CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES THAT CHARACTERIZE OUR NATION
Posted on July 25th, 2014

DR. DAYA HEWAPATHIRANE

 Buddhism has been the basis or foundation of Sri Lanka’s culture for over 2200 years. The deeper aspects of the country’s culture are reflective of Buddhist ideology, principles, ethics, values, morality, traditions, customs, thoughts, temperament, attitudes and way of life. Whatever new elements that may have been absorbed into our culture at different times, were subject to appropriate modifications, adjustments and adaptations in order to make them compatible with Buddhist principles and values.  

 Cultural norms and values of our Hela or Sri Lanka Nation are reflective of the strong impact of the Buddha Dhamma or the teachings of the Buddha. These have been the basis of our island’s civilization from about the 3rd century BCE. These norms and values inculcated in us by the teachings of the Buddha, have been upheld and cherished by our people throughout the long history of our nation, in spite of the many challenges and vicissitudes faced by them  at various times in the past. This reflects the depth to which these time-honored cultural norms and values are ingrained and established in our people’s psyche. They have exerted the greatest impact on all aspects of life in our motherland. They give identity to our Nation and they form the   most invaluable cultural inheritance of our people.  

 The cultural norms and values of our Nation, expressed in tangible and intangible forms, are indigenous to our land. They were developed by the Sinhala Buddhist community, with the leadership and inspiration provided by its royalty, nobility and the Maha Sangha who continue to function as a dominant source of influence in our country. Whatever form they may observe, our nation’s cultural norms and values are clearly reflective of the ideology, principles, ethics, virtues, propriety, decorum, aptitudes, humility, customs, traditions and the spiritually oriented lifestyle of the indigenous people of our motherland.  

 BUDDHIST VISUAL CULTURE

Buddhist visual culture is evident in all parts of this enchanting land marked by Buddhist temples, stupes, bodhi trees, Buddha statues, Buddhist flags, Buddhist monasteries, pirivenas and education centres and meditation centres. A common sight in our country is Buddhist Bhikkhus, Sil Mathas, the white clad Buddhist pilgrims and children attending Daham Pasals.  A common experience for many is the varied Buddhist ceremonies, rituals, festivals, and perahera with the participation of all age groups. Varied Buddhist rituals and practices are observed across the country on an individual, household, community and national basis.

 Special customs and traditions are associated with important days of the Buddhist calendar such as during Vesak and Poson when colourful decorations and illuminations hold sway and dansales where food and drinks are offered free of charge to people. Pilgrimages and Sil campaigns are among the several spiritual activities of these times. Then there is the internationally reputed traditional Sri Dalada Perahera in the former Hill Capital of our country with the famous Sri Dalada Malige where the Tooth Relic of the Buddha is enshrined.  The perahera is a colourful festival which attracts thousands upon thousands of people marked by caparisoned elephants, traditional dancers, drummers and musicians.

 Sculpture, architecture, paintings and other forms of fine arts were used profusely in Sri Lanka from very early times to express Buddhist ideas and sentiment. The exceptionally rich heritage of visual arts of the Sinhala people of Sri Lanka extends to a period that exceeds 2300 years, from the 3rd century BCE to the 21st CE.  A spectacular collection of ancient sculpture, architecture and paintings  adorns the island’s culture. They are conspicuous elements of the island’s Buddhist culture even today.

 NATIONAL IDENTITY

 The national identity of our motherland is based on legitimate criteria, which distinguish it from other nations. Our Hela/Sinhala culture is unique to our country, our shared language Sinhala is spoken and promoted only in our country, our shared values are based on Buddhist ethics.  A strong sense of belonging felt towards their motherland is evident among most Hela/Sinhala people living anywhere in the world. 

 The history and the cultural heritage of our country and the readily evident visual Hela/Sinhala cultural norms give our country an identity of its own, distinct from all other countries. Our national character is based on Buddhist principles and Buddhist way of life, the history of which extends to over 2300 years in our motherland.  Buddhism has always been the national religion, with the presence of sthupas, temples, monasteries, Bodhi trees, meditation centres, Bhikkhus and Bhikkunis, and sil atthos”.

 THE SINHALA LANGUAGE

 Sinhala language is the legitimate national language of the country, with its rich literature of prose and verse. A common language is the defining characteristic of any nation, and ours is the Sinhala language. We have our own national Sinhala folklore and mythology, our national symbols and flags, national music, drumming and songs, traditional dance and drama, sports, films, Sinhala Buddhist art, sculpture, architecture, performing arts and fine arts, crafts, national food and dishes including national sweets and confectionaries, gok decorations, pandols, costumes, jewelry, Sinhala Buddhist rituals such as pirith, bana, pinkamas, perahera, ceremonies and festivities. We have our own marriage and funeral customs, norms and traditions  observed in family relationships and life. Hela customs are observed in our day to day life, farming activities and village life which is common to the large majority of our people.

