Mahavamsa- An Insult To The Buddha!

Tamil Nadu boasted of outstanding Buddhist monks, who had made remarkable contributions to Buddhism thought and learning. Three of the greatest Pali scholars of this period were Buddhaghosa, Buddhadatta, and Dhammapala and all three of them were associated with Buddhist establishments in the Tamil kingdoms.

Buddhadatta or Thera Buddhaatta as he is called lived during the time of Accyutarikkanta, the Kalabra ruler of the Chola-Nadu. He was a senior contemporary of Buddhaghosa. He was born in the Cola kingdom and lived in the 5th Century AD. Under the patronage of this ruler, Buddhadatta wrote many books. Among his best known Pali writings are the VINAYA-VINICCHAYA, the UTTARA-VINICCHAYA and the JINALANKARA-KAVYA. Among the commentaries written by him are the MADHURATTHA-VILASINI and the ABHIDHAMMAVATARA. In the Abhidhammaratara he gives a glowing account at Kaveripattinum, Uragapuram, Bhutamangalam and Kanchipuram and the Mahavihara at Sri Lanka. While he was at Sri Lanka, he composed many Buddhist works such as Uttara-viniccaya Ruparupa Vibhaga Jinalankara etc. Buddhaghosha, a contemporary of Buddhadatta also composed many Buddhist commentaries.

Buddhaghosha is a Tamil monk, who made a remarkable contribution to Buddhism in Sri Lanka. He stayed and studied Buddhist precepts at Mahavihara in Anuradhapura. The Visuddhimagga was the first work of Buddhaghosha which was written while he was in Sri Lanka.

After Buddhaghosha, the important Theravada monk from the Tamil Nadu was Dhammapala. Dhammapala lived in the Mahavihara at Anuradhapura. He composed paramathadipani which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha s work on Khuddaka Nikaya and Paramathamanjusa, which was a commentary on Buddhaghosha’s Visuddhimagga. A close study of the three Buddhist monks viz Buddhadatta, Buddhaghosha and Dhammapala shows that Tamil Buddhists were closely associated with the Sri Lankan Buddhists around the 5th century AD.

The author of NETTIPAKARANA is another Dhammapala who was a resident of a monastery in Nagapattinam. One more example is the Chola monk Kassapa, in his Pali work, VIMATTI-VINODANI, this Tamil monk provides interesting information about the rise of heretical views in the Chola Sangha and the consequent purification that took place.

There are so many other Tamil monks who are attributed to the Pali works some of them were resident at Mayura-rupa-pattana (Mylapore) along with Buddhagosha. The well known Tamil Buddhist epics, on the other hand, were MANIMEKALAI and KUNDALAKESI.

The 6th-century Tamil Buddhist work Manimekalai by Sattanar is perhaps the most famous of the work done in Tamil Nadu. It is a work expounding the doctrines and propagating the values of Buddhism. The interaction between Tamil Nadu and Sri Lankan monks finds mention in Manimekalai, which is set in the Tamil towns of Kaveripoompattinam, Kanchi, and Vanchi.

There is mention about the presence of wondering monks of Sri Lanka in Vanchi, which was the capital of the Chera Kings of Tamil Nadu. The Chinese traveller, Tsuan Tsang, wrote that there were around 300 Sri Lankan monks in the monastery at the Southern sector of Kanchipuram.

As Buddhism was one of the dominant religions in both Tamil Nadu and Sri Lanka, naturally there were very close relations between the two regions. The monks from Sri Lanka, too, went across to the Tamil kingdom and stayed in the monasteries.

There was NO Buddhism in Sri Lanka until Emperor Asoka’s missionary monks led by Mahinda converted the Hindu Naga King Tissa into a Buddhist in the 2nd century BC. Similarly, there was NO Sinhala race/tribe in Sri Lanka until the Mahavihara monks created it in the 5th century AD. When Hindu/Brahmanical influence posed a serious challenge to Buddhism and when Buddhism started to lose popular support and the patronage from the rulers, the Buddhist institutions in India came under attack. The Mahavihara monks of Anuradapura including Ven. Mahanama, the author of the Pali chronicle Mahavamsa and a close relative of the Buddhist Naga king Dhatusena witnessed the decline and disorientation of Buddhism in India. Events that took place in India against Buddhism prompted the Mahavihara monks in Sri Lanka to come up with a strategy to protect Buddhism. Due to their strong devotion to Buddhism and desire to consolidate and protect this religion in Sri Lanka they have decided to write the Pali chronicles Deepavamsa/Mahavamsa making Sri Lanka a Dammadeepa – chosen land of Buddha where Buddhism will prevail for 5000 years) and creating the Sinhala race by integrating all the Buddhists from different tribes/ethnic groups into one race and making them the sustainers of Buddhism (Gautama Buddha’s chosen people) to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka for 5000 years until the next Maithriya Buddha arrive. With the patronage of the Buddhist Kings, it is the Mahavihara monks who assimilated all the Buddhists from many different tribes together and called them Sihala. There is NO historical evidence what so ever to prove Vijaya’s arrival with 700 men or to say there were Sinhalese during the Early Historic period. The term ‘Sihala’ itself first appeared ONLY in the 5th Century AD Pali chronicles Deepavamsa/Mahavamsa and that also ONLY twice in the beginning chapters. To date, no archaeological evidence has been found to prove ‘Hela’ or ‘Sihala’ or ‘Sinhala’ existed before that or anything about Vijaya’s arrival.

Only the Mahavamsa Tika that was composed very much later to interpret the Mahavamsa, mentions that it was adopted from the mysterycal ‘Vamsa texts’ known as ‘Sihala Atthakatha’ (collection of Sinhala verbal stories). Very strangely, most of the mythical/supernatural stories from the so called ‘Sihala Atthakatha Vamsa texts’ are very similar to those found in the Indian Epics and Puranas such as the Mahabaratha/Ramayana. Ultimately, the Mahavamsa has transformed the Buddha into a special patron of Sinhala-Buddhism, an ethnic religion created in Sri Lanka.

The Buddhism practised in Sri Lanka is different from the Theravada Buddhism practised in other countries such as Thailand, Cambodia and so on. The Buddhists in these countries follow only the Buddhist scriptures Tripitaka (Viniya, Sutta, Abhidhamma), whereas in Sri Lanka the ‘Mahavamsa,’ which was written by one of the Mahavihara monks (Ven. Mahanama) more than 1000 years after the passing away of Lord Buddha is also considered as a part of the Buddhist scriptures.

Although it deals mostly with mythical or supernatural Buddhist history, some episodes of which are copied from the ‘Mahabaratha’ and ‘Ramayana.’ Since the Buddhist scriptures (Tripitaka) and the mythical Buddhist history (Mahavamsa) were both written in the Pali language, a Buddhist layperson who does not understand Pali cannot understand the difference between the two and, therefore, he/she believes everything that the Buddhist monks preach, to be the true words of Buddha.

Due to ignorance, even the present day some Sri Lankans still believe that they are blood relatives of Buddha because, according to the Mahavamsa, their forefather Pandu-Vasudeva belongs to the Sakya clan, and is a relative of the Buddha where as the historians believe that the term ‘Pandu’ in Pali means Pandyans.

According to Buddhism, a person ordained as a Bikkhu should practice Ahimsa (non-violence), Karuna (compassion), Metta (affection), and Maithriya (loving-kindness) towards fellow humans, (irrespective of race or religion), not only by words but also in his thoughts and action.

There are enough of ancient archaeological evidence in Sri Lanka such as Brahmi stone inscriptions, cave writings, Pali chronicles, etc where the terms ‘Dameda’, ‘Damela’, ‘Damila’, ‘Demel’ are mentioned as a group of people living in the island. Even in the Jataka stories such as Akitti Jataka, there is a reference to Tamil country (Damila-rattha), where as there is NO evidence what so ever about the terms ‘Hela’, ‘Sihala’, ‘Sinhala’ before and even a few centuries after the Pali chronicles were written. Even the Mahavamsa says, the missionary monk Mahinda Maha Thero preached Buddhism to the people of the island in Deepa basa (language of the island) but it does not say that the deepa basa was ‘Elu’ or ‘Helu’ or ‘Sihala’.

