NO MAHAVAMSA, NO THERAVADA BUDDHISM
Posted on August 3rd, 2014

Nalin de Silva

 The most popular game among the pundits, not that they have contributed anything original to their subjects/fields/specialties, but they are somewhat read, so that they can quote from some book or the other or heard from somebody or other, who cannot think on their own, who are utterly incapable of going to the roots of a problem, but recognized among people like themselves as intellectuals, open minded, broad minded, balanced etc., is bashing and humiliating of Sinhala Buddhism, Sinhala Buddhists, Mahavamsa, Gemunu, etc.

It is the Buddhist culture that is being attacked, as being broad minded intellectuals they would not attack the Bududahama, Theravada or non Theravada that includes other Hinayana interpretations and Mahayana Bududahama. The pundits will not attack the Mahanayaka Theras in public, but the so called extremist Bhikkus are being attacked from left and right, meaning the political left and right.

 Christian convention

 There are some pundits who would call Mahavamsa, the fourth basket or “pitaka”, meaning that the Sinhala Buddhists have “catuspitaka” (four baskets) instead of “thripitaka” (three baskets). The Mahavamsa has been written apparently in the fifth century AD (this is Christian tradition and nobody questions the use of AD and BC in referring to years, and call it Christian domination, for the simple reason that the Christian culture and education have been made the dominant culture and system of knowledge.The Christian is the norm and all of us are forced to adopt the Christian convention. I use the word convention as a translation of the word “sammuthiya” and I am of the opinion that people belong to one or more conventions without realizing that some of the conventions which they belong to are contradictory) by a Mahavihara Bhikku (not necessarily a resident of Mahavihara, but a Bhikku who belonged to the Mahavihara tradition) named Ven. Mahanama Thera.

 Mahavamsa ends with the defeat of Mahasen who demolished the Mahavihara premises and sowed “undu”. Mahasen who could be considered as a Hela Buddhist was politically defeated by the Sinhala Buddhists meaning those who belonged to the Sinhala Buddhist culture. However, most of the qualities of Hela Buddhist culture were not defeated and were incorporated into the Sinhala Buddhist culture. Thus culturally Sinhala Buddhists are not very much different from the Hela Buddhists, except in one important character. It is the defense of Sinhala Buddhist culture and political structures from external aggressions, attacks, invasions etc.

 The Hela Buddhists were Yagu Kauranas, Nagas and others described in the Varigapurnikava and were sympathetic to Vijaya and company who came from Dambadiva. I am relying on what is stated in Varigapurnikava and Mahavamsa and available archeological evidence to create my story on “Sinhala history” (I have my story of Tamil speaking Muslim history in Sri Lanka, which does not go beyond 1300 AD. A Muslim friend accuses me of distorting Muslim history but he does not mind me “distorting” Sinhala history).

 Empirical phenomena

 When Physics is nothing but creation of stories such as the gravitational force to “explain” so called empirical phenomena such as falling of apples or coconuts to the ground and the motion of the earth round the sun (I do not know how empirical is this phenomenon – even empirical phenomena are nothing but stories created by “intellectuals”. Is there anybody in the world who could grasp a chair, for example, as a sensory perceptible object? If so could he/she mention which of the five sense organs is used to grasp the chair.), what can be said of storytelling in history?

 My story of Sinhala history does not agree completely with the story in Mahavamsa as I believe that Hela people were Buddhists even before the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thera. The Helas were very tolerant of other cultures and religions not only as Hela Buddhists but even as pre Buddhists. There are nice stories on this quality of the Hela people described in the Varigapurnikava and Vijaya story described there shows that Vijaya and his men were pardoned by a lady identified as Kuveni in Mahavamsa.

