“BUDDHA IS SUPREME”
Posted on January 6th, 2014

H. L. D. Mahindapala

In keeping with their religious beliefs, the Buddhists were preparing to celebrate the full moon day of May 1918 in all its traditional splendour. In the Buddhist calendar, it is the day set aside to commemorate the three most sacred events in the life of Buddha ” his birth, his Enlightenment and his passing away. This holiest day of the Buddhists is known to the Sri Lankan Buddhists as Wesak.

Apart from religious observances, the common practice was to turn the night into a festival of lights. The full moon, the hand-made lanterns and the wild electric beauty compete with each other to illuminate the life and compassion of the Enlightened One. The wide-eyed devotees flock to the city centres to be mesmerized by the episodes in the life of Buddha bursting with dazzling electric energy. The generosity of the Buddhists overflows with offerings of food and drinks to the villagers swarming all over the city.

In Colombo preparations were being made to receive the usual concourse of Buddhists pouring into the city from remote villages. But the dawn of Wesak on May 24, 1918 was rather gloomy. It turned out to be the wettest day of the year. The Wesak devotees’ spirits were dampened by the intermittent showers. Besides, the trains bringing the Buddhists from the villages too were reduced by the British Raj. The abundant rains and the reduced trains kept away the crowds that usually thronged the streets of Colombo for Wesak.

 Wesak celebrations of 1918 were also marred by an imperious act that did not pass away like the showers of rain. The District Judge of Chilaw, Mr. Carbery, was at the centre of this storm. In Puttalam he objected to a banner that said BUDDHA IS SUPREME and ordered it to be pulled down. This banner was displayed prominently on a bus. The Police Sub-Inspector carried out the order promptly.

 The reaction to this provocative act was spontaneous. It became the most controversial issue in the days after Wesak. The Ceylon Independent headlined it as “The Puttalam ‘Bus Incident.”[1] Obviously, Mr. Carbery’s religious sensibilities, which were inextricably intertwined with his imperial mission, had been offended. He had objected to the banner being “glaringly displayed” on the bus. The Editor of The Ceylon Independent took a different view. He said: “….we do not see anything aggressive in it. It is merely an expression of a devotee’s faith.”[2]

 Mr. Carbery was a typical representative of the British raj who was driven by the doctrine of white supremacy. The British apparatchiks, who ran the far-flung Empire in distant posts, were imbued with this sense of superiority that invariably conflicted with the inherited culture of the lands they occupied. Though the British did not pursue racist policies overtly they asserted their racial superiority discreetly through their hegemonic politics administered through the legislature, judiciary, the bureaucracy and, of course, the police. These arms of the British raj brooked no serious political challenge from the coloured natives, whether it came from a religious poster on a bus or a temperance movement. Earlier, in 1915, the panic-stricken British either shot or incarcerated the Sinhala-Buddhist leaders of the temperance movement, fearing that it was an insidious political agitation against the British rule.

 In planting their flag on territories that did not belong to them they assumed that it was the white man’s burden to liberate the non-whites. The colonialists, wherever they went, fervently believed that it was their divine mission to civilize the natives.  This was a common justification advanced for wielding power over the natives by the colonialists from the West. To them the natives were, by and large, lazy, barbaric, untruthful, untrustworthy and needed the discipline of their white masters to make them productive not so much for their good but for the expanding markets of the West.  If they had something nice to say about the natives it was expressed in a patronizing way to offer backhanded compliments only to those who had served them obediently. Their judgments depended entirely on the merits or demerits of the natives’ contributions to their economic and political interests.

