Sacrificing compassion for barbaric rituals-A reply to Somapala Gunadheera
Posted on September 27th, 2012

Sagarika Rajakarunanayaka and Sathva Mithra  Courtesy :  The Island

It is usual for those  speaking against the stopping of animal sacrifice  and animal slaughter, as in the case of Somapala  Gunadheera (SG) in his article  ” Making bombs out of butchers’ stocks”  (the  “Sunday Island” of 23.9.2012),   to begin with the pious declaration  that one is  a confirmed vegetarian . He even affirms that he abhors animal slaughter. Believing by this solemn declaration that he has established himself as a person of compassion and ahimsa, he proceeds to fiercely oppose those who are fighting to stop the barbaric practice of animals sacrifice.

SG goes on to make a mockery of the anti-sacrifice campaign sardonically calling the campaigners “self proclaimed warriors who should understand the futility of their effort unless they ensure that animal slaughter was statutorily banned.”   SG needs to come down to earth because he has totally missed the point on the aim of the anti-sacrifice campaign. It is not simply to save the animals marked for sacrifice each year from being slaughtered at the kovil or afterwards at the hands of butchers, but to impress on the people of the country, the local government authorities, the police and even jurists that the cruel and barbaric practice of cruelly slaughtering animals for sacrifice is neither called for by the main religions nor condoned by them and this barbaric practice must be bought to an end.

Hindu leaders, politicians and chief priests of Hindu kovils have made clear statements that animal sacrifice is not a part of Hinduism, the most ancient of world religions, and that cruelty to animals is strongly condemned in the Hindu texts, although there may be Hindus, just as there may be Buddhists and even Christians, who may participate in animal sacrifices at the Bhadra Kali Kovil, which does not involve Hinduism, Buddhism or Christianity.

In India, the birthplace of Hinduism, animal sacrifice is prohibited by law in many states. The laws prohibiting animal sacrifice in these states prohibit any person from sacrificing “any animal or bird in any place of worship or adoration or its precincts or in any congregation or procession connected with any religious worship in a public street.” Whoever contravenes this law will be punished with imprisonment up to 3 months, or fine amounting to Rs. 300 or both. (E.g.: Andhra Pradesh – Animals and Birds Sacrifice (Prohibition) Act.)

The Prevention of Cruelty Act (India) states it is not an offence to kill any animal as required by the religion of any community, and must not be based on superstition or belief, and the onus to prove that such killing is required by religion is on the person committing the act. Failing to do so would amount to committing an offence.

In Sri Lanka, in a background where Hindu religious leaders have condemned animal sacrifice as being against the Hindu religion, SG tries to whip up religious conflict by bringing in the matter of meat consumption associated with Muslim and Christian festivals. As for Christians there is no requirement for ritual killing of animals or birds for any religious festival or as an act of worship. The Muslims, who have animal sacrifice as part of their faith, and not a superstition, have not come into this issue, although SG tries to draw them into it.

In his hardly veiled attempt to retain the practice, SG states that animal slaughter is not an offence under the Penal Code, and therefore, new legislation to ban the practice cannot be based on the basic criminal law of the land.  Does he realize that this would amount to an inability to identify new crimes in society, even though they may be old practices, and take action accordingly? This would certainly require amendment to existing law, in keeping with the Constitution, in a manner that is justiciable; to prevent the allegation of any new law being discriminatory to any party.

Is he stating is that a supreme legislature, such as our parliament, has no power or authority to amend existing law, be it the Penal Code.  It is also relevant to know that provisions of the Penal Code we have is one inherited from the British, and has been amended  in Sri Lanka as well as India.

SG raises the question of a violation of the criminal law of intimidation in forcing devotees concerned to abandon the practice of animal sacrifice. Such fears are wholly uncalled for because the campaigners against animal sacrifice, whether “cardboard saviours” or not, have been totally peaceful in their action. They have obeyed the police each time they were asked not to demonstrate in a manner that would be provocative. Instead, what they have done is to seek to build public opinion against the practice and also canvass the matter in the courts, which is the most civilized, democratic and peaceful thing to do.

It would show that there is no attempt to intimidate the Hindus today, because the All Ceylon Hindu Congress itself states that animal sacrifice is against Hindu teaching.  It would, therefore, be wrong to presume that it would lead to extending such intimidation to Islam and Christians tomorrow, and would thus not attract the provisions of law against such intimidation. It would appear instead, that SG is himself trying to provoke such “counter force” that would lead to inter-religious conflict.

