Let the Mahanayakes have peace | Daily News

Let the Mahanayakes have peace

The Mahanayakes of the Malwatte and Asgiriya Chapters must be the two most harried individuals in the country these days. On top of their multifarious functions connected to the most hallowed shrine of Buddhism, they will now have to contend with a swarm of new Cabinet, State and Deputy Ministers, poised to descend on them, bearing gifts.

Some of these Ministers and State/Deputy Ministers had already paid obeisance to the two Chief Prelates when they first took their oaths, with the advent of the Yahapalanaya Government. Nay, some of them may be making their third visit, if one is to take into account the Cabinet reshuffle, prior to this one. Add to this, the two Mahanayakes were already besieged by the 16 SLFP MPs who have opted to take their seats in the Opposition benches on May 8, after the abortive No Confidence Motion against Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe.

On what basis they have decided to meet the Maha Sangha it is difficult to fathom. We say this because it is the usual practice for politicians to pay homage to the Prelates only after being conferred with ministerial office. Here we have a group of MPs visiting the Maha Sangha after having lost their ministerial portfolios and relegated to the Opposition. Is this to obtain merit to gain strength to perform their duties as good Opposition MPs?

The Maha Sangha usually advise politicians, who are invested with ministerial powers, to use these powers to better serve the people. However, according to media reports, the Chief Prelate of the Malwatte Chapter had advised the renegades to remain in the government for the full length of its tenure. The ex-ministers in their turn told the Prelate that they will support all the good deeds of the Government. Former Minister S.B. Dissanayake said they will remain with the President and the SLFP and try to prod the government on the correct track. Was their mission in vain?

Why must politicians visit the Mahanayakes for no apparent reason but to be seen on television and gain prominence vis-a-vis the masses, to serve their own political ends? Isn’t this making use of the two Mahanayakes for political mileage?

Earlier too we have had politicians visiting the Mahanayakes, not to obtain their blessings to serve the people, but to show their political opponents in poor light, while others make the trek for the flimsiest of reasons, making this an all too common sight that only goes to belittle the exalted status of the Chief Prelates.

Not just politicians, we see sportsmen too, not all of them Buddhists, making the pilgrimage, after some achievement or other in the sporting field, in the full glare of the media. While seeking the blessings of the Maha Sangha is a good and accepted practice in this country, and should be encouraged at every turn, care should also be taken by those who pay such homage not to make the occasion a publicity stunt for the individuals concerned, and, thereby, making the Sangha look willing tools of their ulterior motives.

A day of national shame

The grief and anguish at the passing away of local and international cinema icon Dr. Lester James Peries would certainly have multiplied several folds among his multitude of fans and Sri Lankans in general at the distressing news of the theft of a replica of one of his prized possessions on the very day of his funeral.

According to media reports, the honorary medal received with the ‘Ranamayura’ Golden Awards for the film Gamperaliya, conferred upon the maestro, had been stolen from his residence while the funeral service was in progress.

According to National Film Corporation Chairman Sitendra Senaratne, Dr. Peries was the recipient of several Golden Peacock Awards at Film Festivals in India during his lifetime and this stolen souvenir was the most valuable among the collection. The thief, he added, may perhaps been lured by the fact that the souvenir was thought to be made of precious metal.

This certainly is an unforgivable act, coming as it does in the aftermath of all the tributes and accolades showered on Dr. Peries, at his funeral, and is a huge black mark on the country and its people who may have already been cast as an ungrateful nation by the outside world, bereft of any feeling and singularly lacking in the capacity and inclination to honour and cherish one of its great sons.

It is also a sign of the times where values such as gratitude, feelings of indebtedness and sense of obligation no longer exist in our society and where greed supersedes good judgement and the sense of right and wrong. This theft, on the very day of the funeral of Dr. Peries, mind boggling as it may be to most, may not be all that surprising to others, considering the corrupt ethos into which this country has plunged.

One recalls the incident where Eddie Jayamanna was the victim of a pickpocket on the day of his celebrated wife’s funeral.

Sri Lanka! a land like no other.


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