Sinhala Buddhist extremism and Chinthana Parshadaya
Posted on January 29th, 2014

 By Nalin de Silva Courtesy Island

 Mr. Rajan Philips in his article on “The fall of the Tiger, the rise of the Sinhala Roar (Ravaya), and Geneva anxieties” in The Sunday Island of 26th January states: “A much broader broadside came in last week’s Sunday Island Political Column under the headline: “The Mad Monk Phenomenon.” Curiously, the Minister of Education and the Sunday Island (SI) columnist are shy of naming names. The Minister laments about the “activities of some Buddhist monks”, and the SI columnist lambastes the “The Mad Monk Phenomenon”. Neither of them refers by name to any one group in the long list of “Buddhist extremist” organizations that includes besides Sihala Ravaya and Hela Bodu Pawra, the Ravana Balaya, Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Weera Vidahana, Chinthana Parshadaya and Jayagrahanaya. There might be a rhyme to their names, but is there a rhyme or reason for their being?”

Mr. Philips refers to Chinthana Parshadaya, among other organisations as a Buddhist extremist organisation. I have been the Secretary of the Chinthana Parshadaya for the last twenty seven years or so, and as such I consider it as my duty to respond to the article by Mr. Philips as otherwise the readers could come to wrong conclusions. Incidentally in Chinthana Parshadaya there are non Buddhist “members”, and I can give more than one reason to justify the existence of the Chinthana Parshadaya.

The easiest for most of the political analysts, sociologists, and various experts to do is to blame Sinhala Buddhist extremism, without defining what is meant by that expression. There may be excesses by some organisations that are Sinhala Buddhist but that does not qualify them to be called Buddhist extremist organisations. Some of these analysts would only make a passing remark to LTTE terrorism without identifying it as an extremist organization. It is fashionable for some of them to refer to the LTTE terrorists as militants thus giving the latter respectability in the eyes of at least some of the readers.

When I was at school, a teacher once said all ‘isms’ were extreme ideologies or words to that effect. Of course Buddhism, Marxism, Hinduism end with ‘ism’ and I wondered whether they were extreme ideologies. It was only later that I realised that the teachers themselves are victims of their education, and some of them pass on to their students what they learnt unconsciously while some others do so purposely. The ‘ism’ story is a creation of the Judaic Christian culture with more weight on Christianity than on Judaism that also ends with ism. Incidentally it is not the Sinhala Buddhists or any other Buddhists that coined the word “Buddhism” for the Dhamma or Buddha Dhamma. The Sinhala Buddhists would have used words such as Dhamma or Sasana but not Buddhavadaya. The Buddhists the world over use terms Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha and not even Buddhagama. It is the Judaic Christian culture that coined the word Buddhism and hence words such as Buddhist though we use them now very frequently. The Judaic Christian culture having coined the word Buddhism for Dhamma then identifies it as an extreme ideology using their own terminology and catch phrases. Can there be a cultural domination worse than that?

Sri Lanka was a Sinhala Buddhist country with or without that concept expressed in so many words at least for 1800 years before the Portuguese arrived in 1506. Though the Muslims had come to Sri Lanka before the Portuguese the two communities had lived peacefully and amicably without anyone group trying to convert the members of the other to their religion or culture. However, “natural conversions” would have occurred in the form of marriages and also assimilation of cultures but not of “forced conversions”that include not only torture but giving privileges and bribes in various forms. It is to the credit of Sinhala Buddhists that they had not tried to convert Vedda community to Buddhism though they had lived for centuries together. However, as said before “natural conversions” had taken place as can be seen from the cultures of both communities. Even the word “gaccami” in Pali of Buddhism is related to “gachchanava” in Vedi language.

Perhaps the term Sinhala Bauddhaya is a translation of ‘Sinhalese Buddhist’, and came into vogue after the English came to this country, if not earlier after the Portuguese or the Dutch. However, that does not mean that there were no Sinhala Buddhists in the country as they would have identified themselves as Sinhala people who were members of the Buddha Sasana as upasaka and upasika. The Bauddha Upasaka and Upasika comprised the vast majority of the country and the country was ruled (rata karaweema) according to the Sinhala tradition, which was nothing but Bauddha tradition. Though the Sinhala Upasaka and Upasika continued to remain the majority the political, cultural and economic base began to shift to the Judaic Christian sphere with the arrival of the Portuguese who were members of the emerging Judaic Christian culture though Catholic in religion. At present even the Pope is for all purposes in day to day work is a Judaic Christian in culture except in activities directly connected with religion.

The gradual shifting of the base came to an end with defeat for Sinhala Buddhists with the English occupying the entire country breaching the Sinhala English Pact that came to be known as the Kandyan convention. Though the Pact clearly states without any room for any interpretation by western historians or other social scientists that the country would be ruled according to the Sinhala customs, the English who taught us that they were gentlemen (has anybody else called them gentlemen?) breached it in no time resulting in the Uva Wellassa independence struggle in 1817-18. If any military operation in this country can be called ‘genocide’ it was the operations carried out by the English in Uva Wellassa against the Sinhala people, beside the Magha invasion and the attacks by the Chola Chola.

