The Protection of Buddhism and the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka
Posted on May 1st, 2012

By Senaka Weeraratna

Buddhism, more than other ideology or religion, has played a singular role in creating an unique civilization and shaping the destinies of this country. It falls on the current generation therefore to ensure that Buddhism continues to flourish in Sri Lanka and that the State performs its historic public duty, as enshrined in the National Constitution, to extend patronage, protection and foster Buddhism both within and outside the country.

It is an incontrovertible fact that Sinhala Buddhists see around them forebodings of a disastrous turn of events that, if allowed to continue unchecked, may reduce them to a marginalized status as has happened to Buddhists in several other parts of Asia.

This ongoing perception of such a future disaster has little force unless it receives articulation and adoption of counter measures to forestall such a catastrophe. This is not an easy task given that the Buddhists of Sri Lanka do not have, relatively speaking, the kind of ‘Think Tanks’ and other sophisticated institutional devices dedicated to safeguarding their interests as found in the infrastructure of western and other Abrahamic religions.

The issue of the viability of Buddhism in Sri Lanka- its continued existence as the dominant moral and spiritual force in this country- has become inextricably mixed with extraneous issues involving politics and ethnicity. It is now under challenge as we see from the recent events in Dambulla.

The highly adversarial nature of the latter makes a dispassionate analysis of the claims of the Buddhist majority of Sri Lanka difficult to be examined objectively and comparatively, taking into consideration the manner in which Freedom of Worship, being a Fundamental Right, is allowed (and much restricted) in many other parts of the world.

In contrast to the frail defenses of this predominantly Buddhist nation, there is arrayed against the Buddhist majority, a formidable consortium-both local and foreign-that has made an industry of the business of belittling Buddhist claims and bashing Buddhists including the members of the Sangha, at every possible opportunity. 

“ƒ”¹…”Buddhism Bashing’ is a growth industry, particularly in the mainstream English language medium Press. This is easily discernible through a content analysis of news reports, feature articles, editorials and letters to the Editor.   

For long decades, these institutions have had the kindly ear of people in authority who were either supportive or indifferent to their conduct. This tide of anti-Buddhist sentiment needs to be challenged and defeated despite the huge imbalance in forces marshaled to engage in ‘ideological warfare’ currently being waged targeting Buddhism and its foremost status in the country.

What are the Buddhist rights and claims? What steps need to be taken to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka?

These matters have been best articulated in the Reports of the various Commissions of Inquiry into the state of Buddhism in the country, established in the post “”…” independence period.

The Report of the Buddhist Committee of Inquiry established by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress in 1954 (later popularly known as the Buddhist Commission) and released in February 1956, and the Report of the Presidential Commission of the Buddha Sasana 2002, among others, provide a well-researched historical background and empirical data that are yet relevant to the understanding of the various issues and challenges confronting Buddhism in contemporary Sri Lanka.  

A Summary of the Conclusions and Recommendations in Chapter 12 of the Report of the Presidential Commission of the Buddha Sasana 2002 is attached for your information and reference.

 

9 Responses to “The Protection of Buddhism and the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka”

  1. noworries Says:

    Why is it that Buddhists who comprise almost 75% of the population act as if they are about to be wiped out by a minority who number only 7% of the population? Anyone who watched the disgusting antics of shaven headed thugs rampaging in Dambulla on Youtube and didn’t feel revulsion is either a religious bigot or a fool who can be manipulated by a breakaway faction of the JVP. Buddhism bashing? Who’s bashing whom? Who needs protection from whom? Certainly not Buddhists.

  2. Vijendra Says:

    While preserving Buddhism from foreign religious groups, it is essential to protect it from rogue Buddhist monks, who rather than behave like Buddhist monks, sometimes behave like political thugs. Dambulla is a case in point. The “sanga sabha” should take action to depoliticize the “sangha-sasana” in SL. Monks must leave politics to politicians and give their counsel only if solicited! Sanga, as the leaders of interpretation of Buddhism to laymen, must behave in an exemplary manner. Real Buddhists must not be blindly faithful to tolerate rogue monks in the “ssasana” and should take action to report them to the “sanga sabha”of the chapter and get them derobed to prevent them from ruining the impression of Buddhism among others.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    There are 2 aspects to it. Both should happen at the same time. One without the other is not going to work.

    A. Qualitative protection and improvement of Buddhism and the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka.

    Well discussed in media and in Commissions.

    B. Quantitative protection and improvement of Buddhists and the Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka

    Very little thinking has gone into it.

    Buddhists are falling behind the numbers if you look at birth rates. I have written an article on this based on an independent UN report. Birth rates of Buddhists must be brought in line with Hindus and Muslims either way. Without sufficient numbers of the community, it is not possible to protect Buddhism. The challenge is both internal and external. This can be seen in South Korea. When the quantity falls, so does the quality of Buddhism practiced. When the Buddhist percentage falls, remaining Buddhists take up more and more of idol or god worshiping practices further moving away from the philosophy part.

    Buddhists’ economic clout must be increased. Although they are 69% of the population it is no secret their economic clout is less than 69% of the economy. Sustainable quality improvements cannot be made without a comparatively strong economic base for Buddhists.

    I hope both aspects will be looked at once without compromising one for the other. We need both quantity and quality.

    Forgetting Part B and concentrating only on Part A is a sure plan for disaster.

  4. Dham Says:

    Dilrook,

    “Buddhists are falling behind the numbers if you look at birth rates. ”

    This is absurd. A Buddhist may be born to a Buddhist or non-Buddhist parents. That will not increase the number of Buddhists, as those murderes, thugs, drunkens,thieves can add to your number but will not contribute to survival.

    It is of utmost importance to have proper monks for survival of Buddhism in Sir lanaka. If there is proper Dhamma and Sangha and if we build a nation that respect Buddhist values, then there is no way that they can be converted to Muslim, Christian or any other, because value, truth and beauty of wisdom cannot be beaten by any other religion.
    Hindu like Buddhism , which practice only pujas will merge with Hinduism or even Muslim. That will be the end of Buddhism. Numbers does not matter.

  5. Dham Says:

    There is no “Quantity” in Buddhism. “Quality” only. If there is no “Nibbana” ( the mantra of Ben Silva) , the ” quantity” will become zero.

  6. Dilrook Says:

    Dham

    There should be Buddhists in sufficient numbers for there to be even the possibility of true practising Buddhists in future.

    That was how the philosophy was protected in this island for 2,300 years. And that was how many Buddhist countries disappeared and became eternal hell holes on earth. We cannot end up like that or like South Korea.

    We may agree to disagree.

  7. Dham Says:

    Dilrook,
    Numbers will grow when “quality” Buddhism is present. Even people of other religions will join.
    When Buddhist “priest” become bandits , it will make Buddhist equal to Hindus at the best.
    Therefore our education system shoudl be based on Buddhist teachings not based on western systems.
    Proper Buddhist culture should be protected and nutured. Then the numbers will grow.
    There is no point asking Buddhist to produce more children, like Muslims do. That is not going to happen anyway.

  8. Fran Diaz Says:

    The need of the hour is practical Buddhism.

  9. Lorenzo Says:

    “The need of the hour is practical Buddhism.”

    Exactly.

    Some fools try to confuse matters and try to destroy Buddhism that way pretending they are good Buddhists.

    BTW where is Ben?

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