Protection of Buddhism – Sine qua non in any Constitutional reform
Posted on January 8th, 2016

by Senaka Weeraratna

In the light of the proposed changes to the Constitution of Sri Lanka now under consideration and growing accusations of contrived attempts to neutralise the applicability of Article 9 in the Constitution that imposes a mandatory duty on the State to give to Buddhism the foremost place and protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e), an important question has arisen What is the relationship that should exist in the present day between the State and Buddhism?

It is an incontrovertible fact that Buddhism, more than other ideology or religion, has played a singular role in creating an unique civilization and shaping the destinies of this country. Sri Lanka is the oldest Buddhist nation in the world. If not for the continuance of the Dhamma, through the study and practice of it in this country, it is unlikely that there would even be a semblance of pure Sasana in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, or Cambodia.

It is in Sri Lanka that the Wheel of the Buddha’s law was truly set in motion with the arrival of Arahant Mahinda with the blessings of that great universal monarch, Emperor Asoka. If this event did not take place in Sri Lanka, the Pali Canon may not have got recorded and the noble doctrine of the Buddha, recited and accepted by the Arahats, at Rajagaha, Vesali and Pataliputta, i.e. three Great Councils of the Arya Sangha, would have vanished into thin air long ago.

Arahant Mahinda not only introduced the Dhamma but he also taught it in such a manner that it soon became the overriding element in all the activities of our people in the past, enthused them to develop an altogether new culture, which has become the basis of the social  outlook of the vast majority of our people even to this day. Such is the hold of the Dhamma so ingrained in almost every facet of this country that the Buddhist public very rightly feel that it is something they cannot do without as it is now representative of their life blood, more or less.

The day the Buddha Dhamma is abandoned or allowed to fade or wither away with the removal of patronage of our rulers and the protection afforded by the Constitution which was also explicitly set out in Article 5 of the Kandyan Convention of 1815,  that is the day this country would have truly lost its very soul.

In the pre-colonial period the Sinhalese Monarch protected the Buddha Sasana and maintained its purity as one of his primary duties. He exercised his power and authority over the religion to prevent schisms and heretical interpretations of the Dhamma.   He invoked the dasa raja dhamma” as a basis of governance. He developed an Animal Friendly Cultural Heritage which is unique to Sri Lanka. The tenet ‘compassion to all living beings’  based on the Buddha’s words in the Karaniya Metta Sutra was heavily influential in the choice of both vocation and diet.

When foreigners came to this country beginning in 1505 they found the Buddhists united and strong. To weaken this unity they adopted every means to divide them. The post – independent Sri Lanka has a fundamental obligation to strengthen the status of Buddhism.
It is our historical track record of service to the cause of Buddhism that has shaped our national identity and brought universal recognition to this country and still continues to do so.

It therefore falls on the current and future generations 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. Any attempt directly or indirectly through tampering with the Constitution to stalemate the applicability of Article 9 which gives foremost place to Buddhism is fraught with grave danger to peaceful co – existence among various communities in Sri Lanka.


Senaka Weeraratna is an Attorney at Law. Holds a Bachelor of Laws degree (University of Sri Lanka), and Master of Laws (Monash University, Australia). Holds a Diploma (Buddhist Studies) and Master of Arts (Buddhist Studies) obtained from the Post – Graduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya

10 Responses to “Protection of Buddhism – Sine qua non in any Constitutional reform”

  1. Ratanapala Says:

    Aappa Sirisena seems to have been brain washed after his trip to the Cave of the stolen loot – also called the Vatican. The leading Catholics in the Yahapalana administration arranged this trip so that he could kiss the hand of the Pope and promise to give the foremost place in Sri Lanka to Catholicism – to bring about the Chrisitian Ranil’s dream into fruition.

    Buddhism in Sri Lanka survived many travails in its over 2600 year history, but can it survive Sirisena the gutter snipe.

  2. Dham Says:

    Senaka had clearly identified the threat in the wake of current political turmoil in the country.
    Ratnapala is not doing any favour to Buddhism or to the country by his monotonous attack on the politicians and the Catholic Church. What is required is to look at this objectively contribute positively to the need of the day.

    Even the British rulers respected the Buddhism and its due place in the Lankan society. Current unnecessary doubt inflicted in the minds of the Buddhists of the country was the interference made by past president Chandrika that the religion should not be taught in schools. Response to such wild suggestions should have been spontaneous and precise. However, the present day media is controlled by various players, none have real interest in supporting Buddhism, rather with a selfish political agenda, thus ends up hijacking every real need of the nation. What then happens is the complete sabotaging of the proper action.

    If we are talking about protection of Buddhism, how could we expect this government to expedite it when the previous government laid the foundations to destroy Buddhism, despite calling themselves “Sinhala Buddhists “ and using that to cover up negligence and responsibility ? Therefore we should not depend on those who have been defeated to complete reverse their attitude if they somehow win power again.

