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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.

 

Save our pregnant mothers!

In some parts of the world, there is a practice where the pharmaceutical marketing companies contract agreements with medical practitioners to prescribe their products for an agreed monthly commission.
Poor patients pay the bill which enables the medical practitioners to earn some additional income and at the same time the company to achieve their sales objectives.
This practice is considered unethical in most part of the world. But, unfortunately it is noted that some of our own consultant specialist had fallen into the trap of multi-national giants by now.
As a result, the fate of our pregnant and lactating mothers has become detrimental.
It is reported that a Thailand based supplementary milk powder manufacturing company markets a premium priced milk powder targeting pregnant and lactating mothers has brought in a strategy to market their extremely high priced product in Sri Lanka.
The company has entered into an agreement with some leading medical practitioners in the country saying that the company would provide Rs 5 from each pack they sell to the College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists in Sri Lanka.
As a result, some of the medical practitioners have already started to prescribe the product to all pregnant and lactating mothers to enable the College of Obstetrician and Gynaecology to raise funds to look after the interest of their members.
Poor pregnant mothers would pay the bill.
This particular milk powder has got nothing special for the price of Rs 965.00 per 400g pack other than calcium, folic acid and iron in it in the form of a milk powder.
It tastes horrible say some of my patients who have used it.
Pregnant mothers are asked to consume 3-4 packs of this milk powder per month that would cost Rs 2,895.00 to Rs 3,860.00 for a month.
And it is crucial to note that calcium, folic acid and iron could be supplemented in the form of capsules for less than Rs 200.00 per month which is more palatable and convenient for pregnant mothers.
I would urge all those medical practitioners to please consider our mothers before burdening them with expensive prescription or recommendation of such products since this will make our mothers to compromise on other essentials in order to afford the above product, which is unfair.
Please do not abide by unethical practices introduced by marketing companies that would enable them to achieve their objectives easily in an unlawful manner by victimising our poor patients.
It is unfortunate to note that it is the same company that had spent millions of rupees to sponsor the recently concluded gala annual sessions of the Sri Lanka College of Obstetrician and Gynaecologists which took place at the Waters’ Edge.
At the same event, the above company issued a sum of Rs 100,000.00 to the college with the intention of kick starting their campaign by victimising thousands of pregnant and lactating mothers in this country.
I witnessed the event.
I believe it is the responsibility of the Health Ministry to curb these kinds of activities and the media to educate the public on these malpractices and help safeguard Lankan mothers from being exploited.
Dr V Ganes

 

Projecting the right message

To provide wide publicity for UN declared honour days, full-page advertisements are published in all newspapers with explicit messages from politicians and other distinguished personalities with their photographs.
The intention of the organisations related to the publicised occasion is to invite the attention of the public to act in furtherance of the objectives of the UN declared day.
A change in the presentations of the advertisements could achieve practical and constructive results, and that, if with limited messages; illustrative picture photo messages depicting events related to the published event are included, that would result in attracting the keen attention of the public.
If the expensive advertisement objectives are specifically intended to attract the attention of children, photo illustrations should display messages to suit children.
While appreciating the relevance of a full-page advertisement that appeared in the newspapers recently in relation to Global Hand Washing Day, and while valuing the sincere efforts of the publishers, I wish to suggest another practical approach to convey the significance of the messages with illustrative picture photo messages.
A very few, other than those directly attached to the event or known to the publishers, would have read all the eight messages covering the full-page advertisement.
The Nation [24.10.10.] has published a photograph of number of schoolchildren, dressed in their school uniform washing their hands from tap water.
Such picture illustrations convey a meaningful message to the readers of the newspapers and mostly to the children.
Similarly, to my mind, a picture illustration of children washing their hands immediately after playing; prior to consuming food washing their hands; masons, carpenters, repair shop workers and such allied manual workers - some bare bodied - prior to a meal wearing a shirt and washing their hands or at the day’s end of their work washing their hands and feet would convey a meaningful message more than the publication of too many written messages with their photos.
A full page advertisement relating to a graduation ceremony appeared in the newspapers recently and even most of the senior students in schools or their parents may not have read all the messages in the advertisement; but if with a few messages, some of the critical features were given on a statement to statement form, most students and the parents would have been inclined to read in order to familiarise with the main objectives.
The ‘Best Performed Student’s’ photograph conveyed many illustrative messages to keen students.
But where messages are received from the president, the prime minister, from the related minister and from a head of an institution should be published with their photos.
Of all others who have sent messages, a list of such people and their photos could be published without publishing the messages and to support the objective of the publication, the picture photo messages could be included and thus would be more result-oriented.
The writer’s intention is to provide an opportunity to get the intended messages across in an easy viewing position and the products of the publishers to reach many divergent groups of people.
Kasi Silva