 And these condescending judgments were not confined to the ruling elite only. Some of the most severe judgments were handed down by those who came as missionaries to serve the humane values of Christianity. For instance, Rev. H. W. Cave, who arrived in Ceylon (as it was known then) as private secretary to the Bishop of Colombo wrote: “The Tamil coolie may be a shocking barbarian in point of intellect and civilization as compared with his British master, but making allowances for his origin and opportunities he is by no means an unfortunate or contemptible character.” [3] The patronizing superiority of the prevailing Christian attitude reflects the unfortunate and contemptible character of Rev. Cave more than the non-white “barbarians” he hoped to civilize. Not surprisingly, William Sabonadiere, a coffee planter, went the further and said: “Untruthfulness comes as naturally to a Tamil as mother’s milk.” [4]

 The hidden agenda in civilizing the natives was to tame them and make them obedient to their political will. In fairness to the British, it must be mentioned that of the three Western colonial powers that came to Sri Lanka — the Portuguese (1505),  the Dutch (1658), and the British (1796) ” the last was the most liberal. The Catholic Portuguese and the Protestant Dutch brought with them their religious bigotry and persecution to Sri Lanka. They persecuted not only non-Christian heathens (which included Muslims) but also Christians who did not belong to ruling denomination.

 The Dutch Governor, Ryclof van Goens, wrote on July 16, 1661 :”All heathen and Muhammadan superstitions must be rooted out in this country as far as possible”.[5] The Dutch Protestants’ hatred of Roman Catholics and the political rivalry between the two sea-faring nations led him to write: “That with a view to root out the impious and evil practices of the Portuguese, the customs of our Fatherland must be introduced. That to this end must from time to time be transported from the country all Portuguese who vilify and despise our customs and religion.”[6]

 The first British Governor, Fredrick North, initially attempted to go down the track of state sponsored religion. All schools were under the Anglican clergymen. When North imposed the Joy Tax which meant paying a tax for wearing jewelry it was the school girls that were affected most. Parents refused to send their girls to school as it was too costly. Petitions urging the repeal of Joy Tax were rejected. It was left to his successor, Sir. Thomas Maitland, to remove the tax.

 Subsequently, the British raj restored religious liberty that prevailed in the pre-colonial days of Sinhala rule. This does not mean that the British raj was either neutral or adhered to the Kandyan Convention in which they pledged to protect the religion of the Buddhists. [7] Unofficial patronage to Christians, based partly on the assumption of superior values of the West and partly on the need for an ideological  fifth column loyal to the raj, permeated the minds of British officials like Carbery. The British rulers refrained from the suppression of other faiths because the destructive internecine Christian wars in England had chastened and liberalized them. Besides, religious tolerance was good for the maintenance of law and order. It reduced one less burden on their imperialistic regime. However, the overarching superior attitude of the white Christian rulers threatened to undermine the essential spirit of the nation.

Mr. Carbery’s action was, no doubt, an embarrassment to the British establishment. But the Acting Governor, R. E. Stubbs, played it down by ignoring it.  This did not pacify the rising English-educated, Sinhala middle-class that was challenging the British raj in their quiet, measured style. They censured him publicly. Mr. Carbery, no doubt, had carried his imperial attitudes too far. The subsequent furore in the press reflected the undercurrent of tensions between the majority Sinhala-Buddhists and their imperial masters. The Manager of the bus company questioned Mr. Carbery’s authority to remove the banner. A correspondent who signed as “W. R.S” asked why the native prohibitionist should not have the same right as the white Magistrate to pull down liquor advertisements displayed on the city trams.

 It was J.H.P. Wijesinghe, another correspondent, who exposed the attitudinal problem of Carbery. Outlining his experiences with Mr. Carbery, he wrote: “Mr. Rodrigo, the well-known advocate of Negombo and I were seated in a first-class compartment of the Negombo train at Maradana Station. Mr. Carbery, the District Judge of Chilaw, Mrs. Carbery, their child and a European nurse entered it. Then a Sinhalese young man entered the first-class compartment. Carbery promptly asked him, in a manner not too conciliatory, whether he had a first-class ticket. The man replied: “If I had not a first-class ticket I would not have come in here,” and proceeded to sit beside Mrs. Carbery. Carbery then invited that lady to change her seat and in the same breath informed the young man that he was the District Judge of Chilaw and that he disliked impertinence.” Wijesinghe added: “To judge from his agitation, language and manner it was obvious that Mr. Carbery objected to natives in the first-class.”[8]

