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|Giving foremost place and fostering Buddhism?
The Constitution of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka
in Chapter 11 says that Buddhism will be given the foremost place
and foster Buddhist Sasana. It is not possible for the government
alone to meet this requirement in the statute, without the advice
and guidance of the Maha Sanga, Buddhist Organisations and even the
lay Buddhists. Such advice had resulted in the establishment of the
Buddhist Commission and the presenting of the Anti-Conversion Bill
But what is the role the Buddhist clergy now resorting to,
anything but bring down and discredit Buddhism? A few examples of
recent happenings and utterances will prove my case.
One Buddhist monk of the JHU at a discussion over the private
electronic media had said that he cannot accept what the Maha Nayaka
Thera said and what was said had not been ratified by the Sanga
Sabha. Answering another question, he said that the organisation
which is headed by Ven. Bellanwila Wimalarathana Thera is not a
recognised one and hence his statement could not be accepted. Does
this not show disregard to superiors?
Then comes the alleged cheating and fraud by a Buddhist monk who has
been arrested and now out on bail and also a Buddhist monk in
Maligawatte has been arrested for possessing hand bombs and is in
remand. Does this not bring disrepute to Buddhism?
Another Buddhist priest contesting the coming general elections
cursed Prabhakaran, Wijeweera and J. R. Jayewardena and said that
these men will go to Hell. Speaking further he said JRJ is the worst
offender as he brought in the ‘Manape’ preferential vote system. Has
he not violated main preaching of Lord Buddha – Karuna, Metha,
To end, here is a very humorous piece, which came over the
electronic media where a Buddhist priest contesting the last
parliamentary elections said. He questioned a child as to whether he
knows the prayer to worship his mother, to which the child replied
in the negative. Then he had asked whether he knows the prayer to
worship his father, to which he said, ‘No’. Then the Buddhist monk
has asked as to what prayer he knows. The child replied that he
knows the prayer to worship his uncle. When the Buddhist priest
asked him to recite, he recited “Maame Baala Samagamo.” Does this
not ridicule Buddhism, coming from a Buddhist monk?. Come to think
of it, the child is not wrong. ‘Maame’ means uncle and children call
elders ‘Maama’ or uncle. ‘Baala’ means ‘fools, imbeciles’ so there
we are - the rightful place as elders - voters.
Is it not time for the government to foster Buddhism, to amend
the Constitution or add that priests of any religion cannot contest
any election, be they be local, provincial or general? The more they
enjoy the life of a layman they move away from the noble doctrine.
It is hoped that all Buddhists inclusive or a major section of
Buddhist monks will give full support to the Rajapaksa government to
bring in such legislation, which will be the only way to give
foremost place to Buddhism and Buddha Sasana.
G. A. D. Sirimal
|Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) devalued on his
Hardly two weeks ago the birthday of the
Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) was celebrated among some of the Muslims of
the island in a grand manner with processions, buntings, singing of
songs, recitals of mowlids and many were the speeches made of the
Prophet (PBUH) and also many were the articles of the Prophet (PBUH)
that appeared in all the newspapers. The Sri Lanka Broadcasting
Corporation too highlighted the prophet’s birthday together with the
television stations. The Sri Lankan Government declares a holiday on
that day despite the fact that Saudi Arabia, the birth-place of the
Prophet (PBUH) not declaring a holiday on the birthday of the
Prophet (PBUH) as they claimed that such celebrations of birthday
were innovations and have banned any celebration of the birthday of
the Prophet (PBUH).
This writer heard many speeches and read many articles of the
Prophet (PBUH) during the time of the celebration, but was very
disappointed with the contents of the speeches and articles. They
were all banal and confined only to his spiritual attainments and
his personal habits only. His role as a politician determined to
establish the sovereignty of God on earth, his role as a law-giver
and judge, commander of troops to face attacks by idol-worshippers
and non-believers, his clever agreement with tribes who were not in
agreement with his ideology and his rousing of the believers for
battle to defend themselves against his enemies were all ignored.
There is an unseen hand that is responsible for a long time to
deprive Muslims of knowing the true personality of the Prophet
Mohammed(PBUH). This writer was asked to deliver speech on the
Prophet (PBUH) on an occasion where his birthday was celebrated
about two weeks. Hardly seven minutes after the writer began to
highlight the true personality of the Prophet (PBUH) the organisers
said time-up and stopped his speech. Needless to say the writer
walked-out of the celebrations. The organisers were foreigners who
claim that they have established an Islamic Republic.
At this point for the sake of brevity only two comments by
non-Muslims are quoted to portray the greatness of Prophet (PBUH).
Michael H. Hart, astronomer and mathematician in his book of ratings
of men who contributed towards the benefit and uplifting of mankind
writes.” My choice of Mohammed (PBUH) to lead the list of the
world’s most influential persons may surprise some readers and may
be questioned by others, but he is the only man in history who was
supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels.
