Some religious customs and the human body
Posted on January 5th, 2014

C. Wijeyawickrema, LL.B., Ph.D.

Introduction

The editors of Colombo Telegraph asked me to respond to the “comments” made by its readers to my essay titled, “Sinhala women without Sinhalization power.” I consider it my public duty to do this even though most comments are nonsense (noise) by anonymous people who think CT is another website like the Tamilnet (located in Canada?). I think I am the only person writing to CT about the discrimination faced by the Sinhala Buddhists in Sri Lanka both before and after 1948, and so far my essays are the only evidence CT has to erase the perception that it is not an anti-Sinhala Buddhist website. It can be an anti-MahindaR website as reveals from Tisaranee Gunasekera’s writings, but it should not be a forum for those who want to divide the island and create another South Sudan for the benefit of white global corporate powers. The readership of CT, going by the comments on my essay, is mostly like mad dogs barking at the moon as the caravan passes. This discourages spending time to respond to comments. But there is some hope as two or three readers understood what I wrote and asked others to read it slowly and carefully.  The different readership tastes are clear when I consider the response given to the same essay by the Lankaweb readers. I hope CT readers visit Lankaweb also to understand the other side of the coin on Sri Lankan ethnic/separatist politics.

The naked adjective

At the outset I must accept that the only word in my essay that I regret using was the naked in the “naked body of the bride.” Yes, the adjective was unnecessarily provocative and gave the appearance that it was meant to disgrace a religious custom. Some got so agitated to elevate the incident mentioned as a religious rite!  For example, I can understand the gravity of my mistake if I say “at Polonnaruwa there is an ancient Siva Temple, which has a naked Siva lingum, and Sinhala women and even Tamil women from South India come to worship it thinking they can become mothers with a gift of a child.” Only recently I came to know that the base on which the Siva lingum rests symbolizes a woman’s yoni.  Unlike the Khajuraho stone-carved Tantric love scenes, the sacred nature of the Siva Lingum worship could be polluted by someone using the adjective Naked before the words Siva Lingum.  As a Buddhist I could never approve white soldiers urinating on the Koran or disrespecting any religious symbols or customs. So I apologize for hurting the feelings of those genuine and reasonable commenters of my essay.  But this is a good example to point out that when Buddha’s images are used on slippers, T-shirts and skirts by white female tourists, no non-Buddhists say a word against it!

But the story I said about what was done to the bride is based on the wedding pictures that I saw at her house, may be 25 years after the wedding. I never write untruth or half-truths in my internet communications which I began in 1987 or so in Canada. Since one Dr. Rajasinghan Narendran disputes the custom, could it be a kind of removing pollution by giving the non-Hindu woman a bath? The groom was a son of a Tamil civil servant. Was it similar to the Math Prof. Sundaralingum, trying to prevent caste pollution of a Jaffna Hindu Kovil or the purification rites done at that famous Sri Krishna Hindu Kovil in Kerala when Kovil trustees think that its premises was polluted by an accidental visit by say a Christian? For example, Sonia Gandhi cannot enter that temple (kovil). I do not know if Manmohan Singh is not allowed because he is a Sikh.

Tamilization

When I was in Sri Lanka for seven months recently, I had an opportunity to visit the State Agriculture School in Vavuniya. Waiting in the van outside while others were in the office, I saw a woman near an entrance gate and went to talk with her expecting she would know some English. She looked to me a typical older Tamil woman. When I tried to communicate with her in English asking if she can talk in Sinhala, she replied to me in Sinhala. To make a long story short, long time ago she eloped with an estate Indian Tamil and finally ended up in Vavuniya. She said her sons had a hard time during Prabakaran days. Her Sinhala family severed all connections with her and in fact asked me if I can go and meet with them and tell about her.

This shows that it is not possible to convert a Sinhalaya to a Tamil or vice versa, unless a person has a willingness to do so. If a person has a healthy opinion about his or her own culture that person cannot be “converted” to another culture. We heard that the Karawa caste and other similar castes in the western coastal areas were recent migrants from South India. They became assimilated and later played a big role in rejuvenating Buddhism in Sri Lanka. It is said that even SWRDB was a descendent of recent Tamil migrants. The only evidence that I could think of was the present custom of a man marrying his sister’s daughter found in Karnanataka even today, because SWRD’s mother was his father’s sister’s daughter.

When Wigneswaran used words such as Tamil genocide along with Sinhalaization, others like me have a right to ask him about how his sons’ marriages were performed, because I saw a photograph of such a Sinhala-Tamil wedding with the bride given a bath. This is doubly important as W has (or had) a habit of saying some Sanskrit stanza at public meetings which I think, no one understands other than he himself, because he does not provide a translation. Therefore, if he wants he can say like the Muslim Congress MP, M. T. Hasen Ali (ref. his speech reported on CT) that there is a land issue or a land grabbing, but not Sinhalization.  He says that the matter should be handled on a humanitarian basis.  This is what Wigneswaran should also copy. What had happened to the historic Muhudu Maha Viharaya reduced from 269 acres in 1951 to 0.25 acre in 2013 is due to land grab and not a Muslimization.  The land in NP or EP does not belong exclusively to one ethnic group in Sri Lanka. Each time W utters genocide and Sinhalaization he loses either sympathy or support from Sinhalayas who fear a future Tamil Nad invasion to capture Sri Lanka.

