Inland fisheries and Buddhism
Posted on December 17th, 2017

Senaka Weeraratna

“Ordering by the beat of the drum that no animals should be killed within a radius of seven gau from the city, he gave security to animals. He also gave security to the fish in the twelve great tanks, and bestowing on (the region’s people) gold and cloth andwhatever other kind of wealth they wished, he commanded them not to catch birds and so gave security to birds….”

This inscription, which is engraved in an upright stone slab at Ruwanweliseya, Anuradhapura, is a transcript of a decree issued in the late12th Century by King Kirthi Nissanka Malla of Polonnaruwa. It is reflective of the high moral concern that the rulers and people of Sri Lanka showed towards animal life in ancient times.

Likewise scattered through the pages of the Mahavamsa, are other records of royal protection granted for the preservation and well being of all forms of animals. It can well be said that the policy of compassion and tolerance initiated by Emperor Asoka in India in 270 BC in the form of state protection to animals, was followed in earnest by a long line of Sri Lankan Kings. Buddhism played a major role in influencing the development of this benevolent public attitude towards animals.

Whatever interpretation may be put on the First Precept of Buddhism i.e. whether it prohibits the consumption of flesh foods, it is without dispute that Buddhism has never countenanced the ‘kill and eat’ principle, which is found in monotheistic religions. Neither does Buddhism adopt a purely utilitarian attitude towards animals by insisting that animals exist solely for the benefit of man.

Instead, Buddhism advocates a peaceful co-existence between man and animal. It unequivocally prohibits in its very first precept, the taking away of life of another living being, for whatever the reason. Ahimsa, or nonharming, and Metta, or loving-kindness are central to Buddhist thinking and colours all Buddhist practices.

As regards Sri Lanka, it has been said that the dietary habits of our people prior to the arrival of the Europeans were essentially vegetarian. Robert Knox in his ‘Historical Relation of Ceylon’ admits that his beef eating habit was despised by the Sinhalese people of 17th Century Sri Lanka.

Though the meat eating habit gradually began to spread among the people upon the colonization of this country by three Western powers, yet the majority i.e. the Buddhists, never assumed directly the actual responsibility of rearing and killing animals for food. Such restraint on their part was clearly due to the influence of deep seated moral considerations.

However these moral restraints which have been enshrined in the collective mind of the Buddhists for over a period of 2300 years would be rapidly lost if the state succeeds in promoting animal husbandry (leading to slaughter of animals) and inlandfisheries schemes.

The biggest danger to the underlying Buddhist Civilization of this country from the establishment of inland fisheries schemes, is the great likelihood of the creation of a new sub-group of Sinhala Buddhists in the hinterland of Sri Lanka, who may be forced to disown or react against Buddhism sometime in the future, because their breach of the Buddhist First Precept for the purpose of earning a living would never receive scriptural sanction or the moral approval of the Buddhist public and the Buddhist Sangha.

In other words these policies of the Government would be laying the foundation for the emergence of sub-groups within the ranks of Sinhala Buddhists, who would be most susceptible to the influence of religions which sanction the slaughter of animals for food. The wholesale conversion of the entire Buddhist population in the Maldives in the 12th Century, to Islam, is a good example of a case where choice of livelihood e.g. fishing, led, among other things, to the loss of faith in Buddhism.

Buddhism lost ground in countries such as Maldives, Indonesia, Malaysia, andBangladesh partly due to the gullibility of then Buddhist rulers of those counties, who failed to exercise the necessary vigilance to protect Buddhism.

It was such fears which prompted Ven. Mitirigala Dhammanissanti (formerly Asoka Weeraratna) to lead a public campaign comprising leading Buddhist monks and laity protesting strongly in the period 1989 -1990 at the gradual introduction of inlandfisheries into areas which have been the traditional bases of Buddhism in this country. After a careful consideration of the relevant issues, President Premadasa accepted the validity of the protest of the Buddhist monks on inland fisheries and thereafter he ordered the Govt. Departments to withdraw state patronage of the inland fisheries schemes. That was the first and only occasion in contemporary history that Buddhist activism was successful in overturning state policy on a major labour intensive industry that was promoting a wrong livelihood by killing and harming innocent animals i.e. fish.

To the credit of President Premadasa it must be said, that he abandoned the development of inland fisheries in the larger interest of protecting the foundations of Sinhala Buddhist Culture which still exists more or less intact in the rural heartland of Sri Lanka.

King Kirthi Nissanka Malla and other Sinhalese Kings granted ‘Abhayadana’ (sparing of life from slaughter) to the fish in the twelve great tanks which are found in the Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Dambulla districts. These Kings with the most noble of intentions, would have expected succeeding generations of Buddhists, to honour rather than repudiate these inspiring injunctions, which are a part of this country’s rich spiritual heritage. Yet, these are the very lakes which are being earmarked for the introduction of inland fisheries.

Sometimes people tend to defend fishing on the ground that it is a harmless activity causing neither pain nor suffering to the victim. This is a wrong presumption. Fish have been discovered to show most of the pain behaviour that mammals do. In some species there is even vocalization.

They make vibratory sounds indicating ‘alarm’ and ‘aggravation’ and show signs of distress when they are taken out of water, hauled up into air and allowed to flap around until they die. Because their gills can extract oxygen only from water and not from air, fish out of water cannot breathe. They usually die slowly in pain from suffocation.

