Westernized Buddhism and Sinhala Buddhism

I found this article by Sharmini Serasingha, named as Mahavamsa: An Insult to Buddha, (appeared in the Colombo Telegraph )which is the leitmotiv is despising the cultural practices considered as essential to follow Buddhism by traditional Buddhists as a deviation from true Buddhism, and abasing the rural Buddhists who involve in them for turning the philosophy into a religion. Any person who has read the discourses of the Buddha will see how contradict the views of the Sharmini to that of the Buddha and will convinced that she has never studied the authoritative sources of the religion her article is dealing about.

Sharmini’s article is filled with glaring errors, betraying the canonical literature. Despite her abasement of rural Buddhists, and despite her depiction of them being deviating from original teachings of the Buddha, it’s she herself is the one who distorts the original teachings of the Buddha, rather than it’s done by the people whom she derogatorily names as the Mahavamsa Buddhists.

Here we are going to show how sincere is the Buddhist version she is criticizing (naming it derogatorily as “Mahavamsa Buddhism”) with the teachings of Thripitaka. Note that all the emphasizes in bold in any quotation are by mine.

Before that, it should be mentioned that I agree totally with her criticism of Mahavamsa being a book which promotes racial supremacist ideology and with her suggestion that “comparative religion” must be taught in schools in order to give the younger generations a chance to understand each other’s religions to know that no religion is above the other.

Worshiping Buddha Statues and Paying Reverence

But her criticism of Buddhist practices is not consistent with what Buddha has said in Tripitaka. For example, she writes;

"However, it does not matter, if the tooth is over-sized, belonged to the Buddha or not, because The the ‘wise one’ asserted, that his followers must not revere, nor worship, any part of his physical self, nor idolize him. Had the Buddha wanted otherwise, he would have left not just a tooth, but his entire skeleton, for his followers to worship." 

She does not mention in which discourse Buddha has asserted that Buddhists must not worship any part of him. And it’s not only a tooth survived as remains of the Buddha, but there are many such relics. Relic of frontal-lobe-bone, relic of collar-bone and relic of jaw-bone of the Blessed One are among them and fact that some of them have been enshrined in Stupathas of Sri Lanka also is a known fact. Regarding whether Buddha wanted or not to worship body relics of him, there’s a reference in “The Discourse of Great Demise [Maha Parinibbana Sutta]” in the section of “Long Discourses [Deega Nikaya]” to that matter. Ven: Ananda inquired Buddha about how should be performed regarding the body of the Blessed One, after his demise. Buddha replied that Do not bother about honoring the body of the Thatagatha and concentrate on gain your spiritual goal, Nirvana, And There are many wise Brahmins, kings and laities and they will honor the body of the Thathagatha. When, then Ananda thero asked, how should they act respecting the body of the Thathagatha, Buddha replies that “as the same manner towards a body of a universal monarch.” Then Ananda thero asks how should be acted respecting the body of a universal monarch, and Buddha replies as follows;

“The body of a universal monarch, Ananda, is first wrapped round with new linen, and then with teased cotton wool, and so it is done up to five hundred layers of linen and five hundred of cotton wool. When that is done, the body of the universal monarch is placed in an iron oil vessel, which is enclosed in another iron vessel, a funeral pyre is built of all kinds of perfumed woods, and so the body of the universal monarch is burned; and at a crossroads a stupa is raised for the universal monarch. So it is done, Ananda, with the body of a universal monarch. And even, Ananda, as with the body of a universal monarch, so should it be done with the body of the Tathagata; and at a crossroads also a stupa should be raised for the Tathagata. And whosoever shall bring to that place garlands or incense or sandalpaste, or pay reverence, and whose mind becomes calm there — it will be to his well being and happiness for a long time.

From the translation by Sister Wajira and Francis Story

This is the basis of the Buddhist practice of worshiping Buddha statues or offering flowers etc to them as a reverence. The reason for this has explained in the same discourse, as follows, in the own words of the blessed one.

“And why, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Arahant, a Fully Enlightened One worthy of a stupa? Because, Ananda, at the thought: ‘This is the stupa of that Blessed One, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!’ the hearts of many people will be calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness.

Though Buddha did not want people to pay these reverences for him, his reverence has clearly stated that this may advance the spiritual benefits people gain. I know that there are many who argue that these may be later additions, but however, we have to reject this argument as a trash, since the majority of the western scholars on Buddhism, Pali language and Indology who have studied the Tipitaka, agree that Tipitaka wasn’t changed and oral tradition that existed in India is highly reliable. And there are many internal evidences to prove so, as explained by Bikkhu Sujato and Bikku Brahmali in their study ‘Authenticity of the Tipitaka.’ Anyone who has doubts regarding authenticity of the Tipitaka will convinced on this, after reading these evidences.

Sharmini writes again that;

They offer flowers, to clay and stone images of the Buddha, and light oil lamps, as it is an idée recue; believing by doing so, one earns enormous merit. Little do they understand the significance, of such customs; they fail to connect the similarity of flowers and the oil lamp, with their impermanent life – ‘anicca’.

This interpretation, that flowers offered to Buddha and the flame of the oil lamp lighted for revering him, symbolize the impermanence of our lives, that one day our physical bodies too will be decomposed in the same manner as the flower withers, or we will be dead in a flash, as a flame vanishes by the wind suddenly, is popular even among the devout/rural Sinhala Buddhists. But I have never seen a reference for it in the Tipitaka. According to what Buddha has said in the ‘Discourse of Great Demise’, what we can say that this interpretation is wrong. So THIS must be a later addition, since no reference for this can be found in Tipitaka.

Foundation of Buddhist Funeral Rite of Transferring Merits to Dead Relatives

Then Sharmini goes on criticizing the funeral rites followed by Buddhists. She attributes the origin of them to the social and cultural conditions of the ancient villages, that in those times’ temple was a center of social gathering activities of the village, and it was the common practice to engage all of the village, including the monks with the funeral, who visited the bereaved family, to console them, and it was the tradition to offer meals to all who gathered, by the bereaved family. She writes that “This, over the years, became part and parcel, and a ‘religious ceremony’, of the Sinhala- Buddhist ‘religion’”. She also claims that;

it’s recorded nowhere that Buddha having said, that alms must be offered to monks, in one’s home or at a temple, seven-days, three-months and one-year after a death, in one’s family”
.With time, the Buddhist clergy, introduced a sense of ‘guilt’, to the Buddhist laity, that if such ‘alms-giving ceremonies’, were not held, the departed will be reborn, in ‘hell’. So once again, ‘debunking’ the Buddha’s theory, of ‘karma’ (unavoidable results, of our intentional actions), the monks carved a path of convenience, and reverence, for themselves.
...And our foolish laity, continue to believe, that the more you feed and spoil these ‘people’, the more ‘merit’ they, and their dearly departed, would receive!

If she has read the “Discourse of Hungry Apparitions behind the Wall” [Thirokudda sutta], from the Khudhdhakapata of the “Section of Minor Discourses” [Kudhdhaka Nikaya], she would have known that it gives a foundation to transferring merits to the dead relatives, and hence the origin of Buddhist funeral rites can’t be attributed to such social conditions.

According to the background story of the Thirokudda sutta, in one of his past lives, King Bimbisara involved in an alms-giving for the Kassapa Buddha and the Sangha. Some of the relatives involved in the distributing alms, kept the gifts intended for the Sangha for themselves, and because of that sin they became apparitions and suffered a long time. On the Gauthama Buddha’s second day at Rajagaha, they made noises and disturbed the King Bimbisara at night. When asked about it from the Gauthama Buddha, the Buddha revealed this past story and advised the king to make an alms giving for the Sangha and to transfer the merits to these apparitions, so that they will get rid of their wretched existence. Having being invited to the alms giving with his retinue, Buddha invoked blessings to the dead relatives, reciting Thirokudda sutta. Following are two extracts from the discourse.

“As water raining on a hill
flows down to the valley,
even so does what is given here
benefit the dead.
As rivers full of water
fill the ocean full,
even so does what is given here
benefit the dead.…

…..But when this offering is given,
well-placed in the Sangha,
it works for their long-term benefit
and they profit immediately.

In this way the proper duty
to relatives has been shown,
great honour has been done to the dead,
and monks have been given strength:
The merit you have acquired
Is not small.”

(Thirokudda Suththa – translated by Thanissaro Thero)

Merit of Offering Alms and Gifts to the Sangha

Since, from above quotation of Sharmini’s article, it can also be seen that, it’s her opinion that giving alms to Monks for gaining merit, is something invented by monks for selfish reasons and not something taught by Buddha, further examination on this also should be done. It’s a known fact that Buddhist monks should be avoided from living as lay people, and the expected way for their dependence is, accepting what is offered to them. As one can see from the canonical literature, Buddha himself involved in the alms round, with the Sangha. Anyway, we can prove that not only Buddha approved the alms givings to the Sangha as a meritful act, but encouraged it also. In the Ajañña sutta of the “Section of Discourses ordered in Numericals” [Anguththara Nikaya], Buddha lists eight qualities which makes a monk worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world. And it’s not necessary to be Arhats or any other Spiritually gained ones to treated so, as it seems from the sutta, since the qualities mentioned are so simple virtues which any willing person can follow without any super mental achievements .

[1] “There is the case where a monk is virtuous. He dwells restrained in accordance with the Patimokkha, consummate in his behavior & sphere of activity. He trains himself, having undertaken the training rules, seeing danger in the slightest faults.

[2] “When given food, whether coarse or refined, he eats it carefully, without complaining.

[3] “He feels disgust at bodily misconduct, verbal misconduct, mental misconduct, at the development of evil, unskillful [mental] qualities.

[4] “He is composed & easy to live with, and doesn’t harass the other monks.

[5] “Whatever tricks or deceits or wiles or subterfuges he has, he shows them as they actually are to the Teacher or to his knowledgeable companions in the holy life, so that the Teacher or his knowledgeable companions in the holy life can try to straighten them out.

[6] “When in training he gives rise to the thought, ‘Whether the other monks want to train or not, I’ll train here.’

