A Catholic's thoughts on Poson:
The impact of Buddha's words
About 2380 years back a valiant king of our beloved motherland was on
a happy hunting spree close to the summit of Mihintale rock. "Tissa
Tissa" said a voice. King Devanampiya Tissa was puzzled. May be he was
angry at being called by his given name.
Those hallowed words were to be the auspicious spring of a new era,
which would engulf Lanka with the Teachings of one of the noblest and
Enlightened who walked this earth.
A gracious and repentant king abandons his deer killing pastime,
throws his bow and arrow and becomes the first Lankan to embrace the
teachings of Gauthama Buddha, made known to him by Mahinda, the son of
one of the noblest kings who had ruled on this earth. King Asoka was an
invincible monarch and conqueror, who practically took over most parts
of Bharath and Mongolia. This was about 200 years after the Buddha
After the famous battle of Kalinga, King Asoka upon seeing the
massacred human beings, threw his weapons of death down and sought the
words of the Enlightened one. H.G. Wells, in his epic 'Outlines of world
history' calls him the greatest monarch of the world who walked this
earth preaching and living through example the Teachings of his Master.
He led others into the beautiful path of tolerance. His immortal edicts
have been enshrined in the Ashok Chakra in the hallowed Indian National
flag. It was this sagacious King who sent his beloved son Mahinda on
that memorable Poson Full Moon day to our land. History was made that
day. This everlasting happening took place 236 years after the passing
away of the Buddha and about 300 years before another revered Teacher
preached his words on Love, forgiveness, humility and the wages of greed
and peace. He was Jesus Christ.
May I as a follower of Jesus Christ, in a little gem of an island
where more than 70% are Buddhists, share my thoughts as a Christian, on
this lovely day on the impact the words of Gauthama Buddha have had in
The Buddha walked on this earth for eighty years and preached for
about forty years. He visited our blessed land three times. He left his
footprint on the summit of a mountain. Thousands of simple devout
followers of Gauthama Buddha visit this hollowed shrine between the full
moon Poyas of Duruthu and Vesak. I was privileged to trek up to the
summit, pay my respects to the Holy Footprint, ring the bell once and
see the awe-inspiring 'ira sevaya' or sun rise. There were six happy
Catholics in the 'naday'. All of us simulated the walk of our Jesus
Christ up to the summit of Mount Calvary. When we reached the summit we
felt that both our celestial Teachers were there to welcome us.
The Buddha spoke on the five noble precepts that are for all time. He
said that man was his own decider of his destiny. He has to paddle his
own canoe to the final destination, which could be determined only by
his actions. Yes! He said "Do not do to others what you do not wish to
be done to yourself". Years later, Jesus said "He that is without sin
let him cast the first stone", when a woman in sin was brought before
Him by the hypocritical Jewish elite.
The Buddha-said "Thanahathi Jayathi Shoka" - sorrow is always behind
greed. How true. This beautiful saying has also been mentioned by Jesus
Christ when he said "It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of
a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of Heaven". We have
seen how prophetic and thought provoking words these sayings are when we
go down memory lane.
I believe in the existence God. He gave us a conscience, a free will
to know right and wrong. He gave us celestial teachers to guide us
towards Nirvana. Once, a very high ranking church dignitary said.
(quote) "You know son, it is the fragrance of the Buddha's teachings
that has made this country to be resplendent as a tolerant,
compassionate Nation with smiling citizens."
Even our foreign friends be they tourists or directors of many a
multinational companies, foreign banking magnates and even diplomats
have spoken about this our beloved Isle. We have been exposed to the
sublime teachings of the Buddha that has made this land a veritable
Garden of Eden.
I am not competent to delve into the essence of the Buddha's
teachings but we know that Jesus and He strived very much in their own
way to heal the world. In our own little land, the Buddha's teachings,
his precepts have made many a mortal to think and meditate.
A Japanese delegation comprising academicians from twelve facilities
was on a three month study tour to Sri Lanka. They had been stopped at
Avissawella on the night of Vesak and much to their surprise served with
lots of sweetmeats, soft drinks and coffee. Payments? No they had said
this was in commemoration of the Birth, Enlightenment and Passing away
of the Buddha.
The visitors had been tears. They said "Has there been any monarchs
in the world where they have bequeathed to their citizens water in the
form of large water bodies for them to irrigate, bathe and drink. The
water tanks set near Buddhist temples blend with nature. Where has a
king decreed that all his subjects who pass the tomb of his
opponent-slain in battle-should alight from their horses or chariots as
a gesture of honour". They had all, stood bowed their heads and said "No
where" "Nowhere" they had all shouted. "Only in your country."
"This group had been told about the sad event that happened at
Kalawewa". When this team visited the site, they had removed their
headgear. They had taken water from Kalawewa. This water is more
precious than the exquisite gems of your land. We will come for the star
rubies and blue sapphires next time. Your kings have given you living
civilisation - water. They did all this because they wanted to follow
the teachings of the Buddha". Then they had said."The Buddha has a soft
corner for your people and your country"
What beautiful words from those of another country. Where else in the
world are Christmas nativity cribs placed at junctions illuminated by a
power source from a Buddhist home. At times from a Buddhist temple
Here we see ice-cream and refreshments served by Buddhists, during
church festivals. Ours is a country where Catholic youth join hands with
their Buddhist counterparts in organising 'dansalas' during Vesak and
Poson. 'Bhakthi Gee' is sung by the youth.
The chariot starts from the church premises. Can one name any country
where petite Biriyani packets are presented to those walking in a church
precession? Even the blessed Prophet Mohammed must be in smiles in
seeing the actions of His believers living in this country.