Flowers are connected with several Buddhist practices, our culture and traditions for over 2500 years
- When performing the act of offering flowers, Buddhists experience the reception of Buddha’s wisdom, blessings and knowledge in Dhamma directly from Buddha
- When gone into the depth of this interpretation, practices, traditions and rituals connected with Buddhists and Buddhism also come within the ambit of “Buddha Sasana”
- In the midst of this vast spectrum, Sirimal was just struggling to irrationally condemn Buddhist culture and Indigenous traditions by demonstrating his little knowledge of the world
It is with dismay that I am compelled to reject the malicious and bias assertions stated in the article titled “Should we use flowers in venerating Buddha?” by G.A.D. Sirimal, which appeared on March 6, 2021. Throughout his article he condemns (without any intellectual reasoning) the Buddhists’ practice of offering flowers to the Great Teacher, Lord Buddha (and Chaithyas). He blindly states that “...all Buddhists, realise that they are committing a grave sin, as they seem to be ignorant of what the flower contributes to nature and humans”.
He maliciously pretends pain over, “On Poya Days millions of flowers are offered and at the end of the day, it is heartbreaking to see, these flowers being dumped in garbage pits later”. The (innocent) author seems to be further terrified by seeing that “...The sweet scent purifies the air. After pollination, the flower produces seeds, which in turn produces another plant. It will be seen when a flower is plucked as an offering or for some decoration, we deprive the insects, bees etc. of their food and eventually, they would die of starvation...” Finally he randomly handpicked some statements from the scripture which have no relevance to the subject-matter and attempted to show off his (non-existing, purported) knowledge in Buddhism and Buddhist practices and asks “Did Gautama Buddha wish or compel that he be worshiped with flowers after his Pari Nibbana? ”
Anyone with little intelligence would take no time to realise the irrationality underlining the assertions in the said article. It is doubtful as to the capacity of the author to understand the psychological, philosophical, spiritual and sociological depth behind these rituals/practices. However, a short note on the subject is written here for the benefit of the readers.
However, if he was so much concerned of the adverse impact on the nature caused by offering flowers, he would simultaneously learn about the amount of flowers removed from the nature by the Hindus for their rituals world over. He is totally ignorant about the environmental impact caused by lighting millions of candles in Churches around the world.
Buddhists do not blindly offer flowers to Lord Buddha. It is neither a decoration nor a ritual without a purpose. It falls within the definition of “Amisa Pooja”, a practice based on Srhadda. The number of flowers is immaterial, but what is important here is the “intention” (Chethana) behind the action, which to be done with ‘mindfulness (samma sathi) and the wisdom to perceive and apprehend the reality of the “life” and “samsara” through the short life span of a flower. It is a meditation on self-realization as reflected in (and aided by) the ‘Gatha’ recited while offering flowers to Lord Buddha;
“Pujemi Buddham kusumena nena,
Punnena methena cha hothu mokkam,
Puppham milayathi yatha idamme,
Kayo thatha yathi vinasa bavam”
The closest meaning of the
“I offer and worship Buddha with these flowers: May this virtue cause for enlightenment; (Same as) the reality is that flowers fade; (our) bodies too shall decay and perish”.
The basis of Buddhist teaching is embedded in these four lines. One begins by focusing on Lord Buddha, his wisdom and intelligence. It is a meritorious act; then (focusing) on the ultimate objective one should attain; emancipation (Nibbana). In order to attain Nibbana, one has to realise the true nature of the body; the three marks of existence or three characteristics (tilakkhaṇa) of all existences and beings, namely “impermanence (aniccā)”, “un-satisfactoriness or suffering (duḥkha)” and “non-self (anattā)”. Buddhists train detachment (depletion of greed-“Thanha”) by harmonizing with the impermanent nature of flowers, which would aid to step forward towards Nibbana through realisation of the true decomposing nature of the body.
The realisation of Dukka includes realisation of the “four noble truths’ which in turn encompasses the realisation of the “five aggregates of clinging” (Panchaupadanaskanda); ‘matter’, ‘sensation’, ‘perception’, ‘mental formation’ and ‘consciousness’.
When performing the act of offering flowers, Buddhists experience the reception of Buddha’s wisdom, blessings and knowledge in Dhamma directly from Buddha.
It is a method of psychological development with the aid of a physical object find in the environment.
This is only the glimpse on the purpose of Buddhist practice of offering flowers to the Buddha. It is a mental-physical exercise. But Sirimal seems to be clueless of this spiritual psychological depth. He definitely doesn’t showcase the intelligence and wisdom of a true Buddhist. He blindly tries to grope in the dark a subject totally alien to him. Article 9 of the Constitution entrusts in the State the duty to “protect and foster “Buddha Sasana”. The Supreme Court held that “The expression “Buddha Sasana” is wider than “Buddhism” and includes the entire establishment together with objects and places of religious practices and worship of Buddhists”(SC/SD/1/94). When gone into the depth of this interpretation, practices, traditions and rituals connected with Buddhists and Buddhism also come within the ambit of “Buddha Sasana”. Flowers are connected with several Buddhist practices, our culture and traditions for over 2500 years. Needless to illustrate here on the usage of flowers in various traditions world over: including for events relating to birth, marriage and death of a person. In the midst of this vast spectrum, Sirimal was just struggling to irrationally condemn Buddhist culture and Indigenous traditions by demonstrating his little knowledge of the world he lives in.
However, if he was so much concerned of the adverse impact on the nature caused by offering flowers, he would simultaneously learn about the amount of flowers removed from the nature by the Hindus for their rituals world over. He is totally ignorant about the environmental impact caused by lighting millions of candles in Churches around the world. Candles are composed of Paraffin Wax extracted from petroleum, a scare resource of the nature. Catholics light up candles in churches as a tangible sign of faith and as a symbol of love towards God; not because Jesus advised his disciples to light candles for him.
We have noticed that there are unpatriotic conspirators funded by hostile elements / NGOs trying to destabilize the State and disunite the people.
Tarnishing Buddhism and features of Buddha Sasana in Sri Lanka is one of the strategies to reach their vicious objectives. Such acts may also constitute criminal offences in terms of Sections 290-291B of the Penal Code. The public should be aware of such conspiracies and their adverse consequences.
Ven. Elle Gunawansa Thero
Chief Incumbent of Dharmayathanaya
No: 381, Bauddhaloka Mawatha,