Protect and foster…means clean up Sasana
The King was shocked as nobody would dare identify him by name.
“Samanamayam maharaja - dhamma rajassa sravaka Thameva anukampaya - Jambudeepa idagatha”.
O, great King!
We are Bhikkhus,
Disciples of the Lord Buddha,
Through compassion towards you,
We came from Jambudveepa
Mihintale, the perfect sanctuary for the sons of Buddha that they could find throughout the length and breadth of Ceylon - H C P Bell [former Director of Archaeology]
The flora and fauna have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this land as thou. The land belongs to all beings and you are only the guardian of it.”-Arahat Mahinda.
Arahat Mahinda and his companions, seven in all, after their arrival from India stood on Aradhana-gala, Mihintale and uttered the above verse. At first only Arahat Mahinda appeared and in a while, the other six who arrived were sighted by the King. After exchanging pleasantries, Arahat Mahinda affirmed that Buddhism had been deeply entrenched in India.
King Devanampiya Tissa while deer hunting near Ammbastale met Arahat Mahinda and his retinue. Following a brief dialogue that took place to check the intellect of the king, Arahat Mahinda delivered the Chulla Hasthi Padopama Sutra. The King after listening to the discourse accepted the Dhamma and became a staunched follower of the Buddha.
The Sangha Sasana
Many critical issues that have surfaced, with regard to Buddhist monks in recent times, are caused due to opportunistic approach by some politicians of all parties.
Twenty-three centuries after the introduction of Buddhism and sangha sasana, today in this thrice-blessed land we observe religious and ethnic hatred and numerous other divisions created by small groups of so-called ‘Sinhala-Buddhists’ backed by a few politicians.
Ugly violent displays of ferocity by a small section of saffron-robed monks in participation with boisterous mobs have become the order of the day, a situation that needs the urgent attention of Maha Sangha and State.
Bikkhuvagga of Dhammapada says,
‘He who controls his hand…….his foot… his speech…him they call a Buddhist monk’ -
The state has a constitutional right and an obligation as per Article 9 in Chapter II, which says, ‘…shall give to Buddhism the foremost place and accordingly it shall be the duty of the State to protect and foster the Buddha Sasana.
The Nikhayas and Chapters have demonstrated their incompetence in the enforcement of respective Katikawaths on subordinate bhikkhus: the most venerable Maha Nayake Theros expects state intervention, in fact, they stated, “The government has taken timely and valuable measures by presenting the Theravada Bhiksu Kathikawatha Bill in Parliament, aiming to strengthen and safeguard Theravada Buddhism”. Most erudite members of Maha Sangha has expressed similar views.
Taking into consideration the increasing indiscipline within the ranks of bhikkhus, they call for the immediate intervention of the State and Buddha Sasana Ministry ‘…aiming to strengthen and safeguard Theravada Buddhism’ needs the authority’s sincere interest. A rescue operation is a sine-qua-non. Introduction of Bills or any action should be preceded by an in-depth study and analysis to determine the reasons for the decline, Cause [Hethu], examined within a Dhammic framework that resulted in effect [Pala].
"Ugly violent displays of ferocity by a small section of saffron-robed monks in participation with boisterous mobs have become the order of the day, a situation that needs the urgent attention of Maha Sangha and State"
For instituting this factor in the viewpoint of basic principles of Buddhism, the President can appoint a commission of profundity and respected scholarly Bhikkus leaving out politicians, for politicians are wary of upsetting the prelates for obvious reasons. Based on the advice of this commission, the President would summon a Dhamma Council to discuss the pros and cons before drafting any Bills. The British colonial rulers wanted to enforce their authority over Sasana, they purposely introduced article 5 in the Kandyan convention which states, “The Religion of Boodhoo…is declared inviolable, and its Rites, Ministries and places of worship are to be maintained and protected”.
It is reported that many such Kathikawathas were implemented on several occasions in the history starting with Parakramabahu the Great, followed by Nissankamalla, Parakramabahu VI, Keerthi Sri Rajasinghe and Rajadhirajasinghe. They all implemented Kathikawaths to preserve and protect the Buddha Sasana according to historical contexts and enforced under Monastic decree.
Countless situations surface regularly which are not openly dealt with in Vinaya rules; you need to add precedents in new situations. The rules cover only a limited amount of context, and beyond that, we must use our best judgment based on Dhamma facts. Burmese Buddhist says, ‘if you know the Vinaya, you can kill a chicken’. Actually, for those who live the Vinaya every day, it is obvious that much of it operates as guidelines. If the Vinaya rules are legalized, it will make them quite easy to get around finding loop-holes, by those who break them. Inscription on Ashoka pillars, erected following the third council held over the patronage of Emperor Ashoka instruct Ministers, ‘that now the Sangha has been made united, any Bikkhu who divides the Sangha shall be made to wear lay clothes and dwell apart’; it further states, ‘…that the united Sangha should not divide as long as my sons and grandsons shall rule and the sun and moon shall shine’
Emperor Ashoka comprehended the tragedy; he first unified an estranged and divided Sangha.
There is no precedent in Vinaya rule for a secular ruler to hamper Sangha operations. Thus an essential crisis was dealt with by Ashoka personally. Vinaya foresees Sangha to look after its affairs and the governing powers only provide general support.
Strangely, the Maha Sangha welcomed this interference during Ashoka; a similar situation as we experience in Sri Lanka today, the only explanation is that the problem was a genuine one, which the Sangha was unable to deal with using its normal procedures which requires consensus, a high degree of sincerity and co-cooperativeness. They used the above process in the 2nd council; but the problematic individuals, ie, both the Bhikkhus and lay disrupted the process making everybody powerless.
A Dhamma council will unify the Sasana that is fragmented due to splits and schisms into Sects and Chapters based on regional, Caste and doctrinal differences. The Mahanayake Theros would appoint a supreme Sangha-dhikarana.
The Adhikarana, in turn, can install regional adhikaranas to decide on who will remain in robes and who should leave and decisions based purely on Dhamma facts, in which there is no room for the spread of schisms or political divisions.
The hate speech gangs, chauvinists, tuition masters, soothsayers, unruly street demonstrators and political henchmen in saffron robes will get the message, once the above is set-in-motion, the undivided Sangha Council will gain its supremacy and will earn due respect from all.
May all beings be happy