 

Did Buddhaghosa translate the Tripitaka into Pali?

Recently, I read a misleading statement regarding the Pali texts of the Buddha Dhamma in a weekend English newspaper (not ‘The Nation’).
The writer had stated that the famous scholar monk Venerable Buddhaghosa translated all the available Sinhala versions of the Dhamma at that time, into Pali on the invitation of King Parakramabahu. However, he had not indicated which Parakramabahu it was.
He had further attributed the Pali versions of the Tripitaka (The Three Canons), Mahavansa and even the Buddhist devotional stanzas (gathas), in the present form, to Ven. Buddhaghosa.
These were the writer’s own words:
“The Ven Buddhaghosa lived in Anuradhapura enjoying royal hospitality and patronage while he completed the gigantic task of translating the religious literature into Pali. This is how the Tripitaka, the Mahavansa and other texts recorded in Sinhala in temple libraries across the island came to be Pali texts.”
These statements are incorrect and misleading. Ven Buddhaghosa was only a commentator (Atuvachari). His task was to translate the Sinhala Atthakathas (commentaries of the Pali texts) into Pali. Limited space here does not permit me to give a list of his works. Those interested may refer to The Early History of Buddhism in Ceylon by Dr E W Adikaram (Part I, Chapter I, pages 1 and 2) - (1st Impression 1946).
Samanthapasadika is one such work attributed to Ven. Buddhaghosa. This is a translation into Pali, of the Sinhala Vinaya Atthakathas (Commentaries on the Pali texts on discipline - Vinaya Pitaka).
The writer mentions the name of King Parakramabahu who is said to have invited Ven. Buddhaghosa to undertake this specific task. According to historian Dr G C Mendis, Ven. Buddhaghosa came to Lanka during the reign of King Mahanama (409-451 A.D.) (The Early History of Ceylon - Page 61). There was no Parakramabahu at the time.
In fact, Mahavihara monks invited Ven. Buddhaghosa to write a work of his own to test his ability to undertake the responsible task of translating the Sinhala commentaries of the Pali texts into Pali Visuddbimagga, a concise but complete book on Buddha’s teachings was the result.
The reading public is warned against distorted versions of the history of the Sasana (Order) by irresponsible individuals.
J Abeygunawardhana

 

Appreciations

Commemoration of Venerable Gangodawila Soma Thera’s death anniversary

Vanguard of Buddhism

Straight forward Ven Gangodawila Soma Thera overflowed in humanity,
His prestigious, reputed name indelible in Buddhist history.
His indomitable characteristics with true values cleansed society
The vacuum made by his pathetic departure can never be filled this century.

Farsighted Ven Soma Thera established centre Buddhist philosophy in Australia
Campaigned to curb misconceptions, Buddhists worshipping Hindu deities in Sri Lanka
He knew outside influences threatening to destroy Buddhism
He was appalled to note, rife in the country was alcoholism.

Followed example set by his teacher most Ven Madihe Maha Nayake Thera
Also devoted, diligent pupil of Venerable Ampitiye Rahula Thera.
Viharadhipathi Sakyamuni Sambuddha Vihara in Berwick Australia
Irreparable loss passing away untimely in Petersburg in Russia.

