Wednesday, October 28, 2009

A Ministry?

Oct 21, Colombo: Chief monks of all four Buddhist sects in the country asked President Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday to reestablish the Ministry of Buddhist Affairs with immediate effect to protect the Buddhism. Sending a special letter to President Rajapaksa, the chief monks of all four sects, including Malawatha and Asgiri, pointed out that the Sri Lanka as a nation has promised to protect the Buddhism through it’s constitution. However, in 2006 the government abolished the Ministry of Buddhist Affairs and established a common Religious Affairs Ministry for all three religions. As a result of this step, several activities took place that badly affected the Buddhism as well as Buddhist history in the country, the chief incumbents claimed. According to the four chief monks several Buddhist text books have been launched with distorted facts about Buddhism and its history. They asked President Rajapaksa to appoint a special committee, comprising professionals to review every Buddhist book before they are launched.

I found this article on Sri Lanka News Portel. It made me smile. During the years I lived in Sri Lanka the Ministry of Buddha Sasana was something of a joke. The minister himself was usually a political has-been being reward for past services to the party in power and the ministry itself did nothing and did it slowly and inefficiently. Even the letter of recommendation we foreign monks had to get each year to renew our visas usually took days and could only be hurried up with a ‘gift’. A ministry? A special committee? Sri Lankan Buddhism doesn’t need another meaningless gesture or empty symbol, it needs dedicated, spiritually orientated monks and a well-informed, active laity.


Anandajoti said...

Dear Venerable,

Actually there has been an attempt to set up a Board of Inquisition to check new publications before --- although it is true that more rubbish posing as Dhamma gets published than ever, nevertheless having Church (Sangha) Elders define what is true Buddhism and what is not is definitely a move in the wrong direction and will be open to abuse, so I think any such move should be vociferously opposed before it is too late.

Ken and Visakha said...

We just learned that the books mentioned in the papers that had the chief monks upset had titles that claimed that the Buddha had actually been born in Sri Lanka not Jambudipa.