The early part of the Mahawamsa dealing with the origin of the Sinhala race is probably a bag of bullshit. Vijaya, if he ever arrived in Lanka, with half shaven head, bansihed from hi sown country, is considered to be in the 6th cent. B.C.
the latest archeological excavations have unearthed a settlement with a house with a floor paved with stones, and with a canoe burial cemetry of their own. this shows is was an advanced civilization, around 1350 B.C. that is 700 years before vijaya.
these people are our ancestors, not the thug born out of an incestuous marriage
Information spiced with excitement makes this a page-turner
Hypocrisy is the last thing we wuld have to associate with the Word of the Buddha.
There is an appeal by leading Buddhist clergy that all publications about Buddhism should be monitored and censored. They claim there are publications that harm Buddhism, that endanger a religion that has survived for over 2500 years. There may have been numerous publications and attempts to insult, distort, destroy Buddhism, from the time of Devadatta. Yet Buddhism has survived.
If someone tries to claim that the Buddha was born and lived in Sri Lanka, the writer is only making a fool of himself. We as Buddhist should only pity him and ignore his writing instead of giving more publicity. No sane person in the world woudl accept a story about the Buddha's birthplace unless there was sufficient scientific, literary and archaeological data to prove it.
However, more than any such publications or misinformation about Buddhism, more harm is done to Buddhism and insults to the Buddha himself, int he way we practice Buddhism today.
Even though almost every Buddhist in our country repeat the Five Precepts every day, sometimes several times a day, how many of them do really keep to these precepts. If they did, then our country would have been the most wonderful place on earth to live and to bring up our children.
Perhaps the Buddhist clergy should take serious steps to educate and guide the Buddhist in our country to start observing the Five Precepts as a start. Then i am sure that there woudl not be any need to worry abotu what any one writes.
On the other hand, if there was such a censorship, even this blog could be censored!
Kita’s eyes followed the slow, majestic glide of a sea gull. All around him was the dark blue sea, calm, silent and almost motionless. The sky above was a lighter shade of blue. An occasional white cloud would drift by, breaking the monotony of the world around him.
He was a tall dark skinned boy of about thirteen years, with a piece of rough gray cloth wrapped around his waist. His father, Minda, was dressed in a similar fashion, but with a piece of cloth to cover his bolding head from the sun. Kita did not mind the sun. His thick crop of hair was ample protection.
Kita knew that if he turned his head to look at the shore, he would see the colossal statue of the Buddha, rising above the green belt of the Palmyrah trees on the coast line. This was their only link with home and Minda made sure never to move out of sight of the Buddha.
Suddenly Kita’s eyes caught a small speck in the glittering water. It disturbed the beautiful picture of the calm sea and the sky. Kita wanted it to disappear so the beautiful picture in front of him would not be marred.
He guided the boat as Minda directed, but hated to disturb the water with his oars. He did not like to see anything that would disrupt his peaceful world, on such a calm day like this. He watched his father’s steady hands flicking his rod and would help him to fix a fresh bait once in a while.
He wondered if he should draw his father’s attention to the strange speck on the horizon, but decided against it. They still had to catch a few more fish for the hospital.
Kita looked at the object once more, and then all around him, for any other signs of disturbance. Everything was as it had always been. He turned towards the statue of the Buddha. Though he could not see Buddha’s face from the boat, he knew that those gentle kind eyes would be fixed on them, and would protect them from any danger they might encounter.
The statue was at the monastery near the town of Badakara Atana1. The hospital was a part of the monastery. And it was Minda’s duty to keep the hospital supplied with fish. Someday Kita would inherit that duty, when his father became too old to go out on the boat. Once they had caught the quantity required by the hospital, any extra fish left over could be taken to the market to be bartered for their other needs. The smaller fish or those of least value would be taken home for dinner. It was their only income, because they did not have any land for farming.
The gentle breeze was drifting ‘The Thing’ closer, and soon he could make out the shape of a small boat. A boat was something that was worth his father’s attention. He was certain that it was not from any of the neighbouring villages. Any strange boat would always interest Minda.
