The Scholar Buddhist monks of the 19th Century in the low country

by Rohan L. Jayetilleke

The growth and establishment of European power in the littoral from 1505, first under the Portuguese, in the littoral of Sri Lanka and thereafter by the Dutch (1658-1796) and finally by the British from 1796 until independence in 1948 and in the early stages of Portuguese and Dutch rule, witnessed the shift of the Sinhalese capital of the central highlands of ‘Kanda Uda Pas Rata’ (Kandy is a European corruption of Kanda, meaning the country of the mountain. The Sinhala name of the capital was Senkadagala was the city where the Sacred Tooth Relic was housed during the Dambadeniya period and the ceremonies connected with the Sacred Tooth Relic was called ‘Sirivardhana-puja’ the ceremony endowing prosperity. This name was also used during the Buddha’s time (6th century B.C.) to Sankassa, where Buddha descended from Tusita Heaven having discoursed the Adhidhamma to his mother in Tusita. The merchant of Sankassa who organized the welcoming ceremony at Sankassa was named Sirivardhana).

The kingdom of Senkadagala (Kandy) providing protection in its natural mountainous fastness, the Kandyan kings maintained its sovereignty as from 1592 and laid the foundation for the revival of Buddhism and Sinhala literature, which had been displaced in the low country under Christian foreign rule. This rulership of the Kandyan kingdom under its own kings first Sinhala and then Nayakkars (the present surname Nanayakkara too is a derivative of the South Indian Nayakkar ethnic group) continued until the deportation of king Sri Wickrema Rajasinghe in 1815. This Kandyan kingdom deviated remarkably from all the previous Sinhalese kingdoms. However, the conception prevailed that it was the natural successor to all the previous Sinhalese kingdoms. This scenario is best expressed in the continuation of the Mahavamsa that was composed during the reign of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe (1747-82).

The Bhikkhus who sought refuge from the coastal areas, were warmly received into the Kandyan kingdom and endowed with new temples and land grants lavishly to support them (Epigraphia Zeylanics III, 1928-33) ‘Palkumbura Sannasa’ p. 110). With the establishment of new viharas, and the older ones renovated, the Buddha Sasana gradually established itself within the Kandyan kingdom, in alignment as it was during the earlier Sinhala kingdoms. In view of the religious roles and economic endowments, the Buddhst monks exercised considerable power and privileges and influence. Some they performed secular functions. King Rajasinghe’s embassy to the Dutch rulers at Colombo in 1686, was led by the chief monk in Kandy Ven. Kobbekaduwe Ganebandara (S. Arasaratnam, Dutch Power in Ceylon. p. 110) During the reign of Vimaladharmasuriya II, successor to Rajasinghe, this monk led the Kandyan delegation to Colombo in king’s negotiations with the Dutch in 1688. In 1731, the chief monk of the Poyamalu Vihara (oldest part of present Malwatu Maha Vihara) Kandy, together with his ecclesiastical position, held the two lay offialdoms with were secular, those of Basnayake Nilame and Disava. (Ceylon National Archives Document 5/63/11 (23). For example Ratnalankara Thero of Devanagala Vihara, Mawanella, played and important role in helping King Vimaladharmasuriya I to annex the Four Korales to the Kingdom of Kandy after the decline of Sitawaka Kingdom, in the Western province. (H. C. P. Bell, Report on the Kegalle district) (Sessional Paper XIX) pp. 87-88).

However, by this time the Buddha Sasana was at a low ebb with the absence of highly ordinaned monks. King Vickremabahu (1475-1510) obtained a chapter of monks from Burma (Myanmar) and held a higher ordination ceremony (upasampada) at Getambetota, at Pereadeniya Mahaveli river which too failed to stabilize the Sangha Sasana. King Vimaladharamasuriya II (1687-1707) too obtained a Chapter of monks from Burma, to establish higher ordination in the island. This ceremony held in 1697, saw 33 monks receiving higher ordination and 120 as samaneras (novices). With the demise of these highly ordained monks and some reverted to samanera status. Those who later joined the order for economic reasons, came to be known as ganinnanses. They professed to observe only ten precepts prescribed for samaneras and some were not even celibate, with wives and children.

Kelaniya was a major centre of Buddhism before the Sixteenth Century. In 1555, the then King of Kotte Dharmapala, having being converted to Catholicism, as a political expedient to remain in power with Portuguese military power, transferred the lands of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and other lands to the Franciscan missionaries, who arrived in Sri Lanka to propagate the religious and educational establishment of the Franciscans. The inhabitants of the maritime provinces who were sandwiched with casteism in order to secure upward social mobility, through education and serving the Portuguese establishment, embraced Christianity. The general conception there were forceful conversions thus hold no good. The aristocracy, in the Goigama aristocracy in order to maintain their status and land holdings superficially embraced Christianity to be just ‘government Christians’ outwardly but remain Buddhists in the eyes of the public.

With the arrival of the Dutch in 1658, who professed Calvanism, Reformed Duth Church, took over the littoral and persecuted the Roman Catholic missionaries, who then sought sanctuary in the Kandyan kingdom. King of the Kandy permitted them to build their first church at Bogambara, which came to be known as Padili landa, the land of the padres. When there was resistance from the Buddhist the Roman Catholic missionaries were allowed to shift to Wahakotte in Matale and buld their church there. Thus Wahakotte, as continuing today became a settlement of Roman Catholics.

The Dutch did not persecute the Buddhists. In fact, the Dutch Governor Falck (1765-85) who immediately after the period of intense hostility with the Kandyan kingdom, paid a visit to the leading Buddhist Vihara, Mulgirigala, (Matara) in the Dutch settlements and thereafter a circular was sent by the Dutch Disava of Matara to Mulgirigala and its connected Viharas expressing them of the goodwill of the government towards Buddhism and the desire of the Government to support Viharas and Buddhism. (Veheragampita Nandarama, Karatota Vata (Matara 1940.) p. 19). Towards the ultimate end of Dutch rule Dutch Governor van de Graffe (1785-93) ordered the payment of twenty-five rix dollars to the leading monk of the Southern Province, Ven. Karatota Dhammarama (1737-1827). (Third Report of the Ceylon Historical Manuscripts Commission Sessional Paper XIX 1951) P.12). The dutch in fact provided berths on their ships in 1750s to bring Chapters of highly ordained monks from Thailand to re-establish higher ordination ceremonies in Sri Lanka.

Ven. Velivita Sri Sarananka Samaners (later Sanghraja) born in 1698, at Velivita, in Galagedera, Kandy entered the Order at the age of sixteen years as a pupil of Ven. Suriyagoda Rajasundara, who had received upasampada ordination from the Arakanese monks (Burma) in 1679. This Thero exercised considerable influence with in the Kandyan Kingdom and enjoyed for some time, the patronage of King Sri Vira Parakrama Narendrasinghe (1707-39), the last Sinhala king, after whom Nayakkar dynasty succeeded to the Kandyan throne. In 1715, however, he was charged with treason by the king and executed. Thus young Saranankara left on his own, took up residence in the mountainous region of Alagalla (Kadugannwa) a few miles away from Senkadagala capital and devoted his early years to learning Pali. His tutor was one Leuke Ralahamy, who had been imprisoned in a village close to Alagalla, by the king. Saranakara lived in a cave at Alagalla and the villagers provided him with alms food.

During this period few like-minded few companions and followers began to gather around Saranankara. The earliest and most intimate of them were Sitinamaluwe Dhammajothi, Ilipangamuwe and Kadiragoda, who came from the south of the island. They formed themselves into a small fraternity called Silvat Samagama and its members were called ‘silvat tenas’ (pious ones) distinguishing themselves from samaneras and ganinnanses. Saranankara’s life-long ambition was to re-establish upasampada ordination in the island. This remained unmet under King Narendrasinghe. In 1741 during the reign of Sri Vijaya Rajasinghe (1739-47), the king being a pupil of Saranankara, having negotiated with the Dutch administrators, for berths on Dutch vessels a delegation was despatched to Siam led by two of King’s officials and five of Saranankara’s pupils. The vessel foundered off the coast of Pegu (Burma) and with only two surviving from the delegation. These survivors after months managed to return to Sri Lanka. (Sangharaja Saducariyava p. 12).

