Posted on July 20th, 2019

By Rohana R. Wasala

The Bodu Bala Sena organization held (seemingly the first edition of) its Siv Hele Maha Samuluwa or National Convention of Siv Hela  at the Bogambara Grounds in Kandy on July 7, 2019. Its purpose was, presumably, to propose a democratic, non-violent way out of the present political morass that the country is engulfed in. (Siv Hela is an ancient name for Sri Lanka. A commonly accepted conjecture is: Siv Hela > Sihela> Sinhale > Ceilao > Ceylon. Literally, the phrase means the Country of the Four Helas. Hela Diva or the ‘Island of the Hela’ was another classical name for the country. The people of the island were called Helaya3.s. The significance of the name ‘Siv Hela’ is that it includes all the people who make the country their home, as it did in ancient times. The idea of unity in diversity is implicit in that name. When the well known historical, geographical, political, social, cultural and geopolitical factors are taken into consideration, there is no better way to restore and reinforce Sri Lanka’s national unity than to democratically re-establish, in the form of a modern secular democracy, the Sinhalese Buddhist State that came into being with the official introduction of Buddhism and the simultaneous inception of the Buddha Sasanaya nearly 2300 years ago. It has persisted down the ages, though perhaps not more than a nuclear entity at adverse times caused by numerous foreign invasions and internal divisions. The problem for the false guardians of democracy in the West is their failure or unwillingness to accept the fact that the principles of secular democratic good governance were anticipated by the long line of Sinhalese Buddhist kings from Dewanampiya Tissa {307-267 BCE} down to Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe {1798-1815}).  The Buddhist state, of course, was subject to the pressures exerted by the inevitable internal and external challenges that it had to tackle in each specific period of its history like any other sovereign state.

Incidentally, a popular myth among most Sri Lankans that sometimes assumes significance in the context of Tamil Sinhala interactive politics concerns the racial identity of the last mentioned king: It is falsely claimed that he was a Tamil. He was not a Tamil. The ruling family (the Nayakkars or Nayakas) in Tamil Nadu that he belonged to was from the northern area known as the Telangana State today and they were Telugu speakers. So Sri Wikrama, though a Dravidian, was not Tamil. However, having been born and bred in Sri Lanka, he was fluent in Sinhala as much as Telugu, and he was fluent in Tamil as well. In Sri Lanka, he and his people were called Vadugas or Northerners. The Kandian kings had a tradition of bringing their queens from Madurai. The last native Sinhalese king, Narendrasinghe (but, biologically as much Nayaka as Sinhala, as Gananath Obeysekere describes him in ‘The Doomed King’ pub. Sail Fish, Colombo, 2017, the source for this information) known as Sellam Nirindu or Playboy king, was issueless. So he made the brother of his wife juva-raja or sub-king. Consequently on his death in 1747, that Nayaka brother-in-law of his was crowned king. This was the great Kirti Sri Rajasinghe the first Nayaka Buddhist king who ruled till 1782. All the Nayaka kings including the last were recognized by the Kandyans as their sovereigns, not because they were Tamil, Telugu or some other variety of Dravidians, but because the Kandyan Sinhalese accepted them as Sinhala Buddhist kings. This is similar to the racial ancestry of the present British monarch queen Elizabeth II. The dynastic family to which she belongs, the House of Windsors, is of German paternal descent. The original name of the dynasty was ‘the House of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha’. The name ‘the House of Windsor’ was adopted on July 17, 1917 due to anti-German sentiment in the British empire; it was during World War I (1914-18). Who argues that Elizabeth II is a German queen? 

To resume the main topic, the writer watched the proceedings on the Asian Mirror TV broadcast live from Sri Lanka. Named ‘Daeyama Eka Rodata’ ‘The Whole Nation Gathered into One Mass’ and blessed by the Venerable Mahanayakes of the Three Nikayas, it was attended by a large number of yellow-robed bhikkhus and bhikkhunis, and lay Buddhists clad in white. (The size of the assemblage could have been even larger but for the severity of obstructions  that the BBS had to contend with, and the fear psychosis that gripped the nation after the April 21 Islamist terror attacks.) They were a representative crowd that came from many parts of the country. In addition to erudite monks, the Vedda Chief Uruvarige Vannila Aeththo – hereditary leader of the forest-dwelling Vedda minority – was among the main speakers. The convention was attended by members of other racial and religious communities as well, including Tamils and Catholics. At the end of his one and a half hour long speech, Ven. Gnanasara Thera thanked all those who contributed in various ways to the success of the meeting which had to be organized amidst numerous difficulties and obstacles; he also thanked the media persons who were there to cover the event. This timely national reawakening rally in the form of a BBS Convention was meticulously well organized and it was completely devoid of party politics, while embracing representatives from all communities and religions. The only fly in the ointment was the presence of a single active politician, of whom, on the top of it, Ven. Gnanasara made special mention. He must have genuine reasons for this; Sumathipala may be a contributor of funds for BBS, and he may be involved in Buddhist resurgence activities. A national event of its nature on such a large scale was probably unprecedented in independent Sri Lanka.