[7] “When going, he goes the straight path; here the straight path is this: right view, right resolve, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.

[8] “He dwells with his persistence aroused, [thinking,] ‘Gladly would I let the flesh & blood in my body dry up, leaving just the skin, tendons, & bones, but if I have not attained what can be reached through human steadfastness, human persistence, human striving, there will be no relaxing my persistence.'”

“Endowed with these eight qualities, a monk is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world.”

Ajañña Sutta

Nature of the Karma and Doing Merits in Trying Times

Sharmini also shows how she is ignorant about the complex nature of the Karma too. She writes:

….During trying times, unable to accept their ‘karma’, they once again flood the ‘Bo tree’, expecting deliverance from their misery.

In another point she writes also;

 ….So, according to Sinhala/Mahavamsa-Buddhism, even a murderer, rapist, child molester, and others as such, could circumvent their bad ‘karma’ and be reborn in ‘heaven’, courtesy alms and gifts, offered to Buddhist monks.

Though she has made these two claims in two different contexts, (that should be mentioned, so that putting these together may not lead to a wrong perception of her view and thus to avoid any injustice to her article, inadvertently done by my way of quoting her) in the same article, I would like to examine this issue in a single address, since such an arrangement is for the convenience of writing.

Karma is not only the results of past acts, even the acts done in this very moment too becomes ‘Karma.’ So the act of doing ‘Bodhi Pooja’ too becomes a Karma, which has its own result. And perhaps, that result can be experienced in this life, in that very trying time too. And bad Karmas and good Karmas act competitively against each other, to become the first to be give its effect. So if a meritorious deed done at a time when a bad Karmas are repeatedly giving their results, the good Karma, which done at the time may give its effects also, perhaps undermining (not circumventing) the results of the bad Karma.

Rohini’s story which comes in the “Annotation of the Dhammapadha commentary” [දම්පියා අටුවා ගැටපදය] which reveals the story behind the verse 221 (first verse of the Section on Anger [Krodha Wagga]) of the Dammapadha, is a proof for this. Princess Rohini, who was a sister of Arhat Anuruddha thero, refused to be present before the Anuruddha thero, when he visited his family, since she was suffering from a horrible skin disease. When the Anuruddha thero, knew this, he advised her to construct a refectory for Buddha and the Sangha, by selling some of her jewelries. Under the supervision of the Anuruddha thero, her relatives managed to construct it. Then Anuruddha thero instructed her to do all the things, like serving the foods to the monks, cleaning the hall etc., by herself, so that she will get the merit. As the monks began to came there, and being served by her, then her disease began to recover, though slowly. And after a time, Buddha was invited to there to partake the meals, and after the alms, Buddha asked the Rohini, that she knew the reason for affliction. When she replied that she don’t know, Buddha revealed that it was due to a cruel act she did in a past life of her. Once in her past lives, she was a queen and being jealous with a king’s dancer, she made the dancer to be suffered by applying an itching powder to her bed and clothes. It was due to that bad karma, she had to suffered from a shameful skin disease. And due to the merit she earned by donating an alms hall and serving the Sangha, her disease began to cure. In other words, the power of the bad karma in her past life, was defeated by the power of the good karma she did in this life. So It’s not being unable to accept the ‘Karma’, people do ‘Bodhi Pooja’. It’s because of the very understanding of the complex nature of the ‘Karma’ they have, than the Sharmini.

There is a category of Karma also, which is called as ‘defunct’ [අහෝසි කර්ම] since they got no time to give its results, when the person attains Nibbana and thus ends his/her cycle of rebirth. That was the case of Arhant Angulimāla thero, who as a layperson committed crimes as many as killing one less than a thousand of people, but achieved Arhathship at the very same birth, after came to the right path. Arhath Angulimāla too had to face the results of his bad Karma, but greatly reduced in effect than they intended. Following is from the Angulimala Sutta of the section of Middle Length Discourses” [Majjima Nikaya].

… And thus Ven. Angulimala became another one of the arahants.

Then Ven. Angulimala, early in the morning, having put on his robes and carrying his outer robe & bowl, went into Savatthi for alms. Now at that time a clod thrown by one person hit Ven. Angulimala on the body, a stone thrown by another person hit him on the body, and a potsherd thrown by still another person hit him on the body. So Ven. Angulimala — his head broken open and dripping with blood, his bowl broken, and his outer robe ripped to shreds — went to the Blessed One. The Blessed One saw him coming from afar and on seeing him said to him: “Bear with it, brahman! Bear with it! The fruit of the kamma that would have burned you in hell for many years, many hundreds of years, many thousands of years, you are now experiencing in the here-&-now!”

– ‘Angulimala Sutta: About Angulimala’ translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

True Meaning of Kalama Suththa

In relation to her criticism of Buddhist funeral rites, Sharmini quotes the following passage from the Kalama Suththa;

Believe nothing, in the faith of traditions,
even though, they have been held in honor,
for many generations, and in diverse places.
Do not believe, a thing, because many people speak of it.
Do not believe, in the faith, of the sages of the past.
Do not believe, what you yourself have imagined,
persuading yourself, that a God inspires you.

Believe nothing, on the sole authority, of your masters and priests.
After examination, believe what you yourself, have tested
and found, to be reasonable, and conform your conduct thereto.”

She does not give the reference for this translation, or does not mention whether this is her own translation to the Pali text or by whom if did by another. But anyway this translation differs from versions of all the reliable and respectable translators (like Thanissaro thero, Soma thero) we have. If someone compared this with such a translation, he/she may find that entire sentences have been missing in this translation, radically altering the meaning intended by the original paragraph. Following is the English translation of the Thanissaro Bikkhu, to the Pali text. I would like to ask the reader to pay her attention to the highlighted texts and to consider whether she can see phrases similar in meaning to them within the translation Sharmini quoted.

“Of course you are uncertain, Kalamas. Of course you are in doubt. When there are reasons for doubt, uncertainty is born. So in this case, Kalamas, don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, ‘This contemplative is our teacher.’ When you know for yourselves that, ‘These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering’ — then you should abandon them….

Of course, we couldn’t find them in the translation Sharmini quotes. And the loss of meaning and misunderstanding adds by this mistake (let’s assume that Sharmini, herself may not responsible for the translation, and hence this blame can be put on the translator) is not “so little”. It totally deviates us from the true teaching of Kalama Sutta. In fact popular misconception that Kalama Sutta gives a carte blanche to Buddhists, have arisen from this sort of cherry pickings from the advice given to Kalama’s by the Buddha. But if someone read above quote (Thanissarao translation) carefully, she may understand that Kalama Sutta does not only advise to, not to accept on sole authority of religious teacher or scripture and tradition, but it also advises not to accept something since it fits one’s personal view (“don’t go by agreement through pondering views”) and not to accept going by arguments (“don’t go by logical conjecture”) or not to accept “going by inference” and even “going by probability.” And it’s not the criteria to accept or reject something, when “we have ourselves know a belief is true” as the Sharmini quotation says. The criteria mentioned is “When we ourselves know that These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering’ .” So the Kalama sutta does not say that we should follow our own sense, but to check whether these are accepted as good or bad. Those who argue that Kalama sutta advocates for a following our own views or opinions, that it can be used as a foundation to reject scriptures or traditions just because they are not appealing to them, with no doubt have misread the Kalama sutta or have not read it at all!

The above interpretation of Kalama sutta is confirmed by the blessed one, in the same Sutta, by giving few examples on how to apply the above advice. Here’s how to apply it, in the Buddha’s own words.

…. “And this deluded person, overcome by delusion, his mind possessed by delusion, kills living beings, takes what is not given, goes after another person’s wife, tells lies, and induces others to do likewise, all of which is for long-term harm & suffering.”

“Yes, lord.”

“So what do you think, Kalamas: Are these qualities skillful or unskillful?”

“Unskillful, lord.”

“Blameworthy or blameless?”

“Blameworthy, lord.”

“Criticized by the wise or praised by the wise?”

“Criticized by the wise, lord.”

“When adopted & carried out, do they lead to harm & to suffering, or not?”

“When adopted & carried out, they lead to harm & to suffering. That is how it appears to us.”

So, as I said, Kalamas: ‘Don’t go by reports, by legends, by traditions, by scripture, by logical conjecture, by inference, by analogies, by agreement through pondering views, by probability, or by the thought, “This contemplative is our teacher.” When you know for yourselves that, “These qualities are unskillful; these qualities are blameworthy; these qualities are criticized by the wise; these qualities, when adopted & carried out, lead to harm & to suffering” — then you should abandon them.’ Thus was it said. And in reference to this was it said.

So to reject something based on Kalama Sutta, they Must have to show that, these qualities (in this case Buddhist funeral rites) leads to suffering and that they are harmful and unskillful deeds. In our knowledge of basic Buddhist concepts of Karma and rebirth, we can’t see any lead to suffering (in the cycle of Rebirth [Samsara]) by the Buddhist funeral rites (giving alms to Sangha and transferring the merit gained, to the dead relatives as a gratitude) Sharmini is criticizing. On the contrary, in a Buddhist sense, these may help to short the time we and our dead relatives would be wandering in the Samsara. What is so harmful in being grateful to one’s relatives and trying to help for their spiritual attainments according to our religious beliefs?

And it’s important to note that Buddha gave this advice to Kalamas when they asked how to choose which one to follow, when every religious leader/teacher is telling, only his faith is the true one. What we can say based on this fact is that, the advice of the Kalama Sutta must only be applied in similar contexts, i.e., when we are in a state whom religion must be taken as true by us. So, as a group of people who have complete faith in Buddha and his teachings, Buddhists are not supposed to use this criteria. Both Thanissaro thero and Bikkubodhi thero have expressed somewhat similar views on Kalama sutta. See Lost in Quotation and A Look at the Kalama Sutta respectively.

Is Buddhism a Philosophy Only and is not a Religion ?

I would like to examine one last claim of her article, which is the expression of most popular misconception on the Buddhism, that Buddhism is not a religion and only a philosophy. It’s this cliché which is popular even among the rural Buddhists, is the ground for many for their rejection of Buddhist religious rites.

