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Religions in the Context of an ethnic Religions in the Context of an ethnic conflict

Religions in the Context of an ethnic Religions in the Context of an ethnic conflict

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Published by Sri Lanka Guardian
Role of Religions for Reconciliation by S.J. Emmanuel
Role of Religions for Reconciliation by S.J. Emmanuel

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Published by: Sri Lanka Guardian on Jul 24, 2013
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RELIGIONS IN THE SRI LANKAN ETHNIC CONFLICT

S.J.EMMANUEL

ETHNIC CONFLICT BUT RELIGIONS DO HAVE A ROLE
• ALTHOUGH THE LONG CONFLICT IS ETHNIC IN

CHARACTER AND BETWEEN THE CEYLON TAMILS AND THE SINHALA PEOPLE, ALL RELIGIONS – BUDDHISM (70%), HINDUISM (18%), ISLAM (8%) AND CHRISTIANS (7.5 %) - DO HAVE A ROLE IN ESCALATING THE CONFLICT SOME WAY OR OTHER IN THE PAST AND DO HAVE A ROLE IN RESOLVING THE CONFLICT FOR THE FUTURE. THEIR FOLLOWERS HAVE ALL BEEN AFFECTED BY THE CONFLICT AND WAR AND ARE ALL ENGAGED IN CARING FOR THE VICTIMS OF WAR. .

• •

2.0 BUDDHISM AND HINDUISMCOMMONALTIES

• 2.1 Buddhism and Hinduism have had followers
• •
from very early times, before 2000 years. They are respectively the religions of the majority Sinhalese (75%) and the minority Tamils (18%). These religions have rooted themselves as peoples’ religions into the respective cultures of the Sinhalese and the Tamils respectively.

THEISTIC BUDDHISM ?
• 2.2 THOUGH THERAVEDA BUDDHISM, IN ITS
• •
DOCTRINE IS A NON-THEISTIC RELIGION, IN SRI LANKA IT GIVES PLACE TO DEITY-WORSHIP. WITHIN THE PREMISES OF MANY BUDDHIST TEMPLES, THERE ARE “SHRINE-ROOMS” WITH HINDU-GODS. SINHALA BUDDHISTS AFTER LISTENING TO THE PREACHING OF THE BUDDHIST MONK AND OFFERING FLOWERS TO BUDDHA, VISIT THESE SHRINES AND MAKE PETITIONS IN THEIR NEED.

BUDDHISTS AND HINDUS JOIN IN CELEBRATIONS
• 2.3 DURING FESTIVAL-PROCESSIONS LIKE THE
ONE IN WHICH BUDDHISTS CARRY THE TOOTHRELIC OF BUDDHA, HINDU DEVOTEES DO KAAVADI DANCE AS A FORM OF THEIR PARTICIPATION. OR IN GOING TO PILGRIMAGES TO ADAMS PEAK – CLAIMED BY THE FOLLOWERS OF ALL 4 RELIGIONS AS OF RELIGIOUS SIGNIFICANCE, OR TO KATARAGAMA IN THE SOUTH , TO NAINA THEEVU IN THE NORTH, THERE ARE NO DIFFICULTIES. HENCE THERE IS NO RELIGIOUS CONFLICTS BETWEEN THE MAJORITY BUDDHISTS AND THE MINORITY HINDUS.

3.0 BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM – DISIMILARITIES
THOUGH BOTH BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM HAVE TAKEN ROOTS INTO THE PEOPLE, • WHEN IT COMES TO INFLUENCING THE SOCIO-CULTURAL LIFE STYLES OF THE SINHALA AND TAMIL PEOPLE IN THE SOUTHWEST AND NORTHEAST OF SRI LANKA RESPECTIVELY, THEY HAVE VARIED DEGREES OR DEPTH OF INFLUENCE. • BESIDES BOTH BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM BY THEIR ROOTING OR CONTEXTUALISATION, BY THEIR HISTORY AND CULTURE, HAVE GIVEN RISE TO SINHALA BUDDHISM WHICH IS FOUND ONLY IN SRI LANKA AND TO TAMIL SAIVISM IN THE NORTHEAST OF SRI LANKA

SINHALA BUDDHISM
• 3.2 UNLIKE SAIVA-HINDUISM AMONG THE TAMILS, THE
SINHALA THERAVEDA BUDDHISM IN SRI LANKA IS MORE MILITANT AND POLITICALLY CONSCIOUS AND SOCIALLY ENGAGED. • THERE IS A “PROTESTANT BUDDHISM” AS WELL AS SOCIALLY AND POLITICALLY-ENGAGED BUDDHISM. • THE BUDDHIST TEMPLE AND THE VIHARA, THE HOUSE OF THE MONKS ARE THE CENTERS OF BUDDHIST PREACHING. • BUDDHIST PREACHING OR BANA-PREACHING INCLUDE OFTEN DISCOURSES ABOUT THE HISTORY OF THE PEOPLE, THEIR HERITAGE AND THEIR SOCIO-POLITICAL ROLES IN SRI LANKA