Despite that, looks like, even within Sri Lanka, the event did not receive the massive media coverage it really deserved. Except for the social media, it would have passed globally unnoticed. This was not unexpected because the money-controlled media have turned Ven Gnanasara into a terrorist worse than Prabhakaran or Saharan, and the Buddhists into extremists, and Jihadists into peace doves. This is regrettable. Native Sri Lankans, wherever they are at present, can understand  the determination of the large concourse of the ‘sivvanak pirisa’ or the ‘fourfold assembly,’ (male and female monks and the male and female lay followers), as the classic Buddhist congregation is traditionally described. Outsiders who have no familiarity with the dominant Buddhist cultural tradition of the country or feel no empathy with people who share moral values derived from that tradition might only see it as a brazen show of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist extremism. There is no such extremism involved here. The show of heightened Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism was immediately triggered by the mindless Wahhabi terrorism that caused such mayhem and destruction of property recently. It was probably a great disappointment for critics of imagined Sinhalese Buddhist extremists that they got no opportunity to blame them for the gruesome violence on April 21; their chagrin grew when they found that Buddhist monks immediately got involved in the voluntary rescue work trying to bring every possible form of relief and consolation to the victims. 

This writer doesn’t think that there is no media freedom in Sri Lanka. But considering the pall of implicit censorship, apparently self-imposed by the mainstream media, that hangs over the legitimate activities of grassroots nationalist organizations that claim to stand up for the threatened vital interests of the majority community,  it is as if over 75% of the Sri Lankan population are being denied their democratic right to freedom of expression; the rightness or the wrongness of their views is a different matter. This virtual media asphyxiation of the rising public awareness of the existential danger that all communities, especially the Sinhalese majority, are facing must be recognized and countered.  This is especially menacing, given the present government’s indefinite postponement of provincial council elections. This virtual throttling of democracy is done by the powers that be for their own ends, which are clearly not in the interest of the Sri Lankan people. A government cannot do this with impunity because the politically conscious Sri Lankans, particularly the most social media savvy millennials (25-40 year olds) and the younger new voters (18-24 year olds) do not now entirely depend on the mainstream media. They are the ones who are most aware of the cruel irony of victims of violent racial and religious extremism of some sections of the minorities being condemned, persecuted and silenced as racists and extremists merely for trying to reveal to the civilized world what they are actually experiencing. (The victims here are the majority Sinhalese.)Those who want to stay in power only because they feel a need to keep promises made to foreign powers as quid pro quo for helping them to gain power must remember that any governmental meddling with the social media is going to prove counterproductive. 

The ‘reconciliation’ that  powers that be claim is being threatened by the activities of the BBS is only a threadbare slogan that they invented to destabilize Sri Lanka. There has been no need for any special reconciliation, because ordinary Sri Lankans of all communities were living in harmony even during periods of the most violent confrontations between the state’s security forces and the separatist terrorists at the time of the nearly thirty year long conflict. The majority Sinhalese and minority Tamils were not at war with each other; the government military was not targeting ordinary Tamils, who were as much at the receiving end of terrorism as all others. But the Tamil separatists, certain NGO mercenaries thriving on the suffering of innocents, and geopolitical players and their local beneficiaries created the myth of a communal conflict between the Sinhalese and Tamil communities. Now they have succeeded in introducing a religious dimension to this in the form of the Wahhabist incursion under the suspected secret patronage of the same obnoxious global  gamesters. 

Any opportunity that offers itself for the BBS bashing media channels to attack it by misinterpreting or distorting whatever it says or does in the pursuit of its genuine national goals is never given a miss by them since they are in the thrall of those gamesome monsters of global power politics. A news report about the BBS Convention in Kandy written by Buddhika Samaraweera and published in the July 9, 2019 edition of Ceylon Today’s weekly newsletter is an excellent piece of typical misreportage. It is a string of lies. It will do to mention a few illustrative distortions it contains: According Samaraweera, Gnanasara Thera said ‘action will be taken to set up a Sinhalese Parliament, reliable for the people, adding that everyone should to work together to restore the traditional systems of governance, which were lost with the subjugation of Sri Lanka by Great Britain in 1815’. The monk said no such thing. It is a willfully garbled version of the Thera’s words. What he said was that MPs representing the majority Sinhalese must be able to form a government without depending on the help of communalist minority parties.This is to prevent the majority being unduly dominated by minorities as has been happening for decades now. There is no fear of the minorities being neglected. A Sinhala nationalist dominated government will look after minority interests better than the racists that represent them now; nationalist minority politicians will invariably participate in such a government