Seven River Basins

This is the most scientific, ecological method to empower Tamil, Muslim and Sinhala village people which will also erase fears of the majority Sinhala. Under such method there is no room for a separatist Tamil dream in Sri Lanka while it empowers Tamils to protect and promote their own Tamil nationalism at village level or at a river basin-level (like the present NP area). For those who want to know more, CT archive has it all saved under my name.  The river basin units can be seven or more depending on how people at village level decides as each river basin is a collection of ecologically demarcated GSN units. The current number of 14,000 GSN units, after they are re-demarcated according to hydrological-ecological basis would be much closer to the number of GSNs (4,000) when Rpremadas decided to increase it. There will be so many ecologically demarcated GSN units with 100% Tamil population (or Muslim) that they can have all kinds of their collective aspirations promoted, except separatism.

Wije05

Seven River Basins: 1. Yalpanam 2. Raja Rata 3. Dambadeni  4. Mahaveli  5. Deegavaapi  6. Kelani    7. Ruhunu (Compare this map with the nine-province map which cuts all major rivers into artificial pieces).

Buddhism and human body

Since comments by readers were all about the bride and bath, I thought of writing what I know about religion and human body. Buddhism is perhaps the only religion which does not mess up with human body or animal sacrifice.  From the time Abraham wanted to sacrifice his son to God circumcision has become a religious thing with Judaism and Islam. Human sacrifice was among the Inca and Mayan people in South America.  Humans eating humans was part of human evolution and now when it happens it is considered a severe mental sickness. For example, in USA a white man named Jeffry Dahmer dismembered 17 men and boys between 1978 and 1991 and he kept human brains in his freezer so that he can enjoy eating it whenever he wanted.

Even piercing ears is not approved in Buddhism. But even now some women in Africa suffer by the practice of the removal of female clitoris. Buddhists consider human body consists of 32 decaying components and this attitude is behind the reason why Sri Lanka has been donating “eyes” to the world.  What we see at Kali Amma temples where Animal are slaughtered or what I see at Katagama or Wellawatta where human skin is pierced with hooks and pulled with ropes, I think how as a Buddhist I am free of such cruelty in the name of religion. Think of all those Islam processions in Iraq where men torture their bodies by hitting so hard repetitively with blood oozing out from the skin. In India Jainism has a branch where they go naked. Once when Indira Gandhi wanted to meet such Jain leader, IG had to stay outside a screen where the naked Jain leader was sitting. These are extreme situations due to extreme religious beliefs.

The most important thing is that in Buddhism we are expected to follow the Middle Path. This is compromise in democracy or reasonableness in western jurisprudence. Buddhism is very simple, it is like an Einstein formula: 4NT+8NP (four noble truths and the eight noble path). When two ex-Indian presidents, both non-Buddhists, repeat that the solution to world’s problems lies in Buddhism, they are asking people like Wigneswaran and MahindaR to be reasonable and genuine.  When W says that there is Tamil genocide in Sri Lanka he becomes a liar.

When Ravi Karunanayake became the chief of the Dayaka Sabha of the Kotte Rajamaha Vihara who was the fool; the Buddhists or the monk who allowed it or the Catholic Ravi who accepted it? Like that those who write nasty or useless comments on CT essays they dislike are people without the help of critical thinking. Those who believe in a God or gods hand over there power of critical thinking to a God or gods relying on God or gods to rescue them, help them. In Buddhism this is not so: we are expected to come and examine, not come and believe.  This is what the two ex-Indian presidents expect when they talked about the power of Buddhism. Sri Lankan Tamil separatism can be and must be handled by the Buddhist approach. This what the Bodu Bala Sena is telling the world.

28 Responses to “Some religious customs and the human body”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    CT is Tamilnet. There is no difference.

    I’m not surprised by the comments. Only LTTE RUMP clowns comment there. They are frustrated, racist, indecent junk.

    What else do you expect from barbaric genital worshippers!! Disgusting!

  2. Nanda Says:

    Most Hindus do not have a clue of Buddhism.
    They just replace the word “God” or Brahma with “Buddha”. They replace “Moksha” with “Nirvana”.
    Hindu leaders have easily manage to brainwash the followers that “Buddha is a born Hindu”, when Hinduism DID NOT EXIST that time at all. What existed that time was animal sacrifices, caste systems and other stupid acts that still survive under the banner “Hinduism”. They added “avihimsa” just as a word, borrowed from Buddha.

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To quote the article: “But this is a good example to point out that when Buddha’s images are used on slippers, T-shirts and skirts by white female tourists, no non-Buddhists say a word against it!” on this issue I should point out that it is the same with other religions. Seldom do religions support the dignity of another faith for each religion sees the next faith as an opposing point of view. Hindus love to point out that they believe there are many paths to God, then they go on to condemn every other path except theirs. It is no wonder that it is the responsibility of the leaders and the laity of each religion to defend the respect and dignity that faith deserves from a pluralistic, supposedly tolerant world.
    It also addresses the political aspect of Sinhala Buddhism in Sri Lanka. The separatist movement’s side effect is a total disrespect to the concept of a civilization that has a documented past and a sense of nationhood long before the concept of a sovereign nation was developed in the west. This is singular to the Sinhalese Buddhist culture of Sri Lanka for no other nation except China has an unbroken record of itself and like Sri Lanka most of China’s history was shaped by Buddhism but unlike Sri Lanka no minority dare try to demand separatism without the full force of China. The only province outside of Tibet is the Muslim province of Xinjiang who have no chance of realizing their aspiration for a separate nation.
    Using the metaphor of the Buddha image on ordinary clothing in the west it is up to the Buddhist faith to put a stop to it just as it is up to the Sinhala Buddhist culture to make sure that Sri Lanka never again experiences a separatist movement by any minority in Sri Lanka.

