Posted on September 20th, 2020

By Rohana R. Wasala

(The 156th birth anniversary of the Anagarika falls today, September 17, 2020. The following lines are in celebration of the event.)

The pioneer of true national thinking
Was none other than the historical 
Hate-figure of anti-nationalists
Great Anagarika Dharmapala
Who engineered social reform through it
To kindle hopes of freedom from foreign rule.

History will recognize Dharmapala
As perhaps the first ideological-
As perhaps the first ideological-
Champion of the unarmed fight for freedom,
And the first proponent of modernity
Truly based on the Buddhist tradition.

Though Brits and colonial parasites
Projected him as a Don Quixote
Tilting at windmills against an empire 
Through their vile  malicious propaganda.

Being a leader gifted with great foresight,
He warned the majority Sinhalese
Of a racially divided country
Where they would be at the receiving end 
When the foreigner would leave them at last
Unless they were united as a race.

Today, as we can see, that prophecy,
Has come true, sad though it is to say this.
Yet the Anagarika’s life mission
Was passing on the word of the Buddha
Across the world for all peoples’ wellbeing.

He was convinced that Sinhala Buddhists
Had a unique responsibility
To protect Buddhism for the whole world
As Lanka is the repository
Of the Dhamma in its first pristine form
The hallowed Theravada tradition
Committed to writing at Matale,
Central Sri Lanka, one hundred plus-
Years Before the Common Era began.

Though religions are anachronistic
In the human reason ruled world today
Their ethical teachings are relevant
To their politically organized
Adherents, while not being so to others,
A situation that causes friction
Usually with unholy repercussions
That endanger the very survival
Of the future of civilization.

The Buddha preached an ethical doctrine
Whose essence is wisdom and compassion,
Something that Albert Einstein chose to call
A cosmic religion in the sense that
All humans could embrace its moral code
Based on kindness, reason, and mind culture, 
And work to create a safe peaceful world. 

Dharmapala knew this before Einstein
As he showed in his great dedication
For spreading the Dhamma across the globe
Without any proselytizing aim.

Being a true disciple of the Buddha 
He didn’t seek to convert non-Buddhist people.  

But he believed that the Dhamma was
The Sinhala Buddhists’ gift to the world
As custodians of the pure Teaching.

Meanwhile he was passionately concerned
About their material wellbeing as well
As any good Buddhist leader would be
He advocated the education 
Of the young for acquiring good life skills
And the study of science and technology
In addition to cultural subjects.

Lanka’s freedom movement and its leaders
And all patriotic politicians
That followed in the subsequent decades
Were deeply influenced by this great man.

All our prime ministers and presidents
Have been inspired by his nationalism.

Had the Anagarika been living- 
Today, he would have highly commended
The current president Gotabhaya
For his moral uprightness, gracefulness
And his commitment to Buddhist values.

All Members of Parliament on both sides,
If they really want to serve the nation
Ought to forget their self-centred concerns
And serve the nation from opposite ends
Through synergetic accommodation
So that this fourth decisive surge that we-
Are in the middle of making since the Year-
The Buddha Jayanti was observed
Towards independence from foreign sway
In order to stand on our own two feet,
Will not be suppressed like the previous three.

May Peace and Progress Bloom in our Troubled Land
Fresh and pure out of its muddy waters!    

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