COLOMBO: Violent extremists are trying to distort Buddhism, a religion which had given to Sri Lanka the philosophy of peace, non-violence and inclusive development, said Lankan Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe in his message on the eve of Poson Poya on Monday.
Poson Poya'marks the introduction of Buddhism to the island nation by Indian Emperor Ashoka’s son, Prince Mahinda, in 250 BC.
“No invasion has taken place in history to propagate Buddhism. Buddhism has a unique place among religions and philosophies because it creates a conducive environment for co-existence by respecting other religions and cultures. However, in today’s world, this noble teaching based on compassion and non-violence, has been challenged by extremist, short-sighted and violent acts. This is regretful,” Wickremesinghe said.
“It is our responsibility to change this situation. Let us enrich our lives spiritually, not materially, and co-exist, respecting other religions and cultures,” he said.
Reasons For Concern
The Prime Minister’s concern stems from the fact that Buddhism has become a tool in the hands of Lankan politicians to whip up national jingoism and anti-minority communal sentiments for narrow political gain. A universalistic religion has been made to serve partisan ends with every political party having monks in its ranks to help score points in competitive communal politics.
Buddhist communalism and its offshoot, Tamil radical sub-nationalism, tore Lanka apart through war and terrorism over a 30 year period.