I really appreciate the critiques of my writing. I always welcome the constructive criticism. But such criticism should be an objective one not a subjective one. Of course my objective approach might be a subjective to you. This occurs according to different perceptions of your understating. But yet, we should all try to understand issues and problems in comprehensive ways. We should substantiate our arguments with evidence and logical reasoning.
The criticism that provokes our thought and stimulate our creating thinking should be recognised. But all these should be done objectively without any prejudice and discrimination within the etiquette of academic writing: it is not my objective to make any communal division or social disharmony rather to enhance of comparative religious understanding. Please do not take my writing out of contexts; I have been calling for communal harmony and religious dialogues between different communities. It is not my aim to hurt feeling of any religious community rather I make staunch criticism of BBS group for its apparent bias and racial remakes.
I know well that Sinhalese race is one of the best races in the world: They are kind, compassionate and polite people. I do not say that but history itself testifies this. What happening now within the BBS group is totally a different matter? I’m telling this because BBS has been expressing communal resentment and religious jealousy in its recent public talks and speeches. The entire world knows that. It is self-evident from their talks and speeches. It is self evident from their behaviours, actions and mentalities as well. Any sound person would agree with such statement. We know well that the majorities of Sinhalese people deplore the actions and behaviours of BBS. I repeatedly re-iterate here that my aim is to expose the hatred of BBS rather than hurting feeling of people.
I never and ever generalise this issue with Sinhalese people. I single out some policy statements of BBS for its bias approaches and attitudes. I do not think that BBS represent the majority of Singhalese people. The majority of people do not subscribe to BBS view points. They do not endorse their ideologies, policies and perceptions. The majority of venerable Buddhist monks do not endorse the radicalism and extremism in any form. One could notice the clear disparity in the speeches of Galagoda Aththe Gnanasara Thero of BBS and its President Venerable Kirama Wimalajothi Thero. While the venerable Kirama Wimalajothi Thero speaks with politeness and logic we notice the venerable Gnanasara Thero speaks with aggression and violence. His speeches are self evident for hared. Please listen to some of speeches and talks to see how much aggressive are his talks and speeches. Is this Buddhist way of addressing issues and concerns? Of course not at all and majority of Buddhist people deplore these attitudes.
Of course, some concerns and worries of BBS are genuine and real. They should address these concerns in proper and professional ways. They should address these concerns in democratic ways rather creating communal disharmony and pandemonium. They should address their concerns and their worries with the ministry of Buddha Sasena. They should address these concerns with the high ranking Buddhist religious authorities in the country. They should address their concern with the administration of the temples in the countries to find some of ways and methods to enhance their religious concepts.
They should not take the laws in their hands to address their concerns. They should not become a religious police to dictate what they want to the entire Sri-Lankan communities. A claim such as Sri-Lanka belongs only to Sinhalese is an unwanted provocation. This could take this country into one more communal conflict between Sinhalese and minorities communities. Just we come out of 30 years of wars. Do we need such a provocative statement once again?
Of course we could agree with BBS in some of their concerns and worries. But those concerns and worries should be national concerns and national interests rather than communal concerns. If they are fighting for the rights of poor, needy and vulnerable in the communities these concerns and worries are genuine and real. The entire nation should support such a struggle, if they are fighting against all form of corruptions and social injustices we all should support such a good course. If they are fighting against all form of social illness such as drug addition and fraud we all should support them in this good work, if they are fighting against alcoholism and crimes we all should work hand in hand with them in these particular issues.
Our country faces many challenges today than ever before. It may be true that the war with LTTE is already over and yet, the country faces many economic and social challenges. A large proportion of people suffer from abject poverty. People in the villages are struggling to make end meets in the life. People are struggling to meet basic necessities of daily life. A large percentage of school drop outs do not get job opportunities and career prospectus. These are clearly apparent in rural villages in some districts in Sri Lanka. We should go to some remote villages to see the pathetic conditions of people in rural areas. For instance look at the conditions of Plantation Tamils in Estates. They have been dedicating for the economy of Sri Lanka for the last 6 decades and yet see the conditions they are living in today. In the same ways farmers of Sri Lanka are backbones of Sri-Lankan agricultural sector and yet, look at the conditions they are living in today. Rather than addressing these fundamental problems BBS is engaging in communal racism. Ironically it is in the name of Buddhism and Buddhism has nothing to do with racism.
Any foreseeable danger comes toSri Lanka today not from Sri Lankan Tamil community or Muslim community in Sri Lanka rather it could come from Tamil Nadu in long run. With its 65 millions Tamil populations it could become a threat in a long run if Sri Lanka fails to establish good diplomatic and social ties with Tamil Nadu. Sri Lanka has so far managed to build up good diplomatic relations with India and yet, our relation with Tamil Nadu has been not that good in recent time. No Tamil Nadu high ranking politician visited Sri Lanka and our presidents and PM are not yet, been invited into Tamil Nadu. This widening diplomatic gap should be worrying BBS and its cohorts rather than creating more communal disharmony between communities.
BBS is a real threat to national unity today. They create division between communities today. They spread hared among communities today. They spread lies and fabrications without any evidence. The racial discrimination and racial prejudice of BBS can not be tolerated. BBS should be dismantled in the greater interest of this nation. It would be a social and communal suicidal to go on this path of discrimination and hatred. We all know that happened to our venerable monks in South India. Undoubtedly, it was reactionary violence of some Tamil Nadu people against what was going on in Sri Lanka on those days. The behaviours of some of these BBS people could put communal relation in jeopardy in Sri Lanka.
Radicalism is radicalism and extremism is extremism, whether it comes from Muslims, Christians, Hindus or Buddhists, whether it comes from religious groups or political groups or from any groups, whether it comes from al-Qaeda or Taliban, whether it come from BBS or for that matter from any religious groups. The radicals and extremists have done more damages and more harm to Islam and Muslims today than any one else. In the same way all forms of radicalism that come from BBS should be rejected.
Sri Lanka is blessed with the existence of four major world religions. The different cultural and religious heritage beautifies Sri Lankan Multi-Cultural history. It should not lead to communal and religious conflicts at all. It should enhance our mutual intercultural understanding. Unfortunately, this intercultural understanding is lacking in Sri Lanka today. Our children have to learn all four major religions today. Our children should know each other’s religious faith and practices. This is not to indoctrinate one another with others faith rather to enhance mutual understanding between different faith groups. Today we live in a borderless virtual world. Therefore, we should understand each others faith and way of life. We should also appreciate other people’s way of life. In this way we could avoid social and communal conflict in Sri Lanka. Our schools, institutions and universities have no such systems to learn and teach comparative religions. It is really a pathetic condition of our educational system. I shall give some examples of this cultural conflict to illustrate this point in my next week writing if God willing. (Dr. Rifai (Plus*))