 The rising Sinhala middle-class in the early decades of the 20th century was facing the brunt of most of the low-intensity confrontations with the British raj. Armed with the power of the English language ” the medium of the ruling masters — and a pride in their own ancient culture, dating back to the times when the British were nomadic tribes, they felt that they were equal to their white rulers, if not superior. Barring a few enlightened Britishers, the ruling elite hardly accepted this notion of equality. Their social attitudes were determined by their political assumptions that the natives were not fit to govern themselves ” at least not in 1918.

 The British policy was to absorb the rising elite into the lower levels of the political system without making them their equals by handing over too much power. Keeping the distance was essential for them to wield total power. This was expressed unambiguously in social segregation. Their superiority was expressed in carving out “WHITES ONLY” enclaves.  They resented the intrusion of the natives into the privileged domains of the whites. One of this was the first class carriage in railways ” the mode of public transport categorized on a class basis. The panjandrums of the raj often clashed with the natives in the first class carriages.

 In India, where white supremacists were lording it over the coloured natives, white-non-white clashes due to this unofficial segregation was a common occurrence. Annie Besant, the anti-British English firebrand who was a pioneer of the swaraj movement, exposed the injustices inflicted on the helpless Indians. “On the 19th and 20th January, 1910,” wrote Annie Besant, “the Central Hindu College (of Benares) held its anniversary  and Old Boys came from every part of the country to renew the feelings of their college days and to show their love for their Alma  Mater. One of these, a young man with a brilliant record behind him, having taken his ticket, entered, as was his right, a railway carriage for Benares. An Englishman was already in it and as the young Indian gentleman was entering, this person roared at him: “Get out, you Indian dog!” The student was frail in body and small in stature, and could not fight the bully, as another might have done. He went to another carriage…….”

 Then in an appeal to her compatriots she said: “And you, who are our Rulers in this land, you may ask: “Why does not the Indian appeal to the law when he is  outraged? Because, alas, though justice is done between Indian and Indian, it is not done between the Indian and Englishman. When a little time ago, an Englishman kicked away an Indian, who pleadingly caught his feet in Indian prayer for pity, and the Indian died, the slayer, an official, escaped with a fine. The Indian shrinks from seeking the protection of the law, because he does not believe that it will protect him.”[9]

 The first class carriages of British-government-owned trains turned out to be a domain of the white supremacists. This exclusiveness, amounting to segregation, and the insistence of the natives to share public utilities were two opposing political statements that were loaded with a potential for instant clashes. F. H. Dias Bandaranaike of Castle Street, Borella, for instance, was assaulted by two Englishmen whilst travelling to Mirigama in the first-class compartment with his wife and children. One Englishmen held him while the other bashed him up. When he sued the assailant, M. V. Clapham, the magistrate acquitted the white man and fined Bandaranaike for perjury.[10] Racist supremacists of the British Raj knew how to bend the rules to favour  their own kind.

 Earlier the Sinhalese had felt the full force of British brutality in the riots of 1915. The excesses of the British government in handling a storm in a tea cup were symptomatic of their paranoia. The British were paranoid about the Sinhalese who happened to be the only community that rebelled against their rule. Compliant Jaffna never raised a rebellious flag against the British.

 All in all, the early years of the 20th century did not augur well for the Sinhalese. Of the minority communities the Burghers, who were the descendants of the Portugese and the Dutch colonialists, were safely ensconced in the British hierarchy. The Jaffna Tamils, in exchange for their loyalty, were given a nudge-and-a-wink by the British to pursue their insular politics and their casteist life-style that dominated the peninsula. The Muslims were left to remain where they were ” at the lowest rung of the ladder without any significant social mobility. The Indian coolies were imported as a breed of lesser human beings and left behind by the British in inhuman conditions in the plantations that sustained the British Empire.