In December 2003, in 56th year in Russia to accept an honorary doctorate
Keen on meditation selected lonely, serene locations to mediate.
His published work ‘Buddhastupa’ useful guide for deep mediation
Worked indefatigably to awaken the nation, specially younger generation.

Pioneered whole-heartedly organised Jana Vijaya stable foundation
To build society true followers of the five precepts in dedication
Conducted discussable discourses, sermons, in remote villages
Thousands flocked to listen to keenly forceful bold lucid messages.

In a few decades, achieved much more than some in a lifetime
Spoke frankly, fearlessly, amidst calumnies in his short fruitful lifetime
His deep abiding veneration for Gautama Buddha evident in his clear words
Wherever he visited preached Buddha Dhamma, the pristine words.

Contributed knowledge services to religious necessities
In New Zealand too conducted successful Dharmaduta activities
Never sought self-aggrandizement, expounded Dhamma acceptable
Inimitable, outspoken prelate vehement critic activities laudable.

Extended yeoman service popular among masses far ‘n near
Vanguard of Buddhism learned, social reformer, virtuous crusade dear
By the virtue of myriad meritorious contribution performed in Sansara
May the Most Ven. Soma Thera exemplary, attain the supreme bliss of Nirvana.

- Kumari Kumarasinghe Tennakoon


Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala’s 146th birth anniversary

Tribute to a fearless campaigner

One of the greatest laymen who served the cause of Buddhism is Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala, after the great kings of Sri Lanka, like king Dutugamunu, Valagambahu, and Indian king Dharmashoka.
Srimath Anagarika was born on September 17, 1864. And even after 77 years since his demise, the service rendered by him to the cause of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, India, Japan and other foreign countries is still remembered with great appreciation.

Dr Ambedkar, who is considered the person who started mass conversion of Indian untouchables to Buddhism in October 1956, though considered as the first mass conversion of Indian untouchables to Buddhism, there was a mass conversion of untouchables to Buddhism 58 years earlier.
Colonel Henry Steel Olcott along with the Anagarika brought a large number of South Indians to Maligakanda Vidyalaya Privena in Sri Lanka and got them converted to Buddhism.
This is considered a very remarkable contribution to the propagation of the Buddhist religion.
One person is considered and recognised as a colossus who spread Buddhism is king Dharmasoka of India. Locally, it is the Anagarika.

Don David’s (Anagarika’s first name) parents were Don Carlis Hewavitharana and Mallika from Matara.
At six years of age, he entered St Benedict’s and subsequently Royal College.
At these schools, he studied the Bible and was the first in the examination.
Anagarika was able to persuade a number of people to discard their Portuguese, Dutch and English names and to take Aryan names.

He himself discarded his Biblical name of ‘Don David’ and changed it to Dharmapala.
Others followed suite such as George Peiris who changed the name to (Prof.) Gunapala Malalasekara.
He devoted all his attention to create a national consciousness and one national identity.
He fought to dethrone alien ways and habits and enthrone the national and indigenous culture.
He launched a national reawakening movement which quickly spread throughout the country.
He established the Mahabodhi Society in Sri Lanka in 1891 and set up the Mahabodhi Society in India.
The following year, he launched the Mahabodhi, a monthly journal which he edited and he was the writer and proofreader, publisher and distributor all rolled into one.
The downfall of Sri Lanka’s culture, customs, manners and practices together with Buddhism was the result of foreign occupation and rule. During the Dutch period the village schools were made the centres of Christianity.
Baptism was administered and marriage solemnised in the village school. Fines were imposed on parents if their children did not attend school.

