24 November 2020
CLERGY & POLITICS
This morning I was delighted to receive an email from a member of the Tamil Diaspora regarding spirituality as experienced by Sai devotee Gautam Sachdeva. I felt that my work in writing the article ‘HOLISTIC DEVELOPMENT’ on the birth anniversary of Sri Sathya Sai Baba has been blessed. I noticed that I was yet to forward my mail to that particular group. I sent it after receiving the above mail this morning.
Later I came across the Daily Mirror article headed ‘Is section of Sangha trying to subjugate President?’ by K.K.S. Perera who has shown respect for my work. Mr Perera’s article was published yesterday. I found some common values even though Mr Perera is a Buddhist and I am a Hindu. This response of mine, shares my experience based interpretations as a Sri Lankan.
Mr Perera quotes:
[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 ]
My search took me to the layperson’s story – reported as having been related by Buddha about Devadatta who wore clothes out of cloth donated towards alms-giving costs – the parallel of which did happen in Sri Lanka during the 2015 Presidential Elections Ref: Lalith Weeratunga and Anusha Palpita found guilty in Sil Cloth distribution case). The origin of old legend about the negative karma of Buddhist Clergy is reported as follows:
[Devadatta was an elephant hunter in one of his previous existences. At that time, in a certain forest, there lived a large number of elephants. One day, the hunter noticed that these elephants knelt down to the paccekabuddhas* on seeing them. Having observed that, the hunter stole an upper part of a yellow robe and covered his body and hand with it. Then, holding a spear in his hand, he waited for the elephants on their usual route. The elephants came, and taking him for a paccekabuddha fell down on their knees to pay obeisance. They easily fell prey to the hunter. Thus, one by one, he killed the last elephant in the row each day for many days.
The Bodhisatta (the Buddha-to-be) was then the leader of the herd. Noticing the dwindling number of his followers he decided to investigate and followed his herd at the end of the line. He was alert, and was therefore able to evade the spear. He caught hold of the hunter in his trunk and was about to dash him against the ground, when he saw the yellow robe. Seeing the yellow robe, he desisted and spared the life of the hunter.
The hunter was rebuked for trying to kill under cover of the yellow robe and for commuting such an act of depravity. The hunter clearly did not deserve to put on the yellow robe.]
In current Sri Lanka, Buddha Sasana is the yellow robe. Many examples of hunters pretending to be wearing Buddha Sasana have been exposed in Sri Lanka. Mr Perera starts with Mapitigama Buddharakkitha, about whom Wikipedia states as follows:
[Mapitigama Buddharakkitha (1921−1967) was the chief conspirator of the assassination of fourth Prime Minister of Ceylon (later Sri Lanka), S. W. R. D. Bandaranaike. He served as the chief incumbent (chief priest) of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara, one of the most sacred Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka from 1947 to 1959…..
Buddharakkitha's various notorious acts only surfaced after he was convicted. He was described as a rich businessman who was involved in various high profile businesses. Buddharakkitha routinely consumed whisky, which was an offense for a buddhist monk. He allegedly had a sexual relationship with Vimala Wijewardene MP, Minister of Health and the only woman member of the Bandaranaike's Cabinet in 1959. Wimala Wijewardene was the sister-in-law of D. R. Wijewardena and the widow of Don Charles Wijewardene, author of The Revolt in the Temple(1953).She was also a grand-aunt of Ranil Wickremasinghe, former prime minister of Sri Lanka.]
Mr Perera’s connection goes as follows:
[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. ]
Majority Sri Lankans know that Buddhist clergy and the Sri Lankan government are bound through their umbilical cord connections to the Buddhist institution. As is the way of Nature, when they operate at the primary level, they produce their own opposites. Whether they are internal opposition that maintains Sri Lankan sovereignty or enemies open to external influence is determined not by them but by that opposition, though the strength of their belief.
To the extent, Buddhist clergy influenced political leaders through their status – they naturally developed opposition to Hindu clergy. To the extent that was the Hindu clergy / Brahmins in India, they had the responsibility to use regional structures and not local. By using local structures over which they had ‘control’ they pushed Tamils who opposed through belief, towards India and Muslims towards Middle East. This is also the risk carried by those leaders who are Dual Citizens using local powers.
Mr Perera requests as follows:
[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 Lankan President trying to discipline Buddhist monks is the parallel of Donald Trump trying to discipline the American Armed Forces. They depend on the achievements of these respective bodies – which carry their own excesses.
Neither the President nor the Buddhist clergy is enlightened. They need each other especially because they have chosen to remain ‘domestic’. To the extent they are true to each other, at least in private – their energies would merge and protect those who are true Buddhists and/or v.v. As a true Buddhist – Mr Perera is doing just that. Universal Buddhist Energy will do the rest.
If they publicly ‘show’ opposition, they would invite rebels to show their own powers. Until old excesses are negated – the risk of karma would remain strong. If current efforts are strong – karma will remain passive.
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