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Letters


Readers please note it is essential that all letters to the Editor carry the full name and address of the writer, even if it has to appear under a pseudonym. This applies to all email letters as well.

 

An appeal to the Maha Sangha

As a Buddhist, I appeal to the Maha Sangha not to contest Parliamentary or Local Government Elections which brings down the Maha Sangha to be on par with laymen, breaking Vinaya rules in the process and disgracing the robe (Cheevaraya) that they wear.

The Sangha Nayakes should come forward for the following:
To prevent Bhikkus dabbling in party politics, attending or addressing political meetings, sitting or demonstrating alongside laymen or going around canvassing on behalf of candidates facing the hustings. The Sangha in other countries do not involve themselves in party politics thereby preserving their neutrality, dignity and religious independence, though in Sri Lanka the religious element has always been closely associated with dynasties and politics.

To refrain from referring to “Sinhala Buddhists” in delivering sermons or speeches which project a racial bias not found in the Buddha Dhamma. In fact, the Buddha was not a Sinhalese and there are more non-Sinhala Buddhists spread throughout the world than Sinhala Buddhists. Religion linked racial bias should be non-existent.
To give up religion linked business using ‘gods’ and ‘deities’ not related to the Buddhist Philosophy, for income generating purposes. The Buddha Dhamma does not refer to gods or deities as saviours. The Buddha preached the eight cosmic principles of Gain and Loss, Prosperity and Adversity, Blame and Praise, Happiness and Misery as the ruling conditions of life. Every individual’s experience has to fall within these categories. Each individual enjoys the rewards of his own good deeds and suffers according to his evil deeds. God or Deity cannot change that, help you or come to your aid. In fact, what is being done is to mislead the Buddhists to perform religious practices alien to Buddhism. It is a shame to find certain Buddhist Temples giving pride of place to ‘gods’ to prompt misled Buddhists to seek help from ‘gods’. The Maha Sangha should come forward to adopt corrective measures to educate the misled Buddhists and discontinue such un-Buddhist practices.

To do away with Nikaya divisions, some based on caste, existence of which is against tenets of Buddhism and is a violation of Buddhist Teachings. The Maha Sangha should be united under one Sect as was done during the reign of King Parakramabahu the Great in 1155 RE. (AD 1698). We should have only one Sangha Nayake.
To have Buddhist Universities set up exclusively for the Bhikkhus where job oriented subjects and courses should not be taught and such degrees should not be awarded. Subjects necessary for the teaching of Buddhism and Buddhist missionary work should be taught. Study of other religions that assist missionary work should be facilitated. The Buddhist clergy should be debarred from studying in lay universities.

To ensure that Bhikkhus are not made to appear in Open Court in the Cheevaraya as complainant, accused or to give evidence where a Bhikkhu is a suspect or accused of wrong-doing, the case should be examined by a Adhikarana Sanga Sabha with the assistance of Law Enforcement Officers and if a prima facie case is established, such Bhikkhu should be disrobed to face prosecution in a Court of Law. That will help inculcate strict discipline among the Bhikkhus.

To engage in teaching the Buddha Dhamma and social service activities, especially at the village level as was done in the good old days, help Buddhists in need and prevent unethical conversions.

Upali S. Jayasekera
Colombo 4
 

 

A plea for Humanity

God forgive me, if I stray, sings Isla Grant with her God given golden voice in her heartbroken piteous plaint rendered in song referring to a probable lapse in her marriage. The song induces people to think, and think again whether God imposed these heartless strictures on the institution of monogamy. The Bible says that God created Adam and

Eve- a female companion, for Adam the male who he created in his image. We infer that God is a male. God could have clothed them but in his wisdom he did not, but said, “Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, fill the Earth and subdue it. Adam took Eve and she brought forth Cain. Later she delivered Abel. That is the Bible version of the beginning of the Human Race - the story of Man and his Woman. They were brought together in Holy Matrimony as husband and wife on their promise to be one, “in sickness and in health, till death do us part”. However, Satan hovers over them, throwing temptation in their way! Not riches, but the naked form of the human species, designed in Heaven. They were brought together as man and wife with the promise of society, that witnessed the marriage, that, “What God hath put together, no man will tear asunder.” Husbands were told to love, cherish and care for their wives. Wives should not be harsh, but be obedient to their spouses. Religious books advise on safeguarding the institution of monogamy by steering clear of adultery, infidelity, and such like aberrations. To cement marriage, religion introduced a moral premium on chastity. Words like celibacy, prudery, puritan, Victorian, brothels, prostitute, lecher, ladies’ man, goody - goody, permissive, prissy, and an abundance of similar words describing unrestrained incorrigibility.

