|Sunday, 19 October 2003|
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This is in response to the article on the above subject which appeared in the Sunday Observer of September 21, which published about a confusion among the students at the Sri Lanka Planetarium. It was about Vedic Astrology for which the sun is a planet that goes round the earth.
It was perfectly correct with the ancients who believed that the flat earth was the centre of the universe and the sun, moon and stars were going round the earth. Under that imagination the weekly forecasts based on zodiac signs still continue in vedic astrology. The ready reckoner and the guide for that purpose is the Alamanac or the Panchanga Litha. If it is not printed annually vedic astrology will be no more.
According to scientific astrology (like astronomy) the earth is a planet that goes round the sun taking 365 1/4 days. It lakes average one month to cover each of the 12 zodiac sign spaces. For instance those born between 21st March and 20th April all belong to Aries or Mesha. The characteristics, individuality and personality all differ according to the season of the year the birth took place. In vedic astrology it is the position of planets round the earth based on imagination created by the ancients.
In that process the births belonging to all the 12 zodiac signs take place every 24 hours as the zodiac sign changes every two hours approximately. It is as seen from the earth.
The biggest joke for planetarium students will be the vedic astrology belief that the planets going round the earth stand still or reverse in their orbits occasionally, which is a serious matter or forecasts. In that process as the sun is also a planet for vedic astrology a sun rise from the west is possible.
The book "Scientific Astrology" available both in English and Sinhala clarifies all these nonsense leaving no room for any future confusion. The English copy is available for reference only at the MRI library. The printer is on phone 2716709 at Dehiwala.
This is in response to the article of S. Fred Dias in the readers forum of your edition of September 21.
The origin of astrology was in India (about 20,000 years ago). In fact its language of origin (Sanskrit) is also dead now. At that time there weren't advanced equipments to study the space Earth was the biggest object for anyone and they made it the centre and observed for many years and made calculations accordingly.
In fact, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto were not seen by them. The two moons of the Mars and the 13 moons of the Jupiter were also not seen by them and not included in their calculations. These may be the reasons the predictions of our astrology are not accurate.
Astronomy is a recent subject and it is not considered as astrology. If a student of astronomy is interested to learn astrology, he can do so in the manner it exists and later on do some research work with the help of his astronomy and correct the errors existing for the last 20,000 years and do fresh calculations with the sun as the centre including all the planets with the moon.
The free education system pioneered by Mr. C. W. W. Kannangara in 1952 with the objective of conferring equal opportunities of education on the whole nation irrespective of their social class, has been an invaluable blessing
There's no doubt that many an intellectual who holds high and responsible office in the country as well as abroad has reaped the benefits of this system in the ladder of achievements, thanks to Mr. Kannangara.
However, having received education from Kindergarten to A/L free of charge only very few students around 12,000 in comparison with those who sit for the A/L and qualify for the admission with minimum requisites, have the rare chance of being admitted to the universities annually whatever their stream may be Commerce, Arts, Science or Mathematics.
In addition to the universities there are a number of vocational and educational institutions especially constituted to bring relief to those who are unable to gain access to universities. Though these institutions together with universities alone are not able to help all those who get through the A/L, in achieving their educational aspirations, they play a prominent role in producing the skilled man power in specialised fields to a certain extent. For instance, to name a few NDT, HNDE, NDES conducted by the university of Moratuwa, Advanced Technical Institute and Technicians Training Institute etc.
Since there is an increasing demand in the present job market in the field of engineering for these diploma holders, a considerable number of students, at times even those who are selected for the universities into the fields of Physical Science, Applied Sciences etc. tend to pursue these courses completing their A/L in mathematics with relevant eligibilities.
In fact there's no argument over their right to choose what they desire according to their qualifications but the malady here is that those who are selected for the universities pursue these courses and their degrees at the same time despite restrictions enforced against it.
It is unfair and despicable to deprive another of his chance of pursuing higher education, scattering his dreams of future. As this is committed deluding the authorities concerned what we can call it is fraud. Even now there may be a number of students who are involved in this offence at universities to achieve their educational ambitions in degrading selfishness. However, as far as I am concerned there are no rules restricting these frauds.
I think the Ministry of Tertiary Education and the UGC (and other institutes concerned) should immediately work out an effective measure to probe deep into the matter so that such kind of malpractices could be prevented from recurring in future.
Over to you authorities.
Recently there has been much correspondence in the press and other media on the subject of conversion in religion.
There is no question of any fundamental rights on this issue. A clear decision was given by the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka taking into consideration the rights of the constitution of this country, a purely Buddhist country infiltrated by foreign clergy belonging to the Portuguese, Dutch and the British who were sent here to convert the locals and propagate an alien religion. Those who have been converted and certain unscrupulous NGOs with overflowing dollars try to convert the poor and innocent people on the pretext of helping them financially and giving education.
They may help the poor - this is a meritorious act of any religion but conversion is degratory to human dignity. Certainly, help the poor and derive merit there from but doing so with ulterior motives is unethical. Buddhists too help the poor but with no strings attached. They extend a helping hand out of sympathy, compassion and loving kindness.
The Buddha never forced anyone to become a Buddhist. Even to those who voluntarily embraced His faith like Upali of the Nigantha Natha Putta clan He requested Upali to reconsider his decision. The Kalama Sutta expresses the true nature of Buddhism - the law of free inquiry. This is a free world and no one can force another.