Lamartine, the renowned historian said, “It greatness of purpose,
smallness of means and astounding results are the criteria of human
genius, who can dare compare any great man in history with Mohammed
“Philosopher, orator, apostle, legislator, warrior, conqueror of
ideas, restorer of rational dogmas, a cult without images, the
founder of twenty terrestrial empires and one spiritual empire that
is Mohammed (PBUH). As regards all the standards by which human
greatness may be measured, we may well ask is there any man greater
For the sake of brevity only two comments by non-Muslims are quoted,
there are several more by non-Muslims who have recognised the
greatness of Mohammed (PBUH), however in Sri Lanka. Muslims continue
to highlight only his personal habits ignoring his role as a
politician, commander of the Muslim army who fought only in
self-defence, a judge, a law giver and one who had charisma that was
unmatched because of his honesty, trustworthiness, kindness and
forbearances in his relationships with his followers.
Another drawback is that in mosques and in public speeches, the
age-old practice of speaking in Tamil only is being continued.
Presently, many Muslims are educated in the Sinhalese medium. They
do not understand anything that is being sermonised in the mosques
and at public meetings. The trustees of mosques and organisers of
the Prophet (PBUH) birthday should take serious note of this and the
Sinhalese language should and must be used in Sinhala speaking area
of this country. Friday prayer leaders must attain the ability to
make the Quran relevant to the contemporary times and not always
hark back to history. Most important of all, in Sinhala speaking
areas the language that should be used is Sinhala only and not
Tamil. This should especially be so at the time of the celebration
of the birthday of the Prophet (PBUH).
Social Justice Movement
|An open letter to all parliamentary candidates
I presume that it is in order to believe that all of you have
“read, marked and inwardly digested” the 1978 Constitution. It is
vital that you, the future MP’s, must know the law of the land.
However, I am sad that all of you seeking to become lawmakers are
breaking the law. What do I mean?
What I mean is simply this! Despite the law, a number of you have
put out cutouts. Our walls are full of your faces. Some of you are
paying plenty of money to advertise yourself in the papers.
Why all this? If you have played the game according to the rules you
should not worry.
However, please remember that from 1931 the Sri Lankan electorate
has used the ballot. We have changed governments. We have sent MP’s
back home. Remember the Sri Lankan electorate has the power to
Obviously some of you seem to have plenty of money. Why don’t you
use this money to help some of the poor? Some of you have told us
about your plans for the future.
Of course we will take all this with a bag of salt. You know why?
However my hope and prayer is that the Sri Lankan electorate and the
political parties will in April this year find 225 men and women who
can be considered to be persons of integrity and certainly persons
who will fight the giant enemies of our time - the national problem,
poverty, bribery and corruption, and human rights violation.
May I conclude wishing you all the best as you aspire to be
‘servants’ of the Sri Lankan electorate!
Never living in the future
Must superman put asunder?
Never a dull monument
In this Indian Ocean Island!
Irene de Silva
|An eco-friendly transport for common man
I wish to comment on an article printed in The Nation newspaper
regarding the promotion of cycling as an alternative means of
Firstly, I would like to laud the minister concerned for the
initiative taken by him and the National Cyclists Forum bringing
this very important matter to the forefront of the public domain.
The benefits of cycling are immense and their virtues should be
However, I would like to enlighten your esteemed readers regarding
another aspect of the cycling industry which is essential to achieve
the goal of promoting cycling. This is the Tariff Department.
Surprisingly, the rates of duty imposed on import of bicycles are
one of the significantly highest rates of duty:
H.S. code for cycles: 87120090
Children cycle $20 CIF = Rs. 2,300
Customs duty 1,500
Total Rs. 3,148
This adds up to a total rate of 135% on CIF value.
Selling prices of bicycles could be slashed by 50%, if the state
introduces a reasonable duty structure which will be beneficial to
the wider public, rather than give protection to one assembler for
over two decades.
|Peace on Earth and goodwill to men
Peace will emblazon this Earth when Christianity, Hinduism, Judaism,
Islam and Buddhism learn to extract the essence of those religions,
which is ethics, and live by the moral principles and unerringly
follow the rules of conduct prompted by one’s conscience. Moral
principles do vary, but underlying is an unyielding thread of
honesty to oneself and one’s maker. The animal in man wants rest
when his maw is full. That is basic to all mankind, for man is of
the animal kingdom. All life is acquisitive, thereby goading
countries to prey on their neighbours. That is the animal in man.
However, amicability will prevail if religion steps in. The ethical
contents of religion, if exploited, could curb and mellow human
relations. However, the ground reality is that religion serves as a
fillip to plunder and mayhem as was seen around the world recently.
History goes on serving Christendom that preys and fattens on the
wealth of other countries. If children are taught the wisdom of
ethics, it will generate harmony and understanding between
countries. Religion tends to impact and clash with the political
aspirations and ideologies of Nations. It becomes simple if children
are taught to recognise between right and wrong in human relations -
between child and child. Soon they will learn of the brotherliness
of man. Religion confuses the child. Sans religion, the world which
God Almighty gifted to man will be a haven.