Humanity complains and cries its heart out, aloud in song, hoping that the strains would waft to high heaven where the Gods and angels abide in both song and psalm. Should not society tune in, give ear, and provide solace to mitigate the pain and anguish that besets mere Man who is alien to such concepts as monogamy - the untamed polygamous animal in him and his woman to whom sexual desire is ephemeral and natural. Religion feuds with Nature and wailing Humanity gives vent to its desire to be freed of the doctrinaire embrace of religious dogma.

The youthful spirit of boy and girl appeals to the heavens in song. Below are enumerated a few of those heartrending cries in song: God forgive me if I go astray, the beautiful Tennessee waltz, Did you happen to see the most beautiful girl, tell her I love her! All the girls I loved before, On the wings of a dove, I send you my love…, I played the game of love and lost… Somewhere between your heart and mine, there is a window I can’t see through…I Promise to be true…, A big bouquet of roses…, Love is like a butterfly…, Our ladies are nice, our men are full of spice, Senorita, you will always be mine…
The lament will go on until religion loses its grip on Mans’ relations with Woman. Back to Nature, and joyous humanity will burst into song.

As I see it.

Ivor Samarasinghe
Dehiwala

 

62nd Independence Day – Whispering Wishes

Sri Lanka celebrates another February 4, sans pandemonium
Momentous first National Day, second decade of this millennium
Wrathful conflicts broke nearly after thirty painful long years
The sun shone brightly to welcome nation away from crucial war gears

On this 62nd anniversary, may the true spirit of great independence
Spark in every Sri Lankan heart without rays of any vengeance
Let us salute war heroes who made us see the prosperous year
Preserve their dignity, be grateful, herald beautiful, peaceful era.

To ensure motherland with renewed vigour unending determination
To echo chimes of freedom gained through non-violence
On this historic day let’s recall concept of true independence
That wasn’t a revolution but a super noble performance.

Soaring in every human heart forgiveness, togetherness, perseverance
Let’s cultivate genuine dedication, selflessness ‘n tolerance
With active presence of world’s four faiths so great
We’re armed with significant basic apparatus for a smart start.

Psychosis of fear uncertainty gradually evaporated
Threats of violence no more, vicious civil conflicts defeated
May this Golden Year of Independence, echo of peace grant pride of place
Mankind be endowed with a sense of solid patriotism for a single race.

It’s a day we collectively commemorate sensibly celebrate
To overcome mountains of difficulties, human nature anticipate
After liberating from thirty years terrorism, now a unified serene country
Let’s commemorate independence in grandiose manner triumph of democracy.

All sins forgotten, forgiven for traditional means of coexistence
Ensure better fruitful future for long suffering people par excellence
May mother Sri Lanka bless each alike true peace in unity
For decades to come to breathe in comfort, relaxation, overflowing sanity.

Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon

 

Address the Nation in Arabic as well

I was listening to the President’s address to the Nation on the 62nd Independence celebration held for the first time in Kandy, and was very much impressed with his command of the Tamil language. Congratulations President for speaking off the cuff! But I was somewhat disappointed when he didn’t speak in English, although there were foreign dignitaries present for this function.

I’m writing to convey that in future celebrations of this nature the President to address not only in the conventional three languages – English, Sinhala and Tamil, but also address in Arabic as it will then be a feather in his cap. He could, of course, use the good offices of Moulavi Al Haj Niyas Ahmed, Principal of Ihsaaniya Arabic College, to do a synopsis of the speech in Arabic which, I’m sure, will be very much appreciated by all the Heads and the others of Middle East countries not excluding the Muslims of Sri Lanka. Our President, then will be remembered for creating a precedent in addressing in four languages and will go down in history as a quadric-linguist President of Sri Lanka, which is incidentally a multi-cultural, multi-racial, multi-ethnic and multi-religious country.

I also would like to suggest that we hold the next year’s Independence celebration either in Galle or preferably Jaffna. Deyata Kirula exhibition could also be held at the same time, in the same place where Independence celebration will be held. Over to you President, do something novel for the 63rd Independence of Sri Lanka next year.

Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Sri Lanka still Ceylon

In the year 1972, ‘Ceylon’ became ‘Sri Lanka’ and thereafter the State proclaimed to use that prestigious name on each and every official document.
Now, almost 38 years have passed since but foreign missions of Sri Lanka still use a consular stamp with the name ‘Ceylon’ when issuing visas. This stamp depicted a figure of an ancient time guardian or Doratupalaya.
The relevant ministries’ departments or diplomatic missions so far have taken no notice of this lapse.
Now the time has come to awake up from their slumber and act.

C. M. Kamburawala
Payagala

 

Appreciations

Dr N. S. Karunatileke - Ex-Governor of Central Bank

Never bowed down to powers that be

Dr Neville Sepala Karunatileke, former Central Bank Governor of Sri Lanka (1988 – 1992), passed away peacefully at his residence No. 37, Alfred Place, Colombo 3, on January 24, 2010 and was cremated at the General Cemetery, Borella on January 28, in the presence of a well represented and distinguished gathering of clergy, Ministers of State, Members of Parliament, Provincial Councils and Pradeshiya Sabhas and, of course, the common man for whom he always had a soft corner.

Neville’s parents, Ariyaratna Karunatileke and Neeta Freeda Karunatileke admitted him to the school close by, St Thomas Prep, Kollupitiya as they were living at Carmel Road, Colombo 3.
His father was a Land Settlement Officer in the Land Department, Colombo. Towards the end of his career, he was called for the Ceylon Civil Service (CCS) but due to ill health he had to decline same.
After his primary education at St Thomas’, he was admitted to Trinity College, Kandy as a boarder. At school, he joined in the literary associations of Sinhala and English and from the very start he was a very fluent speaker and debater.

After finishing his secondary education, he entered the University of Peradeniya. He selected the special degree course in Economics. He graduated with BA (Hons) second class having specialised in Money and Banking. He topped the list and was selected as a Tutor in Economics at the Peradeniya University.
He joined the Central Bank of Sri Lanka during the tenure of Vice Chancellor Sir Ivor Jennings in the year 1952. After working for a few years, he proceeded on Fulbright Scholarship under the Colombo Plan to England and entered the London School of Economics in 1955 for an MSc Degree. Having passed the same he returned to the Central Bank in 1957.

He was appointed as Director of Economic Research on his return. Later on, he proceeded on scholarship to the prestigious Harvard University and he distinguished himself by obtaining MA, MBA, MPhil and returned to the Central Bank as the Senior Deputy Governor. Once again, he was sent on scholarship to London and obtained his Doctorate (PhD) in Economics, Money and Banking.

He was an erudite scholar and was regarded as a leading economist of the East. He has authored more than 17 books on Economics and Central Banking besides other books and articles on Buddhism and Astrology.
His proficiency in writing could be judged by the book ‘Fifty Years of Central Banking’ written and published on the occasion of the Central Bank’s Golden Jubilee celebrations. From this book, Members of Parliament have quoted on several occasions. I can very well remember Minister Anura Bandaranaike quoting from it and he requested the Opposition MPs to study this book when they were making their speeches.

Neville read horoscopes of relations and friends as a hobby and he was well versed in this subject too.
Neville represented Sri Lanka on an occasion, as far as I remember, at IMF, World Bank or UNO and spoke for more than an hour without notes. He never carried notes when he spoke on any subject, be it on Economy, Buddhism or at political meetings of the Hela Urumaya. He was a prolific impromptu speaker who held the floor for more than one hour on many occasions – a great elocutionist too.

He with several other economists formed the Sri Lanka Economist Society of which he was one of the founder Vice-Presidents and later the President. He was responsible for constructing holiday bungalows at Anuradhapura, Nuwara Eliya and Kataragama for the use of the Central Bank staff and pensioners.

By instinct, he knew that the Central Bank was in danger of terrorist attack and got to construct a road barrier strong enough to withstand any sort of terrorist attack in the Central Bank premises, which was later regarded as a very wise step taken by him, as almost in a few weeks time the terrorists struck and attacked the Central Finance, which was just opposite the Central Bank. All buildings around Central Finance got badly damaged. I was at Central Finance to cash a fixed deposit and luckily escaped just by nine minutes before the attack.
Neville was very fond of his mother and looked after her with dedication with the able assistance of his wife, Mani, who had a retinue of servants until her death.