 The Sinhala nation share national values and a national identity and admire their national heroes such as Sinhala kings, Buddhist Bhikkhus, Hela nationalists and freedom fighters of the past. Our nation is one which clearly possesses a cultural and historical ethos giving us legitimacy and identity among all other nations in the world.

It is our genuine nationalistic feeling that strengthen national unity and helping in national salvation in times of crisis.       

  The identity and national character of the country is based exclusively on the cultural traits and values of the indigenous people – the Sinhala. All those who subscribe to the Hela Nation and respect the cultural values of the indigenous Hela people are accepted and respected as Hela nationals. Any member of the non-indigenous minorities will be respected as Hela nationals, as long as the person does not work against the Hela Nation and indulge in activities that undermine the Hela Nation and its cultural heritage and values.

 Norms and values of our Nation inspired by Buddhism have sunk deep into the ethos of our people. Although a determined effort is made to get ahead economically, there is much to be desired as far as material development of our country is concerned. In spite of difficulties faced by our people in the economic sphere, they are grateful for the peaceful conditions that have been restored in the country. This has enabled them to be more engaged in their cherished traditional cultural and spiritual pursuits and to travel across their country which was not possible during the several decades of Tamil LTTE terrorism in our country.

 NON VIOLENCE AND PEACEFUL CO-EXISTANCE

A fundamental value that Buddhism imbibes in people is that life is precious, that all sentient beings desire to live, fear death, harm and suffering and that one should act in such a way that would guarantee the safety of life of all, along with their possession and belongings. In order to successfully put this ‘value’ into practice, Buddhism advocates the practice of compassion, charity,  the development of wisdom and the adoption of an enlightened-outlook.
Buddhist values are geared at developing a social ethic which, would contribute to co-existence, mutual understanding, co-operation and total harmony. It is to achieve this goal that Buddhism very strongly upholds that mankind is of one species, and hence everyone should be charitable and liberal towards the others, be pleasant in speech to them, do whatever is beneficial to them and above all, be impartial and treat all equally.

History of our motherland  reveals vividly that the spirit of tolerance and accommodation of others irrespective of their religious or other differences has been a common distinguishing characteristic of Sinhala Buddhists from very early times. Buddhism is a doctrine about the good life for the individual and about the values, practices, traits of character, states of mind and view of reality that are conducive to the liberation of the individual from suffering. The goal of any social order, on a Buddhist view, is the maximization of happiness, the minimization of suffering, the provision for the least advantaged and the cultivation of traits of character such as compassion, patience, generosity-and-wisdom.

THE FIVE PRECEPTS

The Panchaseela or five ethical precepts for lay persons provide additional content to the Buddhist conception of social institutions and conceptions of the good. These precepts enjoin refraining from killing, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct and intoxication. Put together, and viewed in a social context, they together constitute advice against violence and actions likely to sow discord, and advice towards openness and integrity. These more general values can inform the development of social institutions.

What do killing, theft, intoxication, sexual misconduct and lying have in common that they should be brought together as the five things any person is admonished to renounce? All are either directly violent or are seeds of violence. The fundamental value thus reflected in this code is nonviolence, and the obvious application to social philosophy is that political institutions and policies should themselves be nonviolent and directed primarily to the eradication of violence in society.

Buddhist moral literature distinguishes a number of important human virtues or perfections of character. Given that we are asking from Buddhism a conception of social good, and given that for Buddhism society can only be seen instrumentally as a mechanism for ensuring the good of individuals, it follows that social institutions should, from a Buddhist perspective, encourage, develop and foster these virtues. A brief list of these would include prominently generosity, patience, wisdom, moderation and nonattachment.

BUDDHISM AND DEMOCARCY

Buddhism provides a rich positive conception of social goods and of the values a political system ought to reflect and encourage. Liberal democratic theory demands a respect for a basic set of universal human rights, the right to free speech and expression, the right to free religious expression and against the imposition of religious beliefs or practices. Not only are Buddhism and liberal democracy compatible, but they are complementary in a deep sense. Democracy is strengthened by values drawn from Buddhist moral and social theory. Also, Buddhist moral and social theory gains concrete institutional and procedural specificity when it is articulated through the framework of liberal democratic theory. A democratic society founded on Buddhist principles enshrined in its social order and institutions has a greater prospect for success, greater prospects for providing its citizenry with good lives and in fact greater claim to moral legitimacy than one that is neutral with respect to these principles. Buddhist democracy is a more enlightened democracy.

