Bodu Bala Sena
Posted on May 14th, 2014

By Charles.S.Perera

 Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka in the 3rd century  BCE.  Thereafter  Sri Lanka became an exclusive Buddhist country.  Later  Sri Lanka was subject to attacks first by the South Indian Tamil marauders, who may have plundered and ransacked Buddhist Temples and monasteries.  Later in 205 BCE a Chola Prince  Elara  set up a Kingdom in Anuradhapura.  During which period   Hindu  Kovils were built in once exclusive Buddhist land.  King Dutugamunu defeated King Elara in battle and re-established the Sinhala Kingdom in Rajarata in 261BCE. 

 It marked a great revival of Buddhism bringing it back to the glory it was before  the foreign invaders. The Buddhists  monks are said to have accompanied the armies of King Dutugemunu, while at least one is said to have disrobed to take part in the battle against Elara.  The monks were of course there to provide protection to the King and the army chanting prayers and giving them moral strength to fight the enemy and bring back the lost  prestige of Buddhism under the Hindu ruler

 After that Buddhism flourished in Sri Lanka until the arrival of the Portuguese in 1505. Royal seat of power was then in Sitawaka, with a separate Kingdom in Kandy, and the power struggle within the Royal family helped the Portuguese to entrench them-selves in Sri Lanka.  After the death of Mayadunne his son Rajasinghe I became the King of Sitawake and fought against the Portuguese and defeated them in many battles. Though Rajasingha was acclaimed as a brave  King for his victories over the Portuguese armies, he later became an enemy of Buddhism. 

 His reign was a sad period in the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka.  The King Rajasinghe was converted to Hinduism and appointed a Hindu as his Chief adviser.  Many Buddhist Monasteries were raised to ground and land handed over to Hindu Kovils.  The Buddhist monks were put to death, and the Buddhist Sacred books were kept hidden in the hill country.  Buddhism was entrusted to lay people dressed in white called “ganninanse”.  They played the role of the Buddhist monks.

 It was King Kithsiri Rajasinghe who revived Buddhism from scratch.  Advised  by the  great Buddhist monk Venerable Welvitiye Saranamkara maha thero , the king  invited 18 monks from Siam-now Thailand to re-introducing higher ordination of Buddhist Monks in the Thailand tradition. This was the beginning of the Siam Nikaya.  

 The Portuguese came to Sri Lanka with two objectives,  one was  to guarantee its spice trade and the other the conversion of heathens to Catholicism.  The Portuguese and then the Dutch that followed them, and the British that came last, all had the intension of luring the  natives away from their precious heritage of  Buddhism, introducing them  to their faith of an invisible god, explaining  his invisibility  in stories of miracles he had performed such as making the blind see, the paralyzed walk or even the dead rise from the tomb. They assured them the  love of the god that will  come to them  in ” believing without  seeing or asking questions.”

 The God of the Bible had no love for others, but only for his chosen people the Israelites.  Therefore the West (initiated by the Greek writers)  burrowed the God of Israel providing him with a son. The most convincing story to help the conquerors to convert the non-believers was the narration of  the myth of a immaculate conception that gave the God a son to take on himself  the sins of the people.  Of course they also tempted the natives to accept their religion with “education in Missionary schools” and providing them jobs in their colonial administrations, as they are doing now for the conversion of  poor villagers in some parts of Sri Lanka, offering them money and gifts.

 The Portuguese had weakened the Sitawaka Kings, making it easy for them to convert the members of Royal families to Catholicism.  Don Joao was a Sinhala Prince, who later fled to Portugal and  became a Priest. 

 The Portuguese wanted King Karalliadde Bandara’s daughter Princess Kusumadevi  baptised as Dona Catarina  to be placed on the throne of Kandy. But Konappu Bandara defeated the Portuguese, married Dona Catarina and was crowned as King Vimaladharmasooriya I of  Kandy.

 This period saw the utter brutality of the Portuguese who set fire to the city and killed cows in Buddhist temples.  Many Catholic Churches were built and there was none to protect Buddhism and the Buddhists. 