    Chandrika was not given sufficient rod in the end. Buddhist leaders shall kick out all politicians and should not use them at all for their fight against the rogue woman or any other enemy of the nation who tries to promote this “no religion” concept. Actually principles of Buddhism should be taught in schools to students of all religions as a subject, even in International Schools. There is nothing wrong in that. Use of Buddhism or any other religion for political gains is the action that should be condemned by all. Harm done to “Sinhala Buddhist Culture” by this hijacking should be understood properly rather than loving (or hating) politicians unconditionally.

    Without even seeing a copy proposed constitution, trying to predict it based on past experiences of various politicians is stupid. It will reduce weight of the spontaneous reaction of people to shocking proposals, thus the enemy is gievn opportunity to plan and bypass such reaction.

    What is required is to encourage non-political groups to organise large scale massive protests throughout the country if such proposal arrive.

  3. Ratanapala Says:

    Since the advent of the despicable Catholic Portuguese in Sri Lanka, the Catholic Church has always tried to manipulate the politics in Sri Lanka. They have never left their quest to make Sri Lanka another Philippines. Her actions manifest in many ways from Catholic Action to Regime Change and myriad of other means to achieve this unholy goal.

    Their actions are reminiscent of “Palu Gedera Walang Bindinawa Wagei!” – Otherwise there are no obvious perpetrators – but “Walang Bindila” – things have happened. Although it is difficult to find their hydra like actions their hidden hand is there in the so called Ethnic Conflict to the recent regime change that brought down a popular government with Racist Tamil and Jihadist Muslim votes.

    Catholic Church too was at the centre of the attempt to stop the war prematurely and in all the pressure brought about by the Western Christian nations against the Rajapakse Administration. Catholic Church is famous for – Running with the hares and hunting with the hounds!

    Trying to white wash the Catholic Church that is involved in wide scale human rights violations – the inquisitions, siding with the Nazis during World War II, sexual violation of children, money laundering, human trafficking to name only a few of their Holy Actions – is a futile exercise. This is why they are trying to move to Africa and Asia whole sale where they can find unwary victims. Modern day Christian / Catholic Church is synonymous with Child Abuse and their unrelenting efforts to hide the perpetrators.

    The Catholic Church has imbibed such hatred in the Sri Lankan Christians against their Sinhala Buddhist culture that it is impossible for them to share the centuries old common heritage of Sri Lanka without destroying the essential Buddhist environment that nurtured it.

    This is their quest and ultimate goal in Sri Lanka! Recent visit to Vatican by a very impressionable and naive President of Sri Lanka does not bode well for the future of Sri Lanka.

    Mahinda Rajapakse is receiving dividends for his -four visits to the Vatican during his tenure of office as President of Sri Lanka.

  4. Fran Diaz Says:

    Trade Routes from ancient times and Lanka’s Ports have brought great sorrows to the Nation. It was initially the Trade Route Ports that the ‘pirates & plunderers’ sought, and same to this day.

    Lanka will have to copy Britain and some European countries for security.

    We want Permanent Solutions this time around. Nothing else will do. This country has suffered too long and too much.

  5. Dham Says:

    Agree with you mostly. But MR is not suffering, slight decrease in income only. It we , the people of Sri Lanka who are suffering for his selfish approach of not thinking and working for the people who voted him to power in 2010. He will fool people and come back again to tread the same path created by Yahapalanaya cheats.
    This time people have to take action without empowering any politician including all Rajapaksas and those who are licking the remains.

  6. samurai Says:

    The Website ‘ Wings of Time – Footsteps through History of Sri Lanka’ provides a series of web links giving fascinating accounts and insights into the Portuguese Inquisition in Sri Lanka following the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa (1560-1812).
    It was Francis Xavier, the infamous catholic missionary who demanded the setting up of the Goa Inquisition, a religious tribunal for suppression of heresy and punishment of heretics. The Inquisition was set up in 1560. It committed crimes against humanity and was notorious for using brutal torture and lasted till 1812 and this was supposedly the golden age where the power of life and death of ordinary people was held by a Christian priest. If people were unable to pass the ‘act of faith’ (autos – da – Fe), they were stretched on the rack or burnt on the stake in a barbaric manner.
    For centuries Goa was considered the Rome of the Orient. It was the headquarters of the Catholic Church in the Orient. The tomb of Francis Xavier, who died in 1552, lies in the Igreja do Bom Jesus in the old City of Goa ( Velha Goa).
    The authenticity of the corpse of Francis Xavier has been challenged by the Buddhists of Sri Lanka who claim with substantial evidence that it is actually the corpse of the highly venerated Sinhala Buddhist monk Ven. Thotagamuwe Rahula.