SG finally brings in the Buddha himself into this issue, with the story of Chundaka who ran a slaughter house butchering pigs right behind the Jetavanarama monastery at Varanasi, where he resided most of his life. He says the Buddha had not intervened to stop this slaughter although he may have heard the shrieks of the animals being slaughtered. SG has his own theories as to why the Buddha remained silent on this matter. The Buddha preached non-violence to all. He was no law maker. He showed us the path to follow in life, with compassion to all sentient beings. To use this story to justify animal sacrifice is a contemptible and tendentious effort to continue the barbaric practice of animal sacrifice, by seeking to show that the Buddha was not against the slaughter of animals.

On the matter of rituals and animal sacrifice what the Buddha has said is:           “Rituals have no efficacy. Prayers are vain repetitions and incantations have no saving power. But to abandon covetousness and lust, to become free from evil passions and to give up all hatred and ill will, that is the right sacrifice and true worship.” (Gospel of the Buddha – Paul Carus). There are also numerous other references in Buddhist Teaching where the Buddha has condemned animal sacrifice).

SG finally turns to the President for a solution which would help keep this superstitious and barbaric practice going, and shamelessly requests the President to allow animal sacrifice to be held secretly without offending the susceptibilities of their [the practitioners] neighbours.  The secret torture of animals may not offend the concerns of SG, but it would not satisfy those who campaign to save animals from the horrors of sacrificial slaughter. As for the President needing the support or not of “busybodies” on this matter, SG must know that it was the concerted campaign by those, including Buddhist monks,  against barbarism, that led to the Presidential Secretariat issuing a clear statement that “Both in principle and policy the Government is against cruelty to animals that takes place in these ritual sacrifices.

Finally, SG in his anger turns against the campaigners for compassion to animals and directs his plea to a heavenly father stating: “Father forgive them for they know not what they do”.  We would well re-direct this plea on behalf of SG, who needs forgiveness for his betrayal of the cause of innocent animals sacrificed for money, favours, blessings and curses.

 

 

16 Responses to “Sacrificing compassion for barbaric rituals-A reply to Somapala Gunadheera”

  1. Lorenzo Says:

    “The Prevention of Cruelty Act (India) states it is not an offence to kill any animal as required by the religion of any community, and must not be based on superstition or belief, and the onus to prove that such killing is required by religion is on the person committing the act. Failing to do so would amount to committing an offence.”

    This is what SL needs.

  2. Susantha Wijesinghe Says:

    Sri Lanka has quite a few of these Mentally sick and retarded fellows among compassionate human beings. One such hypocrite who appeals to the heavenly father is a Somapala.

  3. Dilrook Says:

    It is indeed a barbaric practice which must have been banned by now specifically by law.

    But even the JHU is dragging its feet on this.

    What Somapala Gunadheera says about the legal framework has some truth. New criminal laws can be introduced but nothing can be introduced that contravenes Chapters 10 and 14 of the Constitution giving complete right to practice one’s religion or belief unless a change in the Constitution is secured first. Inclusion of belief covers what Hinduism, Buddhism, etc. does not accept as well.

    However, a carefully worded law that separates it from a religion or belief can still be introduced and passed.

    Another avenue is to exploit the possibility of making use of Chapter 9 – protection and promotion of Buddhim and allowing it the supreme place. Since the barbaric practice of animal sacrifice contravenes the Buddhist interpretation of the Buddha Sasana, it can be argued that an animal sacrifice bill if consistent with protection and promotion of Buddhim and allowing it the supreme place irrespective of any other “belief”.

    Else the Constitution must be changed and animal sacrifice should be banned specifically. Ruling coalition has the required mandate of two thirds but not everyone will vote for it. UNP and TNA will abstain from voting and JVP position is unclear. Therefore it is very difficult to get 150 votes in support of it.

    Somapala’s call to do this barbaric practice secretly is sickening.

    Animal slaughter for food must be conducted as per the law that requires a licence to carry it out, transport, process and sell meat. The Kovil in question cannot do any of these. Police must implement this existing law until a more specific law is passed.

    It is also a good idea to let international organisations know what is going on and get their support. This barbaric practice is a disgrace to the country. Mentioning it internationally causes no harm.

  4. Dham Says:

    Killing of animals for religous purposes shall be banned. No need to follow stupid India for this purpose. This the country did this for thousands of years and if this cannot be prevented in Sri Lanka there is no point having a spreme place for Buddhism by our constitution.
    “Religious purposes” shall include killing of goats by muslims or chritians or any group. No need to follow any idotic country for this. Do we have backbnes ? Do our leared have any bone ?

  5. HussainFahmy Says:

    All Life are sacred in the sight of the one and only Creator, however there is difference between human life, plant life and animal life. For some plant life is permitted to sacrifice and some others it is permitted to sacrifice animal life HUMANELY. Sacrificing Food for human consumption is a Divine Decree. One is free to accept or reject but not to Ban it. THIS IS PART OF AN INDIVIDUAL RIGHT IN EVERY CONSTITUTION. The beginning of conflict when mutual rights of one another is violated. (SriLanka paid the price for more than 30 years) So your philosophy is for you to practice and mine is my right to practice for the sake of Peace between each others beliefs. This is the essence of a true philosophy or a religion.

