Buddha's universal peace message to
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.