A religion is a teaching of a path which can be gained a spiritual benefit (salvation) by following it. Buddhism teaches how to gain such a spiritual benefit; Nirvana. In other words, how to end suffering of rebirth by eradicating the impurities from the mind through the Enlightenment meditation. So Buddhism too is a religion. It may be different significantly from Abrahamic religions, especially for there’s no obligatory prayers, rituals and have no rules governing worldly affairs. But that fact won’t affect as it’s states as a religion. In their book ‘බුදුදහම සහ ජාති ප්‍රශ්නය [Buddhism and Problem of Race]’ professor G. P. Malalasekara and professor K. M. Silva writes that “Some say that Buddhism is a philosophy, and not a religion. But the spiritual path expected to be followed by Buddhists and philosophy taught by the Buddha are intertwined with each other so that one can not separate from the other.

Westernized Buddhism, It’s Origins and Political Usage

In fact, the version of Buddhism Sharmini represents in her arguments, is a, creation of orientalists (theosophists) who were attracted to Indian philosophies with the sole intention of filling a spiritual void in the west, and reform-minded Buddhists of the English speaking elite class that emerged in the colonial era, who needed a Buddhism that was compatible with their newly adopted western views and lifestyles.

As Professor Bernard Faure writes in his book ‘Unmasking Buddhism’, even the modern day western attraction to Buddhism is not coming from a genuine religious interest.

….It may be that the Western attraction to Buddhism represents a surge in the popularity of spirituality rather than a return to religion, with Buddhist spirituality offering a credible response to the anxieties of the modern world.

Unmasking Buddhism, Bernard Faure, p. 139

Furthermore, he writes:

The many Buddhist communities which have sprung up everywhere tend to emphasize the practice of contemplation. This reflects a preoccupation with an “authentic” Buddhism which may only ever have existed in the Western imagination. This infatuation with one of the great “Oriental” religions conceals a great many “Orientalist” prejudices. The tendency to emphasize the aesthetic and “spiritual” aspects of Buddhism and to focus exclusively upon superior or internal realities prevents certain followers from appreciating the profound vitality of Buddhism and the wide range of problems it faces. A full understanding of this Buddhism and its recognition as an intellectual, religious, and spiritual resource can only be achieved through knowledge of its history and of the non-Western societies in which it developed and, in many cases, continues to prosper.

Unmasking Buddhism, Bernard Faure, p. 141

It’s in this Orientalist Buddhism, Sharmini and most English speaking elites and educated middle class so-called-rational-Buddhists are trapped in.

From the 19th century onward, there was a great tendency in the west to rediscover the ancient eastern philosophies. Most of the intellectuals who were on this quest to find the “oriental holy grail” were motivated by alienation and displeasure with the western Christian lifestyle and worldview. They were displeased with the lack of spirituality and philosophical quest for understanding our existence and resolving its problems in Abrahamic religions, especially from the prohibition of free inquiry in Abrahamic religions.

That approach led them to adopt and admire only the parts that seemed relevant to solving their anxieties about life, like the Buddhist/Hindu philosophy, and to de emphasize or to reject the rest – like rituals, which seemed irrelevant to their goal and reminded them the priesthood of the Christianity. They embraced these new concepts with an orientalist thrill and popularized them.

The influence of these orientalists led to English speaking upper-class elites who used to rely on westerners for anything (as a result of their colonial mentality) considering only the part of Buddhism that attracted the western orientalists as the true Buddhism and the rest as later additions. The English speaking elite class that emerged as a result of colonial policies adopted this version of Buddhism to serve their class interests, i. e. show that they are superior to Sinhala speaking rural Buddhists even in the domain of religious observance (that is to say, they are following a ‘much-more’ philosophical Buddhism than they). Adopting this castrated version of Buddhism, which differed greatly from the Buddhism of the rural Sinhala community and from the Buddhism preached by the Buddha, provided them with a dual opportunity to challenge the negative stereotype of them as renegades and to play a new role as saviors of the nation. Later in time, this “Westernized Buddhism” became a political tool in the hands of the Colombo based NGO circles since it perfectly fitted for their purposes. In particular, this kind of Buddhism may be useful when justifying extremist acts by other religious communities and shunning Buddhists when they come with these concerns. For example, if Buddhism was portrayed as a mere philosophy and spirituality without any material culture, it could be used as a response to Buddhists’ concern about the vanishing of Buddhism as a result of the rise of Islamism, for it’s not possible to vanish a Buddhism which only exists in the “Mind” as a result of tangible acts like encroaching temples etc. In a time I too was a die-hard multiculturalist even to the extent to tolerating the fundamentalist acts of minorities, (as the most so-called civil activists today.), when a friend raised a question relating to Muslims encroaching on a Buddhist temple, I told him, “make it the object of your contemplation of impermanence!” Though I knew that’s not a valid argument, I used it to conceal my lack of strength to openly criticize those racist acts of minorities. (almost all civil activists are still using this trick)

Anyway I’m going to sum up this response. Sharmini writes that in childhood she had to get involved in the practice of alms giving, and her family were patrons of the Sangha. But mine was the total opposite of her journey. My father was a westernized Buddhist, and from that influence, I refused to worship Buddha statues as a primary-school student. But later, when I referred to Thripitaka and found that it was less possible to alter it when it came in oral tradition, I came to know that teachings and practices I considered as later additions were in fact original teachings. In other words, what Sharmini has adopted as an adult is the views I rejected as a youth. This connection reminds me of Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s reply to Erasmus Darwin.

Dr Darwin possesses, perhaps, a greater range of knowledge than any other man in Europe, and is the most inventive of philosophical men. He thinks in a new tram on all subjects except religion. He bantered me on the subject of religion. I heard all his arguments, and told him that it was infinitely consoling to me, to find that the arguments which so great a man adduced against the existence of a God and the evidences of revealed religion were such as had startled me at fifteen, but had become the objects of my smile at twenty.

99 Letter to Josiah wade. Collected Letters Of Samuel Taylor Coleridge ed: Earl Leslie Griggs. Vol. I, p. 177

Scientific method and debate on validity of Ayurvedic and Hela Medicine

Most are maintaining the belief that non-western medical traditions have no effect and have no scientific basis. They say that it’s proven that such medical traditions are just cultural practices based on ancient beliefs and have no validity. They pointed out to the rejection of these knowledge systems and their claims by western scientists and western physicians as their proof.

Science is not the personal or collective opinions of the scientists. It’s the results they got from the experiments. Subjecting a hypothesis into experiments and accepting it if the evidence supports it, is the method being used in western science. Until proven by a scientific experiment, any opinion by a scientist on a scientific matter is just a hypothesis, which still yet to be proven. Authority of the person or preference by the scientific community on a theory is not a proof. That’s why Darwin’s theory of Human Evolution, theory of Big Bang and Einsteins’ theory of Relativity still counts as theories not as facts.

So whether these western scientists’ rejection of Ayurveda medicine or Hela medicine as pseudoscience correct or not solely depend on the results of scientific experiments they have done on the efficacy of treatments of those medical traditions.

Most who are accusing non-western medicines as pseudoscience rely on cases they heard when a patient who took medications from a Ayurvedic/Hela physician severed her condition or dead, as their evidence. This approach is problematic since they hasn’t clarified that whether the reason for failure of the treatment is due to the physician’s lack of skills before attributing it to the medical tradition. But even if they fulfilled this requirement, even then such anecdotal evidence can’t be counted as clinical trails for number of reasons. it’s because these are not controlled for age, sex, medical condition etc and have not recorded medical histories to evaluate the cases. If such cases (where the traditional medicines failed) can be counted as ‘clinical trials’ ignoring all the essential requirements to be a scientific study, then it would have be applied to cases where Ayurvedic/Hela medicine said to be incredibly cured certain conditions also. And if them can’t be accepted as a scientific evidence, since they have not been clinically evaluated, then cases they seemed to be failed too must be rejected as scientific evidence, on the same basis.

Since, now its imperative to look at the results of clinical trials on Ayurvedic/Hela medicine, lets look at them. Researches on this field are very limited. So I could found only few researches on them. However all the following findings were from well established clinical trials and have published in respectable medical journals. Link to the original article given as a brief reference within the parenthesis after the summary each research.

  • In a Double-blind, randomized, controlled, pilot study comparing classic ayurvedic medicine, methotrexate, and their combination in rheumatoid arthritis, using 42 patients with rheumatoid arthritis, all 3 treatments were shown to be approximately equivalent in their efficacy, within the limits of a pilot study. Researchers also write that Adverse events were numerically fewer in the Ayurveda-only group. (Journal of Clinical Rheumatology. 2011 Jun;17(4):185-92.)
  • Results from a random-controlled trial which tested the efficacy and safety of Curcuma domestica extractscompared with ibuprofen in patients with knee osteoarthritis, using 367 patients, Ayurvedic treatment (c. domestica extracts) showed to be similar to ibuprofain in effect, for the treatment of knee osteoarthritis. Researchers also write that the number of events of abdominal pain/discomfort was significantly higher in the ibuprofen group than that in the C. domestica extracts group (P=0.046). (Journal of Clinical Interventions in Aging. 2014 Mar 20(9):451-8)
  • According to a randomized, double-blind, controlled equivalence drug trial between Ayurvedic formulations (extracts of Tinospora cordifolia, Zingiber officinale, Emblica officinalis, Boswellia serrata) and allopathic treatments of glucosamine sulphate (2 g daily) and celecoxib (200 mg daily), using 440 patients (Overall, 28% of patients withdrew from the study. = rest 316) suffering from knee osteoarthritis it was found that Ayurvedic formulations (especially SGCG) can significantly reduce knee pain and can improve knee function and is equivalent to glucosamine and celecoxib. (Rheumatology. 2013 Aug;52(8):1408-17)

It’s interesting to see that, contrary to popular belief that Ayurveda treatments have no efficacy/they are just pseudosciences, how EVERY clinical trial on Ayurveda have proved its efficacy, sometimes even with less adverse effects when compared to its Allopathic counterpart.

