What people say and what they really mean – A response
Posted on May 27th, 2019

Laksiri Warnakula  

The article in the opinion column of the Island on 25th Saturday by Prof. A. N. U. Ekanayaka is very thought-provoking and it delivers a resounding blow to all those, who espouse the identity of Sri Lanka as a ‘Sinhala Buddhist Nation’ with callous disregard to its broader implications and meaning and to some others, who behave in such a disgusting and shameful  manner that has nothing to do with the Dhamma or Buddhism, which the Buddha preached, and subject our beloved nation instead to anger, criticism, ridicule and sarcasm from all and sundry.


However, my sincere intention in this brief letter is to somewhat soften the blow, if you may, caused by the professor’s article, notwithstanding the fact that it paints a painfully true picture of the status quo in the country that has been there for many decades now and provide some justification as to why almost all Sinhalese, both Buddhists and Christians alike like to say that ours is a ‘Sinhala Buddhist Nation’.    


Now think about all those ancient structures that we see today. They have been built by the ancient Sinhalayas to pay homage to Buddha and his Philisophy the Dhamma. The nations’ vast irrigation networks and other water bodies are also the work of the ancient Sinhalayas. All those Buddhist Dagabas and other monuments exuding beauty and reverence that one finds in Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa, Dambadeniya etc. are the fruits of blood and sweat that must have flown in plenty as those Sinhalayas laboured under a fierce sun and perhaps even the watchful eyes of whip-wielding soldiers of the kings. A vast of number of temples, and statues of Buddha carved out of rock is spread across the whole landscape of the country in a manner that probably has no rival in the whole world, when land size is taken into account. And I haven’t even said anything about Sigiriya yet.


Our ancients fought off many invasions from the South of India and it is said that they suffered horribly during periods, when the nation or some parts of it became occupied by those invaders. Then we have the skirmishes, battles and other armed rebellions, which our ancients fought against the colonialists, even when faced with canon fire, bayonets and muskets and many laid down their lives in the struggles leading to the independence.

Lastly, all those Sinhalese mostly young, who made the ultimate sacrifice to keep our little island undivided, for the present and its future generations. Many have been maimed and crippled in the struggle for life. Even though all the nationalities contributed to the victory, it was the majority, who suffered most, whichever the way one looks at it.

 
And please take note that I do feel for the youth, who fought on the other side and suffered horribly too, along with their kith kin. They probably took part in it, not because they wanted it but the prevailing circumstances coupled with the forced conscription left nothing else for them to choose from other than perhaps face the wrath of the top command. Then the socio-economic changes that turned from bad to worse subsequent to 83-July saw an exponential growth in their cadres, which according to some political analysts happened right under the noses of some Sinhalese politicians, even with the blessings from some of them.

The echoes from the past never die and they still reverberate amongst those marvels of art, architecture and engineering. The unseen bonds between those ancients, who fought for this land, built, laboured and toiled on it and the present day descendants of them will never break too. And a sweeping generalization lumping both groups, one openly brandishing sanctimonious and intimidating attitudes claiming sole ownership of both the land and the Buddhism in the country with the other, which is disciplined, moralistic and fair-minded, who are also conscious of what real Buddhism is and following it to their best ability, in my opinion is not right. Even though, I am reluctant to say that it is quite possible that the former is bigger in number and even gaining more ground too, steadfastly.

Before wrapping up, I must say that the learned professor has without mincing his words says where our present-day society stands and how it operates. The paragraphs fifth, sixth and seventh in particular are quite painful to read though what they say is very true.

Let the above article of him, which this letter is responding to, be an eye opener to all, who want this land, a land of genuine ‘Buddhists and Sinhalayas’ and not an imitation and imitating kind that smacks of sham.

Laksiri Warnakula  

2 Responses to “What people say and what they really mean – A response”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    I completely disagree with Prof. Ekanayaka’s article which contains many half truths. I will write a response.

    All 3 arguments he has put forward are faulty.

    There is nothing wrong in Sri Lanka being/becoming a Sinhala Buddhist nation where everyone has equal individual rights.