However, the Sinhalas survived all these attacks but were not able to gain complete independence in 1948 or even in 1972 with the ‘Republican constitution’. The struggle against the English that began in 1817 after the Pact of 1815 continues to date and Chinthana Parshadaya was established after the JRJ constitution of 1978 and the threats of India against the sovereignty of the country in the second half of the eighties. The English continues to use non Sinhala Buddhists against the Sinhala Buddhists and it was under these circumstances that leaders such as Anagarika Dharmapala appeared in the latter part of the nineteenth century. If they appeared to be anti non Sinhala Buddhists it is because the English used these communities against the Sinhala Buddhists. Even today many Sinhala Buddhist organisations appear to be anti non Sinhala Buddhist but what is at the bottom of their agitation is winning complete independence for the Sinhala Buddhists from the colonial powers that use other communities to maintain their hegemony. The Chinthana Parshadaya agitated against Tamil racism and was responsible for campaigning for defeating the LTTE when most of the others under the influence of western ideology were advocating so called peace talks. The Chinthana Parshadaya claimed that the LTTE could and should be defeated when the so called expert opinion was vehemently opposed to it. We are proud that our view triumphed at the end, but it is unfortunate that we have to go on campaigning against Tamil racism as it is still being used by the England led western countries, Geneva being only the tip of the iceberg.

The Chinthana Parshadaya is of the view that the knowledge is not neutral but is based on a Chinthanaya and is created relative to a culture. As it is the western knowledge that is the hegemonic knowledge of the world we have no alternative but to learn what the west teaches us. The Chinthana Parshadaya struggles against this hegemony as well and if somebody thinks that Chinthana Parshadaya that wants different knowledge systems to flourish is an extremist organization we can understand that he/she is influenced by the western Chinthanaya, which is at present the Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya that pretends to be multi cultural while not allowing any other system of knowledge to be considered as valid. Who is having an extremist view of the world maintaining their hegemony of the world through their knowledge?

11 Responses to “Sinhala Buddhist extremism and Chinthana Parshadaya”

  1. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    “…all that Christian missionaries can offer are the myths of Canaan and Galilee which had their origin in the backwash of Arabia……………The Muhammedans, an alien people, … by shylockian methods become prosperous like Jews. The Sinhala sons of the soil, whose ancestors for 2358 years had shed rivers of blood to keep the country free of alien invaders … are in the eyes of the British only vagabonds. The Alien South Indian Muhammedan come to Ceylon, sees the neglected villager, without any experience in trade … and the result is that the Muhammedan thrives and the sons of the soil go to the wall.”

    Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala (Don David Hewavitharane) 1912

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    ” It is fashionable for some of them to refer to the LTTE terrorists as militants thus giving the latter respectability in the eyes of at least some of the readers.” If so then those in power in Sri Lanka too can identify themselves according to what they perceive of themselves. Lets not allow the outsider identify the nationalist movements of Buddhism as “extremist” for that is a game both can play.

    In the same tone the evangelical movement is a “radical invasive foreign” movement meant to destroy Buddhism and once it is seen as such it should be stamped out. The “extremist proselytizing” Muslims are on a “crusade” to destroy Buddhism and as such should receive the same level of retribution given to the Christian evangelists. Make it clear that Sri Lanka is not a place for foreign powers to come to this land to convert and by that destroy the nation’s faith.

    Just like Europe Pro Buddhist and pro Sri Lankan laws should be passed that limit such activity. It has been mentioned in many other comments in the past in this forum but needs repeating; the Hindu practice of animal sacrifice and the caste system have to go. They are not tolerated in Singapore which has a sizable Hindu Tamil population, so why should these practices including conversions to other faiths have any place in Sri Lanka. Others may call such movements as extremists, but they do not determine the nature of these domestic movements. It is up to the people leading the nationalist movement to determine them.

  3. maha Says:

    Mr. Wijeyasinghe,

    I believe that no foriegn missionary either Mahinda, and other early foriegn Buddhist missionaries who brought Buddhism to SL and converted our king and the country, and the Western Christians or Muslims but its the ignorance and extremist fanatical and politically motivated groups like the one you support are the ones who truly destroy the peaceful Buddhist Dhamma in Sri Lanka. Already we have a little real Buddhism left in Sri Lanka today but certain groups are destroying what’s left! The lord Buddha’s teachings are peacful and he taught ‘Mitriya’ but you are propagating hate and violence which is not Buddhism at all. Come on open your eyes, no one can be converted by force. Man is born free and each and every individual has an inborn human rights to follow a religion according to his or her own understanding and dictates of his owm mind. No one is born with a religion but religious belief is a LEARNED BEHAVIOR. No one can convert another by force because each person has his own will and ability to decide what’s right, good and what’s bad for that person as that person comes a broader knowledge about his enviornment, values, meaning of life and spirituality etc. After all this is information age that we live in.