The British destroyed our tanks in Wellassa and the Uva Province and uprooted villagers from their traditional homeland forcing them to work on coffee plantations.
The British opened taverns in every village and distributed liquor free to induce our people to develop taste for it.
This transformed our sober and thrifty people into drunkards of about whom Anagarika spoke very severely to reform them. Anagarika practised what he preached for he was a teetotaler and vegetarian.
He very harshly denounced drunkenness and encouraged vegetarianism.
He was not against other religions or foreigners for he encouraged the study of all languages.
He himself was proficient in Sinhala, English, Pali and other foreign languages.
He encouraged comparative study of other religions.
Incessantly and ruthlessly he attacked unethical western habits.
He had no fixed abode, hence he was called Anagarika.
He sent people to foreign countries to learn skills and they came back and set up cottage industries like ceramic toys and matchsticks manufacture.
Anagarika first visited India in the latter part of 1884 to participate in the All India Parama Vidya Society in Madras accompanying Mrs. Blavatsky and retuned in 1885.
Anagarika then began his service to the cause of Buddhism. He was the first person to propagate Buddhism in Japan.
His mentor was Sri Sumangala Thero, who Anagarika’s father consulted to secure permission for him to become an Anagarika.

After reading the ‘Panadura Wadaya’ book, Colonel Olcott decided to come to Sri Lanka. Miggettuwatte Gunananda Thero represented the Buddhists at the Panadura Wadaya. Colonel Olcott arrived in Galle on May 17, 1880 and together with Anagarika, he established the Theosophical Society of Sri Lanka and opened Buddhist schools for our boys and girls like Ananda, Nalanda, Dharmaraja, Mahinda, Rahula Matara, Vishaka, Mahamaya and other Buddhist schools throughout Sri Lanka.
At the religious conference of different faiths in Chicago, America on September11, 1893 Anagarika made a fluent speech to an audience of about one thousand and it was well received.
We owe to Anagarika for the following:
1. Sri Lankans using Aryan names
2. Women wearing Sariya and ‘Osariya’
3. Discarding the tradition of wearing cloth with the trousers
4. Wearing the national dress.
Anagarika should be considered as the father of the nation for no one else has done so much for Sri Lanka since from the British rule, especially to spread Buddhism and Sinhala traditions.
I appeal to all local bodies to name of at least one road after ‘Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala’ to honour him which he rightly deserves.
I met the then mayor of Colombo Municipal Council in 1988 and persuaded him to change the name of Turret Road, Kollupitiya to ‘Srimath Anagarika Dharmapala Mawatha’.
May he attain the Suppeme Bliss of Nirvana!
V. K. B. Ramanayake


Malsiri Kurukulasuriya

Memories of master Trinitian batsman

The telephone had rung. My daily help had picked up the message. Our mutual friend Seneca de Chickera had given the sad news about the death of our friend Malsiri Kurukulasuriya.
Malsiri had kept his 70th birthday on March 30 this year.
He died on April 24
As soon as I came home and noted Seneca’s message, I spoke to Malsiri’s wife. She is from the Philippines and got all the details of the funeral.
Since the funeral was going to be almost within 24 hours, partly to inform the others and certainly to speak to mutual friends I was able to network and share the sad news.
Since the day of the funeral in Kandy was a Sunday I was able to say a prayer for Malsiri at the Sunday Eucharist.
I have a number of stories about Malsiri beginning from our days at Trinity College through our days at Peradeniya and thereafter.
In this tribute to Malsiri, I shall confine myself to one story.
This story is about Malsiri, the sportsman.
Malsiri will be remembered for his cricket. However, he did take part in athletics for his house and also some rugger for his house.
As I look back down the memory lane at Malsiri, it is as a cricketer that I would like to remember him. What I remember is Malsiri, the elegant batsman.
Seated at the old Asgiriya Pavilion and also in other places like Mount Lavinia, I have seen him bat with elegance.
His textbook batting will always be remembered.
When Malsiri was batting, there was pin drop silence to watch this master batsman.
I am sure all the Trinitians both in Sri Lanka and abroad will always remember the memory of this product of Trinity.
This son of Trinity will always be remembered.
We shall certainly remember his wife, his doctor brother in America and his brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka.
May the turf lie gently on this cricketer who silenced the crowd at Asgiriya!

Sydney Knight

 

 

 

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