 The indentured Indian coolies, exported from India as cheap labour to various corners of the far-flung Empire, were worked to the bone to add glory to the expanding commercial enterprise of the raj. The land occupied by the advancing British forces had no value in itself unless cheap labour was introduced to add value.  There was no glory in the conquests unless profits were reaped from productive land. There is neither profit nor glory in barren or fallow land. The Indian coolie was transported to make the fallow and the barren land productive for British enterprise. They cleared and tilled the land, planted tea, coffee or coco and carried the harvests on their backs for a mere pittance.

 The British Empire was carried on the backs of these homeless, helpless armies of immigrants transplanted in alien countries. The British harvested the profits and fled leaving these migrants in hovels unfit for human habitation. The irony is that, after inflicting all the suffering the British moralists and their NGO agents now accuse the succeeding post-independent governments of denying the Indian workers their due rights.

 A significant part of the process of decolonization meant coping with the grim misery left behind by the British wherever they went. Politically, however, it was the Sinhala-Buddhists who faced the brunt of both colonization and decolonization. During colonial times they were suppressed and denied their rights because imperialism depended on denying the rights of the people. During the post-colonial period, when they started to redress the historical imbalances and injustices left behind by the colonial masters, the people were once again denied their right to reclaim their historical legacy by those who inherited privileged positions, perks and power from the departing colonial masters. Like their colonial masters the native remnants left behind also depended on denying the people their birth rights.

 The privileged English-speaking minority who ruled the roost in the post-colonial era fought back to retain their powers and privileges they inherited from colonial times. They resisted changes to the old order that would diminish their status. The English-speaking minority like the colonialists believed that their privileged position deserve exclusive domains to preserve the purity of their linguistic/ethnic superiority. Both concocted ideologies, rituals and rules to exclude the non-English-speaking “other”. Anyone posing a threat to their assumed superiority, purity or privileges had to face violent consequences like being thrashed in the first class carriages of the British railways.

 Even in Jaffna it was the English-speaking Vellahla elite that oppressed the non-English-speaking low-castes. They controlled and manipulated  the socio-religio-political culture to  their advantage. It is this elite that of was behind the Vadukoddai Resolution that unleashed the Vadukoddai War. The non-English-speaking low castes were mobilized to fight the war launched by the English-speaking Vellahla elite. And when the war was escalating the English-speaking Tamil elite left for greener pastures abroad leaving the non-English speaking mob to carry the burden of the Vellahla war.

 In short, colonialism did not end when the colonial masters left the island. The Anglicized and the English-speaking elite left behind in privileged positions in the public and private sectors were determined to retain the old colonial order and continue from the places where their old colonial masters had left as if no changes had taken place. Getting rid of colonialism and its privileges caused most of the political tensions in the post-independence period.    

Sri Lanka is still battling  colonialism even after 66 years of independence. The Vadukoddai War, for instance, could  have been hailed as the final act of cleaning up the messy colonial past and restoring the     new order in which the victims of colonialism would have new opportunities to regain the lost heritage. Unfortunately, instead of Carbery the nation is now facing Cameron. Though they are two different characters in two different ages the arrogance is the same.

So do we fight or do we surrender?

 Footnotes:

[1] The Ceylon Independent, May 31, 1918 ” p.1.

[2] Ibid.

[3] H. W. Cave, Golden Tips (Cassel, London 1904) cited by Donovan Moldrich in Bitter Berry Bondage, The nineteenth century coffee workers of Sri Lanka, — p.VI,

[4] Ibid ” p.VI, cited from William Sabonadiere, The Coffee Planter of Ceylon (Guernsey, UK, 1806) p.86.

[5] Memoirs and Instructions of Dutch Governors, Commandeurs and etc, translated by Sophia Pieters, Government Printer, Ceylon 1908 ” p. 81

[6] Ibid ” p.7.

