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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.

 

Bodhi Puja

A distorted Buddhist practice

Candidates facing Parliamentary Elections are seen in the print and electronic media participating in ‘Bodhi Pujas’ at various Buddhist temples throughout the country. They appear to do so, either in the belief that such religious practice will bestow enough merit to win a seat in Parliament or as propaganda to attract Buddhist votes.
‘Bodhi Puja’ is a Buddhist religious practice arising from the Buddha’s ‘Animisa Puja’ performed after attaining Enlightenment beneath a Bo-tree (Fious Religiosa). Prince Siddhartha, having attained Buddhahood beneath the Bo-tree at Buddhagaya expressed His gratitude to the Bo-tree for giving shelter to Him to attain Buddhahood, by gazing at the Bo-tree for seven days thus underlying the virtues of gratitude - being grateful to one who has been helpful or come to one’s aid when in need. The Bo-tree, with the passage of time, came to be venerated by the Buddhists.

It is to the Bo-tree at Buddhagaya that gave shelter to Prince Siddhartha to attain Buddhahood that the Buddha offered ‘Animisa Puja’. Thus, in a practical sense, it is that particular Bo-tree at Buddhagaya that has to be venerated by the Buddhists.

A sapling from the Bo-tree at Buddhagaya was brought to Sri Lanka by the daughter of Emperor Asoka of India, Sangamitta Maha Theri, during the time of King Devanampiyatissa which came to be planted in Anuradhapura, and is now known as Sri Maha Bodhi, the oldest known tree in the world. At various times 18 saplings from the Sri Maha Bodhi were planted in Buddhist Temples in Kelaniya, Tissamaharama, Kataragama, Polonnaruwa, etc. The original Bo-tree at Buddhagaya perished due to being cut down by hostile elements resulting in a sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi in Anuradhapura being taken to Buddhagaya and planted there. It is that Bo-tree that is now found in Buddhagaya. Thus the original Bo-tree that gave shelter to Prince Siddhartha to attain Buddhahood is no more and what now exists is the sapling from the Sri Maha Bodhi, grown to be a Bo-tree.

Bodhi Puja, in fact, is a religious practice designed to pay respects to the Bo-tree which gave shelter to Prince Siddhartha to attain Buddhahood. Hence, those who perform Bodhi Pujas with a view to win elections, pass examinations, obtain favours, get sicknesses cured, improve business ventures, for personal gain or to attain selfish ends, are doing so without an understanding of what the religious practice is meant for and due to ignorance of the Buddhist Teachings.

What is happening, as at present, is that even Kaputu Bo-trees (Bo-trees that have sprung up from Bo tree seeds swallowed and discharged by crows) are also venerated. Whatever it may be, when one pays homage to or venerates a Bo-tree, he or she, does so in veneration of the original Bo-tree at Buddhagaya, symbolised by the Bo-tree one venerates.

Hence, Bodhi Pujas on birthdays, on sicknesses being cured, on passing examinations etc. which gives a touch of religious serenity to an important event or situation in one’s life is understandable.
However, the Maha Sangha, should educate the Buddhists in regard to the purpose for which Bodhi Pujas are held and not allow the religious practice to be used to distort Buddhism.

Upali S. Jayasekara

 

Novel use of old computer casings

The other day when I was on my way to meet a close friend of mine at Peter’s Lane, Dehiwala, I saw an elderly person riding a push bicycle. I saw something unique - the attachments to his bicycle. The basket in front and the luggage at the back were not the usual stuff? Would you believe that they were the casings / shells of computer monitors! The empty casings were fixed with the front of the monitors facing upwards. How creative our Sri Lankans are! Recycling on a bicycle! Had I got a camera phone at that moment I could have taken a photograph and MMSed same to Bill Gates / Microsoft to show our locals’ creativity and ingenuity!
Mohamed Zahran
Colombo 3

 

Save Elagahawatta mangrove reserve

There is a vast wetland with mangrove reserve at Elagahawatta, Payagala which is facing destruction. This bio-diverse reserve has been neglected by the responsible authorities and the residents of the area are now using it as a dumping ground of garbage.
A boat manufacturing company close to this reserve is diverting its toxic effluents to this mangrove reserve endangering its fauna and flora.
The Forest Department has put up a notice board requesting the public not to pollute this place but it has fallen on deaf ears.
The mangrove is now overgrown with weeds. If this ecologically important vast land is allowed to be perished in this manner it will cause immense damage to the environment.
C. M. Kamburuwala
Payagala

 

Time to work together for ethnic reconciliation

Dr P. A. Samaraweera from Australia has written an excellent piece on Miliband and the Global Tamil Forum. Having stated that, I have a major problem with Samaraweera’s last paragraph in which he has stated, “David Miliband..... the end of the terrorist war brought peace not only in Sri Lanka…..”. If peace is the absence of war then I have no problem with Samaraweera’s statement. Peace for me is not the absence of war only, but much more. It is a relationship. The type of Sri Lanka we had before 1971 in the South and before 1983 in the North. In other words, the root causes for 1971 in the South and 1983 in the North must be eradicated from the body politic Sri Lanka. How does one do this?

