Protect Sinhala Buddhism from the educated – II
Posted on May 1st, 2014

By Nalin de Silva

 Before we proceed, a mistake made in the last week has to be corrected, as it is somewhat serious. Kuhn’s Structure of scientific revolutions was referred to as Structure of scientific discoveries and it is hoped that nobody was misled by that reference. It is a cardinal sin, though it is not a ‘pancanatareeya kamma’, to refer to scientific discoveries, as scientific theories meaning of course western scientific theories are not discovered, and all knowledge is created due to avidya (loosely translated as ignorance) if we go by Paticcasamuppada. The talk of universal laws stem from Biblical Laws in Christian culture, and the hegemony of Greek Judaic Christian Chinthanaya has conditioned us to think that there are objective universal laws that could be discovered. Newton’s Laws of Motion are valid only in what are known as inertial frames of reference that cannot be observed empirically, though the educated may not think so. I am emphasizing the word empirically as it has drawn the attraction of the educated from whom Sinhala Buddhism has to be protected.

 I also wish to remind the readers that I am not writing this series of articles, or any article for that matter, as a dispassionate objective person looking at Sinhala Buddhism from outside. I am a Sinhala Buddhist, and what is presented here is what I see (and constructed due to my avidya), and if an educated person insists that it is my subjective view, though as far as I am concerned all knowledge is subjective, all that I would say is that there is no so called objective knowledge.

 Sinhala Buddhism as we said in the previous installment is associated with a school of Bududahama. However, we did not mention what this school was. Sinhala Buddhism takes pride in claiming that Arhant Mahinda Thero brought Bududahama to this country after the third council (Sangayana) held under the leadership of Arhant Moggalaiputtatissa Thero and under the patronage of the king Dharmashoka. The Mahavamsa supposed to be written in the sixth century mentions this fact but Vargapurnikava has something else to say. It is not known when Vargapurnikava was first written, but it is clear that it is a book written by Yaksha Gothrikas, probably by Yaksha Gothrika Bhikkus, but has been influenced to a lesser degree by Ashokan Bududahama or third council Bududahama. According to Vargapurnikava there had been Yaksha Gothrika Bhikkus and a Buddha Sasana before the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thero, which Bududahama could be referred to as Yaksha Gothrika Bududahama. The culture associated with this Bududahama could be referred to as Hela Buddhism or even Yaksha Gothrika Buddhism.

 I have my reservations of both Mahavamsa and Vargapurnikava representing Sinhala Buddhism and Hela Buddhism respectively, but both believe in samsara, punabbhava (rebirth), karma and even Abhidhamma. However, it appears that Hela Buddhism does not believe in Kshanavada that deals with moments and Dharmavada associated with Dharmas that exist independent of the observer, which were probably introduced at the third council. It is said only the Vibhajavadi Bhikkus were allowed to participate at the third council, and I wonder if Budunvahanse would have been allowed to take part in the council by Arhant Moggaliputtatissa Thero. Though I do not believe in either Kshanavada or Dharmavada it is my intention to defend Sinhala Buddhism and Mahavamsa, however, at the same time being sympathetic with Hela Buddhism and of course tending to believe in the history as told by Vargapurnikava, which is not a book in history in the western tradition.

 It has become a fashion to attack Mahavamsa but some among Sinhalas who do not believe in that book are somewhat scared to criticize the book. Instead people such as Suriya Gunasekera a well known contributor to the Sinhala press and who had been a former SLAS officer criticize Senerath Paranavithana and Codrington, the English public servant who was also interested in history. It is easy to criticize Codrington and paranavithana rather than Mahavamsa but the intention of these people is very clear. They want to go back to a Hela Yugaya probably going up to Manu who apparently ruled from Mannar, thousands and thousands years ago and are critical of Vijaya the originator of Sinhala race according to Mahavamsa. The Tamil racists on the other hand criticize Mahavamsa, and claim that the original inhabitants of the country were Tamils. It should be mentioned that Vargapurnikava does not give any credentials to the Tamil claim and Hela script is very much different from the Tamil script, according to Ven. Manewe Vimalaratana Thero who has published the Vargapurnikava recently.