[7] Article 5 of the Kandyan Convention declared Buddhism inviolable, and promised the maintenance and protection of its rites, priests and temples. But once the British consolidated their grip they abandoned their commitment to Article 5.

[8] The Ceylon Independent, June 3, 1918 ” p.1

[9] The Ceylon Patriot, March 1, 1910 ” p.4. “An Appeal to the Government and the Europeans” by Annie Besant, President of the Theosophical Society and of the Central Hindu College, Benares.

[10] The Ceylon Independent, June 8, 1918 ” p.1

 

14 Responses to ““BUDDHA IS SUPREME””

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    WELL SAID HLDM as always!

    “Untruthfulness comes as naturally to a Tamil as mother’s milk.”

    – William Sabonadiere, 1806

    Of course this statement is not ALWAYS true.
    Unfortunately it is TRUE in the cases of TGTE, TNA, GTF, BTF, TAG, TULF, ITAK, ACTC, DMK, etc. and their voters/supporters/wellwishers.

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    It is often assumed by the African Americans that the word Nigger was only applied to them. In fact the British called all the people of the sub continents “niggers”. words tell a lot and this derogatory term matched their bigotry and racism. The British first came to trade then to plunder. They turned India’s economy from 25% of the world’s economy where products such as textiles, spices, gems, to luxury items made her one of the largest economies in the world. When it came to textiles India produced cloth more precious than gold. A Pushima shawl made out of the beard of a goat has the quality of silk; light and glossy and the quality of wool, warmth. “Shawl” is an understatement since it covers the person from shoulder to feet. When it comes to spices ounce for ounce Saffron is equal if not more expensive than gold. The British destroyed these markets and turned India and Sri Lanka as nations that exported raw materials to be developed in the west. Sri Lanka’s rubber estates is a prime example.
    When India got her independence her economy was reduced to barely 1% of the world. No invading army hell bent on looting and plundering could have achieved a better job.
    India’s worst famine was caused when the British forced the Bengal region to give up growing grain and instead grow opium to feed their diabolical plan to bring down neighboring China by drugging her. Even the Emperor was addicted as opium dens flourished across China and tens of millions of Indians in Bengal starved to death. The tragedy of this is that in South India they were having a bumper crop of grain and it was brought to the British attention but the British deliberately chose not to transfer the grain the starving masses. This is a genocidal maniac’s dream come true, for this was a form of genocide.
    The British did indulge in mass plunder of the treasures of the nations of the sub continent. India’s iconic diamond. which came to represent the power of the Mogul Empire was expropriated by the British where it is now part of the Crown jewels. They also took the yellow Regent Diamond and a vast amount of miniatures, statues, and bronzes from India. One of the world’s largest collection of sub continental treasures are found in the London Museum and in the royal jewels. When the Taj Mahal was completed it was close to a jewel box with ropes of pearls hanging from post to post, with the finest carpets in world, with precious stones outside of the Pietra dura work. The British stole the carpets and the Jats stole the pearls and the gems.
    One of the greatest masterpieces taken from Sri Lanka was a bronze statue of the Bodhisattva. When the British left they made sure to leave India a divided land for the concept of the rights of the Muslims was a British idea only to be solved creating Pakistan which has created a mini cold war for 65 years draining the resources of both nations.
    In Sri Lanka it was the British who carelessly decided to import Indian Tamils to work the tea estates thereby imbalancing the ethnic order. They further created the schism between Sri Lankan Tamils and Sinhalese by giving the best government jobs to the Tamils or their divide and conquer policy. Some of the after effects of this decision contributed to the civil war.
    It was because of early British historians that the Western world to this day has a negative opinion of the sub continent and the many cultures of it for they painted the history and culture of the sub continent in a negative light, focusing on the worst aspects of the culture such as the caste system, suttee, Thuggee, the poverty they created and due to their Christian ethics the “pagan’ faiths of the sub continent are at best contemptible. I personally experienced this legacy when I used to attend classes on the history and culture of Asia. Finally skin color played a great role for in the minds of the Europeans it is inconceivable that the darker races of the world are capable of achieving anything noble. Whatever they have achieved is perverted, debased, filled with superstition or all the signs of a decaying and repugnant civilization. It was only a handful of British scholars who thought otherwise and they were punished by the majority of scholars who dismissed their work as sentimental hogwash.