 The Buddhist goal of eliminating suffering enjoins a strong social welfare policy. That is, it enjoins the provision of basic education, health care, and a decent minimum standard of living for all citizens. To strengthen impartiality, people are advised not to succumb to biases and prejudices, not to give in to excessive attachment, hatred, fear, confusion, but to rise above them and do what is righteous. This concept of righteousness, which is designated by the term ‘Dhamma’ in fact, provides the firm foundation for the whole of Buddhist culture. The general admonition is to do what is righteous (Dhamma) and avoid what is unrighteous (adhamma) and what is righteous is what is beneficial to one and-others, as-well. On this basis all that is beneficial to oneself and others is considered meritorious (Punna) and wholesome (Kusala) and their opposites as demeritorious (Paapa) and unwholesome (akusala). As the Dhammapada (Stanza No.183) says:

Not to do any evil, to cultivate good, to purify one’s mind – this is the Teaching of the Buddhas.

It is on this basic teaching that Buddhist values are developed, lives are moulded and social relations are cultivated. This explains why Buddhist culture attempts to nurture in the people a feeling for others, to mutually share with others moments of happiness and joy, to show respect to elders, to care for parents to attend on the sick and destitute, to honour and respect those who are deserving, to treat guests and visitors with friendliness and affection.

 NON-AGGRESSION IN BUDDHISM 

Buddhism does not accept an omnipotent God, a Creator, nor any revealed scripture. Because faith in God or a savior is not an issue for Buddhists, there is no reason for Buddhists to judge others, to condemn them for their beliefs, or to feel compelled to convert them. The Buddha Dhamma is described as ‘ehipassiko’, inviting one to come and see for oneself. There is no concept of coercion or proselytization in Buddhism. The Buddha taught the importance of patience, tolerance, and non-aggression, providing a splendid ideal of tolerance for Buddhists to follow. There is not a single occasion in the Buddhist scriptures of the Buddha being less than compassionate, not only to those who accepted his teachings but also to the followers of all faiths, not only to the good but also to the wicked, not only to humans but also to animals and to all living beings. In striking contrast to the spread of other world religions, which are replete with unethical and forcible conversions and sectarian strife, the history of Buddhism is remarkable for the complete absence of bloodshed in the name of the teacher.

 Buddhists gave shelter and protected the Muslims when the Portuguese Catholics and Dutch Christians subjected them to untold harassment by ousting them from their places of living and livelihood. When the Catholics were ill-treated by the Christian Dutch, they sought refuge among the Buddhists who gave them shelter amongst them. Right throughout the Catholic- Christian colonial period of our country, it was the Buddhists who showed compassion towards the oppressed, it was the Buddhists who tolerated the dreadful Catholic-Christian injustices and wretchedness. History of our country reveals vividly that the spirit of tolerance and accommodation of others irrespective of their religious or other differences has been a common distinguishing characteristic of Sinhala Buddhists of this country from very early times.  

 VIOLATION OF NATIONAL INTERESTS  

 Hela nationals will not tolerate any community or person who whilst living in the Hela Nation and considering it their home, deliberately misusing such privilege by scheming and adopting violent and extreme actions or contributing to such actions  violating the sovereignty, dignity and territorial integrity of the Hela Nation. This includes the ridiculously false and unfounded claims made by some racist Tamil terrorist elements and Muslim fanatics, in pursuit of carving out ethnic or religious enclaves within the Hela Nation, merely because some of them had lived in some specific places in the country for extended periods of time. Persons with such self-serving objectives and attitudes are enemies or traitors of the Hela Nation and should be dealt with severely. They cannot be tolerated under any circumstances. There is no place in the Hela Nation for such traitors, double crossers, renegades, turncoats, collaborators of enemies, criminals and terrorists, conspirators, connivers, schemers and emissaries, spies, secret agents, undercover agents and double agents of the enemies of the Hela Nation. Their actions will seriously harm Hela national interests.

 CONFRONTING AND SUBDUING TRAITORS

 All possible action should be taken by the Hela Nation to confront the anti-national elements of the Hela Nation. The Hela Nation incorporates the tremendous cultural wealth of the Hela people recognized the world over for its richness and uniqueness. They should be preserved and promoted for posterity. Those attempting to undermine our nation’s identity, wealth and dignity should be confronted and subdued forthwith, and eventually eradicated completely. The present generation of Hela nationals has a moral obligation to protect, preserve and promote the greatest of their inheritance for the survival of their heritage and for the benefit of future generations. It is this national wealth, built upon the nation’s rich and productive natural resources base and enchanting environment that give identity and uniqueness to the wholesome character of our Hela Nation. The Hela Nation, under any circumstances, should not be allowed to be subject to disintegration, subjugated or undermined by any means whatsoever.

 In spite of the hypocritical attitudes of some western counties and their media establishment towards us, and the false propaganda carried out by the racist Tamil LTTE elements living overseas to demean our Nation, and the vicious and anti-national attitudes of some elements within our country, there is a marked cultural revitalization, resurgence and reinforcement taking place in our country, especially among the ordinary people who form the overwhelming majority. For some overseas visitors of our motherland, the situation in our country seen on the surface may be confusing and incomprehensible. This would apply often to those with preconceived ideas and hidden agendas. But those who are objective would not fail to feel the strengthening of the Nation’s cultural foundation and experience how wonderful the Buddhist culture is in this paradise–of-ours.

