Scotland and the rise of a ‘war monk' in Sri Lanka

Chand Wije

An essay that appeared in the Sunday Herald in Scotland on March 4, 2008, identified Ven. Athuraliye Rathana as a “war monk.” Tamil websites were so thrilled with the essay (example: ). It was by a writer stationed in Colombo .

This report targeting Scottish readers is important because Scotland is London 's Kosovo. In fact it is only one more election away from freedom from London . The story on the path to statehood by Scotland (democratic UDI) is an important warning for Sri Lankan politicians who plan to allow democratic devolution based on ethnicity. The devolution units must be language-blind and ecologically sound such as in New Zealand which follows river basins as administrative boundaries.

The Scotland reporter did not hide his agenda. He did not want a militarily defeat of Tamil terrorism. He wanted a federal set-up in Sri Lanka . He has freedom to voice his opinion. But why did he want to link Buddhism with war via a monk? Apparently this is a strategy which has a pattern. The common strategy has been to target one or two Sri Lankan monks at a time until the target was either neutralized or tamed.

Long time ago people suspected if the Ven. Dr. Kotagama Vachissara Thero's untimely death on a hospital operation table was an accident, negligence or a deliberate act . Ven. Gangodavila Soma Thero's tragic demise in St. Petersburg , attending a secret Ph.D. granting ceremony, more recently, also generated suspicion. He rapidly rose in popularity to become a potential presidential candidate at a time when lay men or women were afraid of speaking against the accusations of Buddhist Chauvinism. Ven. GS proclaimed that he has nothing to fear death.

But the Scotland writer is in company with more professional writers. For example, in his book titled, Buddhism Betrayed, the American-living retired anthropology professor Stanley Tambiah used a picture of an angry face of Ven. Maduluwave Sobhitha on its cover jacket. The picture was selected by Mrs.Vishaka Kumari Jayawardena (nee. Soysa), who's mother happened to be an English woman. Her husband (the late Lal Jayawardena) wrote a forward to the book who previously provided seed money for the book project. The thesis of the book was “how can Buddhists kill?”

In another book, the Work of Kings, by Tambiah's trusted disciple (the book dedicated to T) and the American-living anthropology professor H. L. Seneviratne hypothesized that Sri Lanka 's ethnic mess was a result of the work of two solitary monks, Vens. Yakkaduwe Pragnarama and Walpola Rahula. He acknowledged help from Ven. R for his book project, but did not give Ven. R an opportunity to respond to the merits and demerits of his hypothesis.

The reason for this approach is that it kills two birds with one stone. A reasonable study would show that there is nothing wrong with monks engaging in issues of social justice and opposing oppression in modern democratic systems. Yes, they are not dictatorships, but they are also nothing but a “method” used by groups of ruling elites to control the rest (98% of people) in their respective countries. Jesus did exactly what the Buddhist monks are doing today in Sri Lanka . This is what modern-day Christian leadership and priests are not doing—thus violating the politics of Jesus—at least in USA —according to the book, the politics of Jesus: rediscovering the true revolutionary nature of Jesus' teachings and how they have been corrupted, by Obery M. Hendricks (2006), pp. 250, 253 and 263.

The other bird in the case of Sri Lanka , is that this approach hides the fact that the island's mess is a direct result of mismanagement by a group of Colombo elites—black-whites or coconuts in Mexico , brown outside, white inside. Not a single Ceylon/Sri Lanka University-connected person, let alone those who went to Oxford or Cambridge , looked at this problem in their dissertations or other books. The first person to examine this was an American Peace Corp worker turned scholar Patrick Peebles – who researched on the Mudaliyars of Ceylon (Master's Thesis: "The Matale Rebellion and British Society in Ceylon" (1968); Doctoral Dissertation: "The Transformation of a Colonial Elite: The Mudaliyars of Nineteenth Century Ceylon" (1973)). Belatedly, Vishaka Kumari Jayawardena wrote her Nobodies to Somebodies (1999/2002?) in which one could see the evolution of the Colombo-based black-white ruling class.

The Scotland writer distorted facts. He says the monks wrecked the 2002 CFA! He says—in March 2008—that the tigers are an effective fighting force, when the ground truth is that they are at the edge of their own graveyards.

By targeting a monk or two at a time these writers are actually trying to attack the social bases of Buddhism (Buddhist philosophy will live in future digital libraries as predicted by the former president of India Abdul Kalam or Sir Arthur C. Clark). At the global level there are three currents: (1) Christianization of Asia plan proposed by the last Pope, (2) Clash of civilizations thesis of the Harvard professor Huntington, and (3) the world is flat concept of corporate piracy and globalization. The three currents feed each other and provide fuel for a system of brutal capitalism and throat-cut individualism. The Theravada Buddhism survived in Sri Lanka for the past 2300 years, the religion of about 18 million people (world population is over five billion) is a thorn or a pain for the groups supporting the three currents. If a break-up of Sri Lanka is possible then it will become a Palestine in South Asia thus damaging the social bases of Buddhism. The Balkanization of India plans could wait.

Another variable in this formula is the fact that 99% of these anti-Sri Lanka people and human rights agents (including R2Ps), both local and foreign, happens to be Christians or followers of faith-based historical religions (in Buddhism one is asked to “Come and examine, not come and believe”). Buddhists do not believe in a God who can save them. There is only one person in this massive group that I know of who was born to Buddhist parents from Horana. If colonial empires were essentially Christian empires, post colonial world is run by an elite group of world Christians allied with mostly Christian elites in the former colonies. Unlike these faith-based religions, among Buddhist monks there is no central control by a Buddhist Pope. The chief monk of each village temple is a sovereign in the full sense of the widest distribution of sum total of governmental power advocated by Montesquieu.

Poor Christians or Christian masses in the former master countries or in the new colonies are innocent victims who have no say or no power in this game. The religion of Jesus was remarkably similar to Buddhism. It was hijacked and made a political religion by the Roman Emperor Constantine (272-337 AD) (Hendricks, pp. 86-93). Ever since the Christian establishment played the role of helping to maintain the status quo for the rich and the powerful and to sanitize their un-Christian activities, such as slavery and discrimination against women or outright plunder of the earth's environment.

These non-Buddhists ask the silly question, “Can Buddhist kill?” either because they do not know what Buddhist way of life is or they support and benefit from the operation of the three currents mentioned above. Did they not know about the famous Patton prayer? The “Patton Prayer” is an example of how General Patton received divine blessing. On December 8, 1944, Patton called the Third Army Chaplain in Nancy , France and asked him, “Do you have a good prayer for weather? We must do something about those rains if we are to win the war.” The prayer worked and Americans use it now on a regular basis in churches.

How could they not know that the two recent war presidents in America , Ronald Reagan and George Bush (2000-2008), both professed that they were performing God's duty? The American Christian establishment (not American masses) was 100% behind these war efforts (Hendricks, p. 255). Perhaps, the time is ripe for a Second Panaduraa Vaadaya , this time via the Internet so that people in Scotland also come to examine not believe.

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