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Tamil Poem in Purananuru, circa 500 B.C 

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Home > Tamil National ForumSelected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha > Quacks in Yellow Garb

Selected Writings by Sachi Sri Kantha

Quacks in Yellow Garb

2 August 2000

[see also Sinhala Buddhist Fundamentalism]

It was reported last week that the late Mr.Dharmasiri Senanayake, Minister of Tourism and Aviation in Chandrika Kumaratunga's Cabinet was scheduled to lead a delegation to "China as a special envoy to thank Beijing for its assistance during Sri Lanka's recent military crisis" (The Hindu, 25 July 2000).

As everyone knows, China is technically a communist country, which has trampled on the human rights of Tibetans, who are practising buddhists, for the past five decades. On 17 November, 1950, nearly 80,000 Chinese troops invaded Tibet, and made it an occupied territory. The 1959 uprising by Tibetans calling for China's withdrawal from Tibet and reaffirming Tibetan independence was crushed by the Chinese army, and as a consequence, Dalai Lama (born 6 July 1935) was given political asylum in India by Jawaharlal Nehru. Since 1960, he has made Dharamsala as his residence in exile.

Majority of Sri Lankans are practising Buddhists, and one would expect their sentiments to be in tune with the oppressed Tibetans. But, as the old saying proves, 'Politics make strange bed-fellows'. If there is one country in the world where the preaching of Lord Buddha is practised in the breach by the tom-tom beaters of Buddhism, undoubtedly one can point one's finger to post-independent Sri Lanka. Where else will one find that, a notable practising Buddhist priest who is an internationally recognized figure and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is not welcome to land? He has been tagged as a persona non-grata in Sri Lanka for the past 40 years!

In his 1990 autobiography entitled 'Freedom in Exile', Dalai Lama has exposed Madam Sirimavo Bandaranaike's posture as a Buddhist leader. He has stated that to kow-tow with the practitioners of atheism in China, Sirimavo's regime of 1960s had prevented providing a visa for him to visit the locations of Buddhist pilgrimage in Ceylon.

One can excuse Sirimavo or her daughter Chandrika (whose pomposity as a guardian of Buddhism is long on rhetorics) for their pettiness in not granting a visa for Dalai Lama to Sri Lanka. Being cheap politicians, they have to play to the gallery.

But, where is the sense of outrage from the guardians of Buddhism in Sri Lanka who parade the streets in yellow garb, for one belonging to their assembly? That a Buddhist priest of international stature such as Dalai Lama does not receive vocal support for his struggle for Tibetan freedom from Chinese oppression, tells much about the rotten status of organized Sri Lankan Buddhism, led by the quacks in the yellow garb.

For his critically acclaimed 1992 work on the current status of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, eminent Tamil academic Prof. Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah chose the title, Buddhism Betrayed. It is more in line with academic traditions. I would have opted for more revealing title, Quacks in the Yellow Garb. I'm sure that these Sri Lankan quacks in the yellow garb would not have bothered to study what Dalai Lama said in his 1989 Nobel Peace Prize acceptance address. Some snippets are worth reminiscing.

"Peace, in the sense of the absence of war, is of little value to someone who is dying of hunger or cold....Peace can only last where human rights are respected, where the people are fed, and where individuals and nations are free. True peace with ourselves and with the world around us can only be achieved through the development of mental peace."

Dalai Lama also noted,

"Responsibility does not only lie with the leaders of our countries or with those who have been appointed or elected to do a particular job. It lies with each of us individually. Peace, for example, starts within each one of us. When we have inner peace, we can be at peace with those around us. When our community is in a state of peace, it can share that peace with neighboring communities, and so on. When we feel love and kindness towards others, it not only makes others feel loved and cared for, but it helps us also to develop inner happiness and peace..."

Simple, but profound sentiments. But for quacks in the yellow garb in Sri Lanka, these sentiments will never touch their minds.


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