Delegation of Bhikhkus, laymen protest Lake House denigration of Buddhism ( Report in Sunday Island – Jan. 20, 2002)
Posted on July 9th, 2015

by a Special Correspondent Sunday Island

A large delegation of Bhikkhus and lay persons representing Buddhist organisations have lodged a strong and vehement protest with the Acting Chairman of Lake House, Kumar Abeysinghe, General Manager B. A. Jinadasa and Editors of the newspapers of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon, at the anti-Buddhistic and anti-national crusade of the English newspapers of Lake House and their unbridled Christianisation.

The protest was triggered off by reports of an article published in the Sunday Observer of Jan. 6/2002 alleging that the Sacred Tooth Relic was a fake made of ivory and implying that a fraud is being committed on the public by the Dalada Maligawa.

The delegation expressed anguish and sadness at the deliberate denigration of Buddhism and its most revered and sacred relic venerated here and worldwide.

Though it has been stated by the Lake House management that the offending copies had been withdrawn from circulation, some copies had been distributed in Ratnapura and Moneragala. In fact, the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhita who was in the delegation said that he got a copy from Moneragala.

The delegation pointed out to the mystery of the article getting into internet.

Among the 12 bhikkhus present were: Ven. Dr. Bellanwila Wimalaratane Nayake Thero, and Theros Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha, Ven. Muruttettuwe Ananda, Ven. Kotapola Amarakirthi Nayake Thero, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Nayake Thero, Ven. Weligamuwe Dhammissara and Hiniyawala Palitha Thero. Among the lay persons were Noel Wijenaike (President, YMBA), M. M. P. Senaratne (Secretary, Mahabodhi Society), Mrs. Indrani Devendra and Mrs. Clodagh Fernando (ACWBC), Arjuna Amerasekera (Lanka Bauddha Sanrakshana Sabhawa) and Senaka Weeraratna (Secretary, German Dharmaduta Society).

The delegation demanded that the Editor of the Sunday Observer and all those responsible for the publication of the article be removed from their posts.

Chairman of Lake House, Kumar Abeysinghe assured the delegation that an unqualified apology would be published in this week-end’s Sunday Observer.

He said that the writer of the article had been interdicted and stern action would be taken against those responsible after the Committee of Inquiry completed its work. Its findings will be made public in a day or two, the acting chairman said to a query made by Ven. Palitha.

The Ven. Bellanwila Wimalaratane and the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha emphasised that this article does not appear to be the work of one person, but it is part of a conspiracy to denigrate and devalue Buddhism and bring it to ridicule.

It is unacceptable that Lake House built by a Buddhist pioneer, should be transformed into an anti-Buddhist institution, they said.

A collection of articles denigrating Buddhism was handed over to the acting chairman. Senake Weeraratna said that this was not an isolated incident. It showed a pattern of conduct of the English newspapers in recent years which pointed to a campaign to ridicule, mock, bring to disrepute Buddhism, diminish its value and side-track it in the content of its publications.

The Sunday Observer of Oct. 21 carried a letter by B. F. Perera of the M. R. I. which questioned the authenticity of the Tooth relic and requested a public debate on the subject, he said. Mr. Perera had said that only fanatical Buddhists worship the Tooth Relic.

Indrani Devendra and Clodagh Fernando said that in the past they found it very difficult to get a Buddhist article published in the Lake House English newspapers. The ACWBC even went before the Press Commission and complained. They said that an article on Marie Museaus Higgins was cut up into five pieces and published in the Daily News.

Arjuna Amerasekera said that the tolerance of the Sinhala Buddhists has been tested to the maximum by Lake House. Before this, the Sunday Observer carried a letter which said that the Tooth Relic was that of an animal and not of human origin. He too pointed to a sustained conspiracy against Buddhism.

B. A. Jinadasa the General Manager of the Lake House, pointed out that the constitution of the BBC stipulates that the BBC should not challenge or say anything offensive against the British Crown or against Christianity.

Members of the delegation demanded that similar standards should be established and observed in Sri Lanka.

Abeysinghe said that he would immediately meet all Lake House editors and impress on them the seriousness of refraining from defaming or ridiculing any religion.

Courtesy: Sunday Island ( January 20, 2002)

Statement by the Editor, Sunday Observer : Safeguarding religion and culture ( January 20, 2002)

Here, the Ven. Maduluwawe Sobhitha, Nayaka Thera of the Kotte Sri Naga Vihara, Ven. Professor Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera, Viharadhipathi of the Bellanwila Raja Maha Viharaya, Ven. Muruththettuwe Ananda Thera, Sri Abhayaramadhipathi, Ven. Keeniyawala Palitha Thera, Ven. Bengamuwe Nalaka Thera and other members of the Sangha in discussion with Mass Communications Ministry Secretary and ANCL Acting Chairman Kumar Abeysinghe, General Manager B. A. Jinadasa and Chief Administrative Officer/ Editorial Sarath Amarakoon, were also present. The delegation also included representatives from the All Ceylon Women’s Buddhist Congress, German Dharmaduta Society, Maha Bodhi Society and the YMBA.

A delegation from a group of prominent Buddhist organisations headed by senior members of the Maha Sangha on Friday met the management of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited (ANCL) to make representations concerning an article on the Sacred Tooth Relic which had been prepared for publication but was subsequently withheld as unsuitable.

Statement by the Editor:

Safeguarding religion and culture

A controversy has arisen over an article which had been prepared for publication in the ‘Sunday Observer’ of 6th January, 2002 and then withheld from publication due to its unsuitability.

The management of the Associated Newspapers of Ceylon Limited acted swiftly to ensure that the article was withdrawn from the pages of the ‘Sunday Observer’ and not published.

However, given the subject of the article pertaining to the Sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha members of the public as well as Buddhist organisations have expressed deep perturbation over what they fear was an attempt to belittle a most hallowed symbol of Buddhism and object of veneration by the Buddhist community.

The ‘Sunday Observer’ has respectfully taken note of the representations submitted to our management by venerable members of the Maha Sangha as well as by several Buddhist lay organisations.

The article was withheld from publication precisely because there was danger that it may offend the sensibilities of the Buddhist community.

The ‘Sunday Observer’ profoundly regrets the perturbation that has arisen as a result of this episode and hastens to reassure all those who have expressed concern that this newspaper remains committed to the ideals of democracy that protect all religious and philosophical traditions.

As a national newspaper in a society that has suffered much under colonial rule, the ‘Sunday Observer’ is especially committed to the nurturing and revival of Buddhism as well as other indigenous religious and cultural traditions that have been undermined by several hundred years of foreign rule.

Courtesy: Sunday Observer ( January 20, 2002)

One Response to “Delegation of Bhikhkus, laymen protest Lake House denigration of Buddhism ( Report in Sunday Island – Jan. 20, 2002)”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    This delegation should have stressed what the Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka says about Buddhism and place of Buddhism in Sri Lankan affairs.

    Chapter II – Buddhism
    9. The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e).

    Anybody contravenes these provisions must be dealt according to the provision in the law.

    When the book Da Vinci Code was about to sold in Sri Lanka the Catholic Church protested and were able to stop its sale in Sri Lanka. Sri Lanka became only the second country in the world to do so apart from the former cannibal country the Solomon Islands. This shows the extent to which other religious leaders successfully exert their pressure and influence in Sri Lanka to protect their religions. The same effort is not there in regard to Buddhism.

    This shameful behaviour by politicians of all hues who takes the status of Buddhism for granted should be condemned.

    I wonder if there was a statement about this Lake House publication issued by the offices of the two custodian Kapu Ralas of the Malwatte and Asgiriya?

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