Friday, June 13, 2008

Excerpts from the Ceylon Rationalist Ambassador

Dug up an old copy (one of three that we have) and I thought I would share some of the material with others who may be interested. These are taken from the column by Abraham Kovoor, President of the Society, entitled 'Think It Over', free comments with malice to none.

SLAUGHTER ON POYA DAYS

"Several Buddhist Associations have asked the Colombo Municipal Council to ban the slaughter of poultry in municipal markets and licensed poultry stalls in the City on Poya days. These associations have said that though the council banned the slaughter of cattle, goats and pigs in the city on Poya days, the purpose of ahimsa was negated by the slaughter of thousands of fowls" (Times of Ceylon 26.10.1966)

We fail to understand how the intensity of the sin of ahimsa varies according to the visibility on earth of the sun-lit area of an insignificant satellite like (sic) moon in this vast universe. Does slaughter of animals become a sin only on a Poya day?

While fanatics in India want to save the lives of cows only, their counterparts here seem bent on saving all lives except that of man!

We strongly urge the associations to press for banning the destruction of all kinds of lives on all days so ours may the one and only country in the world ahimsa is practised in its perfection. Nobody should be allowed kill and eat living animals and plants. Ban the use of insecticides, antibiotics and sterilizers. Stop chlorinating pipe-borne water, sterilizing surgical instruments, pasteurising milk. Feed the carnivores at the Dehiwala Zoo with straw. Let Ceylonese eat only carcases of naturally dead animals and plants.

BIRTH CONTROL AND THE SANGHA

"The proposal of the Minister of Health to introduce birth control in Ceylon, if implemented would wipe out the Sangha because only large families offered a child or two for ordination". So said Ven. Pundit Heele Sumanajothi Thero at a meeting of a Nawalapitiya Trinikaya. (Times of Ceylon)

If the Sangha is to be built up with unwanted children of the country it is better that we had a lesser number or none of them!

GENTLE MEEK AND MILD

"We invite the earnest attention of our fellow men to all that is said and done, to reiterate and expound the meaning and message of Christmas.

It is our wish that Christmas goodwill and peace may abide permanently in our hearts and our homes and reflect in our social and national life" (Rev. Dr W.G. Wickramasinghe in the Daily Mirror)

During Christmas time year after year we hear a good deal from Christian priests about the Prince of peace, meek and mild, bringing goodwill and peace among men.

But let us hear from Christ himself about his mission.

"Think not that I came to send peace on earth. I came not to send peace, but a sword." (Jesus Christ in St Matthew X-34)

"He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment, and buy one" (Jesus Christ in St Luke XXII-36)

"I came to set a man at variance against his father, a daughter against her mother and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law". (Jesus Christ in St Matthew X-35)

"If any man cometh unto me, and hateth not his father and mother and wife and children and brotheren and sisters he cannot be my disciple" (Jesus Christ in St Luke XIV - 26)

STATE AND RELIGION

"Unless a new department is formed to administer the affairs of religion, the election pledge of the Government to give Buddhism the rightful place it enjoyed during the times of the ancient Sinhala kings would be a mere farce", said Ven. Meetiyagoda Gunaratna Thera, addressing the Prize distribution ceremony of Sri Sugatha Dharmodaya School in Ravatawatte, Moratuwa (Ceylon Daily News 16-6-1966).

The reasons given in certain quarters of for the Government spending tax-payers money for promoting Buddhism alone is that during the time of the Sinhala kings Buddhism received royal patronage, and during the time of the foreign rule that religion lost its privileged position because the new rulers patronised their own brand of religions. Now that the country has attained independence, it is the duty of the present Government to give back to Buddhism the patronage it once enjoyed under the ancient kings.

It is the people of the country who attained independence in 1947 (sic), and not the Buddhists alone. After getting democratic freedom in the twentieth century are we to go back to the monarchy of the medieval period? In a monarchy everything in the country including the lives of the people belong to the king The king could do no wrong. He could patronise anything he liked, and his subjects had no right to question him. Today we are not subjects of a despotic monarch. we are the citizens of a free country possessing the right even to question our governors.

Kings of old patronised not only their religion but also astrologers, soothsayers, concubines and even prostitutes. Perhaps it is because our ancient kings patronised royal astrologers that we have this 20th century created a chair for astrology at one of our universities. Like the royal astrologers of old, the present professor of astrology at Vidyalankara University may be appointed Government Astrologer to advise the Government on his predictions from time to time!

Buddhists are not the only people living in Ceylon and paying tax to the Government. The present demand for religious universities by Hindus and Muslims stems from democratic ideas. If Buddhism is to get state aid, they too have a right to claim their share.

Surely this country needs more academic and technical institutions. Jaffna deserves a university there. But should it be a Tamil or Hindu university? Mr Sivasubramaniam wants Hindu priests to be trained at public cost. For Hindus their priests are born as a separate caste, whereas other religions have their priests ordained. According to the Hindu religion it is sinful for a non-Brahmin to officiate as a priest. If Brahmins, monks and moulawis are to be given separate universities, surely there will be similar demands for Christian priests of diverse denominations.

7 comments:

Sam said...

good stuff

Java Jones said...

Right on!

kalysudda said...

get the bloody priest off the government. If they want to rule then take out the robes. Man I hate / laugh when people think they need an agent to reach God or become a bodhisattva. I guess it is a good job to become a priest, any, anywhere.

sachithvida said...

"The Republic of Sri Lanka shall give to Buddhism the foremost place..." that's what our constitution says, I don't see us attaining a peaceful state as long as we have stupid articles as such. As you stated, the independence belongs to all and not to just one religion...

Good Article Jack..

Nikhil said...

Hi,

The article is quite right in the sense that complete ahimsa or non-killing of sentient beings is a hopelessly impossible ideal. Alan Watts called the creatures of this earth a mutual eating society. We simply have to take life or at least dismember it if we are to eat.

However ahimsa or non-killing doea not therefore become a useless ideal. Practicing ahimsa would mean taking the absolute minimum of life or causing the least amount of harm to sentient beings for food or for other purposes. This would I think be practicing ahimsa. It is an impossible ideal but do what you can. that would be practicing spirituality.

regards

Nikhil
http://www.eastern-philosophy-and-meditation.com/buddhism-beliefs.html

Jack Point said...

Hi Nikhil,

thanks for dropping by, I quite agree with your sentiments.

The article in question was probably written tongue-in-cheek, mainly with the intention of pointing out the absurdity of the Government's position on religion as opposed to a ctritique on the practise of ahimsa per se.

human said...

Interesting stuff! And good points! The Jesus stuff is a bit shocking. I never heard anything like that before. Good work!