Now I would like to consider about research evidence on ancient Sinhala (Hela) medicine. It should be first mentioned that though these two traditions share medical knowledge and concepts and have inspired from each other, ancient Sinhala medicine is a medical tradition itself which is independent from its Indian counterpart. But however, it may not be unjust to attribute above mentioned scientific evidences to Sinhala medicine also, since the two traditions intertwined with each other. But we should loot at the research evidence which tested unique treatments of Sinhala medicine too. Unfortunately researches on Hela Medicine are so few that I could found only two treatments in Sinhala Medicine which was scientifically tested. One of them is the effectiveness of Salacia reticulata (කොතල හිඹුටු) for treating type 2 diabetics, which was proved from several clinical trials. Though there are no canonical mentions in ancient medicine, on using Salacaa reticulata for type 2 diabetics, it is used as a folk medicine among the Sinhalese and the plant is endemic to Sri Lanka. So it may not be unjust to attribute efficacy of Salacia reticulata to the wisdom of ancient Sinahala medicine.

Following are the clinical trials done on using Salacia reticulata for treating type 2 diabetics.

  • Results from a placebo-controlled cross over trial done using 20 individuals with type 2 diabetes, have been indicated that Salacia reticulata extracts containing diet can reduce fasting plasma glucose levels, HbA1C and BMI, significantly. Researchers also write that In contrast, no changes were observed in the control-diet group. (Journal of Japanese Society of Nutrition and Food Science. 2000;53(5):199–205.)
  • Results from a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study, which used 29 patients with prediabetes and mild to moderate hyperlipidemia, suggested that extracts of Salacia reticulata can reduce low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and fasting blood sugar (FBS) levels significantly. (Journal of Medicinal Food. 2013 Jun;16(6):564-8.)
  • From double-blind randomized placebo controlled cross over trial which investigated the effects of a herbal tea containing Salacia reticulata in patients with type II diabetes mellitus, using 51 patients with type II diabetes mellitus, it was found that Salacia reticulata can reduce HbA1C significantly. Researchers write that A statistically significant fall in HBA1c was seen with the active drug compared to a rise in HbA1C with the placebo group (0. 54 +/- S.D. 0.93) versus -0.3 +/-S.D. 1.05; P < 0.001. (Journal of Ethnopharmacology. 2005 Feb 28;97(2):215-8.)

Second is a case study done on the effectiveness of Ayurvedic/traditional Sri Lankan orthopedic treatment for nonunion following the fracture of shaft of the humerus which proved that it’s effectiveness than allopathic treatment (K wire) in certain cases. Study was done on the case of 14-year-old boy who had a compound fracture over the shaft of the humerus and presented to Ayurveda treatment after two months of failure of allopathic treatment. K-wire which was applied, have been removed after 3 weeks since there was no healing of wound over fracture site. Researchers immobilized the nonunion bone for six months after applying the herbal oils and herbal pastes. When assessed the treatment using motor, sensory functions assessment, QLIOF questionnaire results after the treatment shown to be very satisfiable and the anterior- posterior and lateral X-ray have shown the complete healing of the fracture. According to researchers There was a significant (p = 0.03) difference between the pre-treatment (14) and post-treatment (59) QLIOF scores. The anterior- posterior and lateral X-ray showed complete healing of the fracture.

Authors of the study also write;

Blood circulation around the fractured bone was regularized after Sodhana Chikitsa. It initiates the formation of hematoma and subsequently resolves into granulation tissue with the typical inflammatory cascade. In the case of chronic nonunion, Sodhana treatment would trigger the granulation tissue formation which subsequently leads to soft callus and finally triggers the hard callus formation. Sodhana treatment was given for around eight weeks. Once Shamana treatment was initiated, a state of balance between osteoclast and osteoblast activities of seen which will strengthened the callus. With Tarpana treatment, the homeostatis proceeded with bone remolding and lead to final bone formation with complete fracture healing [13], [14]. While continuing above therapy based on Susrutha Samhita for proper fracture healing, Kusha (splints), Alepa (paste or plaster) and Bandana (bandaging) needed to be done to stabilize the fracture 7“[7].

Authors mention that Preparation of paste of Katakaladi and paste of Ashwagandada were done according to the methods mentioned by the eminent Sri Lankan traditional physician “Arangala Veda Parapura”. So attributing this result too to the Sinhala medicine my not be a wrong.

These evidences will counter the unsubstantial claims on ineffectiveness of Ayurvedic/Sinhala medicines and will stand against the prejudice towards those medical traditions which reflects Eurocentric and colonial mentality. Those who dogmatically believe in individual opinions by western physicians on non-western medical traditions (which reflects nothing, but their bias) must have to look at these evidences and think that whether the approach those western physicians used to reach their conclusions are at least comply with their own scientific standards.

It’s true that, just because certain treatments of those medical traditions have proved as effective this result can’t be generalized for all such treatments used in them. But since results of EVERY clinical trial on Ayurvedic/Hela medicine, have shown the efficacy and safety of them, there is a possibility of other treatments which still have not tested, also proved to be true if tested. So if anyone has doubt regarding efficacy of Ayurveda or Sinhala medicine, what he or she should have to be done is that testing them using clinical trial models which comply with accepted standards. Arguing over on a matter to justify preconceived notions is not something we expect from people who are in the filed of science.

And it should be noted that though there’s a authority to regulate Ayurvedic doctors, there is no authority to support/research on Sinhala medicine, to assist or test the credentials of Hela physicians. So it’s not fair to discredit it using this neglection as an excuse, since it’s not something have to be fixed by Hela physicians themselves, but something to be done by the authorities. If someone have honest concern with not having regulatory body on Hela physicians, it’s his/her duty to agitate the authorities to establish an institution to do research on it and to regulate them. But using it as an excuse to discredit the medical tradition without doing so is a hypocrisy.

Though the western medicine have the hegemony in the field of medicine today, If we look at the history not all the discoveries of medical science is not done by western scientists or within western knowledge system. It’s a known fact that some discoveries by non-western doctors also have been integrated into the western medical tradition and now been counted as original discoveries of westerners, by those who don’t know the origins. And certain discoveries of western medicine is based on the knowledge of those non-western medical traditions. For example according to a paper named ‘Origins of Inoculation’ which was published in Journal of Royal Society of Medicine, first example of a kind of inoculation; variolation was first practiced in China and in Turkey and there are evidences to suggest that it was practiced even in India.

Myth of Secularism and Foremost Place of Buddhism

One of the issues which were discussed and were met with special consideration of the civil community, in the past constitutional process is that the foremost place given to Buddhism in the constitution of Sri Lanka. Since this concern can come into the debate in the current constitutional process also, it will be helpful to those who concerned about this, if pointed out few important facts to consider, when approaching to this issue.

Most of the civil community and religious minorities have perceived this clause as a threat to the equal rights of religions since it gives prominence to a certain religion. So they do see removing the clause which says “it should be government’s duty to protect Buddha Sasana since the government of Sri Lanka gives foremost place to Buddhism,” as the only way towards a state in which all the religions are equal. Especially most activists see not only the above provision but also many national symbols which reflects the Sinhalese or Buddhist identity as promoting the notion of Sri Lanka as a country with an inviolable state as being a Sinhalese-Buddhist country as jeopardizing the peace and harmony in Sri Lanka “by making the impression that there’s a foremost group, who deserves more protection than others.” And some have argued that this impression given by these symbols is a cause for religious and ethnic riots even.

Since these symbols are linked to the same ideology, thus there’s the argument that removal or alteration of these symbols will change this majoritarian mindset and thus will ensure a more tolerant political and religious environment. The assumption which lies behind this argument is that these political expressions which equate the country’s national identity with the Buddhist identity and Sinhalese identity are a result of these constitutional clauses and acceptance of these symbols by the government. But the notion of “Sinhala-Buddhist” country is not something created by state acceptance of these symbols or constitutional clauses, on the contrary, that acceptance too was due to the social acceptance of that ideology. In the history, in historiography and in mythology, and in the Sinhala community’s public perception of the national identity, we can see the attempt of equating the country’s identity with Sinhalese or Buddhist identity. In other words, this comes from a long historical tradition that dates back to ancient times. But I’m not going to tell anyway that since it is so historical it must be left to continue.

What I would like to emphasize is that, if our expected result is, a widespread change of ingrained notions of national identity among many Sinhala Buddhists, then it won’t be achieved by constitutional reforms or redesign of the National Flag and such efforts. In other words, a secular constitution does not necessarily guarantee us a secular society. One can take the example of India, its constitution is secular, but the influence of the majoritarian Hindhuthva concept can be seen everywhere including in politics. So I see the abolishment of the state relationship with Buddhism is as something that should come after a change of Sinhala-Buddhist notion of the country’s national identity instead of seeing as a harbinger of secular-multi cultural Sri Lanka.

To change the established notions of the national identity, to convert the image of Sri Lanka to a multicultural one from an exclusively Sinhala Buddhist one, we need to engage in educational efforts aimed at younger generations using the school history textbooks, religious education, citizenship education, and such subjects. Discussing the nature and contents of such education is beyond the scope of this article. (if anyone interested in this she can refer to the “Symbolic Reflections of Sinhala-Buddhist Ethno-Nationalism” by Serena Thennakone, which observes that Sinhala-Buddhist Nationalism can not be defeated since it’s a ‘Myth’ in the Barthian sense or to the Lecture given by Professor Arjuna Parakrama which makes a similar observation) My intention is to refer to a more suitable and constructive way for creating multi-cultural equality. Without amending the constitutional clause which gives the foremost place to Buddhism. But first we have to uncover the myth of the “secular country.”

Most of the Sri Lankan civil community is confined in a view that any kind of link with religion is opposed to secularism and hence detrimental to religious harmony, freedom, and equality and hence is believing that it’s necessary to change or remove the constitutional clause which says “Buddhism should have a foremost place and it’s institutions shall be protected by the government”, to meet the claim that Sri Lankan government treats all religions equally.