  3. Nanda Says:

    “Buddha is Supreme” is very insulting to both Muslims and Christians who believe ” God is supreme”.

    God(=Allah) is supreme because he is greater than all as he created even Buddha’s body and mind.
    Buddha is supreme because he got rid of “I am the body and mind ” idea, thus making the God(Allah) irrelevant.

    So, get rid of “I am the body and mind” idea and be supreme yourself and earn the fearlessness !

    How good is MR could get rid of “I am the body and mind” idea ? Then the Lanka will be “supreme” !

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    What is supreme?

    I think the MIND that can see things OBJECTIVELY without fear or favor, profit or loss, green or blue, etc. is SUPREME.

    They say law is supreme when the law is BLIND (no fear or favor) and when the law is an ASS (don’t care what benefit a decision will make to the decision maker personally).

  5. Nanda Says:

    Unenlightened human mind is full of greed, hatred and delusion ( not seeing things as they are). The degree of these defilements vary person to person.

    Therefore all unenlightened minds cannot see things as they are, thus will always act with personal ambitions and fear of failure.
    a GREAT LEADER will have less greed than normal unenlightened beings, less hatred and less delusions, thus they are these defilements and fear.
    We shall wait for that “supreme leader”, not for western style “pragmatic” fools produced by our corrupt political grassroots.

  6. Nanda Says:

    correction, “thus they are without these defilements and fear.”

  7. SA Kumar Says:

    Unfortunately it is TRUE in the cases of TGTE, TNA, GTF, BTF, TAG, TULF, ITAK, ACTC, DMK, etc. and their voters/supporters/wellwishers.- Who else left over – You & You (not me) !!!

  8. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Buddha is indeed “supreme”. What makes the Buddha and Buddhism special is that Siddharth Gautama the Prince was a Hindu who developed a new philosophy of rational thinking that did away with caste and gave mankind a pragmatic way to deal with life. From the lofty heights of an extremely God driven faith, this Hindu Prince dispelled all of his faith and gave birth to Buddhism

  9. Nanda Says:

    BW,
    Sorry to say you are continuing your multi prong attack on Buddhism in a subtle way, as understood very well by those who know Buddhism.
    As a friend I have advised you once and twice which you considered as “rude”.

    BUDDHSIM IS NOT A PHLOSOPHY, it is the reality, of the past future and the present.
    Prince Siddhatha ( not Siddhrath you are making him Endian) was not born as a Hindu ( unless Hindu=people from ancient India), you cannot even prove 1 text which carries the word “Hindu” dating back 500 AD ( if not 500 BC), yet you are continuing your subtle attack (as a Christian who was so unfortunate to learn something from what you inherited).

    Even Kassipu Joesoph did not claim “Buddha is a Hindu”.

  10. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nanda:
    I am glad you think of me as a friend but you did not advice me you told me in no uncertain terms not to call the Buddha a Hindu which I did not. I called the Siddhartha a Hindu since you failed to answer my question which I placed to you more than once and I place the question to you again. What was the faith that Prince Siddhartha and his family practice before Prince Siddhartha through his sermons created Buddhism? They could not be Atheists or Secularist or animists so again what was the faith Prince Siddhartha practice. Until you can properly clarify it you do not have the moral ground to advise or tell anyone else what faith Prince Siddhartha practiced before he renounced it. Every book I have read states Siddhartha was a Hindu. Please prove me wrong before you advise me to stop stating he was a Hindu.