SAIVISM
• SAIVISM UNLIKE BUDDHISM AND ITS COUNTERPARTS IN
NORTH-INDIA, IS A PASSIVE FORM OF THEISTIC WORSHIP CENTERED AROUND THE TEMPLES AND THE VEDAS. • IT HAS NO HIERARCHICAL STRUCTURE OR INSTITUTIONS SUCH AS THE SASSANA OR THE MONASTERY IN BUDDHISM. • HINDU PRIESTS ARE POOSARIS, OFFERING SACRIFICES AND INTERCEDING GODS WITH THEIR SANSKRIT PRAYERFORMULAE. • THEY WIELD HARDLY ANY INFLUENCE IN SHAPING THE THINKING AND ENGAGEMENT OF THE PEOPLE IN SOCIETY OR POLITICS. THEY DO NOT ORGANISE ANY SOCIAL EVENTS OR CHARITY. THESE ARE LEFT TO LAY LEADERS

4.0 During the colonial times 16-20 centuries
• 4.1 PORTUGUESE AS THE FIRST COLONIZERS
CONVERTED BUDDHISTS AND HINDUS TO CATHOLICISM. THE DUTCH BROUGHT THE REFORMED CHURCH AND PERSECUTED THE CATHOLICS TO ESTABLISH THE REFORMED CHURCHES. UNDER THE BRITISH ANGLICANS AND METHODISTS AND MUCH LATER THE CHURCH OF SOUTH INDIA WON FOLLOWERS FROM AMONG BOTH SINHALESE AND THE TAMILS

BUDDHISTS AND HINDUS HOPED FOR POST-COLONIAL RESTORATION

• 4.2 HENCE BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM
• •
WERE AFFECTED MUCH BY THE COLONIAL OPPRESSION. DURING THE LAST PHASE OF BRITISH COLONIALISM, EFFORTS WERE MADE FOR THE RESTORATION OF THESE RELIGIONS TO THEIR PRISTINE GLORIES. BUT BOTH LOOKED FORWARD TO THE END OF COLONIALISM TO ENJOY MORE FREEDOM AND RESPECT FOR THEIR RELIGIONS.

CHRISTIANITY AS A COLONIAL RELIGION
• 4.3 CHRISTIANS, BEING CONVERTS FROM
BUDDHISM AND HINDUISM, IN SPITE OF THEIR CONTRIBUTION TO EDUCATION AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS, WERE SEEN AS POST-COLONIAL AND EUROPEAN BY THE OTHERS. CHRISTIAN WERE CONSCIOUS OF THEIR FOREIGN AND MINORITY CHARACTER AND HENCE WERE RELUCTANT IN LEADERSHIP ROLES IN A POST-COLONIAL CEYLON AND SRI LANKA.

SINHALA BUDDHIST NATIONALISM
• RESURGENCE OF SINHALA NATIONALISM
• •
AFTER COLONIAL OPPRESSION MINORITY-COMPLEX AND FEAR OF THE MAJORITY SINHALA BUDDHISTS PROTESTANT POLITICAL BUDDHISM TO POWER ANTI-TAMIL DISCRIMINATORY LAWS STATE_VIOLENCE AND POGROMS

RELIGIOUS FANATISM AS FUEL FOR VIOLENCE

SINHALA BUDDHISMUS IN SRI LANKA

POLITICAL BUDDHISM

POLITICAL PROTEST

BUDDHIST MONKS PROTEST

BUDDHIST MONK FASTING

JANATHA VIMUKTHI PERUMUNA + PATRIOTIC NATIONAL MOVEMENT AS ANTI-WEST COALITION

HELPERS TO TAMILS ARE CALLED WHITE TIGERS

PROTEST AGAINST THE WEST

FACTORS WHICH HELPED ESCALATE THE CONFLICT
• Post-Colonial Resurgence of Buddhism was stronngly anti•
colonial British Blunder handing over powers entirely to a majoritarian democracy of the SBN Protestant Buddhism rooted with Mahavamsa Believes Absence of any political counterpart in Hinduism Apolitical stance of the Christians with a minority and fear and centripetal Interests on their Institutions Non-rootedness of the churches among the people Centropetal Islam concentrating on its commercial intersests only

• • • • •

AN OVERVIEW OF 1)THE RISE OF SINHALA BUDDHIST NATIONALISM 2) STATE-TERRO R AGAINNST TAMILS, 3) COUNTER TAMIL-TERROR, LTTE +TNA 4) UN + INTERNATIONAL COMMUNITY 5) ROLE OF THE CHURCH