But the distinction between a secular and non-secular state is an illusive one. In a paper entitled Multiculturalism and Moderate Secularism, it’s author Tariq Modood writes that;

“In nearly all of Western Europe, there are points of symbolic, institutional, policy, and fiscal linkages between the state and aspects of Christianity.”

Our demarcating criteria between secular and non-secular countries is now challenged by this fact. If even the western European countries, which are seen as ideals of secular state concept, have the links with religions, it means that the so-called “secular” state is a mere fiction that has no practical example. Or it means that a certain kind of relationship between state and religion is permissible even in a so-called secular state (If we are still accepting these western European countries as secular contries). If the demarcating characteristic between a secular state and a non-secular state is having ties with religion, there’s no country in which follows this principle in that way. On the other hand this fact will make the demand for Sri Lanka to become secular country, a nonsense, for even western “secular” countries too are maintaining such linkages. And further it may liberate most of us from the ignorant belief that state-religion links are a primitive character which hinders the progress of a country by prompting the government to fulfill religious ambitions. And it gives the impression and hope, that it must be possible to treat all religions equally and to avoid possible negative outcomes from state linking with a certain religious institution without abolishing such relationships.

Following extract which was taken from Moderate Secularism, Religion as Identity, and Respect for Religion by Tariq Modood proves that it’s possible. (first sentence seems as a slight slap on the face to civil activists of Sri Lanka too)

“Faced with an emergent multi-faith situation or where there is a political will to incorporate previously marginalised faiths and sects and challenge the privileged status of some religions, the context-sensitive and conservationist response may be to pluralise the state–religion link rather than sever it. This indeed is what is happening across many countries in Western Europe, despite critics on the both the left and right, especially among the radical secularists and the Islamophobic populists.

In relation to the British case one can see this pluralising or multiculturalising in a number of incremental, adhoc and experimental steps.For example, some years ago Prince Charles, the heir to the throne and to the office of Supreme Governor of the Church of England, let it be known he would as a monarch prefer the title ‘Defender of Faith’ to the historic title ‘Defender of the Faith’. More recently, in 2004, the Queen used her Christmas television and radio broadcast (an important national occasion, especially for the older generation, on the most important Christian day of the year) to affirm the religious diversity of Britain. Her message was, in the words of Grace Davie: ‘Religious diversity is some-thing which enriches society; it should be seen as a strength, not a threat; the broadcast moreover was accompanied by shots of the Queen visiting a Sikh temple and a Muslim center. It is important to put these remarks in context. The affirmation of diversity as such is not a new idea in British society; what is new is the gradual recognition that religious differences should be foregrounded in such affirmations.’ If such examples are regarded as merely symbolic then one should note how British governments have felt the need to create multi-faith consultative bodies.

It suggests that ‘weak establishment’ can be the basis for moving towards ‘multicultural equality’ without constitutional disestablishment.”

By reading this it occurred to me that the approach which is identifying by Modood as a “weak establishment” is going in practice in Sri Lanka also. We can see President or Prime minister issuing public announcements expressing their good wishes regarding non-Buddhist religious days, and sometimes participating or patronizing such events. We can see the government giving public and government holidays for auspicious days of every religion which is a right most European nations are not ensuring for minorities. We can see the government is supporting schools linked with other religions also and providing textbooks, appointing teachers to teach those religions in schools. And above all, there’s a ministry regarding affairs of every religion. In fact it’s not only Buddhism, the government of Sri Lanka is patronizing but it maintains links with other religious institutions also. So despite what the constitution says in the chapter of ‘Buddhism’ and what the most non-Buddhists and civil activists are believing, Sri Lanka, is a state in which treat its all religions equally in the practice. So what is to be done is to improve this situation.

So if such steps can create religious equality without removing the constitutional establishments, as Modood observes, we have already created the religious equality, or if we haven’t done it yet, at least we are going on that path. There’s no need for removing or amending the constitutional clause which gives prominence and state protection to Buddhism to make the state more inclusive and protective towards religious minorities.

Was Tipitaka altered when it came in the oral tradition?

Some Buddhists and non-Buddhists suspect the authenticity and reliability of the Tipitaka pointing to the possibility of altering the teachings of the Buddha by later additions or by being it impossible for monks to memorize all the Tipitaka, which is a book of volumes of volumes when it came in the oral tradition for about 500 years.

Reply to the question of how such long texts were memorized by monks is that Pali Suththas were written in a manner that makes it easy to remember them by using mnemonic techniques like repetitions, sound similarities, rhythm, using similar syllables at the end of the lines, etc. I would like to quote from the Wikipedia article on the Oral tradition since it has worded this cleverly, and would like to tell anyone who doubts the facts since it was from Wikipedia, that I have referred to the sources it given as footnotes and thus have confirmed the accuracy of the claim.

Oral cultures have employed various strategies that achieve this without writing. For example, a heavily rhythmic speech filled with mnemonic devices enhances memory and recall. A few useful mnemonic devices include alliteration, repetition, assonance, and proverbial sayings. In addition, the verse is often metrically composed with an exact number of syllables or morae – such as with Greek and Latin prosody and in Chandas found in Hindu and Buddhist texts.[39][40] The verses of the epic or text are typically designed wherein the long and short syllables are repeated by certain rules so that if an error or inadvertent change is made, an internal examination of the verse reveals the problem.[39]

Though we can’t even think about an oral tradition today, at the time, in India, oral tradition was highly reliable because the writing was unknown at the time and it was the only way of knowledge transmission known to them. Since the preservation of knowledge of secular areas like the law, education, etc too was dependent on the oral tradition they took strong care of it. Thanks to the training of generations people had a great skill of memorizing long books. And the monks or ascetics who memorized things devoted their whole life to that service.

And it wasn’t all the Tipitaka memorized by every monk, just a part of it, (in the first Buddhist council sections to be memorized were divided among student generations of Arhats Upali, Sariuth, Moggallana, Ananda, Kashyapa, allocating two sections to each student generation) and they devoted their whole life for memorizing it. And it wasn’t memorized by a single monk but a group of monks (about 500) enabling to it being corrected by comparing versions of other monks if any omission or alteration was unintentionally done by a monk. It’s highly unlikely to happen that the same omission or alteration to be happened by 500 or hundreds of monks who memorized it. Since the age expectancy was 100 at the time (some even lived 120), it had not to pass through so many generations, may have been only passed through just five generations. And it didn’t come in oral tradition in all these 500 hundred years continuously. It was checked and approved in the Buddhist councils at three instances first is being after the great demise of the Buddha and second is being 100 years after the great demise of Buddha and the third is being 136 after the second council.

If we consider this argument further, which points to the possibility of monks being unable to memorize such a large amount of facts if it has happened then it will result in omissions in the texts rather than additions. If such a thing had happened it can be clearly visible, creating the lapses in the narration or in the discourse. But in the Tipitaka, we can’t see such signs of cases in which monks were unable to memorize the discourse properly. Since signs which suggest errors of memorization (you can show if you have found any) can’t be seen, we have to conclude that it hasn’t happened. A philosophical text like Tipitaka can’t be composed by various hands without having inconsistencies and differences in language.

Whatever the people who do not have any knowledge of Pali language, Indology and have not studied Buddhist texts say, the majority of the western scholars on Buddhism, Pali, and scholars on Indology affirm that Tipitaka wasn’t unchanged, or at least it’s doctrinal core is preserved. Rhys Davids, Richard Gombrich, J. W. de Jong, Lamotte, Noble Ross Reat, A. K. Warder, Maurice Winternitz, Alexander Wynne are among them.

“The content of the main body of sermons, the four Nikāyas and of the main body of monastic rules … presents such originality, intelligence, grandeur and—most relevantly—coherence, that it is hard to see it as a composite work.” They are “the work of one genius”, the Buddha. – Richard Gombrich

“I, therefore, agree with Rhys Davids, and disagree with skeptics such as Senart, Kern, and Schopen, that the internal evidence of the early Buddhist literature proves its historical authenticity.” – Alexander Wynne

Comparative studies between Tipitaka versions of different schools of Buddhism, which had ideological disputes, and hence continued as separate lineages ever since the split without having any correspondence, have shown that the doctrinal core of them is the same. This is an indicator of the reliability of the process of oral transmission, for if it is not there is no other way to happen that.

Furthermore, there are many internal pieces of evidence like literary features (grammar, vocabulary, tone, style) unique to it, the flavor of the single creator, and lack of inconsistencies to prove that it wasn’t changed as pointed by Bikku Sujatho and Bikku Brahmali. And since socio-economic, historical, and geographical information in the Suththas too clearly matches with the already found image of India (see the book by Sujatho and Brahmali to get a detailed account on these evidences) at the time of the Buddha, it must have been composed at the time of the Buddha, and there’s no reason to think it was composed by some other contemporary scholar other than the Buddha. The precision and sophisticated nature of these teachings and the outstanding way things have been explained suggest that they must be from someone who achieved a higher status, Non-other than by a Buddha.

Regarding the possibility of later additions, such alteration can be easily recognized, because someone other than Buddha, can’t imitate Buddha’s language and style with the same grandeur, it can be clearly recognized by a scholar who is familiar with the ancient writings in Pali language, paying attention to the differences of the Pali writing at different times. On the other hand, if certain teaching has been added later, then inevitably, it will show odds with other teachings of Suththas. Since the teachings of Suththas are intertwined with each other, if certain teaching is a later addition, then all other teachings intertwined with it, must have to be later additions for one teaching can’t separate from another. But most of the so-called ‘questionable teachings’, which is rejected by many modernist Buddhists, clearly consistent with other teachings. And if certain teaching and references to it can be seen in many Suththas, then such teaching can’t be a later addition for if so all these references must be added later, but it’s not possible to do so keeping the narration and flow of these Suththas.

In fact, most of the so-called Buddhists are coming with this argument when they have found teaching which is not appealing to them or contrary to beliefs they are clinging to and wanted to discredit the teaching in Buddhism to preserve their personal beliefs without leaving Buddhism.

