RELIGIONS : There are four Major religions in the world and
Buddhism has helped mould our lives and our character.
We begin our day with the chanting of pirith, dhammanusasana,
religious discourses, admonitions and end the day in similar fashion.
This custom has now become a life pattern in Lanka, our Motherland.
No country in the world other than Sri Lanka manifest to the universe
the devotion of her children to religion and practice of rituals,
observances of rites related to the religions they adhere to.
If everything goes well Sri Lanka will be the 'heaven', the 'Nirvana'
or the place enjoying supreme bliss being united with the 'paramathma',
since all our people attend in some form or another to religious duties
during their life. Mind you we miss no festival however small it is and
that is the way the world sees us.
But do we really live the precepts we claim to practice and keep the
promises we make in observing pansil, attending 'poya day' to the
temples, or attend Sunday Mass, recite the rosary, pray aloud the Lord's
prayer, 'Our Father' and go in peace as the faithful are admonished and
blessed at the finale of the Holy Mass promising to serve our neighbour?
Or to the Kovils and Hindu temples we attend to mark our presence at
events of religious significance?
The pertinent question that comes to my mind here as I pen down my
thoughts, is whether the laity and the religious leaders who preach from
the dharmasanayas, or the pulpits set the example they should, or are
they leading the people, their little flock astray?
I am compelled to think this way as the erudite, devoted and
exemplary monks or the priests and bishops, Hindu Pusaris and Muslim
Maulavis or religious dignitaries have failed to come out strongly as
they should, to condemn and pronounce 'what is wrong as wrong' and speak
without fear against those who commit wrong against the innocent masses.
I wish I could think that they are doing their best, nay it is not that
easy to think that way.
If the people as true devotees of whatever religion they adhere to
and the religious dignitaries fearlessly show the way and take the lead
against all forms of evil, violence and massacring of the innocent, it
is my belief that things would have been very much different and better
from what we see today.
Within the last two weeks, Sri Lanka witnessed the brutal killings
both in the Northern part of the country and within the city walls of
Colombo. Those who stood for truth, justice and fair-play have been
gunned down or blasted and the threat is looming large and we cannot
predict what will be in store next.
The recent past brutal killings took away the blossoming lives of the
children, the lads an lasses of the 'butterfly age'. They were victims
of the man's cruelty to man. What sin these children in their innocence
have committed, nobody knows.
As I write I hear one more bomb explosion in Colombo on the Pakistani
Independence day celebrations in Sri Lanka.
The news telecast at short intervals since the blast portrayed the
incident as an attempt on the life of the outgoing Pakistani High
Commissioner Bashir Wali Mohommed. And the precious lives of seven
including a nine year old were lost in the blast at the Kollupitiya
The teaching and the efforts of great thinkers like Descartes, Plato,
Aristotle, Hagal to the modern day thinkers like Karl Marx, Lenin, Jean
Paul Satre, Emmanuel Kant and many others about whose work we had the
fortune to read and understand comes to my mind having witnessed sordid
events taking place.
It seemed that all their efforts in building a just world have gone
for a six with the social upheaval we witness today. Everything has gone
topsy turvy and the world seem to be crumbling down.
Sacred scriptures, the teachings of Jesus Christ, the Lord Buddha,
Mohammed and other religious leaders seem to have lost their meaning and
the founders of noble religions have laboured in vain and sacrificed
their lives for nothing, for there are no adherents but worshippers like
mere parrots who just recite stanzas, gathas or prayers without
Looking at what is happening around us, we who highly boast of a
sacrosanct culture seem to appear worse than the worst fellow in the
dungeon or the gutter. We have lost our sense of value. We have lost all
value for human life.
But Sri Lanka is the "Loken Uthum rata...." We Sri Lankans talk with
pride of a religion that claimed to have moulded our character from the
times of the kings who were devout adherents of the law of the Manu.
We say that our Constitution, the Constitution of the Social
Democratic Republic of Sri Lanka, source of all the laws and regulations
gives the pride of place to Buddhism and it is almost the religion of
the State. But let us peruse through the history.
We find the law of the land reigned supreme and justice was done
during the times of the 'Rajanduwa' and 'Sinhala neethiya' was the best
as Knox once wrote that a young lass, a virgin could walk through
streets safely at any time without fear.
It was the strict observance of the Law that ensured that safety.
Everyone was equal before the law in the word and the spirit.
It is sad, a nation with a history we could have just pride in and
proclaiming to be the adherents of the noble teachings of the world
religions have come to a state where killing has become a 'game of the
child'. It is not enough to have or belonged to a religion if one can
not live up to the spirit of that religion.
It is pointless and a waste of colossal sums of money to have a
Ministry for Religious Affairs, if the people do not live with their
religion and are letting the valuable and hard earned money go down the
It is far better not to have a Ministry for Religious Affairs than
having one which has no meaning or that creates no impact on society as
It is high time that the Minister in charge of Religious Affairs look
seriously to the constantly recurring events around us and call for a
meeting of the Heads of All Religions in the country and seek their
advice as to what should be done to bring back man to his senses and who
has lost his way.
Minister Tissa Karaliyadde who dwells in the shadows of the Sacred
City of Anuradhapura has a greater responsibility to bear at this
critical hour of our history.