  4. Nanda Says:

    Buddha did not interfere with politics of a country. He only advised the kings when the ask for it.
    On the other hand he respected the laws and good customs of the land.

    While Buddhist and non-Buddhist values can be used in the process, Law and Order shall be enforced, both in the North as well as in the South. If we allow separatism talk in the North by TNA, we should also allow it in the South. Law enforcement is left to the ruler of the country , not to the Buddha or Buddhism.

  5. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    I did what was stated by Dr. C. Wijeyawickrema and re read his article and I found some inconsistencies. Dr. Wijeyawickrema starts his article stating respect to other faiths and beliefs but further on down he goes on to list the perceived negative aspects of other faiths while not finding a single fault in Buddhism and by that falls into the same trap of a follower of other faiths. They too promote the best of their faiths while pointing the worst of other faiths. in the case of Abraham he did not want to sacrifice his son to Yahweh (the God of the old testament) but was commanded to do so to test his faith in Yahweh. Abraham ended up sacrificing a lamb instead. The act of self flagellation seen in Hinduism, Islam and Christianity is not “cruel” to those who practice it but again the expression of their devotion to God and in the case of Christianity to atone for the sins one commits. It may not be the custom of the Buddhists but it is for the Christians and is considered a noble and pious expression of their faith.
    Dr. Wijeyawickrema points to the branch of Jainism where the monks go naked or as they are called ‘sky clad” because of their deep belief that anything created by the divine is also divine. Being naked prevents them from accidentally or intentionally harming any life. I could add that they are the strictest vegetarian faith in the world. The “sky clad” go even further in their Doctrine of total non violence to other life forms. they will not eat any plant that they have to kill in order to eat it. so potatoes, onions, lettuce, cabbage etc are forbidden from their diets but tomatoes, green beans, ladies fingers, or any vegetable or fruit that can be taken without harming the plant is acceptable. That to a Buddhist is not the middle path but an extreme path and therefore distances himself from such practices. But that holds true of all faiths who find in other faiths issues alien to their belief system and use it to distance themselves from those faiths.
    I was a bit surprised that Dr. Wijeyawickrema did not know that the Lingam is always associated with the Yoni for it is one of the six philosophical schools of Hinduism where the Universe is created by the primordial energies of the male force embodied in Shiva and the primordial female force embodied in Parvati or otherwise known as “Shakti” of which the female force is equal and in the creative aspect surpasses that of the male force. Hindus believe that the husband is the Guru to his wife but the wife is the Goddess to the husband for only the wife has the creative power to give life
    Finally one must understand that Siddhartha Gautama was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu who belonged to the Kshatriya caste or the warrior noble caste. It was his followers that named his teachings after his honorary title “the Buddha” or the enlightened one”. Siddhartha never called his teachings “Buddhist” .There are many aspects that Buddhism and Hinduism share. Both believe in reincarnation, both cremate their dead and not bury them as in the Abrahamic faiths, both Hindu priests and Buddhist monks where robes of Saffron, Most Buddhist statues still carry the Hindu pottu, even as far away as the famous Japanese giant Bronze Buddha of the city of Kyoto. The classic language of Buddhism is a colloquial version of Sanskrit, Pali is not an independent language separate from the classical language of the Hindus. Both faiths use the Lotus flower as a powerful symbol of the awakening of man’s consciousness, both faiths practice Yoga for the Buddha is most often depicted in the yogic position. Even the famous Buddhist Jataka tales which relate the countless former lives of the Buddha both in animal and human form stated in fables is derived from the Hindu Panchatrantra which is probably the most influential piece of literature the world has ever witnessed. Its fables changed Islam, created the one thousand and one Arabian tales and Sindbad, was translated to Hebrew and profoundly influenced the western world (Google Panchatrantra Wikipedia).
    None of the Buddha’s teachings are alien to Hinduism except for the rejection of the caste system and the Vedas. The Buddha has no opinion on the divinity and never refuted it nor accepted it. The Buddhas robes are draped in a similar manner as the sari including the throw over the shoulder. Both faiths use the same method of greeting where hands are in joined in a prayer fashion. Many believe that the knot upon the Buddha’s head is his hair but it is not for he cut off his top knot when he left his city of Lumbini and crossed the river. Instead it is the “Usni” or a divine protuberance. Well before Christianity the concept of the halo or the spiritual aura was already part of the Hindu faith which then was shared by the Buddhist faith. Both honor with garlands of flower.
    Buddhism in Sri Lanka is not a pure branch of Hinayana Buddhism as the more religious version of Mahayana Buddhism which takes far more from Hinduism is also incorporated into Sri Lankan Buddhism. One of the greatest Sri Lankan artistic masterpieces now in the British museum is not that of the Buddha of Hinayana but that of the Bodhisattva of Mahayana Buddhism.
    Finally going back to the Lingam and the Yoni, that too has been incorporated into one of the branches of Buddhism as seen in the Vajrayana school of Buddhism practiced in Nepal and Tibet where the Buddha and the Hindu Goddess Tara are depicted in a copulating position. Here the Hindu school of Tantra influenced that branch of Buddhism so when one writes of the Buddhist world it includes Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana each profoundly different from the other. One final note on the Vajrayana branch of Buddhism. Reincarnation has taken a central position as the Dalai Lama is the present avatar of the Buddha where an endless cycle of reincarnation is focused to the titular head of that faith and resembles in many ways the role of the Pope in Catholicism.