The argument that fish provide protein and therefore it is important for people including the Buddhists of this country, to actively participate in inland fisheriesschemes, is a proposition which can be logically extended to cover the slaughter of many other animals. In fact it may well happen.

The Buddhists who are being encouraged by Government incentives to engage in fishing in inland reservoirs, may in the course of time take to slaughtering other animals for food and the making of profit. Right Livelihood as propounded by the Buddha, being one of the noble Eightfold Path, eschews conduct such as trading in live or dead animals for profit.

There are a number of new foods coming into the market which are not slaughter products. The protein rich Soya Bean and derivatives such as Tofu, now constitutes the basic diet of several Asian countries including China and Japan. It is also becoming popular in Western countries.

Why is there no public drive towards promoting a large scale Soya Bean cultivation, production and consumption in this country? It is more economical to produce protein rich vegetables rather than flesh food.

Dr. E.F. Schumacher in his celebrated book ‘Small is Beautiful’ spoke of ‘Buddhist Economics’. He stressed the need for developing countries to fashion economic policies in such a way that they did not conflict with the religious and spiritual traditions of the people.

In this context the question arises whether the advice of the Buddhist Sangha was sought by the Government of Sri Lanka before it embarked on re-developing inlandfisheries, a policy which was abandoned by a previous government largely as a result of the convincing submissions made by the Maha Sangha.

It is true that flesh food consumption is now quite widespread even among Buddhists in Sri Lanka. As realists we must accept this, but we need not extend it, particularly in a way which requires Buddhists to slaughter animals. Sinhala Buddhists, generally as a group (subject to a few exceptions), have always maintained, throughout our history, a marked distance from slaughtering animals for food.

These restraints, influenced by the principles of Ahimsa (non-violence to all living beings) contributed substantially to the making of the Sinhala Buddhist identity and its authenticity, which in turn drew the admiration and sometimes the envy of others.

If rearing animals for slaughter or killing animals for food is promoted as an occupation among Buddhists, whether in the form of inland fisheries, prawn farming or household chicken, goat or cattle farming, much damage will be caused in the long term, to one of the finer traits of the Buddhist civilization and longstanding image of Sri Lanka as a Buddhist country.

43 Responses to “Inland fisheries and Buddhism”

  1. Dilrook Says:

    Ancient inscriptions of this country state how Sinhala Buddhists ate venison, beef, fowl, peafowl, bore, wild bore, various fishes, etc. for food.

    Promoting prawn and internal fisheries is a meritorious act that must be spread around the country. Malnutrition among children below 5 years is a staggering 22%. It cannot be reduced by imposing what people must eat. Diversifying protein sources is the only way.

    I find it interesting the pictures of slogans in the above article shows only drawings and not real people! It says a thousand words to the contrary of what the article says.

    The recent clash in Hambantota district over inland fisheries is a sad event driven by religious extremism. This must end. Let people decide what legal industry they engage in and what legal food they eat. Religious/philosophical beliefs are a personal matter. Let those who want to be vegans be vegans and those who want to be omnivorous be omnivorous. It is not the business of others.

  2. Christie Says:

    Thanks Dilrook.

    The writer should keep what he eats or not eat to himself.

    Buddhism for the lay people is different to that for the ordained.

    Sinhalese have been consuming meat and fish for more than a hundred thousand years.

    This brainwashing by the writer and the likes are part of the Indian hegemony.

    Go and live in Asoka’s India.

    Malnutrition is wide among the Sinhalese as legumes like Parippu and Kadala are not our traditional diet.

    It is the diet of Indian Colonial Parasites and Indians for more than 6000 years and they are used to it.

    Our kids are mulnutritioned

  3. Christie Says:

    Aquaculture (fish and prawn etc. farming)in

    India exceeds 10 million metric tons a year and is only second to China.

    Beef production is only second to Brazil the biggest producer of beef in the world.

    Goat meat (mutton) and Chicken India leads the world or near.

    Go to Asoka’s India and live there please and you will not last long.

  4. Dilrook Says:

    Yes; India is one of the largest beef producers in the world and the largest beef exporter.

    Unlike India, locals were not large legume, lentils and Soghum eaters. Instead locals relied on animal proteins. There is no evidence to show ancient Lankans suffered protein malnutrition. There is conclusive evidence of moderate to heavy meat and fish consumption after Buddhism was introduced.

    Thailand – world’s largest Theravada Buddhist country – is one of world’s 10 largest fish producers. So is Buddhist Vietnam. India ranks second. Sri Lanka must follow them.

    Sri Lanka despite having an enormous edge over other Asian countries lags behind thanks to extremist views on animal foods. Worst part is only a section of Buddhists are misled and suffers its bad effects. Hindus, Muslims and Christians defy these extremist views and have reduced their malnutrition.