Senaratne Bandara Wellawa
Fondly remembering beloved grandfather
“Come quickly, Montague, or I am dead,” says Warwick. In
response, Somerset says, “Ah, Warwick, Montague hath breath’d his
last, And to the latest gasp cried out for Warwick, And said,
‘Commend me to my valiant brother.’ The former, as most of us evoke,
is none other than an act from Shakespeare’s most renowned “Henry
the Sixth.” In dotingly remembering a dearly beloved grandfather of
mine, Senaratne Bandara Wellawa, or widely known as Wellawa Aththa
amongst us, his grandchildren, at a moment in time that he is no
more, I can think of nothing more than quoting Shakespeare, in
forming the opening paragraph in this note of remembrance, for we
often heard him doing so, all through his noteworthy, yet much
self-effacing life. When the Duke of Somerset reports that Warwick’s
brother Montague has “breathed his last,” he means that Montague has
drawn his last breath, or expired in his last gasp. Similarly,
Wellawa Aththa, having lived a life that was full, breathed his last
at Colombo Hospital’s Merchant Ward in the early hours of February
Hailing from a Kandyan aristocratic background, Aththa joined the
prestigious Trinity College in Kandy in the year 1929. He conducted
his studies in the college until 1941. Subsequently, preparing
himsaelf in completing the London Matriculation Examination, it was
palpable that he was in his youth, was at the initiation of his
career, and was a product of generous years of school training, all
rudiments for same. Having accomplished a syllabus fairly practical,
especially in areas of mechanics, chemistry, heat, light and
electricity, falling under the category of General Elementary
Science, he too was an outstanding example of a “practical” man in
He chose as his wife, a charismatic and graceful maiden named
Enid Anula Wattegedera, who bore him three children, the eldest, a
son named Kamal-Kithsiri and two daughters Nilanganie and Udayanthi.
However, fate turned an eye of malevolence on the Wellawa family,
not allowing the three children to grow in the loving tender care of
their beloved mother, as she departed from this world at a
drastically young age. Later, her husband entered wedlock for the
second time, and his second bride became Anula Nillegoda, who bore
him a son named Chulanga.
With time, he joined the key administrative service of the
Government of Sri Lanka, the Sri Lanka Administrative Service
(SLAS), with civil servants working for both, the Central Government
as well as the provincial councils. Having joined the Cooperative
Department, he conducted duties as a Headquarters Inspector and
worked along with the late D.B. Wijetunge who was three years his
senior, and who later served as the third executive president of Sri
Lanka. Aththa was an eminent pioneer in commencing cooperative
development work in the island. During the decade of 1970, he
retired from the Department of Motor Traffic as the Assistant
Commissioner of Motor Traffic.
Having been a die-hard cricket fan until the time of his death,
Sanath Jayasuriya remained his favourite local cricketer. Even if we
missed a match every now and then, he made certain that he ardently
followed every single cricket match and tracked the scores
precisely, as an umpire would.
This unpretentious man, as in the late Sinatra’s evergreen “My Way”
had undeniably travelled each and every highway. He may have had
regrets, but then again too few to mention. He had done what he had
to do, and saw it through without exemption, before facing the final
curtain. He was a simple human being who never refrained from
lending a helping hand to those in need, who crossed his path.
Now, as I call a halt, as per this remembrance note, may I quote
Shakespeare once more, in fondly remembering and desolately missing
Wellawa Aththa, who faced it all, and still stood tall. Even in his
share of losing, in diverse aspects in life, his endearing smile
never seemed to fade. He always said what he truly felt, not the
words of one who kneels, and even took the blows, yet never gave in
to deceitfulness under any given circumstances.
Jaques, the resident sourpuss in the forest of Arden, home to
political exiles, banished lovers, and simple shepherds in
Shakespeare’s “As You Like It,” states in Act 2, “All the world’s a
stage, And all the men and women merely players; They have their
exits and their entrances, And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages.” According to Jaques, the first of these
ages is infancy and the last is “second childishness” and mere
oblivion. Wellawa Aththa too, in his time played many parts, yet I
must lay emphasis on the mere fact that, even during the second
childishness, he never endured oblivion. His memory was as fresh as
the morning dew. His soul was intact.
He was only six months away from his ninety-first birthday when
he departed this life. He was blessed to have never suffered from
any major complications in aspects of health. Wellawa Aththa set us
a great example in facets of learning the pleasures of life’s
simplicity and showed us the invaluable rewards of being ingenuous.
We loved him dearly and shall always do.
The rest of the family members and I shall perpetually miss his
cheerful conversations, which always made absolute sense, in any
theme he chose to converse. My one last opportunity to meet him was
when I visited him in late 2004, when I was down in Lanka for a
prolonged stay. I made it a point to visit him, along with my family
members at his abode in Malagamuwa. As always, he greeted us with
his pleasing smile, chatted for hours with much fervor, and treated
us with the best. He spent the latter portion of his life in
Bandaragama with his family. His absence leaves a momentous,
cherished vacuum behind, that may never be filled by another. May he
attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana!