Sri Lanka: Dambulla Cave Temple and the Sangha

Late Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera was used as a cat’s paw by the politicians to achieve their sordid goals. The Thera might be turning in his grave on account of serious frauds committed in the name Yahapalanaya.

by Upali Cooray

( July 15, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) A member of the Asgiriya chapter Karaka Sabha, Dr Godagama Mangala Thera has said that despite a decision made by the Archaeological Department Consultation Board to temporarily close the Dambulla Cave Temple, It will be kept open. The temporary closure was necessitated for preservation purposes and research. The cave temple is a World Heritage Site and hence it has to comply with certain requirements of UNESCO in order to maintain the present status. Noncompliance with the requirements would lead to the temple losing its World Heritage Status.

The Consultation Board also decided the selling of entrance tickets to visitors should be done through the Central Cultural Fund for good reasons.

The Chief Incumbent of the temple, in quick response to the Consultation Board, held a press conference informing that the cave temple would not be closed and tickets would continue to be sold by the Commissioner of Buddhist Affairs and the Board of Trustees of the temple.

According to Minister of Education Akila Viraj Kariyawasam, “The 2015 Audit Report states, that the annual income of the temple was Rs 2,971,000 but we have conducted a study and found that the daily income of the Dambulla Cave Temple is between two to eight million rupees, from tickets issued to foreigners.”

The minister added that until 1996 the tickets were issued by the Central Cultural Fund (CCF). However, severe irregularities have taken place after certain sections of the Buddhist clergy took over the ticketing.

With apologies to all those Buddhist monks who are the epitome of monkhood, indiscipline of very serious nature among the Sangha is nothing new. The Buddhist devotees witness deplorable conduct of some Buddhist monks.

The Malwatta and Asgiriya Chapters are impotent, in having a hold on the lawless despotic Bhikkus. What we normally see in the media are politicians and other VIPs in their Lily white dresses offering “Ata Pirikara” to the prelates and obtaining so called advise. The only possessions a Bikkhu is expected to have were the “Ata Pirikara”(minimum paraphernalia a Bikkhu is expected possess which includes the Robe and the begging Bowl among others) during the days of the Buddha.

What happens to the hundreds of Ata Pirikara offered to temples in this country? Those go back to the merchant or the theras themselves who sell it to a devotee to be offered back to the same thera. Likewise, the Dambulla Cave Temple is a gold mine and the incumbent thera will go to any length to keep possession of this gold mine. It would be interesting to find out where the enormous amounts of money collected from tickets have gone.

The latest con game adopted by high monks of some Buddhist temples is during the rainy season, which is called as “Vas” period. A monk remained with a householder during the rainy season in ancient North India where Buddha lived. Whilst there, it is usual for him to give religious instructions to the inmates and others who attend on him. Dwelling in this manner is known as ‘Vas Viseema’. The word “Vas” means the rains; “Viseema” means the dwelling. Therefore, Vas Viseema means to sojourn during the rainy season. The local Temples too adopted this practice though there are no such torrential rains in Sri Lanka as in north India where Buddha lived. In modern day Sri Lanka, the devotee who undertakes to provide the “Katina Cheevara”(the new robe woven by the house holder) and has to spend an enormous amount of money towards the ceremony.

The new ruse of the Sri Lankan high monks is to ceremonially take the “Katinana Cheewara” once a week from one devotee’s house to the other by which money and other goods offered swell the coffers.

Late Ven.Walpola Rahula, one of the most educated and outspoken monks with a doctorate from the University of Sorbonne, in his book “Sathyodaya”, questions the enormous amount of food wasted daily as offerings to the Buddha. The food offered to an inanimate statue of the Buddha goes as waste because it is believed to be sinful to eat the food offered to Buddha.

Late Maduluwawe Sobitha Thera was used as a cat’s paw by the politicians to achieve their sordid goals. The Thera might be turning in his grave on account of serious frauds committed in the name Yahapalanaya.

In the recent past, Bhikkus got elected to the Parliament and the leading Bhikku was expected to be President of this country. This was a very bad experiment, and the Bhikkus soon retreated to their Ashrama having tarnished their name

Another Bhikku claims he is an Arahath (One who has attained enlightenment). He got his own statue sculptured for the people to venerate. Gullible devotees fund this Bhikku without questioning, because the Bhikku knows the art of deceiving. He once advised the President Maithripala Sirisena not to take his lunch parcel from home cooked by his wife. Instead, he should eat what is suitable for a king, prepared by King’s Chef.

The Buddhist Theras or monks in the past have fought for worthy causes. Wariyapola Sri Sumangala, Migettuwatte Gunananda, Battaramulle Sri Subhthi were leading icons in the anti-colonial movement.

Then we come to Bodu Bala Sena, which is well known to us. Some believe that BBS is a front group for western countries who wish to divide the Sri Lanka population in order to serve western interests. For example some believe that it is funded by Norway, a country that played a vital role called the” Peace process”, heavily weighted towards the LTTE. BBS has been disowned by some of the leading clergy. Sooner Sri Lanka gets rid of this menace, the better.

The Buddha has preached ”

Najachcha Wasalo Hothi,Najachca Hothi Barhmano. Kammana Wasalo Hothi, Kammana Hothi Brahmano

” One does not become an outcast by birth or high caste by birth. Thus will be outcaste by deed or will be high caste by deed.

At least, let the Sangha adhere to this admonition given by the Buddha, which is being flouted.

Author: Sri Lanka Guardian

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