I’m not dogmatically maintaining that teachings of the Buddha were never being altered in the course of oral transmission. But if we use this argument without a restrain, then there will be the possibility of even the original teachings of the Buddha being rejected by us thinking they are later additions. This will happen in a more deteriorating manner if we are revising the Tipitaka when it is in contradict with accepted views of our time. So we must limit our doubt to only the instances, where the teachings in the Tipitaka;

  • Seemingly in inconsistency with other views in Tipitaka on the same matter or
  • Contradicts with commonly accepted morality or
  • A fact about the Earth/Universe/Human body etc is in contradiction with the scientifically proven facts on the same issue.

On all the other occasions it’s better not to reject the teaching in the Tipitaka, for it’s not yet proven that it is not a teaching of the Buddha, and thus if it was a one of the Buddha, then we have done a great damage (both to the Buddhism and to our spiritual lives) by rejecting it. Unless it meets the above criteria, believing or practicing it may not do any harm. But if it was rejected and if was a true teaching, we’ll lose a great teaching and possible valuable spiritual outcomes of it. So it’s better to accept teachings which are not highly unacceptable to be a teaching of a Buddha even if we have some doubts regarding it.

However, the above criteria I mentioned can be mistaken. For example one can reject teachings, sayings, or rules seemingly misogynistic, based on the argument that they are incompatible with ‘morality.’ This is a misuse of the above criteria. I used the term ‘commonly accepted morality’ keeping in mind things that must have been considered evil in every cultural context (inhuman/cruel acts like killing, raping, etc). Rules or beliefs which may have been accepted in certain cultural contexts, and mild in effect (not necessarily inhuman) must be excluded from this though they are considered as discriminatory in the current day. In other words ‘morality ’ should not be confused with modern human rights produced in the western culture. And similar caution must be said on the other two criteria. Consistency with science should not be interpreted as consistency with materialism. Buddhism consists of many supernatural concepts. Though the modern world strongly rejects such phenomena as untrue, until tested and found as non-existing by a scientific experiment those concepts must not be rejected as not being taught by the Buddha. The problem is that supernatural phenomena, can not be put into scientific experiments since most of them are unfalsifiable hypothesizes.

Finlay, I would like to examine important teaching, which is rejected by many modernist-Buddhists as not being taught by the Buddha. Worshiping Buddha statues and offering things to them, expecting merits is an established practice among Buddhists in many Asian countries (maybe in Europe too). A conversation between Venerable Ananda and the Buddha, which comes in Parinibbana Suththa of Deega Nikaya too supports the practice, but some see this as a later addition.

The reason most are rejecting this as a later addition attributing it’s the founding mentality to unnecessary high-veneration of Buddha (elevating Buddha to a God from the position of a human being) maybe the hesitancy to accept, a merit can be gained by worshiping or offering things to someone who had absolutely demised, which is not possible unless there is a supernatural force dedicated to giving such rewards; and not seeing any linkage with such a teaching and basic teachings (especially with the path of Nirvana) of Buddhism. If the rejection is based on superstitiousness of the teaching, it must be reminded that even the most central teachings of Buddhism, like Nirvana, rebirth, and merits & sins are supernatural concepts too and you have to reject Buddhism altogether on that basis.

And it must be said that considering worshiping or offering things to Buddha as a meritful act is consistent with the concept of merit in Buddhism too, for the merits are virtuous/pious feelings or acts done with such a mind, and praising to the Buddha and expressing gratitude to his qualities is undoubtedly such an act. Maybe the most meritful one. There’s nothing inconsistent in it with Buddhist philosophy. Since one of the meditations among Buddhist meditations, as taught by Buddha is the remembrance of Buddha (since there are many such meditations – remembrance of Seela, Dhamma, Deva, Brahma, Sangha – this can’t be a later addition.) this is a teaching in harmony with many other teachings and since removing them as later additions create many inconsistencies, so this can’t be a later addition.

I haven’t referred to all the Tipitaka, But I’ve referred to many Suththas, including complete Deega Nikaya. I found only one teaching which can be determined as a later addition by using the above criteria. In the Sutta of the Seven Suns, it’s said that there’s a mountain called Meru, which is 42000 Yojanas high. A Yojana is 8 miles. We clearly know such a mountain does not exist in the world. Even Mount Everest (the highest place on Earth) has a height of only 8 kilometers. Some argue that a Yojana is a much smaller unit, But even if we interpret a Yojana as being only 1 meter, even then ‘mount Meru’ must have to be high as 42 kilometers. So we can reject this as utter rubbish. But rest must have to be came unaltered from oral tradition as Buddha himself told.

If you have come across any teaching which confuses you and seems to meet the above criteria, please comment below, so that we can examine it.

Moderate Muslims’ true mind : effect of Muhammad’s intolerance…

Narrated Ibn ‘Umar: Allah’s Messenger (SA) said: “I have been ordered (by Allah) to fight against the people until they testify that none has the right to be worshiped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger (SA), and offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity, so if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me except for Islamic laws and then their reckoning (accounts) will be done by Allah.”

Reference: Sahih al-Bukhari 25
In-book reference: Book 2, Hadith 18
USC-MSA web (English) reference: Vol. 1, Book 2, Hadih 25
(deprecated numbering scheme)

According to the above hadith, prophet Muhammad has been ordered to fight with the people. Until what happens? Until they say Shahada and do the Salath and Zakath. Proclaiming the Shahada is the symbolic act of becoming a Muslim, and so it’s clear that Prophet’s intention was to force to people becoming Muslims by the power of the sword. “By the power of the sword? there’s no mention about killing people in this hadith.” a Muslim may say. In this hadith prophet says “if they perform that, then they save their lives and property from me.” what will happen if they did not perform that according to this sentence? They won’t save their lives and property from him. it’s so simple like that.

There’s no need to proclaim Shahada by any non-Muslim, in whatever context. it’s not something needed to establish the peace. So no one can’t claim that this hadith is intended to fight for ‘self defence.’ ‘defence’ means the “action of defending from or resisting attack” according to Oxford concise dictionary. It should be noted that forcing a certain religious group to proclaim that, they accept God of another religion as only true God and that leader of another religious group as his messenger, itself a violation of their freedom of religion since they are being forced to do something contrary to their beliefs. something sinful considered by themselves. If a non-Muslim being forced to proclaim Shahadha, he/she will feel in the same way as a Muslim who was forced to worship a statue/eat pork feels. So prophet’s idea which he is attributing to God, to forcefully proclaim “none has the right to be worshipped but Allah and that Muhammad is Allah’s Messenger (SA)” by people who are not Muslims is an act of religious intolerance. “Intolerant means not tolerant of views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one’s own” according to Oxford concise dictionary. Muhammad (his God) could not tolerate others believing something contrary to their belief. That’s why Muhammad intended to fight the people until they proclaim the Shahada (ie. becoming Muslims)

The fact that Prophet Muhammad intended to fight (by sword) until people become Muslims, strengthens by the fact that he is intending to fight the people not only until they say Shahada, but also until they “offer the prayers perfectly and give the obligatory charity.” if this is not to meant fight until they become Muslims, why to say he has been ordered to fight the people until they “offer the prayers perfectly” ? Considering non-Muslims, offering prayers or not offering them is not something in the domain of Muslims or their messenger. But Muhammad is telling that “if they perform that then they save their lives and property from” him. We can deduce what he would have done if they did not offer the obligatory prayers by Muslims, by converting this sentence into negative.

There’s no need to such an analysis to see barbarity in this hadith. It’s clear to any human being who has a simple comprehension skill. But it’s not clear to Muslims. If we show this to any other people they’ll shock by the intolerant words of this ‘prophet’ and will denounce him without a delay. But if we show this to a so-called moderate Muslim, even to someone who has well educated and with a tender heart, he’ll come with various apologetic claims which have no ground. (eg: “this was intended to fight with people who attacked Muslims” or “this was intended to fight with people until they give taxes” or “you should look at context of this hadith, rather than looking at words”) But as any rational person can see these arguments have nothing to do with the issue we are talking about. The clear language used by prophet does not allow any space to these claims to be true. If there’s any Muslim who is still believe that the context can erase the barbarity of these words by Muhammad, I will show the context too. Following is taken from Jihad, Abrogation in the Quran & the “Verse of the Sword”, an answer given by Islamic scholar.

The nature of Arab polytheists, however, was to reject anything that conflicted with their customs and traditions, deeming all else to madness and worthy of scornful ridicule. They were a people – as repeatedly mentioned in the Qur’an – that refused to reflect over anything but “the ways of their forefathers” Therefore, because the Messenger of Allah [peace and blessings be upon him] was from their same tribe and knew them intimately, he gave them no option but acceptance of Islam or fighting [f: And this statement of course, was after years of being oppressed by those Arab polytheists].

[Kasani, Bada’i al-Sana’i]

So why certain group of people, despite their different IQ levels, education, social status and personal qualities, won’t taken aback by a clear intolerance by a certain holy person?

In fact they are not being not shocked by this hadith at all. They see clearly the intolerance of this hadith and understand that a human can’t accept this. But how they can criticize the holy prophet? When it’s the order given by the almighty God to their prophet as said in the hadith?

Yes the hadith says something can’t be accepted by a human. But since it’s said by a prophet it can’t be something like it seems to us. If an inhuman thing done by the Muhammad it should not be considered as an inhuman thing. That’s their logic. What they are doing is that using their belief that ‘Muhammad is a prophet’ to discredit heinous actions done by him which will disapprove this claim. But what should be done is using our knowledge (that he acted inhumanly and thus he can’t be sane person) on him as the criteria to check whether our portrayal/belief on him is correct or not. not using our belief on him to discredit clearly known characteristics of him as Muslims do.

However to convince others on their view of their prophet they innovate various apologetic claims which does not have any support from language and context of this hadith.

In other words barrier to them to accept the intention of the prophet as heinous is their belief that he is their beloved prophet. What their behaviour (defending for intolerant behaviour by their prophet) means is that they will be in the side of their religion when there is a conflict between their values as humans and religious obligations. When there’s a conflict between their own view of good and evil and view of their prophet’s view of good and evil they won’t hesitate to do what is told by prophet even it’s a serious crime according to their consciousness. Because it can’t be a crime. How can it be a crime if it’s accepted by Allah and his messenger? it’s this belief which corrupts innate tender nature of humans (Muslims), and it’s not humans corrupt beliefs (Islam) as apologetics claim.

