May Buddhists look to the Mahanayake Theras at this hour of need!
Posted on June 18th, 2018

By Rohana R. Wasala

(The following consists of the first few paragraphs of an article of mine under the title No more backing out at the hour of need, please!”, which happens to be of current relevance. The aforementioned article was published in The Island newspaper and Lankaweb simultaneously on February 1, 2016. I inserted the year (2016) where dates are mentioned in the original text to prevent confusion.)

Ven. Galaboda Atthe Gnanasara Thera, General Secretary of Bodu Bala Sena, who had been charged with contempt of court, was arrested and remanded on surrendering to the Homagama magistrate’s court on 26 Tuesday (February 2016). Some young monks of the BBS behaved riotously trying to prevent their leader from being taken to prison. But Ven. Gnanasara calmly advised them to restrain themselves. He spoke words to this effect: It is true that I raised my voice in the court because my emotions were frayed; that constituted contempt of court. It must be admitted that what I did was wrong. I am being remanded for that offence. That’s OK. What’s a day or two in prison? We have no quarrel with the law enforcement officers. We must all respect and obey the law. Our struggle is only with the ‘big ones’. This is just the beginning. Now, all of you please disperse peacefully”. His advice seemed to take effect, more or less. (At the time of writing, 28 Thursday (2016), the media reported that a bail application filed on behalf of the remanded monk was rejected by the court.)

When State Minister of National Integration and Reconciliation A.H.M. Fowzie called on the Mahanayake of the Asgiriya Chapter Reverend Galagama Sri Atthadassi Thera in Kandy on 27 January (2016), the latter made some grave comments on the arrest of Ven. Galaboda Atthe Gnanasara Thera. The Prelate reminded the minister of the historical fact that (Sri Lankan) Buddhist monks always acted even at the risk of their life whenever the country faced critical situations. He said that Ven. Gnanasara Thera who has been remanded is also a monk who serves the country with similar dedication; therefore the case must be handled properly. He stressed that communal harmony must not be harmed. The High Monk added that (when dealing with the problem) duplicitous talk should be avoided, and that sincerity of intention, and humaneness must prevail

I remembered that on a previous occasion, Ven. Gnanasara of the BBS, along with a group of fellow activist monks, visited the Mahanayake Thera of the Malwatte Chapter Reverend Thibbotuwawe Sri Siddhattha, and asked him for advice. In response the Nayake thera suggested that they continue with their agitation if those responsible in the government neglected to address their grievances, which, at the time, I described in an article as not very wise counsel! The monks’ ‘agitation’ at that time had acquired a rather violent character in speech as well as in deeds, which was very unbecoming of even law abiding ordinary citizens, let alone Buddhist bhikkhus.

The current problem of the monks is almost entirely the responsibility of the Mahanayakes of the three Chapters, which they must execute with the help other leading monks. It is known that there are some 30,000 monks in the country. If they are so organized as to be able to speak with one voice on any issue, no political potentate, however powerful, can go against their advice. The monks’ power is apolitical, though. For this to work, the Nayake theras must take the initiative. They must not back out at the hour of need on some pretext or other. The Asgiriya Mahanayake Thera has given the right signal.

3 Responses to “May Buddhists look to the Mahanayake Theras at this hour of need!”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    In the first paragraph, it seems that the writer has inadvertently given the wrong month in the dates mentioned. The dates were actually in January, not February. An article that was published on February 1, 2016 could not report on what was yet to happen on the 26th and 28th of the same month. So the correct dates should be: January 26th Tuesday and 28th Thursday, 2016.

  2. Hiranthe Says:

    I can see the interests of certain Mahanayaka’s are not for the benefit of Mother Lanka.

    Just can not believe their lukewarm responses to serious issues related to the National Security. They will only release one statement once they were requested to do so by the majority of the Sangas.

    They are also in-active as the President of the country. They will only know that the country had been divided by listening to the news broadcast after the division… It will be too late then.

    No leadership in them. I don’t say that BBS way is correct. Providing leadership and becoming aggressive are two different things. We only need the Leadership of Maha Sanga.

  3. Christie Says:

    One of the basic elements of Buddhism is cause and effect.

    The current government is in place as result of what Nanasaara’s Bodu Bala Sena acts.

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