Posted on March 18th, 2016

By M.L.Wickramasinghe

Many people felt sad and forlorn when they heard that Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero was arrested and remanded. As lay ‘prthagjana’ people it probably is natural to feel helpless and forlorn, and perhaps even angry. The reason for this dejection and anger was the general feeling among many Sri Lankans – even cutting across the political divide – that ‘what’ was done to ‘Ape Hamuduruwo’ and especially ‘how’ it was done was unfair. Many friends and associates had similar feelings.  But the helplessness and anger disappeared when people saw on television the dignified way in which venerable Uduwe Dhammaloka Thero acted and absorbed the pressure in the whole episode. The Government must be grateful to Ven. Uduwe Dhammaloka who by his dignified response deflected the anger of the people away from the Government.

UduweVen. Uduwe Dhammaloka’s dignified response deflected the anger of the people

However, though, there was a minority who ‘wallowed in mud of happiness’ in the discomfort which they themselves thought that the Thero was subjected to. It is time that the Government takes cognizance of the general perception of the majority of the Sri Lankan people that the way the Government has been handling recent issues pertaining to Buddhist monks has not been  ‘fair’. The majority of Sri Lankans perceive these acts as knowingly or unknowingly leading to the inhibition of  the legitimate and the time –tested role of the Sangha– the role of the ‘Muradevatha’  or the ‘guardian deities’ of the Country  and the Nation. From time immemorial Buddhist Monks have spoken and acted when issues pertaining to the detriment of the Country or to national interest have arisen. This historical role has to be facilitated by all citizens, including the leaders; not curtailed.

Uduwe Hamuduruwo, in this episode, was a personification of dignity, serenity, and selflessness. The monk was clearly unperturbed. People immediately and instinctively felt utmost respect and reverence for Uduwe Hamuduruwo. How Uduwe Hamuduruwo faced this situation reminded me of a stanza in the ‘Dhammapada’  which I learnt in the University. If there ever was a situation where I could apply the content of this stanza practically to a life situation –this was it.

Selo Yatha Ekaghano- Vathena na Sameerathi

Evam Ninda Pasansasu-Na Samijjanthi Panditha”

Dr. E.W. Adhikaram in the booklet titled ‘Dhammapada- English Translation’ of 1954, renders the Pali stanza into English as follows:  As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind-even so are the wise men- unshaken in praise and blame”

Adversity is part and parcel of human life. Even Lord Buddha was troubled by nature as well as by undiscerning persons. Once Lord Buddha was invited by a Brahmin to spend the rain retreat in an area called Veranjana. However, there was an unprecedented drought and the Brahmin hard put to find food even for his family, forgot that he had invited the Buddha to his village. The Buddha and the disciples had to subsist on a coarse grain called Yava rice usually used to feed horses. And then there was Cousin Devadatta Thero who troubled the Buddha as and when possible, of course with negligible results to Lord Buddha but with stark results for Devadatta himself. The Chief disciple Arahant Mugalan was set upon by thieves when travelling through a forest. So adversity, attack and humiliation are integral to life. However, the way Uduwe Hamuduruwo faced adversity with courage, dignity, and self assurance  springing through an inner conviction of righteousness and a deep understanding of Buddha Dhamma was elevating and noble.

It is now time for the Administration to attempt to develop ‘wisdom’ to discern or prioritize those elements that are vitally important to ensure ethics, good governance and economic development from those that are of peripheral concern. For example compare the act of feeding an abandoned baby elephant left in the temple premises with acts of raping forests that drive out elephants from their natural habitats. These dastardly acts lead to intensification of the so called ‘elephant- human conflict’, with disastrous consequences both for peoples’ lives and livelihoods as well as for the life of elephants. The former is compassionate and constructive while the latter is repugnant and destructive.

Lord Buddha again illustrated the importance of judging the ‘useful and the essential things’ from the ‘inappropriate and non-essential things’. Beings with incorrect concepts, the Buddha said, cannot discern the essential from the unessential. Dr. Adhikaram translates the 11th stanza in the Yamaka Vagga of Dhammapada as follows:  Viewing the non-essential as the essential and the essential as the non-essential they, nourished on false thinking, do not arrive at the essential.” May the leaders gain insights to filter the essential issues from the inessential, so the Country can begin to act on those essentials while not burdening it-self with the non-essentials.


  1. Charles Says:

    MLW I liked reading your article. But you ask this Administration to attempt to develop “Wisdom”, which I think is difficult for this set of Yahapalanaya products to achieve. They are getting more and more foolish, vindictive and revengeful. They have now roped in Sarath Fonseka who is a military man without any sense of decency leaving aside a politically acceptable jargon. Sarath Fonseka, Ranil, Chandrika, and the rest of the UNP Ministers are now one set speaking the same language, acting in the same maliciousways, so how can we expect wisdom to develop amoung them.

  2. douglas Says:

    MLW: The other day, The Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs, filing a report in Courts relating to this case stated that “Allan Mathiniyaramaya” is not registered as a “Sanga Vasa” or “Temple”. How come? I know, the status of the Dayakayas who associate Rev. Dhammaloka Thero. Even those, well educated and the class of people did not have the presence of mind to look into such aspects. Also, Rev. Dhammaloke made some initial statements that were uncalled for in regard to the circumstances under which he came across this “Baby Elephant”. Those statements were apparently made on the advice of certain political persons who look for prominence. Rev. Dhammaloka Thero knows how he came to own this “Baby Elephant” and why he wanted to announce that it was an “abandoned” calf found in his abode. I am sure, some undesirables persuaded him to say so. For your information, this “baby elephant” was first found to be transported in a lorry in the early hours of 22nd August, 2011 and after chasing, it came to the Police Station, Welikada and finally ended up in Wild Life Department at Battaramulla, from where it came into the possession of Rev. Dhammaloka. Never mind all that. Rev. Dhammaloka and those very “prominent” dayakayas should have taken the correct steps to “regularize” the possession and that would have ended the matter. You quoted from Dhammpada and it was very relevant. I also wish to quote from the teachings of Gauthama Buddha: “ASEVANCHA BAALANANG. PANDITHANANCHA SVENA” See how WISDOM” can be obtained and how simple is that. If anyone follows these simple teachings, it is certain to be able to achieve FREEDOM. Why go for all these POSSESSIONS and if anyone does ,he/she is bound to SUFFER. Our FREEDOM is within us and NO ONE ELSE.

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