The days of Ven Narada, Kotahene Pragnakeerthi, Yakkaduwe Prajnaratne, Madihe Pannaseeha, are gone it seems forever. The great line of tradition begun by Ven Sariyuth Mugalan disappears before our eyes. The Sanga is fast become a mere trailer attached to the corrupt political brigade.
Sri Lanka is full of political games these days than never before. It is Kolam theatre that we see because in the typical game the players hide under masks or pretences. The discerning sophisticate can see through the agenda but the undiscerning vast are beguiled into believing that what appears is what is. Take a good look at the recent warning by the three Mahanayakes in a joint statement and you will get what I mean.
The statement itself was a follow -up of the unilateral statement issued previously by the Holy One at Asgiriya. Hence, the hand of conspirators in a widening game can be inferred. The conspirators tricked Asgiriya to come into the spider net and then, with enhanced confidence, went up to the other three Holy Ones and got them to sign up.
Our conspiring cabal are indeed ‘smart patriots,’ to use a phrase innovated by Dayan Jayatilleka. GMOA is already in their fold. GMOA, in turn, tried to rope in the trade unions in one collective assault on the government but hardened workers are street smart and they refused to be caught. Thus the GMOA’s ‘unending strikes,’ like the Permanent Revolution (nonewethena viplyavaya), keeps going sans the working class until they eventually get a backlash from the suffering people.
Unlike the GMOA, however, the monk platform has only one stated theme, and that is the preservation of the Sanga and Buddhism. The GMOA has the SAITM, the government international trade pacts and so on and any public policy matter they might think fit to include. When eminent economist Saman Kelegama passed away recently the GMOA even thought it appropriate to circulate an SMS that the Chief Architect of the trade pact with India has gone!
On the other hand, the Mahanayakes’ joint statement focused on the growing public shaming of the Sanga. The immediate provocation had been the public castigation of the doings and undoings of Gnanasara. Social media went viral on rampaging Buddhist monks. A simple mobile camera can capture misbehaviour and broadcast in an instant.
Professor Kapila Abhayawansa, formerly of the Pali and Buddhist University and currently teaching Buddhist philosophy in a Thailand university, wrote a brilliant piece that appeared in the Colombo Telegraph of July 6th. He has correctly spotted the game as he questions whether the three Holy Ones’ statement is a pointer to the government or a pointer to the Sasana?
The statement is supposed to protest at the trend of shaming of Buddhist monks by the public and the social media etc and wants the government to stop the rot. This wave of criticism was provoked particularly after Gnanasara’s campaign to attack Muslims begun in 2013 and revived vehemently recently.
Listing Old Stories
Professor Kapila questions the Mahanayakes’ need for listing the destruction to Buddhist religious places, the smashing of Buddha statues and the theft of valuable archaeological treasures buried in temples as among the untoward things happening today. These have been happening for many years in the past. The suggestion is that the widened list of undesirables has been meant to give a depth of context to Gnanasara’s BBS brigade and point the finger at the yahapalanaya government.
The Professor reminds us how even some Buddhist monks have been implicated in such destructive acts of theft around sacred places. There have been charges that monks have themselves been party to the stealing of cash donations and tills in temples. One monk has been charged with giving such moneys on interest.
Auditing of Temple Money
It is no secret that we have numerous rich temples spread over the country. Kelaniya, Bellanvila, and Kandy are prime examples. Massive amounts of donations keep pouring in to these institutions. The Kalutara Bodhi has millions of passing travellers emptying their pockets as an insurance for a good journey. These have been occurring for many years. The Kings of the past had donated massive assets to places of worship in the form of Nindagam, Devalagam, and Viharagam. The Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters know that too well. I am not aware of any auditing of these donations that have ever been carried out in the face of such considerable cash handling.