Minda stared in the direction of the boat and then told Kita to row towards it, because it appeared empty. He knew it was not from their village or from any of their neighbouring villages. It had probably been washed overboard from a ship. Then he remembered that the weather had been very calm for several weeks, and only a storm could have swept a boat over from a ship or torn it from a mooring if it was from a village further down the coast. If it was a strange boat with no one to claim it, then Minda could keep it, with permission from the hospital authorities.
The boat grew larger in their sight, as they rowed closer towards it. It still appeared unoccupied. There were some markings on the side, which they could see now, but the characters were unfamiliar both to the father and the son.
‘It must be from a ship that was passing by’ Minda explained to his son.
‘There is no one in it’ Kita said.
‘Let’s see when we get closer’ Minda told him, with years of patience learned from fishing.
Then Kita noticed something inside the boat. He felt a stab of fear when he realized it was a heap of clothes. Kita’s fear was growing, as he remembered all the stories of ghost ships and other mysteries and horrors, related by elderly fishermen, at evening gatherings on the shore, in the flickering light of a log fire. He looked at his father, who was calmly rowing, with his eyes on the strange boat.
Was it a haunted boat? From where had it come? Where were the people who had been in it? Questions raced through his mind. The heap of clothes was resolving into a clearer shape, with what looked like a pair of legs sticking out of the clothes, then the outline of a body could be traced under the clothes. Head and face could not be seen yet. Kita thought he saw a movement, but realized that it was the breeze, mischievously stirring the clothes. He wondered what his father would do, once they reached the other boat.
Minda took a piece of rope and tied the other boat to their own, and stepped into it, careful not to disturb the body, while Kita tried to keep the two boats steady. Minda bent down and slowly lifted the cloth covering the head. Kita could see that the dead man had his hand over the face, as if in a last attempt to shade his eyes from the burning sun. There were white patches all over the skin and Kita’s first impression was that the flesh had been eaten away by some creatures. Kita shivered as if a cold gust of wind had wrapped around his body.
Minda touched the body hesitantly, and then with more interest he touched the forehead, the neck and then placed his hand over the heart. Kita watched, wanting to tell his father that they should leave the boat and head for home, but he was also curious about the dead man. He knew his father would not leave just like that, leave a man who was possibly still alive, or even if the man could not be saved, he would not want to leave him to die. The villagers could arrange a decent burial, if the man was already dead or would die. Kita knew that the opportunity to keep the boat would not be a priority for his father, at this time.
‘He is not dead’ Minda looked up at his son.
‘How do you know?’ Kita asked.
‘We have to take him to the hospital.’ Minda ignored the question. ‘They should be able to save him’. He carefully covered the body with the cloth and moved over to their boat. Kita did not want to look behind at the other boat or the man in it. Kita felt a tingling at the back of his neck, as if someone was watching him. He still could not accept that the man was not dead. He thought that if he looked behind him, the dead man might suddenly sit up, and then jump into their boat.
Rowing was not easy, with the weight of the other boat dragging behind. Kita was panting now, though he continued to row as fast as he could, the shore was not getting any nearer to them.
Kita kept looking at his father, whose eyes were fixed on the other boat, perhaps worried that death would still beat them. Minda, finally tore his eyes to look towards the shore.
Kita followed his father’s gaze, and his fear abated when he saw the Buddha looking down on them. But he still did not dare to look behind, even though he knew that Buddha Deepankara would protect them, as he looked after all seagoing men.
Kita’s arms were aching, he had never rowed the boat so fast, for such a distance without a stop. He had not realized that they were so far away from the shore and tried to row faster.
‘Run to the village first and ask some men to come here, then you go to the hospital and tell them that we are bringing a sick man found in a drifting boat. They will know what to do’ Minda told his son, even before they reached the shore, and Kita jumped out of the boat into the water and began running, glad to be away from the ghost.