    The Portuguese Inquisition in Goa, became one of the most severe and cruel in the Portuguese conquered territories. Alfredo De Mello, who was born and educated in British India and Portugal, reveals many dramatic facts of the Portuguese Inquisition in Goa.

    Jerónimo de Azevedo (1540 – Lisbon, 1625) was a Portuguese fidalgo, Governor of Portuguese Ceylon and Viceroy ofPortuguese India.He was a key figure in the late 16th-century Portuguese takeover in Ceylon (present day Sri Lanka). According to author and historian A. R. Disney, the touchstone of Portuguese ambitions in Sri Lanka by the end of the 16th century was the bequest by King Don Juan Dharmapala of Kotte in 1580 of his entire realm to the king of Portugal.

    Dharmapala was a Christian convert and his bequest was unacceptable to the Sinhala Buddhist inhabitants and to the rulers of the neighbouring Kingdoms of Sitavaka and Kandy. The takeover was therefore heavily resisted by the Sinhala Buddhists, and the Portuguese had to subjugate Kotte by force, using methods of the Portuguese Inquisition then being heavily implemented in Goa, formally completing the process during Dom Jerónimo de Azevedo’s captaincy of Colombo from 1594 to 1612. A Portuguese administrative superstructure headed by a captain-general was then imposed on the kingdom following the demise of Don Juan Dharmapala (1541 – 1597) who stands out in the history of Sri Lanka as the country’s greatest villain among a long list of 180 Kings that ruled what was then called ‘ Sinhale ‘ the original name of Sri Lanka.

    Azevedo was nominated the 20th viceroy of Portuguese India in 1611, and left Colombo for Goa in 1612. In 1615 he backed an audacious expedition to Pegu in Burma to loot the Moon imperial treasures in Mrauk-U, an enterprise that ultimately did not succeed. However, the fact that it was supported at such a high official level showed how plunder and looting the treasures of other nations was considered a legitimate policy objective of the Portuguese in their colonies and rest of Asia.

    Don Juan Dharmapala was so despised by the people of Sri Lanka for his conversion to Christianity and Betrayal of Buddhism and the Sinhale nation that his grave which was located in Gordon Gardens adjoining the Queen’s House ( the seat of the British Governors ) in Colombo, was totally ransacked and the remnants of the dead corpse were thrown into the sea when Prime Minister S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike ( 1956 – 1959) allowed public entry to the Gordon Gardens.
    See also the following articles in ‘ Wings of Time ‘ on the Portuguese Inquisition in Sri Lanka:

    1) The terrible atrocities committed by the Portuguese

    2) Probing repercussions of Portuguese era by Janaka Perera

    3)Things They Don’t Tell You About Christianity in Sri Lanka

  7. Fran Diaz Says:

    It is unfair to depend on any one person to resurrect Lanka. Whether it was JR, MR, or any other truly able leader, Lanka problems will need us ALL to solve difficulties, plus a Group of 5-8 truly able, loyal, people.

    The real problem is in Caste problems of Tamil Nadu, India, and Trade Routes, Ports eyed by foreign sources, and Cold Wars that bring interests dangerous to Lanka.

    We are living next door to a very troubled area, Tamil Nadu. Lanka has no jurisdiction over this area. This area is poised to take over at least a part of Lanka through the Tamil language. Let us acknowledge that problem first.

    For a start, we suggest :

    *. The 13-A must go.
    *. Free birth control for all adults.

  8. Lorenzo Says:

    Former politicians who FAILED to scrap 13 amendment should NOT be trusted ever again.

    (Unless they openly regret it and promise to SCRAP 13 amendment without any conditions.)

  9. Nanda Says:

    This is a demand from a apolitical collection of Buddhist organisations.

    ‘එකීය රටක බුද්ධාගමට නිසි තැන ඕනෑ‘

    සඟරුවනෙන් රජයට යෝජනා

    2016 ජනවාරි මස 10 17:48:05 | .
    Tweet යෝජිත නව ව්‍යවස්ථා සංශෝධනයට බුද්ධශාසන කාර්ය සාධක මණ්ඩලයද යෝජනා කිහිපයක් ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇත.

    ශ්‍රීලංකාවේ පරමාධිපත්‍ය,එකීයභාවය හා භෞමික අඛණ්ඩතාවය ශ්‍රීලංකාවේ නීතිය මගින් ආරක්ෂා කිරීම සහතික කිරීම සඳහාත් බුදුදහමට හිමි නිසි තැන සුරක්ෂිත කිරීම සඳහාත් මෙම යෝජනා ඉදිරිපත් කරන බව සඳහන්වේ.

    පහත දැක්වෙන්නේ බුද්ධශාසන කාර්ය සාධක මණ්ඩලය ඉදිරිපත් කර ඇති එම යෝජනාය.

  10. Fran Diaz Says:

    Scrapping of the 13-A has to be done via the Parliament, not Presidents or Exec PMs.

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