A response to the article on Countering Racial Myths through Middle Path
I refer to the above titled article written by K.K.S. Perera (KKS) and published in the Daily Mirror of July 28 and would like to respond to some of the views expressed therein from a Hindu point of view. I do so with due respect to his views, in the spirit of debate, without any animus.
It is Mr. KKS’s view that Races are myths and have no significance as human beings. Is this view true in the light of the reality of the world? The differentiation of people on the basis of Races, is a self-evident reality. Isn’t this differentiation seen in the physical features, pigmentation of colour and other sociological criteria, as European, Mongoloid, Negroid, Asiatic races, Aryans, Dravidian, etc. Even within the broad divisions,there are many sub-divisions with tribal and clan origins. Is this a myth or an existential truth. Races organically evolved millennia ago from tribes and clans, sharing common customs, social practices and dialect to communicate. Mr. KKS speaks of countering Racial Myths through the Middle Path, which is another name for Buddhism. Ironically, Buddhism and the Middle Path, instead of countering racial myths, artificially added another Race, the Sinhala Race. The introduction of Buddhism, together with a pickled new language adapted using largely Tamil and Sanskrit words and some Portuguese and English words, created the Sinhala Race.This contradicts Mr. KKs’s proposition of countering racial myths through the Middle Path. The Sinhala race is a post-Buddhist creation.
Mr. KKS states that “when we divide and call ourselves Sri Lankans, Sinhalese, Muslim, Christian or anything else (Hindu omitted, may be they belong to the latter category), we are separating ourselves from rest of mankind and we become violent.” According to this, even countries should not have an identifiable name. If the name of the country is Sri Lanka, how else can the people of the country be called other than Sri Lankans? Further, he ludicrously asks us to “check your body carefully as possible. Is there any particular part in it or spot which differentiates it as a Muslim, Sinhalese or Tamil?” He fails to realize that Race is a description of a person. It is external to the body. It is not a finite thing to be found in the biological body of a person. Mr. KKS further states that “all human beings belong to one species only, the human variety/species is called Homosapiens.” I wonder whether Mr. KKS calls himself a Sinhala Buddhist or a Homosapiens, then his creed is Humanism and not Buddhism.
Walls of Racial and Religious separations
All Religions are founded by persons, with the exception of Hinduism. Therefore, the person, the Founder and his teachings, doctrines, differ from other Founder person and his teachings and doctrines. Hence separations among religions are a natural outcome. But this does not mean these separations are water-tight, rigid and closed entities, without interaction with the outside world. Their respective identities are inevitable. So are Races, with distinct physical, sociological,and language differences. From the wording of Mr. KKS’s essay, “Countering Racial myths through Middle Path,” it is apparently clear that Mr. KKS’s motive and proposition, is to counter and reduce all different Races and Religions to a common denominator, the so-called Middle Path, which is nothing but Buddhism. Is it practical to bring all Races and Religions to one Universal Race and Religion, on the foundation of one Religion, (more correctly one ethical Philosophy) Buddhism, which is his implicit assertion. Not a single religion founded by a mortal man, Jesus Christ, or Prophet Muhammed or Buddha, will disband and dissolve their Founder’s teachings and doctrines, and accept another Founder’s teachings/doctrines and his Authority. Christians will not become Buddhists, Hindus or Islamist or vice versa or Hindus become Buddhists, Islamist, Christian or vice versa or Buddhists become Christians, Hindus, Islamist or vice versa. None of the Religions founded by a mortal Man, is qualified to be one Universal Religion. If there is any one Religion, which can rightfully claim to be a Universal Religion, it is only Hinduism.That is because Hinduism is not founded on the Authority and teachings of a mortal man. Its teachings are not based on a Person but on Eternal Principles, which are not man-made, but Revealed to the Great Rishis since dawn of time and passed by word of mouth from successive line of Rishis, and only rendered into written word around 3000 BC in the form of the” Vedas” by the Great Rishi Vyasa, the author of the Epic Mahabaratha.
Religion and God
A Religion without the conception of a Godhead is no religion. Major world Religions such as Christianity, Islam and Hinduism are theistic religions. The word “God” is an English word, and as far as Hinduism is concerned, it is a misnomer. The term God signifies the conception of a Personal Being. But in Hinduism God is Impersonal but He is also personified in Personal Form as Hindu Deities for the devotees to understand the Impersonal, nameless, formless One, that is Infinite, all-embracing and all- pervasive. To give form, is to limit its Infiniteness. God is One Infinite, Extra-Cosmic Power, the source of all Finites that exists. In Hindu metaphysical or philosophical nomenclature He is called Brahman. He is personified in forms. He manifests as Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, the Creator, Preserver and the Destroyer respectively, (the Trimurthies) with their Consorts, Saraswathy or Luxshmi and Shakthi. The Christians call their God, Our Father, Islam, as Allah.
Buddhism has no Godhead. It can be called Agnosticism or Atheism, not subscribing to any Extra-Cosmic Power, but the Founder Lord Buddha (a mortal being) is deified like a God by his followers. Mr. KKS debunks those who believe in a Godhead by saying that “only a mentally unsound person sees illusions or things that do not exists, but believes that they do exists.” Elusiveness of something does not mean it does not exist. For instance, there are electric, sound and magnetic waves in the atmosphere which cannot be seen or felt, yet can we conclude that these do not exist? The extra-cosmic power that is latent in the Universe, cannot be seen, touched or felt or proved by scientific laboratory experiments and tests. One has to realize and experience the presence of the Divine Entity/Power.
"Is it practical to bring all Races and Religions to one Universal Race and Religion, on the foundation of one Religion"
Moreover, every unit of human organization has a Leader, for a Family, Community, the State, for regulation and control of these Units. These cannot function without Leaders. If this is so, a cosmos which is so infinitely vast and complex in its variety, with the Sun, Moon and multiplicity of Planets and sub-planets, should have an Extra-Cosmic Power to regulate and control its activities. This is evidenced by the precision and regularity of its functioning and movements of the Sun, Moon and other planets and their rotations and revolutions, measure an unit of time, the seasons, etc. All these cannot be attributed to chance: Because chance and regularity do not go together. Those who believe in God (Universal term) are “not mentally unsound, seeing illusions that do not exist, but believe to Exist,” as Mr. KKS contends. On the other hand, how could one reconcile, the latter’s statement with the illusion of a Nibbana? How can one know there is a state of Nibbana. If God is not verifiably exists, so is Nibbana which does not verifiably exist. Has anyone seen and/or felt Nibbana? It is also an unknowable belief as much as a belief in a God.
To conclude, Mr. KKS quotes a passage which is inconsistent with, and contradicts Mr. KKS’s statement that “only mentally unsound person see illusions or things that do not exist, but believes that they do exist.” It says “that Bhagava (Sanskrit Bhagavan means God) set in motion the Supreme Wheel of Dhamma, which cannot be stopped by…… Devas, Brahma or anyone else”. Devas, Brahmma that do not exist, have existed for the writer of the above passage. Further at that instant “thousandfold planetary system quaked, shook and trembled and a vast magnificent radiance emerged, outshining the splendor of the Devas”. It appears the writer has seen in his overzealous state of imagination, illusory visions that did not exist, the splendour of the Devas.