Protect Sri Lanka’s Foundational Buddhist Civilization, Sinhala language and National Identity
Posted on July 14th, 2014

Shenali Waduge Courtesy: South Asia Mail

Contrary to what is erroneously being promoted the Sinhela race did not descend from banished King Vijaya of India. The discovery of the Balangoda man depicts a rich civilization going back 38000 years. Undoubtedly what distinguishes the Sinhala people is their Sinhala language – both people and language found nowhere else in the world except in Sri Lanka. Thus, they become a distinct community with a unique language, Sinhale culture and literature evolved and developed within Sri Lanka solidified further by Buddhism. It became the source and secret of unity through history which is why these key areas continue to be target for annihilation by Christian West and their local stooges. There are only 14.8million Sinhalese speaking Sinhale and thus both ethnic group and language must be protected. All other cultures and languages in Sri Lanka originated from other countries. It was the Sinhalese that built Sri Lanka’s civilization.

With close to 7000 languages the world over, Sinhalese is one of the world’s oldest living languages with a history over 2300 years with inscriptions in Brahmi script (linguistically diagnostic in Indo-Aryan Prakrit) dating from 600-500BC found in remnants of pottery in Anuradhapura. The Sinhala script has won international fame in 1909 for being one of the world’s most creative alphabets and is named one of the world’s 16 most current creative alphabets.

Etymology of Sri Lanka with King Ravana naming Lanka as the capital followed by Sinhalana (Pali) meaning ‘land of the lion people’, Ceilao given by Portuguese, Seilan, Helanka ‘Lanka of Helas’ ‘Heladiva’ – Island of Hela’s (natives), Serendip (derived from sihalan-dip – island of sihala’s/Helas), ‘Taproben’ to former Ceylon. Present ‘Sri’ comes from Sanskrit for ‘resplendent’ and Lanka ‘Island’.

Sealing the Sinhale language, culture and people has been the philosophy of Buddhism and its noble tenets. In ancient times the partnership of King-Bhikkus and Buddhist culture prevailed. Threats to Sinhela language came from South Indian Dravida invaders who not only destroyed places of learning and Buddhist establishments but attempted to also destroy the Sinhala writings by burning libraries of ‘ola’ palm-leaf manuscripts by setting fire to them.

The Catholic/Christian Portuguese, Dutch and British took over from the Dravidians again targeting the Sinhalese Buddhists and the Sinhalese language. Had conversions not taken place the Sinhalese would have been all Buddhists no different to how Muslims are identified with Islam (ethnicity and religion one and the same). The foreign invaders however created a new ethno-religious group of Christians/Catholics from both Sinhalese and Tamils.

Once Britain controlled the entire country they inflicted the greatest damage to Sinhala Buddhist cultural heritage and Sinhala language. English was introduced to undermine Sinhala language and culture through their infamous divide and rule policy. This meant special privileges (in education and employment) were given to Tamil minorities and the Sinhalese and Tamils who adopted Christian faith.

By 1870 the British ensured only 2 Buddhist schools prevailed in Sri Lanka (in Panadura and Dodanduwa) with close to 250 children. Children attending Christian schools numbered close to 80,000. Revenge against rebellions resulted in orders to destroy property belonging to Sinhala people, setting fire to their homes, gardens, killing cattle, and destroying their livelihood, reservoirs and irrigation works – spilled water resulting in thousands of deaths from malaria. The British then took over millions of acres of land leaving the Sinhalese landless/homeless. The idea was obviously to kill the Sinhala population by starving them while those involved in the rebellion were beheaded and David Cameroon thinks he can come to Sri Lanka and demand answers to human rights violations.

Britain has yet to account for 60,000 Sinhala deaths massacred by British troops in 1818 (leaders Veera Keppetipola, Veerapuran Appu and Veera Gongalegoda Banda). The Government of Sri Lanka cannot shy from bringing up these murders when Britain is borrowing figures given by Tiger remnants to quote during CHOGM.

Post-independence – Rule under Local English educated converted elite

When Britain gave independence to Sri Lanka in 1948 the power was given not to the Sinhalese or Tamils but to English educated elite from both Sinhalese and Tamils – Majority were ready to continue British way of things sadly not interested to fight for and demand justice for the injustices of colonial rule. Thus Sinhala language received step motherly treatment by both government and urban elite. It was a result of the Catholic Action that formed the Buddhist revival through the Bauddha Jatika Balavagaya (BJB) by Mr. Mettananda exposing the mass media which led to the Buddhist Commission Report in 1956 relevant in the present context.

