WERE RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES CONTRIBUTED TO THE DISUNITY OF SRI LANKANS?
Posted on December 1st, 2020

BY EDWARD THEOPHILUS

It considers the unity among different community groups in a country will be an essential condition and ingredient for prosperity and strength, either in economic achievements or political stability. When critically tests the era of King Parakramabahu the Great, the idea is confirmed with much evidence.  The archetype had in mind of people in history as no challenging forces against the unity of communities, and people lived consistently maintaining unity. Before convincing Buddhism in Sri Lanka, had primitive religious beliefs, and they were not a concrete factor for dividing people, and people associated with primitive beliefs to gain mental relief when they discomfort with mental stress in day-to-day life. Before coming to the country Buddhist religious preachers and the organised religions, it seemed people enjoyed the spirit and purposes of religions and responded to religious messages as they were beneficial to mentally well-balanced and living together in a harmonious society. 

In social media, many self-designated experts about the history of Sri Lanka asseverate a contradictory opinion about historical findings on the civilization or affability aspects of people who lived in the country.  The idea has less probability or negative probability to acceptance, and self-designated experts describe and preach, and attempt to make exaggerated views to populate despite right confirmation for arguments. This situation may have created as social media allows to express independent views without authenticity. Who gives the right direction for these experts is a difficult task to determine, but a point that could agree with them is that people had lived in the country before arriving Vijaya with a group from India who influenced and contributed to change the culture of people in history, and have no evidence to prove that historical community in the country were different people who had a distinct culture that deviated from the Indian culture.  To prove the cultural aspects of ancient inhabitants of Sri Lanka need clear evidence from archaeological findings, and the gratifying truth was they were a part of the Indian culture and practiced the heritage of knowledge and skills gained from Indian society.

Culture means rules and regulations of society that inflicted to respect and discipline the behavior of people, and supported to build civilization. I noticed that all those so-called historians agree with an idea that homo sapiens lived in Sri Lanka who did not divide on an ethnic or religious basis. The culture of homo sapiens may have homogeneous nature all over the world or deviated from one place to another. The vital aspect of the dispute connecting society believed existed in Sri Lanka might be valued to conclude homo sapiens converted to modern humans, with deviated culture arrived from other parts of the world, so-called history teachers or adroit have not specifically disclosed, interpreted, and viewed on behavioural aspects of homo sapiens and historical people, therefore, it is logical to express people lived in historical Sri Lankan society had a unique association with humans who lived in India. This was the reason to designate humans who lived in Sri Lanka were anthropological Indians.        

Buddhist religion arrived in Sri Lanka with an organised spiritual structure, and its non-violence policy attracted people, and gradually, it became an organised religious institution working along with the political administration of the kings and queens. Buddhism did not want to collide with Hinduism as the origin of Buddhism was through Hinduism, and many concepts such as God, reincarnation, worshiping Gods, and many practical aspects of both religions related to each other. The origin of Hinduism also has evidenced its cradled ancient religious beliefs such as Greek and other cultures.

Buddhism strongly supported the unity of people, and the third time visit of Lord Buddha to Sri Lanka reported it purposed to settle a conflict among two community leaders of the country, and people accepted the role played Buddha and the religion, and the political administration of the country did not want to clash with Buddhism, and people agreed to go forward with Buddhist policies. From the point of view of many scholars, Buddhism attempted to maintain the unity of people despite the philosophical differences of a variety of religions.

Christianity and Islam arrived in Sri Lanka with a unique style of beliefs and strategies.  Both religions were originated in the middle eastern culture, which had obvious historical conflicts with each other, and the philosophy and religious beliefs of Hinduism and Buddhism contradicted with Christianity and Islam. The concept of a sovereign God in both religions, Christianity and Islam is analogous, but practitioners attempt to show that they were distinct. No religious scholar has shown that both religions, Christianity and Islam are philosophically not assailed from specific points, and it seems both religions are philosophically similar, and historical experience also shows despite attempts to deviate both religions, philosophically they are identical.  The concept of God in Islam shows the belief either gained from Judaism or Christianity, and the historical disunity of communities wanted to maintain separate religions, and why they want to maintain disjoined religions, could only answer by God.

The great reformists such as Martin Luther described certain features and worships in the Catholic Church disinclination to give priority to the concept of God, and religious leaders in Judaism, Christianity, and Islam failed logically thinking on the concept and beliefs, and accept the uniqueness of God in three religions than any other worships such as saints. Most probably the conflicts or divisions may have incurred as an error of human thinking, and attempt to interpret the religions making strange additions than to the originators. A religious belief that is supreme or false could be seen after the death of a person, and the intractable situation is when a person passed away the ability of vision of the person destroyed.  In such a situation, how could a person see the supreme truth of religion? Despite this, many people agree religions contributed massively to human civilization. 