Some scholars argue that the ethnic name of the dominant group does not occur in these records for the very good reason that there is no need to distinguish any person by referring to him/her as such when the people as a whole are entitled to that name (Sihala). This argument could have been accepted if the terms ‘Hela’, ‘Sihala’, ‘Sinhala’ was found at least somewhere outside Sri Lanka such as in any of the ancient literary works and/or the stone inscriptions/rock edicts of neighbouring India (either South or North) that was always associated with the island’s history, but unfortunately nothing has been found until now.

The kingdoms of Anuradapura and Polonnaruwa were NEVER known as Sinhala kingdoms and the Naga kings who ruled these kingdoms never called themselves ‘Hela’, ‘Sihala’, or ‘Sinhala’. Subsequent to the Chola domination of Sri Lanka in the 10th century A.D, people who identified themselves as Buddhists and Sinhalese shifted their seats of rule from the ancient kingdoms of Anuradapura and Polanaruwa towards South and Central of the island. It was only after the 13th century AD that the kingdoms of Kotte and Kandy were known as ‘Sinhale’ even though some parts in North and East also came under the Kandyan rule but Kandy was mostly ruled by the Kalingas of South-East India and the Nayakkars of South India.

The term ‘Sinhale’, appeared only in the 13th Century AD Chulavamsa and NOT in Deepavamsa/Mahavamsa. In the 16th century, the Portuguese and in the 18th century, the Dutch who occupied the island brought in tens of thousands of people from South India (presently Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andara) and settled them in the Southern parts of the island as menial labourers (for growing/peeling cinnamon, growing tobaco, pearl diving, coconut planting/plucking, toddy tapping, and for many other jobs).

Within a few centuries, the Sinhala population increased exponentially when these people assimilated with the local Sinhala population by adopting the Sinhala language and the Buddhist religion. Today their decedents (6th generation) are not only claiming the ancient Sri Lankan civilization as their own ‘Sinhala’ heritage but have also become the patriots and champions of Sinhala-Buddhism.

It was the British who re-discovered the Mahavamsa in the early 20th century and their so called European ‘Pali Scholars’ misinterpreted it, thereby creating another myth known as Arya-Sinhala. Since the Sinhala (Elu) language (mixture of Sanskrit, Pali, Tamil and Malayalam) was more of Indo-Aryan in nature, the British declared that the Sinhalese were Aryans from North India and the Tamils were Dravidians from South India.

It is said in MAHAVAMSA CHAPTER VII – THE CONSECRATING OF VIJAYA, “But the king Sihabahu, since he had slain the lion (was called) Sihala and, by reason of the ties between him and them, all those (followers of VIJAYA) were also (called) Sihala.”

If Sihabahu whose father had slain the lion was called Sihala and his eldest son Vijaya and his followers were also called Sihala, then what about Vijaya’s twin brother Sumitta and his followers in Sinhapura, India? Why they were not called Sihala? That itself proves that Vijaya and the Sinhala race was a creation of Ven. Mahanama and the Mahavihara monks.

Another good example of the myths, fantasies, superstitions and fables from the Mahavamsa is the Elara/Dutugemunu episode. Just around ten lines/verses in the Pali chronicle Deepavamsa about the Elara/Dutugemunu was blown up into 11 chapters in the Mahavamsa just to glorify Buddhism and the Buddhist kings against the Hindus which gave birth to “superior race”, “Bhoomiputhra (sons of the soil)”, “Sinhaladivpa” “unitary state” and “Dhammadivpa” theories. The Mahavamsa author being a Buddhist monk and justifying the killing of around sixty thousand Tamils/Hindus (aka invaders) by Dutugemunu is one reason why others (non-Buddhists) think that Sinhala-Buddhism is somewhat of a violent barbaric form of Buddhism where killing Tamils is justified. The Mahavamsa equates the killing of the invaders as being on par with the killing of “sinners and wild beasts”, and the King’s sorrow and regret are assuaged. This is considered by some critics as an ethical error. However, Buddhism does recognize a hierarchy of actions as being more or less wholesome or skilful, although the intent is as much as or more important than the action itself. Thus the killing of an Arahant may be considered less wholesome and skilful than the killing of an ordinary human being. Buddhists may also assert that killing an elephant is less skilful and wholesome than killing an ant. In both cases, however, the intent must also be considered. An important thing to note is that Dutthagamani regretted his act, and this was also true of King Asoka, who became a pacifist after a series of bloody military campaigns.

There is a clear record of all the main events of Buddha, the places he visited, with whom he was, where and what he preached and to whom he preached, in the Buddhist scriptures Tripitika, but nowhere it is mentioned that the Buddha visited or even spoke about the island of Lanka. In order to protect Buddhism in Sri Lanka from those powerful South Indian Hindu kingdoms, Ven. Mahanama wrote the Mahavamsa, by added his own imaginations and myths. He has introduced many events concerning Buddha which never took place, things that Buddha has never said or done, events which are not mentioned in any of the Buddhist scriptures (both Theravada and Mahayana).

For example, according to the Mahavamsa, Buddha made three magical trips to Sri Lanka, each time colonizing another area of the island, in preparation for the formal introduction of Buddhism two centuries after his death. One of these trips was to settle a dispute between the Yakkhas and Nagas at Naga Divipa (Ninathivu) where the Buddha tamed the Yakkhas, the non-human inhabitants of the island.

There is no evidence whatsoever to support this claim (Buddha’s 3 visits), other than the three chaithiyas (Buddhist structures) built in the recent past at 3 different locations to say, ‘This is where Buddha came.’ Even the footprint of Buddha at Sri Pada (Adam’s peak) is nothing but an obvious myth.

According to the Mahavamsa, just before passing away, Buddha has called the Sakka (King of Gods) and told him,

‘My doctrine, O Sakka, will eventually be established in the Island of Lanka, and on this day, Vijay the eldest son of Singha Bahu king of Sinhapura in the Lata country lands there with 700 followers and will assume sovereignty there. Do thou, therefore guard well the prince and his train and the Island of Lanka. On receiving the blessed one’s command, Sakka summoned God Vishnu and said, ‘Do thou. O lotus-hued one, protect with zeal prince Vijay and his followers and the doctrine that is to endure in Lanka for a full five thousand years’.

It should be noted that in Buddhist scriptures, Buddha has never mentioned about any Hindu/Brahmanical Gods, he only talks about Devas and Bramahas from different worlds who have no connection with any Hindu/Brahmanical Gods.

Ven. Mahanama has created an imaginary link between the three elements, Country-Race-Religion and made it into one unit similar to the Holy Trinity, whereby Sri Lanka (Dhamma Deepa), Buddha’s chosen people (Sinhalese), and Buddhism (Buddha Sasana) should be protected for 5000 years. This is known as the Jathika chintanaya or the Mahavamsa mindset.

What we witness today is a kind of political Buddhists trying to promote their interest rather than Buddhism as a path for personal salvation.