A second delegation was despatched in 1745, led by one of the survivors of the first delegation Doranegama Muhandiram and two other officials of the king and five of Saranankara’s pupils. Doranegama enroute fell ill at Batavia, and leaving him at Batavia others proceeded to Siam under the leadership of one of the king’s officials Vilbagedera Nayide. On reaching Thailand (Siam) with the request of the king of Sri Lanka, to send a chapter of highly ordained monks to re-establish higher ordination in Sri Lanka, to the Siamese king, Maha Thammaraja (Boromkot) II (1733-58), news reached them of the death of King Sri Vijaya Rajasingha. In the absence of the religious policies of the succeeding King in Sri Lanka Kirti Sri Rajasingha (1747-82), like his predecessor was a South Indian Nayakkar Hindu, though he patronized Buddhism no chapter of monks was despatched. Vilbagedera and his delegates returned crest-fallen in their mission. (Siyam Sandesa Varnanava British Museum or 2702 v).

King Kiriti Sri Rajasinha too like his brother-in-law in order legitimize his rulership extended his patronage to fulfil the desire of Saranankara and despatched a third delegation to Thailand, along with five king’s officials including Vilbagedera himself, with another sixty-one persons, on a Dutch vessel, in which free passage was provided by the Dutch Governor at Colombo. They left the island in August 1750, and encountering many a hardship enroute through turbulent seas, eventually reached Thailand. On communicating the wish of the Sri Lanka’s new king to this counterpart in Thailand a chapter of twenty-five highly ordained Thai monks under the leadership of Phra Upali Thero.

The monks of the low-country, living within the areas under the jurisdiction of the British from 1796, out of sheer necessity had to adopt themselves to manage their own affairs without any political backing unlike the monks of the Kandyan kingdom. The low country monks had their own problems. Yet these controversies were not harmful but generated an interest in keeping the Buddhist faith alive. These controversies were generally conducted on a highly scholastic sphere in the Nineteenth Century. This was especially so in the ‘Adhikamasa Controversy within the Siamese fraternity and the Simasamkara Controversy within the Amarapura fraternity.

The letters and polemical pamphlets exchanged between disputants in relation to these controversies reveal a high degree of familiarity with the Buddhist scriptures as well as the extensive corpus of exegetical literature.

The controversies in the low country were not entirely confined to the sphere of religion. In the early 1850s, there arose a literary controversy known as Sav Sat Dam Vadaya, which was a revival of the same old one. The three words, ‘sav’, ‘sat’ and ‘dam’ constituted the third pros foot (gana) of the fourth stanza of a Sinhala poetic work called, Gangarohana Varnavava, authored by Tomis Samarasekera Dissanayake in 1807, praising a grand religious festival that was celebrated at Matara under the aegis of the Mudliyar David de Saram of Matara town. This festival was a reanaction of the festival held at Vaishali, in the wake of the reciting of Ratanasutta, to ward off a famine and drought in the region, by the Buddha and Buddha’s return to Rajagaha on a pavilion built on ratified boats, through the Ganges river. (Ganga Rohana means, sailing over Ganges river).

