Mahasammata Wadaya – Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka (Updated)

The work-in-progress article of Prasad Mapatuna, Mahasen Bandara (Co-Author), Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka, has has been updated, and includes a new section titled  ‘Mahasammata Wadaya’.

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Mahasammata Wadaya

Something more need to be said about the attempt to popularize an ancient value system and bring backancient governance model as the way forward for Sri Lanka. I earlier dismissed this concept as a mere re-dressing of Feudal System (Weda Wasm Wadaya) and nothing more. However judging by strength of the fan-base for this concept, it is obvious that they have seen something attractive in it. Therefore I thought that concept should be given little bit more respect than outright dismissal.

It is not an uncommon trend for communities in former colonies to feel that they have “lost” something good in their past, that their former colonial masters took away or destroyed.  It is also not uncommon to associate anything that came from outside after the subjugation to the colonial powers as something thrust upon them. In that sense, I can understand the mindset of Mahasammatha fans where they see that parliamentary democracy and modern values associated with it as “alien western concepts”. They feel that whatever was there in the past should have been better since what we have now is less than perfect. A cult formed around this type of nostalgia can be quite harmless. Unfortunately due to strong appeal the Buddhist institution has for this ideology, (for the reasons mentioned above) this is far more than a mere cult. It is almost a political force.

These type of ideologies are harmful in the same sense the Eelam (Eezham) ideology was harmful to the North Eastern Tamil community. The entire community was taken for a very expensive ride by the LTTE who themselves must have been convinced that Eelam was achievable. If we take step back and have anhonest look at Eelam concept in its ideal implementation. It does sound quite appealing not only to North Eastern Tamils but also to Sinhalese in the south. Provided that fair division of land and water resources is possible, what we will have are two nations with strong inner coherence (relatively free from internal conflicts) and have strong feeling about the land they live. Tamils with newly achieved land and Sinhalese with newly lost territory both eager to make the best out of the circumstances. I am sure we all agree that this utopian state is not achievable and Tamils are only harming themselves and entire Sri Lanka by pursuing this dream.

I am not even interested in going deep in to Mahasammatha concept and see what if offers. Even if someone manage to convince me that is it the best thing that can happen to Sri Lanka, it is a tough ask to rally people around a concept of this nature. This concept has very strong Sinhala Buddhist perspective to it. This immediately alienates more than one-third of the population. At best it can only help in taking the whole of Sri Lankan in a very expensive ride similar to the Eelam ride north eastern Tamils were taken.

As we have overcome a difficult war of our own making, it is time to seek ideologies that promote reconciliation; not further division. We should not leave any room for another war.


Philosophical base of religion vs. Practical implementation – Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka (Updated)

The work-in-progress article of Prasad Mapatuna, Mahasen Bandara (Co-Author), Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka, has been updated, with a new section on the “Philosophical base of religion vs. Practical implementation” and the section “Laws based on religion vs. scientific reasoning” expanded.

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Philosophical base of religion vs. Practical implementation

It is interesting to note that the core philosophy of almost all major world religions survived humankind’s relentless pursuit of determinism by way of scientific enquiry. Defenders of these religions always found ways to stay above science or, at least, to be even with the propositions of the scientific modeling of the universe. The origin of the modern scientific approach is found in cultures with a Judeo-Christian background. In those cultures, most scientists treated their efforts as a pursuit of finding the ultimate equation of God. The theories, like the Big Bang beginning of the universe, in fact, were supportive of the argument of the creation of the universe by a personal God. The laws of nature seem to break down at the Big Bang singularity and scientists agreed that only God knows what happened there. On the other hand, with the Copenhagen interpretation of Quantum theory, and modern concepts of subatomic physics, the wisdom traditions of the East found their way into the minds of the scientific community. The concepts, like ‘observer-created-reality’ in quantum theory go hand-in-hand with Buddhist philosophy. Also the modern notion of ‘an undivided universe’ where the observer and the observed are treated as a single system, and every observed phenomenon is treated as manifestations of ‘an underlying wholeness’, goes well with the Hindu philosophy of undivided wholeness of the Brahman Paramaathma.

The philosophical base which serves as the seed for the intellectual discourse within and among religions has often little or no bearing to the way the religion is practiced in the field. The people rally not around the philosophy, but around the institution. The leaders who run the institution hold the key to the emotion-buttons that they can press to mobilize the followers in a direction that they please. A dangerous mob can be easily and quickly organized using power of custom or arbitrary authority. This is the danger of endowing religious institutions with more and more resources and authority.

In most of the religious implementations, relationship between the underlying philosophy and the practice of the intuition is similar to the relationship between the Koran to Taliban OR the Communist Manifesto to Stalin’s regime OR Eugenics to Nazi Germany. It is true that it is unfair to judge The Koran, The Communist Manifesto or Eugenics by Taliban, Stalin’s regime or Nazi Germany respectively. We all can hopefully agree that the seeds (Koran, Communist Manifesto or Eugenics) were not evil by themselves, but these three institutions were.

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European Age of Enlightenment – Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka (Updated)

The work-in-progress article of Prasad Mapatuna, Mahasen Bandara (Co-Author), Religion and Governance in Sri Lanka, has has been updated, with a new section on the European Age of Enlightenment.

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