Ven Mahanama, the author of the Mahavamsa refers to three visits by the Gautama Buddha to Sri Lanka. To ascertain whether the description in the Mahavamsa has any basis, one has to study the life of the Gautama Buddha, as revealed in the Pali Canon.
Immediately after Enlightenment, the Gautama Buddha walked from Bodh Gaya to Sarnath. From Sarnath, He set out to wander by stages to Uruvela. At that time three ascetics with matted hair — Kassapa of Uruvela, Kassapa of the River and Kassapa of Gaya — were living at Uruvela. When the Gautama Buddha was living at Uruvela, Kassapa’s sacrificial ceremony fell due.
The Mahavamsa says, “Now, since a great sacrifice by Kassapa of Uruvela was near at hand, and since He (the Gautama Buddha) saw that this latter would fain have Him away .., the Conqueror in the ninth month of his Buddhahood, at the full moon of Phussa, Himself set forth for the Isle of Lanka…
“To this great gathering of the Yakkas went the Blessed One and there in the midst of that assembly, hovering in the AIR over their heads, at the place of the future Mahiyangana Thupa, He struck terror to their hearts, by rain, storm, darkness and so forth. The Yakkas, overwhelmed by fear, besought the fearless Vanquisher to release them from fear. Then, when He had destroyed their terror,… the Master preached them the doctrine.”
The suttas display the Gautama Buddha, as the incarnation of patience and peace, capable of working the miracle of transformation by His unshakeable equanimity and impeccable wisdom.
The Gautama Buddha would never have struck terror to their hearts. This idea that the Gautama Buddha struck terror to their hearts by rain, storm and darkness, Mahanama has taken directly from the Vedas. The Vedas tell us that Indra wields the thunderbolt and conquers darkness. He brings us light and life, gives us vigour and freshness. Heaven bows before him and the earth trembles at his approach “Yes, when I send thunder and lightning” says Indra “then you believe, in me.”
According to the Mahavamsa’s description of the first visit of the Gautama Buddha to Lanka, the visit should take place between the sacrificial ceremony and the deliverance of the fire sermon at Gayassi.
The Mahavamsa says the Gautama Buddha came by AIR to Lanka. The description of the first visit of the Gautama Buddha goes against the fundamental teachings of the Gautama Buddha. In Mahasihanada Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 12) Sunakkata made this statement before the vesali assembly: “The recluse Gautama does not have any superhuman states, any distinction in knowledge and vision worthy of the noble ones. The recluse Gautama teaches a Dhamma hammered out by reasoning, following his own line of reasoning as it occurs to him, and when he teaches the Dhamma to anyone, it leads when he practices it to the complete destruction of suffering”.
Bhikku Bodhi in his commentary to this sutta says “Apparently he (Sunakkhatta) believes that being led to the complete destruction of suffering is, as a goal, inferior to the acquisition of miraculous powers”. In His rebuttal of Sunkattha’s assertion, the Gautama Buddha says “the recluse Gautama teaches a Dhamma hammered out by reasoning, following His own line of reasoning as it occurs to Him-Unless He abandons that view, then he will wind up in hell”.
In the Kevaddha Sutta, The Gautama Buddha says, He dislikes, rejects and despises the miracles of psychic power and miracle of telepathy. The Gautama Buddha was possessed of a quality of compassion, seldom seen among men. His sympathy was all embracing and spontaneous. The Gautama Buddha’s teaching is based and built on a conception of universal love and compassion for all living beings.
In the Vatthupama Sutta (Majjhima Nikaya 7) the Gautama Buddha says, “he abides pervading that all-encompassing world with a mind imbued with loving kindness, abundant, exalted immeasurable, without hostility, without ill will. He abides pervading one quarter with the mind imbued with compassion.”
“In the Lakkahan Sutta (Digha Nikaya Sutta 30) it is stated, “the Tathagata rejects harsh speech, abstains from it, spoke what was blameless, pleasing to the ear, agreeable, reaching the heart, urbane, pleasing and attractive to the multitude.”
Therefore, if the Mahavamsa is to be believed, when Mahanama says, “He struck terror to their hearts by rain, darkness and so forth. The Yakkas overwhelmed by fear… we have to accept that the Gautama Buddha abandoned the fundamental tenets of the Dhamma merely for the sake of converting a set of ‘uninstructed wordings.’ He was, of all the historical personages of whom we possess any knowledge, one of the most consistent in thought, word and act.
He not only placed little value on the supra-rational knowledge and ecstasy to which ascetics and mystics were supposed to have access, but actually described their mental acrobatics as “the thicket of theorizing, the wilderness of theorizing, the tangle, the bondage.”

The Mahavamsa goes on to say that it was on His first visit that the “Master preached the doctrine”. There is no record of the doctrine the Gautama Buddha preached to the Yakkas. However, there is a record of the two earlier sermons the Gautama Buddha delivered at Saranath.
According to the Mahavamsa, the Gautama Buddha’s second visit to Lanka was in the fifth year of His Gautama Buddhahood “He set out to Lanka from Jetawana.” If the Mahavamsa account of the Gautama Buddha’s second visit is to be believed He should have come to Lanka before He left for Kapilavasthu.
His second visit, the Mahavamsa says the Gautama Buddha brought about a reconciliation between the Naga kind Maniakkhika and Mahodora by preaching the “the doctrine that begets concord.” King Pasanedi was one of the most devoted lay followers of the Gautama Buddha. Pasanedi says “The dhamma has been made clear in many ways by the Blessed One, as though He were turning upright what had been turned upside down. (vide Kosalaamyutta in the Samyuta Nikaya.)
Yet the Gautama Buddha was not able to prevent King Pasanedi going into battle with Ajasathu. In the Paranibbana Sutta, we find Ajasattu sending his chief minister Brahamin Vessakara to the Gautama Buddha to seek advice as to how he could attack the Vajians and bring them to ruin and destruction. The Gautama Buddha told him, “the Vajians will never be conquered by force of arms.” Still, the Gautama Buddha was not able to dissuade Ajasatu resorting to various stratagems to destroy the Vajians.
It is strange, therefore, that while the Gautama Buddha was not able to prevent His disciples from waging wars, He could bring about reconciliation between two kings in a foreign country.
The doctrine that “begot concord” is not found anywhere in the Pali Canon. It is also strange that this doctrine was not delivered to Kings Pasanedi or Ajasatu and thereby dissuade them from going to war.
According to the Mahavamsa, the third visit of the Gautama Buddha to Lanka was in the eighth year of His Gautama Buddhahood.
The Gautama Buddha “set forth surrounded by five hundred arahats on the second day of the beautiful month of Vesak..” Again the doctrine He preached on His third visit to the island is not found in the Pali Canon. The Gautama Buddha’s famous statement in the Paranibbana Sutta, “I have taught the Dhamma, Ananda, making no inner and outer. The Tathagata has no teacher’s fist in respect of the Dhamma,” makes it clear that there is no esoteric teaching in Buddhism.
On a plain reading of the Gautama Buddha visits to Lanka as recorded in the Mahavamsa, it becomes clear that this account is not only false but goes against the teachings of the Gautama Buddha.
It is also established that from the day of His enlightenment till He passed away at Kusinara, the Gautama Buddha walked barefoot from Gautama Buddha Gaya to Kusinara. At the little village of Beluva the Gautama Buddha said (Paranibbana Sutta), “Ananda, I am now old, worn out, one who has traversed life’s path, I have reached the term of life which is eighty.” The version in the Mahavamsa that the Gautama Buddha came by air from Jetawana to Lanka should be rejected.
One other matter that should be considered in delving into the veracity of the Gautama Buddha’s visit as narrated in the Mahavamsa is that there was an intellectual awakening in India about a thousand years before the Gautama Buddha. Therefore, we find in India at the time of the Gautama Buddha’s birth the tendency of man to think rationally, to reduce the chaotic universe of his sense-impressions and intuitions to a coherent and logical order, was ingrained in the Indian mind. The Gautama Buddha tore away the Dhamma from His ancestral stem and planted in a purely rational soil.
Even in such an intellectually fertile soil as in India in the 5th century B.C, soon after enlightenment the Gautama Buddha experienced an inner conflict as to whether He should ever teach the Dhamma because, in the words of Bhikku Bodhi, “He reflected the density of the defilements of beings and the profundity of the Dhamma. In the Brahmasamayutta in the Samyutta Nikkaya, we find the following statement, “This Dhamma I have discovered is deep, hard to see, hard to understand, peaceful and sublime, not within the sphere of reasoning, subtle, to be experienced by the wise.”
While there is a record of the very first sutta preached to five ascetics, we do not find in the Pali Canon any reference to the three discourses delivered to the Nagas and Yakkas.
Mahavamsa is a conscious and intentional rearrangement of the Dipavamsa as a sort of commentary to this latter. In the absence of any sources, the Dipavamsa must be considered as standing unsupported on its own tottering feet. Therefore no historical value can be conceded to the Dipavamsa nor to the Mahavamsa.
The account given in the Mahavamsa has no historical evidence to support the proposition that the Gautama Buddha ever visited Sri Lanka. Ignorance is the first requisite of the historian. Ignorance simplifies and clarifies, selects and limits, with a placid perfection unattainable by the highest art.