  6. Fran Diaz Says:

    Slaughter of animals in a HUMANE manner has to be allowed for Food and other Purposes. Sometimes animals are euthanized when aged, very sick or very badly injured, with no hopes for recovery. Horses sometimes have to be put down if badly injured in races. Disease carriers such as rabid animals have to be put down too. Over growth of wild animal populations have to be controlled too. All these and more are practical necessities.

    Re feeding of the POOR at the various Kali Kovils : Cannot cooked food be distributed to the poor people, instead of having a gory side show of Animal Sacrifice ? No such sacrifices take place at Kataragama Kovils or any other Hindu Kovils.

    In Nature, some animals live purely on flesh of others (Carnivores). Human physiology is meant to be omnivorous, though excessive intake of animal protein can have adverse effects such as kidney disease & acidic blood, a friendly medium for viruses & bacteria. Fish is considered more healthy than meat eating. Animal flesh and dairy products provide complete proteins essential for cell building.

    Some say that a mainly vegetarian diet is more suited to the human physiology. To obtain the necessary complete proteins and fats & oils necessary for good health, grains, nuts & seeds, milk and milk by products as well as eggs may be consumed. Amino acid tablets are also available for vegetarians.

    Animal Sacrifice is an ancient practice, and a most gruesome sight to behold. Even children are seen watching this type of barbarism – what does watching such barbaric acts do to a child’s psyche ? I assume that it does do terrible damage to the delicate psyche of a child – it may well immunise a child’s (or an adult’s) natural horror of hacking people to death too, which was the way the ltte killed hapless Sinhala villagers. Animal Sacrifice must stop in Sri Lanka. It is already prohibited by law in Tamil Nadu.

    The way huge legs and pieces of flesh of slaughtered cattle and other animals are displayed in stalls in outstation Sri Lanka should stop too. For one thing, it is unsanitary, covered with flies and bacteria. The way gory pieces of flesh are displayed is a sight that is ugly, offensive and uncivilized. Animal flesh (meat & fish) ought to be properly packaged, displayed and stored for sale as is done in the supermarkets. It certainly may cost more to get matters right for flesh eating, but organisations could be formed to subsidise properly packaged flesh foods.

    Above written with offence to none – only wish to correct that which is not right.

  7. Nalliah Thayabharan Says:

    Animal Sacrifice is the core aspect of Vedic ritual. Lots of animals were sacrificed for Vedic rituals like Ashwamedha and Somayajna. Today India has more vegetarians than any other country. About 400 million Indians practice lacto vegetarianism. Unlike the Biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, which Jewish and Christian authorities have typically applied only to humans, the first lay precept in Buddhism prohibits killing animals as well as humans.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Hussain,

    SL suffered 30 years due to TERRORISM which we EXTERMINATED.

    There is no justification of terrorism and inviting Muliyawaikkal AGAIN.

    SL constitution does NOT allow for animal sacrifice. Animal sacrifice is for the stone age not for civilised humans. I wish the government bans it without delay.

  9. HussainFahmy Says:

    @Lorenzo – Please Identify the ROOT cause of Terrorism. We can deny reality and bury our heads in the sand. It’s not going to go away. If the past is a guide to the future. we can learn from it and avoid grave consequences. Our focus should be to put the the country’s prosperity and development first. Kindly Revisit the Constitution on the Freedom to “Practice of Religion” for all Communities and read further on the World UN Charter. (BTW, SL is a signatory) Terrorism can only be rooted out by respecting the rights of all communities. Please Do not be Confident in exterminating Terrorism and the deception of the evils of Terror. It could show its ugly head if we are not careful with our Policies. We know first hand the SriLankan Rulers recognise ground realities and the sensitiveness of its minority citizens. Progress and Productivity should be the objective of all citizens irrespective of each others belief system. Failure to recognise the Natural Disposition of our civilisation is returning to the stone age. Logic and Rationality are the Language of the Mind. Love and Wisdom are the Humility of the Spiritual Soul.

  10. Lorenzo Says:

    Hussain,

    The root cause of terrorism is TERRORISTS.

    Once exterminated, it is gone (until the need to exterminate arises again).

    “It could show its ugly head if we are not careful with our Policies.”

    It is a matter for DEFENCE. SL need NOT change policy to avoid terrorism because SL CAN EXTERMINATE them which is less expensive than GIVING INTO them.

    “Terrorism can only be rooted out by respecting the rights of all communities.”

