Is Buddhism under threat?
That Buddhism goes ‘against the stream’ of
wrong understanding (miccha ditthi) prevalent in the world is evidenced by the
frenzied attempt of all and sundry to destroy it or, if that is impossible, to
adulterate and distort it beyond recognition. Apart from the normal conversion
tactics, there is the more diabolical trick of recruiting hirelings, posing as
Buddhists to twist its true meaning. Not surprisingly, those habitually donning
the ‘sil redda’ to go and worship what preaches the opposite of the Buddha-word,
rally round these pretenders, too.
Only one Buddha arises in a world system. Now men come crashing through the time
barrier whooping they are ‘Buddha Metteyya’ no less – born before time! The
truth will be out. An ardent fan, who arranged to sow anti-Buddhism seeds
abroad, came unannounced to south Sri Lanka one day to find his ‘saviour’
sprawled on the ground dead drunk. Professionals, like doctors and lawyers,
gravitate towards these cliques, as their teaching smacks of modernity and
especially because no discipline is required of the adherents.
Their preachers call themselves ‘Sovan’ which is the first step of the four
stages of sainthood. They do not know that a Sovan is distinguished by his
total, unalterable faith (saddha) in the Buddha, Dhamma an Ariya Sangha,
resulting from his first glimpse of Nibbana. Our pseudo-sovans like nothing
better than to cock a snook at the Triple Gem! They say, “Do not go for refuge
to the Buddha/Dhamma/Sangha, but to the “Buddha in You”. This being the world’s
ever-present perennial philosophy ‘Thou art That’ ‘God is You’ etc., which
Buddhism rejects, to go beyond. A rebirth scares them out of their wits, they
say, “Hell is only in the mind”. When Kitty and Rover are pointed out as
manifestations of the tirachanayoni woeful realm in Buddhism, they shudder in
horror and turn away, muttering, “Darwin’s evolutionary thing”! They reject the
five precepts – not to kill, steal, have unlawful sex, lie, imbibe intoxicants.
But after Soma Thera’s loud insistence of basics, they dare not deny them. A
Bodhi pooja is a recollection of the Buddha’s unique qualities and what better
spot for this than near the Bodhi tree, where the Bodhisatta awakened to
Buddhahood? If done correctly, it has been proved to overpower bad influences.
Our fake ‘sovans’ sneer at the practice as “Tree Worship”
Giving (dana) is part of Buddhism. They dismiss it with, “If giving reduces
grasping, throw your offering into the garbage pit without looking for
recipients.” Loving-kindness, which is the bedrock of Buddhism, is viewed by
them so fearfully, that recitation of the Karania Meta Sutta is prohibited. They
are panic-stricken that, bearing the Buddha’s classic call of compassion, evil
spirits will invade the house! It is way over their heads that the loving
kindness/compassion taught in Buddhism is meant to tame, subdue and transform
beings, including the environment. The Buddha says if anybody tries to harm his
disciple practicing loving-kindness, it will be like one grasping a double-edged
knife, which will only cut and wound that person. These “sovans” sprain at
debunking the teaching by saying, “they know their dhamma,” leaving the Buddha
out of it. Anytime anybody leaves the Buddha out, he is barking up the wrong
tree! Psychiatrists say their mental wards have a number of patients, calling
themselves “sovan”, and even “Awkaa Buddha” keeping one arm raised as proof.
It has come to such a pass, that manufacturers sell packets of their produce
with a note boasting that the owner is “sovan” and demanding why flowers are
wasted on the Buddha’s shrine, when they can be used to make soap! The loving
gratitude expressed in the pure offering, coupled with the profound meditation
on impermanence of the flower, together with the body and mind of the one who
offers is beyond their understanding.
A peek into their lifestyles, which their acquaintances are eager to expose –
possibly on account of their arrogance – reveals they are out of sight of the
Buddha’s doctrine of abstaining from evil, doing all good and purifying the
What is astonishing is how Buddhists, confronting these attacks against their
religion, sometimes on TV prime time remain silent! These fake “sovans” should
be prohibited from using Buddhist terminology, like, “Buddha”, “Arahant” “sovan”,
“Rebirth”, “Kamma”, etc., all of which they vilify with their bizarre
interpretation. They should be asked to promote their own myth in their own
word, without desperately trying to degrade Buddhism.
What they are after is a quickie Nirvana, attainable in their existing state of
desire, hate and delusion. Rejecting soul, they hang on grimly to mind, ignoring
that mind is part of the composite realm and however high they reach they can
plummet down to the lowest, as revealed by the Buddha, who pointed to buffaloes
and other life forms, as having crashed down, after expiry of their good Damma
in the higher formless realms or sakvithi raja status. No wonder they fear and
They do not acknowledge the four noble truths – the foundation of Buddhism,
revealed in the Buddha’s first sermon. Suffice it to say, their “sovan” claim is
totally denied by the Buddha’s statement that outside of his Noble Eighfold
Path, comprising, right understanding, right mindedness, right speech, right
action, right livelihood, right effort, right mind business and right
concentration there is no, repeat no, sovan, sakadagami, anagami or arahat –
that is, no salvation from suffering.
No oil for the poor man’s hearth
For sometime now kerosene oil, which was
earlier freely available and sold with no restrictions by petrol sheds, to the
public, for their domestic requirements, hasn’t been available.
