Bodu Bala Sena
Bodu Bala Sena is a non-political Buddhist social, cultural and animal-welfare organization in Sri Lanka (formerly Ceylon). Bodu Bala Sena promotes Buddhist philosophy and well-being, as well as Sinhala culture and heritage. In recent years it has attracted attention for its opposition to the aggressive tactics of jihadists operating within Sri Lanka, who, like all jihadists, are particularly hostile to Buddhism.
Of course there are many forms of jihad, in addition to the all too familiar bombings and beheadings that get most publicity.
Jihad can also take the less obvious forms of Creeping Sharia, stealth jihad, infiltration, cultural sabotage, subversion and social disruption. It is primarily this Stealth Jihad that is undermining Buddhism in Sri Lanka, as Shenali Waduge explains:
Why Sri Lanka fears it would be called a Once Buddhist nation
"Given the present trends we foresee a future date where Sri Lanka will be termed a once Buddhist nation as Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia and probably Thailand and Burma in time to come will face. Yet, many Buddhists in Sri Lanka are not prepared to be passive observers and watch in silence their religion and culture fade away into the sunset without any resistance on their part. Assurances has not qualified to allay our fears given the dramatic changes we see happening round the world.
Sri Lankas Buddhist status never discriminated against any religion at any point in time as seen by the freedom Hindus, Christians and Muslims enjoy freely. It is the Buddhists who are forced to always compromise and sacrifice their vital interests to appease the unrelenting demands of unreasonable ethnic and religious minorities.
It is sad to watch the historic status of Buddhism enshrined in Article 9 of the Constitution been reduced to the status of a white elephant and used only for ceremonial purposes. Buddhist tolerance has been treated as a weakness and exploited to advance the political agenda of other religious faiths.
False notions of Buddhist racism
In desperation when Buddhists vocalize their justifiable fears they are called racist, communal, extremist and in some cases militant just because they demand to know why Muslims were encroaching on Buddhist temple lands, why they were bribing officials to take sacred land areas, why historically non-existent mosques are emerging in areas that are sacred to the Buddhists and why loudspeakers from mosques were targeting largely non-Muslim residents? Buddhists are also asking why politicians are giving one minority community to dictate how other communities should purchase their food as well as why it is violating Article 9 of the Constitution that says it is only Buddhism that has to be fostered and other religions only to be protected which questions why a Government should build non-Buddhist places of worship?.
Is there any Christian or Muslim country in the world where the State has contributed to building a Buddhist Place of worship I look forward to Mr. Karims response!
Principle of Halal Certificate objected
People forget that it was the principle of the halal that was being questioned. Why did the politicians not take note of how a private institute not permitted according to its statute of incorporation to issue certificates, were charging a fee to issue halal certificates on all food items that are purchased by the population of Sri Lanka. The principle behind this was that if Muslims ate food without halal labels all this time why was there a need for a halal label now, if export-import took place all this time why is there a sudden insistence for halal labels? The argument also revolves around the fact that this institute does not even have a state-of-the-art lab to test the thousands of food for halal compliance whereas beverages like Coke/Pepsi with 0.001% alcohol remains one of the most fast moving soft drinks consumed by Muslims.
Moreover, the Koran does not say of a halal certificate to be demanding that as a religious right since like loudspeakers it is only a recent addition to the faith. In view of the how food was consumed and the recent demands it appears to be a commercial leverage based on a religion aimed to make a political statement to the rest of the world we are Muslim/Islam and every non-Muslim must comply with what suits our religion! The same applies to the dress as seen in all areas where Muslims numerical numbers show a majority and whatever Mr. Karim says the examples prove otherwise. Again we are told to be tolerant as Buddhists should be and virtually look the other side...
...Buddhist fears are confirmed
Whatever Mr. Karim says the recent article by Mr. M B M Zubair Retired Registrar High Court Kandy has let the cat out of the bag. When he says the fact that Islam is spreading fast all over the world must be admitted by everyone. It is a prophecy of the Holy Prophet (PBUH) that Islam will spread, he has spelled out what is in store for Sri Lanka as well and which is what our fears are all about.
Do we as an older Buddhist culture not have the right to be alarmed and to address these factors?
