The Constitution of Sri Lanka, and Buddhism.
Posted on October 19th, 2016

By Charles.S.Perera

Sri Lanka was a Sinhala Buddhist country when the British colonised it. However there were already Christian missionaries brought in by the Portuguese and the Dutch. In 1815 when Sri Lanka was colonised the British gave a solemn undertaking to protect Buddhism, which was reflected in the Constitution which became an institution since then. It is correct that Buddhism takes a foremost place and protected by relevant provision in the Constitution, who ever wants to writes a Constitution to replace the one that existed before.

Since the foreboding Yahapalanaya Government’s undesired occupation of the seat of power in Sri Lanka everything seems to be going wrong. Their proposed new Constitution which is not the most important necessity at the present time, is being mooted by the Tamil politicians, their protectors the Tamil diaspora and their patrons the Western Countries led by USA and the British. The last with an eye to divide the country for the political benefits that they expect would fall into their laps, from such division.

Since the Yahapalanaya Government which was set up under the aegis of the West, reconciliation had been its raison d’être. Hence even the writing of a new Constitution is for this reconciliation with the mainly Tamil political forces and to please the Western Masters who helped to set up the Yahapalanaya government. The President and  the Prime Minister  of the Yahapalanaya government are cordially welcomed and excessively praised for their achievements  by America and the leaders of the Western Countries, while the majority of the people in Sri Lanka except for the Tamils and Muslims regret the day that Yahapalanaya Government was setup.

The yahapalanaya political leaders blinded by a reconciliation madness find the Sinhala and Buddhism a barrier to implement their Constitutional reforms to satisfy the Tamil political forces here and abroad and their Western patrons.  The Tamils do not accept any religious symbol representing the Sinhala majority given a preferential place in the new Constitution they want the Yahapalanaya government to write. They insist on a secular  Federal Constitution leaving out the  provision giving the  foremost place to Buddhism, allowing  the setting up of a separate Tamil Provincial Council if not an Eelam in the North and East.

Now that they- the Tamils extremists are a part of the foreboding political setup along side the Yahapalanaya Government they insist that the yahapalana   give them their demands.  Yahapalanay has turned tables in Sri Lanka,making the majority Sinhala a minority, and the minority Tamils and Muslims the Majority.

Today the Voice of the Sinhala majority is being forced into silence by Maithripala Sirisena- Ranil Wickramasinghe-Chandrika Kumaratunga led Yahapalanaya Government.

The Yahapalanaya leadership led by Ranil Wickramasinghe , Chandrika, Mangala along with their protégé Maithripala has to cede to the demands of the Tamil politicians and the Tamil diaspora in order to keep their desired support of the American -Western Masters and India. To that end they are willing to sacrifice Buddhism and the privileges of the Sinhala which found renaissance under S.W.R.D.Bandaranayake and Mahinda Rajapakse, for the sake of reconciliation with the Tamils.

Today it is the Tamil Politicians who call the tune, and the Yahapalanya has to dance to it. Now there are secret attempts that are being made to write a secular Constitution  removing the foremost place held by Buddhism in the previous  Sri Lanka Constitutions, and get it passed in the Parliament without a referendum from the people.

But have these ignorant Tamils and the yahapalanaya yes men” made an effort to understand  that Buddhism should be safeguarded at any cost as it is the identity of Sri Lanka ?

Buddhism is not a religion with a creator god, but it is a way of life that respects not only human being but all living beings. It is a way of life that could be adopted by any one whatever  their belief system.

Buddhism is so called only to identify the  teachings of the compassionate Buddha, who was not a God,  but a Man that achieved the highest purity of Mind to see the reality of suffering and find the way out of that suffering.

The teachings of the Buddha not being a religion should be protected as  a world heritage for the welfare of the future generations.  Buddhism should not only be protected by the Sinhala Buddhists of Sri Lanka,  but also by all wise and intelligent people of the world,  as Buddhism could be the saving force in a world given to inhuman cruelty , belligerence, the stupidity of wars, and  aggression.

I have my respect for  Christianity and Hinduism, nevertheless,  it should yet be pointed out that unlike those religions,  Buddhism promotes the inane human qualities of man  to save himself and other beings from suffering without appealing to an unseen saviour.