  5. Vaisrawana Says:

    I agree with Dilrook and Christie’s comments above. Of course, the meat menu that Dilrook says is mentioned in ancient inscriptions, if true, could have more aptly referred to pre-Buddhist Sri Lanka. Not that I believe that meat eating totally stopped in this country after the arrival of Buddhism. Not likely. Dilrook is most probably joking. The Nissanka Malla inscription mounted at Ruwanvelisaeya that the writer of this article quotes is authentic proof of the fact that ancient Lankan rulers paid special attention to the protection of animals’ right to live in physical safety, which is a brand new concept for the Westerners. However, what the writer insists on cannot be accepted as realistic or practical; or even ethical, mainly because of its unethical totalitarian ring, which is uncharacteristic of the Buddha’s teaching. Ancient poets would not have written about “rasa masaulen yuth – valandaa bojun rasavath” (having partaken of a sumptuous meal consisting of tasty meat, sweet fruits, etc) if our ancestors were total vegans or vegetarians. The Five Precepts and other moral tenets are for the individual to guide their daily life voluntarily. No external source, be it a divine agency or mere societal pressure, has the right to force the individual to follow them. Each individual is their own savior.

    Chundasukara the swineherd ran his flourishing business (slaughtering pigs and selling the pork) from a place right behind Jetavanaramaya where Buddha resided and often preached. Chundasukara didn’t appear to have listened to the Buddha or overtly heeded his teaching about the harmfulness of taking life or about the rewards of abstaining from it. Did the Buddha worry him or worry about him? No. Because he was not a divine Saviour, but only a human Teacher, the founder of a unique ethical philosophy.

    Buddha respected the fact that people think in widely different ways. He accepted this diversity. He only advocated free thinking, encouraged gradual development of wisdom, and independent realization of the Ultimate Truth, which is within the capacity of every normal human.

    Advocacy and active promotion of vegetarianism or even veganism on scientific grounds cannot have anything objectionable about it. But forcing it on people on ‘religious’ grounds arbitrary dietary norms is not in accordance with Buddhism. Remember that ‘religion’ was anathema to the Buddha as delusional and as pandering to the unwholesome preoccupation with self that characterizes the unenlightened worldling.

    The freshwater fish industry should not be abandoned. It must be developed as an important additional source of food for the nation, particularly at a time when our national staple rice, and even vegetables are going to be imported as an emergency measure. The harmful economic, political, and social consequences of the sort of otherworldly advice offered by anagarikas should not be underestimated. Anagarikas, sanyasis, and other recluses are renunciates who have abandoned lay householder status for the sake of their own individual ‘liberation’, and that has nothing to do with general social welfare except as a model for the spiritual advancement of other individuals. What the writer of this article advocates is unnecessary. This is my personal opinion for what it is worth.

  6. Senerath Says:

    As a Buddhist I have to say this.

    Fish farming is not a right way of life ( Samma Aajeeva). Buddhist, if they don’t kill the fish, will not be breaking the precept but as busniess owners it is not Samma Aajiva.
    Whoever says it is a “meritorious act” ( in Buddhist sense “PIN” in SInhala and Kusala in Pali) is simply a FOOL. A BIG FOOL. He must be a non-Buddhist aiming to insult Buddhism.

  7. Christie Says:

    The first precept says Panaathi Paathaa; Wisdom of Life.

    It is not about killing or eating.

    I respect individuals food habits but to try and convert others to do the same and ask them to give up their livelihood and eating habits is not Buddhism.

    In doing so he tells a pack of lies.

    Musaa Waadhaa; Incorrect communication and includes blatant lies, half truths, withholding information and only telling what you want to say to get the result you want without any consideration for the effects on others and self.

  8. Vaisrawana Says:

    The First Precept (panatipata veramani sikkapadam samadiyami) means: I commit myself to the observance of the precept of abstaining from killing

    It is true that it is about killing or eating. It is only about ABSTAINING FROM KILLING.

    The Fourth Precept (musavada veramani sikkapadam samadiyami) may be translated as: I commit myself to the precept of abstaining from telling lies.

    Of course, ‘telling lies’ includes miscommunication or misinterpretation of something out of ill will, or for an unethical intent (unethical in terms of the Buddha’s teaching).

  9. Vaisrawana Says:

    Oops! Correction: It is true that it is NOT about killing or eating. It is only about ABSTAINING FROM KILLING

  10. Christie Says:

    Thanks Vaisrawana; Panathi is Life, Patha got nothing to do with killing.

  11. Vaisrawana Says:

    Oh no, Christie. I am sorry I cannot agree with that. “Panathipata” is a Pali language phrase meaning “taking of life” or “killing”. It is not Sinhala as you seem to believe.


    (Metta in Pali means ‘in friendship’)

  12. Dilrook Says:


    Meat/fish eating thrived even after the arrival of Buddhism.


    If history is contested, we can turn to other Theravada Buddhist countries including Thailand – one of the largest fish producing countries in the world closely followed by Vietnam another Theravada Buddhist nation. However you look at it, the expansion of inland fisheries industry is justified.

  13. charithsls Says:

    Thank you Senaka for highlighting this inhumane killings not keeping with Buddhism. However do not be surprised with protests from people with many vested interests. This is anathema to the followers of Almighty Gods who alleged to have created these innocent animals for human’s consumption. Life is life in any form irrespective of the medium they live, land sky or water. The ulterior motive of these animal husbandry with much help from West countries like Norway is quite clear as you say, to convert Buddhists to Christianity but inability of our weak governments to oppose those grants easy to understand. We live in a society where animal cruelty at a maximum & considered games of fun & pleasure. Not only they kill animals for consumption but give unbearable suffering to them prior to the kill (beating the animals with poles & sticks is a practice by some Catholics I know) to make the muscle soft! On the barbecue, you see the ‘actual’ pig or lamb is made with eyes etc made to look real. So these killings are not for getting so much protein only but for the satisfaction of their inner perverse cruelty. Those religions are at fault . But the westerners irrespective their belief, their civil sense has got better of them & turning away from meat consumption turning their back to this cruelty. Mass protests to fox hunting ,culling badges & high sales for vegetarian & vegan food on the rise.What other countries or ‘others’ do,do not matter to follow the path Buddha taught.

