The great betrayal of Theravada Buddhism?
Posted on March 29th, 2018

By Prof. M. M. J. Marasinghe B.A. (Hon.) (Cey.); Ph.D.(B’ham);D.Litt.(Hons.(Kelaniya) Former Professor and Head, department of Pali and Buddhist Studies; Vice Chancellor,(1987- 1993, University of Kalaniya Courtesy  The Island

Buddhism was introduced into this Island during the reign of King Devanampiya tissa in the third century B.C. by the mission of Venerable Thera Mahinda. The Mahindian mission brought the Theravada form of the teaching as approved by the Third Buddhist Council which was held at Pataliputra under the patronage of Emperor Asoka. This meant that the Pali canonical texts served both as the source material and the reference books of the Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition. It, In other words, meant that the Sri Lankan Buddhist tradition derived its authority to act and to understand the teaching of the Buddha in accordance with the declaration of the authority of the Dhamma and the Vinaya as explained in the Maháparinibbána Sutta of the Dìgha Nikáya(D.11.123). Any transgression of the authority of ther Dhamma and Vinaya makes the relevant action, interpretation or adoption of ritual, wrong and illegal.

After introducing Buddhism to Sri Lanka, Venerable Mahinda took meaningful steps to see that the study of the Pali canonical texts and the practice of the Dhamma were given equal emphasis. The historical remains of infra-structure facilities provided for both types of disciples go to prove that the demand for both types of training did exist even through difficult social and political conditions faced by the country down to about the early part of the tenth century of the Christian era.

Another important observation which must be made here is the absence up to this time of any evidence of ritual activities of worship and offering (pújá) in connection with Buddhism. The construction of Pagodas enshrining the relics of the Buddha and the planting of the Bodhi did not generate the adoption of Hindu theistic type of worship and prayer. According to historical evidence, it is the adoption of offering food and garments to statues of the Buddha by King Sena 111 which opened the sluice gates for capitulation into Hindu theistic worship with all its attendant ritualism uncontrolled.

Up to this point in Sri Lankan history, the Buddha to the Theravadins was a human being, born into this world as other humans. He left household life, early in his life and attained Buddhahood after six long years of severe ascetic practices. He lived an extremely simple life, walked bare-footed and followed the age old ascetic practice of going round for his only meal of the day, if he did not have an invitation. He passed away at eighty years under a sála tree in a park at Kusinara, lying on his folded upper robe which normally served as his bed and seat throughout his life as the Buddha. This, very briefly, is a mere glance at the wonderful genius who had been glorified by the later writers who had neither deep nor clear understanding of the great man or of the unique Dhamma he gave to the world.

This Theravada Buddha, still preserved in the Pali canonical texts, is vastly different from the glorified Buddhas of the Pali commentaries of Buddhaghosa. It was as the result of the fruition of his merit, accumulated through innumerable eons of life in saísára that the Buddha attained Enlightenment in this life. In spite of Buddhaghosa’s insistence on the indispensability of merit, the Buddha has never referred to, either accumulation of merit or past merit as a factor for Buddhahood or the attainment of nibbana. It must be noted here that the theory of accumulation of merit and the theory that merit can be donated to other parties are both alien to the Buddha’s teaching.

It may be noted here that the Rájagiriyas and the Siddhatthikas ( two Indian Schools of Buddhism) proposed that merit can be donated at the Third Buddhist Council ,but it was rejected by the Council as unacceptable according to the Buddha’s teachings. It is not clear how and on what grounds that it came to be accepted by post canonical Sri Lankan Buddhism again, going against this decision of the third Buddhist Council . Statues of the Buddha came to be made, according to tradition by the first century B.C., under the influence of the Gandhara School of art. Thuparama was the first Cetiya built to enshrine the relics of the Buddha received from the Emperor Asoka. When the Mahácetiya was completed, it too enshrined a second receipt of the Buddha’s relics. The Bodhi was planted at Anuradhapura when it was brought by Theri Saqnghamitta. All these did not mean to the Sri Lankan Theravadins of the period, the growth of ritual worship of the theistic type, covering each and every item. Instead, these objects of veneration served as objects of recollection of the Buddha and his attainments.

From the time of the third century introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, Hinduism as well as most other Indian religions known in India had their presence in this Island. Brahmins were held in high esteem in the Sinhala society. Pandukabhaya was educated by a Brahmin teacher The Brahmin advisor of King Devanampiyatissa was a member of the Royal delegation sent by Devanaqmpiyatissa to Emperor Asoka .