 Apparently there are some pre Mahinda inscriptions referring to Gothama Samana or Budunvahanse but Paranavithana has read them to mean “len pujas” or cave donations. People such as Suriya Gunasekera criticize Paranavithana for distorting facts but it is unfair to claim that the latter did so. What would have happened is that Paranavithana who was brought up in the tradition of Mahavamsa and western history did not see a Buddhism Hela or Sinhala prior to the arrival of Arhant Mahinda Thero. In fact he had openly said there was no evidence to show that Budunvahanse visited Sri Lanka three times as stated in Mahavamsa. What we see is what we have been trained to see and Paranavithana would not have seen any evidence of Budunvahanse being present in Sri Lanka in any of the inscriptions. As far as Codrington was concerned it cannot be justified that the English promoted Mahavamsa as it suited their world view of somebody (Vijaya) coming from outside colonizing the island. What would have happened was that Mahavamsa would have been the accepted text when the English came to this country, and not Vargapurnikava or any other text, and Codrington would have interpreted history according to Mahavamsa.

 It is clear that by the sixth century the Sinhala Buddhism would have been on the victory path over Hela Buddhism, and Mahavamsa that ends with Mahasen who declared “war” against Mahavihara, who demolished the Vihara and sowed Undu in the premises, being a Hela Buddhist of Yaksha origin would have been defeated by Sinhala Buddhism. Mahavamsa would have been the book of victory of Sinhala Buddhism over Hela Buddhism, which has contributed immensely to the survival of Sinhala Buddhism with the incorporated Theravada Bududahama of the third council. It is this Buddhism and Bududahama that survived in Sri Lanka since the sixth century with Hela Buddhism weaning away gradually.

 It is in this context I refer to an interview given by Gunadasa Amarasekera to The Silumina of 27th April 2014. In the interview Amarasekera mentions that we should establish a philosophy based on Jathika Chinthanaya and Buddhist Civilization and without such Philosophy we cannot survive. While agreeing with Amarasekera though Jathika Chinthanaya is a wooly concept I do not agree with him when he claims towards the end of the interview that “things” such as Punaruthpaththiya (rebirth) and Karma are not required for Bududahama. It is here the educated Amarasekera who probably believes in objective reality and empiricism comes to the forefront overcoming Amarasekera of Jathika Chinthanaya however vague that concept may be. Without punaruthpaththiya and karma what is the Buddhist civilization that Amarasekera thinks of? Is it a rational empirical Bududahama advocated by the educated in the country? It is from this rational empirical Bududahama that Sinhala Buddhism has to be protected.

(To be continued)

19 Responses to “Protect Sinhala Buddhism from the educated – II”

  1. Nanda Says:

    These fools cannot damage Buddhism as it has already propagated to west and to people with much higer intellectual capacity.
    Another big FOOL is Naath Amarakone. Good qualification to be a president’s advisor.

  2. Mr. Bernard Wijeyasingha Says:

    It is NOT the “educated” that are damaging Buddhism but a certain strain of the educated. Those who profess to believe in the western concept of Secularism which has now become the scourge of the Western world. Under the banner of Secularism all faiths have been roundly condemned. The legal right to abortion given priority even over the rights of the husband, Feminism, gay rights, gay marriages, legalization of marijuana, the acceptance of the lowest common denominator of a civilized nation as experienced by that British tourist sporting a massive tattoo of the Buddha

    Take that woman for example. She represents a whole world of culture that permits tattoos, piercings (of nose, ears, ear lobes, belly buttons, lips, tongues etc) to the grunge look where women wear clothing that reveal part of their undergarments or men wear pants that show part of their underwear. Even in these Western cultures people who embrace the worst aspects of Secularism cannot land a vocation that demands a three piece suit, unless they are willing to flip hamburgers in some fast food restaurant.

    Secularism has also introduced the notion that minority rights supersede that of the majority. That has led the US to have “open borders” allowing tens of millions of illegal immigrants lacking any skills, to enter the US and now under Obama and with his Dream act will get citizenship. By getting Citizenship without skills or grasp of the English language they automatically become Welfare recipients sucking the taxes of those who do work.

    Secularism has demonized religion and religious beliefs for Atheism, Feminism, Communism etc. It has effectively removed faith from the government and then from the people as seen in so many Western nations. It is not the educated who are doing this but a segment who believes in the concepts of Secularism and they do not have to be educated.

  3. Lorenzo Says:

    ““things” such as Punaruthpaththiya (rebirth) and Karma are not required for Bududahama.”

    I agree.

    Karma is a HINDU concept. There is nothing called karma in reality. It is old retaliation nonsense that should NOT be in religion/philosophy. Christianity goes a step further in the right direction. Sins are FORGIVEN and GOOD DEEDS are discounted (the parable of the rich man and the poor man in the church) so NO karma.

