How a Soviet Student Is Leading the Buddhist Crusade Against Jihad
Posted on July 15th, 2017

Courtesy Sputnik

Religious clashes have become a characteristic feature not only in the Middle East and Europe. South Asia faces the same challenges: terrorism, international criminal networks and illegal migration. Sputnik was able to talk to the leader of Sri Lanka’s radical Buddhists, a former Soviet student, who is heading the crusade against “global jihad.”

Doctor Dilanthe Withanage speaks very good Russian as he studied engineering in the Soviet Union. After returning to his home country of Sri Lanka, he took the helm of the organization called Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) or the “Buddhist Power Force” which calls for the creation of a “Buddhist International” against the so-called “global jihad.”

“There is a certain tendency when people reject the Buddhist religion for the sake of money. And the money comes from the Persian Gulf monarchies. This is all because of poverty. However many Muslims also live in poverty. We are not against Muslims. The fact of the matter is that many Muslims easily fall within the influence of Wahhabi propaganda. Poverty is a breeding ground for the religious radicalism,” Dilanthe Withanage told Sputnik.

According to Dr Withanage, social misery is pushing Muslims towards migration to other countries, which resulted in the Rohingya humanitarian crisis in Myanmar. Some of the experts consider the Rohingya an ethnic Muslim group while others are sure that they are just a community of migrants practicing Islam. There are over a million Rohingyas living in Myanmar without any citizenship.

In 2012, the country became the site of fiercest clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, which resulted in mass murders.”Rohingya is an example of a Muslim occupation. They are illegal migrants. We, the Buddhists are a minority and should defend ourselves,” Withanage told Sputnik.

Buddhist radicals, whose announced goal is the containment of Islam, largely resemble European ultra-right fighters. Similar to their western counterparts, they are convinced that the Muslim population in Asia is growing very fast.

Not so peaceful Buddhism

Incredible as it may seem, one of the reasons behind the escalating clashes between Muslims and Buddhists, one of the most “peaceful religion, in Southeastern Asia, is the tradition of violence, which is characteristic to Buddhism.

Mahavamsa, (“Great Chronicle”), historical chronology of Ceylon (modern Sri Lanka), written in the 5th or 6th century, probably by the Buddhist monk Mahanama, which deals more with the history of Buddhism, contains the calls for the massacre of the adherents of a different faith. Sri Lanka Buddhists have demonstrated their readiness to fight for their interests. From 1983 to 2009 the country has been marred in the war between Buddhists and the Hindu Tamils, with the Buddhists prevailing.

According to Withanage, Muslim trade circles benefited the most from the protracted conflict between the religious groups.

“During the war they purchased more land and have gained more political power, more influence on the executive power and mass media,” he told Sputnik.

He says he is fighting against halal certification of food products, which many of his allies see as a “preparation of the imposition of Sharia law.”

In conclusion, Withanage told Sputnik that he is sure that the confrontation between Buddhists and Hindus in Sri Lanka is one of the main reasons why there are so many Muslims in his home country.