The Press Commission Report of 1964, by Justice K.D. de Silva, referred to the work of Catholic Action in the media and its control of leading newspapers in the country. Catholic Action was behind the failed Catholic Army Officers Coup in 1962 to overthrow the legitimately elected government of Mrs. Sirimavo Bandaranaike. Catholic Action also meant it influenced the urban elite through attire, western norms, western values, mannerisms and behaviour etc in a slow transformation technique to denationalize the masses and to create religious and communal tension placing one community against the other pointing fingers against Buddhist ‘majoritarianism’.

Mass media dominated by non-Buddhists takes over to continue the denigration against the Buddhists. Emphasis on English and Western values while looking down upon own native culture, language has been part of an exercise meant to keep natives feeling inferior and thinking they do not measure up to the West unless they copy everything they say and do. We are yet to shirk ourselves from this mental brainwashing – need is to decolonize our minds. This has always made Sinhalese Buddhists feel small and adapt the wrong western cultures thinking those to be the fad leading to the present wave of loss of values morally abundantly clear in the Columbian elite way of living.

Sinhala Only – National Language

Before critics jump to the conclusion that the attempt is to deny English, which has become a form of defence for the guilty, what is being outlined is the need to preserve, protect and promote Sinhala language alongside English given its distinct value as an indigenous language and national language. When Sinhala language is taken away as is seen craftily taking place a key component of the national identity is removed.

Yet, calls for justice soon became a political ploy leading to declaring Sinhala Only when the demand was to address the injustices suffered by Sinhalese and Buddhists. It resulted in unmerited resentment towards the Buddhists and led to political cunning by Tamil politicians to be prompted by British influence to place their demands. What never gets mentioned is Tamil was never a medium used in administration by British to feel aggrieved and what realistically annoyed Tamil elite politicians all of whom were from high class/caste was in reality the Prevention of Social Disability Act which meant low caste Tamils could also attend school, sit amongst other high castes and obtain education, that had been denied to them. These Tamil politicos went as far as to write to authorities in the UK and make their objections. It was this Act and not the Sinhala Only Act that generated mass protests amongst the Tamil elite and proper investigation of police records will show that riots were also first instigated by Tamils though they have become masters of erroneous propaganda.

Sinhalese MUST be spoken by ALL indigenous people born in Sri Lanka

The singing of the National Anthem must be made mandatory for all school children in Sri Lanka like in USA.

Courtesy: South Asia Mail

http://www.southasiamail.com/news.php?id=112501

5 Responses to “Protect Sri Lanka’s Foundational Buddhist Civilization, Sinhala language and National Identity”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    “Sinhalese MUST be spoken by ALL indigenous people born in Sri Lanka”. That should be the minimum and definitely the start to ensure the progress and the preservation of the Sinhalese Buddhist culture.

    Secondly the Buddhist Sanga should demand that Buddhism be part of the curriculum of every public school. Buddhism and the history of Sri Lanka are too intertwined for it not to be. If it cannot be part of the public school system then Buddhism should be openly taught and all Sri Lankans of whatever age or whatever denomination be invited to these sermons.

    In SAARC meetings the promotion of Sinhalese literature be it current or historic should take place and so should Sri Lankan Buddhism. If the Dalai Lama could make Tibetan Buddhism or Vajrayana Buddhism a world faith why can’t Sri Lanka do the same? push Sinhalese Buddhist culture out of the confines of Sri Lanka and onto the world stage.

    Finally Sri Lanka can get the best from other cultures without having to do it at the expense of Sinhalese Buddhism. If Japan whose culture is defined by her Shinto, Buddhist, Samurai aspects can manage to absorb so much from the rest of the world while still maintaining and exporting her culture then so can the oldest unbroken Buddhist nation in the world.

    More than any time in Sri Lanka’s history it is vital that she does this now. The Elam war proved the divisive nature of her Tamil population. The dependency of Muslim nations for arms during the war has enabled Islam to expand unfettered in Sri Lanka during and after the war and Christianity’s relentless push to place her footprint in Sri Lanka has not abated. If the Sinhalese Buddhist force does not push against these elements and push beyond them to the world at large then they will surely win.

