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Saturday, January 29, 2005

The children of the soul struggle

My policy. While I'm originally from SL I don't live there anymore, I have spent more than 50% of my life Down Under and am a citizen. As I don't live in SL I will not, directly or indirectly, interfere in the political affairs of the country. However, I'm a diaspora child and as such reserve the right to make comments on my observations about SL.
Opinions and view expressed here are purely mine.

Looking around the news I came across this observation about organised Buddhism in SL.

The JVP and the Buddhist monks are also two of the most powerful opponents to the peace talks and the devolution of authority to the Tamils. One Colombo-based diplomat estimates that while only about 20 percent of Sri Lankan monks supported the JVP in the early 1990s, nearly 75 percent do today.
"There is a competition between the older, orthodox Buddhists on the right, and the left-leaning monks - for the national soul," says a former government cabinet minister in Colombo.
In this struggle for the "soul" these monks, together with the JVP ( a bunch of narrow minded commie/fascist nationalists ), seem to be involved in anything but Buddhism (JVP and Religion another paradox violated). How do these actions lead to detachment and following of Buddhist principles?. May be the Tsunami has also given an opportunity for the temples to again discover their place in society through social work.

I'm guessing that a lot of the 75% were ordained as child monks. My question here is about children being given away to temples (aka child ordination). Surely most of these 75% were away from theirs parents in their formative years. Yes young monks can always visit their parents but that's not the point. The damage done to young minds when there is no parental love, security and influence is well known, studied and documented. This is why we have the Rights of the Child.

This "article" [slow link] ( in the Government run newspaper ) aims to defend this practice...

I would like to quote a few statistics, which reveal a very grim picture of the ills which poverty breeds in our country. The following figures are not certified but have been roughly estimated by Child Rights groups and
organisations working in this field. It is said one hundred thousand children are employed as domestic labour. Thirty to fifty thousand comprise sexually abused children and of these five thousand are acknowledged to being sold into sexual activity. 51% of Colombo's population live in shanty towns which are cess pools of vice - drug addiction, alcoholism, child abuse and prostitution. Compared to this sordid scenario, a Buddhist monastery must seem like a haven.

Rather than trying to defend this as the best of the alternatives open to children in poverty, shouldn't the press be focussing on the real problem of poverty eradication. Are direct questions about "poverty" being avoided in the SL media ? and thus will the government be held accountable in the court of public opinion?. Damn!!!

In the meanwhile there will be thieves of the soul wearing saffron cloth ( no!, they are not monks ) intent on making more Sri Lankan mothers suffer by leading their children to histories unmarked graves fighting for that human need of cultures.


  • At 1:57 am AEST, Blogger Chandare said…

    Great post !
    I had the same question about the practice.Isn't it little bit hypocritcal for Sinhalese-buddhist shouts against child conscription by LTTE when this is going on?I know they are not sent to war with AK-47s but shouldn't maha sangha do a soul searching on this particular subject.Shouldn't there be more debate?

  • At 12:32 pm AEST, Blogger ivap said…

    Like every other organized religion it has too much vested interest and without public pressure I don't think it'll change soon. Just have look at the proposed anti-conversion legislation to see how much clout they have.

    Without a more secular outlook in the country it'll be a while coming. However getting involved in right-wing politics may cause more people to question the words of so-called priests.

  • At 9:08 pm AEST, Anonymous Cleo said…

    How right you are IVAP & Chandare. It is about time everyone take a good hard look at what is going on in their backyard.


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