• The Opposition Leader has got the Dhamma and Sangha mixed up – President
President Ranil Wickremesinghe pointed out that the Parabhava Sutra refers to the Dhamma and not to the Sangha and the Leader of the Opposition has got the Dhamma and Sangha mixed up.
The President made these comments during the budget debate in parliament today (29)
The President pointed out that many problems arise when the Sangha does not act according to the Dhamma, and it has been happening since the time of the Buddha. The President also said that for the first time, he gave approval to a bill to register a discourse that empowers the Maha Sangha to protect Sangha discipline.
President Ranil Wickremesinghe also said, “First of all, I would like to thank the Opposition Leader for bringing up the “Parabhava Sutra” during the debate on the expenditure heads of the Ministry of Buddhasasana, Religious and Cultural Affairs in parliament today.
As far as I know, “Parabhava Sutra” does not talk about the Ven. Maha Sangha. According to the preaching of the Buddha:
Suvijano Bhavan Hoti
Dhamma Kamo Bhavan hoti
Dhamma dessi parabhavo
(A person who improves can be known according to those facts. A person who deteriorates can also be known. He who engages in the ten virtues improves and he who hates them deteriorates).
Buddhism mentions the Buddha, Dhamma and Sangha. The “Parabhava Sutra” refers to the Dhamma and not the Sangha. I think our Opposition Leader has got the Dhamma and Sangha mixed up. We have to understand the difference.
Both Sangha and lay people should follow the Dhamma. Sometimes the lay people can live without following the Dhamma. But we should live according to Dhamma.
I would like to remind him of one more thing.
Asantassa Piya Honthi
Santhe na Kurute Piang
Asathang Dhamman Rocheti
Nang Parabhavato Mukhan
(The wicked are dear to him, with the virtuous he finds no delight, he prefers the creed of the wicked — this is a cause of one’s downfall.)
I would like to give the same advice to our Opposition Leader. Indeed, there are many problems in the Buddha Sasana. First, we expect all laymen and priests to act according to the Dhamma. When our Maha Sangha does not act according to the Dhamma, many problems arise. It has been happening since the Buddha’s time. Devadatta acted against the Buddha while wearing saffron robes.
That is why for the first time we have approved a bill to register a discourse to give powers to the Maha Sangha. After receiving approval from the Legislative Department, we will present it to this House. Because there must be some control.
In the past, it was done by kings. It was by those kings that certain reforms were made to the Buddha Sasana.
During the reign of King Parakramabahu, some members of the Ven Maha Sangha were sentenced to death. We cannot do that as we do not have the power for that under the Constitution. Article 09 of the Constitution refers to the conduct of the Sangha. We also have 03 chapters namely Siam, Amarapura and Ramangna. This draft is necessary because we have several issues that need to be paid attention to with regard to religious affairs.
I saw an undergraduate monk scolding and blaming our Most Venerable Malwatu and Asgiri Mahanayaka Theros. We have to ask who these people are. Are they real monks or impersonators?
It is not possible to gain special protection by merely wearing robes and acting against the Dharma. That is why this bill is necessary. Sometimes, through this behavior, the issues of the Sangha society are raised by the lay people. Here we have to discuss this at length.
Today, a large number of people enter universities as monks but end up as laymen. Initially, we must decide that if we enter the university as monks, we will be awarded the degree as monks, and it will not be transferable. If they need to de robe they should discuss it with their Mahanayake Theros. The behaviour of the monks in universities should also be linked to these discourses. If the existing method continued, our order will be lost. That’s why I raised this issue today.
The government will look at how we should preserve and also show the distinct nature of Hinduism in Sri Lanka as compared to India. Many Hindu Gods are worshipped not only by Hindus but also in Buddhist temples in Sri Lanka.
Shiva worship is prevalent in Jaffna while Vishnu is worshipped in the Southern part of the country. We worship many Hindu gods like Vishnu, Skandakumara, Katharagama, Pattini and Vibeeshana.
A asked the subject minister to compile a report on the distinct nature of Hinduism in Sri Lanka as compared to the Hindu worship in India, where again you find a difference in North India and South India. The others too can help in this effort.
We also have decided to set up a separate institution to study the history of Sri Lanka as we have forgotten the history of the country. One objective of the institution is to conduct research on the history of the country. The history that we know today is different to what we have in the Mahawansa. It comprises the views of one side whereas there are other views.
Hence we would look into them and expect to move forward.
We also appreciate the service rendered by the Health Minister. The government is planning to set up three medical faculties at the Uva-Wellassa University, Kurunegala and Polonnaruwa. Two teaching Hospitals would be set up one of them would be upgraded as a teaching hospital. We hope to set up three Post Graduate Institutes of Medicine in three universities apart from the Colombo University.
We are making a massive transformation in the health sector of the country. We would provide funds to develop the Medical Research Institute (MRI) in Sri Lanka which would only be second to the research institute in Pune. We would reach this goal within the next two-three years.
The government spends Rs 6 million on each medical student. The government spends this with the intention of getting their services for the country, but instead they migrate to other countries. This has become a grave issue. We have to find a solution for this issue. This issue remains the same under whatever party that comes to power. Under such a situation, if we compare the services we provide other countries by sending them training and experienced medical and engineering professionals, it is far bigger than the aid these countries provide us with. We are not giving them retired people but experienced people. So we have to pay attention to this matter and find a solution for it. We have to decide as to what we are going to do with those students who study at the medical faculties and engineering faculties. We need to look for a solution.”
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