  14. Senerath Says:

    To put the message that ” killing of animals is a necessary evil for a country” one should not resort to statements like “promoting prawn and internal fisheries is a meritorious act”. This is outright wrong by a person supporting Sinhala culture and animmediate apology is essential in order to keep one’s integrity. If not it is very fair to assume such statements are aimed at attacking the core of Buddhist principles, by agents appointed to insult Buddhism.

    Buddha in any way did not interfere with governeing of countries and human activities, except that he adviced people to keep 5 precepts as a minimum to prevent spritual dimunition of human beings, having explaind how difficut and rare to be born as a human being. However, Buddha did not interfere in condemning various professions. A soldier, a entertainers, for example had to ask him tree times what whould be thier destinations after death for them to get an answer from the Buddha. As Vaisrawana said there was a piggery behing Jethavanaramya. He has stipulated what are the “meritorious acts” and which are not. No Buddhist will dispute Buddha or just say the oppostite of what he preached and such actions is definitely shall be considerd as attack on Buddhism. Similarly, I have seen one fool in Lankaweb named Ben Silva form UK repeatedly promoting Buddhism without Nibbana.
    Whilst Buddha stipulated metorious acts and evil acts he did not condemn any profession or industry. He still provided hope for people engaging in such activity. Angulimala story is an excellent example of ‘there is always hope’ positive attitude of Buddhism. There is no other religion which can match Buddhism in promoting positive attitude in living.
    Buddha explained how Buddhoist should follow the natural path “Aaswada- Adinava- Nissarana” ( Enjoyment, danger and escape(from danger)). He did not ask ordinary people to go straight to Nissarana. Those who understood enjoyment, danger of enjoyement were gievn the noble eightfold path one of which is Sammaa Aajiva ( Noble livelyhood). Making a living out of killing any animal (including fish) is not categorsed as a noble livelyhood but those who engaged in such industry are encouraged to find another job, after understanding the ‘danger’.

    It is Devadatta who wanted to enforce vegitarianism to monks, not Buddha. I remember Ven. Brahmawanso once siad how they survived by drinking a ” little frog ” soup offered to monks by extremmely poor folk in rural Thailand. To those poor flok it was a “meritorious activity” ( that is to donate teir food to monks) although they also accumilated bad kamma because of killing “littel frogs”. This shows the improtance of how valuable our human life as Sri Lankans being born as Buddhist.

  15. Ratanapala Says:

    Inland Fisheries – an extension of Evangelize Sri Lanka project!

    Let us not forget other ulterior motives behind this Inland Fisheries project. For those who can see the hills with or without the trees, it is not a mystery what are the motives behind.

    I remember visiting areas in the North Central Province in the early days of Inland Fisheries in the eighties. There were no fishermen to fish in those tanks in those days. So what the Christian JR’s government did was to bring fishermen and their families from seaboard areas mainly Catholic / Christian areas and plant them in the middle of Buddhist heartland.

    I happened to pass the area these people were housed and was appalled at this invasion. The filthy language they were speaking (fishermen talk) was something I have heard before. In the evenings they consume liquor and become very rowdy and the filthy high pitched voices were the hallmark of seaboard fisher communities. This community simply did not fit there in the land of our Buddhist Kings where they made stone edicts on the sanctity of life, lack of protein or not!

    I happened to spend a day in a fishing community in the island of Karativu off Kalpitiya. In their language a father would address his son – son of a c**t, his daughter would be c**t and similarly his wife. I also have spent time with families in the North Central Province – for them similarly, a son would be Mage Putha my son, a mother Mage Amma – my mother and so on.

    The fisherfolk were serviced by a Catholic priest, who regularly came to attend to their spiritual and other needs.

    They also had fish filleting factories in the nearby towns, where Buddhists were encouraged to take jobs as simply – fish butchers!

    All this was done on the basis of providing fish protein to poor Sri Lankans. What bothers me is, in Sri Lanka we have a 1000 mile seaboard, a 12 mile territorial limit and a 200 mile economic zone and there is simply no dearth of fish in the sea surrounding Sri Lanka. In fact, so many foreign countries do fish in the seas surrounding Sri Lanka with much success. While we have all the fish in the ocean what is this ugly invasion of Buddhist heartland and age-old Buddhist Culture of compassion that gave Abhaya Dana – right to live without fear to all living beings in the tanks build by our revered Kings.

    I see the whole exercise of Inland Fisheries as an exercise to change the attitudes of the Buddhists in Sri Lanka. This is a first step – taking life and breaking the First Precept is part of the exercise of Evangelizing Sri Lanka and the long-term goal of bringing Christ to Asia.

    Apart from all above the environmental pollution that will be brought is astounding. The fish that was popularly bred in these ancient tanks was Tilapiya. It is now scientifically proven that Tilapiya fish farming causes great environmental damage. Fish farms, when not properly managed, are infamous for having adverse effects on the environment, which include the polluting of water and the spread of disease to wild fish when farmed fish escape their pens.