There is no evidence that either Hinduism or any other of the Indian religions present did have any serious impact to derail the Theravada Buddhist teaching from its two principal paths of training, the practice of the Dhamma by following the path of gradual training culminating in the attainment of nibbana producing many arahats and the study of the Pali canonical texts contributing to produce indigenous expertise of the Dhamma and the texts.

Not only did Venerable Mahinda establish the two principal paths of training for the firm foundation of the teaching in the Island, the meditative and the literary, he also provided Sinhala commentaries to explain the difficult Pali texts of the Dhamma and the Vinaya to help the native Sinhala readers of the texts. It is not at all clear why these Sinhala commentaries had to be translated into Pali.

An innocent explanation may be that it was intended to keep the interpretation of the texts in the hands of the bhikkhu Saígha who at the time were the only learners and the interpreters of the Pali texts. But even this explanation seems untenable when it is realized that the original Sinhala commentaries were burnt immediately after the Pali Commentaries were completed.

A careful examination of the contents of some commentaries of Buddhaghosa written in Pali shows that they have a rich content of stories and anecdotes not strictly falling within the function of a commentarial explanation of the original texts. For example, Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Kalinga Bodhi Jataka has an additional story of Venerable Ananda requesting the Buddha to leave some object to which his followers in Savatthi could pay their respects whenever he was away on his (dhamma cáriká) visits to other areas. Buddha accordingly, approves the planting of a seedling from the Sri Maha Bodhi of Buddhagaya at the entrance to the monastery at Savatthi.

The story raises several questions. First, the story of an Anandabodhi is out of context here as it is not found in the original Kalingabodhi Jataka Pali which Buddhaghosa was commenting on. Second, the statement that people went to see the Buddha carrying flowers and incense and being disappointed when they found that the Buddha was not there, is itself wrong because the Buddha as the human teacher was not an object of worship and offering when he was living. The word pújá, it must be noted, does not occur in the Pali canonical texts in the sense of a religious offering. The transition from veneration to worship and offering has taken several centuries after the time of the Buddha to be adopted by the Buddhists as the result of a theistic invasion, as it seems. The interpolation of stories like that of the Anandabodhi is evidence of the mechanism of introducing hitherto unaccepted rites and ritual into Buddhism. It also seems to tell us why they burned the original Sinhala commentaries of Venerable Mahinda, not to allow the secret leak out.

It is Buddhaghosa who claims in his commentary on the Ratana Sutta that it was first chanted by the Buddha to heal the city of Vesali of the devastating epidemic and affliction by non-humans. It must be noted here that Buddhaghosa’s claim of an epidemic is not supported by any other literary or historical source. Further, the Vajjian tribal oligarchy was an exemplary tribal state, too strong for the neighbouring Magadhan Emperor to wage war as clearly stated in the Maháparinibbána Sutta of the Dìigha NBikáya. Thus, the story of an epidemic is another of Buddhaghosa’s fairy tales used to make new rites and rituals acceptable by giving them religious sanction.

The acceptance that there are non-human beings ( amanussá) and that they are a threat to man are both most probably Sri Lankan in origin. It is during the age of post-canonical Buddhism that both these had been smuggled into the Buddhist texts and the new rites and ritual structure. Not only the word amanussá( non-human), but the different non-human types discussed in the lately tinkered ??áná?iya and the Mahásamaya discourses are not supported by the other canonical texts which deal with the composition of the world of beings. According to Buddhaqghosa, the Ratana Sutta, which was the first blessing ritual approved by the Buddha goes against the Buddha’s own teaching in the Sámaññaphala Sutta of the Dìgha Nikáya which declares all blessing rites and ritual as animal sciences (tiraccháana vijjá).The ritual has been smuggled into the Buddhist ritual structure through the commentarial story. An idea of the importance attached to the story and the importance of the function it was expected to serve can be gained when it is realized that it has been repeated in three commentaries.

Buddhaghosa, coming from south India was selected to translate the Sinhala Commentaries into Pali because of his expert knowledge of the Pali language. It is not clear how he managed to translate the Sinhala explanations of the texts without an equally deep knowledge of Sinhala. Nothing is said about how or whether he acquired such knowledge. On the other hand, if he was writing his own commentaries he could have done so, without bothering himself of the Sinhala commentaries because what was expected of him was the harmonization of the new ritual structure as sanctioned by the Buddha himself. And it is quite clear this exactly was what Buddhaghosa did and did so masterfully.