The sins for  crimes committed by man against man cannot be washed  away by bathing in the rivers Ganga, Yamuna  or Godavari, sacrificing animals for a loving God or Goddess Kali, burn tons of cereals as offerings to the pantheon of Hindu Gods. Or in Christianity, where  there is no salvation in praying  to a God who refused to show himself according to the Bible even to Mosses, nor to any one of the  72 odd other principle Christian prophets.

The God will never show Himself to man , but send messages through His prophets allowing them only to hear His voice in dreams and visions. These are religions, but Buddhism is not such a religion. It is a teaching  that existed, which was rediscovered in enlightenment  by a great man who was  the compassionate Buddha- the all knowing one.

Buddhism, to which Sri Lanka gives the foremost place in its Constitution, is not a religion such as Hinduism, Christianity  or Islam with  creator Gods. Therefore it is in the interest of the man kind that Buddhism should be Protected in Sri Lanka where the Buddha’s  pure teachings exist for the intelligent people of the world to share. The Sri Lanka Constitution with the foremost place given to Buddhism will always remain  a secular  Constitution, as Buddhism does not fall into the category of a religion..

If someone is to pose the question why in Sri Lanka where a most venerated teaching exists there are crimes and a degrading morality ?

It is a question that should be asked from the Maha Nayka Theros of Asgiriya and Malwatta in  Kandy, who jump to safeguard political interests of political parties rather than those of the people. They have failed to bring the three Nikayas together and bring the people closer to the teachings of the Buddha. Of the Three Nikayas the Ramanna Nikaya has contributed more to Buddhism than the Nikaya to which the Maha Nayaka Theros belong.

The Buddha did not  convert people from other religions  to his teachings, but told his disciples to be an example to others. It was through their  example of discipline that great Kings and wise men came into the fold of Buddhism.

The great King Asoka of India, was grief stricken after the wars he fought to unify India, which caused the deaths of countless number of persons. He turned himself to spirituality to seek mental solace. He entertained  eight thousands Nigantakas in his Royal palace, offering them food and alms. But all that did not give him the desired peace of mind. One day looking through a palace window he saw  a young Buddhist Monk walking mindfully in extreme peace and  serenity. The King was so pleased  seeing  this young monk, he immediately  sent a messenger to request the young monk to come to the palace to meet him. He saw the messenger making his request as demanded by the King.  But the young monk continued to walk at the same pace without hurrying in obeisance to the Kings request.

The King sent another messenger requesting him to come quickly. But the monk-Venerable Nigrodha,  continued to walk peacefully until he came to the presence of the King. The King requested Venerable Nigrodha to take a suitable seat. He looked around and seeing no other senior monk present, sat on the Kings throne. The King was surprised but admired the  monks astuteness.  The Kings immediately prostrated  befor the monk and requested him to make a discourse. Venerable Nigrodha then made a short discourse of the Buddha on Heedfulness (Dhammapada Chapter 2). The sermon appealed to the King Asoka. He requested Venerable Nigrodha to accept him as a follower of the teachings of the Buddha.

That was the teachings of the Buddha  which changed the history of India. The  King Asoka made Buddhism the venerated spiritual teaching to be followed by the people of his kingdom. And it is that Buddhism, which these Yahapalanaya leadership want to remove from being cited in the Sri Lanka Constitution, to satisfy the Tamils and the Muslims.

The Mahanayakas are reactionaries, the Siyam Nikaya to which they belong even today does not accept children from lower casts to be ordained as acolytes(samanera) in their temples. It is Ramanna Nikaya that has done more service in the emanation of Buddhist teachings.

The Maha Nayakas have become political priests ready to support the UNP rather than other political parties. They do not understand  that they have a greater role to play  in the dispensation of the teachings of the Buddha amoung the people and find means  to raise the moral standard of the Buddhists by developing projects to bring a closer relationship with the temple and the Buddhists.

The Mahanayake Theros should be appointed by a Council of three Nikayas, if they are to be accepted as the Buddhist hierarchy leading the  Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka. They should represent  the seat of administration of the Buddhist monks of Sri Lanka, imposing discipline on them, and meet out justice and punitive action when found necessary. That is a necessity today as atleast some of  the young Buddhist monks coming from Universities are far  from being an example of the teachings of the Buddha, but a disgrace to the Buddha Sasana.