  16. Christie Says:

    1. Buddha consumed meat. Pork for that matter.

    2. Today, people are trying to make lay people live like what monks are expected to live. But then most of the monks today live like lay people.

    3. People need food and Sinhalese always ate good and nutritious food. But unfortunately it is not the case any more.

    4. Malnutrition is wide spread among the Sinhalese at the moment.

    5. Most of the time I live overseas and when I return it looks like I have come to a strange place where people look so much poor in their physique.

    6. All other Buddhist countries consume meat and fish. Just look at Japan where people live the longest and are healthy. They eat meat and fish.

    7. This “Pali” some use to interpret Sinhala or vice versa are foreign to me. Like saying “Kame Sumichachara” is no sex outside the married partner when marriage was not part of Sinhala culture.

    8. Lay people should be free to carry out what ever means they choose as long as they do not hurt other people and do not harm other living things unnecessarily.

    I am a Buddhist who think Buddha lived in Ceylon. Asoka of North India took up Buddhism from Ceylon and send it back repacked.

  17. Christie Says:

    ඉස්සන් පිසා පිය
    රා කලයක්ම බීපිය
    මෙ තුන අඹුවාපිය
    මෙතුන කරලා මාව කාපිය.

    This is what Sinhala Buddhists are and I am one of them. I am not a monk and I am a layperson and live the life of a Buddhist lay person.

    I do not like to preach others what is detrimental to their livelihood and well being.

    What is happening now is Indian hegemony that is out to destroy the Sinhalese with nonviolent aggression and oppression and this is part of it.

  18. Fran Diaz Says:

    To our understanding, the Buddha’s last meal was ‘sukara maddhava’ which was some kind of mushroom. This meal was likely have been prepared (perhaps in ignorance), with spoilt mushrooms and caused illness.

  19. Christie Says:

    By the way the biggest fish food producer comes from Taiwan. They have a branch in our country and they are the worlds biggest producer of fish food and biggest operator here too. Taiwan have lots of Buddhists.

  20. samurai Says:

    If anyone wants to eat meat or refrain from it is his/her choice. The Buddha did not give specific instructions to his followers to avoid flesh consumption. At the same time, NOWHERE did he encourage his followers to develop a craze for flesh consumption or for that matter any kind of food. The Buddha NEVER instructed people to kill and eat. NO BUDDHIST TEXT OR TEACHER SAYS SO. In Buddhism taking of the life or another – man or beast – is definitely bad karma, though lay people might be compelled to do so under certain circumstances.

    Some Buddhists being crazy for flesh and what the Buddhist teaching says are two different things. Do NOT confuse the two. Anyone who claims to be a Buddhist but argues that the Buddha justified killing and eating is a liar who distorts the Dhamma or is totally ignorant of it. It is sheer hypocrisy to the say the least. Please leave Buddhism out of it and go ahead with your killing.

  21. Fran Diaz Says:

    Since Protein is needed by human bodies, we have to grow either plant or animal protein. I personally have preference for Plant Protein. Those who need and are used to animal protein will want that.
    An adult needs about 50 grams of Protein per day.

    Use of parts of natural lagoons for growth of inland fisheries seems reasonable ? Rules & Regulations have to be formulated re the Environment.

    It appears unreasonable to create new earth dug out type artificial areas for inland fisheries.
    Large lined Tank style fisheries seem permissible.

    To is up to us all to keep the Air, Water & Soil clean for ourselves and our future generations in Lanka.
    This is a big challenge and needs the HONEST co-operation of all sectors in Lanka.

  22. Senerath Says:

    It is not because of our compassion that we are poor. It is because of greed, hatred and delusion rooted GREAT CORRUPTION keeps us poor and making us poorer. It is the CORRUPTION and GREED that created LTTE which had to be eliminated finally resorting to killing. It could have solved easily at the begining if the rulers resorted to great qualities such as “Sakko Ujucha Suujucha ” ( determination and uprightness).
    Instead of the state following hudreds of good practices Buddhism have taught us why should the state promote killing which Buddhism denounced ?

  23. Dilrook Says:

    Thailand and Vietnam are two Theravada Buddhist countries and two of the largest fish producers in the world. Buddhists in Sri Lanka must not enter into a good/bad karma contest with them. Instead Sri Lankans should learn from them how to balance their spiritual and economic lives in regards to the fisheries industry.

    Poverty and hunger drive people to do illegal and immoral things. Any legal and moral industry that alleviates hunger is a meritorious industry.

    Hindus, Christians and Muslims also have their religions dictate not to kill. However, there is no large movement against prolonging hunger and malnutrition in their communities. As a result, malnutrition in their communities (except the Upcountry Tamil community due to poverty) is lower than Buddhist majority districts. Children (22%) under 5 suffering malnutrition will not grow into their full potential. They will be enslaved by the rest to do low end menial work. Their economic clout will be worse than now resulting in violence, jealousy, racism and other undesirable outcomes.

    It is illegal to use religion (or philosophy) to restrict any legal trade in Sri Lanka. Law must be enforced against those who disrupt the expansion of inland fisheries.

    It is also illegal to restrict people’s food choices unless they agree to such restrictions. Law must be enforced against extremists disrupting food producing industries.

  24. Ratanapala Says:

    Christie, your slip is showing.

    Your name alone reveals that you are not a Buddhist. So don’t try to masquerade as a Buddhist to denigrate Buddhism. You will not succeed. There have been others before you like Ben Silva et al. Trying to distort what is Buddhist will only bring disrepute to you and the forces that represent you.

