A social menace in saffron robes

22-SharminiDaily FT

When it comes to applying the rules of democracy in a country like ours, there ought to be a caveat included for the likes of Mr. Galaboda Aththe Gnanasara, viz. freedom of speech!

I refuse to dignify this man with revered titles such as ‘Thera’ or ‘Reverend’, since as a Buddhist, I don’t regard him as a Buddhist monk, but find him utterly and completely reprehensible, offensive, an acute source of embarrassment and irritation. Furthermore, he has single-handedly denigrated the status of the entire Buddhist clergy in this country.

Shaving one’s head and donning a saffron robe does not make one a Buddhist monk, one’s actions do. This man is nothing but a charlatan in robes and a social menace to all; Buddhists included!

His foster political parents; demagogues of a bygone era appeared to be enchanted by this ageing puppet’s performances, and seemingly gave succour to it with impunity, for reasons best known to them. But, with the political regime change the man appeared to have been silenced for a while, until the Homagama High Court drama made him erupt like a volcano and got him landed behind bars. This is where the likes of him rightfully belong. Alas, the relief for us was short lived.

“If the authorities fail to put a final stop to this flagrant menace and shut him up for good, it will only be a matter of time before more common thugs go shopping for saffron robes, shave their heads, masquerade as Buddhist monks, and take the law into their hands. In such a grim scenario, what will our leaders prioritise, law and order, or votes at the next election?”

Upon being bailed out, he had to open his gab again and thrashed all hope of him having reformed, even while incarcerated as a common criminal. His public announcement upon his release, on the need to educate Buddhist monks on the laws governing this country, was an insult to the entire Buddhist clergy of this land.

He publicly requested the Mahanayake Theras and the Buddha Sasana Minister to include a course on the prevailing law enforcement system in the country, at the end of the Pirivena education or in the Bachelor of Arts (BA or Master of Arts (MA) course at the end of any Buddhist education in the country.

What this man appeared to imply through this remark was that, pseudo monks like himself behave the way they do, as they have no understanding of the laws of this land, and lack basic common sense. This man should be advised that it’s better to keep his trap shut and be thought a fool, than open it and remove all doubt!

Before his volte-farce viz the laws of the land, and his seemingly newfound respect for it, this man is on record for stating that they of the Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) would not subject themselves to the Roman Dutch law, which he deems as ‘suddhage neethiya’ (white man’s law), and would only abide by the law of the Dhamma. By this, he, not only unashamedly acknowledged his ignorance of the lex terrae, but also the Dhamma. This man has indeed a lot of learning to do!

Is his performance within the Homagama High Court, running riot and hurling invective at the widow of the slain journalist Prageeth Ekneligoda, and insulting the court and court officials which ultimately landed him behind bars, his idea of the “law of the Dhamma”?

To call this man a joker, is to be kind to him!

Never mind ignorance of the laws of the land or even the Dhamma, the latter which most labelled Buddhists don’t have a clue of anyway, isn’t it the basic of common sense and etiquette to know how to conduct one’s self, at least within the hallowed precincts of a court house?

Isn’t it common sense and decency to know that stoning and destroying the livelihood of others, spewing venom at them for their religious beliefs are totally against accepted norms of civilised behaviour, let alone the teachings of the Buddha?

The air of defiance and the obvious lack of remorse or shame displayed by this man as he walked out of remand, only proved that his theatrics were far from over. And now, almost a year and a half later, the man rises again!

“Shaving one’s head and donning a saffron robe does not make one a Buddhist monk, one’s actions do. This man is nothing but a charlatan in robes and a social menace to all; Buddhists included!”

Reportedly, several police teams have been deployed to arrest this saffron robed miscreant, “…on charges of disturbing, obstructing, and threatening police officers and committing acts bound to cause racial and religious disharmony among various communities.”

If the authorities fail to put a final stop to this flagrant menace and shut him up for good, it will only be a matter of time before more common thugs go shopping for saffron robes, shave their heads, masquerade as Buddhist monks, and take the law into their hands. In such a grim scenario, what will our leaders prioritise, law and order, or votes at the next election?

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