Millions of people for thousands of years believed that the earth was flat. And also millions of people believed the following in the seventh chapter of Mahawamsa for hundreds of years :
Vijaya’s arrival in Sri Lanka coincided with the passing away of the Buddha. The very first ‘person’ that Vijaya encountered on the island was the ‘Lord of the Gods’, Lord Vishnu, who was charged by the ailing Buddha with looking after Vijaya and his descendants.
The second encounter was far less auspicious – a Yakkinni, or demoness, who ‘appeared in the form of a dog’. Vijaya’s men, surmising that ‘Only where there is a village are dogs to be found’, followed the creature, only to come upon the Queen of the demons, Kuveni. Though the protection of Vishnu prevented Kuveni from devouring the hapless man, it did not prevent her from hurling him – and all of Vijaya’s other companions – into a chasm.

Vijaya eventually comes upon Kuveni and threatens her with death unless she releases his men. When this is done, Kuveni supplies them with food and clothing, and, ‘assuming the lovely form of a sixteen year old maiden’ seduces Vijaya. Then, in a complete reversal of her allegiances, she states that she ‘will bestow Kingship on my Lord Vijaya’ and thus ‘all the Yakkhas must be slain, for else the Yakkhas will slay me, for it was through me that men have taken up their dwelling (in Sri Lanka)’. This Vijaya goes on to do, vanquishing the demons and driving them from the island, all the time with Kuveni at his side.
Though Kuveni bears him two children, a son and a daughter, Vijaya eventually rejects her with the words ‘Go now, dear one, leaving the two children behind; men are ever in fear of superhuman beings’. Despite begging Vijaya not to send her away, a heart broken Kuveni eventually leaves the palace, taking the two children despite being ordered not to. Arriving in one of the few surviving Yakka cities she is killed by her own people for her betrayal. One of her uncles takes pity on her children and tells them to flee before they, too, are killed. They eventually flee to Malaya rata where they settle and become the ancestors of the Pulindas. And alternative tale is that Kuveni flung herself from Yakdessa Gala, imploring the Gods to curse Vijaya for his cruelty – which they do by preventing any of Vijaya’s children from ever sitting on the throne of Rajarata.
The Kuveni-Vijaya story evokes some similarities with the encounter of Odysseus with Circe. Circe is also an enchantress and a witch. The Kuveni myth is also remarkable for being so violent and tragic. Both the demon Queen and Vijaya are portrayed as being deeply treacherous and unfeeling – Queen in betraying her entire people, Vijaya in betraying her in turn so callously. Indeed Vijaya’s reason for rejecting Kuveni is his desire for a ‘a maiden of a noble house’ to be consecrated Queen with him. This desire could have had a political aspect – in marrying a princess of an established noble house he would essentially have established himself as a legitimate monarch in his own right, on a par with the other rulers of the subcontinent’s kingdoms.
Kuveni, on the other hand, is regarded as a descendant of the demons of the Ramayana and of Ravana, who also dwelled in Sri Lanka. A common folk tale was that her children did not, in fact, flee to Malaysia, but instead remained in Sri Lanka’s jungles and became the Veddas – Sri Lanka’s aboriginal population. This may indeed be the explanation for Kuveni and her people, as early Indian settlers would almost certainly have come into contact and conflict with indigenous Sri Lankans. The Yakkas are referred to occasionally as ‘invisible’, and indeed would have appeared so to the newcomers unused to Sri Lanka’s jungles, through which the Veddas even today can move in near-silence and with barely a trace. Interestingly the Dipavamsa, on which the Mahavamsa is based, makes no mention of Kuveni whatsoever.
In the Mahavamsa, or in the ancient Pali or Sanskrit literature for that matter, the Nagas are never represented as human beings, but as a super natural being that inhabited a subterranean world, whose natural form was a serpent but who would assume any form at will.
As responsible leaders, not only the government and the opposition but the moderate Sinhala media personnel, educated and intelligent Sinhalese people and moderate religious leaders/Buddhist clergy should educate the people to think rationally and distinguish/differentiate Buddhism from Sinhala-Buddhism, and Myths from Facts, explaining the reason why the Pali chronicles were written during that period of extreme danger to Buddhism.

During that turbulent period when Buddhism was under threat, the Mahavamsa author Ven. Mahanama and the Mahavihara monks had a genuine reason for the above mythology but unfortunately today due to ignorance and lack of rational thinking, some Buddhists still believe the Mahavamsa as the gospel truth.

BTW Ceylon Lion – Panthera leo sinhaleyus is only known from two teeth found in deposits at Kuruwita in Ratnapura District. Based on these two teeth, a well known naturalist Mr P.E.P.Deraniyagala erected Panthera leo sinhaleyus in 1939. Mr Deraniyagala did not explain explicitly how he diagnosed the holotype of this prehistoric subspecies as belonging to a lion, though he justified its allocation to a distinct prehistoric subspecies of lion by its being “narrower and more elongate” than those of recent lions in the British Natural History Museum collection. According to Mr Deraniyagala, Panthera leo sinhaleyus was endemic to Sri Lanka, became extinct prior to the arrival of culturally modern humans about 40,000 years ago. There is insufficient information to determine how it might differ from other subspecies of lion. Further studies would be necessary because it is extremely difficult to differentiate a canine tooth of similar species of animals. Even the Ratnapura rainforest habitat is most suited for tigers than lions.
In 1982 a sub-fossil right middle phalanx was found in a 17,000 years old prehistoric midden at Batadoma in Ratnapura District and tentatively considered to be of a tiger. Tigers arrived in Sri Lanka during a pluvial period during which sea levels were depressed, evidently prior to the last glacial maximum about 20,000 years ago. Since Sri Lanka was separated from the Indian subcontinent by rising sea levels in the early Holocene, now there are no tigers in Sri Lanka.
A leopard subspecies – Panthera Pardus Kotiya is native to Sri Lanka and it is the country’s TOP predator. The correct Sinhala term for leopard is Kotiyā .
The term Diviyā was in use for centuries in Sri Lanka to refer to smaller wild species of the cat family such as Handun Diviyā or Kola Diviyā. The correct Sinhala word for tiger is Viyagraya. Mistakenly we started to use Kotiyā to mean tiger and Diviyā to mean leopard.
To complicate and confuse the matters , Tigers led by Veluppillai Prabhakaran who were also known as Koti (the plural form of Kotiyā) – once ranged widely across Northern and Eastern Sri Lanka, now extirpated from Sri Lanka. Since we do not have lions or tigers in Sri Lanka we should have Kotiyā in our national flag and not lion or tiger.

I know truth hurts….


Essentially every child is a Buddha, but child’s buddhahood, child’s innocence, is natural, not earned. Child’s innocence is a kind of ignorance, not a realization. Child’s innocence is unconscious — Child is not aware of it, Child is not mindful of it, Child has not taken any note of it. It is there but Child is oblivious. Child is going to lose it. Child has to lose it. Paradise will be lost sooner or later; Child is on the way towards it. Every child has to go through all kinds of corruption, impurity — the world.