Sav sat dam’ together with the first and second feet of the stanza in question read Sasara sarana sav sat dam’ and these words wee to signify the name of ‘Saram’. Mudliyar David de Saram’s cousin at Galle, Mudliyar Sebestian Amarasinghe Jayetilleke Dias Abeysinghe, to whom a copy of this poetic work was sent, requested the then scholar monk in Galle Miripanne Dhammaratana to find a blemish in the poem. Both the Mudliyars were patrons of learning and well accomplished Sinhala scholars. Dhammaratna Thero, one of the greatest poets of the time, contended that the last varna of the third foot was not but dam, and that therefore, the outcome of adding the three varnas together would not be ‘Sarm’ but Saradam (meaning just). Letters came to be exchanged between Tomis Samarsekera Dissanayaka and Miripenna Thero. In 1850 them then leading Sinhala — Pali scholsr James de Alwis in his introduction to his translation of the thirteenth century Sinhala grammar work Sidat Sangarava in 1852, extensively dealth with the Gangarohana Varnanava poetical work, and supported the stand taken by Tomis Samaraskera Dissanayake. When these observations of Alwis were made Mihripenne Thero had died and his Upils saddened by his death and one of these pupils Koggala Dhammatilaka Thero having exchanged letters on the subject with Alwis, in 1853, February he was permitted by the editor of Weslyan mission’s periodical Sastralankaraya, John Periera (Head Master of the Native Normal Institution) to publish Koggala’s defence of his teacher. Thus James de Alwis’s teacher Batuwantudawe Devarakshita started a rival periodical called the Yatalaba Sangara, printed at the Roman Catholic Press, Colombo in April 1854 and the controversy was continued in print. The relevant extracts from the two periodicals on this issue were subsequently reprinted by Hendrick Perera Jayasuriya as a pamphlet called Sav Sat Dam Vadaya (Colombo 1873). Thus the Sinahal — Buddhists got a taste of printing.

IN 1855, the Buddhists were able to acquire the press of the Church Missionaries of Kotte, which had been in existence for over three decades, the missionaries having sold it to another person, and the Buddhist then purchasing it from him. Immediately afterwards a second Buddhist press, called Lamkopakara Press was established independently at Galle on the initiative of Ven. Bulatgama Sumana Thero, of Paramananda Vihara, Galwadugpda. (Incidentally my late mother Wehelle-Mudali Dona Louisa Wijeynayeke — Jayetilleke, a leading educationalist at Galle established the Paramananda Bilingual Buddhist school in the environs of the Vihara with her own funds and taught the children of the depressed stonemasons’ children in 1924, and later handed over to the and today it is an Paramandana Maha Vidyalaya. This Galle press started in 1862 July and obtained financial help from the aristocracy of the area as well as from his friend, King Mingkut of Siam (this king while in his monkhood had established a press in his own monetary (R. Lingat, History of Wat Pavaraniveca, Journal of the Siam Society, XXVI (1933) pp. 80-81) and also from a ricj Kadyan chief, Rahulpola Abhayakoon Jayasundera Herat Bandara of Uva (Document Ceylon National Archives 5/63/150/17). The Galle press publications were chief the works of Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thero, still in his thirties, and a renowned and accomplished scholar then.

Another decisive step taken was the establishment of Sarvajna Sasanabhivrddidayaka Dharma Samagama, in imitation of the Church Missionaries’ Society for the Propagation of the Gospel. This Buddhist society was set up in 1862, Mohottivatte Gunanda Thero. The English version of the Buddhist Society’s name was ‘Society for the Propagation of Buddhism. This Buddhist society came forth with Kristiyani Vada Mardanaya (1862-63) and Samyak Darsanaya (1863-64) both author by Mohittivatee Gunanda Thero; the Galle Lampopakara Press printed and published Hikkaduwa Sri Sumanagala Thero’s works, Bauddha Vaksaraya (1863), Sumati Samgrahya (1864) and Labdhi Tulava (1864-65). The Weslyan missionaries who were in the forefront responded with their publications Bauddha Vakya Khandanaya (1863) and Satya Dvajaya (1863-64). Between the Christian clergy and the Buddhist clergy, thought they sponsored two different causes had a mutual respect and camaderie between them. These publications led to the Christian — Buddhist debates and inter religious controversies, the Buddhist sectorled by the indefatigable and vibrant Migettuwatte Gunananda, resident at Deepaduttara aya, Kotahena, Colombo with no victor arising out of them. These public debates were Baddegama Vadaya (1865), Udanvita Vadaya (1866), Gampola Vadaya (1873) and Panadure Vadaya (1873).