    Secondly I am a commenter like you and to date I have not trailed your comments to be the person to dictate to you what and how to say anything. You are not the spokesperson for Buddhism. If you want to correct others then have the courtesy to provide evidence why that person is wrong. To date you have not provided any evidence why I should not consider the Buddha a Hindu. I even gave an example that ancient to modern Buddhist statues still bear the mark of the Hindu pottu to which I have received no explanation from you.

  11. Nanda Says:

    BW,
    You are running away from my challange.
    froget about Sidhartha, if you can prove at least there existed a faith called “Hinduism” back in 2600 BC you win.

    Hinduism eveloved from many faiths including Buddhism.
    Buddhism, as it is understood by all intelectuals in the world today ( excluding you who is still clinging to your own faith) was started by Buddha.

    King Suddhodhana did not follow any “religion”. He respected all “intelectuals” of that day.

    All the books you have read are from Endians. You support Endian propaganda deviced to belittle Buddhism by saying “Prince Sidhartha was a Hindoo”. If you want, keep saying it and see what will happen.

    “Ema with pawsanu muwin obe … Buddham Saranam Gachchami..”

  12. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nanda: No it is you that keeps ducking the question. Okay you state that Siddhartha’s father did not follow any religion. How do you know that? Can I find it in the Wikipedia or any source? You do not have to go to lengths on this issue since such a famous figure such as the Buddha, his family religion would be common knowledge.
    What I can prove is what constitutes modern Hinduism go as far back as the Harappan civilization. The lingam existed in that civilization, seals which is the hallmark of the Harappan civilization show a man sitting in a yogic position and is reminiscent of the present God Shiva.
    During the Brahmanical age Vedic Gods were popular such as Brahma, Indra, Varuna, Agni, Surya etc. This was the time of fire worship where the fire is the presence of Agni (lord of fire). Oral traditions which date to texts of that time placed the present constellation of Hindu Gods at a secondary level. They were worshiped and wooden temples were built for them but the Aryan Gods prevailed during the Brahmanical period. A classic example are the cave temples of Ajanta where the carver carefully carved in stone the wooden beams of earlier temples as Temples went from wood to stone.
    The Mahabharata was written starting before Christ and went on for centuries where different writers contributed to it. The main character being the blue skinned (non Aryan) god Krishna. There were other texts such as the Upanishads, The Puranas, and the Sutras among a host of texts were written before during and after the Buddha that defined modern Hinduism and showed that it was being practiced along with Brahmanism. Eventually the Aryan Gods died off. There are estimated about a few Temples dedicated to the Aryan God Brahma and many temples to the Hindu God Surya. Agni continues to play an integral role in Hindu marriage ceremonies but short of that he too has few temples. The rest of the Aryan Gods were reduced to texts. Then the pre Aryan Gods reemerged ,so we have the black Goddess Kali, the blue skinned God Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva etc. which are not mentioned in the Vedas but predate them and mentioned in later texts. the mother Goddess cult is also part of the Harappan civilization, so the concept of Puru Shakti (primordial feminine force) already existed side by side with Brahmanism and when Buddhism spread across the land it did not displace Hinduism as one of the golden ages of Hinduism (The Gupta dynasty) took place during the time Buddhism was flourishing in India.
    Hinduism has 6 schools of philosophy and only one school (the atomic principle) where it is understood that all things are created by an indivisible part comes close to Hinduisms version of Atheism.
    The period when Prince Siddhartha existed was a heady time of religious doctrines coming from older times and mixing with what the Indo Aryans brought. It was an age of philosophers such as Mahavira who founded Jainism, Confucius, Plato and Socrates of Greece.
    The word “Hindu” is a foreign word applied to the Indian people and taken from the river Indus. That river also gave the name “India”. The locals called their faith “Sanatana Darhma” or eternal law or eternal truth. The locals still call India by her original name and that is “Bharat” (named after the blind sage who also created Bharanatyam or the dance of Bharat) not India. Sanatana Darhma was a term applied to all the philosophies going back well before the Buddha and the concept of Darhma, like Karma are Hindu concepts that were fully developed. It would be inconceivable to think that Prince Siddhartha and his family had no belief. Again you claim so, where do you get that idea? Atheism per se was not practiced in India. It stayed a philosophy.
    When The British took over the sub continent they discovered two critical issues. One was that India had a very ancient civilization that dates back well beyond 5 thousand years ago and was the largest civil. of that time (one million square miles) and the second was that Buddhism originated in India (Nepal was part of India at that time). That is why NON INDIANS claim that Hinduism is the oldest religion in the world for it has some of its roots going back to the Harappan time and was never broken as her literature points out.
    By the way you only stated that his father did not follow any religion and did not back it up
    Nanda: if you do not know the answer it is not a shame to simply state “I do not know”. Even the Vedas start with those words. “I do not know’ or neti neti before they expounded on their philosophy. Buddhism is a noble faith, philosophy and teachings and it does not need anyone to denigrate another faith in order to prove its worthiness.