    Even rebirth is a HINDU concept. It is FEAR OF DEATH.

    NEW Buddhists including westerners, those who seek “truth” than Buddhist fashion and Jews (at least 40% of Jews living in USA are now Buddhists) don’t buy this karma and rebirth nonsense. Only fashionable Buddhists believe in these AND worshiping trees, statute houses, robes, etc.

    1. I do good things NOT because that will give me good karma but because I genuinely SEE that it is the RIGHT thing to do.

    2. I don’t do bad things NOT because I get bad karma (and I may suffer as a result) but because I UNDERSTAND (without any devil standing guard by me) that it is the RIGHT thing to do.

    3. What I understand as the right thing may not be the right by you. But I do what I think as right and keep and open mind for learning.

    Hope I didn’t hurt Nanda.

  4. Nanda Says:

    “NEW Buddhists including westerners, those who seek “truth” than Buddhist fashion and Jews (at least 40% of Jews living in USA are now Buddhists) don’t buy this karma and rebirth nonsense.”

    TOTALLY FABRICATED (may not be Lorenzo fabricated but from a fool) LIE. ( Not even false)

    Do not trust me but speak to or read
    1. Ven Bikkhu Bodhi
    2. Achan Sumedho

    You must go step by step. Once you accept 4 noble truth whole heartedly you will know what reality is.

  5. SA Kumar Says:

    Hindus & Buddhists believe in Karma & Tharma !!!

    4 noble truth !!!

    Hindusim manipulated by so many branches for so loge but Lord Bhuddha put it right that is Buddhisim !!!

  6. mario_perera Says:

    ““things” such as Punaruthpaththiya (rebirth) and Karma are not required for Bududahama.”

    I agree.

    Karma is a HINDU concept. There is nothing called karma in reality. It is old retaliation nonsense that should NOT be in religion/philosophy.

    Lorenzo, I find your statement to be bold and courageous and cdertainly non-conformist. Moreover it is mentally very encouraging and stimulating.It is a path to FREEDOM.

    Life and living is too personal to be summed up by rules and norms even though they be derived from religious writings or scriptures.

    In this context my mind goes back to a film of the 1960’s titled: Zorba the Greek. In one sequence Zorba (an uneducated man who lives according to his nature, and does not go by rules, religious or other) initiates the following dialogue with his young employer a die-hard intellectual and voracious reader.

    Zorba:Boss what do your books tell you?
    Answer: they tell me of the agony of man who cannot find answers to his questions.
    Zorba: Boss, if that is what your books tell you, then why the damned hell do you read them?

    Boss, what you need is a little madness…madness to cut the ropes that bind you, AND BE FREE.

    Lorenzo, to my mind that is exactly what your statement indicates. cut the ropes that bind us AND BE FREE.

    We may call ourselves by whatever religious denominations we like and for whatever be the reason. Yet the bottom line is that before we are this or that, we are what we are at the core of our personal existence. Everything else is a GRAFT. A graft as we know is what the natural ‘self’ that we are endeavours all the time to REJECT.

    If we find that ‘rebirth’ and ‘karma’ are grafts that weigh us down and do not release and FREE our inner self, then they must be rejected whoever be the authority from whom they derive.

    Mario Perera

  7. Lorenzo Says:

    Thanks Mario.

    FREEDOM is the word. Freedom from dogma and QUESTION them not to ridicule them but to go beyond them.

    I’ve read ALL JIDDU KRISHNAMURTI’s work. His book FIRST AND LAST FREEDOM is something everyone must read at least 4 times in my humble view. The more you read it, the more things you find.

    It can be found in library

    Plenty of videos in internet. Obviously JK was a fallible human and I don’t venerate him. But I completely agree with his views on freedom, meditation, SEEING THINGS FOR WHAT THEY ARE, etc.

  8. AnuD Says:

    Instead of discussing about KArma and Rebirth, we should have discussed how to preserve the sinhala-Buddhist civilization.

  9. AnuD Says:

    Does the Punabhava give the same meaning as the word rebirth gives ?

  10. AnuD Says:

    Present President Mahinda Rajapakse can do it. We need to get him to do that. If not we should sack him.