The Buddhist monks never claimed their religious and literary knowledge to be close listed prerogatives and they were also prepared to exchange knowledge and to assist any person beseeching their assistance, be it a Christians with their own motives of propagation of the Christian faith. These monks were of the mindset that every clergyman had a right and city to propagate their own faith within the bounds of morality and unwritten codes of ethics of the Sinhala Buddhists. The Colombo Auxiliary Bible Society in 1812 undertook the translations of the Bible to Sinhala, as the earlier translations by the English scholars, used derogatory Sinhala terms for Thou as ‘To and you as ‘umbala and indicative verbs such as varella, palayalla, karapalla etc. which were abhorred in Churches by the Sinhala congregations. When this fresh translation exercise was initiated, two of the ablest and most scholarly monks in the low country, venerables Karatota Dhammarama and Boval Dhammanda, without any reservation or material gains gave their assistance.

The Sinhala translations were under the general supervision of William Tolfrey of the British Civil Service, with the assistance of Don Jacobus Dias Mudliya and Paulus Perers Muhandirm, began translation from English into Sinhala; and in order to obtain a final version, this direct translation was compared with an indirect one; from English into Pali by Don Abrahm de Thomas Elapata Muhandirm and from Pali into Sinhalese by Venerables Karatota Dhammarama and Bowela Dhammananda. (The First Report of the Colombo Auxiliary Bible Society Colombo 1813).

Alexander Johnston, who served in the Judicial Establishment of Ceylon, referred some knotty cases to Karatota Dhammarama being convinced of his credentials in injuring into cases and referred to the very judicious manner in which the committee headed by this Thero inquired into the cases that came before them, and the soundness of the principles on which the members of it relied in framing their decisions, and ascribed to the success of this committee the reason for having felt confident in recommending the introduction of trial by jury into Sri Lanka, the first British colony this judicial process was intorfuced. (Important Public Documents to and from Sri Alexander Johnston (1802-1819). Johnston was so impressed with this erudite monk and got a portrait him painted from himself.

In 1868, Ven. Dodanduwa Piyaratana Tissa Thero (1826-1907) of the Amarapura Kalyanivamsa fraternity organized a society called Lokartthasadaka Samagama and the first non-monastic school was opened at Dodanduwa. This school was registered as an Anglo-vernacular school under the management of Jayetilleke Pieris, Mudliyar of the Wellaboda Pattuwa of the Galle district and qualified for a grant in aid from the government in 1872. He authored a text book for scholl (Ceylon National Archives 5/63/150/7.

Ven. Wala Siddhartha, a pupil of Induruwe Sumangala Thero until 1858 at the Rajamahavihara at Pelmadulla, on his return to Ratmalana, inaugurated the Paramadhammacetiya Pirivena. Some of his pupils were scholars Pandit Don Andriyas de Silva Batuwantudawe, Venerables Ratmalane Dhammaloka and Suriyagoda Sonuttara, who was in charge of the Oriental Library at Kandy Ven. Yatramulle Dhammarama taught Pali for many years to Robert Caesar Childrens (1838-1871) who was a member of the Civil Service since 1853 and Childrens compiled the first Pali-English Dictionary and also taught Pali to Thomas Williams Rhys Davids (1843-1922) who founded the Pali Text Society at London, who propagated oriental studies and Buddhism in the West. Davids on the knowledge he had gathered under this Thero, delivered a series of lectures in 1881 and these lectures were printed in book from under the title, ‘Hibbert Lectures’ wherein he pays a tribute to his Pali and Buddhism teacher Yatramulle Dhammarama Thero as well.

Rhys Davids eulogy on Dhammarama is most interesting. He recorded, "I once knew such a man he would have seemed nothing to a passing observer, but them a deceased looking monk rather mean in stature. When he fits came to me the hand of death was already upon him. He was sinking into the grave from effects of a painful and incurable malady. I had heard of his learning as a Pali scholar and of his illness and was grateful to him for leaving home under such circumstances to teach a stranger. There was a strange light in his sunken eyes, and he was constantly turning away from questions of Pali to questions on Buddhism. I find him versed in all the poetry and ethics of the suttas. There was an indescribable attraction about him. His simplicity and high mindedne filled me with reverence. I used sometimes to think that the personal impression of Yatramulle Unnanse might have led esteem my judgement of him too highly. But childrens told me, after my return to England that the dying Buddhist scholar had made a similar impression upon him.