7 Responses to “How a Soviet Student Is Leading the Buddhist Crusade Against Jihad”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    This is a complete misrepresentation of facts. Dilantha Withanage is currently the media person of the Bodu Bala Sena organization, which has a bad press mainly because of the blustering talk of its leader Galaboda-aththe Gnanasara Thera and deliberate misinformation by enemies against him and his outfit both within Sri Lanka and abroad. But the truth is that the problem of alleged violence against Muslims has a long history in Sri Lanka, but it is NOT by Buddhists against Muslims. Actually, acts of violence against the traditional Sufi Muslims is Sri Lanka by extremist Wahabis began in the 1970’s. These are real and we hear news of such intra-Muslim clashes even at present. Alleged acts of violence by Buddhists against Muslims have a very recent origin. The BBS was founded in 2012 in response to the activities of Wahabi extremist elements trained and funded by Islamist fundamentalists in Middle-Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Forcible attempts by Islamic extremists to convert people to their brand of Islam (Wahabism) which is seen as dangerous in every country, even in Muslim countries, and to introduce the Sharia law (with its barbarous inhumane standards that prescribe death for apostasy, allow child marriage, and permits abuse of women and discrimination against them and religious minorities) to 70% Buddhist Sri Lanka with a Muslim population of just short of 10% who actually enjoy a relatively higher standard of life than Buddhists engaged mainly in business among the latter who form the majority) are naturally resisted by monks and their lay supporters. The vast majority of Muslims live quite peacefully with the Buddhists.
    Like in Myanmar (88% Buddhist, about 5% Muslim), so in Sri Lanka, when incidents happen involving Buddhists and Muslims, the trouble initiators are extremist Muslims supported by foreign Islamists. It is a common strategy for Islamists everywhere to play the victim card. The Islamist problem is a global one. But to say that the BBS is taking on the global Jihadists is not true. The BBS has no power to do that. The global Jihadists are calling for more powerful enemies.
    In Sri Lanka, the northern and eastern provinces have many ancient Buddhist places of worship (some over two thousand years old) which are in ruins. There are ancient rock caves donated to meditating monks by royals and prominent citizens, and hundreds of rock inscriptions of historical value, in addition to thousands of acres of such land donated to the Sangha, that form a part of the Buddhist temporalities of the country. Many of these archaeological treasures have been already vandalized or encroached on by non-Buddhists who today form the majority in those areas. This destruction is done mostly through ignorance. But recently, it is being done through political motivation, as a form of cultural genocide (of the Sinhalese). The government can stop this easily, but the power hungry unpatriotic politicians ruling the country (in the past as well as the present) don’t do so for fear of losing the support of the minorities at elections. But the minorities are not so dumb as to fail to understand the value of archaeological sites. (If interested, readers may access Irida Divaina online today (July 16, 2017) and read about a judgement delivered by a Hindu Tamil judge in favour of a Buddhist monk allowing him to complete building his vihara at Navakkuliya that the provincial council of the area wanted demolished on the ground that the monk had not obtained the permission of the PC for it). The truth is that ordinary people of every community willingly protect these things if they are made aware of their archaeological value to the whole country, and of their religious value to the Buddhists, who never harm any place of worship anywhere in the country to whichever religion it belongs. In fact, Sinhalese Buddhist kings of the past helped Christian and Muslim foreigners who wished to remain in Sri Lanka to establish their churches and mosques. Buddhist monks gave portions of their temple land to Muslims to build their mosques. A major mosque in Kandy stands in land given by the Asgiriya Vihara.
    Buddhists are by nature tolerant, and accommodating towards people of other religions. Buddhism has no blasphemy laws nor punishment for giving up the Buddhist religion. Anyone can question the philosophy and the tenets of Buddhism. If not satisfied with the Buddhist doctrine, they are free to leave. A person who follows the Buddhist teachings need not label themselves as Buddhists. The essence of Buddhism is kindness. This article says that violence is ‘characteristic to Buddhism’. That is an utter falsehood.

    This alleged Sputnik article is most likely a false propaganda piece inserted by a Christian fundamentalist. The present communal and religious divisions (nearly nonexistent before) accelerated after Pope Francis’ visit, whose ‘blessings’ have become a curse.

  2. Vaisrawana Says:

    There is no doubt that this is a conspiratorial piece against Sinhalese Buddhist Sri Lanka written by a fanatical Christian. The second picture says it shows ‘Cluster Bombs Possibly Used in Sri Lanka Civil War’. This is a baseless fabrication. Cluster bombs were never used in the legitimate government military operations against the terrorists.

    Christian clergymen like father Rayappu Joseph were LTTE sympathisers. Christian proselytisers were also behind the separatist campaign. Christian readers, please don’t misunderstand me. I am not against peaceful normal Christians. But I, like all reasonable people of all faiths or no faith, am against religious extremism. Fanatical Christians do have axes to grind the present artificial ‘ethnic’ crisis. BBS and other monks do not have any religious conflict with the faithful of other religions. They are only reacting against overt and covert acts of aggression by non-Buddhists against Buddhists.

    I personally know two young monks who donated their kidneys to two Muslim persons for free. Organ and blood donation is not popular among Muslims as far as I know for religious reasons. These two young monks (I knew them as students at university) refused to accept money offered to them by the patients’ families and wished to remain anonymous. Very recently, 100 Buddhist monks travelled to Jaffna to donate blood. Caste problems make blood donation difficult among caste conscious Tamils in the north. The true humane character of the monks is hardly known to outsiders because of misinformation against them.

  3. Christie Says:

    202 years under British imperialism, and terrorism,we suffered sevierly and now we have reached to the end . Deseases are spreading engulfing whole nation including all religious grroups. Thosands of years developed agriculture is collapsing.It seems that Briten is nearing its achivment of another Australia. For that end our ex soviet student is serviing the empaire well.Goodbye Sri Lanka.
    Like · Reply · 13 hrs

    Dalit Divas Prawasi · University of Oxford
    Britsh are gone but the Indians are left behind. Like Idi Amin in Uganda did it is time to send all Indian Colonial Parasites back to India or UK.
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs

    Dalit Divas Prawasi · University of Oxford
    Dilantha and BBS who are funded by Indian money through Norway has done a great job for the Indian Empire in installing the current government in Ceylon (Sri Lanka).
    Like · Reply · 3 hrs