Minda watched Kita run across the rough sand and through the palm grove and disappear behind the shrubs around the village, as he guided the boat to the beach. He jumped out and pulled it a little further up the beach. Then pulled in the strange boat, and waited for assistance.
In a short time several men came running towards the boats, followed by a few children and women. The first men to reach the boats helped Minda to drag them in further up the beach, while asking him questions about the man they found in it.
‘We have to carry him to the hospital, he is dying’ he told the other villagers, without going into detail.
An elderly man bent down into the boat, looked closely at the body and wrapped his fingers around the wrist for a pulse beat.
‘Mmm..’ he paused, stroking his gray-bearded chin, ‘The skin is coming off. It must be due to sunburn and the salt water.’ He looked around. ‘You fellows have to be very careful when you move him’
‘Ramu, bring a large banana leaf.’ He told one of them. ‘Sunder, you find a plank of wood from your front door. Hurry up’ the old man told another, and shooed the children away from the boat.
Minda heaved a sigh of relief as the old man took over the responsibility of the sick stranger. He tried to keep the people away from his boat, refusing to answer all the questions put to him by the women who had now arrived.
Ramu came back with two banana leaves, holding them carefully so it would not get torn. Then Sunder appeared carrying a wooden plank, with the help of another man. It was a plank used to close the front entrance to their house. In their villages, in the night, a plank was just kept across the entrance and no one bothered to secure them closed and no one even had ever thought of locking them.
The plank was lowered on to the beach, next to the boat and the banana leaf was placed on it. The old man directed the younger men to lift the body carefully and place it on the leaf. Kita, who had returned from the hospital, thought he saw an eye-lid flutter for a moment, but did not want to draw any attention to it. He still thought it was a ghost. He watched as the men lifted the plank. They were careful not to shake the sick man too much. Then they started walking slowly towards the village. Kita fell in behind, with the other young boys, wondering why they wanted to bother with a dead man. Several other men walked alongside the makeshift stretcher, to take over the burden when the men who were carrying it got tired. The old man walked alongside the stretcher, keeping an eye on the sick man.
As they walked through the cluster of houses in the small village, women and children watched them, asking the people following, who the man was, and where they found him. Kita saw some of them pointing at him and at his father. Was he a hero now, that he had rescued a man from the sea? Would they be talking about this for years to come? The other boys would be jealous, he thought, and so would the men be, when the hospital allowed his father to keep the other boat.
The hospital was not far from the village. But on the narrow path from the beach, through the palm trees the men found it a little difficult to carry the stretcher and others had to come to their assistance several times. The going became easier when they reached the road running from the town to the hospital.
There was a wall around the hospital premises, and a gate, which was always open. Kita had often wondered why they have a gate if they do not close it. Even though the gate was open, only the men carrying the stretcher, Minda and the old man went inside, while the others waited outside.
Kita had never entered the hospital through this entrance, and had never been inside the main hospital buildings. He had always used the side-entrance, and had gone direct to the kitchen buildings, to hand over the fish.
He had to answer a lot of questions from the men gathered at the gate, who were curious to know what had happened that day. Kita first told them that they had found this dead man, but before he could finish what he was trying to say, he was admonished by some of the men, for saying a man was dead, while he was still alive. Then he simply told them what he had seen and done. He did not tell them anything about how scared he was, not even when he was asked.
After a while Minda came out. Kita, who was watching his face closely, noticed a faint smile.
‘The physicians say he will recover’ he told Kita, ‘but he has lost his eyesight’ he added in a sad voice. ‘He is blind’.
The other men gathered around Minda now, forgetting Kita, wanting to know more details. Kita walked back home slowly, then remembered the boats still on the beach and headed towards them. He untied the two boats, and pulled the boats on to higher ground, one by one. Then he collected the fish they had caught.