Neville was the founder member of the Hela Urumaya and was its first treasurer.
He walked with his head held high and never bent down to anyone – not even to the highest in the land. I remember him telling us that, then President of Sri Lanka (I do not like to mention the name) wanted him to release a vast amount of money (I think about 40 million) from the Central Bank for “Janasaviya” or some other fund. He point blank refused to release the money. At that time, the country was facing a severe economic crisis after the terrorist attack and Indian Army intervention (dropping ‘Parippu’ dhal). He was prepared to go home rather than do such a thing. He did go home honourably. He had such sterling qualities.
He was the chief dayaka of Isipatanaramaya Temple at Colombo 5. He, along with his wife Mani, contributed lavishly towards the cause of Buddhism.

At his funeral, the pallbearers were Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabral and his staff from the main entrance. The old Trinitians took over from there.
Neville was a visiting Senior Lecturer at the Vidyodaya and Kelaniya Universities. He was on the Board of Governors of the Trinity College and St Thomas’ Prep at Colombo 3, and held the post of senior member on both boards.

Friends as well as relations will feel the void created by his demise for a very long time to come.
He was one of the persons who was much interested in the conservation of the Sinharaja Forest range and took a major role in the campaign.

All in all, he was a unique person, no one hardly able to find anyone with so many achievements.
I would like to conclude by quoting from the Buddha Dhamma.
“Viyohi Vippayayogo Dukkho
Appiyehi Sampayoga Dukkho”
It is sorrowful to depart from the loved ones. Equally, it is sorrowful to associate with the not friendly ones.

May Neville attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!
Prema (brother-in-law)

 

Upali Phillip Wijewardane

Entrepreneur with a vision for the country

It was almost 20-years ago, that Upali Phillip Wijewardane, a business tycoon of Asia, disappeared in the high seas on his way to his motherland Sri Lanka from Malaysia in his own Learjet plane with his business associates and staff.

The Government of Sri Lanka took steps to trace him though the Sri Lanka Navy and 7th Fleet of the US Navy which is at Suva Bay in the Philippines. He is the youngest and the only son of the Late Mr. and Mrs. Walter Wijewardane, Miriswatte Walawwe, Kamburupitiya.

He was educated at Royal College, Colombo 7. He excelled in academic studies and sports, particularly horse riding. He entered the University of Cambridge, London, UK with his cousin Ranjit Wijewardane Founder/Chairman of Wijaya Newspapers Ltd. Upali Wijewardane got through his BSc (Economics) and MSc (Economics) very successfully. He returned to his motherland Sri Lanka and took an appointment as management trainee in a very outstanding British company known as Lever Brothers Ltd. He learnt all aspects of manufacturing, industry and management very successfully. Upali Wijewardane was a well disciplined and fearless person who stood to the truth only.

Once he had to take leave for his beloved sister Anoja Wijewardane’s wedding. As such, he finished all his reports relating to business of the Lever Brothers Ltd, and submitted to the European Chairman’s office and went on leave.

As soon as the leave was over, he came back to the company to resume duties. The Chairman of the company found fault with him for not submitting the relevant reports of the company. He explained that he submitted the reports before he went on leave. Then he searched the paper tray and found the reports underneath the Chairman’s tray and pulled it out and threw it at the Chairman’s face and went home not to return again. His mother Mrs. Anula Wijesinghe Wijewardane reported this matter to his brother, very prominent politician and businessman, the late Sarath Chandrasena Wijesinghe. He found fault with the Chairman of the company and kicked him out of the country.

He gave substantial shares of his Ceylon Chocolates Company Ltd. to his nephew Upali Wijewardane. He took initiatives to start businesses and industries on micro, small and medium level in his grandparents’ ancestral home. His businesses and industries progressed very rapidly. He constructed buildings at Bloemendhal Road, Colombo 13, for his company. In 1978, Upali Wijewardane was appointed as Chairman/Director General of Board of Investments of Sri Lanka to develop industries with foreign investors which he did very successfully in Katunayake, Biyagama, Koggala, and Sitawaka by establishing Free Trade Zones for export which generated employment. He started Ruhuna Udanaya to develop Ruhuna Rata. Dr Roshan Wijesundara, a nephew of Upali Wijewardane, has taken over the leadership of Ruhuna Udanaya to carry forward the policies and programmes of the Ruhuna Udanaya for the benefit of the poverty stricken families of the Ruhuna.
May he be born among us till he achieves Nibbana in his journey in Sansara!

Capt. L.B. Lanka (Wilbawe) Jayaratne, Mrs. Iranganiedevi Seneviratne Jayaratne,
Weligama

 

 

 

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