Again, Buddhika Samaraweera mistranslates the monk thus: People were forsaken in the democratic concept introduced to Sri Lanka by the United Kingdom in 1948. People have been deceived by this method and the people have not been able to choose who is suitable and who is not suitable for the Parliament or governance, and people have as a result, been rendered helpless due to the actions of the present rulers  ……”. This is not what Ven. Gnanasara said. He actually upholds the democracy; what he was saying was that the democratic system is being abused to the detriment of the people, particularly, the majority Sinhalese through mishandled party politics. The few racists among minority politicians exploit the divisions in the majority electorate that is non-racist and have never voted as voting bloc. What the monk is saying is that we have had enough of dividing ourselves on party lines and allowing ourselves to be unfairly dominated by opportunistic minority politicians; let us also persuade the Sinhalese to cast their vote as a voting block for once. This will make minority voters to think in terms of national interest rather than communal interest.  

A highlight at the well attended BBS Convention was the public announcement of a set of proposals for the Sinhala Buddhist state to be democratically set up in the future. It included nine items, which can be very briefly summarized thus (any misinterpretation that could occur is completely unintended):1. effective implementation of Article 9 – which concerns the status of Buddhism – of the existing constitution until a new constitution is enacted in due course; the term ‘Buddhasasanaya’ must be defined to facilitate this; 2. restoration of the Sinhala state, and the restructure of all relevant institutions based on it, the Sinhalese should be defined as bhumiputras, dividing people according to religion should be stopped, so Muslims should be called Sinhala Muslims, Catholics as Sinhala Catholics, Christians as Sinhala Christians, etc., the Sinhala State should be recognized as the homeland of all  3. For national security a central operational command centre should be established, all kinds of separatism (religious, racial, etc.) should be banned; 4. preservation of national heritage sites, protection and promotion of the Sinhala language and literature, traditional Sinhala medical knowledge, etc.; 5. There will be one country-one nation-one law, and a new electoral system will be introduced; 6. a sound economy with special attention to the agrarian sector, a ‘web-baendi rajyaya’ (based on the concept of ancient waev baedi rajyaya) i.e., an IT and knowledge based economy should be established; 7. introduction of the English medium after the primary level for a patriotic education system, proper population management, development of a national policy for health and nutrition; 8. proper management of housing, infrastructure facilities, human settlement, and population; irregular sterilization targeting Sinhalese mothers should be immediately stopped, a population control system that is common to all communities should be introduced; and 9. Health and nutrition should be based on a broad national policy that recognizes a favourable combination of Sinhala, Ayurveda, and Western medical systems, halal certified food should be restricted to the relevant community, it should not be imposed on non-Muslims by force.  

The proposal for the restoration of the Sinhala state that was ceded to the British empire in 1815 needs to be understood as an ultimate reaction to the continued machinations of forces that are opposed to the majority Sinhalese reasserting themselves as an independent sovereign nation in their own homeland of countless millennia, sharing it, as equal citizens, with a number of minorities of different racial, cultural, linguistic, and religious identities. 

The ending of separatist terrorism in 2009 reassured all these communities in their accustomed peaceful coexistence, promising a politically stable Sri Lanka that started making strides in every sphere economic, social and human development. But soon this was cut short by the powers that be to whom the survival of the Sinhalese people who have abundant written and epigraphical records of their over 2500 year unbroken history as a sovereign nation state is of no concern.The emergence of a strong sovereign state with control over Sri Lanka’s land, air, and maritime resources is probably thought to be not in the best interest of the global powers competing in the region. 

One Response to “BBS CONVENTION IN KANDY, JULY 7, 2019”

  1. Vaisrawana Says:

    Much of what the Cardinal is reported in the article ‘Cardinal asks govt to resign’/July 22 as having said was anticipated in this article which appeared before.

    His Eminence the Cardinal earned the admiration of the whole nation because of his brave attitude. He became a hero overnight, especially among Buddhists, on account of the role he played after the terror attack on April 21. His words and deeds made a special impression on Sinhala Buddhists because they, as the most persecuted community under the current regime, have still not got similar succour from the Mahanayakes. Honest patriotic junior monks like Ven. Gnanasara would not have been demonised by the mercenary media and NGOs if these Mahanayakes had behaved like the cardinal.

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