The child’s innocence is the innocence of Adam before he was expelled from the garden of Eden, before he had tasted the fruit of knowledge, before he became conscious. It is animal-like. Look into the eyes of any animal — a cow, a dog — and there is purity, the same purity that exists in the eyes of a Buddha, but with one difference.
And the difference is vast too: a Buddha has come back home; the animal has not yet left home. The child is still in the Garden of Eden, is still in paradise. He will have to lose it — because to gain one has to lose. Buddha has come back home…the whole circle. He went away, he was lost, he went astray, he went deep into darkness and sin and misery and hell. Those experiences are part of maturity and growth. Without them you don’t have any backbone, you are spineless. Without them your innocence is very fragile; it cannot stand against the winds, it cannot bear storms. It is very weak, it cannot survive. It has to go through the fire of life — a thousand and one mistakes committed, a thousand and one times you fall, and you get back on your feet again. All those experiences slowly, slowly ripen you, make you mature; you become a grown-up.
Buddha’s innocence is that of a mature person, utterly mature.
Childhood is nature unconscious; buddhahood is nature conscious. The childhood is a circumference with no idea of the center. The Buddha is also a circumference, but rooted in the center, centered. Childhood is unconscious anonymity; buddhahood is conscious anonymity. Both are nameless, both are formless…but the child has not known the form yet and the misery of it.
It is like you have never been in a prison, so you don’t know what freedom is. Then you have been in the prison for many years, or many lives, and then one day you are released…you come out of the prison doors dancing, ecstatic! And you will be surprised that people who are already outside, walking on the street, going to their work, to the office, to the factory, are not enjoying their freedom at all — they are oblivious, they don’t know that they are free. How can they know? Because they have never been in prison they don’t know the contrast; the background is missing.
It is as if you write with a white chalk on a white wall — nobody will ever be able to read it. What to say about anybody else — even you will not be able to read what you have written.
If you write on a white wall even you yourself will not be able to read it, but if you write on a blackboard it comes loud and clear — you can read it. The contrast is needed. The child has no contrast; he is a silver lining without the black cloud.
Buddha is a silver lining in the black cloud.
In the day there are stars in the sky; they don’t go anywhere — they can’t go so fast, they can’t disappear. They are already there, the whole day they are there, but in the night you can see them because of darkness. They start appearing; as the sun sets they start appearing. As the sun goes deeper and deeper below the horizon, more and more stars are bubbling up. They have been there the whole day, but because the darkness was missing it was difficult to see them.
A child has innocence but no background. You cannot see it, you cannot read it; it is not very loud. A Buddha has lived his life, has done all that is needed — good and bad — has touched this polarity and that, has been a sinner and a saint. Remember, a Buddha is not just a saint; he has been a sinner and he has been a saint. And buddhahood is beyond both. Now he has come back home.
That’s why Buddha said “There is no suffering, no origination, no stopping, no path. There is no cognition, no knowledge, no attainment, and no non-attainment.” When Buddha became awakened he was asked: “What have you attained?” And he laughed, and he said: “I have not attained anything — I have only discovered what has always been the case. I have simply come back home. I have claimed that which was always mine and was with me. So there is no attainment as such, I have simply recognized it. It is not a discovery, it is a re-discovery. And when you become a Buddha you will see the point — nothing is gained by becoming a Buddha. Suddenly you see that this is your nature. But to recognize this nature you have to go astray, you have to go deep into the turmoil of the world. You have to enter into all kinds of muddy places and spaces just to see your utter cleanliness, your utter purity.
Only a perfect ego has the capacity to disappear, not an imperfect ego. When the fruit is ripe it falls; when the fruit is unripe it clings. If you are still clinging to the ego, remember, the fruit is not ripe; hence the clinging. If the fruit is ripe, it falls to the ground and disappears. So is the case with the ego.
Now a paradox: that only a really evolved ego can surrender.
Ordinarily you think that an egoist cannot surrender. That is not the observation of Buddhas down the ages. Only a perfect egoist can surrender. Because only he knows the misery of the ego, only he has the strength to surrender. He has known all the possibilities of the ego and has gone into immense frustration. He has suffered a lot, and he knows enough is enough, and he wants any excuse to surrender it. The excuse may be God, the excuse may be a master, or any excuse, but he wants to surrender it. The burden is too much and he has been carrying it for long.
People who have not developed their egos can surrender, but their surrender will not be perfect, it will not be total. Something deep inside will go on clinging, something deep inside will still go on hoping: “Maybe there is something in the ego. Why are you surrendering?”
In the East, the ego has not been developed well. Because of the teaching of egolessness, a misunderstanding arose that if the ego has to be surrendered, then why develop it, for what? A simple logic: if it has to be renounced one day, then why bother? Then why make so much effort to create it? It has to be dropped! So the East has not bothered much in developing the ego. And the Eastern mind finds it very easy to bow down to anybody. It finds it very easy, it is always ready to surrender. But the surrender is basically impossible, because you don’t yet have the ego to surrender it.
You will be surprised: all the great Buddhas in the East have been kshatriyas, from the warrior race — Buddha, Mahavira, Parshwanath, Neminath. All the twenty-four tirthankaras of the Jainas belong to the warrior race, and all the avataras of the Hindus belonged to the kshatriya race — Ram, Krishna — except one, Parashuram, who was, accidentally it seems, born to a brahmin family, because you cannot find a greater warrior than him. It must have been some accident — his whole life was a continuous war.
It is a surprise when you come to know that not a single brahmin has ever been declared a Buddha, an avatara, a tirthankara. Why? The brahmin is humble; from the very beginning he has been brought up in humbleness, for humbleness. Egolessness has been taught to him from the very beginning, so the ego is not ripe, and unripe egos cling.
In the East people have very, very fragmentary egos, and they think it is easy to surrender.
They are always ready to surrender to anybody. A drop of a hat and they are ready to surrender — but their surrender never goes very deep, it remains superficial.
Just the opposite is the case in the West: people who come from the West have very, very strong and developed egos. Because the whole Western education is to create an evolved, well-defined, well-cultured, sophisticated ego, they think it is very difficult to surrender. They have not even heard the word surrender. The very idea looks ugly, humiliating. But the paradox is that when a Western man or woman surrenders, the surrender goes really deep. It goes to the very core of his or her being, because the ego is very evolved. The ego is evolved; that’s why you think it is very difficult to surrender. But if surrender happens it goes to the very core, it is absolute. In the East people think surrender is very easy, but the ego is not so evolved so it never goes very deep.
A Buddha is one who has gone into the experiences of life, the fire of life, the hell of life, and has ripened his ego to its ultimate possibility, to the very maximum. And in that moment the ego falls and disappears. Again you are a child; it is a rebirth, it is a resurrection. First you have to be on the cross of the ego, you have to suffer the cross of the ego, and you have to carry the cross on your own shoulders — and to the very end. Ego has to be learned; only then can you unlearn it. And then there is great joy. When you are free from the prison you have a dance, a celebration in your being. You cannot believe why people who are out of prison are going so dead and dull and dragging themselves. Why are they not dancing? Why are they not celebrating? They cannot: they have not known the misery of the prison.
These seven doors have to be used before you can become a Buddha. You have to go to the darkest realm of life, to the dark night of the soul, to come back to the dawn when the morning rises again, the sun rises again, and all is light.
But it rarely happens that you have a fully developed ego.
If you understand me, then the whole structure of education should be paradoxical: first they should teach you the ego — that should be the first part of education, the half of it; and they should then teach you egolessness, how to drop it — that will be the latter half. People enter from one door or two doors or three doors, and get caught up in a certain fragmentary ego.
The first is the bodily self. The child starts learning slowly, slowly: it takes nearabout fifteen months for the child to learn that he is separate, that there is something inside him and something outside. He learns that he has a body separate from other bodies. But a few people remain clinging to that very, very fragmentary ego for their whole lives. These are the people who are known as materialists, communists, Marxists.
The people who believe that the body is all — that there is nothing more than the body inside you, that the body is your whole existence, that there is no consciousness separate from the body, above the body, that consciousness is just a chemical phenomenon happening in the body, that you are not separate from the body and when the body dies you die, and all disappears…dust unto dust…there is no divinity in you — they reduce man to matter.
