03 December 2012

Aney Haamuduruwane!

There is a school of opinion which holds that the clergy should not be involved in politics.  In fact UNP MP Wijedasa Rajapaksha has called for constitutional measures prohibiting clergy from entering Parliament, which would of course see his party man Eran Wickramaratne being barred as well, a fact which neither individual has dared comment upon.  The merits and demerits of such a move notwithstanding there is no escaping the fact that every single citizen has a right to opinion and the expression of the same, subject to the caveats pertaining to character assassination, libel and so on.   Everyone makes choices and very few choices are apolitical.
As such, no one can complain about the Maha Nayaka Theros expressing opinions on matters of national import, including that of the present tensions between the legislature and judiciary.  They can write to newspapers, make speeches and even express views privately.  Whether or not such privately expressed views are thereafter published for purposes unintended is a matter they may or may not know about or care about, but that’s not the point.  They have the freedom to express. 
The word of the Prelates needs to be listened to by all, of this there is no argument.  They may not get it right, but that’s a different matter.  They have on many occasions made political choices, some of which have been detrimental to the country and the people, which too one can dismiss as decisions prompted by notions of the wellbeing of all albeit based on incomplete information and inadequacies pertaining to reading the political.  Opinion is opinion, however, and as citizens they have the right to express views. 
So there is nothing wrong about the Maha Nayaka  of the Asgiriya Chapter the Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkita Thero chit-chatting with anyone, even with the US Ambassador Michele J Sison.  The Venerable Thero has every right to talk about anything with anyone; even the US Ambassador and even about the current tensions between Parliament and Supreme Court.  The Thero can pass judgment too.  By the same token the Thero will also be judged, with all due respect. 
Sison asked about the impeachment motion against the Chief Justice, as she is entitled to, and the Venerable Thero responded, as is his right.  It was then, not just a courtesy call, but a visit to play agent provocateur as has been the not so side-role of US diplomats all over the world. 
Now it would be childish to say that the Maha Nayaka Thero is part of an international conspiracy led by the USA against the Government.  The question is, why even bother to discuss the subject with someone whose government cares next to nothing about justice, fair play, decency, propriety and such in domestic or international affairs.    It is certainly not something one expects from those who are often referred to as the Mura Devatavo (Guardian Deities) of the nation. 
The Venerable Thero perhaps out of courtesy is reported to have referred to acts of friendship.  Perhaps, again out of courtesy, the Venerable Thero kept silent on unarguable acts of aggression and enmity.  Perhaps out of ignorance, we could add, but let’s err on the side of compassion here.  Either way, circumspect ought to have been demonstrated.  It was not.  Pity.  


Ananda Ariyarathne said...

Above the role played by the venerable monk as the Mahanayake of of Asgiri Chapter, he is a Buddhist Priest who is supposed to have given up worldly matters.If his concern is about protecting Budhha's Teachings it is understandable.Because Buddhism is not a collection of rituals.
The moment he commits on something outside his purview, he loses his position of immunity but qualifies to face any kind of brickbats a normal layman would have to face. The facts are not what appears on the surface.
It was only some Singhalese extremists who can be blamed but not the whole nation.When the Tamil Separatist movement very skilfully encroached in all the possible direction towards the rights of Singhala community, when the LTTE killed at will,and when 13th amendment was made, when the learned opinions started varying a fertile ground was set to have a launching pad for the 'Separate State for Tamils' in the international scene. Does this prelate know about all those in a rational and logical way ? How was it his advanced wisdom did not see that in a world where Natural Resources are becoming scarce and extra care has to be taken to monitor the right and balanced kind of exploitation for the benefit of the people to ensure equal opportunities, that any separation shall cause only additional problems which were not there, thus dragging the nation to a bottomless pit ? First of all, starting from him, all the Buddhist Monks should become living examples for the correctness of Lord Buddha's Teachings.What will he do when the American Strategists quote him as proof in support of their stand.
I do not mean to say the impeachment move by the government is right.It is a big blunder as it can be made use of for causing bigger damage. The wise Legal Eagles who might have been behind such a move also had not seen the unavoidable eventualities.The realities can be in any form.There is another International Move coming up in Geneva soon.Can Sri Lanka say, " We don't care " ? They shall cause enough problems for the government.ARAMCO is already making this country dance to its music.All have forgotten the need to earn foreign exchange.Cost of living goes up inside the country because our 'Rupee' is weak.How can foreign exchange be earned when the cost of production goes up here ? Does that prelate know those things through his 'Universal Wisdom' ?
This is a never ending subject.It is linked to everything.
I think, if the Buddhist Clergy is truly following the noble teachings of Lord Buddha, they should be neutral and whatever they may do should be to avoid friction and hatred and concentrate in turning our nation to become an example for the whole world.If a Buddhist monk cannot see that reality, he should question himself whether he is really at least a practising Buddhist.
This is my opinion and I am responsible for what I have mentioned.
Ananda Ariyarathne