Like curses wrongfully made return home to him that curses, at long last it seems the Bodu Bala chickens are coming home to roost in accordance with the karmic law of cause and effect as expounded by the Buddha. Hardly had the cheering reached its crescendo over Lanka’s T20 cricket victory in Dhaka, which had [...]


Bodu Bala chickens come home to roost


Like curses wrongfully made return home to him that curses, at long last it seems the Bodu Bala chickens are coming home to roost in accordance with the karmic law of cause and effect as expounded by the Buddha.

Hardly had the cheering reached its crescendo over Lanka’s T20 cricket victory in Dhaka, which had some regaling how the country’s multiracial society transcended their violent differences and displayed the underlying national unity at that joyous hour of cricketing triumph, the Bodu Bala Sena was giving lie to that statement and proving the optimists terribly wrong by storming a news conference held by a group of Buddhist monks and Muslim clergy at a Colombo hotel on April 9.

But this time it was not so much an assault on Muslim sensitivities but more a blatant attack on Sinhala Buddhist sentiment. For there, in the full frontal glare of the media’s television lights, they managed to achieve what no Christian or Muslim proselytising organisation could, had they been so bent, have ever hoped to have achieved: the unprecedented ugly, repulsive public assault by a group of Buddhist monks on another Buddhist monk. A home and home Buddhist brawl, waged before the nation’s eyes, engaged in the flagrant commission of the cardinal karmic crime of causing division in the Buddha Sasana for which abhorrent act no escape or atonement is possible, according to the Buddhist Canon.

The issue at heart was born of anti-Muslim sentiment, which no amount of cricketing glory could appease. But the consequences that ensued from the vile practice of bigotry resulted in the debasement of the hallowed monastic order, to which they profess to belong and promise to guard; and provided sufficient sport for the spectators of other creeds to see the engineers hoist with their own petard.
Consider the series of events that led to this sorry pass.

A Muslim Minister, Rishad Bathiudeen, stands accused of illegally settling Muslim families on the border of the Wilpattu wildlife sanctuary. To present their version, members of the Muslim clergy along with a group of Buddhist monks calling themselves the Jathika Bala Sena schedule a press conference at Hotel Nippon in Colombo 2 on the 9th. Minutes before the appointed time a group of Bodu Bala monks arrive and protest at the holding of the news conference.

The Kompannaveediya Police OIC enters into discussion and tries to explain to the protesting monks that this is a legitimate conference and that the hotel hall had been booked and paid for but before the dialogue can proceed any further, in storms the Chief Secretary Ven. Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara and, in a one monk show of bellowing boorish belligerence, takes the floor. A Muslim present says that he is member of the Muslim clergy but he is given short shrift.

After chasing away the Muslims, the worst aspect of the drama unfolds. The focus of his ire turns towards the chief of the Jathika Bala Sena PS member for Amparai Ven. Watterakke Vijitha who is called a dog and threatened with a public stripping.

At one point the Bodu Bala chief monk Ven. Gnanasara gesticulates in a threatening manner to bring down his raised hand held iPad on the seated mass of quivering jelly that is the Ven. Watareka, who, thereafter, with the pointed finger of Ven. Gnanasara accusingly starring him in the face and surrounded by a gauntlet of other standing Bodu Bala monks, gives into Bodu Bala’s body bala demands and makes a groveling apology seeking the pardon of the Maha Sangha in general and the Bodu Bala Chief monk Gnanasara in particular for daring to participate at the scheduled news conference. This apology is reinforced by another sworn statement that he will not retract his plea for forgiveness on the basis he was forced. Later he files a complaint at the Police Station and says he made the apology ‘out of fear of death’.

This despicable public humiliation of a monk of the Buddha Sasana to which august body the nation accords unlimited veneration and respect and genuflects in worship, by another monk of the same Buddha Sasana; this repugnant despoiling of the saffron robe not by an outsider but by one donning the same, this unspeakable and heinous act committed in the name of safeguarding Buddhist ideals must cut deep into the Sinhala Buddhist heart and would have made this Buddhist nation weep had it tears left to shed, for after witnessing similar outrages against Buddhist ideals committed by wayward brigands of fanatical monks in the recent past, the Buddhist wells of tears have run dry.

Is this the nadir to which the Buddhaputras of this country with their proud boast as the guardians of Buddhism have descended? If, as it is justly claimed with pride, Lanka has been the cradle of Theravada Buddhism then should not the Maha Nayakas of the Three Nikayas representing the Maha Sangha monitor and bring to heel the delinquents who have jumped off the Buddhist bassinet and are desecrating the Sasana,, without observing the silence of the Pachchekas?

It also reveals the tragedy that befalls a religious monastic order when its renegade members are let to stray into alien terrain, allowed to engage themselves in civilian activity, and permitted without restraint to enjoy the best of both worlds: to savour the materialistic fruits of the civilian life they have renounced whilst they, haloed with sanctimonious light, receive honour and respect from the obsequious laity.

Ultimately they are forced by the interactions civilian life entails to place themselves in compromising positions and they end up embroiled in the civilian mire staining the pristine purity of the saffron robe, besmirching the respect accorded and the stink they ooze pervade and pollute the rest of the Order to the nauseous opprobrium of civilized society.

It may be that the minister had no right to settle Muslims on reserved land but is land policy and people settlement in jungle land now the engaging business of Buddhist monks? Isn’t there government machinery in existence to monitor and prevent such unauthorised colonisation?