    There are Buddhist racists as all groups have who want to impose their nonsensical beliefs (no killing animals, Buddhism is far superior to other philosophies/religions, only people following other religions did massacres, etc.). They are the problem and the reason why people are scared to accept it.

  2. Vaisrawana Says:

    Dear Mr Laksiri Warnakula, you write well as a journalist. I tend to believe that you are an upcoming young journalist with a good educational background. I wish you a bright future in your journalism, from which Mother Lanka will invariably benefit. There is no doubt in my mind that your intentions in this article are sincere.

    But, please excuse me if I sound like a know-all here; that is not my intention; like any decent person, I don’t approve of people who act as if they know everything (I am only referring to myself, please don’t misunderstand me). But sometimes, as now, given the brevity of time available, I feel constrained to make certain oversimplifications that might seem to exclude other opinions. Readers might think that I am posing as a know-all, also because my usual practice is to express my views boldly, without ambiguity, expecting critical but constructive feedback.

    I have read this professor’s articles in The Island before. I have heard him too at close range, and even had some nodding acquaintance with him (if this is the same person –Asoka Ekanayake- who was the dental faculty professor at Peradeniya in the past, which I feel rather sure he was, judging from his English). I am sorry to say that, as far as I am concerned, he struck/ and still strikes me as a fanatical believer in his (Christian) religion, who does not tolerate non-Christian ethical values, such as Buddhist ones. For example, when Buddhist monks (such as Ven. Ellawala Medhananda Thera) some years ago were clamouring for promulgating laws against ‘unethical’ conversions of Buddhists alleged to be carried out mainly by a number of fundamentalist Christian sects, financed from abroad, that even mainstream Christian priests were complaining about at that time, professor Ekanayake mockingly wrote in an Island article that the term ‘unethical conversion’ was self contradictory, implying that converting a Buddhist (by force, as the monks alleged) was quite ethical! (that is presumably, in terms of Christianity). This is the sort of logic and ethics that the NTJ Islamic terrorists who bombed churches and hotels and killed more than 300 innocents believed in. (Incidentally, though the noise has died down, those unethical activities of fundamentalist Christian sects are believed to be still going on; I don’t know what happened to the proposed legislation against unethical conversions.)

    The dichotomy that the professor ‘reveals’ between what people (Sinhalese Buddhists) say and what they mean is wrong. (This needs elaboration, but I have no time here to deal with the point).
    Turning to your own writing,
    “All those Buddhist Dagabas and other monuments exuding beauty and reverence that one finds in Anuradhapura, Pollonnaruwa, Dambadeniya etc. are the fruits of blood and sweat that must have flown in plenty as those Sinhalayas laboured under a fierce sun and perhaps even the watchful eyes of whip-wielding soldiers of the kings,”
    the first part of your statement is correct, in my opinion, but I cannot agree with your imagining that the workers who built the monuments that you have mentioned had to work “perhaps even (under) the watchful eyes of whip-wielding soldiers of the kings”. As far as I have read, there is no evidence to support such a claim (about inhuman treatment of workers by rulers). But there is ample evidence to say that the labour was duly paid. Kings insisted on paying adequate wages to the workers, artisans and engineers.

    Your assertion that
    “……… the socio-economic changes that turned from bad to worse subsequent to 83-July saw an exponential growth in their cadres……”
    is incorrect, too.
    Separatist terrorism flourished not “right under the noses of some Sinhalese politicians, even with the blessings from some of them”, as you claim referring back to certain political analysts, but certainly under the sponsorship of racist Tamil politicians. But it is true that the UNP government of the day under JRJ came to be strongly suspected to be have been behind the 1983 anti-Tamil pogrom that provided a turbo-boost to that terrorism, as his nephew’s government today is being accused of fomenting violence in some districts three weeks after the NTJ terror attacks. (The Yahapalanaists are alleged to be trying to create the internal turmoil that will justify foreign military intervention here in the form of R2P in order to please the West.)

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