The Crusaders waged Holy wars in the name of Christ. Buddhists never shed a drop of blood to safeguard their philosophy. On the contrary they showed compassion on humanity. Christians must allow the people to live the life of their choice.
Modern science has proved beyond doubt the validity of the teaching of the Buddha. Buddhists do not believe in a Creator God. If there was one then He should have commanded them to follow Him.
Buddhism has no commands. It is not for us to debate on this issue. The Panadura debate was sufficient. What we must all do is to think rightly and act rightly and help the future generation to lead a righteous life without hatred and delusion. Let us not infringe on the rights of any individuals, by command or otherwise. Let us move in that direction for the welfare of mankind.
Ven. Kirama Wimalajothi,
The newly elected BCCSL have already approved plans for the infrastructure development of cricket in Sri Lanka. Millions of rupees to be allocated from the budget drawn by the National Development Center, has received the green light by the Executive Committee of the BCCSL.
The main proposed projects include installation of indoor nets, constructing concrete pitches with astro turf covers, etc. They also propose to give facelifts to many grounds for renovation. A vital area not emphasised in the proposed development program is all important facelifts and improvements of basic facilities needed for the score boxes. Scorers and umpires have been totally overlooked and neglected. This is in relation to the enormous contributions they are planing for infrastructure development of cricket.
For the tremendous effort, enthusiasm and stress, the scorers go through, the facilities provided have deteriorated and needs to be looked into as priority. During the past year or so I have reported on school, clubs and international cricket matches for a leading Sunday English newspaper.
I had the unique privilege of visiting all these score boxes and meeting the scorers personally. I proudly emphasise that I have visited every score box in schools and clubs in the Western province from Moratuwa to Kotahena covering those at international venues as well. They have had obviously no facelift or improvements for decades or for that matter from their inception.
The conditions within all score boxes are in an appalling state. They are all dusty, rusty and warm. There is hardly any room to move and no room for a reporter to even stand, and obtain details. In majority of cases the numbers on the score board are not visible and are very illegible, and need to be replaced. In most cases the boxes are very compact and cramped up with hardly any room to keep chairs to sit on. The scorers are having a horrible and uncomfortable time amidst congestion and warm conditions within the compact score boxes. To see them suffering is a great pity indeed.
The score board operators undergo a torrid time under very humid conditions, who thrive for meagre fee. They are usually seen, bare bodied to combat and to feel more comfortable to curb the intense heat. They contribute so much energy for a poor reward.
For them as well as for the enthusiastic scorers it is an extremely tedious and a hectic exercise. Light and ventilation within the boxes have to be improved to provide a better working environment for the scorers and the score board operators. The access to them is another factor to be spoken about. Most reporters are unable to reach the scorers, as there is no steady, proper, safe access stairway.
I am wondering why the related authorities of these venues cannot make improvements to the appalling state of these score boxes and to give the enthusiastic scorers some kind of comfort. Pipe borne water, toilets, ceiling fans are non-existent at even international venues. I feel pity for these official scorers of clubs and schools who toil hard to concentrate at matches for just a meagre remuneration. They are not provided even with water to quench their thirst. Most of them who are very familiar with me have confessed that they are engaged in this exercise purely for the love of the game. In short they are and the umpires are a sorry neglected lot.
The umpires although are served with water, drinks, to refresh themselves while the game is on at regular intervals are not provided with adequate facilities within the pavilions at most venues. A facelift of their facilities is also a vital area to be looked into.
They should have a comfortable room for changing, resting etc.
My hope is that this message will give serious thought for the administrators of cricket at all levels so that the exercise of development of infrastructure of cricket would prove to be a successful venture, once these defects too are remedied and rectified. Of course the improvements to be made in respect of the above, is not going to cost a colossal amount of funds. This matter to the BCCSL is not a challenge, but a simple exercise of minute proportions.
This is in response to the above article which appeared in the Sunday Observer recently. Mr. Hilary Fernando says that the Buddha had told the world to test and see other doctrines and if they are found to be better to follow them. This is a clear distortion of facts.
The Buddha would have never said that, since He knew that there was no better doctrine than the Buddhist doctrine. What He actually said was not to accept merely because Buddha had said so, But to try it out and if satisfied to accept it.
The Buddha was the greatest democrat. He was not a commander or a dictator. People with wisdom could accept his teachings and the others who live are not independent could go elsewhere. It is certainly not a take it or leave it policy. God is supposed to be all powerful. Then he need not command. He could make all human beings accept his doctrine without exception. The example given of a doctor and a cancer patient is out of context.
There is no harm in converting or being converted provided that conversion is by conviction. But what is happening is that victims are meticulously hand picked from destitutes and people in dire financial difficulties, and offered financial and material benefits purportedly from God and these unfortunate victims accept them in order to get out of their difficulties.
Wealthy people are not targeted for this purpose.
I know of a family here who were in great financial difficulties. They embraced Christianity and even buried the Buddha statue that was at home. After sometime their house was full of people who visited for prayer meetings, get-togethers etc. This however did not last long. The chief of the family lost his job. They are now in a worse financial mess. They close the house at dawn and return late in the evening to avoid debt collectors.
Is this the penalty for spreading the so-called message of God. One Mr. Tiddy Sena Pathiratne says that a Christian knows that all have sinned and are condemned to eternal hell.
When and by whom? Perhaps in a previous birth and by God. He also says that they will be forgiven by God. Then of course there is nothing to worry.
However, in contrast the Buddha preached reality and not fiction.
P. N. de Silva,
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