We have removed the word minorities from our vocabulary three years ago. No longer are there Tamils, Muslims, Burghers, Malays and any other communities.” There are only two peoples in this country. One is the people that love this country. The other comprises the small groups that have no love for the land of their birth.”So said His Excellency Mahinda Rajapakse in his address to the Parliament after having uprooted the Tamil terrorists menace in this country. This is indeed a brave statement by a great patriotic statesman who will be hailed as The Pride of Sri Lanka” not only by the present generation but also by generations to come in future.

IDENTIFY TRAITORS AND ENEMIES OF THE NATION

All traitors and enemies of our country should be denied entry into our country. All anti-national elements resorting to illegitimate and deceitful means to spread falsehood, fabrications and misinformation to discredit and disrepute Sri Lanka, should not be allowed to set foot on our land. National security and well-being of our people are fundamental to us who are concerned about fully restoring and maintaining peace in our country. As a civilized society, we cannot accept those who would seek to justify the deliberate taking of innocent life, regardless of cause or grievance. Internationally, terrorism is being rejected as an acceptable means of political expression. The international community holds firmly the view that terrorist offenders must either be prosecuted or be extradited.

 We need to clearly and legitimately IDENTIFY the TRAITORS and ENEMIES of our country. We need to compile a detailed list of these anti national elements, especially those operating from overseas, who are a threat to national security and well-being of our people. They necessarily include members of the banned LTTE, its emissaries, those collaborating with the LTTE, its secret agents, double agents, spies and those working undercover for the LTTE, and most certainly those conspiring against the country and involved in espionage. They include terrorist fund raisers and those who harbour, aid and support them.

 Also included are those who resort to various forms of treasonous means to betray, discredit, demean, and undermine the good image of our country including those involved in deceiving, misleading, and misinforming others using falsehood, fabrications, and dishonesty in order to discredit the country and give a false picture of true conditions prevailing in the country. These undesirable elements will necessarily include those involved in writing, talking and demonstrating in public, against the country using falsehood and dishonesty thereby undermining the country.

 These are people who deliberately misinterpret and distort facts connected with our government’s legitimate actions against terrorism. They are treacherous and ungrateful elements who had occasion to benefit from free education, free medical services and many other services and advantages offered to them and enjoyed by them before they left Sri Lanka. They are now most ungratefully demeaning and undermining the country, and its democratically elected government and leadership. 

 STRENGTHENING CULTURAL FOUNDATION

Consistent actions are required to protect our national heritage in order to enhance our pride and dignity as a nation, and to build self-energy among our people that will help to nullify the harmful impacts that contaminate and degenerate our culture.   

 Since the elimination of racist Tamil terrorism and the restoration countrywide, of peace and tranquility, our country has been experiencing an unequivocal national cultural revitalization. However, more efforts are needed to bring to the forefront, the role of our culture and heritage in the nation’s future development.  It has become necessary to promote vigorously a well conceived and organized awareness programme of our nation’s rich and enchanting cultural heritage, and its continued value and relevance as a rich fund of social philosophy, especially focused on the younger generation who have become the most vulnerable to undesirable influences. It is necessary to bring to the forefront the significance of our long followed Buddhist principles and practices and our aesthetic values in meeting our emotional and innermost spiritual needs, and how Buddhist practices and values are becoming increasingly adopted and valued by diverse nations of the world at large. It is necessary to reshape our distinct cultural traits so as to maintain the life of the community satisfactorily. Also important is to prevent the destruction of our cultural monuments and sites and to rehabilitate and resurrect them, and get people organized and interested in their preservation. 

 EXPLOITATION OF BUDDHIST TOLERANCE BY MUSLIMS

History of our country reveals vividly that the spirit of tolerance and accommodation of others irrespective of their religious or other differences has been a common distinguishing characteristic of Sinhala Buddhists of this country from very early times.

 Judging from the fanaticism and confrontational attitudes and actions of Muslims in recent times, it appears that this spirit of tolerance and accommodation on the part of Buddhists is not appreciated by them. It is being exploited as a weakness to pursue their self interests of promoting their religionand way of life at the expense of Buddhism, Buddhist culture and Buddhist way of life.

 In recent years there have been well evident deliberate attempts by the extremist Muslim elements to destroy the socio-cultural cohesiveness of Buddhist communities by the introduction of their Arabian cultural norms and lifestyles to Sri Lanka thereby undermining our nation’s traditional Sinhala Buddhist cultural norms.  This is having a highly divisive effect on our society leading to social disharmony and turmoil. 