ROLL OF THE CHURCH IN PEACE_BUILDING
• A LOST STRATEGY TO BE A NATION BUILDER

AND MEDIATOR A MINORITY CHURCH WITH A FOREIGN FACE AND RESOURCE NEED TO REDEFINE RELIGIONS INCLUDING CHRISTIANITY AS INSTITUTIONSS TO FIGHT THE ROOTS OF VIOLENCE AND WAR AS INSTITUTIONS BUILDING BRIDGES INA MULTI_ETHNIC AND MULTIRELIGIOUS SOCIETY

• •

GOING BEYOND HUMANITARIAN SERVICES

• HUMANITARIAN SERVICES MORE WITH
FOREIGN AID • HOSPITALS AND CEMETERIS DO NOT STOP VIOLENCE OR WAR • STRUGGLING TO GO BEYOND HUMANITARIAN SERVICE TO A PROPHETIC ROLE IN FIGHTING EVIL AND INJUSTICE

5.0 RELIGION? WHY AND FOR WHAT PURPOSE?
• 5.1 RELIGIONS ARE MEANT TO SERVE THE • •
WELFARE AND REDEMPTION OR LIBERATION OF MAN. RELIGION IS FOR MAN AND NOT MAN FOR THE RELIGION. NONE OF THE RELIGIONS OF THE WORLD CAN CLAIM TO GIVE LIBERATION OR SALVATION TO AN INDIVIDUAL. THEY CAN SERVE THE CAUSE OF MAN IN LIMITED WAYS, DEPENDING ON THE TEACHINGS AND THE SERVICES THEY PROVIDE TO MAN.

RELIGIONS OF SRI LANKA MEANT TO BUILD A SRI LANKAN COMMUNITY
• 5.2 A RELIGION IS TO SERVE MAN IN HIS CONTEXT

OF LIFE, NOT DIVORCED FROM IT. THE PEOPLE OF SRI LANKA, BE THEY BUDDHISTS, HINDUS, MUSLIMS OR CHRISTIANS, THEY ARE ALL MEANT TO SERVE THE PEOPLE IN THEIR LIFE AS INDIVIDUALS AND COMMUNITY MEMBERS, IN SOCIOPOLITICAL AND ECONOMIC LIFE. THEIR CONTRIBUTIONS ARE SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE AND MOTIVATION, WHICH ARE INDISPENSABLE AND INSTRUMENTAL IN BUILDING UP A BETTER PEACEFUL SOCIETY.

ABILITY OF THE RELIGIONS
• 5.30 BUT THEIR ABILITY TO PLAY SUCH A NOBLE
• •
AND POSITIVE ROLE OF SERVING MAN AND COMMUNITY IN SRI LANKA, IS DEFINED OR LIMITED 5.31 BY THEIR SELF-UNDERSTANDING WHICH IN TURN IS DEFINED BY THEIR HISTORY IN THE COUNTRY, THEIR CLAIMS AND THEIR ACTUAL NUMBERS 5.32 BY THEIR TEACHING ABOUT THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN RELIGION AND SOCIOPOLITICAL REALITIES.

RELIGIONS? APOLITICAL, ANTI-POLITICAL OR TOO-POLITICAL?
• UNFORTUNATELY EACH RELIGION HAD A
• •
LIMITED, IF NOT A NEGATIVE, UNDERSTANDING OF ITS ROLE IN THE LARGER SOCIETY. THEY SOMETIMES REMAINED ANTI-POLITICAL OR APOLITICAL OR TOO POLITICAL. BY THEIR GROWTH AND NATURE THEY HAVE PLAYED THEIR ROLES EITHER IN A DESTRUCTIVE WAY OR NON-CONCERNED OR INDIFFERENT WAY OR INFLUENCING WAY.

MAHAVAMSA CHRONICLE AS HISTORY?
• MAHAVAMSA IS A CHRONICLE, WRITTEN BY A BUDDHIST
• •
MONK MANY CENTURIES AFTER BUDDHA DIED ACCORDING TO THIS CHRONICLE, SRI LANKAN ISLAND IS EXCLUSIVELY A SINHALA BUDDHIST COUNTRY. THIS LEGENDARY CHRONICLE, IS UNDERSTOOD AS TRUE HISTORY OF THE ISLAND IT HAS OVERTAKEN THE TRUE TEACHINGS OF BUDDHA. THE MAHAVAMSA TRACHINGS HAS SHAPED AND DETERMINED THE THINKING AND ACTIONS OF THE BUDDHISTS THEIR POLITICAL LEADERS HAVE USED THIS TO WHIP UP A FALSE NATIONALISM .