Writer Nimal Bhareti writing in one of our papers has said, “the Buddhist Hierarchy and the Christian Church must get together and work for reconciliation in the country with a solution acceptable to the minorities”.
In other words, the Government of Sri Lanka (GOSL) must keep its promise. Before May 19, 2009, the GOSL stated that once the war is over, the LTTE is defeated and the Prabbakarans are no more, the GOSL will produce the master plan to solve the problem of the minorities.

Even now it is not too late for the GOSL to keep its promise. I am aware that the new Parliament will only commence its work in April this year, but the President of the country has got a little more than six years to govern. The whole idea behind the 1978 Constitution was that the presidency will give a sense of stability and continuity even if Parliament having been dissolved. So may, I as a humble citizen of Sri Lanka, appeal to the President of Sri Lanka to initiate a programme of work to produce this master plan?
Despite this present political system, it may be good for the President even to forget his own party and rise above party politics for the good of the country. For I am certain that unless the problem of the minorities is solved politically, our country cannot develop economically in the manner it should.
Over to the President of Sri Lanka.
Sydney Knight
Colombo 3

 

Thanks to Colombo Municipal

Consequent to your publishing my letter regarding the demolished dispensary at Kotahena that remained for many months without being reconstructed in your issue of 15.11.2009 and about the deficiencies in the library, the work on the construction of the dispensary was started immediately and the work is now in progress. I thank the Administrative Authority of the Municipal Council, Omar Kamil for taking immediate action in this matter and The Nation for publishing my letter. I hope Kamil will see that the dispensary will be opened to the patients as early as possible.
Arul
Colombo 13

 

Appreciations

Vijitha Jayasekara

Former Vice Principal, Kolonnawa Balika Vidyalaya

Appointed assistant teacher in 1960 to Kolonnawa Balika, first appointment,
Since then youthful Vijitha commenced career with utmost commitment.
Old Visakhian well versed in Pali, Sanskrit, Sinhala, English taught Sinhala in dedication,
Graduated in London Examinations, rendered yeomen service in determination.

Within a brief period became the pillar of strength to her chosen school
Overflowing zeal’n zest to reach high standards, uplifting of this girl’s school.
Vijitha pioneered introducing the oriental band to upgrade values aesthetic
Designed the band outfit with responsibility proving efficiency a prognostic.

Through fields of memory I recall Vijitha an accomplished pianist
Several decades back on some evenings, I so tender her pet vocalist
Neighbours along Dematagoda road in happy childhood carefree days
Vijitha organised musical evenings in sisterly admirable ways

Extended service to Kolonnawa Balika for nearly thirty three fruitful long years
Sincerely supported every association, society sans discrimination or veers.
Inculcated in students loyalty to alma mater, decency punctuality,
Firmly, wisely advised, motherly attitudes in authority, won popularity,

During her tenure twice acting Principal, stem disciplinarian,
Until retirement in early 90’s, livewire reputed vice principal, humanitarian,
Well groomed in Kandyan attire, steadfast friend in distress, exemplary.
Rare calbre helped school to achieve recent goals, unquestionable integrity.

Remembering March 26th, 2010, your First Death Anniversary
I offer this tiny tribute a token of our friendship in sincerity
Memories of happy wonderful days flash across my painful mind
They leave such heartburns of an undying sober kind.

By virtue of countless meritorious deeds performed,
May whatever you wished for in Sansara be attained.
Never be hampered by whims of unkind Karma in Sansara
May dear you attain the Supreme BSliss of Noble Nirvana.

Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon
 

 
 G. P. J. SILVA J.P.

Remembering Seeya on his birth centenary

There are grand-dads, grandpas, grandfathers and seeyas all over the world; but our dearest Seeya was undoubtedly unique in many ways. Born on March 7, 1910 he would have been 100 years of age today, only if he lived; but he passed away after a brief illness bravely borne – just 40 days short of completing four score years and ten!