He closed his eyes and tried to imagine how the stranger would feel, unable to see anything. When he closed his eyes, he lost his sense of direction. He had to open them again to make sure he was facing towards the land. He tried to walk with his eyes closed, but stumbled immediately over a piece of driftwood, hurting his toes, and he looked around to see if anyone had been observing him. Kita picked up the fish he had dropped, brushed the sand from them before heading back to the hospital, this time from the side entrance to the kitchen. He was tempted to try to see the man they had brought in, but was scared to ask anyone for directions.
Kita ran home from the hospital, wanting to get back before it grew dark, because he was still afraid of the strange boat and the man they had picked up. Could he be a ghost, he still wondered.
‘Will the monks be able to save him?’ Kita asked his father in the evening, seated on their front porch.
‘I am sure he will recover. By now the physicians would have examined him and be able to say how long he had been without food and water and exposed to the sun’
‘Is there anything we could do for him?’
‘We will have to find out from the hospital. If they need some special herbs or materials for the preparation of medicines, I will tell them that we will search for the things’
‘I want to help’ he said again.
‘We will go to the temple and pray to the Bodhisattva’ his mother said.
‘He is not one of our people, is he?’ Minda’s wife asked, a short while later.
‘No. He is not from our country. And not from the mainland. He must be from a far away country, sailing in a trading vessel’ Minda replied.
‘Then what was he doing in a small boat?’
‘That is what I also can’t understand. May be he was trying to escape from the ship, or the captain may have cast him off as punishment’
‘He was very lucky that the boat drifted towards our shores’
‘It is time for you to sleep’ Minda told Kita, ‘we have to start early morning.’ Kita reluctantly went inside the small one roomed house, leaving his parents on the porch.
In Sri Lanka we celebrate the New Year on April 14th, when the sun moves from the House of Pisces to Aries, or Niryana Mesha Sankranti.
The irony is that the Sinhala people probably borrowed this day as their own New Year from the Tamils of South India. Today the Sinhala community 'celebrate' the New Year, far more seriously than the Tamils, even talking about the 'ancient' customs.
But the 'ancient' goes back only for about 5 centuries.
And this day we celebrate with
- many of our people in the North in temporary camps uprooted from the villages and their homes, with out a home of their own to light the hearth at the auspicious times
- many of our people grieving the death of young family members, either at the hands of the tamil rebels or the armed forces, with no intention of lighting the hearth at the auspicious times
- many of our people displaced and dressed in rags or handouts to 'celebrate' the new year.
- while those who can and able flee the country during the festive season, because their domestic servants have gone home and there is no one to attend to all the work of cooking and cleaning at home
- there are also those, taking advantage of the holidays spend it overseas at state expense.
- also those who have fled the country, leaving their fellow beings ot fight and suffer and die, who also celebrate a mock new year in the country of their present residence.
- this is the new year for us, when the explosion of fireworks and crackers replace the explosion of claimore mines and mortars.
- what is in store for us in the new year?
Chris Harman quotes from M. Sahlin, that the pre-historic hunter-gatherers were the 'Original affluent society'
It had taken man 2500 years to come back to the truth stated by the Buddha in the Agganna Sutta of the Digha Nikaya.
It was man's greed which led to inequality and suffering, it will continue to cause suffering, until we can do away with our greed and envy.
"Understand something, boy. You are not going to college to get educated. You are going there to get trained. They will train you to want what you don't need. They will train you to manipulate words so they won;t mean anything anymore. They will train you to forget what it is that you already know. They will train you so good, you will start believing what they tell you about equal opportunity and the American Way and all that shit. They'll give you a corner office and invite you to fancy dinners' and tell you you're a credit to your race. UNtil you want to actually start running things, and then they'll yank on your chain and let you know that you may be a well-trained, well-paid nigger, but you're a nigger just the same". p-97. Dreams from my Father. Barack Obama. 1995.
It is the date this book was published that is important today, and the fact this was comment made by an elderly African American to Barak Obama when he was about to enter college.
we have to wait and see if 'they' can still pull the chain.
The upside of the downturn.
We are heading for an upturn in the well being and good health of Mother Earth, which means the well being of all living things. We can expect cleaner air to breath, purer water to drink healthier food to eat and altogether a safer world to live in.