These are the people who remain clinging to the first door; their mental age seems to be only fifteen months. The very, very rudimentary and primitive ego remains materialist. These people remain hung up with two things: sex and food. But remember, when I say materialist, communist, Marxist, I do not mean that this completes the list. Somebody may be a spiritualist and may still be clinging to the first….
For example, Mahatma Gandhi: if you read his autobiography, he calls his autobiography My Experiments With Truth.. But if you go on reading his autobiography you will find the name is not right; he should have given it the name My Experiments With Food And Sex. Truth is nowhere to be found. He is continuously worried about food: what to eat, what not to eat. His whole worry seems to be about food, and then about sex: how to become a celibate — this runs as a theme, this is the undercurrent. Continuously, day and night, he is thinking about food and sex — one has to get free. Now he is not a materialist — he believes in soul, he believes in God. In fact, because he believes in God he is thinking so much about food — because if he eats something wrong and commits a sin, then he will be far away from God.
He talks about God but thinks about food.
And that is not only so with him, it is so with all the Jaina monks. He was under much impact from Jaina monks. He was born in Gujarat. Gujarat is basically Jaina, Jainism has the greatest impact on Gujarat. Even Hindus are more like Jainas in Gujarat than like Hindus. Gandhi is ninety percent a Jaina — born in a Hindu family, but his mind is conditioned by Jaina monks. They are continuously thinking about food.
And then the second idea arises, of sex — how to get rid of sex. For his whole life, to the very end, he was concerned about it — how to get rid of sex. In the last year of his life he was experimenting with nude girls and sleeping with them, just to test himself, because he was feeling that death was coming close, and he had to test himself to see whether there was still some lust in him.
The country was burning, people were being killed: Muslims were killing Hindus, Hindus were killing Muslims — the whole country was on fire. And he was in the very middle of it, in Novakali — but his concern was sex. He was sleeping with girls, nude girls; he was testing himself, testing whether brahmacharya, his celibacy, was perfect yet or not.
But why this suspicion? — Because of long repression. The whole life he had been repressing. Now, in the very end, he had become afraid — because at that age he was still dreaming about sex. So he was very suspicious: would he be able to face his God? He was a very primitive materialist. His concern was food and sex.
Whether you are for it or against it doesn’t matter — your concern shows where your ego is hanging. A capitalist’s whole concern is how to gather money, hoard money — because money has power over matter. You can purchase any material thing through money. You cannot purchase anything spiritual, you cannot purchase anything that has any intrinsic value; you can purchase only things. If you want to purchase love, you cannot purchase; but you can purchase sex.
Sex is the material part of love. Through money, matter can be purchased, possessed.
The communist and the capitalist both in the same category, and they are enemies, but their concern is the same. The capitalist is trying to hoard money, the communist is against it. He wants that nobody should be allowed to hoard money except the state. But his concern is also money, he is also continuously thinking about money. It is not an accident that Marx had given the name Das Kapital to his book on communism, Capital. That is the communist Bible, but the name is Capital. That is their concern: how not to allow anybody to hoard money so the state can hoard, and how to possess the state — so, in fact, basically, ultimately, you hoard the money. The communist mind is basically a capitalist mind; the capitalist mind is basically a communist mind. They are partners in the same game — the game’s name is capital, Das Kapital.
Many people, millions of people, only evolve this primitive ego, very rudimentary. If you have this ego it is very difficult to surrender; it is very unripe.
The second door is self-identity.
The child starts growing an idea of who he is. Looking in the mirror, he finds the same face. Every morning, getting up from the bed, he runs to the bathroom, looks, and he says: “Yes, it is I. The sleep has not disturbed anything.” He starts having an idea of a continuous self.
Those people who become too involved with this door, get hooked with this door, are the so-called spiritualists who think that they are going into paradise, heaven, moksha, but that they will be there. When you think about heaven, you certainly think of yourself that as you are here, you will be there too. Maybe the body will not be there, but your inner continuity will remain. That is absurd! That liberation, that ultimate liberation happens only when the self is dissolved and all identity is dissolved. You become an emptiness….
That idea that the child has of self-continuity is carried by the spiritualists. They go on searching: from where does the soul enter into the body, from where does the soul go out of the body, what form does the soul have, planchettes and mediums, things like that — all rubbish and nonsense. The self has no form. It is pure nothingness, it is vast sky without any clouds in it. It is a thoughtless silence, unconfined, uncontained by anything.
That idea of a permanent soul, the idea of a self, continues to play games in your minds.
Even if the body dies, you want to be certain that: “I will live.”
Many people used to come to Buddha…because this country has been dominated by this second kind of ego: people believe in the permanent soul, eternal soul, aatman — they would come to Buddha again and again and say: “When I die, will something remain or not?” And Buddha would laugh and he would say: “There is nothing right now, so why bother about death? There has never been anything from the very beginning.” And this was inconceivable to the Indian mind.
The Indian mind is predominantly hooked with the second type of ego. That’s why Buddhism could not survive in India. Within five hundred years, Buddhism disappeared. It found better roots in China, because of Lao Tzu. Lao Tzu had created really a beautiful field for Buddhism there. The climate was ready — as if somebody had prepared the ground; only the seed was needed. And when the seed reached China it grew into a great tree. But from India it disappeared. Lao Tzu had no idea of any permanent self, and in China people have not bothered much.
There are these three cultures in the world: one culture, called the materialist — very predominant in the West; another culture, called the spiritualist — very predominant in India; and China has a third kind of culture, neither materialist nor spiritualist. It is Taoist: live the moment and don’t bother for the future, because to bother about heaven and hell and paradise and moksha is basically to be continuously concerned about yourself. It is very selfish, it is very self-centered. According to Lao Tzu, according to Buddha too, and according to me also, a person who is trying to reach heaven is a very, very self-centered person, very selfish. And he does not know a thing about his own inner being — there is no self.
The third door was self-esteem: the child learns to do things and enjoys doing them.
A few people get hooked there — they become technicians, they become performers, actors, they become politicians, they become the showmen. The basic theme is the doer; they want to show the world that they can do something. If the world allows them some creativity, good. If it does not allow them creativity, they become destructive.
The criminal and the politician are not very far away, they are cousin-brothers. If the criminal is given the right opportunity he will become a politician, and if the politician is not given the right opportunity to have his say, he will become a criminal. They are border cases. Any moment, the politician can become a criminal and the criminal can become a politician. And this has been happening down the ages, but we don’t yet have that insight to see into things.
The fourth door was self-extension. The word “mine” is the key word there. One has to extend oneself by accumulating money, by accumulating power, by becoming bigger and bigger and bigger: the patriot who says: “This is my country, and this is the greatest country in the world.” You can ask the Indian patriot: he goes on shouting from every nook and corner that this is punya bhumi — this is the land of virtue, the purest land in the world.
India is the only country where so many Buddhas were born, so many avatars, so many tirthankaras — Rama, Krishna and others. Why? – if in the neighborhood you see that in somebody’s house a doctor comes every day — sometimes a vaidya, a physician, an acupuncturist, and the naturopath, and this and that — what do you understand by it?”
Simple! That the family is ill.
That is the case with India: so many Buddhas needed — the country seems to be utterly ill and pathological.
So many healers, so many physicians. Buddha has said: “I am a physician.” And you know that Krishna has said: “Whenever there is darkness in the world, and whenever there is sin in the world, and whenever the law of the cosmos is disturbed, I will come back.” So why had he come that time? It must have been for the same reason. And why so many times in India?
But the patriot is arrogant, aggressive, and egoistic. He goes on declaring: “My country is special, my religion is special, my church is special, my book is special, my guru is special” — and everything is nothing. This is just ego claiming.
A few people get hooked with this “mine” — the dogmatist, the patriot, the Hindu, the Christian, the Mohammedan.
