In retrospect: Resolving youth unrest

Concluding part of excerpts from an article by Ven. Galboda Siri Gnanissara Nayaka Maha Thera (Podihamuduruwo), that appeared in the Sunday Lankadeepa of December 13

Continued from last week

Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga

The power of Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga then reigned supreme.She, who was a member of another party, became the chairperson of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party. The support provided by the JVP was powerful. Shrewdly, she became President a second time too.The terrorists tried to destroy her too. She saved her life, losing one eye.

Terrorism abolished

The world community would not accept that Prabhakaran was dead. A great effort had to be made to prove it. The question is; who nourished terrorism? It is a pity that no one has been able to understand that this was done by opportunists and those in other countries.

Terrorism that was nourished by armaments, money and strategy has now ended. May the wise people understand who brought about this ending. If an Army Chief were to characterize this as his victory alone, the three people, Navy Chief, Chief of the Air Force and Police Chief too could contest the Presidency. May the people of this country think about this.

No one remembers now that the Three Armed Forces and the Police Force were helpless without armaments with the downturn of the economy. Although the acquisition of armaments through negotiation was weakened, the terrorists were rich in advanced armaments and other military equipment.

Political arena

Presidents J.R. Jayewardene, R. Premadasa and D.B. Wijetunga functioned as ministers of the Buddha Sasana in terms of the Constitutional Provisions. For this they appointed a committee of advisors headed by Mahanayake Theras. Chandrika Kumaratunga dissolved the advisory committee in which the four Chief Prelates were represented. This post was given to Lakshman Jayakody. Civic and human rights prevailed over a 2500 year old moral Code. This way the Ministry of Buddha Sasana was lost. A Ministry that represents all faiths came into being. There was no decision about this, even during the two-year rule of the UNP.

At this point in time, when four years are completed by the present President, I read in the newspapers that the President has been requested to give back that Ministry to the Four Prelates.

At this moment, even amidst the engulfing fire of the presidential election, it is important to ponder on this matter. We see this as an appropriate moment for the President to review all the action taken on civic rights and human rights and to make it possible to ordain a child at a Temple.

Present scenario

In the Sunday Lankadepa for the past week, the popular preferences at the last general election were recorded. When Army Chief Sarath Fonseka took office, we were invited by officers to chant Pirith and we were ready to do so. However, we were informed that no Pirith chanting was required from an 'UNP temple’. We were informed of this by a minister who was planning to bring him to Gangarama Monastery, a few days before this.


I shall mention now some facts about the Gangaramaya. Gangaramaya has inherited the legacy of Vidyodaya Pirivena. When Prime Minister D.S. Senanayake supported the Vidyadhara Sabha, he was asked to leave the meeting by Ven. Morontuduwe Sri Dhammananda Nayaka Maha Thero, who was then Chief Incumbent of Sri Pada and a prelate of our monastic line.

When Prime Minister Bandaranaike declared Republic Day, the religious rites were held at Queen's House. Ven. Ananda Maitreya Nayaka Maha Thera and the Chief Prelates of the Malwatu-Asgiri Monastries the Chief Incumbents of Vidyodaya and Vidyalankara Maha Pirivenas headed the monks who assembled for these religious rites. Of the monks who assembled there at that time, I was the youngest. But, William Gopallawa, the Head of State, assigned me the task of implementing the religious agenda. In a brief exhortation, I brought out three facts. The following is a resume of that exhortation:

"Due to the declaration of the Republic by the Prime Minister, the tenure of the Government has been extended by two years. To derive the best benefits of this, you (the Prime Minister) should not repeat your mistakes. Whoever may say whatever they want, you must do what is best, speed up slow projects. If you follow these three principles, you will achieve victory. If you do not, your Party too will deteriorate just as the UNP was reduced to 8 seats in 1956."

Due to the weakness of the Party in 1977, the Sri Lanka Freedom Party was reduced to eight seats and Mr. Amirthalingam became Leader of the Opposition.

That was also the beginning of LTTE terrorism. Vijaya Kumaratunga, who wanted to learn more about religious matters, came to Gangaramaya Monastery frequently with Chandrika Kumaratunga. Ossie Abeygunasekera too accompanied them. Madam Chandrika Kumaratunga was a devotee at the Gangaramaya at that time. I did not have the need to meet or talk with her when she was President.
Mahinda Rajapaksa came to Gangaramaya to study as a little boy. His three sons studied Buddhism and Sinhala at Gangaramaya.

Suraj, the only son of Army Chief Sepala Attygalle, studied under me. Many Army Chiefs were our devotees. The Monastery that helped at the difficult moments of the Army has been Gangaramaya.
When terrorists destroyed several of our Army Camps, President Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga said that she will win the war if she had 5,000 youth. I came out and declared we were ready to provide 20,000 youth.

For his Biyagama election Campaign, it was the Gangaramaya Monastery that supported Ranil Wickremesinghe in his effort to hold a rally about the Batalanda accusation at Borella. There is potency in the Pirith chanting of the Gangaramaya Monastery.

The English Governor resided in the vicinity of Gangaramaya. The Governor had prohibited drumming at the Temple. At this time, the Ceylonese (as the Sri Lankans were then known) were asked to celebrate the British Queen's birthday. Our Chief Nayaka Maha Thera got down 50 drummers from up-country and 50 drummers from low-country and started celebrating the birthday of the Queen for two weeks. When the English Governor heard the drumming, he got into a towering rage, but there was nothing he could do as this was done in the name of the British Queen. He left his residence and went elsewhere to reside.

Mr. Wickremesinghe was apprehensive of the speech I made on the day he became Prime Minister. The power of Chandrika was so pervasive! The outcome was the dissolution of the development projects planned for the country in just two years.

Political potpourris

The Rajapaksas got rid of terrorism.Politicians and the people of the country can now see the Dove of Liberty flying freely. On the other hand, the members of the UNP are not that foolish to give away the country's leadership opportunistically. That is my belief.

We see that it is still not too late for those people who still act without fully realizing the power of the Party that it is firm as a big rock. The people of the country will vote on their perception and their feeling about the unitary status of the country.

Whatever it is, it is the right of everyone to make a free decision about such issues as the future of the country, freedom, administration, economy etc.

We do not serve the interests of political parties; we deem it our duty to speak freely.

Related Links: In retrospect: Solving youth unrest - Part one of this article

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