 What Vijaya and others who came subsequently to this country from Dambadiva have contributed to the culture appears to be an aggressiveness which was not found in the Hela people. There had been Arabs who were Muslims as well non Muslims who had come before the 13th Century but who were non aggressive in Sri Lanka and were involved in trade. However, all these have changed after the thirteenth century when the Tamil speaking Muslims had come from present South India and had to face competition from the Portuguese who arrived with the emerging Christian culture in the beginning of the sixteenth century.

 If Hela people had continued to be in Heladiva, Serendip, or whatever, without the input of Vijaya culture (meaning the culture brought by Vijaya and others subsequently) as Hela Buddhists, without any conquerors coming from present South India, until the Portuguese came to the country Hela people would have been converted to become Christians (Catholics first) in no time. Then there would not have been any Sinhala (Hela) Buddhist bashing by the pundits no humiliation for the Sinhala (Hela) Buddhists as there would not have been any Sinhala (Hela) Buddhists to be humiliated.

 However, I know that I am expressing something that cannot be tested as there is no way to do an experiment to find out whether my story (hypothesis in the language of so called scientific method) is correct or not. Then there are so many stories in String Theory and Cosmology in Physics where people get Nobel Prizes without anybody being able to test their stories!

 Sinhala Buddhist culture

 The aggressiveness of Vijaya culture in the above sense has been reinforced by Mahvihara Bhikkus even before the days of Mahavamsa and when Deepavamsa was written circa fourth century little bit of aggressiveness had become part and parcel of the Sinhala Buddhist politics. However the culture of the Hela people which had been incorporated into the Sinhala Buddhist culture did not allow the Sinhala Buddhists to conquer other countries and spread their culture even though they were capable of doing so.

 However, what is interesting is that Ashokan Bududahama or Bududahama of the third council (Sangayana) introduced by Arhant Mahinda Thera contained the necessary ingredients for Sinhala Buddhism to be aggressive, with its Dhammavada and Kshanavada somewhat akin to “objective reality” of Western culture, and Manu laws and Brahman of Vedic culture.

The aggressiveness is connected with an almighty creator who is omniscient and objective reality follows from this though the realists may claim that they are Atheists and what not. What Ashokan Buddhism that evolved to be Sinhala Buddhism brought to Sinhala culture was that bit of aggressiveness that is associated with Dhammavada. However, Hela Buddhist culture with its relativities was tolerant and did not allow the Sinhala Buddhist culture to conquer other countries though they had the capabilities in terms of Naval facilities etc.

 However, that did not prevent Sinhala Buddhism as a culture to be spread to countries such as Myanmar, Thailand, Laos and Kampuchea and it is said Mahavamsa is treated with respect in some of these countries though not as “pitaka” as the pundits claim. If not for Mahavamsa Sinhala Buddhism would have disappeared under attacks from present day South India even before the Portuguese came here and Theravada would not have been spread to the countries mentioned above.

 This article is only an introduction to a series of articles I intend to write though may be under different titles. It is that limited aggressiveness that has made it possible to retain Sinhala Buddhism in the country, and what the pundits want is to see even that little aggressiveness disappears to allow the hegemonic Christian aggressiveness to dominate the culture and politics of the country.

6 Responses to “NO MAHAVAMSA, NO THERAVADA BUDDHISM”

  1. AnuD Says:

    String theory is theoretical. So, is the history. It is some one’s hypothesis. Always there is a certain element of doubt.

  2. Senevirath Says:

    BUT THESE “PUNDITS” ARE VERY AGGRESSIVE WHEN THEY FIGHT FOR THEIR PAY
    SALARY FIRST – COUNTRY AND CULTURE SECOND
    DECENDANTS OF “”chinchi”””

  3. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    Tamils continue to claim they were the original people of Sri Lanka before the arrival of Prince Vijaya in 500 BC and why? because Tamil Nadu is so close to that island. It is simple common sense they claim that the culture that Vijaya met was Tamil.

    Though the Veddahs have been the original people of Sri Lanka and no Tamil words are found in their language. Though there are no Tamils remains, even Tamil etchings that predate 500 BC let alone the subsequent centuries for quite a while the Tamils keep this notion alive. It is based on common sense.