  6. Ratanapala Says:

    “Finally one must understand that Siddhartha Gautama was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu who belonged to the Kshatriya caste or the warrior noble caste. It was his followers that named his teachings after his honorary title “the Buddha” or the enlightened one”. Siddhartha never called his teachings “Buddhist” .There are many aspects that Buddhism and Hinduism share.”

    Even though Einstein may have studied and used Newtonian mechanics to understand and study the motion of objects at low speeds / gravity , he went on a different trajectory using Riemannian Geometry to enunciate the Theory of Relativity which predicts in greater accuracy the motion of objects at higher velocities closer to the speed of light. Einstein predictions approximate to those of Newtoian Mechanics at low speeds/gravity fields in spite of the large gap in the thinking and methodology in the final formulations of the Theory of Relativity.

    This is a similar metaphor to the saying that the Buddha was a Hindu. Buddha went on to annunciate a reality that did not require the intervention of a God to explain what we perceive in nature but only an enlightened mind. There lies the difference between Hinduism and Buddhism.

    Just as a student has to develop his mind to understand higher disciplines of Mathematics, beings in Samsara have to develop their minds and become Englithtened to understand the ultimate reality and attain Nibbana. All other theorising we do prior to attaining Enlightenment is similar to the efforts of a water creature trying to describe the wonders of the land as it will be forever limited to its experiences in the water and thereby to the vocabulary thus developed.

  7. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To deny that Siddhartha Gautama was not a Hindu is like denying Jesus Christ was not a Jew. In both cases their respective parents came from the older faith. In both cases they were raised in that faith and used that faith to find a solution to the meaning of life once life had been determined to be suffering.

    It is very easy for Christians to distance themselves from the Jews and Buddhists to distance themselves from the Hindus. As a matter of fact that is the prevailing aspect of all religions. My point was to see the interconnections between Buddhism and Hinduism by showing what both share, instead of focusing on what separates them for ultimately all religions main goal is to seek the truth, to place good values over evil values. The world would be a far better place if the major faiths sought to see the common values they share than what differentiates them. More wars have been fought based on religious differences than on any other issue.

    In this spirit let me share one more aspect that both Buddhists and Hindus share and that is the concept of Dharma and Karma which are not simply words but complex philosophies. Another point I would like to make is a historical issue. In the year One AD. India’s economy was 52% of the world economy (Google “Indian economy through the ages) which meant that India’s economy was larger than the Roman Empire, Egypt in the last dynasty, Greece, China, and Persia which were the major economies of that time. Even if one included the Mayan economy India would still be the largest in the world. I bring this up for in One AD India was a Buddhist nation by and large and in the 4th century AD the Golden age of Hinduism flourished under a greater Buddhist culture as the Gupta dynasty symbolized the highest point of Hinduism (there were other golden ages of that faith). By the 8th century AD. the world famous Ellora cave temples were carved where Buddhist, Hindu and Jain Temples shared the same space. Tolerance triumphed during this great age.
    Both Buddhism and Hinduism are faiths based on the tolerance of other philosophies. One last point and it is a negative aspect of Buddhism. Till the rise of Buddhism under Emperor Ashoka Hindu Surgeons performed up to 300 different types of surgery. They were way ahead of the rest of the world in the dissection of human corpses in order to understand the human anatomy. Buddhism put a stop to this practice for such an act violated the corpse. If Emperor Ashoka did not ban this practice surgery in India would have been centuries ahead of the world (Plastic surgery is a Hindu invention). The famous artist Leonardo Da Vinci dissected bodies in order to paint and sculpt in realism, copying the details of the anatomy and transferring this knowledge into art. The same could have happened to the Hindu/Buddhist art and create a new school of realism centuries ahead of the West.
    Keep in mind I fully understand and appreciate the ancient artistic traditions of the sub continent being an artist myself but I also appreciate the influence of the Hellenistic school of Art that created the first Buddha face in the Gandharan school of art where not only the first Buddha face was created sharing aspects of Hellenism but Greek Gods were also carved in India at that time (The result of Alexander the Great and the Greek Satrapis created by the Greek generals who decided to stay in India). Buddhism owes even that to another faith, this time from Greece. Till then the Buddha was featured by symbols such his sandals, the throne, the Bodhi tree.
    Finally remove all the religious dogma of Hinduism, and what is left is not that different than what the Buddha taught. He drew from the best aspects of his culture and came up with an original solution. The key issue is that both faiths through the centuries have influenced each other. Buddhism drew from Hinduism or to be accurate “Brahmanism” and later on Hinduism drew from both Buddhism and Jainism.

  8. SA Kumar Says:

    Ratanapala,what is a meaningful intellectual !

    Siddhartha never called his teachings “Buddhist” .There are many aspects that Buddhism and Hinduism share.”

    Do you think our mod…, will understand ? NO

  9. douglas Says:

    Mr. Wijayawickrama: I am glad you are contributing your writings to CT. These are the places where some informed and knowledgeable persons must place their views on various subjects and I must thank CT for publishing very divergent views by way comments. It is, I suppose you agree, the way to meet and discuss varying subjects.