    Dalit Divas Prawasi · University of Oxford
    BBS managed to alienate the Sihala Muslim and Christian votes from Mahinda Rajapaksa. So they managed to divide the Sinhala vote and and with the Indian Colonial Parasites’ block vote India managed to install the current regime taht is slowly killing the Sinhales while the Indian colonial parasites prosper.
    The genocide of the natives of Ceylon are continuing and it will be the Andaman and Nicobar islands.
    Like · Reply · 2 hrs

    Dalit Divas Prawasi · University of Oxford
    This mob is an Indian terrorist movement. In Indian Hinduthwa (Hindu exteremists) attck Muslims, Untouchables and Christians. They kill people who eat beef.
    This BBS is a puppet of India and is doing its best to wipe out Sinhalese be they are Budhists, Muslims or Chritians.
    Indian terrorists; trained, armed, funded, managed and branded Tamil tigers have killed more than hundred thousnad of Sinhalese claiming these Indians are discriminated. Rohingiyas are also Indians who went to Burma to produce rice to feed millions of Indian colonial parasites who went work all over the world like the ones…See More

  4. Dilrook Says:

    I think the article is relatively more accurate than most international media reports of the matter from an outsider’s point of view. I agree with Dilanthe. He has given an accurate description of affairs. However, the Buddhist-Hindu confrontation of Sri Lanka (since 205 BC) will never end. It will continue as it has been in history. A Buddhist-Muslim confrontation obviously favours Hindus.

    Although some Christian priests were/are supportive of LTTE, they are hardly influential of Tamil politics. Even Hindu priests have little influence on Tamil politics. More Tamil Christians supported Sri Lanka (including Duraiappah, Bastianpillai, Kadirgamar, Fernandopulle, Tiron Sivapulle, Thambimuttu, Rajaratnam, etc.).

    LTTE is a Hindu terrorist organisation. I’m struggling to find a single kovil attacked by the LTTE (beyond our own propaganda) whereas a countless number of churches, temples and mosques became their targets. Most LTTE high profile Tamil kills were Tamil Christians. I can’t find a single Hindu winning one of the high gallantry awards of Sri Lanka despite being 13% of the population. Smaller ethnic communities have won.

    Sri Lanka is a legal user of cluster bombs. One of the largest cluster bomb stockpiling nations and Sri Lanka has not signed or ratified the cluster and APM ban which makes it legal for Sri Lanka to use them. A very clever decision. It is probable Sri Lanka did use cluster munitions during the war (1976-2009) legally (emphasised) as it is not bound by any convention not to do so. Similarly Sri Lanka has refused to be bound by the land mine ban and conventional arms protocols 2 and 5. Protocol 5 deals with explosive remnants of war. Sri Lanka is not bound by it so it can cause explosive remnants of war. This matter must be looked at from the legal point of view and not a moral or political point of view.

  5. Christie Says:

    This “Sputnik” try to be a mouth piece for new Russia.

    But when it comes to affairs in our region it is like other Western fake media.

    Looks like Indians working for Sputnik and Indians who provide funds to Sputnik make such reports.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    * Re : The Buddhist-Hindu confrontations :

    In the old days, the attacks always came from the S. INDIAN quarter, not from N. INDIA.
    The attacks by Lanka into INDIA never happened.
    A couple of times, S. INDIAN invaders were chased right back into S. INDIAN soil.

    The Buddha said that “One is high born or low born according to one’s actions”.
    This is not in keeping with the CASTE system of S.INDIA & INDIA where a person is high born or low born BY BIRTH.

    However, Hindu Raj Yoga (the highest of all Yogas) & Buddhism & Buddhist Meditation, is a great meeting ground for Buddhism & Hinduism.

    The historical S. INDIAN attacks were due to their leaders ambitions to expand territory.

    Present day S. INDIAN expansionism is however tied to the CASTE factor of some 15 Million Tamil Dalits (obviously seeking greeners pastures outside of CASTE ridden TN), tying up with Cold War players.

    We say that Tamil Eelam is in Tamil Nadu, sans CASTE.

    * Re Islam :The word ISLAM means PEACE.

    * Re Christianity :
    Christ said that the “Kingdom of Heaven is WITHIN YOU”

    ——-

    All religions come together in INNER PEACE, SELF REALISATION, UNITING WITH GOD WITHIN etc.

    The Core Teachings are the same.

    So, we have to conclude that it is not religion, but other factors that come into play in so called religious conflicts.

    We need PATRIOTISM in Lanka to overcome most of these other factors.

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    INDIA’s CASTE structure is an addendum to the Hindu religion, not in the Core Teachings of Hinduism.

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