Image of the Buddha

Charles Perera

The image of the compassionate Buddha should be a symbol of peace that bring people together rather than a symbol of discord which put people asunder.

But unfortunately, the Buddha image has become a centre of hatred of some and devotion for another. The Talibans who destroyed the Buddha statue in Bamiah in Afghanistan were soon chased away from their strong hold . More recently a Buddhist statue was blown up to satisfy the fancy of a film maker.

Though the Buddha had said that stupas may be constructed to bury the relics of the Buddha or arahats, he had not said that statues representing him be made. In the ancient time Buddha was represented by an empty seat, a turban, a Bo-tree, a footprint, a stupa or a dhamma cakkha.

2 c AD Andrahpradesh empty seat represent the Buddha

The first Buddha image to appear was in Bihar in the 2nd century AD. The practice of making statues of the Buddha may have been to compete with the Hindu Temples which had multifarious statues representing different gods of Hindu pantheon.

Destruction of statues of worship, be it Buddhist, Hindu, or Christian had been resorted to by invaders and treasure hunters. The desecration of places of worship and religious statues has a long history going back to Greek, Roman, Chinese, and Iranian or even beyond to Egyptian civilizations. In Sri Lanka, Buddhist places of worship, had been mutilated or destroyed, by Dravidian invaders and then by the Portuguese. In recent times it had not been so frequent, except by rival ethnic groups or Buddhists themselves, who hunt for treasures. The modern destructors of Sacred places of religious worship are the terrorist of Sri Lanka directly by themselves or through others by instigation. The most dastardly, beastly act that they committed was that perpetrated on the Sacred Temple of the Tooth in Kandy.

Today, in Trincomalee, with a Sinhala Buddhist majority, the minority Tamils are against the placement of a Buddha Statue in the Centre of the City. The situation has been worsened after a judgement had been made for the removal of the statue. The terrorists are again behind this situation instigating and forcing the Tamil minority against Sinhala Buddhist Majority. The Tamil terrorists, uses every opportunity to create dissension every where they can.

The terrorists want to have complete control of Trincomalee, and are doing their best to create panic among the Sinhala community and get them into a situation of confrontation. The Government, highly taken up by the Joint Mechanisms and what not to appease the terrorists had neglected the control of the North and Eastern Province and made it vulnerable for terrorist attack. It is high time the Government wakes up and appeal to the International Community, who have vowed to fight terrorism to intervene before it is too late to stop further erosion of power, to the benefit of the terrorists.

Religion was and is always a very sensitive area among the people, where disagreements or untoward acts may erupt into an armed dispute between the instigators and the instigated. In Sri Lanka each community decides things on their own without consultation with other possibly affected parties. Putting up of Mosques, Hindu temples, Christian Statues, Churches and Buddhist Statues any where, in any place has to be controlled. Such constructions are some times to mark areas of communal ownership, which has often caused communal strife.

Another area that has been encroached upon to create similar discord is the using of loudspeakers for the call of worship by Muslims, chanting of pirith by the Buddhists and Hindu temple ceremonies. These are matters that should be settled through dialogue between the communities, through the intervention of Provincial Councils or the Government if necessary.



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