Is section of Sangha trying to subjugate President?
An article published in a popular Sinhala daily by a prominent political monk prompted me to respond.
23 November 2020
Verse 9 in the Yamakavagga of Dhammapada, Anikkasàvayo vattha paridahessati…., The pure are worthy of the yellow robe but not the impure. Whoever, unstainless, without self-control and truthfulness, should don the yellow robe, is not worthy of it. He who is purged of all stain, is well-established in morals and endowed with self-control and truthfulness, is indeed worthy of the yellow robe.”-Buddha
Mapitigama Buddharakkitha, always claimed that without him SWRD wouldn’t have come to power. The head priest of historic Kelaniya temple where the Buddha visited 25 centuries ago and according to folklore the place where he enjoyed the refreshing water of the Kelani River., [and remember, “a Maha Naga Rajah” carrying a casket of ‘sacred relics’ appeared on the eve of Presidential Election a year ago?] who financed Bandaranaike’s election campaign in 1956, hated Bandaranaike for refusing to grant illegal favours for his shipping company deals and business ventures in large scale import of provisions devoid of tender procedures.
While Buddharakkitha’s motive for the assassination of PM was business, Somarama the assailant monk, an Ayurvedic physician had other motives: Bandaranaike realizing the injustices caused to Tamil-speaking citizens signed a pact with their leader, S.J.V. Chelvanaikam, for the Buddhist priests who backed him on Sinhala only motto demonstrated against it and demanded its abrogation.
“It’s we who made you the PM, hence you are obliged to listen to us.” Somarama was one such member of ‘sick’ saffron-robed clergy, a born racist, selected and brainwashed by conspirator Buddharakkitha for carrying out the heinous crime.
With only two PCs to guard the PM at his Rosemead Place residence, Somarama carrying the revolver walked in unhindered and when Bandaranaike greeted him he drew his right arm from under the robes and fired the shots. While releasing the four bullets, he spat out racial obscenities on the victim!
A member of Sangha can be driven by the lust for power; by ego, and wealth to design and commit any dastardly act as Devadatta committed.
“A set of monks like leaders of Bodu Bala Sena, Sihala Ravaya and Rawana Balaya cultivated an assortment of Hate Muslims by indulging in hate speech and violent acts and raising issues on last rights of Muslim Covid victims, a matter that should be left for the non-racist health authorities to decide”
There is a section of Sangha with racist leanings, who think, it’s they who put Rajapaksas on the pedestal, hence they only should call the tune. Rather than endeavouring to have control over the head of state, as a good Buddhist, I would respectfully request for the direct intervention of most venerable Mahanayake Theras as a matter of priority in issuing strict instruction to all chief Nayake Theras on the importance of inculcating Vinaya rules among their junior and senior members and refrain from political affiliations, because even good Buddhists dare challenge Sangha in an obvious incident of violation of the disciplinary rules. Will the president have the courage to discipline Buddhist monks?
The ancient Chinese saying, Rulers should not forget three types of people in their life: those who helped them in their difficult time. Who left them in difficult times and who put them in a difficult time, and the modern thinkers say, Give- but don’t allow yourself to be used. Love- but don’t be naïve. Listen- but don’t lose your voice.’
Parliament recently approved the Twentieth Amendment that helped the President to concentrate power and allow members who hold dual citizenships to enter the Legislative Assembly and hold political office, which strengthened President Rajapaksa’s hold.
The 20th Amendment to the Constitution which was passed with 156 legislators in the 225-member parliament voting in favour. Only sixty-five legislators voted against thus giving a 91-vote majority. The new powers vested on Rajapaksa make him eligible to hold Ministries appoint and remove Ministers. He can appoint authority not only to the elections, police, public service, human rights, and bribery or corruption commissions but Judges of Supreme Courts and Appeal courts as well if sanctioned by the Parliamentary Council where he holds the majority.
We suffer from the ‘Saffron robe sickness’ which makes the leaders in power pledge to racist supremacy. Gotabaya, a conqueror for some, and a war criminal to others has positioned himself as the strongman who can solve the nation’s challenging issues.
Promises made by him to improve security have been fulfilled. He successfully fought the first wave of Covid19, while struggling to control the second attack. However, his security and intelligence network has proved ineffective being unable to trace the origins of the Minuwamgoda cluster.
Top business magnates are like some monks. Even the raw fish-eating vociferous Opposition maintains a stoic silence on the Minuwangoda Cluster Mystery issue.
Winning an emphatic victory at the Presidential Election held a year ago, securing 52.25% of the vote, and a margin of 1.3 million votes defying pre-election qualms that he could exceed the vital 50% plus to prevent a second count. At the Presidential inauguration held at the historic venue where King Dutta Gamini pledged goddess Swarnamalee at the premises where her tree abode/palace was located. The related folktale says Swarnamali, left the premises promising to ensure the work went on peacefully if the king pledged to name the Dagoba after her.
New President of Sri Lanka pledged:
“I am conscious of the fact that I am not only the President of the majority Sinhala-Buddhists who voted for me but also the leader of those who did vote against me. I am well aware that I am bound to serve all Sri Lankans irrespective of their religion or ethnicity. We have to work together irrespective of our differences, I will pledge that I will perform myself accordingly. I request you again to join hands with me for the future development of this country”.
There are likely wrongdoers among the Sangha who tries to enter the threshold of power. One can observe voracity, lust and rage in their behaviour and language.
A set of monks like leaders of Bodu Bala Sena, Sihala Ravaya and Rawana Balaya cultivated an assortment of ‘Hate Muslims’ by indulging in hate speech and violent acts and raising issues on the last rights of Muslim Covid victims, a matter that should be left for the non-racist health authorities to decide.
Hate groups are making public announcements that their task has achieved success; however, they will continue to monitor Gotabaya who is required to install a ‘Sinhala Buddhist State’.
The disastrous brand of racist supremacy which has ruined this nation for seven decades yet haunts assisted by sections of media and some cabinet ministers like Gammampila, Wimal, Johnston and many old unskilled men who obstruct the new non-political entrants to the legislature, who won the majority over them.
President Gotabaya Rajapaksa should get rid of his brand of chauvinistic proponents and bring back or win the confidence of minorities. Democracy demands Rule of Law and independence of Judiciary. Public Servants should be allowed to function without Ministerial interference or restrictions.
The participation of Sangha in politics since independence 72 years ago, has transformed Buddhism into a highly politicized religion. The Buddhist lobby has been dynamic in the political landscape making politicians look for the support of Buddhist or Sinhala-Buddhist groups led by some monks at election campaigns.
The columnist can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org