    Coming back to your above presentation, I find you have brought out a very interesting and important subject under the sub-heading “Seven River Basins”. This is what long years back, if I remember correct, a prominent Civil Service personnel by the name Mr. Hewa Mdumma Bandara proposed, in his proposal to “re demarcate” the then existing provinces with a view to establish Sri Lanka on an agricultural basis and avoid any future communal disharmony. Anyway that had its own death due to the “greedy” and “self serving” politicians. I am glad that you have revived the same concept and hope someone in authority will take a serious look at the proposal

    This is what MR should have done, immediately after winning the war. Instead of rushing to hold Provincial Elections and filling those Councils with the “unscrupulous” goons of his choice, the 13th Amendment of the Constitution should have been scrapped or amended in such a way to establish a countrywide Local Government system to suite and meet the needs of the people. This is how the politicians miss opportunities and create mess for themselves and the country. But unfortunately, this administration has bigger things to attend in the international arena. So at this moment, better be patient.

    You also mentioned one person by name i.e. Mr. Ravi Karunanayake. He is playing a “hide and seek” game at the moment. There is a case of “foreign exchange violation” pending in courts. As per the news, he received money in foreign currency from the “notorious” money laundering Wall Street dealer to buy shares in commercial banks in Sri Lanka. He is none other than Raj Rajasingham who is presently serving a “jail term” in USA. But, being our country a “wonder of Asia” this Ravi Karunanayake is still at large and even in spite of being a non Buddhist, holds on to titles in Dayak Sabaha of Kotte Rajamaha Vihara. Mark my words, this Ravi Karunanayake will never get his punishment that he deserves. Even if, in the remote chance, of getting a conviction, he will be immediately pardoned by the powers vested in the President. He knows how to draw the “Pawns on the Chess Board”.

    Please continue to write to Lanka Web too. Thanks.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    This dirty practice of penis worship and vagina worship should be PHASED OUT of SL.

    It is so barbaric!

    They have other barbaric practices including SACRIFICING ANIMALS in Kovils.

    LTTE were also barbarians according to FBI. LTTE flag has a tiger wearing Hindu “vibuthi”.

    What a barbarian curse that befell SL from south Endia!

  11. SA Kumar Says:

    according to FBI ? ha ha ha…. Now even 5 years old child know to whom you are working for !

  12. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “This dirty practice of penis worship and vagina worship should be PHASED OUT of SL”
    “They have other barbaric practices including SACRIFICING ANIMALS in Kovils”
    “It is so barbaric!”

    Problem with these statements is first it is meant to insult a religion. Hindus do not worship a penis nor a Virgina but the symbolic creative aspects of it. Hindus consider that IGNORANCE is the worst evil as demonstrated in the statue of the “Shiva Nataraja” where Shiva kills the demon when it takes the form of ignorance depicted as a dwarf.

    Buddhists eat meat while the vast majority of South Indian Hindus are strict vegetarians. Those who worship Lord Vishnu are the most vegetarian Hindus around. They see the eating practices of the Sinhalese Buddhists as equally barbaric. This back and forth attack of faiths in this forum gets everyone nowhere.

    Please let me make this clear. I am against the political radical movement of the Sri Lankan Tamils and have commented many times in this forum of my sheer detest of them, their ideology of chauvinism, blind bigotry against the Sinhalese and the unwarranted demand for a separate state. They also happen to be Hindus. I have read other comments on various articles and I find my comments the most radical and sometimes too radical as an answer to the ongoing Tamil diaspora, Tamil Nadu, The TNA and some of the Sri Lankan Tamils who still harbor divisionist ideations, but I have never engaged in slandering their faith or saying statements meant to be hateful, and misinformed about Hinduism. I have kept my comments on the Tamils and not all of the people of India and the Hindu faith or for that matter any faith. I have made similar disparaging comments of the equally chauvinist Muslims who feel it is their duty to convert Buddhists but would scream hell on earth if a Buddhist converted one of them to Buddhism. Even though I am a Christian I find it equally detestable that Christians in Sri Lanka and especially abroad look down on Buddhism and see it their duty to convert the Sinhalese Buddhists.
    I have stood firm that Buddhism should be made a state religion of Sri Lanka mainly for political reasons as it has worked effectively in Muslim nations from keeping their nations Muslim. I doubt slandering religions would be helpful for the nationalist movement to achieve their goals ( doing away with the 13th amendment, keeping the military where it is, dealing with TNA, the Tamil Diaspora and Tamil Nadu, making Buddhism a state recognized faith, even rolling back the law of elevating Tamil as an official language in Sri Lanka). Spreading hate against other philosophies, cultures, and religions is an age old practice that has always failed to produce positive results. The hate of the Jews for choosing Jesus Christ over a criminal when Pontius Pilot washed his hands of the case and gave the decision to the Jews was used against them through the ages as they were termed “Christ killers” to their ultimate demise under Nazi Germany in Europe (Jews in other parts of the world were not effected) even when the Nazis detested Christianity as much. In addition the reason for the birth of Christ was to ultimately sacrifice himself for the sins of the world. All I ask is do not take my comments out of context. I fully support the nationalist movement, but not by using hate against other faiths.

  13. Marco Says:

    Mr Bernard Wijeyasingha,

    As i have suspected for a considerable amount of time reading the comments here (and refrained from rebuttals/responses for obvious reasons), and recently observed by Douglas in his comments elsewhere, it is quite apparent statements/comments made by individual(s) are to a certain agenda.
    Think i need not say any more except to observe the pattern. (or should have observed prior pronouncements)

    I may not agree with all or some of your views expressed here, but i will stand by your right (and any other contributor ) to express your opinion.

    Good Day

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    It was NOT meant to insult ANY religion.
    Those are statements of FACT. Aren’t they?

    1. The practice of worshipping GENITALS is barbaric. There is no two words about it. It is a FACT. Early humans and apes did it. In 21st century context, they are BARBARIC.