  2. Lorenzo Says:

    BW,

    I AGREE with everything you say EXCEPT this.

    I DISAGREE with this.

    “Secondly the Buddhist Sanga should demand that Buddhism be part of the curriculum of every public school.”

    Teach Buddhism to Buddhists in SL.
    Teach Christianity to Christians in SL.
    Teach Hinduism to Hinuds in SL.
    Teach Islam to Muslims in SL.

    Anything else ONLY by CHOICE.

    Buddha never IMPSOED Buddhism unlike Hinduism, Christianity and Islam. NO COUNTRY except mad Saudi imposes a religion/philosophy on its people. We must not.

    Language – ABSOLUTELY. Sinhala MUST be IMPOSED on all in SL. Every democratic country does that. We must too.

  3. SA Kumar Says:

    Sinhala MUST be IMPOSED on all in SL.- Language never be problem If any want to learn they can learn of curse Govt should engrage open free or incentive( extra salary etc..) method.
    Bud religen is always problem that never be short it out until it disapire itself, that never happen in near future.

    We & all world have this faith problem but We deny to say that We have language problem

    but our Thamils extra problem is greediness , We want every thing for free from Chinhalavan. so fare it worked for last 2,500 years .

  4. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Lorenzo:

    There is a difference between teaching Buddhism to all in Sri Lanka and imposing it on them. Saudi Arabia imposes her faith by demanding that all who are citizens of Saudi Arabia must be Muslim. I am not even coming close to that.

    In the Western world even with the imposition of Secularism which is gaining ground the Christian values are taught, mainly in private Christian schools but if Sri Lanka becomes like the Vatican which is a nation then teaching the values of Buddhism to non Buddhist would not infringe on their faith.

    Buddhism is a missionary faith and Emperor Ashoka had to teach the Buddhist doctrine to non Buddhists before they wanted to accept it or not. If they did not there is no punishment for not accepting Buddhism but they are wiser by it. If they do accept Buddhism it would stem the same missionary aspects of Christianity and Islam who take it for granted to teach non believers of their faith. Mother Theresa did not simply cure the sick in Calcutta but also promoted Christianity while doing so. No one holds that against her. The Dalai Lama has taken his rather isolated form of Tibetan Buddhism and made it a world wide phenomena because the Tibetan priests were willing to spread the Tibetan form of Buddhism to all that wanted to listen across the world.

    If all of that is true why should the Buddhist Sanga not be proud to teach the noble Doctrines of Buddhism within the boundaries of Sri Lanka. Do you know to this day many Westerners believe the Buddha to be a fat laughing man as portrayed by a school of Chinese Buddhists which calls that image “the laughing Buddha”? Westerners pronounce “Buddha” as “Booda” and by that losing the meaning of that term. That is how ignorant the world wants to be of this doctrine. In the face of this the oldest unbroken Buddhist nation in the world should be proud to teach the wisdom of the Buddha to all Sri Lankans just as they teach anything else. Please correct me if I am wrong on this.

  5. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Lorenzo:
    One more point. When I was attending St. Peters college in Colombo during Catechism studies the fire brand teacher asked me if to my Uncles as she recognized my last name. After I answered to the affirmative (and was delighted that she knew of my uncles who also were taught by her expecting more leniency from her) she replied that she expects more from me than from the other students.

    During her endless lectures of condemning anything that is not Catholic as “pagan”, “heathen” etc. in a room full of Christian students but also Hindu and Buddhist students (who attended St. Peters due to its reputation) who had to put up with her rantings against their faith I used to feel terribly sorry for them and still do.

    I bring this up because Christianity was taught (in the most harshest manner of the 20th century) in private Christian schools like St. Peters college regardless of the faith of the student. That student however did not have to convert to Christianity (or in this case Catholicism) but had to learn all about it. He left as a Buddhist with a good knowledge of what the Catholic faith is.

    When my Grandfather who was a stalwart Buddhist and a Buddhist Scholar applied for a job as a Principle to a Catholic school during the time of the British rule he had to convert to Christianity in order to get that position. He did that for he had to support eight children, send one to Oxford for higher education and another for further studies to become a Medical Doctor (my father) along with all the other expenses he had to shoulder in order to raise his children to a life better than his or his father. the moment he retired he converted back to Buddhism. He too was wiser of the British and the Christian faith but it did not change his core beliefs of a Buddhist Scholar and a Buddhist person.

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