The fifth door is self-image. The child starts looking into things, experiences. When the parents feel good with the child, he thinks: “I am good.” When they pat him he feels: “I am good.” When they look with anger, they shout at him and they say: “Don’t do that!” he feels: “Something is wrong in me.” He recoils.
A small child was asked in school on the first day he entered: “What is your name?”
He said: “Johnny Don’t.”
The teacher was puzzled. He said: “Johnny Don’t? Never heard such a name!”
He said: “Whenever, whatsoever I am doing, this is my name — my mother shouts: ‘Johnny don’t!’ My father shouts: ‘Johnny don’t!’ So I think this is my name. ‘Don’t’ is always there. What I am doing is irrelevant.”
The fifth is the door from where morals enter: you become a moralist; you start feeling very good, “holier than thou.” Or, in frustration, in resistance, in struggle, you become an immoralist and you start fighting with the whole world, to show the whole world.
Either the child is accepted — then he feels good, then he is ready to do anything the parents want; or, if again and again he is frustrated, then he starts thinking in terms of: “There is no possibility that I can receive their love, but still I need their attention. If I cannot get their attention through the right way, I will get their attention through the wrong way. Now I will smoke, I will masturbate, I will do harm to myself and to others, and I will do all kinds of things that they say ‘Don’t do,’ but I will keep them occupied with me. I will show them.”
This is the fifth door, the self-image. Sinner and saint are hooked there. Heaven and hell are the ideas of people who are hooked there. Millions of people are hooked. They are continuously afraid of hell and continuously greedy for heaven. They want to be patted by God, and they want God to say to them: “You are good, my son. I am happy with you.” They go on sacrificing their lives just to be patted by some fantasy somewhere beyond life and death. They go on doing a thousand and one tortures to themselves just in order that God can say: “Yes, you sacrificed yourself for me.”
It seems as if God is a masochist or a sadist, or something like that.
People torture themselves with the idea that they will be making God happy. What do you mean by this? You fast and you think God will be very happy with you? You starve yourself and you think God will be very happy with you? Is he a sadist? Does he enjoy torturing people? And that is what saints, so-called saints, have been doing: torturing themselves and looking at the sky. Sooner or later God will say: “Good boy, you have done well. Now come and enjoy the heavenly pleasures. Come here! Wine flows here in rivers, and roads are of gold, and palaces are made of diamonds. And the women here never age, they remain stuck at sixteen. Come here! You have done enough, you have earned, now you can enjoy!” The whole idea behind sacrifice is this. It is a foolish idea, because all ego ideas are foolish.
The sixth is the self as reason. It comes through education, experience, reading, learning, and listening: you start accumulating ideas, and then you start creating systems out of ideas, consistent wholes, and philosophies. This is where the philosophers, the scientists, the thinkers, the intellectuals, the rationalists are hooked. But this is becoming more and more sophisticated: from the first, the sixth is very sophisticated.
The seventh is propriate striving: the artist, the mystic, the utopian, the dreamer — they are hooked there. They are always trying to create an utopia in the world. The word “utopia” is very beautiful: it means “that which never comes.” It is always coming but it never comes; it is always there but never here. But there are moon-gazers who go on looking for the faraway, the distant, and they are always moving in imagination. Great poets, imaginative people — their whole ego is involved in becoming. There is somebody who wants to become God; he is a mystic.
Remember, “becoming” is the key word on the seventh, and the seventh is the last of the ego. The most mature ego comes there. That’s why you will feel, you will see a poet — he may not have anything, he may be a beggar, but in his eyes, on his nose, you will see the great ego. The mystic may have renounced the whole world and may be sitting in a Himalayan cage, in a Himalayan cave. You go there and look at him: he may be sitting there naked — but such a subtle ego, such a refined ego. He may even touch your feet, but he is showing: “Look how humble I am!”
There are seven doors. When the ego is perfect, all these seven doors have been crossed; then that mature ego drops on its own accord. The child is before these seven egos, and the Buddha is after these seven egos. It is a complete circle.
Buddha has moved into all these seven egos — seen them, looked into them, found that they are illusory, and has come back home, has become a child again. That’s what Jesus means when he says: “Unless you become like small children, you will not enter into my kingdom of God.”
Ego starts growing as the child grows. The parents, the schools, colleges, university, they all help to strengthen the ego for the simple reason that for centuries man had to struggle to survive and the idea has become a fixation, a deep unconscious conditioning, that only strong egos can survive in the struggle of life. Life has become just a struggle to survive. And scientists have made it even more convincing with the theory of the survival of the fittest. So we help every child to become stronger in the ego, and it is there that the problem arises. As the ego becomes strong it starts surrounding intelligence like a thick layer of darkness. Intelligence is light, ego is darkness. Intelligence is very delicate, ego is very hard. Intelligence is like a rose flower, ego is like a rock. And if you want to survive, they say – the so-called knowers – then you have to become rock-like, you have to be strong, invulnerable. You have to become a citadel, a closed citadel, so you cannot be attacked from outside. You have to become impenetrable. But then you become closed. Then you start dying as far as your intelligence is concerned because intelligence needs the open sky, the wind, the air, the sun in order to grow, to expand, to flow. To remain alive it needs a constant flow; if it becomes stagnant it becomes slowly a dead phenomenon. Happiness is threatening and misery is safe – safe for the ego. Ego can exist only in misery and through misery. Ego is an island surrounded by hell; happiness is threatening to the ego, to the very existence of the ego. Happiness rises like a sun and the ego disappears, evaporates like a dewdrop on the grass leaf. Happiness is the death of the ego. If you want to remain a separate entity from existence as almost everybody is trying to do, you will be afraid of being blissful, cheerful. You will feel guilty in being blissful. You will feel suicidal because you are committing suicide on the psychological level, on the level of the ego. It almost always happens that people enjoy a few moments and then afterwards feel very guilty. The guilt arises because of the ego. The ego starts torturing them, “What are you doing? Have you decided to kill me? And I am your only treasure. Killing me? You will be destroyed. Killing me is destroying you.” Try to understand the ego. Analyze it, dissect it, watch it, observe it, from as many angles as possible. And don’t be in a hurry to sacrifice it, otherwise the greatest egoist is born: the person who thinks he is humble, the person who thinks that he has no ego. That’s what the religious people have been doing down the ages – pious egoists they have been. They have made their ego even more decorated; it has taken the colour of religion and holiness. Your ego is better than the ego of a saint; your ego is better, far better – because your ego is very gross, and the gross ego can be understood and dropped more easily than the subtle. The subtle ego goes on playing such games that it is very difficult. One will need absolute awareness to watch it. Misery has many things to give to you which happiness cannot give. On the contrary, happiness takes away many things from you. In fact, happiness takes all that you have ever had, all that you have ever been; happiness destroys you. Misery nourishes your ego, and happiness is basically a state of egolessness. That is the problem, the very crux of the problem. That’s why people find it very difficult to be happy. That’s why millions of people in the world have to live in misery, have decided to live in misery. It gives you a very, very crystallized ego. Miserable, you are. Happy, you are not. In misery: crystallization; in happiness, you become diffused. If this is understood then things become very clear. Misery makes you special. Happiness is a universal phenomenon; there is nothing special about it. Love and ego cannot go together. Knowledge and ego go together perfectly well, but love and ego cannot go together, not at all. They cannot keep company. They are like darkness and light: if light is there darkness cannot be. Darkness can only be if light is not there. If love is not there the ego can be; if love is there the ego cannot be. And vice versa, if ego is dropped, love arrives from all the directions. It simply starts pouring in you from everywhere. The Ego Feeds off Your Desire to Be Something Else. Where does the ego get its energy? The ego feeds off your desire to be something else. You are poor and you want to be rich – the ego is absorbing energy, its life-breath. You are ignorant and you want to become a wise one – the ego is absorbing energy. You are a wretched nobody and you want to become powerful – the ego is absorbing energy. Understand the process of the ego. How does the ego live? The ego lives in the tension between what you are and what you want to be. A wants to be B – the ego is created out of this very tension. How does the ego die? The ego dies by you accepting what you are. That you say, “I am fine as I am, where I am is good. I will remain just as existence keeps me. Its will is my will.” When you have dropped all the tension about the future – that I should become this and I should become that – the ego evaporates. The ego lives on a base of the past and the future. Understand this a little. The claims of the ego are of the past, “I did this, I did that” – it is all in the past. And the ego says, “I will definitely accomplish this, I will definitely show you that I can accomplish that.” That is all in the future. The ego simply does not exist in the present. If you come to the present, then the ego disappears. That is death to the ego. Coming to the present is the death of the ego. The ego exists through friction. Have an ideal, and you will become an egoist. The idealist is an egoist. Have a bigger ideal, and you will be a bigger egoist. The greater the ideal, the greater the ego, because the greater is the friction. The ego is created by friction between the real and the ideal. Now you may have the ideal of egolessness – that doesn’t matter. You may say, “But I have the ideal of being egoless” – it does not matter, the ideal brings the ego. Now your idea of egolessness will bring great ego. So the real egoists are those who think they are humble people, who pretend that they are egoless.