These are the matters that the Yahapalanay should attend to instead of removing Buddhism from the foremost place it has in the Constitution of Sri Lanka.

However there is really no necessity to write a new Constitution to Sri Lanka now. As even before starting the writing of it there  are conflicting views as to what it should it be like. Allowing it to Yahapalanaya would be a great mistake as every thing the Yahapalanaya Government has touched so far turned out to be an utter disaster. We do not want the same to happen to  the Constitution of Sri Lanka. It is best that the Constitution of Sri Lanka is left as it is .

If Mahanayakaa Theros have any idea of what is good for Sri Lanka and what is not , they should intervene to advise this Yahapalanaya government to stop forthwith their  move to write a new Constitution to Sri Lanka.

All  Sinhala Buddhists without exception whatever their political views should rise up against the proposal to write a new Constitution.

11 Responses to “The Constitution of Sri Lanka, and Buddhism.”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Emperor Asoka’s kingdom didn’t extend to Tamil country (modern Tamil Nadu). That was why he had good relations with Sri Lanka. Had his kingdom extended to Tamil south India, he would have been influenced by Tamils against Sri Lanka.

    This is why disintegration of India benefits Sri Lanka. Although Tamil Nadu will be free to attack Sri Lanka as it wishes, Sri Lanka will have more options than now.

  2. S.Gonsal Says:

    It is Tamils who pioneered kicking out of Buddhism from the country now called INDIA. Before than there was a time INDIA was Buddhist, except a minor part of Tamil Nadu area.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    “It is Tamils who pioneered kicking out of Buddhism from the country now called INDIA.”

    Now now Gonsal you are telling a lie. ACCEPT it.

    Tamils had NOTHING to do with Buddhism in Endia. It was MUGHAL invasion, HINDU caste system and British invasion that destroyed Buddhism in Endia.

    But Buddha knew Tamils are not worthy of his DHAMMA. How true!

    Even Lord Buddha knew it. That’s why he avoided Tamil Madu when he travelled from NEPAL to SL. He HAD TO travel through Tamil Madu but he AVOIDED it. That speaks volumes!!

  4. S.Gonsal Says:

    Lorenzo,
    It is not a lie. Buddhism was mostly gone by the time Moghals arrive. The story you know is a LIE because it is a story fabricated by Tamils ( rather South Indians).
    WHen I say “Tamil” it could mean Chalas , Pandiyans in that era. To me South Indians are Tamils including those who speak Malayalam or other South Indian languages. If you say Adi Shankara is a North Indian it is not a widely accepted story. It is the work of Adi Shankara that got rid of Buddhism gradually. Not by war but by LIES WHICH LOOKS ALMOST LIKE BUDDHISM. Of coures Buddhist themselves are to be blamed.

    Let me put it this way.

    BIRTH OF HINDUISM IS THE DEATH OF BUDDHISM in the country called India.

    Now. don’t buy the popular myth of Hindus that Buddha was born a Hindu. Only Bhraminism existed Buddhas time.

    It is the same story in Sri Lanka. We are gradually loosing Buddhism. Our leaders are Hindus pretending to be Sinhala Buddhist and protectors of Buddhism.

  5. Charles Says:

    My point is that Buddhism cannot be called a religion inclusion of which in the Constitution will make the Constitution a non secular document. India whether it was Buddhist in the North South, East or West is not the point. The King Asoka accepted it from the mere fact of reflection of the teaching in a young Buddhist Monk walking mindfully on the road a distant away from the Palace.

    Buddhism is a reference to the teachings of the Buddha. The Theravada teachings is in Sri Lanka and therfore it needs protection with a Constitutional provision demanding its protection who ever rules Sri Lanka.

  6. S.Gonsal Says:

    Charles,
    How Buddhism dissapeared from India is very relevant. Please study it.

    Today a new trend has arisen which will be even more dangerous to Buddhism than not to be shielded by constitution, which is merely limited to few sentences. We have to go beyond and much further.