Our Seeya was married to Piyaseeli Archchi and they were fortunate to have lived together to celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary on November 5, 1998. However, Piyaseeli Archchi who completed 80 years of age predeceased Seeya on May 24, 1999.
We consider ourselves very fortunate to have had Seeya’s influence at least during our early years and we are certain that what he taught us has helped and would in the future too help us to mould our character and mindsets with regard to attitudes and values. Amongst the many lessons Seeya taught us which we cherish very much are getting up early in the morning and going to sleep early, not to waste food, being methodical and organised, good manners, punctuality and time management, respecting elders etc. Special mention should be made on the advice to us “to be thrifty”. He always believed in “saving for a rainy day”. We would never forget what he told the two of us – first cousins - as he got into the car when he left home for the last time to enter Durdans Hospital for a surgery. He said “akka should always look after nangi”; “akka and nangi should behave yourselves well until I come back”; At that moment, who ever thought that he would never again return home alive?

We have heard that Seeya was full of courage, determination and enthusiasm. His motto was “I CAN AND I WILL”. He feared no one and had on many occasions taken the challenge to stand up for “What was right” against all odds and had emerged victorious. The lesson he taught everyone by setting an example was “If you are in the right, fear no one” and his message to everyone was “Always stand up for your rights”.
Seeya was an extremely caring and devoted father to our fathers – the two brothers, Kumar and Ruwan – and has done so much for them. While all three families lived together as an extended family, our Seeya was too much attached to both of us and very much concerned about our safety in our behaviour while growing up, so much so, that he did not want us to have a single fall when we were trying our level best to stand up and walk during our tender years. Even thereafter, when we were attending Montessori/Nursery he used to drive us together with our mothers to and from these lessons as our fathers were heavily involved with their daily routine at the bank and the hotel.
Known among our relations as Jeeva Seeya, Jeeva Bappa/Mama, Jeeva Aiya etc., and as Jeeva or Jeeves among friends of his age, he was loved by all of them. They all came to him for advice, counselling, guidance and help. He was also welcome at anytime in all their homes to have a chat, talk, enjoy and have fun as he could relate positively with friends and relations of all ages. Seeya had faith in Vedic Astrology and whenever relations visited him they wanted him to predict their future according to the planetary transits.
We must admire and pay special tribute to Seeya for being a role-model looking after parents and parents-in-law, his mother (Mirisse Archchi) and Piyaseeli Archchi’s mother, both residing at his residence as extended families - giving them the best care and attention. In fact, with regular medication Mirisse Archchi was fortunate to live to celebrate her 100th Birthday on November 29, 1989.

Seeya was also very humane and practised loving kindness “Ahimsa” towards all living beings. We have been told that once he was instrumental in curing a sick Buddhist Monk at Sri Dharmakeerthyaramaya (Polwatte Temple). Together with the able assistance of Dr Lakshman Weerasena, this monk who was physically disabled for several years was put on his feet again. His loving kindness “Ahimsa” was extended to animals, birds and insects too. Another rare feat was with the assistance of Dr Chinniah, Veterinary Surgeon, to bring back the eye-sight of a stray kitten which was born blind.

Our Seeya was interested in motor cars and attending to them was one of his pastimes. Seeya had obtained his driving licence in 1939 and was in the driving seat for a record sixty years. In his motoring-life spanning six decades he had been the owner of several motor cars of many makes and models. It was surprising that he suddenly gave up driving on the very next day after Piyaseeli Archchi passed away. During the only seven months he lived thereafter, our fathers drove him wherever he wanted to go while he sat on the front seat of the car.
“Two little cousins growing up in your arms
Learnt ABC and Nursery Songs
What you taught with care we value so much
And we shall live up to them no matter what

The life you led was Simply the Best
With courageous thoughts in your chest
If there’s a will there’s always a way
How true these words you used to say

Thinking back we really must say
We miss you a lot on your Birthday today
For in our lives you have played a very special part
And Memories we will treasure & keep deep in our hearts.

Ten Years have passed without you
But the good times we had keep recollecting you
Although you are ‘gone’ we will always be together
As Your Spirit will live on each of us Forever

We wish you contentment in every way
May the Blessings of the Triple Gem be with you we always pray
To reach the ultimate goal of Nirvana Bliss
You are sure to find the way without a miss!

Our beloved dearest Seeya, We sadly miss you very much!

Today, on your 100th Birth Anniversary, and always we wish you contentment and happiness wherever you are and may you practise Dana, Seela, Bhavana and reach Nirvana!


Gayani and Ruwangi Punchihewa
Loving grandchildren

 

 

 

 

 

 

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