 The most repulsive halal terrorist methods of animal slaughter, the Muslims women’s unsightly black  outfit  which is the norm in Saudi Arabia and referred to locally as ‘gonibilla’ outfit, their nauseating loudspeakers shouting at odd times of the day disturbing entire neighborhoods, and using internet and other means to insult and discredit our Sangha community are among the many known Muslim (Arabian) cultural garbage that are being introduced to our land. They disregard the fact that they live in a predominantly Buddhist country and what they are doing is incompatible with the way of life and the social value system of this country.

 In a predominantly Buddhist country such as ours, the Muslims appear to insist on living an alienated and un-integrated life by agitating for concessions specified by their Islamic religion. They appear to think and work only to serve their own narrow interests. Interests of the country as a whole is not its concern because it is not an Islamic country. They appear to be not interested in joining the national mainstream” and work towards national unity and well-being. At present, the struggle between Muslim communalism and Sinhala nationalism has become a serious problem in our country.

 Disrespect, disregard and sheer indifference towards people of other religions, is a common character trait of Muslims, wherever in the world they live.  These negative attitudes have made them resort to crude forms of violence against people and property of other faiths, especially Buddhists. This is well evident today not only in places like Bangladesh, Southern Thailand and Myanmar, but also in our own motherland.

      Muslims often are concerned only about themselves, their religion and their community. This is a reason why they cannot assimilate with mainstream communities in countries where they live. It was not long ago that Islamic fundamentalists and armed Muslim extremists were inciting violence against legitimate Buddhist activities in the East in the Pottuvil region. Muslims were encroaching upon and forcibly taking land that rightfully belongs to Buddhist temples on the southeast coast.  They were demolishing some significant Buddhist archeological sites. The extremist party based on religion, the Sri Lanka Muslims Congress and several Islamic groups of our country had the audacity to oppose the construction of Buddha’s statues on the island’s southeast coastal areas which contain Buddhist historic monuments and important archeological remains as part of the nation’s cultural wealth. 

Muslims believe the Koran is the word of Allah. They believe this because it says so in the Koran. It also says that a good Muslim must make continual war on all unbelievers until the entire world is Islamic. Radical Islamic ideology is being spread all over the Muslim world through schools popularly known as madrasas, also through the media and through mosques. They also resort to organized forms of disinformation and spread lies about other rival beliefs and ways of living.  These are psychological blackmail techniques used by them to serve their selfish ends. They demonize other religions by using big lies.

 As a means of propagating their believers, a well evident practice in all Muslim societies almost throughout the world is Fecundism or proliferation by reproducing abundantly. Their so called true believers are encouraged and assisted to breed faster than non-believers. This is an ecologically disastrous population growth situation which can lead to far reaching, highly detrimental consequences affecting overall development of any country. 

 RATIONALITY IN BUDDHISM

 Buddhists have no need to suppress, censor or misrepresent the teachings of other religions, as Buddhist philosophy is totally rational and quite capable of withstanding criticism from other belief systems. In fact, Buddhism appears to be the only spiritual system which can provide counterarguments to theistic beliefs and Western Materialism. Buddhism has not even been slightly corroded by modern scientific discoveries. Buddhism is a set of tried and tested methods which are used to develop the mind by producing altered states of awareness. In effect it is a psycho-spiritual applied science. Its methods of mental development are designed to free the mind from the accumulated delusions of millennia, and lead to a state of peace and tranquility.  Using Buddhist meditation techniques one could examine the rubbish left over in one’s mind from childhood indoctrination and reflect upon and clear one’s mind from the various mind-polluting and divisive belief systems driven by fear, guilt, wanting to conform, wanting other people to conform, or alternately pride in being better than non-believers. 

 The Buddha always encouraged his students to gain understanding of his teachings by putting them to the test of personal experience, and not just relying on his authority. In fact the Buddhist idea of authority has much more in common with the idea of scientific authority than it does with ecclesiastical authority. Buddhist authority carries with it the idea of the possession of knowledge which can be conveyed to others and confirmed by reproducible experiences. In Buddhism there are no unsupported statements which one must believe without questioning. There are no threats of hell or promises of heaven attached to being a Buddhist as opposed to being a non-Buddhist. The condition of future lives is determined by actions of body, speech and mind and not by religious affiliation. If a religion encourages positive actions and states of mind then it is doing its job. If it causes hatred, division and pride then it isn’t working.

 For 2,500 years Buddhism has satisfied the spiritual needs of nearly one third of mankind. It appeals to those in search of truth because it has no dogmas, satisfies the reason and the heart alike, insists on self-reliance coupled with tolerance for other points of view, embraces science, religion, philosophy, psychology, mysticism, ethics and art, and points to man alone as the creator of his present life and sole designer of his destiny”.