It is the poor man and middle-classes who use kerosene oil for domestic
purposes, in areas where there is no electricity. Due to this school children in
these areas are unable to study during night or in the early hours of the
On inquiry from the petrol shed at Maharagama near the bo-tree junction close to
the bus stand, I was made to understand by the Manager that they are not selling
kerosene oil as hitherto done and we have to go all the way to Moraketiya,
Delkanda or Nugegoda (near St. John’s)
On inquiry from a three-wheel driver I was informed that he charges Rs. 200 for
the hire. You cannot waste time to travel by bus. Can we spend so much money for
the journey or waste our precious time. Even industrialists require kerosene oil
especially in case of electricity failure. Kerosene oil was freely available at
petrol sheds, grocers and also from bullock-drawn carts and was sold at your
door-step sometime back.
This appeal is to the minister concerned to make this commodity available to the
public as before, at all petrol sheds.
V. K. B. Ramanayake
An open letter to the Minister of Public
In response to your invitation to submit to you
the grievances of the Government pensioners, may I address this open letter to
you on behalf of a category of senior pensioners who retired prior to
You have openly declared that you are still a member of the UNP and we have no
doubt that you still endorse the stand taken by the UNP in regard to the
pensioners during the last Presidential Election campaign. The essence of that
election promise goes as follows:
“Revising the pension of those public servants who retired prior to 01.01.1997,
adjusting their pensions corresponding to the salary scales of public servants
operative as at 01.01.2004 and to further revise the pensions with every
subsequent salary revisions in the public sector.”
Since you are still a member of the UNP according to your public utterances,
this is a very good opportunity to translate at least one election promise of
your party into action.
It shouldn’t be difficult at all to find the necessary funds for this purpose in
view of the fact that the Government could find the money to implement the
recent unanimous decision of the Parliamentarians to have their salaries almost
doubled with retrospective effect, with arrears and the Government decision to
maintain a giant size Cabinet.
A large number of pensioners who retired prior to 01.01.1997 are among the dead.
Even those who survive are in the age group 70-90. Most of them are ailing and
debilitated and find it extremely difficult to meet even their medical bills.
We have no doubt, that you will have the courage to persuade your Cabinet
colleagues to grant relief to a deserving section of senior citizens who have
given of their best during their hey day.
A Senior Pensioner who retired prior to 01.01.1997
Pity the remand prisoner
There are a large number of remand prisoners
held in custody, who should not be in remand. They are not hardcore criminals
but ordinary citizens who have been accused, justly or unjustly, of some
offence. The majority of the offences alleged to have been committed are
bail-able. Then what is the reason for such a large population of remand
prisoners? One reason is that Police unfairly object to bail even if the offence
The Magistrates remand suspects for periods of time which are extended every two
weeks. Some of these orders are not fair and violate the rights of the suspects.
The principles of law which govern the granting of bail are;
a) The granting of bail should be the rule and only in exceptional cases should
the suspects be kept in remand. Section 2 of the Bail Act 1997 states that
“Subject to the exceptions as hereinafter provided for in this Act, the guiding
principle in the implementation of the provisions of this Act shall be, that the
grant of bail shall be regarded as the rule, and the refusal to grant bail as
the exception.” There are Supreme Court decisions to this effect. The policy of
the law is not to punish a person before he is found guilty, but unfortunately
this policy is not adhered to by either the Police or the Magistrate.
b) Sometimes suspects are granted bail in large sums of money which the accused
cannot afford. Very often Magistrates want a surety from the area of the
suspect’s residence. That is to say if the suspect is from Hambantota and he is
charged in Kandy, he has to bring a surety from Hambantota. Is it fair to impose
such a requirement? It must also be remembered that a remand prisoner, unlike a
convicted prisoner, cannot be taught a trade under the prison rules. He is just
kept in custody and fed by the State. It costs about Rs.300/= a day to maintain
a prisoner. Can the State afford to keep all these persons in remand? They are
seemingly respectable people who have unfortunately got trapped in our slow
Though there is provision for the release of remand prisoners under the “Release
of Remand Prisoners Act No.8 of 1991”, this law is not properly implemented.
It should also be observed the impact on the family when the breadwinner is kept
in remand. The children cannot go to school as other children torment them with
remarks that their father is in remand. These are all forgotten by the
authorities when they make orders to remand suspects. The law also stipulates
that the quantum of bail should be reasonable which should be within the means
of the suspect. If the suspect absconds, he could be arrested on a warrant. Is
the criminal justice system fair by these unfortunate people?
If one complains to the J.S.C. about the Magistrate, the letter is referred to
the Magistrate who will thereafter be harsh on both the suspect and his lawyer.
Even if one appeals to the High Court, it takes time for bail to be ordered.
Besides, can an average litigant afford this expense? Can anything be done to
change the system and prevent the law’s delays and the consequent hardship, not
only to the suspect but their families?
Remand Prisons are the worst places that one can send ordinary citizens who are
not criminals. They are overcrowded by 200%. Some of the suspects are sexually
abused by other prisoners and very often prosecuting officers try to take
advantage of the wife of the remandee. Some of the remand prisoners are kept in
custody for very minor offences, as they cannot afford to give the bail. At
least these cases should be given priority and disposed of. These prisoners when
ultimately released have learnt a few things from hardcore prisoners and feel
bitter against the whole system. Instead of trying to rehabilitate persons, we
make them hardcore criminals. A Commission should be appointed to look into the
prison system and the reasons for a large remand population. Pity the Remand
Prisoner. No one seems to care as they cannot vote nor do they have any