Christian politicos meddling in Buddhist affairs
Deputy Minister Ranjan Ramanayake recently raiding a Buddhist Meditation Centre at Kadawatha raises two serious issues – one legal and the other ethical.
Can a politician enter the premises of a religious or commercial establishment on the pretext of searching it (with or without the police) without a court order? Should not Ramanayake, being a Christian have consulted Buddha Sasana Minister Karu Jayasuriya on this matter, before taking any steps on allegations made against the place? Will those in charge of a church, mosque or Hindu temple tolerate anyone or group belonging to another faith storming the place in this manner?
Will this kind of behavior be tolerated in a predominantly Christian country, especially if the persons responsible for it are non-Christians?
In the recent past some bhikkus and lay Buddhists were accused of breaking into Christian evangelist prayer centres, although the incidents were sparked-off by covert operations to unethically convert Buddhists. But in this case no allegations were made against the persons running the meditation centre that they were interfering in the activities of non-Buddhists or trying to undermine their religious beliefs.
As long as a meditation centre (luxury or otherwise) is not built by public funds for the exclusive use of any politician it need not be anyone’s concern.
Contrary to Ranjan Ramanayake’s claim the head of the meditation centre, Ven Bodhagama Chandima Thera has brought funds from Taiwanese Buddhists to build this modern meditation centre worth over Rs. 1000 million to be used both by local as well foreign devotees. It is up to Ramanayake to disprove it. Or else he should unreservedly apologise to Ven. Bodhagama for the blunder.
As for military personnel having been stationed there till January 8 Ramanayake should pose the question to the former President or members of his Cabinet or the former Secretary to the Defence Ministry.
Whether the meditation centre has been built in accordance with Buddhist principles or not (as Ramayake alleges), is a matter for the Maha Sangha to decide – not for a Christian Deputy Minister in charge of livestock.
Even worse is Christian Affairs Minister John Amaratunga attempting to open the road opposite the Sri Dalada Maligawa for vehicular traffic despite the stiff opposition by the Maha Sangha. However Most Venerable Udagama Sri Buddharakitha thera, Chief Prelate of the Asgiriya Chapter has thwarted the Minister’s attempt by making representations to President Maithripala Sirisena.
The road was closed during the term of late President Ranasinghe Premadasa after the vicinity of the Maligawa was declared a sacred area. Also if the road is opened to traffic it would not only inconvenience the thousands of pilgrims who come there but also cause serious accidents.
By Janaka Perera