 Several prominent and increasingly popular Sinhala and Buddhist organizations have sprung up recently with a widespread and growing support base, exposing the grave implications of the recent upsurge in our motherland of a highly undesirable trend instigated by Muslim community, based on Islamic beliefs which are incompatible with and for that matter offensive to the Buddhist spiritual values and cultural norms of our motherland. They have revealed a series of high-handed actions and arrogant attitudes of Muslims aimed at promoting some parochial religious norms and objectives among the large non-Muslim population of the island. 

It is unfortunate that the advocates of these new Muslim actions and attitudes, appear to be vigorously defensive of their actions. It is most disappointing to note their intransigence is having the effect of further aggravating problems and detrimental to inter-community relationships in our country. It is damaging the unity and stability of our peace-loving nation, founded on non-violence and compassion, and on integrity and democratic principles and practices.

 The Sinhala Buddhists of this nation should not and definitely will not let their nation’s  wholesome cultural inheritance be undermined by Muslim or any other undesirable socio-religious-cultural trends that are incompatible with the nation’s enviable social values that took some 2300 years to develop and form the basis of life of this nation. They are duty-bound to work towards transforming and changing whatever harmful trends evident in their motherland. From historic times this island  – Sinhalay, Hela Diva,  Helabima or Sri Lanka  has been a Sinhala Buddhist Nation, which in later periods has accommodated  as settler communities, several ethnic minorities and religions. The Sinhala Buddhists form the mainstream of our only nation, our motherland, which is founded on Buddhist principles for over 2200 years.  In this light, it is important for all of us, especially the minority communities inhabiting this country to understand the Buddhist principles and related cultural norms and values that characterize this country, that gives identity to this country and that forms the basis or foundation of this great nation of ours.      

 Dr. Daya Hewapathirane

9 Responses to “CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES THAT CHARACTERIZE OUR NATION”

  1. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    After reading the article I realized that Sri Lankan Buddhism is defined by the island culture of Sri Lanka and by that limits the Sri Lankan Buddhist to the history and culture of that land however grand it is. To fully accept the greatness of Buddhism one needs to step out of Sri Lanka and look at the Buddhist world and claim it as part of the Sri Lankan Buddhist heritage.

    Recently President Rajapakse went to India to join other leaders in placing the foundations for the the construction of a modern university of Nalanda. keeping this in mind one is reminded that Buddhism gave the world her first universities. Nalanda and Taxila were the first universities of any civilization. The much spoken ‘library” of Alexandria was exactly that, a library and not a university.

    The University of Nalanda also had dormitories for students and included other universities in that region. Buddhism also gave the world hospitals for humans and animals. Anuradapura had many “specialized” hospitals. A reputation no other ancient city had. Not even Rome.

    The unique aspect of Buddhism was the amount of effort, money and time put to the benefit of the average man and in civic oriented buildings such as libraries, Universities, Hospitals, Hostels, irrigation systems. It was due to the emphasis on these aspects of civilization that Sri Lanka never really experienced mass sustained famine and was a highly educated healthy population. Buddhist philosophy also treated all man as equal and respected the life of animals. This quality of both man and animals is not seen in any other faith. Hinduism respects animals but due to her caste system denigrates man.

    Buddhist Sri Lanka must emphasize the qualities of Buddhism inherent in that faith outside of Sri Lanka just as any other faith does. Christians in England take credit of the greatness of Christianity by citing examples of it in other lands. So do the Muslims. If so Sinhalese Buddhists should be not only proud of the heritage of Sri Lankan Buddhism but world wide Buddhism as well.

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Second comment:
    In the arts it was Buddhism that changed the art of sculpture in India and by that throughout Asia. the Gandharan school of art first developed the face of the Buddha. it combined the Hellenist traditions brought by Alexander the Great with Indian schools of art to create the face of the Buddha 200 years after his death. till then the Buddha was portrayed by symbols.

    the classical “arched eyebrows”, drapery and other features that first took form in the Gandharan school soon influenced other forms of sculpture across India and into Hinduism and Jainism. From there it influenced all of Asian sculpture. Buddhist paintings that remain show a high degree of sophistication. It is possible that the Hindu faith had developed this medium but under Buddhist patronage it took on a high level of precision. The Ajanta paintings have been commented as India’s “Sistine’ chapel. But there lies a difference between the Ajanta paintings and that of Sigirya.
    In Sigirya the Sinhalese artist gave space between each painting. Each figure is a “portrait” and not part of a larger theme. That is a unique aspect of ancient Sri Lankan classical painting that has not been seen in India. A few years ago shards in Afghanistan were found of painting rendered in oil around the fifth century AD or around 900 years before the Europeans used oil as a medium for painting. It was a shard of a Buddhist painting. It is still a question if the Buddhist world developed “oil painting” for the first time.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    Article 9 of SL CON-STITUTION is IMPOTENT. Buddhism does NOT get the SUPREME place in SL.

    This nonsense has to change.

    Why can’t SL leaders just make Buddhism the state religion?