  13. Nanda Says:

    BW,
    Wikipedia has produced a lot od Pundits but it is not an ancient script, but Thripitaka is. Anyone can write any nonsece in Wikipedia and you may hang on to it.

    There is no single evidence to prove, King Suddhodana worshiped Brahma, Indra, Varuna, Agni, Surya.
    They followed the cultural traditions of the time and respected elders of all faiths.

    Buddha has expounded in length how the idea “God” came into the being called Brahma, who visited Ven. Sariputta before he passed away which was enough for his Bhramin mother to become a Buddhist.

    You can go round and round expounding Wikipedia to me but even the word Hindu was not used that time (which you accepted), so your argument using Wiki fails to prove anything. If the word “Hinduism” as understood by the whole world did not exist that time how on this earth Siddhartha could be a Hindoo ? Hinduism may have originated from early Vedic philosophy but a lot of nonsense existed that time and more nonsense has gone into to it now. Buddha fought against all existing faiths existed that time including Vedic scripts.
    I take your speculation as an attack on Buddhism to spread your own faith. That is all.
    Do not preach to the world like an authority of the Buddhist history when you are a Christian and keep your religion to yourself. If you want to belittle Buddhism, argue against Buddha’s words.

  14. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Nand:”Do not preach to the world like an authority of the Buddhist history when you are a Christian and keep your religion to yourself. If you want to belittle Buddhism, argue against Buddha’s words”. You will be amazed how ignorant people of each faith can be. Just because you claim to be a Buddhist does not make you an authority on Buddhism either.
    Thus said this back and forth debate which is bordering on a quarrel has to stop!

    I am willing to give in for the greater cause and that is a united front of the Sinhalese nationalist Buddhist movement to claim its proper place, dispel movements against Buddhism in Sri Lanka and against Sri Lanka itself. I have seen many nationalist movements simply fall apart as internal quarreling breaks them down….to the pleasure of the opponent and in this case the Tamil movement to divide Sri Lanka.

    Nanda if you and I simply use this forum to debate who is more right and end up with bad feelings the only people that would benefit are the Tamil diaspora. We have to be united even if we do not agree on everything or the Sinhalese nationalist movement will start splintering based on personal opinions.

    Thus said you placed a question to me “If the word “Hinduism” as understood by the whole world did not exist that time how on this earth Siddhartha could be a Hindoo” because the world called Sanatana Darhma “Hinduism”just like the world calls Bharat India. As for the Wikipedia and the Tripitaka . well one is a source material while the other (the Tripitaka) is basically the bible of the Buddhists. It cannot be compared. If you want to dismiss the Wikipedia fine, then dismiss what it states about Sri Lanka as well. This part was addressing your questions. May I please ask you and all that read this to prioritize what unites us than what divides us for only in unity can the Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist movement win.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


Copyright © 2018 LankaWeb.com. All Rights Reserved. Powered by Wordpress