  11. Marco Says:

    Sister Naomi, Thank You So Much For Wearing A Buddha Tattoo On Your Upper Arm

    By Ven. Walpola Piyananda -,

    I was greatly distressed when I heard about Naomi Coleman, a tourist from the UK, being deported because of the Buddha image tattooed on her upper arm. As everyone knows by now, Naomi was shamefully detained in Negombo for one night and then kept fpr another two nights at a detention center before being thrown out of Sri Lanka, a pattern that seems to be repeating itself. In an attempt to apologize and make amends the Sri Lankan Tourism Authority sent her off with a business-class ticket back home and gifted her with a future holiday on our beautiful island. This is, however, no consolation for the horrible way she was treated. Meanwhile, our international image and reputation have been damaged yet again, and we are now branded as intolerant, lacking in compassion, and narrow-minded – characteristics that can be added to the long list of negatives the international media has already tacked onto our profile.

    If wearing Buddha images on the body is offensive to our hyper-sensitive Sri Lankan Buddhist society, what should we do about the monks from Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries that have ritual Buddha tattoos on their torsos? Should we deport them, too? In many countries faithful Buddhists wear Buddha images on amulets around their necks; should we ban those people from entering our country as well? Every year I give hundreds of children – both in Sri Lanka and in America – small images of the Buddha that they can wear to remind them of their Precepts, and help them remember to be compassionate and understanding in their daily lives. Should these children be tossed out of Sunday Dhamma School? In the West we Sangha members wear the yellow robes, unfamiliar attire to many in this society. How are we perceived here? How would we feel if we were persecuted for the way we dress as monks? Should we be deported from America and other countries just because we look different? Is dressing as a monk disrespectful to society?

    Naomi Coleman was herself a faithful Buddhist, one who had already been on meditation retreats in Thailand, India, Cambodia, and Nepal. To her, the tattooed image of the Buddha on her upper arm was a mark of respect; she meant no offense to anyone. On the contrary: she only wished to honour her master teacher with an outward symbol of her beliefs. For our immigration officials and judicial system to perceive her mark of faith as offensive and defamatory, we do nothing but demonstrate our lack of skillfulness and compassion in recognizing other cultures’ perceptions and outward representations. Just because we in Sri Lanka don’t like tattoos of the Buddha on the human body, it doesn’t mean that we have the right to demonize individuals from other countries that wear them. In fact, our judgmental attitude totally goes against the fundamental teachings of the Buddha – especially in regards to defining kamma as “motivated action”; and Naomi’s motivation was certainly not to be disrespectful. I read that the magistrate didn’t even allow Naomi Coleman to speak in her defense; she was simply sentenced and shipped out. She was quoted as saying that there was no forgiveness or compassion in Sri Lanka, and her friend said that she would definitely not come back – not even with her free trip.

    I have been speaking to our Ministers and other Government officials for years about properly utilizing the media to improve our national image. Unfortunately, my pleadings continue to fall on deaf ears. The only things published in other countries about Sri Lanka these days are articles that condemn us for our perceived wrong-doings. You can be quite certain that unskillful actions like the deportation of Naomi Coleman will do nothing but add fuel to the fires kept burning by the UN Human Rights Commission and others who have agendas to do us harm. I urge the Government to wise up and act skillfully so we can improve our image overseas, encourage tourism, and put the teachings of the Buddha into practice.

    Sister Naomi Coleman, may you have the blessings of the Triple Gem! Thank you so much for wearing the image of the Buddha on your upper arm; by doing so you are promoting Buddhism to those who might see you, and present the opportunity to discover the Buddha’s teachings for themselves.

    *Ven. Walpola Piyananda – Chief Sangha Nayake of America, International Religious Advisor to the President of Sri Lanka

  12. Nanda Says:

    Mario, Lorenzo,
    Buddhist karma is NOT a HINDU CONCEPT.
    Hindus borrowed it from Buddhism. HINDUISM is a name given to the modern form of Brahmanism. If the word “kamma” existed in Brahmanism it is not the same as “kamma” in Buddhism. Kamma means “kriya” or action, which is found in Jainism too but with a different meaning. Buddha had arguments on this with jains and defeated them easily.

    There is nothing wrong in “Moral Fear” (Hiri) and “Moral Shame” (Otththppa). If one does not do a bad action through it, what is wrong. Not every one has high level of intellect to find out for oneself which is good and which is bad. If so, Sri Lanka , with MR could have been heaven after 2009.

  13. Nanda Says:

    Yes. It is another stupid act .