The hard work of Buddhaghosa and the Mahavihara fraternity culminated in the formulation of a new ritual structure with attractive advantages to keep both the lay followers and the members of the Samgha happy and contended. As a result, when we pass from the canonical Pali texts to the post-canonical Pali texts and the Pali commentaries we come into a totally new teaching different from the original.

The most important of these changes are those effected in the concept of the gods. Instead of gods who are merely a class of worldly beings, in the new Buddhaghosa religion, they have many functions to perform. They accept merit (punya) donated by people and provide them protection. Later on, they become the protectors and guardians of the Buddha and his teaching. It is important to note here that all these gods who were assigned these responsibilities were the South Indian Hindu gods who were in active service as Hindu gods in India, as they are now.

Nibbana, which is the goal of religious endeavour in Buddhism is to be attained through the threefold scheme of training of siìla (morality), Samádhi(concentration) and paññá(wisdom).But in the new Buddhism, nibbana cannot be attained as and when one wants to attain it. It is attainable only as the fruition of merit accumulated throughout the cycle of births in saísára.The Bodhisattva attained his Buddhahood in this life as the result of the fruition of his merit accumulated throughout the innumerable eons of life he spent in saísára( cycle of existences). It must be noted here that the Buddha has never referred to the need of the fruition of merit for one’s nibbana.

Throughout the Pali canonical texts, giving is praised as the means to cleanse one of craving for worldly possessions because craving is one of the biggest obstacles to balanced mental development. This has undergone change in the new Buddhism to giving what one wishes to have back in abundance as his possessions in future lives in saísára. The bhikkhu who is recommended as the field of merit to receive the offerings as items of dána functions as the custodian who credits the giver’s account.

Pagodas which enshrine the relics of the Buddha, statues of the Buddha constructed to remind the followers of the Buddha’s attainments and the Bodhi planted to remind them of his attainment of Buddhahood after years of exertion are now converted into objects of sanctity, each possessing the power to respond to request and also generate merit each time an offering is made to or is worshipped .

The transition from respectful recollection to the acceptance that each of such objects did possess the power to answer requests and also generate merit which ultimately will result in nibbana upon accumulation to required level is in total disagreement with the Buddha’s teaching. Merit is neither essential nor indispensable for the attainment of nibbana according to the canonical teachings. Merit becomes relevant as a stage of development prior to kusala and is replaced by kusala qualities upon progress on the path of spiritual development.

Merit (punya) according to Pali canonical Buddhism, is not a religious or a spiritual acquisition which is an end in itself. Living according to the dhamma and living righteously is described as following the path of merit. It leads to the next stage in the path of gradual training which is the development of kusala qualities. This in turn leads on to the development of concentration which leads on to the final attainment of nibbana .It may also be noted here that it is Buddhaghyosa who has given a new importance to punya by introducing ten meritorious actions which are not found in the Pali canonical texts. The ten meritorious actions are for the first time found in Buddhaghosa’s commentary on the Dhammasangani. It is Buddhaghosa who uses patti for merit for the first time and the concept of donation or transfer of merit also for the first time, not supported by canonical Buddehism It may also be recalled here that the idea of donation of merit was rejected by the Third Buddhist Counci when it was raised by two Indian Schools of Buddhism.

Thus, all aspects of the new ritual Buddhism which changed the Theravada Buddhism into a system of worship, offering and prayer, like any other theistic religion, has been very carefully planned and smuggled into practice with several bonus packages for the operators. At the base of all rituals was the donation of merit to the gods with a request for their protection. It must be noted here that the gods whose protection was prayed for were not the gods like Sakka, but South Indian gods like Vishnu, Natha, Pattini,etc. who were entrusted with these duties in addition to their home duties of serving their Hindu followers .The composition of the offering for each god was so made to make the mediator between god and man enriched with sufficient economic and other benefits which they did not enjoy under the earlier form of canonical Buddhism.

4 Responses to “The great betrayal of Theravada Buddhism?”

  1. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    The writer has chosen a lot of exaggerations to discredit Buddhaghosa.

