What is the “ƒ”¹…”triumphalism’ in remembering with gratitude this freedom from fear? Will they not be ever grateful to the man who brought this situation about, whatever his other faults may be? I did not hear anything triumphalist or crude in his speech on this day, unlike that of President Obama who displayed “ƒ”¹…”crude triumphalism’ in his announcement, when his elite Marine Commandos succeeded in killing the unarmed Osama Bin Laden and his wife in their home, having entered that country without permission. Furthermore, it is because the terrorists were our own people that the government pardoned 11000 of them who surrendered and rehabilitated them. Did the US or any other country who are proposing and supporting in passing Human Rights violations resolutions against Sri Lanka at Geneva, do such things with their terrorists. Were they allowed to go back to schools and universities to continue their disrupted education?                                                                

He speaks with disgust the inconvenience to the people of Colombo owing to the Traffic jam in the city during the rehearsals and on the day of the Victory Parade. The other day, someone copied to me an e mail showing two lions lazing in the morning sun, on the high road to Nairobi in Kenya. The morning vehicular traffic carrying the office and school crowd to and from Nairobi on either side was brought to a complete halt. Until the lions left on their own, no one dared to persuade the lions to leave. They had to wait patiently till whatever time that the lions decided to do back to the jungle! In our case I think, the whole of Colombo could afford to stop the traffic in memory of those who made the highest sacrifice to ensure our free movement on other days of the year. Really the whole nation, if they are a grateful people, should suspend all their routine work, on this day and engage in some activity by way of paying respect to those  who sacrificed their life and limb, for a better tomorrow for us. But most people are not so grateful. So Mr. Jayatilleke is no exception. He need not despair since the Buddha himself has said that people with gratitude are very rare. It is to uphold this value that he spent a week since attaining Buddhahood, paying respect in animism lacuna puja, to the Bodhi tree that helped him to attain Enlightenment, by providing him with shade and comfort.

On other hand, inconvenience caused to a section of the people in Colombo on this day is negligible when one considers the fact that the convenience and freedom from fear, disaster & relief that was brought about to the rest of the population throughout the country by the ending of a 30 years “ƒ”¹…”war’, by the dedication of the people who were honoured that day.

Mr. Jayatilleke has quoted the Buddha copiously, to admonish the government how the post-war trauma should be handled, what should be done and not done etc. It stuck me that, in fact if all people of this country abided by those words of the Buddha, this misery would not have come about at all. They say you need two hands to clap. But it is the way of the world,  that in spite of all the good words of all religious teachers, people of the world killed each other in conflict, down the history. And that is probably why Buddha did not spend much time & effort admonishing the kings on good governance, though several kings like Bimbisaara, Ajasatta, Prasnnajith Kosala the Vidudhbha princes etc were in constant touch with him. He left the task of governance to the kings and their men. The furthest he went was to wish, “Raja bhavathu dhammiko” “”…” “Let the kings be Righteous”. This would mean that many of the kings even at that time, may not have been righteous, like people in governing today. Most of what Buddha preached was for the individual to help conquer himself. Hence whether all that Buddha said in this area could be applied to governance is a matter for a lager discussion.

However it must be mentioned that the likes of Mr. Jayatilleke tried hard to dissuade the governments and the Sinhala people from looking for a military option against a diehard Terrorist and their supporters. We did not see them admonishing these categories against resorting to ruthless violence when they were using child soldiers, attacking sacred places of religious worship, harming government property which really belonged to the people and from causing general mayhem during the last 30 years. Now again this kind have re-appeared, this time inclusive of Christian clergy, with the Bana Potha in hand, admonishing the government with the teachings from the Tri Pitaka on good governance and how to bring about “ƒ”¹…”real’ peace.   

One Response to “TISSA JAYATILLEKE’S ‘WESAK THOUGHTS’”

  1. Christie Says:

    There was no Indian Union those days.

    Elara today is India.

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