It maybe that the Muslim clergy had no moral right to engage the services of Buddhist monks to defend their unauthorised actions knowing very well the volatile nature of the racial and religious climate. It may also be that the Ven. Watareka and his troops had no business to participate in a Muslim ‘pinkama’ the sole purpose of which appears to be was to whitewash the Muslim settlement. It may be that the Bodu Bala Sena had a right to express its dissent and protest against the actions of the Bathiudeen’s Muslim clan to capitalise on the availability of certain ‘preach for hire’ monks to espouse controversial causes, be it land resettlement or casinos. It may also have been a cleverly engineered trap to which the unthinking Bodu Bala brawn brazenly barged in and embraced, unwittingly exposing themselves to public ignominy.

But any moral right they may have possessed to express their dissent, they forsook in the despicable manner of their protest.
Whether one agrees with the Muslim settlement policy or with Ven. Watareka’s presence at the meeting, their constitutionally guaranteed right to express their views is beyond dispute. No one has the right to barge into an assembly of people and by flexing their biceps signifying threatening brutish behaviour, prevent the freedom of speech or of peaceful assembly.

This is more so of Buddhist monks who are not only bound by the law of the land but are also bound by the ordination pledges of observing the ‘vinaya’ rules, the strict code of discipline laid down by the Buddha himself. Democracy is the cornerstone of Buddhist practice where one is actively encouraged to question even the Buddha’s doctrine before accepting its validity and the pervading message of love and compassion toward all beings, encompasses tolerance and respect toward all faiths

But evidently they have not learnt from their follies but rather consider the whole sordid episode as another trophy. On Wednesday at their own news conference, Bodu Bala chief Gnanasara vowed that they will continue to storm and stop any news conference held against Sinhala or Buddhist interest. “Where anything is to be said against Sinhala Buddhist interest, be it a news conference, be it a meeting, we shall storm them,” Ven. Gnanasara declared, in the self same manner the LTTE chief Prabhakaran had declared and eliminated all Tamil opinion to become the sole voice of the Tamils.

But on this Easter Sunday the Bodu Bala egg is beginning to hatch and slowly but surely the chickens will soon be coming home to roost. For this self-appointed guardian of Buddhism, this self appointed moral police of this land, for this self appointed final chief censor on all matters Sinhala Buddhist and now the latest sole spokesman for the Sinhala Buddhists the meteoric rise has reached its zenith and the once twinkling star has begun to lose its shine.

The April 9 incident marks the turning point. On the international front, the Terrorism Research and Analysis Consortium (TRAC) USA listed the Bodu Bala as a ‘radical Sinhalese Buddhist nationalist organisation… that engages on hate speech and attacks against minority religions. The TRAC should update its classification to include the fact that the Bodu Bala Sena is not averse to attacking Buddhist monks too if they happen to hold an opinion different to its.

April 9 is also the day the Sinhala Buddhists of Lanka saw the Bodu Bala disrobed, Buddhism betrayed. They witnessed how the BBS had no qualms in attacking their own robe and faith, flouting every rule in the Vinaya code. They saw how, as the Buddha described, harboured hate engulfs the whole human psyche and how its evil consequences inevitably return to one’s own doorstep.

The scene at Nippon should serve to be the nation’s wake-up call and should prod the Government to action charged as it is with the constitutional duty of ‘promoting and fostering’ the Buddha Sasana. It cannot be towards the weal and welfare of the Sasana for a few of its members to engage in internecine warfare against each other, practising a violent creed totally alien to the sublime ahimsa of the Buddha.

At Wednesday’s news conference Bodu Bala Chief Ven. Gnanasara attacked Ministers Rauff Hakeem, Wimal Weerawansa, Vasudeva Nanayakkara and Dilan Perera for making incorrect statements against the BBS calling them ‘pissu yakshayo’ but singled out Minister Mervyn Silva for praise, whom he hailed as ‘a genuine patriot much better than other ministers.”

When birds of a feather chirp patriotic praise together it is time to ring the curtain down on this most disgraceful and disgusting anti-Buddhist travesty enacted on the national stage.

Modi blues: Not a secret mistress, but a secret wifeSUNDAY PUNCH 2

Now at last the shocking truth can be revealed. The skeleton in Modi’s closet is not a secret mistress, but a secret wife. And for 46 agonising years, he hid the scandalous truth from the great Indian public.

Hours before India went to the polls, news that Narendra Modi, tipped to be India’s next Prime Minister has been married for over forty years rocked the nation, especially after it was revealed that he had walked away from the marriage after two weeks, never met her again and had kept existence of his wife a carefully guarded secret.


The mistake most men make is that they flaunt their wives in public and hide their secret mistresses. Eventually they are found out. But not so Modi. He did the very opposite. And, had he so wished, he could have had many a pretty girl on his arm and no one would have breathed a word of condemnation. Hide the truth and flaunt the lie. That seems the mod Modi way to do it.

Narendra Modi

But of course, he did it for a reason. Marrying at the age of 17 he left the nuptial bed after two weeks of non activity to follow, as his dutiful child bride, now 63 years old retired school teacher Jashodaben says “a higher calling”. The ‘hindu only’ RSS party to which Modi belonged in his early days frowned upon its senior officers marrying and ‘Hindutvar’ Modi had to carry the bitter secret with him up to now when election laws forced him to spill the beans and admit the unthinkable.

And his brother adds for good measure: “Modi was inspired by the sacrifices made by Swami Vivekananda and the Buddha.”

Meanwhile, adding a sweet touch to the still on-going tale of unrequited love Jashodaben is presently on a pilgrimage and says, “I am praying for Modi to win and become Prime Minister.”

If that wasn’t enough to give Narendra the moody blues, feminists in India and his enemies say that if he could leave his wife he could do the same for India. But they should not worry. They should remember that when he left his wife he left her without consuming the marriage.
At least his opponents and the Indian people should take heart and rest assured. Going by Modi’s past performance or rather the lack of it, the man who may soon win the right to take India to bed will, if he has to leave her someday, at least leave India inviolate.

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