 The Buddhist monks who made an effort to make the people aware of the threat to Buddhism and rouse them to rebel against the Portuguese were hunted down and thirty of the them were hanged, thus discouraging any future uprising of the people against the Portuguese.  King of the Kingdom of Kandy Vimaladharmasuriya despite the bitter lessons learnt during the Portuguese occupation seemed  to have had no alternative other than invite the Dutch in 1638 to help him defeat the Portuguese.

 But the Dutch making use of the kindly relations with the King, established Missionary Schools and spread Christianity.  It was during this period that Christianity built a strong hold of the country.

 The rule of Sri Lanka by the British beginning from 1815 was a disaster for Buddhism, equal to what it was under the Portuguese.  It was again the Buddhists monks who took the fore front to rebel against the British rule. Venerable Wariyapola Srisumangala Anunayaka Thero of the  Asgiriya Chapter pulled down the English flag and re-hoisted the lion flag of Sinhala in defiance of the British. 

 He later hid the  Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha lest it would fall into the hands of the British.   The British caught him, and convicted him for high treason.  The rebellions against the British by the Sinhala leaders were carried out with the blessings of the Buddhist monks.  The Tamils and the Muslims were insignificant in numbers, but  the British feared  opposition by the Majority Sinhala Buddhists, and therefore appointed Tamils and Muslims to  official positions in their colonial administration. 

 In Wellassa the British  appointed  a Muslim as a Muhandiram, and treated the Sinhala using the motto ” famine, sword and fire”, which caused the rebellion in 1817.  It  was quelled  by the British shooting the leaders on the spot and burning villages, and killing males over 18 years to discourage future Sinhala uprisings.  A Buddhist monk Venerable Kudahapola Therunnanse was shot dead at Bogambara in his robes to insult Buddhism, and end further rebellions.

 At each of these periods when Buddhism  or the country was under threat, there were those great Buddhist leaders  who came forward advised by the Buddhist monks to protect Buddhism and bring it back to the fore front of the lives of the Sinhala people. 

 Buddhism is a far greater  “religion”  than the monotheistic religions. It had been then the  bªte noir  of the conquerors, as it is  today for those monotheistic faiths  such as Islam , and Christianity in Sri Lanka.  Buddhism did not teach to pray to an invisible god to get favours done for them.  Buddhism is a pragmatic “religion”  which emphasised  that it is within oneself that one should  find solutions to problems, and not through prayers to a creator God.

 Violation of Human Rights with which the West is trying to charge Sri Lanka is an artificial arm of the  West to destabilise and subjugate developing Nations.  The Buddhists of Sri Lanka respect not only human life,  but also that of all forms of living beings, hence the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka  is the last to  violate human rights, in real life or in war.

 There is unfortunately an increase of violence and criminality in Sri Lanka today which cannot in any way be related to the Buddhist teachings they follow, but it is largely due to the Western influence which has distorted their life style with excessive interest in wealth,  drug dealings, sex, and intoxication. 

 The British got down different Christian Missionaries  to Sri Lanka.  They built Schools for Boys,   Convents for Girls, and commenced  Christianization of  Sri Lanka. They   sent Christian Priests out into villages to  distribute books and pamphlets that criticised and ridiculed Buddhism, and praised Christianity. 

 In that situation when the Buddha Sasana was in peril a young novice Buddhist Priest Venerable Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thero  challenged the Christian Missionaries for an open debate, which resulted in  three debates in 1873,  the last of which was held in Panadura.

“The Panadura controversy, which lasted for a week, was the most important of them all. It was the culmination of his efforts and it led to a Buddhist reawakening. The controversy was to take place in the presence of leading Sinhalese Christians and Buddhists. Rules were laid down so that the meeting could be held in a fair manner. The leading English newspaper of the time, The Ceylon Times, sent a special representative to report the proceedings. A complete report of all the speeches corrected by the speakers themselves was published in English day by day.