    Lord Buddha only said certain actions bring bad Kamma, whether one is a Buddhist or not. That depends on the thought process and that is why He said :

    “Chetanaham Bhikkave Kammam vadami – O Monks, It is volition that I call Kamma”

    For an act to be Panatipatha five conditions should be fulfilled. These are:

    1. The being must be alive.
    2. There must be the knowledge that it is a live being.
    3. There must be an intention to cause death.
    4. An act must be done to cause death.
    5. There must be death, as the result of the said act.

    If all the said five conditions are fulfilled, then the First Precept is violated. The act of fishing involves all of the five conditions.

    There are many Buddhist folks in the South of Sri Lanka who are traditionally fisherfolk. They call the ocean – Kataragama Deviyange Nidhanaya – God Kataragama’s Treasury. It is their livelihood. Similarly in many Buddhist South Asian countries, and in China and Taiwan. Buddhism and Buddhist precepts are a personal choice; they are not Commandments as in Ten Commandments!

    If our Fisheries are developed with modern technology and the fisherfolk properly equipped, then there will not be a dearth of fish for Sri Lanka nor lack of much-tooted proteins simply from the ocean and the need for inland fisheries does not arise. Besides, the long-term harm done to local wild fish populations is similar to the effects of herbicides and insecticides used indiscriminatingly the effects of which are now plaguing the Island in terms of Kidney Disease.

    Actually even now, Sri Lanka exports a whole lot of Sri Lanka caught fish to Europe. That was the reason behind the GSP Plus commotion. The sad truth is that Sri Lanka is exporting fish to get foreign exchange and finally that foreign exchange is used to buy luxury goods and to perform other nefarious activities. Is it not far better for Sri Lanka to be self-sufficient in our basic needs first and then only go for exports and other luxuries? Our ocean fish production should be used in the first place for domestic consumption and then only for exports!

    Sri Lankans are imitating the foolish rich man who spent a lifetime amassing wealth only dreaming of retiring to a seaside village to fish!

    Coming to Inland Fisheries, what I am mainly against is the cultural invasion by Non-Buddhists of the Buddhist heartland and their attempts to subvert ordinarily innocent people to spread Christianity and Islam!

  25. Senerath Says:

    Thailand and Vietnam also have widespread prostitution attracting tourism since 50-60 years ago. Poor parents send 15 yo to cities to earn money.
    Why should we follow other countries to reduce poverty and malnutrition.
    As many commentators said we have great Indian ocean surrounding us and fishing industry is already striving although mostly practiced by Catholics and Inland fisheries industrries will only harm it. Just because Jesus practiced killing fish and feeding poor some Catholics think it a meritorious act. That is OK but don’t tell Buddhst to do it.

  26. Christie Says:

    ““Chetanaham Bhikkave Kammam vadami – O Monks, It is volition that I call Kamma””.

    Buddha was addressing monks not lay people.

    Most of the general population are lay persons. Imagine every one is a monk. They will have to eat each other.

    Thanks Dilrook we still have people like you who follow the Middle Path of Buddhism.

  27. samurai Says:

    UTTER RUBBISH. Which Buddhist Text states that just because the Buddha was addressing monks that he meant “Chetanaham Bhikkave Kammam vadami” ONLY for them? Nowhere in the Dhamma it is said so.

    This is a deliberate distortion of the Dhamma meant to mislead people.

    The Buddha did not insist that his followers (both the clergy and the laity) become vegetarians but it did NOT mean he advocated or tolerated the taking the life any sentient being.

    If some so-called Buddhists want to engage in the fish and meat industries and liquor industries it is their decision as in Thailand, Taiwan, Vietnam and elsewhere. It has nothing to do with the Buddha’s teaching proper

    So I repeat: do not drag the Buddha Dhamma into this.

  28. samurai Says:

    The Buddha first had to explain the Dhamma to monks before preaching to the laity. This way he ensured that the monks too when delivering sermons will impart the true teaching to the lay followers. What’s the point in teaching it only to monks?

    However Buddha predicted that centuries after his passing away there will be many among both the clergy and the laity who will misinterpret and distort his teaching. This is what is happening now

  29. charithsls Says:

    Buddha was once reaching a village where the livelihood was only fishing & hunting. He foresaw that having a condition that to become a Buddhist that you MUST be a vegetarian would deny these populations to reach Buddhism so he did not stipulate it as a condition. Buddha taught Buddhism to non Buddhists only, there were no Buddhists. You have to get the ear of the population to hear the Dhamma & strict preconditions would prevent it. As you learn the text deeper you realize more & more.People with interior motives abuse this interpretation. If I say a simile, See a teacher will teach the same text to ALL in the classroom, only a few who have the ability grasp it to the full would get the Distinctions & others will do how they grasp it according to their intelligence, that is not to say the texts were wrong.It is absurd to distort Buddhism to prevent malnutrition. That is something else, what we are talking about here is about a scheme by the colonial powers to convert Buddhists to Christianity in a subtle demeaning way, giving a carrot. As the writer pointed out other nationalities like the Maldives Afganistan all have fallen to this prey before & it has been the Sinhalese ( brave Hearts) who have resisted this temptation so far. South Korea previously with majority Buddhists now has a minority there.

