Today is a very special day for
Buddhists in Sri Lanka. It was on a Poson Poya Day, more than
2,000 years ago, that Sri Lanka received Buddhism.
King Devanampiyatissa and his subjects embraced Buddhism,
which led to a socio-cultural revolution in Sri Lanka.
In fact, our heritage rests firmly on the foundation of
Buddhism which has been preserved and practised through the ages
in spite of foreign invasions.
The contribution made by Buddhism to Sri Lanka’s cultural
evolution is immeasurable.
The multitude of Cetiyas, Buddha statues and magnificent
temples around the country speak volumes for our ancient rulers’
fervent devotion to Buddhism. The Buddhist way of life was also
the bedrock of the country’s hydraulic civilisation.
This Buddhist way of life is now increasingly under strain in
a commercialised world where the pursuit of wealth is the
priority for most.
In this relentless quest for money, they lose sight of moral
and religious values which have been handed down from generation
Even in rural villages, people have distanced themselves from
the temple and other places of worship, leading to a society
facing moral decay.
Earlier, the temple used to be the focal point in the
village, with the Chief Incumbent being held in high esteem by
the residents. He acted as mentor, healer and mediator.
The fact that the country is receding from the Buddha’s noble
words is discernible from newspaper reports of horrendous
crimes. The root cause of many of these is money itself. When
one’s sole goal in life is accumulating more wealth, Buddhist
tenets can appear to be a hindrance. This is a very common
The Buddha Dhamma has clearly defined, in Suttas such as the
Singalovada, how lay persons can lead a contended life without
deviating from noble Buddhist ideals. These words still hold
true today as they did then.
The simple act of following the Five Precepts alone can turn
one’s life for the better. These values and practices should be
inculcated from childhood itself to mould good citizens.
That is the only way we can ensure a future generation which
will respect religious values and human dignity.
Hong Kong, 10 years on
Hong Kong is often described as
a place where ‘wonders never cease’. The 1,098 sq.km territory,
now a Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of
China, has always been in the public eye.
Ten years after the British ceded control to the Chinese,
Hong Kong has seen some change, but many things have stayed the
same. Run in accordance with the ‘One Country Two Systems’
formula, the seven million population and an equal number of
annual visitors will experience capitalism at least until 2047.
Border controls too will remain in place. Hong Kong’s vibrant
media industry is also likely to maintain its reputation as an
outlet for free expression.
While Hong Kong remains China’s fastest growing city, it
faces stiff competition, somewhat ironically, from another
Chinese city - Shanghai. Economists and investors are watching
the battle with interest. They will also be following political
developments in Hong Kong, which saw contested elections this
Donald Tsang, who was elected as the Chief Executive in that
poll, faces several challenges. He is likely to face calls for
an expansion of democratic platforms, which will have to be
balanced with the mainland’s concerns and the parameters of the
Basic Law, the mini Constitution adopted in 1990.
Maintaining Hong Kong’s winning streak as an economic
powerhouse in the face of regional competition will also be not
Hong Kong’s success will be important to Beijing in respect
of Taiwan, which China and most other countries recognise as
part of China. Hong Kong can serve as a model for an eventual
unification process under a similar arrangement. Only time will
tell whether such an approach would succeed.
But life will hardly change in this metropolis for residents
and tourists. Hong Kong will continue to offer plenty of simple
pleasures like the Star Ferry crossing between Kowloon and
As some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world hover into
view in Central, Hong Kong leaves a lasting impression in one’s
mind as a magical place that time will never forget.