    That will discourage HINDU terrorists (LTTE with a HINDU tiger flag) and ISLAM terrorists. DRAIN their hope and they will leave SL in peace.

    There is one thing I DISAGREE.

    Most traitors are LIVING IN SL. TNA, SLMC, CPA, NPC are bigger traitors than Tamill diaspora traitors. Tamil diaspora traitors are NOW WEAK after banning them. Time to ban/punish/exterminate local traitors.

  4. aloy Says:

    My comment here deviates from the main theme of this article but somewhat aligns with the comment of BW given above.
    While reading a paper written by some researchers on “Finite element analysis of structures” in a US government funded project I came across the term ” serendipity element”, which implied that those researchers have stumbled upon that element. Since I had known the word serendipity had some connection to our country I google it to find an interesting discovery which is about three princes of Serendib. It appears the people of ancient Iran or Persia called our country Serendib and the story about the three princes were to say how intelligent they were.
    I would suggest the readers google the word serendipity and read the whole story.
    I also came across the work of a Sri lankan done way back in 70s on the subject mentioned in the report. Where are these guys today?.

  5. douglas Says:

    “Cultural Norms And Values That Characterize Our NATION”: It is no secret that this “Dhamma” is fast fading away and the need of the hour is to revive it, sooner the better for the country and the nation. How could we do it? is the most important question that must be answered by each and every citizen of the country. To achieve this, Buddhism has given the “Guide” very emphatically and clearly to be followed by the “KING” (applicable to the olden days) who should be replaced by the “GOVERNMENT”. It spells our TEN DUTIES OF THE KING. These DUTIES to be performed in today’s context apply to all those who constitute the Government, such as the Head of the State- The President, Ministers, all Politicians, all Administrative Officials of the Government. They are the “Corner Stones” of the whole country and the nation who should give the lead and the example of acting in accordance with such duties so that all other establishments and the citizens will be built to resist any tremble of the structure. What are these TEN DUTIES? These are very well and consciously spelled out by Dr. Walpola Rahula as follows:

    1. Liberality, Generosity, Charity (Dana) The RULER should not have CRAVING and ATTACHMENT to wealth and property, but should give it away for the welfare of the people.
    2. A High Moral Character. He should never destroy life, cheat, steal and exploit, commit adultery, utter falsehood and take intoxicating drinks. That is he must at least observe the Five Precepts of the laymen.
    3. Sacrificing everything for the good of the people (pariccaga), he must be prepared to give up all PERSONAL COMFORT, NAME and FAME and even his life, in the interest of the people.
    4. Honest and Integrity (Ajjiva). He must be FREE FROM FEAR OR FAVOR IN THE DISCHARGE OF HIS DUTIES, must be SINCERE in his intentions and must not DECEIVE the public.
    5. Kindness and Gentleness (Maddava). He must posses a genial temperament.
    6. Austerity in habits (Tapa). He must lead a SIMPLE LIFE and should NOT indulge in a LIFE OF LUXURY. He must have self control.
    7. Freedom from Hatred, Ill-will, Enmity (Akkodha) He should bear no grudge against anybody.
    8. Non-violence )Avihimsa) which means not only that he should harm nobody, but also that he should try to promote peace by avoiding and preventing war and everything which involves violence and destruction of life.
    9. Patience, Forbearance, Tolerance, Understanding (Khanti). He must be able to bear hardship, difficulties and insults without his temper.
    10. Non-opposition, Non-obstruction (Avirodha),He should not oppose the will of the people, should not obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of the people. In other words he should rule in harmony with his people.

    If the country is RULED by Leaders of all Political Colors and Officials endowed with above qualities just think of what we can achieve and how our country could show CULTURAL NORMS AND VALUES THAT CHARACTERIZE OUR NATION to the rest of the world.

  6. Nanda Says:

    Douglas,
    Thank you for posting the Dasa Raja Dhamma (DRD). In Kutadanda Sutta (Digha Nikaya) Buddha explains that in order to eradicate crime, the economic condition of the people should be improved. Not only on DRD other conditions too were expounded which includes how others should behave.

    Tis is why I kept saying this bugger WILL NOT make our country prosperous, he will only be another Ruinill in the end. He is waiting for the next term to give 13 plus.

    1. He is collecting wealth – no doubt. Compare how simple Gota and his wife compared to the buggers.
    2. He is drinking surely, the easiest to keep not keeping no need to think about other four. He does not have courage to keep the fifth meaning he will do anything for desire.
    3. No way on pairthyaga. He will do this taking Sinhala land and giving to Jihadist and Tamils.
    4. I don’t want to explain this. I will get into trouble.
    5. Maddava – He is definitely kind and gentle to Muslims and people of other religions. He is also kind to published misfortunate cases. So, he has this quality somewhat.
    6. Austerity – When Champika suggested him to join to get temporary Monkhood ( for 1 week or so) he refused, saying it is an insult to Cheevara( robe). This is his measure of himself. We don’t have to say anything. Chamika went ahead with the retreat without wearing robes, he did not join.
    7. Akkodha- He is OK in this sense, except for Fonseka.
    8. Ahimsa – He is good on this one.
    9. Patience, Forbearance, Tolerance, Understanding (Khanti). – he has this quality against the enemy only.
    10. Avirodha – yes again more of this quality towards the enemy than Sinhala nation.