  30. charithsls Says:

    Having fish husbandry widespread to treat malnutrition & thus converting Buddhists to Christianity reminds me our old adage ” Leda marunath kamak
    ne bada suddakarala”!!

  31. Senerath Says:

    It is very hard to convince Catholics and Christians that killing fish is not a meritorious act because thier teacher (or God) himself killed fish and fed the poor. Chirstianity and Islam is exactly the same in the sence that they consider animals are for the consumption of the man. For Buddhist any animal can be your mother, father in a previous birth. It is extremly disrespectful that people of those religons try to teach us killing is a metritorious act.
    It is not disrespectful to any religon if we tell them not to kill, they know it hurts the animal. Such a simple truth they are unable to understand because they are binded by the wrong teaching. They must read Kalama Sutta.

  32. Christie Says:

    Buddhism is not a religion of beliefs like almost all other religions. One of the basic pillars of it is the “Middle Path”. He followed one extreme of going hungry and realized it is not a solution. One has to be nourished to use your brain. Let people have a choice. One should not be discarded because they eat meat or fish. Then they will follow something else where they can eat meat or fish.

    We Buddhists have been eating meat and fish for a long time and that is why we are still Buddhists and Buddhism is still here.

  33. charithsls Says:

    Christie , yours is a hollow argument; the King decides for the country, the manager decides for the working site ,the doctor decides for patients, one or a few takes the decision for the betterment for all whether they like it or not. There will be some repercussions, that is for sure.You won’t let your few children take the majority decision over two parents, they will be in the clubs every night! As those examples like Maldives or South Korea, we have to take forthright decisions to safeguard Buddhism, it has fallen into the hands of a proud small nation, Sinhalese.

  34. Christie Says:

    So India decides for our country?

    We the Sinhalese majority is in this position because we do not decide for ourselves. We are contradicting ourselves. What happened in another country has nothing to do with us.

    What about the effects of Hinduism on Buddhism?

  35. Fran Diaz Says:

    On second thoughts and after reading through Readers’ comments, I think it is best that the Fishing Industry (Sea & Inland) be confined to the coastlines.
    This is to avoid the inland Environment getting further contaminated, and also take over of Buddhist areas by others for the sake of making money and bringing in Money over Life Values to those areas.

    Re Plant Protein :

    Organic Soy offers great alternative ways to get proper Nutrition as well as keep the environment safe, without further damage to Life Values for the sake of money, in the rural areas.

    The Soy plant is a hardy Legume, and has bacterial nodules in the plant roots to make nitrogen fertiliser. Not much artificial fertiliser and other applications inimical to the Soil needs to be added.
    The Soy bean has been used widely in the East as Food.
    It has multiple purposes in Milk, Cheeses, Soy Protein making mock Chicken (you cannot tell the difference, if made by clever Food Technologists), with good protein content, mock Beef, and even mock bacon & Pork too. I have tasted mock Soy Fish in the west. All these products have the right texture and taste, with good food value.
    There are many fermented Soy products such as Miso, etc. – these are super foods for the human digestive system and tasty too.

    Then again, we have Soy sauces, many of them, some of them very similar to Worcestershire Sauce.
    As we all know, the Chinese excel in their Sauces, making use of Soy.

    * Over to our Farming community to make SOY a reality.
    Suggestion : The Buddhist areas can use their Land for this purpose.

    * Over to our Food Techonologists to make these tasty, healthy treats a reality.

    Lankans !! Make lemon-aide out of every Lemon thrown at us !!

  36. Dilrook Says:

    Not even 0.1% of the people consider their religious/philosophical teachings before making decisions today. People like to amass wealth, be healthy to prolong their life as long as they can, indulge in foods they like or healthier (to prolong life), etc. Even alms givings to Buddhist monks have animal proteins. What’s so special about this case that they should go by religious/philosophical teachings? Is it because they are poor voiceless Sinhala villagers?

    Although not widely publicised, Sri Lanka’s inland fisheries production more than doubled from 2006 to 2016. It keeps rising no matter what. Only a Taliban like imposition can stop this. The recent clash in Hambantota shows there are those who are for and against inland fisheries in the district with the highest Buddhist percentage. And they are willing to fight over it.

    There is no conversion associated with this. Thailand is world’s largest Theravada Buddhist country and one of the largest fish killers in the world. Christians are only 1% in Thailand and Buddhists 93%. Far higher than Sri Lanka.

    In fact, it is poverty and hunger that drive Sri Lanka’s Buddhists to change their faith to Christianity and Islam. If the fisheries project goes ahead, there will be less of both poverty and hunger and far fewer conversions for money. Conversions out of conviction cannot be changed.

    Using Buddhism to disrupt food industry sends a very scary signal to 30% of minorities and even to Buddhists of the possibility of Sri Lanka becoming a Buddhist nation via Constitutional recognition. Will Buddhist extremists turn the nation into an imposed vegetarian society? Will there be religious police like the Taliban enforcing the law against butchers and fishermen? Since 1972 Buddhism only gets the foremost place (among other religions), not the status of state religion or the ability to influence state policy. The secular campaign will get unwanted support fearing animal based food restrictions.

  37. Senerath Says:

    I have only ONE point to say, “PROMOTING FISHERIES IS NOT A MERITORIOUS ACT” to Buddhist but it a meroitorious act to Christians, Catholics etc as Jesus fed poor people with fish. Such statements shall not be made with refernece to a country with Buddhist majority as Buddhists are obviously sensitive to such statements.
    I have no anger towards people making such statements because I know that it is their foolisheness (ignorance).
    I have no problem with any industry naturally occuring.