Venerable Weligama Sumangala Thero (1825-1905) born at Weligama had his education under an outstanding Sanskirt scholar Ven. Bentara Atthadassi. Some of his important literary works were Hitopadsesa Atthadassi. Some of his important literary works were Hitopadsesa Padarthavykanaya, Upadesa Vinischaya, Siddanta Sekaraya. His work Siddhanta Sekharaya of 700 pages was printed at the Government Press in 1897. He established Saugathodaya Vidyalaya at Rankoth Vihara Panadure. He was a close associate if Sri Edwin Arnold (1832 — 1904) the author of the famous work Light of Asia and who through the London Telegraph, the editor of which he was, informed the world the pitiful Telegraph, the editor of which he was, informed the world the pitiful state of Buddha Gaya Maha Vihara under the control of Hindu Mahant.

Ven. Walane Siddartha Thero who was ordained at Paramadhammacetiya Ratmalana in 1874 translated the original Pali Mahavamsa into Sinhala. Some of is other works wee Sidatsangara Sannaya, Sabodgika, Commentacy to Balavatara, Paki grammar text, Brahmadharma Kavya Sannaya, Kavyasekhera Sannaya and Varna Reetiya etc. Ven. Ratmalane Dharmaloka Thero founded the Vidyalankara Pirivena in 1878. He composed a poem called Raja Carita in Sanskrit and offered it to visiting Prince of Wales in 1875. He authored two books, Vinayakatikavata and Satya Vilasini and edited the Dharmapradipika, the famous Sanskrit classic.

The most remarkable and colourful scholar of the time was Ven. Waskaduwe Subhiti Nayaka Thero (1835-1917) whose reputation spread in Europe and America as well as India, Japan and South Asian countries. This monk entered the order at Kandevihara, Waskaduwa and received his education from Ven. Induruwe Sumangala Nayaka Thera, who resided Paramadhammacetiya Privena, Ratmalana. On completion of his studies he returned to his home village and became the chief incumbent of the Abhinavaramaya at Waskaduwa especially built for him. He received his higher ordination with Ven. Lamkagoda Dhirannanda as the preceptor (uppajahaya) in 1859. He was helpful to Ven. Migettuwatte Gunanada Thero, in his writing of polemical tracts of Buddhism and in his debates with the Christian laity clergy.

Ven. Subhut’s knowledge of Pali and Buddhism was so high that Robert Coddlers in the compilation of his dictionary had the direct help and sole assistance from him, both at the time of compilation and in the final stages of printing reading the proofs and re-editing them. A large number of personal letters (holographs) written by childrens to Ven. Subhuti and copies of them are found and found at the National Archives Colombo, numbered as SLNA 5/63/17. Even after the death of Childrens in England, Mrs. Coddlers and her son sent many letters acknowledging the literary assistance rendered to their family members.

There was an extensive number of letters addressed to Ven. Subhuti by foreign scholars such as, the author of ‘Biography of Budda’ Dr. Richard Morris (1833-1894) and Dr. Vigi Fausball, (1821-1908) who edited a part of the Jataka stories. These letters now in a bound volume numbered ALNA 5/63/17. One of these letters disclose information about the disvocery of Moggaliputta Tissa Thero’s (the Chairman of Emperor Asoka convened Thrid Buddhist Council at Pataliputra (modern patana, capital of bihar State, India) in the 3nd century B.C.) relics by Sir Alexander Cumnngham the Commissoner of Agrchaelogy of India at the time. The manuscripts collection of his at the National Archives reveal that his education was recognized by the then leading scholars around the world such as, Henry Warren, Charles Rockwell Lanman (1850-1941), professor of Sanskrit of the Harvard University, USA, Prof. Vigo Fausball who translated Jatakattha Katha into English and Poppe, the owner of the land at Kapilavastu (noe Piprahawa, India), in who land in the remains of a cetiya, Kapilsvastu Buddha relics were discovered by the Indian archeologist Sastreva.

