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Sunday, 19 May 2013





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Buddha's universal peace message to mankind

The Vesak Full Moon Poya falls on Friday as Buddhists all over the world mark the triple anniversary of Sakyamuni Siddhartha Gautama Buddha.

The Buddhist calendar begins in the month of Vesak. Buddhists consider Vesak Poya a triple anniversary as the Buddha was born, attained Supreme Enlightenment at the age of 35 and after a successful ministry of 45 years, attained Parinibbana on a Vesak Full Moon Poya Day.

For Sri Lankans, this is particularly significant. It was also on a Vesak Full Moon Poya Day that the Buddha made His last of the three visits to Sri Lanka. In the eighth year of His Enlightenment, the Buddha made His third and final visit to Sri Lanka. The month of Vesak is the holiest period in the Buddhist calendar. According to Indian Buddhist traditions, the holiday is known by its Sanskrit equivalent, Vaisakha. The word Vesak itself is the Sinhala word for the Pali variation, Visakha. Visakha/Vaisakha is the name of the second month of the Indian calendar.

The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and His universal peace message to mankind. As we recall the Buddha's teachings and His Enlightenment, we are reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and insight which arose in Him on the night of Enlightenment.

Wisdom in the Buddhist context is the realisation of the fundamental truths of life, mainly the Four Noble Truths. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths provides us with a proper sense of purpose and direction in life. They form the basis of problem-solving.

This wisdom and light that radiated under the historic Bo tree at Buddha Gaya in the district of Bihar in Northern India, more than 2,500 years ago, is of great significance to mankind. It illuminated the way by which mankind could cross, from a world of superstition, hatred and fear, to a new world of light, of true love and happiness.

The Buddha's message to this world is unaffected by time and the expansion of knowledge when they were first enunciated. No matter to what heights scientific knowledge has expanded modern man's mental horizon, there is room for the acceptance and assimilation for further discovery within the framework of the Buddha's teachings.

The Buddha's teachings became a great force wherever it took root. It appeals to reason and freedom of thought, recognising the dignity and potential of the human mind. It calls for equality, fraternity and understanding, exhorting its followers to eschew evil, do good and purify their minds.

The dawn of peace has helped people to observe Vesak in its true perspective by engaging in religious activities and patronising pandals and dansalas. When LTTE terrorism was at its peak, people feared even to gather near pandals or visit the main temples in the country.

After terrorism was eradicated, people from all walks of life got an opportunity to visit pandals and mingle with other devotees at temples as LTTE terrorist attacks are no more. It is still fresh in people's minds how the Tigers stormed the sacred city of Anuradhapura and mercilessly massacred 146 unarmed civilians, who had gathered at the Jaya Sri Maha Bodhi.

As President Mahinda Rajapaksa had quite rightly said in Kampala, Uganda last week, there wasn't a single human rights watchdog at the time to speak against the brutal killings in Anuradhapura during Vesak on May 14, 1985.

Following the indiscriminate attack on a place held in much veneration for Buddhists, people were mortally afraid to gather in large numbers as the Tigers targeted such occasions to go on a killing spree or explode bombs.

Now that the country has been liberated from LTTE terror, we see huge crowds gathering at temples and pandals during the Vesak season. Coincidentally, it was during the 2009 Vesak month that the Security Forces liberated the entire country from brutal LTTE terror and provided a peaceful atmosphere for one and all to live in perfect peace and harmony.

The twin pillars of durable peace and political stability have opened the doors for Sri Lanka to move forward on accelerated economic and social development. Over half a million people in the North and the East who had been liberated from the clutches of LTTE terror received a new lease of life as the two provinces are fast developing as the Government has given preferential treatment for these provinces. Western countries which remained mum when over 20 million Sri Lankans were at the receiving end due to LTTE terror, are now pontificating and trying to meddle in Sri Lanka's internal affairs.

Britain has said that there would be 'consequences' if Sri Lanka does not address international concerns over the so-called human rights abuses, ahead of the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) scheduled to be held in Sri Lanka in November.

If they are really concerned about human rights violations, it's never too late for them to conduct their own investigation on the thousands of hapless civilians who were killed when the British invaded Sri Lanka and make themselves accountable for their human rights violations.

Apart from the hapless victims in Sri Lanka, there had been a countless number of human rights violations during that time in former British colonies. However, none of the so-called godfathers of human rights and guardian angels of humanity have uttered a word up to now on those grave human rights abuses.

They are surprisingly only concerned over the last two weeks of Sri Lanka's battle against terrorism. If they are unduly perturbed over the human rights of all Sri Lankans, they must take into account the entire three decades of terror and disclose the LTTE's countless number of indiscriminate killings.

Most importantly, they must focus special attention on the peaceful environment that now prevails among all communities and the rich dividends of peace enjoyed by one and all. Instead, certain Western countries and some INGOs are hell-bent on digging old wounds and harping on the human rights of LTTE terrorists killed in action. It was only yesterday that the nation celebrated the fourth anniversary of that memorable victory of the humanitarian operation, the largest ever human rescue mission in world history. It was indeed a proud moment for all Sri Lankans when the Victory Day parade was held last morning under the patronage of the Commander-in-Chief, President Rajapaksa.

While commemorating that great victory which has enabled all Sri Lankans to unite under the Lion Flag, we now step into the Vesak Week which begins on Tuesday. Since terrorism was defeated, Vesak celebrations have been held on a grand scale as people could freely engage in religious practices with peace of mind.The prevailing peace we enjoy today was not bequeathed to us on a platter. It was a hard-won peace due to the immense sacrifices by the true sons of our soil. During Vesak, let's bestow merit on all those gallant soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice for the country's sovereignty and territorial integrity. Let us remember them with undying gratitude.

It was chiefly due to their Herculean efforts that we have peace of mind today. Had it not been for their dedication and sacrifice and President Rajapaksa's political sagacity, we would never have celebrated Vesak on such a grand scale nationwide. In the event we took the advice of the Western 'peace merchants', we would have been still subjected to LTTE terror. While the Western countries did everything within their power in the guise of national security, they preached to us that countries such as Sri Lanka should achieve peace at any cost.Nevertheless, President Rajapaksa thought otherwise - that we should achieve a dignified peace without compromising the country's national security, sovereignty and territorial integrity. Only a handful of people reckoned that peace would be a reality one day. However, Sri Lanka beat all overwhelming odds to achieve sustainable peace.

This was by no means a victory for a particular ethnic group, but for over 20 million Sri Lankans of different ethnicities and faiths. The LTTE deprived people from observing a faith of their choice. Apart from the Sri Maha Bodhi attack at Anuradhapura, the Tigers had a notorious track record of killing 147 Muslim devotees in a mosque in Kattankudy in 1990.

Certain Western countries continue to harp on the human rights of such a ruthless terrorist outfit that had inflicted untold agony, not only on the Sinhalese and Muslims, but also on their own Tamil community. These Western countries should relinquish their shameful agendas and respect the impregnable unity of all Sri Lankans.


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