  14. mario_perera Says:

    Dear Nanda,

    Thank you for your valuable reflections and insights.

    The origin of the concepts of rebirth and karma is NOT vital to our discussion.

    Below, at the core of the good Buddhist or good whatever lies the ‘good man’ like the precious stone at the bottom of a mine with gravel, encrustations and layers of other extraneous material, call it religion or any other covering it. The discussion is about this ‘core’ humanity that we all share.

    Here is an illustration. In the Yahoo news of yesterday there is information about a man who met death while attempting to save a total stranger. What went through the mind of this saviour’ at that crucial life saving moment? Probably nothing went through his mind for the simple reason that there was no time for reasoning. At that crucial moment he did not have the benefit of props and supports of whatever order, religious or other.
    His was a spontaneous reaction propelled by that core sense of humanity which sprang, filled his being, and took possession of him. In that vital instant he was transformed into a showcase of sheer goodness which is nothing other than sheer altruism.

    This ‘saviour’ exercised his FREEDOM from extraneous links even to the extent of forfeiting what was most precious to him, his own life. He did what he instinctively felt was good for the sake of the act itself and not the reasoning or motivations behind the act. The goodness of that act was not dependent on the teachings of religions. In other words the act did not derive its goodness because of the teachings of religions.

    Nanda, we are born without ever knowing that we are born. So too we die without ever knowing that we are dead. The question of rebirth and karma concern what went on before birth and after death…this period resembling a dark tunnel without light, does not impinge on our minds in anyway whatsoever. These are areas on which religions thrive.

    Strictly speaking the so called ‘past’ and .the so called ‘future’ in time are nothing more than elaborations of the human imagination. What is distressing is that we take imagination for Truth. What is given to us is JUST and ONLY the passing moment, what we call the here and the now. Our task in life is to fill that passing moment with acts of utmost goodness.That is the supreme religion, that is if one wants to drag religion into the picture.

    Mario Perera

  15. Nanda Says:

    What you described is correct until the last paragraph. In fact someone asked a question from Buddha on similar lines, Buddha answered whether one believed rebirth or not there is no harm done by doing good and refraining from evil and that it is beneficial in this very life- thus the effect of kamma , if any would be extra bonus.

    Kamma is not a TRUTH, in my view, it is an analogy to explain fruit of action. Patichcha Sapuppada ( cause and effect) does not mention Kamma directly but the continuation of name and form with the continuous arising and ceasing of consciousness is explained there.
    If you do not care of the one that is reborn ( which is natural since that someone in similar to others) rebirth and kamma is not important. That is why for those who understood 4 noble truth treat “others” and “oneself” in the same way.

    As long as Sakkaya Ditthi ( gross me and mine idea) is present , belief of rebirth , kamma would come only through faith. As for the unenlightened, they can fall to greed any time, may tempted to any bad action and non-belief of kamma or even a creator God is not beneficial.

    Coming back to the topic, problem arises when people with a degree or two try to be arahants using intellectual capacity and then go on to preach their understanding against the Buddhism, which is worse than harm purposely done by some unscrupulous people from other faiths. This is Nalin’s point , which I strongly agree.

  16. Nanda Says:

    “rebirth and karma concern what went on before birth and after death” – not entirely correct.

    karma is the phenomena that gives fruit to what you cultivated, here and now. Some times you mistake it as coincidental and true practitioner knows it. Practitioner is not real, but the suffering is real.

    Problem is “me, mine and my world” is taken as REAL and the TRUTH is taken as false.

    Anyway, when Ven Ananda exclaimed whether kalyanamittata ( noble friendship) is a key to liberation, Buddha said “no it is THE KEY to liberation.
    Therefore , arguably , “educated fools” will be more dangerous than anyone else.

  17. SA Kumar Says:

    Thanks Nanda / mario_perera

    it is very sad We did not have buddhism as compulsory subject in our O/L

  18. Senevirath Says:

    Educated people knows only what they were taught. intelligent people are different and Buddhist PRAGNA is another thing
    MOST OF THE SRI LANKANS WITH SOME SORT OF COLLEGE EDUCATION ARE >>ugath>>> only and specially when they get the western type of education
    nalin talks about these people



  19. Senevirath Says:

    EVEN GUNADASA AMARASEKARA WANTS TO BE A western professional doctor rather than a simple GOVIYA although he is patriotic person.

    there are various types of JATHIKA CHINTHAKAYO.

    nalin always talk about them

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