    The early or classical period, which may be called the First Period, begins with the Tipipitaka itself in the 6th century BCE and ends with the Milindapañhá about five centuries later. These works,composed in India, were brought to Sri Lanka, where they were maintained in Pali but written about in Sinhalese. By the first century CE, Sanskrit (independently of
    the rise of Mahayana) or a vernacular had probably quite displaced Pali as the medium of study in all the Buddhist “schools” on the Indian mainland. Literary activity in Sri Lanka declined and, it seems, fell into virtual abeyance between CE 150 and 350, as will appear below. The first Pali renascence was under way in Sri Lanka and South India by about 400 and was made viable by Bhadantácariya Buddhaghosa.This can be called the Middle Period. Many of its principal figures were Indian.

    Up till the reign of King Vaþþagámaói Abhaya in the first century BCE the Great Monastery, founded by Asoka’s son, the Arahant Mahinda, and hitherto without a rival for the royal favour, had preserved a reputation for the saintliness of its the date of the parinibbána forward to 483 BCE.

    The violent upsets in Mahanama’s reign followed by his founding of the Abhayagiri Monastery, its secession and schism, changed the whole situation at home. Sensing insecurity, the Great Monastery took the precaution to commit the Tipiþaka for the first time to writing, doing so in the provinces away from the king’s presence. Now by about the end of the first century BCE (dates are very vague), with Sanskrit Buddhist literature just launching out upon its long era of magnificence, Sanskrit was on its way to become a language of international culture. In Sri Lanka the Great Monastery, already committed by tradition to strict orthodoxy based on Pali,had been confirmed in that attitude by the schism of its rival, which now began publicly to study the new ideas from India. In the first century BCE probably the influx of Sanskrit thought was still quite small, so that the Great Monastery could well maintain its name in Anurádhapura as the principal centre of learning by developing its ancient Tipiþaka commentaries in Sinhalese. This might account for the shift of emphasis from practice to scholarship in King Vaþþagámani’s reign. Evidence shows great activity in this latter field throughout the first century BCE, and all this material was doubtless written down too.

    In the first century CE, Sanskrit Buddhism (“Hìnayána,” and perhaps by then Maháyána) was growing rapidly and spreading abroad. The Abhayagiri Monastery would naturally have been busy studying and advocating some of these weighty developments while the Great Monastery had nothing new to offer.

    With the persecution of the Great Monastery given royal assent and the expulsion of its bhikkhus from the capital, the Abhayagiri Monastery enjoyed nine years of triumph. But the ancient institution rallied its supporters in the southern provinces and the king repented. The bhikkhus returned and the king restored the buildings, which had been stripped to adorn the rival. Still, the Great Monastery must have foreseen, after this affair, that unless it could successfully compete with Sanskrit it had small hope of holding its position. With that the only course open was to launch a drive for the rehabilitation of Pali—a drive to bring the study of that language up to a standard fit to compete with the “modern” Sanskrit in the field of international Buddhist culture: by cultivating Pali at home and abroad it could assure its position at home. It was a revolutionary project, involving the displacement of Sinhalese by Pali as the language for the study and discussion of Buddhist teachings, and the founding of a school of Pali literary composition. Earlier it would doubtless have been impracticable; but the atmosphere had changed.

    It is not known what was the first original Pali composition in this period; but the Dìpavaísa (dealing with historical evidence) belongs here (for it ends with Mahásena’s reign and is quoted in the Samantapásádiká), and quite possibly the
    Vimuttimagga (dealing with practice—see below) was another early attempt by the Great Monastery in this period (4th cent.) to reassert its supremacy through original Pali literary composition: there will have been others too.4 Of course, much of this is very conjectural. Still it is plain enough that by 400 CE a movement had begun, not confined to Sri Lanka, and that the time was ripe for the crucial work, for a Pali recension of the Sinhalese Commentaries with their unique tradition. Only the right personality, able to handle it competently, was yet lacking. That personality appeared in the first quarter of the fifth century.

    On coming to Sri Lanka, Buddhaghosa went to Anurádhapura, the royal capital, and set himself to study. He seems to have lived and worked there during the whole of his stay in the island, though we do not know how long that stay lasted. To render his own words: “I learned three Sinhalese commentaries—the Mahá-aþþha-[kathá], Mahápaccarì, Kuruóðì—from the famed elder known by the name of Buddhamitta,who has expert knowledge of the Vinaya.

    There is an unerring consistency throughout the system of explanation he adopts, and there are cross references
    between works. This suggests that while the Visuddhimagga itself may perhaps have been composed and produced first, the others as they exist now were more likely worked over contemporaneously and all more or less finished before any one of them was given out.

    So in that way it may be taken that the Vinaya Commentary came next to the Visuddhimagga; then the Commentaries on the four Nikáyas (Collections of Suttas), and after them the Abhidhamma Commentaries.