The controversy ended with victory for the Buddhists. The Buddhist orator not only replied effectively to the fallacies of the Christian speakers, but also enlightened them on the principles and tenets of the Buddhist doctrine. When the Christians retired from the debate defeated, the Buddhists were overjoyed. Festivities were held in every temple to mark their triumph and the effigy of Gunaananda Thera was carried in procession in every village.” (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/perera/wheel100.html)

It is therefore very clearly seen that right along in the history of Sri Lanka when ever there was a threat to the Buddha Sasana, it was the Buddhist Monk who took the leading role as  the protector of the Buddha Sasana and the Buddhist people.   Therefore, one should not be surprised when the Buddhist monks raise their voice while the Buddhist laymen lie in lethargy to speak out  against those who are a threat to the existence of  Buddhism in Sri Lanka.

 The first time the Muslims came against the Sinhala Buddhists was in  1915, when they opposed a Buddhist procession going past their Mosque which they claimed  disturbed their prayer sessions.  The Muslims  were in fact provoking even at that time the  Sinhala Buddhist sentiments relying on the special treatment they received from the British Colonial rulers, by haphazard  construction of Mosques in  Kandy and Gampola areas. 

 Sir Robert Charmers was the Governor at the time and  he took the opportunity to send the British forces to come hard on the Sinhala Buddhists, which came under criticism to the extent that  the British government was forced to recall the Governor and replace him with Sir John Anderson, who settled the issue  ordering that the Buddhist Procession ” Esala Perahera” should not be interfered with restrictions.

 Thereafter, the Sinhala- Muslims relations existed peacefully more due to the patience of the Sinhala Buddhists.  The Muslims continued building their mosques every where without restrictions, or even without permission from neighbours or the government, and started using loudspeakers for  Muslim call to prayers-the Adhan by the Muezzin five times a day beginning from early in the morning without any concern for the followers of other religions. 

 Nonetheless, the good relations between the Communities continued  to a certain  extent until after the end of Terrorism.  The old Muslim leaders have given place to  a new set of Muslims  who influenced by the Saudi Arabian Muslim extremism, have become vociferously active going beyond all respectful norms establishing an Islamic influence in the country and society introducing halal, Sharia Law, breaking the peace and  goodwill that existed  between the Communities. 

 Added to this is the Muslim Minsters of the Government such as Rishad Badiudeen, and Rauf Hakeem who are aggravating the rift between the Sinhala and Muslim people. Rishad Bathiudeen  has taken the law into his  own hands to establish unauthorised Muslim settlements claiming the lands to be their ancestral homes.  If this is not stopped now Sri Lanka would face  another , political and a social upheaval as it had been before with the Tamil terrorism.

 After the end of the thirty year of terrorism in which Sri Lanka saw many Buddhist monks killed, temples and  ancient Buddhist ruins destroyed, and the most Sacred Buddhist Temple of the Tooth bombed, it appears that  the path has been  cleared for the Muslims in Sri Lanka to establish themselves as a political force and  attack Buddhism, its places of worship, land grab under the theme of “ancestral homes”, reminiscent of the Tamil terrorists’ call for a Home Land. 

 In this new threat to Buddhism and the Buddhist People it is no  Surprise that the Buddhist Clergy has this time formed the Bodu Bala Sena,  as political leadership is unfortunately caught in an International call for reconciliation of Communities, which has restricted the Government to be  lenient towards the Muslims in their most provocative activities, not second to another form of terrorism against  Sri Lanka and its people. 

 Rishad Bathiudeen is taking the mean advantage of his position as a Minister and the Government’s embarrassment in its  promise to the International Community for reconciliation of Communities, to get maximum of advantages to the Muslim Community, at the expense of  Buddhism and the Buddhist people.  It is right that the Bodu Bala Sena has challenged him, though the way it was done may not be considered  conventional.