    We have given him so many years to improve. He did improve on the qualities that help the enemy effectively.

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Douglas,

    For those to apply, SL MUST BE DECLARED A BUDDHIST COUNTRY IN THE CONSTITUTION.

    Otherwise there is NO legal, or official way of getting it done. For instance a HINDU, MUSLIM or a CHRISTIAN will say what is this? Why do I have to follow this?

    30% of the officials and leaders are NON BUDDHISTS. Without a constitution COMPULSION there is NO WAY they are going to do any of these.

    Look what the Koran says.

    Mohammed is God’s apostle. Those who follow him are ruthless to the unbelievers but merciful to one another. (48:29).

    Qur’aan – 48:29

    مُّحَمَّدٌ رَّسُولُ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ مَعَهُ أَشِدَّاء عَلَى الْكُفَّارِ رُحَمَاء بَيْنَهُمْ تَرَاهُمْ رُكَّعًا سُجَّدًا يَبْتَغُونَ فَضْلًا مِّنَ اللَّهِ وَرِضْوَانًا سِيمَاهُمْ فِي وُجُوهِهِم مِّنْ أَثَرِ السُّجُودِ ذَلِكَ مَثَلُهُمْ فِي التَّوْرَاةِ وَمَثَلُهُمْ فِي الْإِنجِيلِ كَزَرْعٍ أَخْرَجَ شَطْأَهُ فَآزَرَهُ فَاسْتَغْلَظَ فَاسْتَوَى عَلَى سُوقِهِ يُعْجِبُ الزُّرَّاعَ لِيَغِيظَ بِهِمُ الْكُفَّارَ وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ مِنْهُم مَّغْفِرَةً وَأَجْرًا عَظِيمًا

    So a PIOUS Muslim with good intentions will follow this!! He will support ONLY Muslims and be RUTHLESS to non-Mulims. Rings a bell? Law college admission? Gighawapi? Kuragala? Aluthgama?

    So there is a contradiction. Buddhism teaches KARUNA to all (including animals) but Islam teaches RUTHLESSNESS to non Muslims. What should a Muslim in SL do? At least the officials and leaders?

    Follow the BUDDHIST approach.

    For those to apply, SL MUST BE DECLARED A BUDDHIST COUNTRY IN THE CONSTITUTION.

  8. douglas Says:

    Nanda and Lorenzo: Thank you. I am aware of the “FRUSTRATIONS” that have developed and getting out of hand day by day. No doubt, we have conquered and brought about that much desired PEACE.

    This is the time, again to think of what Buddha said: “The victory breeds hatred and the defeated lies down in misery. He who renounces both victory and defeat is happy and peaceful”. Also, the Buddha said: “One may conquer millions in battle, but he who CONQUERS HIMSELF, ONLY ONE is the GREATEST CONQUERORS”.

    If our President who is all the time saying “Ape Hamuduruwane” and “Ape Hamuduruwo” blessing him with “Pirith NOOL” and placing the “DATU KARANDUWA” on his head, think of the above teachings of Buddha at least a few minutes on a daily basis; our country can be made easily a “Miracle of Asia” with or without legal enforcement.

    What is most needed is ; OUR MEN AND WOMEN GUARDIANS (THE RULERS) and THE AUXILIARIES (ADMINISTRATORS) must CONQUER THEMSELVES “FIRST” and get down to business of managing the country’s affairs for the well being of the country and the nation. In my opinion, that is the BEST CONSTITUTION we can have and I know it will definitely work.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    Someone is lying.

    Swamy said Endia will NOT interfere in SL and the Tamil issue should NOT disturb SL-Endia relations.

    Now what? Endia is Endia!! Never trust this piece of dirt.

    “India has told Sri Lanka that it needs to resolve the Tamil issue for making progress in bilateral trade and commerce, a senior BJP leader has said.

    We have told them (Sri Lanka) that you should resolve the Tamil issue if you want trade and commerce between Colombo and New Delhi (to progress),” Seshadri Chari, National Convener of Foreign Policy Cell of the Bharatiya Janata Party, said.

    He made the remarks after addressing a Singapore forum on “Prime Minister Modi’s Government: Imperatives & Challenges”. Talking about China, Chari said, “We are dealing with China from the same point of view. We have told the Chinese that there would not be any negotiations or talks on Arunachal Pradesh.”

    – Press Trust of India

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

 

 


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