Arahant Sanghamitta’s message of reconciliation
By K K S Perera (Daily News)
Today is Unduwap Poya, the last Full moon for the year, and in a remarkable co-incidence it falls next to the day of *Holy Prophet’s Birthday and we are in the month of December, where Jesus Christ was born. Hatred speech and destructive thoughts on other faiths are contrary to Buddhist, Chr istian and Islam teachings. Proper practice of above religious principles would certainly help in commencing the softening or diluting the differences between our feelings and those of others; while compassion beings cultivated for all living beings.
The charming Princess Sanghamitta, married Prince Aggribrahama at the age of sixteen. They were blessed with a son named Sumana. Prince Tissa, Emperor Asoka’s brother became a monk and entered the Buddhist order, followed by Aggribrahama along with his seven year-old son Sumana. Four from family, her brother, uncle, husband and son already entered sasana left Sanghamitta with no options. She decided to enter bikkhuni oder under the direction of two elderly nuns, namely Dhammapali and Ayupali, and attained arantship like his brother Mahinda thera.
Theri Sanghamitta, who was responsible in making Sri Lanka the “Dhammadeepa” along with her brother Mahinda thera, passed away at the age of 61, during the reign of King Uttiya. The brother and sister duo are responsible for creating a great impact on the lives of Sri Lankan, they together changed the social, cultural and spiritual way of life of the islanders. The society changed— a proud civilization, a Buddhist Literature, culture, economy, arts and crafts developed on deep rooted Buddhist thoughts.
The introduction of Buddhism to Sri Lankadweepa took place on Poson Poya Day with the arrival of Arahat Mahinda. The arrival of Arahat Mahinda’s sister Arahat Sangamitta Therini to Sri Lanka laid the foundation for the establishment of the order of nuns or Bhikkuni Sasanaya on the Unduvap Poya Day. Mahinda, the son of Emperor Asoka and his sister Sangamitta who carried the sapling of the Sacred Jayasrimaha Bodhi tree where Prince Siduhatt attained Enlightenment at Buddhagaya, established the Buddha sasana, Sangha sasana and Meheni sasana in this thrice blessed island.
Therini Sanghamitta travelled by ship to Lanka and landed in a port close to Jaffna called Jambukola. King Devanampiyatissa accepted the Bo sapling which was planted in the Mahamegha Vana garden and is still exists, to be the oldest historically known tree in the entire world.
Entering the order at the age of eighteen years, Princess Sanghamitta along with bother Mahinda thera never used any unjust methods, but that of universal love and compassion in spreading Dhamma in Sri Lanka. The most significant happening on a Unduwap full moon day is the establishment of Bikkhuni sasana. When Buddha refused to accept women into sasana, Mahaprajapathi Gothami shaved her head and donned the yellow robe, and with a large contingent of followers she covered a distance of 350 miles by foot to Jetavanarama seeking bikkuni status.
Violence, including war, is unjustifiable under any circumstances as per Buddha’s teachings. All disputes should be settled by peaceful means.
“Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” –Jesus Christ [Sermon on the Mount]. A few Buddhist clergy and extremists ‘Sinhala/Buddhist’ groups have been creating destructive thoughts among a handful of followers. Sections of Islamist militants and Christian crusaders have justified violence as essential in the name of religion.
The huge gap or space between their teachings and the written edition has caused for inaccuracies and misinterpretation to creep into the original teachings.
Violence is planned carnage in the name of God, a faction, or country. When we call ourselves a Sinhalese or a Muslim or a Tamil or a Christian, or anything else, we are separating ourselves from the rest of mankind, therefore we become violent.
Incidents of religious or racist hatred can take different forms including verbal or physical abuse, threats, bullying and damage to property. They can be isolated incidents or part of a continuing campaign of intimidation or persecution. When we isolate ourselves by nationality, by caste, by race, by belief or by tradition, it helps breed violence. Race in actuality is nothing more than humans separating themselves by the colour of skin and other negligible physical features.
The one who truly seeks to comprehend violence does not belong to any separation in the form of religion, race, and caste; he only concern is the total understanding of mankind, human race or in scientific terms Homo Sapien. A person who believes or says that he or she is a Buddhist, a Sinhalese, a Muslim, a Christian or belongs to any other class, category or group, involuntarily develops aggressive and violent thoughts against others, a natural and unavoidable phenomenon; we desperately attempt to conceal the truth resulting in conflicts.
We teach and inculcate into the young minds that they belong to a particular religion, race, caste and other illusions created by our ancestors and then ironically advice them to disregard the differences? The saying goes, “You don’t get a second chance to make a first impression”. Next come the turn of State, it takes over, through schools they dress four kids according to ethnic-based costumes and expect them to go and play together; the only game they can play is ‘Hide and Seek’, as we have already committed the crime. No confession can find a therapy: When they become adults too they continue to play ‘hide and seek’ helping the extremists politician and sycophants to create destruction and misery in society.
One must ask why is there such divisions? The Sri Lankan, the Indian, the British and so on—why is there this separation between man and man, between race and race, a culture against another culture, a series of ideologies against another? Where is there this division? We have divided the earth as yours and mine—but why? Is it that we try to find self-protection, security, in a particular group, in a faith or a particular belief? People just go with the grain and really do not appreciate that the world is changing.
Nationalism is only a glorified form of tribalism. Divisions put one against another—the Buddhists, the Muslims, the Hindus, the Christians and so on. In a tribe with the same kind of governing system, religious system, one language, superstitions; therefore a sense of being together, they feel safe, happy, comforted and protected. In achieving that protection and comfort, we have to destroy others with similar longing to be safe, feel sheltered, and to be belonging to a group.
This awful yearning to identify oneself with a group, with a religious tradition and so on gives us the feeling that we are not nomads and that we have a descent; our structure of thinking is the division in our lives. Italian philosopher, physicist, mathematician and astronomer who played a big role in the Scientific Revolution, has said:
“I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use”. -Galileo Galilei