    1. As I said before, for rich people, trend is to visit Thriupathy for refuge. Politicians are setting examples
    2. New breed of monks now offering certificates of enlightenement, claiming to be aranats. Actually if you listen to them, sometime they preach very good Dhamma but with with a slight twist to spread their doctarine
    3. Horascope relience and Bodhi Puja has become a way of life than contemplating what Buddha said

    Buddha has said Buddhsim will dissapear one day, replaced by various doctarines looking similar to Buddhism. Exactly the same thing happened in India, lead by South Indians ( Dravidians). More than any other religion, Indian tricks would be the most dangerous.

  7. Charles Says:

    Gonsal You are completely outside the discussion.You remind me of another commentator called Dhamma or such name, who jumped to comment like do.

  8. Dilrook Says:

    Charles, the two issues are connected. Constitutional protection is just one form of protection. There are other means too including economic, political, social, technological and external. On all these other counts, Buddhism is nowhere. For instance, Buddhists have no economic clout compared to Islam, Hinduism and Christianity. Therefore Gonsal is correct in his assessment. We should look at the whole spectrum of “foremost place for Buddhism” to make it meaningful. At the very least the constitutional protection must remain.

    The demise of Buddhism in India was due to Hinduism, not due to Mughal or Christian invasions. By these invasions happened, Buddhism had been wiped out in “India”. A more recent example is Sikkim. A previous Buddhist nation but today it has a dominant Hindu majority.

  9. Charles Says:

    Dilreook, There are other aspects of Buddhism in Sri Lanka that has to be looked inot but the immediate necessity is the protection of Buddhsism with Constitutional provision, because the writing of the new constitution is being carried out . Therefore voices have to be raised against it and other historical and and all that is for the moment not the issue.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Hinduism was already in place in areas of what is now INDIA, when the philosophy of Gauthama Buddha was brought in.
    The Buddha was not for the CASTE SYSTEM and the Hindu leaders left Buddhism behind. Buddhism also did not prepare the country for war with invaders. That was seen as a weakness, perhaps justifiably so.

    All religions that accommodate and forgive WAR & Death and strong tactics are prevalent in most parts of the world. In comparison, Buddhist Philosophy is soft. Therein lies the difference.

    Buddhist countries of today must have in place methods to have high SECURITY for their countries. Or else invasions are inevitable. All illegal migrants ought to be deported.

    Sri Lanka is a multi-cultural country with all the OTHER major religions highly represented too.

    Therefore, the Sri Lanka Constitution must PROTECT the Buddhist heritage.

    Some suggestions to protect Buddhism in Lanka :

    – Places of Buddhist worship must be protected through the Sri Lanka Constitution. The Armed Forces & the Police must be committed to protect places of Buddhist worship.
    – Since Lanka is a small country, Conversions to other religions ought NOT be encouraged in Lanka.
    – MEDITATION ought to be taught in all schools so that inner peace in people will bring outer peace for the whole of Lanka.
    – R2P of the Buddhists of Lanka (and even the world) ought to come from the UN.

  11. Fran Diaz Says:

    Yet another view of this topic …

    Buddhism will be protected if there is political stability in Lanka and the region.

    Buddhism will be best protected by REMOVING the main vicious element that destabilises Lanka. That is :

    * REMOVE the ILLEGAL 13-A imposed by INDIA on the JRJ govt in 1987, during Cold War times.

    Whenever the ultra pro-west UNP moves into govern Lanka, INDIA goes beserk and attempts to take over Lanka. Right now, the UNP has crept in through the back door via RW, the Exec Prime Minister, appointed by the current Prez ‘because the west wants it so’.

    * Also, INDIA had better watch it if Lanka is split up ! INDIA will be the next country to be dismembered via a split from South INDIA (led by TAmil Nadu), as was attempted before, till PM Nehru’s Anti-Secessionist Law was put in place in 1963.

    Buddhist values can be maintained and practised AFTER removing the elements that DESTABILISES LANKA.

    Watch what is happening in Europe, politically and economically. Europe is the key area. Two world wars came from EUROPE.
    After WW II, the USA is committed to look after, Protect the people of Europe, Britain & Israel, and their Economic activities.
    In this context, what about the Trinco Harbor ?

    * Should Lanka move the UN on : PEACEFUL PORTS (sea ports, air ports) PROJECT IN THE INDIAN OCEAN.

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