    The fact is plain enough that a complete body of commentary had been built up during the nine centuries or so
    that separate Bhadantácariya Buddhaghosa from the Buddha. A good proportion of it dated no doubt from the actual time of the Buddha himself, and this core had been added to in India (probably in Pali), and later by learned elders in Sri Lanka
    in Sinhalese.

    This body of material—one may guess that its volume was enormous—Bhadantácariya Buddhaghosa set himself to edit and render into Pali (the Tipiþaka itself had been left in the original Pali). For this he had approval and express
    invitation of Elder Saòghapála who invited him to compose.

    There is only one instance in the Visuddhimagga where he openly advances an opinion of his own, with the words “our preference here is this” (XIII.123). He does so once in the Majjhima Nikáya Commentary, too, saying “the point is
    not dealt with by the Ancients, but this is my opinion” (M-a I 28). The rarity of such instances and the caution expressed in them imply that he himself was disinclined to speculate and felt the need to point the fact out when he did. He actually says “one’s own opinion is the weakest authority of all and should only be accepted if it accords with the Suttas” (D-a 567–68).

  2. Leela Says:

    Professor Marasinghe’s point of view is clear. The fact that Sinhalese originals that Buddhaghos’s Pali commentaries were created are no longer available (burned?) bring about some validation to professor’s arguments.

    What we have to accept is; whether Buddhaghosa’s commentaries are contradictory to the original teaching of the Buddha or not, scholars of Theravāda Buddhism accept the skill of the presentation and genius of Bhadantācariya Buddhaghosa. In that light, Buddhaghosa’s commentaries may well have influenced if not changed the ‘Buddha and his teaching’ since.

    No religion that we know of remained static. Paul or Saul had change the original Christianity. Christian renascence changed it yet again. And now we see Wahhabism bringing about strict interpretation (violent) of Islam. If so, a non-dogmatic religion like Buddhism changing or evolving to fit in to a local situations is of no surprise.

    Should we bother about the difference between ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ and ‘Thai Buddhism’ or ‘Myanmar Buddhism or indeed ‘Olcott’ Buddhism for the sake of originality? To me what matters is; the essence of ‘Sinhala Buddhism’ associated with our culture remain. What matters however is the essence of Buddhism remain.

    I believe, Buddhaghosa’s best known commentaries are in Vissudhimagga. I have a hard copy of the translation of ‘The Visuddhimagga’ by Cambridge scholar, Bhikkhu Ñāṇamoli. And, I often go through it. If one read its ‘introduction’ Sinhala Buddhist may well understands the point of view of other Buddhists’ as well.

    Today, Visuddhimagga is highly influential for meditators as well as practitioners of all schools of Buddhism. So much so, Dalai Lama wrote “It represents the epitome of Pali Buddhist literature and a wonderful meditation manual”.

  3. NeelaMahaYoda Says:

    People should not try to discredit the greatest Buddhists like Buddhaghosa Thera with their little knowledge they have acquired to get post graduate degrees in a western country. They should read more publications from the East.

    According to the Culavamsa chapter xxxvn, 236-39, when the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera had written the Visuddhimagga at the behest of the Mahasangha, the devas had hidden it and he had to write it afresh. When this was done, it too was hidden by the devas. So, when he wrote it for the third time and presented it to the Mahasangha, it is said, the devas produced the first two copies. It was then found that the three copies agreed in every detail. The record goes on to say (Cv. Ch. xxxvn, 241-43): ‘Then the bhikkhus read out all the three books together. Neither in composition and content, nor also as regards the sequence (of the subjects), in the teaching of the Theras, in the quotations, in words, and sentences was there any kind of deviation in ail three books. Then the community satisfied and exceedingly well pleased, cried again and again: “without doubt, this is Metteyya!” and handed over to him the books of the three Pitakas together with the commentary’

    By this statement it was, perhaps, only intended to stress the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera’s great ability, which is amply borne out by this (i.e., the Visuddhimagga) and his later works. No other view seems to be warranted, or else it has to be conceded that the Mahavihara Theras knew very well that the Bodhisatta Metteyya could not have been born in this world at this time; — see, for instance, the earlier statement of the Mahavamsa at Ch. xxxn, 73: ‘Awaiting the time when he shall become a Buddha, the compassionate Bodhisatta Metteyya dwells in the Tusita-city’—

    And this, too, the Mahavihara Theras would have known. But in thus stressing his ability, the Culavamsa account seems to make out that the visuddhimagga was written without recourse to other works. There is a discrepancy in this account of the Culavamsa. It will be noted that ‘the three Pitakas together with Commentary’ were handed over to the Venerable Buddhaghosa Thera by the Mahasangha only after he had written the Visuddhimagga, which is correctly designated the General Commentary to the three Pitakas. Now, if he had access to the three Pitakas, and the Commentary only after he had written this General Commentary to the three Pitakas, how did he do it? This is difficult to comprehend.