    2. Similarly the practice of “SACRIFICING ANIMALS” for the blood taste of a mythical god is BARBARIC in the 21st century. Early humans and apes did these and at that time they were civil.

    COMING FROM these barbaric practices is LTTE barbarity (FBI stated LTTE to be the MOST barbaric). The apple doesn’t fall too far from the tree, does it?

  15. Lorenzo Says:

    NOWHERE in Hindu religion says worship GENITALS and KILL animals for sacrifice.

    These barbaric practices are AGAINST Hindu teachings. They are an insult to civilised beings and an insult to human intellect.

    SL can do a great service to Hindu religion by PHASING OUT these barbaric practices.

  16. SA Kumar Says:

    NOWHERE in Hindu religion says worship GENITALS and KILL animals for sacrifice- what a U turn ! Now one become Hindu religion leader !

  17. SA Kumar Says:

    Bernard Wijeyasingha
    We Both Sinhala Bhuddist & Saiva Tamil lived last 2500 years in mother lanka & will live for another 3,000 years !
    VP may gone & MR may go soon but Mother lanka will be their forever !
    live & let live !!!

    Anpe Sivam ! love is God ! Om Shanthy !

  18. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To Marco. Thank you. Spoken as Voltaire stated it. “I may not agree with what you say but I will defend with my life the right for you to say it”
    To Lorenzo: I agree they are facts. What I disagree is why choose those facts and not the positive facts for all religions have some imperfections that are only seen by other religions and are only too eager to point those facts. I just got through commenting about an article on Yoga where the American response was insulting and negative. The Buddha practiced Yoga for he is often portrayed in the “Lotus position”. The second issue is that you use those negative facts to denigrate another religion when you interject your own opinion by labeling them “barbaric”. I now live in Christian America and if you do not live here then you have no idea how quickly Christians denigrate other faiths claiming them to be facts. I do however agree with the unequal social order in Hinduism of the caste system for it is unjust to treat a fellow human being as below or above simply based on birth . As a Buddhist do you think the Buddha would approve of your approach? Finally I do agree with you that the act of deliberately taking of life or sacrifice is not according to the teachings of the Buddha and should be banned from Sri Lanka along with the caste system. They are universally considered acts of cruelty to both animals and humans.
    To SA Kumar: That is what makes Sri Lanka the ‘resplendent land” and accordingly the people of Sri Lanka or Sri Lankans should behave as ‘resplendent people” where tolerance, love, obedience to the Dharma was violated by the Tamil Tigers. That is why all religions could live in harmony if Buddhism becomes a state faith. Keep in mind most of the laws created by western nations are based on Christian ethics. If that is true then why can’t Sri Lanka’s laws be based on Buddhist ethics of tolerance, the middle path or as in the Oracle of Delphi of ancient Greece stated “nothing in excess”. I just read Wesak is coming.May Sri Lanka be blessed by this most auspicious celebration.

  19. Nanda Says:

    Bernard,
    I can conclude you knowingly wanted to insult Buddhists.

    You said,
    ” Finally one must understand that Siddhartha Gautama was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu who belonged to the Kshatriya caste or the warrior noble caste.”

    Then you accepted that you have been inaccurately and purposely twisting your words by saying,”Buddhism drew from Hinduism or to be accurate “Brahmanism” and later on Hinduism drew from both Buddhism and Jainism”.

    To the Buddhist no one belongs to a religion by birth. To claim Buddha is a “Hindu” is so wrong as you assume Buddhism is a race ( may be so, for Christianity, but even then you have Baptism).

    If you want to attack or argue about Buddhism, we welcome you to criticize words of the Buddha, not the practices of people who call them “Buddhists”. But you should learn the Buddhism first, leaving your belief of God aside, rather than learning the history of India.

    As you know, the Bible says Jesus killed fish to give the flesh to people. The founder himself is the killer, even though Dana element exists there as a good thing. By setting this example it is no surprise that the religion then evolve to be barbaric with respect to animal rights.

  20. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    Glad we AGREE on some.

    Let me answer the DISAGREEMENTS.

    1. “why choose those facts and not the positive facts”

    There is nothing to discuss on the positives as I agree with them. I disagree on the NEGATIVES and that is the discussion.

    2. “use those negative facts to denigrate another religion when you interject your own opinion by labeling them “barbaric”.

    No true. These practices are BARBARIC for any objective observer. Pointing out them is NOT about denigrade. It is to make things clear as they are.

    3. “As a Buddhist do you think the Buddha would approve of your approach?”

    I’m a Christian but I think Buddha would APPROVE my approach on this matter.

    Buddha challenged the established Hindu practices. Just imagine how many criticisims he had to face when he REJECTED the caste system? No worshipping fire? Not following dogma? Hindus would have told him he is DEGRADING and INSULTING Hinduism.

    Until Jeses ancient Christians practiced BABARIC practices like circumcision, killing lambs in church, burning its flesh and eating it in the church, sometimes sacrificing humans too. Jesus called off these barbaric practices. Those barbarians blamed Jesus for INSULTING and DEGRADING their faith and nailed him to a cross.

    Buddha called on people to challenge dogma. Kalama suthra. This is what I do.

    Thanks to people like me who called a spade a spade (barbaric as barbaric) we have 2 refined spiritual streams – Buddhism and modern Christianity. Unfortunately Hinduism and Islam are NOT open for CHANGE. Their practitioners BOTH follow SOME STONE AGE barbaric practices. It is time to shake these off.