  38. Fran Diaz Says:

    Growing Soy for the Soy Beans and tasty innovative Soy products can raise money as well as keep people healthier.
    No one is preventing the sale of fish & meat in the market places of Lanka, or will do so in the future.
    No one is preventing anyone eating fish, chicken, meats & egss. They ought to do so if they feel they enjoy the taste of these products and need these items for optimum health.

    Here are some of Natures designs to show human beings are designed to be mostly vegetarian. These Natural designs are for land animals (as opposed to sea animals).

    The human digestive system is designed for a mostly vegetarian diet :
    * Our canine teeth, designed for tearing meat, have shrunk. Canines are prominent in meat eating animals such as dogs and cats.
    * Our intestines are long, similar to vegetarian mammals (cows, goats, elephants etc) and not short as in meat eating animals such as cats, dogs etc.
    * We also drink water by taking it in through a sucking action and gulps, whereas meat eating animals lap their water.

  39. Dilrook Says:


    I didn’t base it on Catholic beliefs. I based it on the human condition. Everyone should be free from hunger. I keep all religious teachings out when it comes to objective decision making. The English word meritorious is not about “merit” in our culture although we have borrowed that for our use. But we cannot impose our adaptation on the English language. The adjective meritorious means “deserving reward or praise”.

    Confucius said give a hungry man a fishing tackle to fish and not fish. This project is one such meritorious project.

  40. samurai Says:

    Let me reiterate my point. I am not calling for laws against meat and fishing industries but I strongly condemn the deliberate attempt to misinterpret / distort the Buddhist teaching to justify them and mislead people. I challenge any of those who do so to show which Buddhist text (Tripitaka, Dhammapada or any other recognized Buddhist source) states that the Buddha permitted his followers to KILL and eat. The Buddha’s maithri or loving kindness was extended to all sentient beings.

    That he did not insist on vegetarianism is a different issue since it is an individual choice.

    Some ‘Buddhists’ engaging in meat and fish industries whether in Sri Lanka or elsewhere is totally irrelevant here.
    In Buddhist literature there is the story of man whose livelihood was slaughtering pigs and selling the meat. He lived right next to the monastery where the Buddha resided. But the Buddha did not preach to the man against what he was doing. The reason: The Buddha knew that preaching to such people is an exercise in futility. According to the story when the pig-slaughterer eventually died he did so screaming in agony like a pig being slaughtered.

    In strictly Islamic countries there is no pork industry since no Muslim consumes pork (though it is not out of compassion). The same applies to the consumption of other kinds of flesh. It depends on whether the majority of the population wants to consume it or not.

    I wonder what meat lovers have to say about cannibalism, since I do not think there is anything better or worse in human flesh than the flesh of other ‘edible’ creatures rich in protein – though the law prohibits cannibalism.

    Many vegetarians and vegans in India, Nepal, Bhutan, the West and elsewhere are not Buddhists. Therefore vegetarians and vegans in any country should have the freedom to campaign for what they think is right.

  41. Senerath Says:

    We are not followers of Confucius , Jesus or Mohamud. We are Buddhists. We have faith in Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha. We will not force a hungry man to fish, we would give him a meal , offer him a job ( if possible) , offer advice and leave him free to decide what he wants to do. Buddhism is wisdom , Buddhism is a religion of freedom.

    Buddha would not give a fishing rod to a hungry man, he will feed him first before even preaching. Buddhas only teach. So are the Buddhists. If you don’t even understand this , means your mind is corrupted by other religous beleifs.
    Buddhist in Sri Lanka use the words ‘meritorious act’ in place of Sinhala word ‘පින්’. I am not an Englishman, I have read a lot of English Buddhist books live in a English speaking country and no one uses that word and so are may born English Buddhist people. They are so respectful to Buddha.

    පිපෙනා මලකට​ .. ගලනා ගඟකට​
    දැනෙනා බුදුගුණ නොදැනෙන මිනිසුනි
    කොයි ලොව යන්නේ ? මරණින් පස්සේ..
    පින් පව් එනවා.. අප පසු පස්සේ

  42. samurai Says:

    Let me clarify what I wrote in the last paragraph of my previous comment. What I meant to say was that not all Buddhists are vegetarians and not all vegetarians are Buddhists. I inadvertently mentioned Bhutan. Ninety percent of Bhutanese are Buddhists and many of them are vegetarians though may be not all.

    Coming back to the story of the Buddha and the pig slaughterer the reason why the Buddha did not preach to him applies to many others too: An exercise in futility.

  43. Lorenzo Says:

    Suppose I’m hungry. But why on earth should I eat another animal? I don’t eat HUMANS when I’m hungry. So why eat flesh of another being?

    Humans are not MEAT ONLY eaters. We can eat VEGETARIAN FOOD. Since 21 I’m a full vegetarian. NO meat, fish, MILK, EGGS, SPRATS, etc. and I’m STRONGER than MOST people here.

    If you cultivate KADALA in the area planned for INLAND FISHERIES MORE people will be saved from hunger.

    What stupid policy makers we have.

    I agree people have the RIGHT to eat anything they want. But why PROMOTE FLESH EATING?

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