    However, It is widely believed that the Vimuttimagga may have been the model used by Buddhagosha to compose his magnum opus, the Visuddhimagga (Path of Purification), several centuries later. The older work is marked by a leaner style and a more lively sense of urgency stemming from its primarily practical orientation.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Allow me to express the unpopular view here. I agree with the writer.

    Tripitaka was documented in 89 BC in Aluwihara. It was an objective writing of what the Buddha preached. It should be the guide for all Buddhists. However, Buddhagosha’s arrival in 5 century changed all this and suppressed Sinhala commentaries on Buddhism. These invaluable Sinhala commentaries are extremely important and what happened to them? Did Buddhagosha or those who were influenced by his later work suppress these invaluable texts?

    Buddhagosha’s addition to Buddhist texts created the magical and mythical features in Buddhism. This is the same in Christianity. The disgusting practice of respecting, worshiping, kissing, etc. statues, worshiping saints and Mother Mary and believing in the magic supposedly performed by Jesus and the power of Jesus coupled with Karma have created a funny and nonsensical concoction of Christianity in underdeveloped parts of Africa, Latin America and Asia. Good Friday falls in the month of ‘Bak’ and local Christians interpret ‘Bak maha akunu’ on Good Friday to associate with the death of Jesus! As a result, the main thrust of Christianity is lost in these countries. There are frauds that ‘heal the incurable’ by the name of Christianity, weeping clay statues, etc. Sadly Buddhism has not been spared of these nonsensical latter day beliefs.

    However, Buddhagosha’s excellent thesis Vissuddhimagga is a different piece of work. Please note this thesis was done before (emphasised) he was allowed to touch Sinhala commentaries on Buddhism by the Chief Monk of the Mahavihara to test his knowledge of Buddhism. This is a practice followed by all universities in the world today. However, what is in question are his later writings. Hope readers can make this distinction.

    Post-Visuddhimagga Buddhagosha implanted Brahminism in the island coupled with Buddhism.

    Nirvana is achieved only through morality, meditation and wisdom. Good merits are totally irrelevant. Accumulation and transfer of good karma and bad karma is a Hindu concept and plays no part in Buddhism. These Hindu concepts have take away the key thrust of Buddhism.

    However, the symbolic usefulness of the Bodhi, statues, relics and other artifacts cannot be neglected. Humans need artifacts for their daily following. For instance, Santa Clause (a creation of Saint Nicholas) has no bearing with Christianity. However, it symbolizes the Christian values of donation and sacrifice. Although pandols may be a waste of electricity, they bring to life the Jataka stories and play a role in reminding people of the teachings (though there are better ways to do it).

    The following is probably untrue. The island sure had a few Indian religious practitioners and Brahims used as emissaries to deal with the next door landmass but significant presence of Indian religions is not backed by evidence.

    [Quote] From the time of the third century introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lanka, Hinduism as well as most other Indian religions known in India had their presence in this Island. [Unquote]

    Instead locals worshiped their ancestors before the advent of Buddhism (265BC). Gods Kataragama, Saman, Vibheeshana (mistaken for Vishnu) and Natha were Sinhala men immortalized into gods. It is said there are 330 million gods. The only way this is possible is if they were ancestors.

    The writer’s example of Pattini worship is out of context as it started with King Gajabagu (2 century AD) bringing this practice from Kerala. It predates Buddhagosha.

    Although some texts say Buddhagosha is of south Indian origin, Mahavamsa says he was born in Maghada of north-east India which had regular contact with Sri Lanka. Emperor Asoka’s work in Maghada is well known. Buddhagosha was of Brahmin origin and Brahmins absolutely abhorred Buddhism as it ruined their business of fooling the people with nonsense. Brahmins made many attempts to Brahmanize or Hinduize Buddhism. There is no positive or negative evidence on this about Buddhagosha but we must be open to both possibilities. In India, Brahmins successfully fought back Buddhism and regained their status especially by people like Adhisankara.

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