No matter what reasons are given by Mr. Karim or others it cannot change the fact that Maldives was once a Buddhist nation. The Dhanbidhu Lomafanu copperplates in Maldives dating to 1193AD relate how Buddhist monuments were destroyed and Buddhist monks were beheaded and mosques were built on top of the destroyed Buddhist temples and monasteries.
Destruction of ancient history and idols is part of what Islams iconoclasm is all about and we know how through all conquests Islamic rulers destroyed churches, kovils and Buddhist temples and recent events have not shown that Muslims have changed their behaviors. Is that not good enough reasons for our fears, Mr. Karim?
Effects of Islams Iconoclasm
Bamiyan Buddha was not destroyed by a lunatic fringe as Mr. Karim claims. Many attempts had been made to destroy the Buddha statue because idol worship is against Islam. From the time of Aurangzeb in the 17th century till finally in 2001 attempts had been made to destroy the face of the Buddha. Mullah Moh. Omar stated Muslims should be proud of smashing idols. It has given praise to God that we have destroyed them while the Afghan Foreign Minister stated that We are destroying the statues in accordance with Islamic law and it is purely a religious issue.
If destroying statues is part of being Islam as seen by the recent attacks on Buddhist statues in Bangladesh and Maldives where steps are afoot to remove every piece of evidence that ties their countrys history to Buddhism, we can but wonder whether if after the insistence of halal, mosques and other such Muslim demands whether Sri Lanka will also be targeted for the removal of its historical Buddha statues and history one day?
Apologies after attacks will never bring back history that is being calculatedly destroyed and no one has a right to remove history from being preserved. How can peaceful co-existence be argued when what is dear and precious to another community with a history that dates far beyond its own is targeted to be destroyed? Given the historical and contemporary status quo of things, Mr. Karim cannot accuse Buddhists of being unnecessarily alarmed.
Thus, we are conveying fears that are likely to take place many years from now if the Buddhist people keep dormant and behave like ostriches simply because the world demands that they be tolerant while for Muslims being tolerant appears to imply that the older culture must keep silent about halal labels, halal certificates, proliferation of mosques, incursions on sacred land areas, encroachment of temple lands, destruction of sacred sites and undermining of Lankas historic legacy of an animal friendly cultural heritage all leading to a possible soft usurping of Sri Lankas Buddhist civilization.
What Mr. Karim and others must realize is that we see a stark difference in the attitude, behaviors and practices of the Muslims and these very practices taking place in other parts of the world have led to far serious issues which we do not want to see replicated in Sri Lanka. The wakeup call is realistically for the entire population especially the policy makers and those that govern the country and questions them about why they have not been alert to these changes that correspond with similar issues abroad.
The basic issue is that we are feeling exactly what Western society is now feeling when numerically the numbers of Muslims increase and the older cultures in these countries are asking the same questions that the Buddhists of Sri Lanka are asking. Like the West we are being subject to demands that politicians have fallen prey because they have failed to endorse the rightful place of Buddhism in Sri Lanka. Had this clearly been articulated people would not intrude as they now do. So we know the fault lines.
In countries where Muslims have significant numbers they are demanding for Sharia Islamic laws based on the Quran and Hadith these laws related to women, dress and non-Muslims are what we feel do not conform to the type of governance that the Sinhala Buddhist kings had passed down over centuries and nothing of which Tamils or Muslims felt discriminated against. It is the parliamentary statutes that followed after colonial rule that have led to a series of breaches because of the policy of divide and rule.
The facts are very clear and it is opportune for people to take note.
Sri Lanka is a Buddhist nation it has a proud history that covers 2600 years.
Buddhist rule in ancient times
The Sinhala Buddhist kings that ruled Sri Lanka on the basis of the Laws of Manu and customary Buddhist laws which upheld the Buddhist precepts that all living beings are to be protected with reverence for life was promoted being the basis of advice given by Arahat Mahinda Thero to King Dewanampiyatiss.
The governing rules of law were clearly articulated, boundaries defined and drawn so that the people knew how to respect and live in peaceful co-existence. The place of Buddhism in the countrys landscape was inviolable and that place was also guaranteed in the Kandyan Convention of 1815 the religion of the Buddha professed by the chief and inhabitants of these provinces is declared inviolable and its rites, ministers (monks), and places of worship are to be maintained and protected.
Sri Lanka is the birthright of the Sinhala Buddhists it is their heritage and their place of refuge.