The man who is egoless is the man who has no ideals. Let this be the criterion, and you have stumbled upon a fundamental. The man of no ego is the man of no ideas. Then how can the ego be created? – the very energy is missing. The energy comes out of friction, conflict, struggle, will.
When you accept your life – when you take your breakfast, and when you sleep and when you walk and when you take your bath – how can you create an ego out of these things? Sleeping when feeling sleepy, eating when feeling hungry, how can you create your ego? No, if you fast, you can create ego. If you are on vigilance for the whole night, and you say, “I am not going to sleep,” you can create the ego. By the morning, the person who has slept well will have no ego, you will have a great ego. But the ego does not want to be whole; because once you are whole the ego cannot exist. The ego exists only in the split. When you are fighting with yourself, the ego exists. The ego always exists through conflict; conflict is its food, nourishment. So if you are whole, the ego cannot exist. You can watch it. You can go and watch the criminals – they have their ego, you can go and watch your saints – they have their ego: the ego of the good and the ego of the bad. But if you can find a man who has no ego, he will be neither a sinner nor a saint, he will be very simple. He will not claim anything good or bad; he will not claim at all. The ego is created by the rift. When you are fighting, the ego comes in; when you are not fighting, the ego cannot come in. Ego is a tension. If you want the ego, then divide yourself as fully as possible – become two persons. That is what is happening to many people, that is what has happened to whole of humanity. Everybody has become two persons: one voice says “Do this,” the other voice says “Don’t do that” – then the ego arises. Out of friction ego arises, and ego is very intoxicating; it makes you unconscious. This is the whole mechanism.
I am’ is nothing but another name for the ego. Now you will be getting into trouble. If the ego is convinced that the only way is to drop the ego, then who is going to drop whom? And how? It will be like pulling yourself up by your own shoestrings. You will look just silly. Watch each word that you use. ‘I am’ is nothing but the ego.
The second thing: nobody has ever been able to drop the ego because ego is not a reality that you can drop; anything to be dropped at least has to be real, substantial. Ego is just a notion, an idea. You cannot drop it, you can only understand it. Can you drop your shadow? You can run as fast as you want but your shadow will run at the same speed, exactly the same speed. You cannot drop the ego. Once you start trying to drop the ego you will get in a very deep mess; you will become more and more worried and puzzled. And this is not the way to get rid of the ego. The only way to get rid of the ego is to look at it.”
So when you do something, watch, be alert. And if it leads to misery, then you know well that it was ego. Then the next time, be alert, don’t listen to that voice. If it is nature, it will lead you towards a blissful state of mind. Nature is always beautiful, ego always ugly. There is no other way but trial and error. Life is subtle and complex and all criteria fall short. You will have to make your own efforts to judge. So whenever you do something, listen to the voice from within. Make a note of it, of where it leads. If it leads to misery, it was certainly from the ego. If your love leads to misery, it was from the ego. If your love leads to a beautiful benediction, blessedness, it was from nature. If your friendship, even your meditation, leads you to misery, it was from the ego. If it were from nature everything would fit in, everything would become harmonious. Nature is wonderful, nature is beautiful, but you have to work it out. Always make a note of what you are doing and where it leads. By and by, you will become aware of that which is ego and that which is nature; which is real and which is false. It will take time and alertness, observation. And don’t deceive yourself – because only ego leads to misery, nothing else. Don’t throw the responsibility on the other; the other is irrelevant. Your ego leads to misery, nobody else leads you into misery. Ego is the gate of hell, and the natural, the authentic, the real that comes from your center, is the door to heaven. You will have to find it and work it out. Before you can lose your ego, you must attain it. Only a ripe fruit falls to the ground. Ripeness is all. An unripe ego cannot be thrown, cannot be destroyed. And if you struggle with an unripe ego to destroy and dissolve it, the whole effort is going to be a failure. Rather than destroying it, you will find it more strengthened, in new and subtle ways. This is something basic to be understood – the ego must come to a peak, it must be strong, it must have attained integrity – only then can you dissolve it. A weak ego cannot be dissolved. And this becomes a problem. In the East all the religions preach egolessness. So in the East everybody is against the ego from the very beginning. Because of this anti-attitude, ego never becomes strong, never comes to a point of integration from where it can be thrown. It is never ripe. So in the East it is very difficult to dissolve the ego, almost impossible. In the West the whole Western tradition of religion and psychology propounds, preaches and persuades people to have strong egos – because unless you have a strong ego, how can you survive? Life is a struggle; if you are egoless you will be destroyed. Then who will resist? Who will fight? Who will compete? And life is a continuous competition. Western psychology says: Attain to the ego, be strong in it. But in the West it is very easy to dissolve the ego. So whenever a Western seeker reaches an understanding that ego is the problem he can easily dissolve it, more easily than any Eastern seeker. This is the paradox – in the West ego is taught, in the East egolessness is taught. But in the West it is easy to dissolve the ego, in the East it is very difficult. This is going to be a hard task for you, first to attain and then to lose – because you can lose only something which you possess. If you don’t possess it, how can you lose it? When you are in anger, in passion, violent, aggressive, you feel a crystallized ego within you. Whenever you are in love, in compassion, it is not there. That’s why we cannot love, because with the ego, love is impossible. That’s why we go on talking so much about love, but we never are in love. And whatsoever we call love is more or less sex, it is not love; because you cannot lose your ego, and love cannot exist unless the ego has disappeared. Love, meditation, godliness, they all require one thing – the ego must not be there. That’s why saying that Love is Lord Shiva is right, because both phenomena happen only when the ego is not. The child is born with a Self but not with an ego. The child develops the ego. As he becomes more and more social and related, ego develops. This ego is just on your periphery where you are related with others – just on the boundary of your being. So ego is the periphery of your being, and Self is the center. The child is born with a Self, but unaware. He is a Self, but he is not conscious of the Self. The first awareness of the child comes with his ego. He becomes aware of the “I”, not of the Self. Really, he becomes aware first of the “thou”. The child first becomes aware of his mother. Then, reflectively, he becomes aware of himself. First he becomes aware of objects around him. Then, by and by, he begins to feel that he is separate. This feeling of separation gives the feeling of ego, and because the child first becomes aware of the ego, ego becomes a covering on the Self. Then ego goes on growing, because the society needs you as an ego, not as a Self. The Self is irrelevant for the society; your periphery is meaningful. And there are many problems. The ego can be taught and the ego can be made docile and the ego can be forced to be obedient. The ego can be made to adjust, but not the Self. The Self cannot be taught, the Self cannot be forced. The Self is intrinsically rebellious, individual. It cannot be made a part of society. Everybody, even a religious man, has his own ego. Even while declaring, “I am just dust underneath your feet,” you are gathering ego. The ego and the personality have to be dropped, then you will find individuality arising…a feeling of uniqueness. Yes, you are unique. Everybody else is also unique. In this world only unique people exist, so comparison is just stupid, because you alone are like yourself. There is nobody like you, so how to compare? There are only two states of consciousness that exist – the state of the ego and the state of love. The ego is the narrow state, the seed-form, the atomic stage; love is all-encompassing, love is God. The center of the ego is I; the ego exists for itself. The nectar of love is the universe. Love exists for all. The ego is exploitation; love is service. And the service that flows from love, freely and spontaneously, is non-violence.

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Writer and Journalist living in Canada since 1987. Tamil activist

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