The other western scholars who had intimate literary connection with Ven. Waskaduwe Subhti were Sir Alexader Cunningham, Director of Archaeology India, Prof. Minayey, A Russian scholar in Buddhist philosopher and Wilhelm Ludwig Geoger (1856-1945) who translated the Mahvamsa into English. This scholar monk helped Geiger in his translation of the Mahavamasa Ven. Subhiti authored Pali Nighantu, titled Abhidhanappadipika and another work comparing sannas (commentaries) with Nighantus (Glossaries) and giving English terms for Pali terms. This work was printed at the Government Press Colombo on the request of Rheinhold Rost (1822-1896) the Superintendent of India Office Library London and the famous scholar Prof. Hermann Oldenberg (1854-1920).

Today in hindsight, the Buddhst graduate from universities in secular subjects like economics, political science, biological sciences to the exclusion of the study of Pali and the Tripitaks. Some have become tuition master, selling knowledge in Sinhala Buddhist civilization. Among them are incumbents of some Biharas, (I know of one) who charge Rs. 200 as entrace fees from Sunday Dhamma school students and collect Rs. 300 each of the students aggresgating to nearly 600 for annual prize givings and the parents never supplied with a statement of accounts. Some tilting their Buddhist lectures as this vessa and that vessa, hold such exercises in public halls, distracting the devotees from Viharas. There is still another, who appear in television programmes and sermonize. All these activities are in conflict with the Buddha’s directive to his first sixty disciples at Saranath, Varanasi, in that," Bhikkhus, I am free from all shackles whether human or divine/G now wander for the walfare and happiness of many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, welfare and happiness of gods and men. Teach the Dhamma that is good in the beginning, good in the middle and good in the end, with the meaning and the letter.

Explain a holy life that is utterly perfect and pure. There are beings with little dust on their eyes who will be lost through not hearing the Dhamma. Some will under and the Dhamma. I shall go to Uruvela, to Senanigama, to teach the Dhamma (Vinaya Mahavagga 1;7-20).

There is a new phenomenon that has gained popular acceptance, the Independent Television Network, programme, ‘Dunumadalawa’ where a layman, with no known credentials in Buddhism or Buddhist Philosophy, sits at the head of a team of laymen and bhikkhus and conducting a discussion on Buddhism, Buddhist ethics etc. Sri Lanka Buddhism since its introduction to the island in the third century B. C. there is no record of a payment presideing over Buddhist discussion, wherein bhikkhus too participate. Even academics of universities too sit under the a compere who is not known to be an academic of any sort but, with only the gifts of the gab. No bhikkhu protests over this blasphemous activity.

Another area is on the Sri Lanka Broadcasting Corporation 6.25 p.m., programme, Apisema Teruva Namadimi’ the group of children recite the five precepts with no regard to the aspirated letters (mahaprana) and they pronounce ‘padam’ as ‘perdam’. In Dhamma schools too this aspirated prouncationa of ‘mahaprana’ are not taught, and except the senior monks others bhikkhus are ignoratnt of aspirated letter pronounciation. Still another phenomenon is ‘Bodhi Puja Kavis’. Here in it is best to quote the Buddha as regards this lyrical mode of workshop.

"There were two bhikkhus called Yamelu and Tekula living at savatthi, and they were brothers. They were of brahaman stock, and they had fine voices and a fine delivery. They asked the Blessed One; ‘Lord, now the bhikkhus are of various names, of various races, variously born, having gone forth from various clans. They spoil the word of the Blessed One by using their own language. Let us render the words of the Buddha into classical metre."

The Buddha the Blessed one, rebuked them, "Misguised men, how can you say. Let us render the words of the Buddha into classical metre?. This will not rouse faith in the faithless or increase faith in the faithful; rather it will keep the faithless without faith and harm some of the faithful". Having rebuked themand given a talkon the Dhamma, he addressed the bhikkhus the "Bukkhus, the word of the Buddha is not to be rendered into classical metre, Whoever does so commits and offence of wrongdoing. I allow the words of the Buddha to be learnt in one’s own language".

(Vinaya Culsvagga 5:33)

This writer being of North India nacestry (Uttar Pradesh) of Vaisysresthin clan, where the Buddhs trod feels he had an inalienable right to defend the teaching of Buddha and arrest any degeneration of its by people with dust in their eyes

(The writer is a member of the Bharathiya Kala Kendra India.)



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