A lion carries a dead wild boar in his mouth. He is walking through the grasslands, victorious after the hunt. On the dead boar is a crudely imprinted crescent moon and star. This is an image found in a Sinhala Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/pages/ම ා ග ේ -හ ෘ ද -ස ා ක ් ෂ ි ය /351343628228268) that among other things compares Sri Lanka
n Muslims to wild boar, puppies (the Sinhala wording is cruder) and crows. The Facebook page has more than 5,000 likes and increases daily. It is only one of many that stalks cyberspace. This is Sri Lanka in 2012!
We are recovering from 26 years of war but it seems like some of the citizens of this country want to be at perpetual war. The latest fracas is the `Dambulla incident` where a mob led by Buddhist monks of the area are agitating for what they call an illegal structure masquerading as a mosque to be torn down as it contaminates the sacred Buddhist area of the Dambulla temple. It is news to me that other places of religious worship can be considered as less sacred or contamination to a sacred area. But such is their complaint. Soon after this incident was made public, I had a conversation on the topic with a good and close friend of mine who is Buddhist. She is a decent woman, a devout woman. She is charitable and generous and kind but, and here is the surprise: she sees nothing wrong with the incidents of violence involving Buddhist monks. Regrettably she is not alone. Much as we would like to think that those who perpetrate Buddhist chauvinism are in the minority, it is not so. Increasingly, I see Buddhists who believe and engage in violence and un-Buddhistic behavior, trumpeting their achievement as champions of Buddhism.
Let us start with our constitution. I have often wondered how a country can claim to be Buddhist. In my mind it is technically impossible to apply Buddhist values and survive as a nation in the world as it is. It would be an ideal world indeed to look forward to the time when all countries will be able to say they implement the values of Buddhism and the world will be a much better place for it. But for now, in todays time and place a country may need an army, may need to engage in battle if required to do so both instances that we have experienced. But isn`t that against true Buddhist principles? Then I have wondered how Buddhist monks who have been charged with drug possession, sexual misconduct, rape, treasure hunting, temple pillaging, murder, violence the list of offences goes on and on which in itself is astounding, continue to wear the robes, manage temples and call themselves Buddhist monks. Is there no authority that can expel disgraceful Buddhist monks? In addition, I am astonished that citizens who call themselves Buddhist, who are devout, pray, meditate and do pooja, attend sil, listen to bana and pirith, continue to condone violence in the name of Buddhism by agreement or staying silent. I just don`t understand.