    I once read that if one follows common sense then it is a fact that the sun revolves around the world and why? because all one has to do is watch it rise in the East, travel across the sky and set in the West. Science has proved otherwise.

    It is also common sense to believe the world is flat and why? because when one looks at the horizon the world looks flat. It is inconceivable to think that man could stand on this planet upside down or on its side for surely man would simply fall off of it. But again it requires Science to prove that the world is indeed round and a concept called gravity keeps us all on it.

    It is common sense to believe the world is stationary and why” for if it spun around everything would tumble and fall. there would be a horrendous wind as any object that is spun produces. It requires Scientific data to prove the world does spin on its axis.

    If the Tamils cannot provide Scientific fact that they existed in Sri Lanka before the Sinhalese culture developed in that nation then it is just make believe and the fiction of a fanatic.

    Finally comes the issue of a culture that defines a nation. The Sinhalese Buddhist culture defined the nation of Sri Lanka for 2500 years, yet that is constantly attacked by Tamils, Muslims, Christians, and Secularists. These same people gladly accept the European centric culture of the United States or for that matter the New world (Americas) without question even though it had only existed since the 16th century and I am being generous.
    Same can be said of Australia to even Muslim Pakistan to Muslim Afghanistan where Buddhism and Hinduism was the culture of the latter two nations far longer than it was Muslim.

    But when it comes to Sri Lanka the Sinhalese Buddhists do not have that “luxury”. the Sinhalese Buddhist culture has been under attack for centuries and now in the 21st century and the end of Asia’s longest war the parasitical Western powers are more than willing to continue the Sinhalese bashing brought to their shores by the disgruntled Tamils.

  4. Lorenzo Says:

    “Tamils continue to claim they were the original people of Sri Lanka before the arrival of Prince Vijaya in 500 BC and why? because Tamil Nadu is so close to that island.”

    Modaya logic by Tamilians.

    IF TRUE, England must be a French homeland. Japan is a Chinese homeland.

    Now UNHRC tells SL NOT to deport Pakistani illegal immigrants. This is a joke. SL MUST deport them. The biggest threat to SL comes from demographic invasion of Tamils and Muslims. Unless their threat is defeated there will be no Buddhism.

  5. douglas Says:

    The story of Vijaya’s arrival in a land called “Thambapanni” with four hundred people dates back to the day the Buddha passed away. The recorded year is 543 B.C. But prior to that it is recorded that Buddhas arrived in this country three times; the first being on the Full-moon day of “Duruthu” (January), i.e. nine months after HE had reached Buddhahood. This clearly indicates that there were inhabitants who have met Buddha three times and it could be surmised that those people would have had some “culture” ingrained in them to receive and listen and most importantly to understand the message of the “Enlightened”.

    If some wants to establish the origin of Sihala Race to Vijaya and his entourage of seven hundred that included women, I personally feel that, that attempt is to “demonize” the whole community; because Vijaya was the eldest son of Sinha Seevali the “Deputy King (Upa Raja) of Sinhaba, who was deposed on complaints made by the people for his cruelty to the society. The story also tells that the King warned him three times and tried his best to correct Vijaya and having failed in his attempts took action to “half shave” his head and deposed and sent him away to the sea in a boat with the seven hundred people. That is how landed in “Thambapanni” – later known as Ceylon.

    I admit, I am no pandit to interpret historical events as recorded. Therefore, I request Mr. Nalin de Silva to educate me and others on this aspect of the subject in your next installment. I just gave my “raw” opinion on this story of Vijaya.

  6. Nanda Says:

    There is one monk who wrote a book proving Buddha was a Sri Lankan, not an Indian. I don’t believe this storey fully but I wonder whether “Jamboodveepa” means Sri Lanka , because it looks like a “Jamboo” and it is a “Dveepa” or island. India is not an island.
    May be Nalin can discuss this too.

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