    Not true. SL continued to respect rights of all communities but did that root out terrorism? NO. But extermination WITHOUT ANY POLITICAL SOLUTION worked very well. Also please tell that to Saudi which bans religious freedom. In your logic Saudi must have MANY forms of terrorism. Unfortunately it does not have enough.

    UN charter does NOT allow for animal sacrifice. India is a signatory but “The Prevention of Cruelty Act (India) states it is not an offence to kill any animal as required by the religion of any community, and must not be based on superstition or belief, and the onus to prove that such killing is required by religion is on the person committing the act. Failing to do so would amount to committing an offence.”

    Same should apply to SL.

    “Love and Wisdom are the Humility of the Spiritual Soul.”

    Only a person without ANY wisdom or love will do animal sacrifice in the 21st century!!

    If Saudi is a Muslim country, SL is a Buddhist country. Can you practice all the practices of Buddhism in Saudi? No. Similar reciprocal arrangements should apply in SL.

    It is time SL bans the other dirty practice of one man marrying many women. By definition it forces women to “legal forced adultery” and prostitution (marrying, etc. an already married man). Adultery is not illegal but prostitution (marrying, etc. a married man) is illegal. It is totally uncivilised as it does not belong to the 21st century.

  11. Lorenzo Says:

    Also note that Jihad, Fatwa are religious practices.

    SL CANNOT allow these either!!

  12. Dham Says:

    HussianFammy,
    ROOT cause of Terrorism is greed, not ill treatment.
    Zionist are the greediest lot in the world. Firts they started terrorising the world by hiding all the money and exploiting innocent people to pay hefty interests. These bastards always want conquer the whole world economically first and then enslave masses, regardless of race or religion. They are the “FIRST TERRORIST OF THE WORLD”.
    LORENZION reppreset the ZIOn. Do not argue with him. You cannot win, I cannot win – because answers will be blut and foolish. Zionist terrorism was not properly answered by FOOLISH islamists. What is point throwing stones at Zionist Army, who have nuclear weapons ?

    Nalliah Thayabarangave some facts. “Unlike the Biblical commandment “Thou shalt not kill”, which Jewish and Christian authorities have ty pically applied only to humans, the first lay precept in Buddhism prohibits killing animals as well as humans.”

    What is wrong in the Buddhist majority ( 60-70 % )country of Sri Lanka if a rule of mass killing of animals for religous practices, let it be Kali or let it be Eid ?
    Even if it is wrong, should it be answered by exploding bombs, killing innocents ?

  13. HussainFahmy Says:

    @Lorenzo – Your version of The root cause of terrorism is TERRORISTS; is like saying The root cause of a tooth ache is the tooth. It should Sound absurd to all those who read it. In desperation your logic is way off course. Logically if we respect the right of others there should not be any conflict. In other words nothing to fight about. Your complacency in exterminating Terrorism is shocking, however the Rulers of Sri Lanka does not think so. You have no idea who supported the cause to exterminate the evils of terror. Lack of knowledge in History is appalling. Lacking comprehension in a simple topic on “Rights”. will not graduate you to discuss other issues. It seems you Lack the faculties to grasp the complexities on other topics which you are trying to bring into the debate. Dishonesty in diverting what I referred to the UN charter of “Practice of Religion” to “The Prevention of Cruelty Act (India) is unbelievable. These are the signs of a human being not having the capacity to learn either from his Own mistakes, or from the Mistakes of others. In conclusion, There is no point in debating with Ignorance.

    @Dham – A debate is bring out our opinions logically on a subject we passionately believe in. When a great scorer comes to against our names, he write not write whether we won or lost, but how we played the game of life.

  14. Lorenzo Says:

    Hussein,

    Tell that to Saudi Arabia the DIRTIES and MOST INHUMAN country on earth supporting terrorism.

    When Saudi allows other faiths to practice, I will take what you say seriously. Not otherwise as it is OPPORTUNISM.

    It is called hypocrisy isn’t it?

  15. Lorenzo Says:

    Remember a SL Tamil woman was charged for a fake offence punishable by MURDER recently by Saudi for wearing a Hindu hand band and “looking at” a Saudi woman?

    Remember a SL Buddhist worker was arrested and facing MUREDR by Saudi for worshipping a Buddha statue?

    All these happened in the last 6 months in the name of Sharia Law!

    So tell that to Saudi first. Lets see how they respond. :))

  16. Lorenzo Says:

    BARBARIANS in action.

    “Crowds of angry Muslims attacked Buddhist shrines and homes, torching some of them, Sunday in Bangladesh to protest after a photo of a partially burned Quran was posted on Facebook, police said.”

    This comes 1 year after similar barbarians attacked and destroyed Buddhist shrines in Maldives.

    11 years after similar barbarians attacked and destroyed Buddhist shrines in Afghanistan.

    Barbarianism is spreading in SL region.

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