 The Bodu Bala Sena is an essential evolution for the protection of Buddhism which is again under threat by a  new  Islamic terrorism.  But to face this threat the Buddhists and the Buddhist monks should not be divided.  This should be  made an occasion for yet another Buddhist revival.

 But the Bodu Bala Sena commencing from  Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara thero should not let themselves be  carried away from the vastness of the Challenge they have before them.  They should keep their comportment within  their professed vocation as Buddhist Monks, as they are called upon today to meet another threat to Buddha Sasana,  as it had been through out its history, beginning from the South Indian incursions. 

 For the  Buddhists people the Buddhist Monks are  one of the Sacred Gems worthy of worship. They should always keep in  mind  this  respectful place they have  amoung the followers of Buddhist teachings. Therefore, they should  never act in a way that degrade the Buddhist Monkhood.  Their behaviour should not be like that of the laypersons.  They should be compassionate, speak gently, without using harsh language.  If they behave like the ordinary laymen, there is the fear that they  will be treated like them, and not taken seriously.

 We have seen Venerable Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero and others behaving like thugs , angry and aggressive attacking another monk.  This is not in keeping with the behaviour expected of them.  The police  respected  the yellow robe they were wearing, otherwise they would have been arrested handcuffed and taken away by the police.  The monks have no right to take the law into their own hands.  The Buddha never spoke harshly to ordinary lay people, though he did not hesitate to reprimand  his disciples using strong words.

 Lot of things could be done without resorting to aggressivity .  People could be made to listen if they are  spoken to appropriately. 

 In a way the Buddhist Monks have been compelled to be aggressive in order to stop the provocative behaviour of the Muslim politicians.  Therefore the Muslims should change their present behaviour, which is mostly influenced by the fundamentalist and Muslim terrorism of the Middle East.  

 The Muslims have not become a nuisance only in Sri Lanka, but also in Muslim countries.  An  Egyptian court recently sentenced to death 683 Muslim Brotherhood supporters.  Sri Lanka should therefore be vigilant, and Bodu Bala Sena should nort  be blamed for the action they are taking, though the way they are doing it is not conventional. It is Bodu Bala Sena that highlighted the Wilpattu Muslim settlements.

 The Government seems unable to stop Minister Rishad Bathiudeen who has become a law unto himself. Minister Bathiudeen is  abusing his power as a Minister to settle Muslims in large numbers clearing forests, and building roads into forest reservations, while the displaced Sinhala Buddhists  are still waiting to be resettled.  What is wrong if Bodu Bala Sena steps in to point out irregularities of which  the government seems to be unaware ?

 Bodu Bala Sena is not an organisation that should be condemned, it is an important solution  to face the  latest threat to Buddhism coming from a determined Islamic revolution that is threatening the civilised world today. 

But to be effective and accepted by the Buddhist people, Bodu Bala Sena should adopt a  different method  to solve the problems, keeping their behaviour pattern in terms of the  teachings of the Buddha.  The whole world is watching the Bodu Bala Sena, therefore they should adopt a more acceptable manner of speech,  and action in dealing with their adversaries who are becoming a threat to Buddha Sasana and the Buddhist society in Sri Lanka.

 It would be more effective if  Bodu Bala Sena, Sinhala Ravaya and Rawana Balaya  could come under one flag, and plan intervention where their presence becomes necessary to defend  Buddhism and the Buddhist people, and to give early warning to those concerned of any form of “terrorism” be it from the Tamils or from the Muslims.

4 Responses to “Bodu Bala Sena”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    YES.

    We need BBS and RB.

    Thank you BBS and RB for standing up to people with NO VOICE.

  2. Nanda Says:

    YES.
    We need all the three Powers, to alert the government as they only react when the problem become big under their nose.

  3. Muhandiram Says:

    Be careful,all these force will create next force,that will bring chaos to our motherland.

  4. Senevirath Says:

    WE NEED B B S LIKE ORGANIZATIONS TO DEFEND SINHALA BUDDHISTS

    WE NEED BUDDHIST FIGHTERS AND ALSO “”nirmala Buddhists BOTH

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