Isn’t it this mental trap which make innocent Muslim a terrorist?

So if a certain Muslim condones this hadith it shows us that he/she has a potential of acting according to the words of this hadith. One day they may “fight until” we “testify that ‘none has the right to worshipped but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger’” and “until we offer prayers perfectly and give obligatory charity.” we will be “able to save our lives and property only if we perform these!”

You may say that I’m exaggerating the things. But why would a someone not act according to something considered as a holy order by him/her? If you can’t make your mind to act according to it, it means that despite your apologetic claims, even you see something unacceptability in it. If so why you defend for something considered as evil even by yourself?

Muslims responsibility in a post Easter terror attack Sri Lanka

Easter terror attack of Sri Lanka proved that Sinhala nationalists’ claim of Islamic extremism is affecting the Sri Lankan Muslims also, which they foresaw long before while civil community of Sri Lanka wrongly interpreting that concern as a hysteric moment of Sinhala Buddhist nationalism/ as an attempt to find a new enemy to fill the gap with LTTE.

It’s true that only a very small percentage of Sri Lankan Muslims are with such violent ideologies, but we can’t deny the clearly proven fact that such ideologies have a great power among certain portion of them. If we do so, ignoring the possibility of future attacks and interpreting this as a lone act of few mentally-ill individuals, not as a logical conclusion of fundamentalist changes of Sri Lankan Muslim culture and spread of extremist ideologies among them, to console over selves or as an attempt to secure Muslims from becoming a target of hatred, which is a concern for civil community, we will be far from the way of curbing the Muslims being affected by the violent ideologies in the future and thus preventing the Islamic terrorism of Si Lanka becoming more strengthened.

But what we see from most Muslims and civil community members is that attempts to show this as just another tragic incident. To them, it’s not something happened since Islamic extremism in Sri Lanka has evolved into such severe state. According to them; It’s something planned by Gotabaya Rajapaksha et al. to make the situation advantages for him to get into power or something backed by CIA, with a hidden intention to suggest signing their agreements such as SOFA using the situation of Sri Lanka.

What is done by such illogic conspiracy theories which attribute Islamic terrorism to external parties are, diverting the attention from Muslims. This is justifiable in a context of Muslims, their culture and religion are becoming a target of hate-based attacks than constructive criticisms. But from a security perspective, embracing such interpretations is a self-deception.

From the media reports on arrests of people related to this and what was revealed from them, which was reported in media, it seems that extremists have formed a large network and gained the cadres from every province of Sri Lanka. Such a network can’t be formed by one night. Forming a movement (even a democratic/peaceful one) is a task of years of labor. You need to propagate your ideology over at least a decade. The atmosphere in which such a movement can be sustained may have been creating for past years. That’s how radical groups like JVP and LTTE were formed. So the same must be true for Islamists.

Field Marshall Sarath Fonseka, put it precisely, “This must be at least an achievement of 7/8 years. It took 12 years to come into this state for LTTE.” He was talking as a former General who ordered to an army who defeated the LTTE. So this is how security specialists see this act. They don’t see it as an isolated act which have no leading history. Not only it has a history, it has a future also.

Only if we take this seriously, only then we’ll be able to take preventive measures. We must prevent Muslims attracting, looking at such ideologies, movements in the first place, like in the UK, at very personal and early levels of extremist mentality. We have to see Muslims as the group of people which have the potential and danger of attracting to terrorism for that purpose, and we should evaluate their every move. But if we try to divert attention from this community, how can we compromise those who have already becoming cadres of IS, even secretly to their family members ?

But unfortunately most Muslims, maybe as a protective reaction, are trying to interpret this as something which has nothing to do with their community. And perceive any request to be suspicious about their friends, family members—about their community’s behavior, as an attempt to label them as terrorists by generalizing it.

Yes we know. Not all Muslims are terrorists. But it can be ANY Muslim!

Maybe your brother or sister already a member of IS or at least someone who is with that ideology. He/she may have studying such materials secretly to all of us. Maybe he/she is not in total agreement with IS ideology, but a certain affection or slight approval for at least an aspect of their ideology is growing in her/his mind. Maybe a group of friends of yours, whom you know intimately, may already have become cadres of IS. Will we be able to identify them and rescue them from that path, if we refuse to see that possibility and perceive any request to be careful and cautious about the behaviors of Muslims, as an attempt to generalize every Muslim as a terrorist?

It’s repeated that Sri Lankan Muslims did not know or did not expect such attack will take place. But we, common people (Sinhala and Tamil) knew that this can be happened In the future. What we did not know is when it will be happened and whom will be their first target.

We knew this will happen when it was revealed from the 11th issue of the Dabique magazine that Abu Shuraih Seylani who was a Sri Lankan Muslim and a principal of a Muslim International school was being killed as a member of IS. It was in 2015. We knew that this will happen one day (though we did not know when it will happen) when two Muslim guys tried to smash Buddha statues and was arrested for that offense just 5 months before the Easter Attack. We knew that this will happen when it was found large amount of explosive materials from the Vanathavilluwa as they were buried under the ground. Police found it as a result of investigations they done on the smash attempt of the Buddha statues. These facts were sufficient for any man or woman with a common sense to suspect a future terror attack from a group of Sri Lankan Muslims.

But how the Muslims, who are now murmuring and lamenting as saying that ‘we won’t expect, if we did, we won’t let it happen etc’ react when we show the risk of possible terror attack from a group among them? They accused us of being racist, being Islamophobic, spreading hatred on them. They said these are myths by Mahinda Rajapaksha et al. to get into power by making people fearful about an Islamic attack. How can we believe that these Muslims are so many idiots to not see signs which were visible to us? If they oppose terrorism, why they tried to conceal such clear signals of an Islamic terrorist attack? Why they ridiculed our reasonable fear as being racist myths if their will is not to make us stand idly by till we’ll become a prey of terrorists? Why they did not stand with our concern even in a moment which presaged Islamic mass terror attack? To whom they served by trying to divert our attention from it such earnestly? What their peaceful organizations like ACJU, their peaceful leaders did to prevent it, when it was foretold by above findings that terror attack will happen? Hadn’t they a responsibility to do something, even after realizing that their community is not so peaceful? Now all they are shedding crocodile tears to gain our pity.

Now an apologetic for Muslim community come with the last straw, that Kaththankudi Muslims demonstrate against Zaharan requesting government to arrest him. Yes, a very little portion of Kaththankudi Muslims demonstrate against him. Is it an indicator that every Muslim is in opposition to him and his ideology? What about thousands of other Muslims of that area who did not demonstrate against him? How many of these silent Muslims have been joined with IS? Maybe Kaththankudi Muslims demonstration against Zaharan an indicator of their opposition to terrorism (killing civilians). But it’s not an indicator which shows they are opposed to fundamentalism (killing apostates, blasphemers, adulterers and gays).

And it should be noted that Zaharan is not the Islamic terrorism. he’s just a victim of it. So any attempt to reduce SL Islamic terrorism to Zaharan; any attempt to see this as something happened because of one man (Zaharan) is diverting us from the real issue, that ideology of Islamic terrorism is spreading in Sri Lanka.

Kaththankudi Muslims demonstrate against Zaharan because he has acted in some troublesome way, against some other Muslim sects among them. They opposed him because he was a problem for some of them. Just like we can’t say all Muslims are terrorists based on the Easter attack, we can’t say all Muslims are in opposition to him based on that demonstration. We can’t say whether they’ll oppose him or support him if they knew that he’s going to kill Sinhalese.

And why these same Muslims and civil activists who appreciate and highlight Kaththankudi Muslims demonstration against Zaharan, do not appreciate venerable Galagodaaththe Gansara thero who warned about Islamic extremism years before?

How those Muslims and civil activists reacted when Wijayadasa Rajapaksha, as the minister of law and peace, revealed that it has been found by intelligent agencies that youths of elite Muslim families of Sri Lanka have joined with IS? They ridiculed us and denied it as a complete fabrication against them (Muslims) or just as an imagination of the minister. They acted as they knew than intelligent services knew. That’s why they dared to challenge a fact found by intelligent agencies by labeling it as a racist lie. It’s ironical that those very Muslims who tried with great courage to prevent the government from taking this concern as serious and thus helped terrorists by criticizing the government of being racist are now talking about government responsibility.

We can see an overemphasis on neglected responsibility of government to prevent this before happen. What will have to be happened if the government informed the public about the possibility of an attack from Sri Lankan Islamic extremists? And if the terrorists postponed the attack because of that warning? Not only Muslims, but civil activists also would have accused the government of spreading hatred and lies on Muslims. They would have accused police of being racist if the police arrested suspected persons on this, as they (civil activists and Muslims) are doing on arrests of Shafi Shihabdeen and Hejaz Hisbullah. They criticized those arrests being motivated by racism as they heard about it without any delay to know what is the truth. They judged the cases before official judgments came. They would have ridiculed us as they did when the Ven: Galagodaaththe Ganasara, Wijayadasa Rajapaksha warned about Islamic terrorism.

If you are a Muslim you will have to say the following confession, a parody of Martin Niemoller’s famous poem, in the future.