• •

SAIVISM WITHOUT SOCIOPOLITICAL ENGAGEMENT

Saivism or Sri Lankan Hinduism, was the matrix of Tamil culture and pillars of the Tamil Kingdom. • But their role in shaping the politico-social thinking was very little. • In competition with the colonials and foreign missionaries, Hindus strive hard to establish their schools. • Their schools were proud in producing highly qualified servants of the State

• but not in motivating sociopolitical leaderships.

SELF-CENTRED ISLAM
• ISLAM WAS THE RELIGION OF THE THE SRI
LANKAN AND INDIAN MOORS, AS WELL AS THE MALAYS, WHO WERE EITHER FARMERS AND FISHERMEN ON THE EASTERN COAST OF SRI LANKA OR SUCCESSFUL BUSINESSMEN, IN THE CAPITALS AND SOUTHWESTERN COAST OF SRI LANKA. THEIR ROLE IN THE LARGER SOCIETY WAS DETERMINED BY SEEKING THE PROTECTION AND FAVOUR OF THE GOVERNMENTS OF THE TIME. MOST OF THEM SPOKE TAMIL AS WELL AS SINHALESE..

MOORS AND MALAYS
• THE SRI LANKAN MOORS MAKE UP 93% OF THE

MUSLIM POPULATION AND 7% OF THE TOTAL POPULATION OF THE COUNTRY. THEY ARE PREDOMINANTLY SUNNI MUSLIMS. THEY TRACE THEIR ANCESTRY TO ARAB TRADERS WHO MOVED TO SRI LANKA SOME TIME BETWEEN THE EIGHTH AND FIFTEENTH CENTURIES. CURRENTLY, THE MOORS OF SRI LANKA USE TAMIL AS THEIR PRIMARY LANGUAGE WHICH INCLUDES MANY LOAN WORDS FROM ARABIC.

MUSLIMS AS TAMILS
• THE TAMILS OF SRI LANKA, THROUGHOUT
HISTORY, HAVE ATTEMPTED TO CATEGORIZE THE SRI LANKAN MOORS AS BELONGING TO THE TAMIL RACE. THE GOVERNMENT OF SRI LANKA, HOWEVER, TREATS THE MUSLIMS AS OF ARAB ORIGIN AND AS A DISTINCT ETHNIC GROUP FROM THE TAMILS

Rise in Islamic fundamentalism
• There is a new fervor in following Islam. There have also


been concerns at the rise of Islamic fundamentalist terrorism, mostly in the explosive eastern provinces. Sri Lankan muslims, relatively, have not been passionate in spreading Islam among the majority population and have remained quite insular. However, there is now steady rise in the number of converts. These converts mostly come from the Sinhalese Buddhist, Tamil Hindu and Roman Catholic communities.

INTER-RELIGIOUS COLLABORATION FOR PEACE

• HISTORICAL ANIMOSITIES AND
• •
COMPETITIONS HAVE HINDERED OPENNESS TO ONE ANOTHER GREATER DEGREE OF INSTITUTIONALISM PREVENTS COLLABORATION FOR COMMON GOOD NATURAL CATASTROPHY, LIKE THE TSUNAMI, AND MAN-MADE WARS ARE GOLDEN OPPORTUNITIES FOR INTERRELIGIOUS COLLABORATION.

ANTHROPOCENTRISM NEEDED IN ALL RELIGIONS
• LACK OF ANTHROPOCENTRISM IN RELIGIONS

LEAD TO DIVERGENT WORLD-VIEWS AND HINDER INTER-RELIGIOUS COLLABORATION INSTEAD OF IDENTIFYING EVIL AS THE COMMON ENEMY OF ALL RELIGIONS AND FIGHTING IT, INSTITUTIONAL RELIGIONS CONCERNED ABOUT MEMBERSHIP ENGAGE IN ANTI-RELIGIOUS ACTIVITIES GLOBAL ETHIC AND PARLIAMENT OF RELIGIONS NO PEACE WITHOUT PEACE AMONG RELIGIONS, NO PEACE AMONG RELIGIONS WITHOUT INTERREL. DIALOGUE

• •

HOPES FOR THE FUTURE
• CHRISTIANS MUST RISK THEIR SAFETY AND
• • •
PRIVILEGES TO INITIATE HIGH LEVEL EFFORTS BUDDHIST LEADERS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES MUST PRESSURISE LOCAL LEADERS TOWARDS BETTER UNDERSTANDING. DALAI LAMA! ISLAMIC COUNTRIES WHICH HOST SRI LANKAN WORKERS CAN PRESSURISE TOWARDS SOLUTION LAY HINDU LEADERS FROM INDIA, SOUTH AFRICA, MALAZSIA COULD HELP THE SAIVITES

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