Many Buddhist scholars are of opinion that Christianity arrived in Sri Lanka as an invader with the political and armed power of a Western country.  If Christianity arrived in Sri Lanka in the way other religions (Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam) arrived, Christianity will be a religion like other religions and will not subject to divide the united country. The actions taken to spread Christianity in Sri Lanka by Portuguese invaders were unacceptable and displayed cruelty, and in modern terms of international interpretation were war crimes.  There are historical findings that Christianity was in Sri Lanka in the Anuradhapura era, but it was not recognised by neither Sinhala nor Tamil people.

As long as Islam became a peaceful religion, Buddhists did not consider Islam was a threat to the unity of the country and allowed to breathe in the country. Buddhist scholars were reluctant to make religious hate because of the fundamental teaching of Buddhism to educate hate is a vicious quality of humans, however, after the oil crisis in the early 1970s, Buddhist and Christian scholars suspected the role of Islam and its practical aspect. As Robert Knox stated, people who lived in Sri Lanka including the King, Rajasinha 2 of Kandy suspected the role played by Islam. The converting people of Maldives to Islam further suspected the role.  

The roles have been played by religions in the country since arriving in Christianity mutated, and the unity of communities challenged, and religious leaders of the country did not consider that the disunity of the society will be a problem for a future generation when dealing with various issues.  However, religious differences indirectly promoted disunity, and neither the political administration nor the religious administration promoted strategies to educate the vicious aspects of the differences. The behaviour of religions in Sri Lanka should have the religions worked in society before arrived Buddhism and religious leaders should have canvassed this matter and get together to maintain the unity among communities.  In this situation, Christian churches would have contributed to eradicating religious hate with the Carbrooke Cameron Reforms. As Professor K. M. de Silva interpreted (The Island Story- A brief history of Sri Lanka Chapter 16), the behavior of the British rulers and religious leaders of Christianity may have contributed to the disunity of the country.

The Catholic church in Sri Lanka attempted to change religious hate as the Second Vatican Council started by Pope John 23RD directed talk between religions, and the catholic church had listened to the modernization within the church, and many policies secretly maintained disrespecting the modernization of the church. The catholic secretly maintained a political alliance with capitalist political parties against socialist views and promoted disunity within the society of Sri Lanka using the provision of education that indirectly promoted division and reconciliation and association with Buddhists. 

Since invading the country by Europeans Christian churches began expanding education that helps the progress of society. After political independence in 1948, local leaders of Christian churches have used education to make money and abet rich by vicious practices such as insisting entrance fees for Christian schools  (contributions) besides monthly school fees. Major Christian schools refused to admit poor Christian kids though they are living very closer to the school, charging a large or accepting a large sum of fees or donations from Non-Christians admitted to Christian schools. For this purpose, past pupil associations have been used to cover the cases. The entire behavior of Christian church leaders was contradictory to the philosophy of Christianity and promoted the disunity of society. If it happened in the colonial period the practice of the church would have rejected the colonial rule. This dirty policy is still intact in Sri Lanka and a Catholic-bishop who designated himself as the in-charge of Catholic Education in Colombo archdiocese reluctant to give an answer when I inquired about anti-christ policy in 2019 when he visited Australia seeking donations from Sri Lankan and avoided talking with me. Education is a human right and Christian churches overseas are never supposed to provide Christian education based on a wealth of people, in holy scripts, Jesus Christ explained, but church leaders in Sri Lanka have rejected Christ and loved wealthy people. This is how Christian churches promoted disunity in Sri Lanka.    

3 Responses to “WERE RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES CONTRIBUTED TO THE DISUNITY OF SRI LANKANS?”

  1. Charles Says:

    Disunity of Sri Lankans speaking about the Communities is not the religion, but it is the trend created by the Tamil politicians and then followed by the Muslim to exist separated from the Sinhala Majority. What has the TNA or the Ponnambalams and the rest of the Tamil politicians got to give the Tamil people, other than what the Sinhala Majority is prepared to give them ? The Sinhala majority offers them the cordiality and invites the Tamil Community to develop the country together , share the benefits of a developped Sri Lanka as people of one Nation the Sri Lankans. This applies to the Muslims as well.

  2. Nimal Says:

    There are many inaccuracies in this article.First school(in Kotte) was started by Christian missionaries in 1822,prior to that my great great grandfather set up a small school at Gotami very close to Kotte and that school was moved to the first established school in kotte and it was mostly set up by Anglican priests like Feriar,Doubigin and they moved or expanded to establish Trinity and other well known schools. They were very fair to the non Christians and Buddhists were the majority in every school.
    I knew very well the poor Buddhist children were give the first preference by the Prince of Wales scholarships where my brother and I was overlooked and was given to Buddhist and Muslim kids. I remember the wise principal of Trinity one Major Gordon Burroughs explaining to my eldest brother this preference was to create harmony among the community.
    With respect to Christian clergy, their nuns did volunteer work as nurses at the hospital’s doing the most unpleasant work where they looked after the sick that others were reluctant, too unpleasant to mention. Of cause some religions brings conflicts and horrible and unpleasant events especially at present in the Middle East.
    Christian nations are the first preference for anyone who wants to settle and Rest my case.

  3. Nimal Says:

    Sorry I meant Vice Principal Gordon B…

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