First, they killed the Buddhist monks

In Burma and Thailand

And we did not speak out

Because they were not our religious leaders…

Then they destroyed the Buddha statues

And we did not speak out

Because we did not approve worshiping idols…

Then they came for Christians

bombed to the catholic churches

in Kochichikade and Zion Church of Madakalapuwa

And we did not speak out

Because their beliefs were contrary to us

Then they killed the Buddhists

And we did not speak out

Because they were committed injustices to us prior

That is the punishment from Allah on them

Then they came for us, our sons, daughters and sisters

They imposed cruel punishments

And strict fundamentalist laws

Limited our rights and freedom

They established an inquisition to find anyone who does

anything contrary to sharia and torture/kill them

And so many innocents were killed thanks to

‘our’ primordial court procedures

Anyone who oppose to their interpretation or version of Islam

were a blasphemer and hence an apostate also and so was being killed

But there was no one left to speak out us or to tell our sorrows then…

War Crimes did by Sri Lankan Army…

Sri Lanka and Government Army of the country have been subjected to criticisms by International community, because of allegations of war crimes directed at them. A commission appointed by former secretary of UN, Ban Kyi Moon too concluded that at least 40 000 civilians were killed during the last stages of the civil war, based on “credible sources.” However people of the Sri Lanka and government is denying all these claims vehemently. So there may be the question “Who is telling the truth, Sri Lanka or International?” Most of the international community who is raising these concerns has no intimate experience at war field and what happened really. So in that sense they can be misguided. On the other hand Sri Lankan people and Government too can be biased because of their chauvinism. Since all these parties are not so credible, I found a party who can’t be biased for the country, and know intimately what happened in the war field. So let’s ask from them. They are the former members of LTTE, soldiers of the Tamil liberation army defeated by government forces. They have no reason to lie to protect the country (they fought for a separate country for their race) or government or Sri Lankan Army.

Following witnesses which have been translated into English are taken from an article published in Lankadeepa newspaper (one of the major Sinhala language newspapers of the country) under the title “Former LTTE members who came to the right path.

Varman Gopika – I’m a former LTTE member. They (LTTE) called me Gopi. I joined with them when I was about 16 of age. In 2007 they ordered that someone from every family must join to their army. So I joined them on behalf of my family. It was a very unfortunate incident. We… still young children were given only a 14 days training and were sent to the battlefield. We didn’t keep any expectations about our future. In Pudumathalan I was wounded. …From the landmines. So I was fortunate to avoid the being in combat and so I’m alive.  I was given a blood of a wrong group by our members and I’m still suffering because of that.

When we are surrendering to the Sri Lankan Army, we lost our all hopes about the life. We did it because we have nothing other to do. We thought that they will surely kill us. But what they did? They give us food, since we haven’t got any food for days. They rehabilitated us. And they recruited us with their forces and give us these new lives. Now we have got bank loans and have a bicycle and earning a salary. My husband is also in the civil security force. We didn’t have such dreams as family life etc. when we were members of the LTTE. Now we are fortunately get everything wanted for a beautiful life because of the army and civil security force. So we owe them very much and give merits and blessings to them, honestly.

Genesh Nirosha – I’m Ganesh Nirosha. My alias was Kavipriya. I worked as a R.P.G. leader in the LTTE. I lived in Vishvamadu. I had to join with them at age of 17. I joined with them so that my younger brother will complete his education. I was trained in Muthiankattu and faced many battles. In Pudukudiirippu  I was to be in the midst of a hard battle. SL army attacked us without a pity. I was hit in my stomach. I covered the wound from a piece of cloth and crouched back. Our members gave me medicine at Mancholei. I have given a blood of a wrong group and now I’m facing the side effects. When I was hit, our members left me and escaped. When I came to Mancholei I found that my mother and father had done even my funeral ceremonies thinking that I was dead. They had gone to Zones ruled by SL Army. At the time army was attacking to the Mancholei too. A lot of our members died from the combat. I was the only survived one. I surrendered to the army. They sent me immediately to get medicine. It was like a dream. When surrendering I hoped that they will kill me at the very moment. They care about me than our members did. I got well soon and then rehabilitated. I was in a wheel chair for years. My husband left me at the time. After I got completely cure, I joined with the Civil Security Force. Now I’m serving for years. (Now I can) I teach my child well. And I can care about my parents. I didn’t hope that I was able to have such a beautiful life.

Kanapathipillei Thawarasa – I joined with LTTE when I was 14 years old. I was given the alias Bharathiraj. It was in 1991 I joined with them. Now I’m 42. I have many experiences in the battlefield (for I served for very long time). I can’t remember the number of battles I was in. It was the Wanni mission most dreadful battle I was in apart from the Jayasikuru mission. I did not have no hope about my life at that battle. We can’t even think of how to face, we were severely got hit. But we fought till the last moment. However I got wounded at Mullivaikkal. I was badly wounded when I was found by the army. When I heard the Sinhala words, I left the desire to my life. I wish that I had a Cyanide capsule to commit suicide. I hope that I got shower of bullets on my head. But the youth (who found me) gave me water to drink! Then I was carried to the hospital on the shoulders of the soldiers of the SL army. I could not believe what was happening. I was given the medical treatments there. Then was rehabilitated and given this job to earn and carry on my life. 

However there may be the question that, “since those former LTTE members have been “rehabilitated” by Sri Lankan army, maybe they are saying these things perhaps they have been brainwashed or they are saying that under the duress?”

If this question popped in your mind too, I think you must watch this video. How Rathnapriya Bandu, who was a colonel of Sri Lanka army worked with and helped to rehabilitated LTTE members, was given a farewell by them.

Can such an emotional act be a fake?

Muhammad and Buddha : Who was the Scientific One?

Every religion says that it is the only true religion. But since the content, goals and teachings of those religions differ from one to one, all these claims can’t be true. So how can we know who is telling the truth? We can’t check the truthfulness of their teachings about afterlife etc., for such notions are beyond our experiences. But we can check the truthfulness of their claims about the Earth, Sun, Stars etc., for today we know about them than in the old ages in which those religious teachers lived. If a teacher lived in ancient times, has said correctly about those entities and facts which were then unknown and was impossible to known from technology existed in that ages, we can only assume that, that knowledge has been acquired through supernatural powers they had, and hence can consider it as a certificate of the truthiness of that teacher and religion he preached. And further we can conclude that, since only one truth can be existed, all other religions and teachers are false.

Comparison of the Scientific Knowledge of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and the Gautama Buddha

First we’ll look at the astronomical knowledge of the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH).

Here is Bukhari 4.54.421;

Narrated Abu Dhar:

The Prophet (ﷺ) asked me at sunset, “Do you know where the sun goes (at the time of sunset)?” I replied, “Allah and His Apostle know better.” He said, “It goes (i.e. travels) till it prostrates Itself underneath the Throne and takes the permission to rise again, and it is permitted and then (a time will come when) it will be about to prostrate itself but its prostration will not be accepted, and it will ask permission to go on its course but it will not be permitted, but it will be ordered to return whence it has come and so it will rise in the west. And that is the interpretation of the Statement of Allah: “And the sun Runs its fixed course For a term (decreed). that is The Decree of (Allah) The Exalted in Might, The All- Knowing.” (36.38)

This hadith is also reported in Bukhari6.60.326, Bukhari6.60.327, Bukhari 9.93.528, and Muslim1.0297

Here is Bukhari 2.018.167 also;

Narrated Abu Musa:

The sun eclipsed and the Prophet (ﷺ) got up, being afraid that it might be the Hour (i.e. Day of Judgment). He went to the Mosque and offered the prayer with the longest Qiyam, bowing and prostration that I had ever seen him doing. Then he said, “These signs which Allah sends do not occur because of the life or death of somebody, but Allah makes His worshipers afraid by them. So when you see anything thereof, proceed to remember Allah, invoke Him and ask for His forgiveness.”

It’s interesting to me to compare the Islamic prophet’s knowledge regarding sun with that of the Buddha.

in  Chulanika Suththa of The Threes of  Anguththara Nikaya (Numericals), [], Buddha says to the Anandha thero;

A thousand times the world in which the sun and moon revolve and light up the quarters with their brightness is called a thousandfold minor world system. In that thousandfold world system there are a thousand moons, a thousand suns, a thousand Sinerus king of mountains, a thousand Jambudipas (Indias), a thousand Aparagoyanas, a thousand Uttarakurus, a thousand Pubbavidehas, and a thousand four great oceans; a thousand four great kings, a thousand [heavens] of devas (angels/gods) [ruled by] the four great kings, a thousand Tavatimsa [heavens], a thousand Yama [heavens], a thousand Tusita [heavens], a thousand [heavens] of devas (angels/gods) who delight in creation, a thousand [heavens] of devas (angels/gods) who control what is created by others, a thousand brahma worlds.”

According to this paragraph “a thousandfold world system” is something consists of thousand suns and thousand worlds. We know that galaxies are consisting of thousands of stars like our sun. The other information in this paragraph is to indicate that there are many planets like ours in such a system. Existing geographical beliefs regarding the earth too have included indicating that those are similar kinds of planets to ours. Buddha may have just told that “there are many planets like this” and to make it more understandable, those who have written discourses of the Buddha may have added contemporary beliefs on geography and other myths regarding the earth. (It’s after about 500 years of the great demise of the Buddha, discourses of the Buddha were written in books. Until then they came in oral tradition.) 

Buddha lived 2500 years ago. But he knew about even the galaxies. But this is not the most interesting fact concerning above quote. It defines the “thousand times the world” as an area in which the sun and moon revolve around. This is not geocentricism since it does not say “sun revolves around the world/earth.” Instead it says “the sun revolves around the thousandfold world system.” Since a thousandfold world system is an entity consisting of thousand stars, it can’t be our solar system. So it does not say sun revolves around the earth, it says sun revolves something consist of thousand stars. The only entity we know that consisting of thousand stars is galaxy we live in or “milky way”. So Buddha has said sun revolves our galaxy. Is that true?

Here’s a quote from an article from a site monitored by NASA.

“The Sun, and everything that orbits it, is located in the Milky Way galaxy. More specifically, our Sun is in a spiral arm called the Orion Spur that extends outward from the Sagittarius arm. From there, the Sun orbits the center of the Milky Way Galaxy, bringing the planets, asteroids, comets and other objects along with it. Our solar system is moving with an average velocity of 450,000 miles per hour (720,000 kilometers per hour). But even at this speed, it takes us about 230 million years to make one complete orbit around the Milky Way.”

So if a person who lived 2500 years ago has acquired such an unbelievable astronomical knowledge like sun travels around the Galaxy, what do you think about it? Have you any doubt regarding “higher spiritual state and wisdom” attained by such a one? And about that religion?