    I appreciate Ahamadis for trying to change Islam for good. May Allah (PBUH) be pleased with them. But Wahabis are too powerful and Ahamadis will not succeed.

    One additional point.

    ACCEPTING and understanding the barbarity ENGROSSED in genital worship, animal sacrifice and violent Hindu caste system HELP understand barbaric Tamil terrorism.

    Similarly ACCEPTING and understanding the barbarity ENGROSSED in circumcision, animal sacrifice and violent Jihad HELP understand barbaric Jihad terrorism.

    If we GLOSS OVER these we will NEVER learn.

  21. SA Kumar Says:

    That is why all religions could live in harmony if Buddhism becomes a state faith.- Not agreed
    Bernard Wijeyasingha any faith base country is fail , I am not agaist Bhuddism but at the end What We people follow won’t be what Bhudda said (like in Hindhusm ( Vetham & Ahamam) or Bible says Jesus or kuran )!
    eg: Bhuda never said demolish Kali kovil and build Vihara everyware where ever you see Arasa maram (Tree) !

  22. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To Nanda: Your conclusion is wrong because it is selective. My Grandfather was a Buddhist Scholar and a Buddhist where Bikkus would come to him to have translated or transliterated Pali scripts that they even cannot translate. I learned a lot of the nobleness of Buddhism from him even as a child. Secondly I was not twisting my words but responding to another comment that when I stated Hinduism it did not exist during the time of the Buddha and that comment was right. It was Brahmanism. Thirdly if Prince Siddhartha was not a Buddhist then what faith did he and his family practice before his sermons became the foundation of Buddhism? Fourthly the least thing I want to do is attack Buddhism. I was merely showing how closely linked Buddhism is to Hinduism. You may point to the opposite and be absolutely right. But so am I. Regarding studying history that is an ironic statement to make since one of the qualities that make Sri Lanka unique is that she has a written record of her history. The written tradition of History played a crucial role in Sri Lanka. Finally I was dealing with the Buddhist world and not just Buddhism in Sri Lanka. In Mahayana Buddhism the Buddha is elevated to God. Even in Sri Lanka the Buddha is referred to as Lord Buddha. That title is not shared by any other philosopher of his time. Not by Socrates, Plato, nor even Confucius. If the teachings of the Buddha are meant to instruct and he is a philosopher then do not use the word “religion”
    To Lorenzo: You use the same techniques the British used to validate their superiority over Buddhism, Hinduism, and all other faiths. They pick the worst aspects of the faith and then claim as you do that is is a noble thing to do. Being on the receiving end of such imperialistic bigotry we should learn not to emulate the worst aspects of the Colonial era. Secondly as a Christian Jesus Christ was crucified for the blasphemy of claiming to be the son of God or even to the extent that he is God incarnate. That went against the orthodoxy of the Jews. The invasions of the Tamils is not unique to Sri Lanka as the Chola empire invaded other areas of India and to South east Asia. their concept of male/female power is not a Tamil concept, it is a north Indian concept. Even the Buddhists engaged in Barbarism as seen in Buddhist Imperial Japan against Buddhist China. What the Buddhist Japanese did in Nanking is now historic in the annals of Barbarism. There are other examples including the wars fought between Buddhist Sinhalese kings as in the case of Kasyappa and his brother.
    To SA Kumar: Most nations draw from their faiths to form their laws. A success story is the Vatican which is a nation. Emperor Ashoka ran his empire based on the principles of Buddhism which is NOT to attack other faiths but to teach and promulgate the philosophy of the Buddha. Being the oldest non broken Buddhist nation in the world the teachings of the Buddha would be beneficial to the laws of the land. It may not get rid of Kovils but I hope it will get rid of the caste system in Sri Lanka and animal sacrifices.
    Peace to all of you and good brother ship.

  23. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    No; I don’t use colonial tactics. I use FACTS with NO intention of BENEFITTING from the outcome (if any).

    Pointing out these BARBARITY is a noble thing. It may hurt the feelings of Hindus who do these dirty things today but soon they will come to realize how barbaric they are to worship genitals, slaughter animals for sacrifice and prevent people do things based on caste.

    SL has to take a stand against ALL these barbaric acts. Hindu Endia has banned Hindu animal sacrifice but Buddhist SL has been unable to do it!!

    You can’t deny Jesus greatly REMOVED barbarity in Christianity, Buddha attempted to remove barbarity in Buddhism and Ahamad tried to remove it from Islam.