Mr. Karims claims that Muslims want to live in peaceful co-existence is not seen in the manner the Muslim Congress issued the Oluvil Declaration seeking autonomy, or in the manner Muslims insist on halal labels, or that Muslims view tolerance as a one-way street because when people oppose loudspeakers that even the Supreme Court has issued an interim order that the noise must be directed inward and not outward and the Government has even dedicated a separate channel to listen to Azan, that is a flagrant violation of a fundamental right of every citizen i.e. the Right to Silence? This is by any definition indecent conduct. Respect for the neighbours rights is the hall mark of decency. Use of loudspeakers constitute an abuse of freedom of religion and trespass of the rights of neighbours.
We are bringing these issues to the forefront because we view the Oluvil Declaration similar to the Vaddukoddai Resolution and we are also well aware that our politicians are late reactionaries and by that time the damage has been done and we have already attracted unwanted elements that lead the situation to far worse corners.
In his last reply Mr. Karim states that Sri Lanka was taken to the world by the Muslims. It is a canard and can easily be nullified because Sri Lanka was having links to all corners of the world encompassing trade, diplomatic deals and spread of Buddhism far before the Prophet was even born and the writings of Prof. Sirima Kiribamuna, Prof. Tikiri Abeysinghe, Prof. Wimala Wijesuriya will prove so. Moreover, the architectural, man-made irrigational marvels of Anuradhapura that no other civilization has matched were built long before Islam even originated...
...What we see happening in the world and the subtle incursions take in place in Sri Lanka makes us compare, analyze and evaluate nations and we see frightening comparisons non-Muslims in Muslim nations are fast declining (look at the Christian statistics in the Middle East, Iraq, Syria, Bangladesh and in Maldives all the Buddhists were converted to Islam around 1153AD, their places of worship are falling to ruin because Muslim laws dictate no new construction and non-Muslim statues are destroyed because it runs against Muslim belief to worship any God other than Allah. Mr. Karim and Mr. Zubair if they continue to insist there is equality can in their next reply give names of Churches, Synagogues, Kovils and Buddhist temples built in Muslim majority nations in the lasts 100 years! The kovil Mr. Karim mentioned no longer exists as it was razed to the ground in 2005.
Buddhism does not define non-Buddhists, nor define how to treat non-Buddhists yet we are defined as Infidels and further divided as Zimmis (Christians and Jews) and Kafirs (Buddhists, Hindus, Jains) and Kafirs are the worst of the two.
We have arrived at a critical juncture in our history. To be able to live in peace it is important to realize that there is and has been an older culture in existence over the past 2600 years. It is not healthy for newer cultures to be demanding how the older culture should function or dictate or define how the older culture must conduct itself.
The new incursions of halal certificates/labels, usage of loudspeakers inspite of Azan being relayed over the radio, animal sacrifice which many regard as brutal, alarming increase of mosques which even Muslims do not agree to and the encroachment of sacred lands and areas need to be reviewed and those that want to live in peaceful co-existence must realize that it is these incursions that have upset the older culture and has awoken the Buddhists into realizing that the other nations who have faced these obstacles have at extreme levels ended up becoming totally Islamized Maldives is an example that continues to keep the Buddhists awake....
... Buddhist ethos stresses the need to establish a compassionate society where both man and animal exist side by side in peaceful co existence. In such a society violence is eschewed and non violence and Ahimsa is promoted towards all living beings. Ideally this should be the moral aim of Sri Lanka. It is a perfect way for all the people in Sri Lanka to move forward. The Buddhist moral community embraces all living beings. This is the message of the Buddha. Our forefathers embraced it. We are morally bound to follow this noble tradition. All that we now ask is for people to reflect and conclude that this path is the best path to follow which ensures lasting peace and peaceful co-existence." Full Article
Although the Jihad against Buddhism is Global, Bodu Bala Sena seems to be solely concerned with opposing the aggression within Sri Lanka, and does not appear to have any international counterjihad dimension. It does not seem to have any presence in Thailand or Burma, which are neighboring Buddhist nations that are also under attack. This limitation is probably only to be expected, given Bodu Bala Sena's origins as a Sinhalese social and cultural organization, that has only recently and reluctantly woken up to the need to oppose jihadist expansionism and supremacism.