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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2706

UNP cannot come back to Power - Mahanayaka Thero of Asgiriya chapter

By Walter Jayawardhana

Buddhist monks issue separate public admonition against Ranil Wickremesinghe in Colombo

Colombo, 27 August, ( The most Venerable Udugama Ratanapala Sri Budhdharakkhitha Mahanyaka Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siamese sect said “Due to the practice of insulting religious concepts of the country by the Leader of Opposition Ranil Wickremesinghe , the United National Party (UNP) could never come to power in Sri Lanka once again."Venerable Udugama Ratanapala Sri Budhdharakkhitha Mahanyaka Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siamese sectVenerable Udugama Ratanapala Sri Budhdharakkhitha Mahanyaka Thero of the Asgiriya Chapter of the Siamese sect

The Most Venerable Asgiriya Mahanayaka Thero’s blunt statement and the public admonition of a “Sangha Angna” issued separately following a sathyagraha of Buddhist monks at the Viharamaha Devi Park in Colombo, indicate that Wickremesinghe has aroused a hornets nest by his repeated statements dragging Buddhist concepts in a “derogatory” manner in the past few days.

The Asgiriya Mahanayaka Thero , Used to bevery restraint usually in his comments, but he made the bold statement when a delegation of the Ministerial Association of Secretaries visited the Mahanayaka Thero on Saturday at the Asgiri Maha Vihara in Kandy.

“Distorting the stanzas of the Buddhist Panchaseela and insulting religious concepts, the Opposition Leader should be totally rejected,” said the usually conservative Mahanayaka thero, in his statements, speaking before the Association of Secretaries.

Panchaseela are the five precepts lay Buddhists remind themselves to follow in the primary recitation of stanzas at a religious ceremony. It starts with the line Buddham Saranam Gatchami(I take the refuge in the Buddha)

This was an obvious reference to Ranil Wickremesinghe’s recent statement uttered at the public rally of the joint meeting of the United National Party and the People’s Wing of the Sri Lanka Freedom Party led by Mangala Samaraweera at Anuradhapura.

At this meeting, ridiculing the editors of the Sinhalese language newspapers, the Lankadeepa, Divaina and the Lakbima whom he called “good Buddhists” Wickremesinghe said, “chant early in the morning , Mahinda Saranam Gatchami (I take the refuge in Mahinda) Basil Saranam Gatchami ( I take the refuge in Basil ) and Gothabhaya Saranam Gatchami ( I take the refuge in Gothabhaya ) . He said those “good Buddhists” also chant the company of the brothers do not kill, do not lie, do not steal, do not engage in immoral sexual conduct and do not imbibe themselves in intoxicants.

The stanza Wickremesinghe mentioned was a distortion of the Pali stanza which the Sri Lanka Buddhists repeat before any religious ceremony. Instead of Buddha, Dharma (His preaching) and the higher disciples called Sangha or arahants, Wickremesinghe had replaced the names of the President Mahinda Rajapaksa and his two brothers who are in important political positions in the country whom he sarcastically calls the “Company of Brothers!”

About a week ago Wickremesinghe also was critical of a Buddhist monk of the Jathika Hela Urumaya, a political party, and said he wants to travel the “Noble Eight fold path” - the highest way any Buddhist should take to reach Nirvana, by a Mercedes Benz!

Dragging religious concepts to criticize Wickremesinghe’s political opponents and his reference to the ‘noble eight fold path’ which many Buddhist monks thought was very insensitive, drew the displeasure of the Mahanayaka Thero of the Malwatte chapter, the Most Venerable Thibbotuwawe Sri Sumangala of the same Siamese sect. The two chapters Malwatte and Asgiriya control majority of Buddhist temples in the island nation and wield immense influence among the majority of Sri Lankans who are Buddhists.

Meanwhile hundreds of Bhikkus who marched under a banner condemning the “insults of Ranil Wickremesinghe” from the New Town Hall Colombo to the Vihara Maha Devi Park, performed a “sathyagraha” against what they called “anti-Buddhist activities” of the United National Party leader and issued an “official collective admonition of the Sangha” by an organization called Tri Nikayika Sangha Sammelenaya.

The organization consists of the other two sects, apart from Siamese sect, namely the Ramanna and Amarapura.

Meanwhile, Mahanayaka Thero of the Assigirya Chapter speaking to the ministerial secretarial delegation said just because Ranil Wickremesinghe wants power, he must not insult religious concepts of the country. He said all people of the country would reject this position of Ranil Wickremesinghe. He said due to this not only the UNP cannot come to power in the country, after Wickremesinghe there is no suitable leader who could takeover the leadership of the party.

He said it was correct for Karu Jayasuriya, the leader of the democratic wing of the party to leave and join the government.

The collective admonition of the Sangha at the Colombo sathyagraha was read by a senior monk, Venerable Pandit Rekewa Jinaratana, the Adhikarana Sangha Nayaka of the North Western Province.

Venerable Jinaratana said “UNP leader Ranil Wickremesinghe has chosen to take forward the notorious path selected by ancient enemies of Buddhism to destroy it in this country. He is uniting all anti-Buddhist forces within and without the country using his lowly friends. We declare to all Buddhist monks that all measures should be taken to protect Buddhism from him.”

- Asian Tribune -

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