Spare a thought for the Dalai Lama
This thrice blessed Dharmadveepa will celebrate its holiest of holy events this week. The advent of the full moon in the lunar calendar in the Vesak month, is for the majority of the people of this island nation, a day to celebrate the birth-enlightenment and passing of Gauthama the Buddha.

The government has plans to celebrate by emulating, nay even surpassing, the Buddha Jayanthi commemoration which marked the 2500 years of the birth of the Buddha. On that occasion the newly independent people of Sri Lanka made a conspicuous splash of a celebration, no doubt fittingly after 450 years of religious persecution, both subtle, and not so subtle.

In the coming week, there will be a state-sponsored jazzing up of Vesak, which will probably have traditionalists complaining that Vesak, like Christmas, has been commercialised. Buddhism is not all about Pragna (learning and wisdom) but also about Shraddha (faith.)

Imbuing the doctrinaire aspects of the Dhamma go hand in hand with the many rituals of going to temple, offering flowers, lighting oil lamps and ringing of temple bells.Dansalas, stage theatre, pandals and of course the thousands of milling crowds and sight-seeing all form a part of the joyous festivities connected with Vesak, despite some modern day excesses.

It is a happy occasion for celebration but also a time to reflect on what the Buddha's message was for our times. This year we also celebrate 250 years of the Buddhist resurgence (see the cover story of the Feature section PLUS this week.)

The Prime Minister of Thailand will be here with us to mark the event - Buddhism being saved in Sri Lanka by the Thai monks belonging to the Siam nikaya. Buddhism however lost its hold in the country of its origin India, and Sri Lankan monks are sent on Dhammadutha work there in this day to teach the Dhamma. That is the way Buddhist countries and the Buddhist clergy have banded together to foster and protect Buddha's teachings.

There is one issue however that we as a nation cannot be proud of. Not all the pandals, nor the lights, the flags, tinsel and dansals could compensate for the fact that the governments of Sri Lanka, both past and present, have been reluctant to offer the Dalai Lama of Tibet a chance to visit this island.

Whether it is Theravada, Mahayana or Tibetan Buddhism, the Dalai Lama is the single most revered living Buddhist icon in the world today. He is for instance the best known face representing Buddhism in the Western world, which treats him with great veneration.

But this Dhammadveepa of ours doesn't give him a Visa. Why? Because our friend China does not want us to do so. China has been our friend in good times and in bad, particularly in providing military hardware to protect the sovereignty of our nation from terrorist, secessionist threat.

But for a nation that prides itself in according foremost place to Buddhism, the fact that the Dalai Lama cannot suitably be allowed to visit us, and pay obeisance by offering flowers at the Dalada Maligawa which he wants to do so eagerly is a great shame - if not a tragedy.

Cannot something be done in the name of the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha to rectify this anomaly? This is our thought for this Vesak.

No. 8, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2. P.O. Box: 1136, Colombo.
Editor - steditor@wijeya.lk , News - stnews@wijeya.lk Features - stfeat@wijeya.lk
Business - btimes@wijeya.lk Subs - suntimes@wijeya.lk,
Funday Times - funtimes@wijeya.lk
EDITORIAL OFFICE Tel: 326247, 328889, 433272-3. Fax: 423922, 423258
ADVERTISING OFFICE Advertising - advt@wijeya.lk , Fax: 423921
CIRCULATION DEPARTMENT No. 10, Hunupitiya Cross Road, Colombo 2.
Tel: 435454, 448322, 074 714252. Fax: 459725

Back to Top  Back to Index  

Copyright © 2001 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd. All rights reserved.