    By the way, the caste system stay live and well in our Sinhala Buddhist society for many thousand years and even “Nikkayas” exist among the monks. As I said, the Buddhism is being destroyed not by non-Buddhists but WITHIN its ranks today and fanatical groups acting in ignorance. If you attempting to save just a name without its values and dhamma such efforts will be worthless.
    Force, hate and violence has never succeeded in human societies and its short lived.

  4. Nanda Says:

    Hama(s),
    You don’t have to worry about Buddhism, just concentrate on not building more and more mosques and churches illegally.
    We Buddhist know how to look after ourselves. Buddhist (unless converted) have no ignorance, that is why they are Buddhists.
    “Fanatical groups” acting in ignorance are,
    1. Saudi barbarian extremists who dress women in black and cover the whole head ( which was never seen 30 years ago)
    2. Evangelists extremists who take advantage of poverty of people
    3. Tamil terrorist

  5. Lorenzo Says:

    Maha,

    Of course Buddhist teachings are peaceful unlike what Muhammad preached which is PURE VIOLENCE.

    But SELF DEFENCE is not against Buddhism. Both Buddhism and self defence CAN coexist.

    Biggest threat to Buddhism comes from ARABIC BRBARIANISM, genital worshiping stupidity and money-for-religion groups. Buddhists have ALWAYS found their way so you and I have nothing to worry about them.

    Don’t assume a Buddhist would ALWAYS follow teachings. As fallible humans sometimes they act differently. It’s only human.

  6. maha Says:

    Lorenzo,
    In fact, I had only responded to Mr.Wijeyasinghe, and you are not him, are you? Its funny that you respond to me on behalf of him. Are you underestimating him or something like that?
    When you pointing one finger at others, your other four fingers are pointed at you! You said, “SELF DEFENCE is not against Buddhism.” By the way, if what you believe is the truth, it does not need your “DEFENSE” but the truth can stands by itself. The ‘Self-defense’ is needed if ‘the truth’ that you claim to believe have no power in itself and it cannot stand by itself. Food for thought!

    You said that “Don’t assume a Buddhist would ALWAYS follow teachings. As fallible humans sometimes they act differently. It’s only human.” What made you think that only the Buddhist are “fallible” human beings? Does the Buddhism teaches that? If you believe that the “Biggest threat” to Buddhism is from Arabians, why not rather you do something to stop those poor men and women going to labor to those cruel slave drivers in Arabia? You bunch only know to promote violence, hate and to bark well. Look at those Western countries who accept our Sri Lankan citizens regardless of their religion, race, color and nationality and give them new opportunities, jobs, equality, freedom to practice their own religions whatever they are, and they even have laws to protect their religious freedom and freedom of speech and most above they give them citizenships. In comparison, look at “the Buddhist Sri Lanka,” who did not give citizenship to poor and indigenous Indian people who were brought to labor in tea plantations over hundred years?

  7. maha Says:

    Nanda,
    your name calling is not very buddhist or gentleman. First of all, “the ignorance” is when you people you don’t know your own buddhist religious teachings and practice! I would love to point out to you the real basic buddhist teachings that you obviously seem to be ignorant of.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Hamas,

    The problem is Arabs in SL. In Arabia there are 250,000 American troops, Indians, Brits, etc.

    As for violence you should visit thereligionofpeace website.

    Mashallah!

    A fantastic website of facts and figures. Independent one. Not run by BBS. So you can see who the violent people are. The good news is MOST casualties of your violence is your own people. There are estimated 50 million Muslim war widows around the world. Shiia-Sunni, Sunni-Sunni, Wahabi-Salafi, Sufi-Salafi, Sufi-Ahmadi, Sunni-Kurdish, etc. wars will wipe them all out from the face of the earth.

    Wherever they go they create violence and get it back.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    The BARBARIC practice of Female Genital Mutilation is spreading in SL too.

    SL needs laws to stop this barbaric practice and chop the heads off those who do it.

  10. maha Says:

    Lorenzo,
    your irrational thinking and childish writing made me realized that i had responded to a first grader! I did not defend Muslims neither do I recognize it is as a religion. I believe the Islam is a totalitarian religio-political system wanting to rule the whole world by their sharia law, the iron rod.
    However, people like you nuts turning the Buddhism today in the same direction like the radical Muslims. The best religion to me is the one who cares about their follow human beings, respect other’s faith and practice, basic human democratic rights and priviledges, live by the virtues and the principles recognized by the civilized society, showing kindness, and love (mitriya) towards all peoples regarless of what their religion, race, nationality, position, cast or class.
    Educate yourself foolish man and go get a life than wasting your time supporting these phony ideologies of extremist fanatics, the low elements in the society who are walking backward and headed for the destruction of our civilized society.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    Hamas,

    You have been brainwashed by violence in the name of the religion of “peace”.

    Please refer to the website I said. Or just watch WORLD NEWS to see where your community is heading.

    When Modi becomes Endian PM your fate will be sealed!

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