Al Gore would have to revise his 'Earth in the Balance' once again. Vandana Shiva could heave a sigh of relief. Arundathi Roy could settle down to write another Booker winner.
All because of the much feared economic downturn. Everyone, all over the world, is talking about the Global Economic Downturn. Everyday, there are reports of collapsing banks and financial institutes, marketing chains going bankrupt, massive layoffs in factories. All this is making the world become a brighter and nicer place to live in.
It was time anyway for global economy to slow down. It was going too fast, and downhill, without brakes. Everyone was enjoying the ride, without a concern about where they were going, or where they could end up. Suddenly we have been made to slow down. Giving us time to look around, look behind and then look ahead with the knowledge gathered from looking around.
Things will get better and better and we should all be thankful about the downturn in the economy.
Maldives Islands could survive a lot longer. The New prime Minister may not have to look for alternate land for his people. The rise of the sea levels would slow down. Less ice would melt in the polar regions. Even if the earth and the atmosphere did not get any cooler, we can be happy that it would not get any warmer. Damage to the Ozone layer will be lessened and there would be less carbon emissions.
There are many new job opportunities created, which could really help reduce unemployment worldwide. In the U.S.A. today it is reported that there are only 2 million farmers and their average age is 55 years. There are more than 10million opportunities for Green Farmers, when more and more people are compelled to look for green food, because they cannot afford to pay for highly processed instant food. More job opportunities will come up in the U.S for immigrants as jobs in the IT sector dry up. The rising cost of energy will drive more and more people to go for renewable energy. There will be jobs for fabrication and installation of windmills, solar projects and micro hydrals.
We can save more trees, there would be less destruction of forest cover, and the world would be greener. This would be because the worldwide demand for timber for furniture, house building, packing and paper would go down. When construction of highways, dams, harbours, and high rise buildings slow down, sand in the river beds would not be removed, the river banks would not be washed away, sea water would not enter the rivers and then into farmland and fresh water sources.
Slowdown of urban migration would reduce overcrowding of cities, reduce pollution, epidemics and reduce the burning of fossil fuels. As people go back to their villages, there would be less congestion in schools, children would have better schooling in less crowded classrooms, in more congenial surroundings.
The water in the rivers would become cleaner, as more and more factories shut down, and less and less pollutants enter the water ways and the ground water. Water consumption for industries would also go down.
The air we breath will be cleaner, improving our health in general and reducing illness caused by poisons added to the air from vehicles, factories and decaying garbage.
When a manufacturer of earth-moving machinery shuts down a factory, it saves thousands of acres of natural environment, rain forests and beautiful landscapes. Several thousand people would be able move out of the factory into much pleasanter and healthier jobs.
'The 'life-style diseases' would disappear. People all over the world would become healthier and live longer. They would spend less on junk food, consume less poison which would have been added to plants and fed to animals. They would walk more, as travelling by car becomes more expensive. They would do more and more manual work, as automation becomes expensive.
Overall there would be a downturn of all pollutants, specially the most harmful dioxins, flourinated carbons and heavy metals like mercury. Garbage disposal also would become easier, as most present day urban solid waste is due to over-consumption. There would be less polythene, less disposal of mobile phones, computers and other electronic and plastics, that has become a serious headache in every country.
This would happen because people have stopped buying cars. They have cut down on driving the cars they own. They have stopped flying. Factories are closing down which means less fuel will be burnt and Less CO2 released.
People can stay home more often, spend time with their families. When offices work only 3 or 4 days a week, the children could have their parents for themselves for longer weekends. The family unit could function like a real family, instead of like strangers living in a single house. A house could become a home.
People would become more compassionate, be more concerned not only about fellow human beings, but even about other living creatures, when they realize that their downturn had been caused by excessive greed. When they turn more religious and when they realize that 'Small is always more beautiful'
Let us all be happy, thank our Gods and our Karma for giving us a another chance for survival.