  24. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    To Lorenzo: To quote you: “This dirty practice of penis worship and vagina worship should be PHASED OUT of SL.” The benefit you receive is two fold. first that misinterpret the concept of male/female power embodied in the symbols of the male and female genitals by stating it is worshiping the genitals itself. After you reached that wrong conclusion you then righteously condemn it leaving the reader with the impression that Hinduism is ‘barbaric” and by that Buddhism is better. That is the same tactic the British used but at that time it was not termed “colonialist. That term came from the victims of their illogical conclusions. What did you benefit from it? The same thing the British did; a sense of superiority over another faith. You even went further. You followed it up with what should be done with such barbaric practices of your wrong opinion. “it should be banned from Sri Lanka”. Again the British twisted our culture to that of a a primitive “superstitious rubbish” that should be corrected or altered or banned if necessary.
    People of one faith calling what they perceive as barbaric in another faith goes back to the days when religions and philosophies shaped people. So it is pointless to debate this issue with you. If you want to voice your opinion on such matters I may not agree with you but I will defend your right to state it. You will learn that is has been done in every culture and every faith for so many thousands of years and only resulted in misery. The teachings of the Buddha were not to condemn and name call but to reject what he found unworthy. To quote Dr. Wijeyawickrema “The most important thing is that in Buddhism we are expected to follow the Middle Path. This is compromise in democracy or reasonableness in western jurisprudence.” and ” In Buddhism this is not so: we are expected to come and examine, not come and believe”. We are expected to come and examine. To that I would add not to come and condemn. To me Dr. Wijeyawickrema is stating that the Buddha created a philosophy of personal introspection, rational thought, tolerance and to follow the Darhma or the law be it that of man or society and by stating “the middle path” do not take extreme positions but take a central way of life. I hope I am right in understanding Dr. Wijeyawickrema’s article.
    As far as Jesus is concerned you as a Christian can find the words of Christ in the parables of the Bible and they speak of love and brotherhood. “Love thy neighbor as you love yourself”, “Those who are without sin cast the first stone” in defense of Mary Magnaline, or no one really can condemn others without that personal introspection of yourself. So in this case both Christ and the Buddha laid the foundation for good behavior. They cannot be held responsible for the bad acts of their followers.
    Finally Lorenzo I stand side by side with you when you state “SL has to take a stand against ALL these barbaric acts. Hindu Endia has banned Hindu animal sacrifice but Buddhist SL has been unable to do it!!” The only thing I would add to your statement is “Buddhist Sri Lanka”. I hope our debate has resulted in a positive result and good will.

  25. Nanda Says:

    BW,
    I honestly don’t understand
    You said “Finally one must understand that Siddhartha Gautama was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu who belonged to the Kshatriya caste or the warrior noble caste.” – this statement is trivial, obviously there was no Buddhism when Siddhartha was born – nothing to understand by “one”. if YOU ACCEPT BRAHMINISM which was followed by the masses during Siddhartha’s parent’s time( among other religions) that is TRUE. Your statement, thus, make no sense at all.

    By writing that statement you mislead everyone and you became an Endian to me.
    Sorry about misunderstanding.

  26. Nanda Says:

    BW,
    Never say “siddharta IS A BORN HINDU” again, IT IS AN INSULT MADE UP BY FOOLISH ENDIANS.

  27. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    “Finally Lorenzo I stand side by side with you when you state “SL has to take a stand against ALL these barbaric acts.”

    This agreement is enough for me.

    Lets agree to disagree in good spirit.

  28. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nanda: Of all the nations in the subcontinent with the exception of Bangladesh, the people of Sri Lanka and India share a common bond as an ethnic people. The mere historical fact that Prince Vijaya and his 700 followers came from India to Sri Lanka to later form the Sinhala people deeply links the two nations together. This cannot be said of Pakistan since a good deal of her people came from Persia, nor that of Bhutan or Nepal. Most of the people in those nations belong to the Tibeto Burmese or the mongoloid race.
    Having stated that I am fully conscious of the political difference that designates India and Sri Lanka as separate nations. The closest similarity would be to deny white Americans, white Canadians, or White Australians of their European roots. They do not. In fact they celebrate both their ancestral connection to Europe and their original cultures they have created in their new lands. If you feel ashamed of any Indian roots I cannot help it. That is for you to deal. Just a side note on this. As far as Anthropologists go the Sinhalese originated from India and were not native to Sri Lanka. As far as Americans, Europeans, Canadians and even in history the cultures and people of both nations have been seen as sharing a common bond.
    Nanda: Please do not be rude. It is impolite to tell another commenter never to do anything. I love debating but have little tolerance to rudeness. Siddhartha’s father, King Sudhodana and his mother Queen Maya came from the Sakhyas. the whole transition from Brahmanism to Hinduism is not etched in stone. What part of what we call modern Hinduism and what part of Brahmanism that have either died, lived on or inter connected is still a debate. I can further elaborate but I was advised either by you or another commenter not to go into long dissertations of these aspects. but if you want me to elaborate I will try to keep it as concise as possible. Simply put the mere fact that the statues of the Buddha across the ancient Buddhist world to even the present still bear the Hindu pottu. You can draw your own conclusions from that.
    Coming back to what started this debate was the denigration of another faith or the use of barbaric acts. If a foreigner sees a woman sit on a Lingam I can fully understand the conclusion she is not treating that object as a symbol but that it can actually give her a child. If people see Sinhalese Buddhist laity offering flowers to the Buddha, praying to the Buddha, worshiping the Buddha and where Viharas are considered “sacred” and Buddhist monks are also referred to as Buddhist “priests”, they too can come to that same conclusion that the Buddha is being treated more than a philosopher and closer to a divine being. Furthermore when people see the pre Buddhist practice of the Devil dance, the iconic Devil’s mask sold to every tourist as unique to Sri Lanka in style and folk art they would conclude that devil worship has been incorporated into Sri Lankan Buddhism. It has not. It is in the nature of Buddhism to tolerate pre existing traditions and cultures of the lands they convert. So in Japan both Shintoism and Buddhism have found a harmonious relationship. Japanese marry according the traditions of their Shinto faith but bury their dead according to the traditions of the Buddhist faith. They call themselves Buddhist but still keep the practices of the Samurai, and the Shinto faith side by side with Buddhism. Side Note I failed to mention. There is a fourth branch of Buddhism that originated in India and that is Zen Buddhism brought to Japan by an Indian Buddhist monk named Bodhidharma. Zen is the Japanese form of the Sanskrit word “Dhyana” or “meditation” and is a school of Buddhism which has had significant impact in Japan, Europe and America.
    Lorenzo: Thank you. It was a healthy debate.

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