This Vap poya day of Novermber 05, 2006, I attended the ‘Seela Vyapara’ at my old school with great expectations, but I had to cut short my day and return home in deep distress after hearing a mean monk’s mean sermon, which later turned out to be more than mean.

‘Mavalare Bhaddiya’ Thero, a priest from the Kuppiawatte Temple, Colombo, took undue advantage of the respect given to a Buddhist monk in the sermon seat, to come out with some strange material. He repeatedly said that those who do not think that Sri Lanka’s heritage is a Buddhist heritage should go to the land of the dead (paralowa yanna ooni). He continued on with words of hate invoking the Vaddhaki-Sukara Jataka in the grossest manner to glorify the killing and eating the flesh of your enemy.

I sat there in disbelief. It was difficult to judge reaction of others. I came home intending to write a letter to the Old Girls Association but was too depressed to anything the whole day.

Then this morning we hear Mr. Vignarajah is assassinated. It was only last night he spoke against the disappearance of Tamils in Colombo and the suffering of Tamils in Jaffna.  Was he was sent to the ‘land of the dead’ because he did not subscribe to the idea of a Sinhala Buddhist supremacy? It sends shivers up my spine to think I heard exhortations for similar actions at a sermon in my old school.

I did finally write that letter – my puny reaction to an act of violence that is just mind-boggling.

In my letter to OGA I was able to say some good words too. That day, after the bomb shell of a sermon, I was too shocked to move even and just sat there. Another sermon followed and I did not have much hope, but Venerable Athkandure Sumanasara Thero’s words were like balm. He gently chided us to think of what ‘ata sil’ means. He said that some may say man’s ultimate duty is to serve others. He said, no, the Buddha teachings tell us that our prime responsibility is to save ourselves from the cycle of clinging and suffering. On Poya day we give ourselves room to practice. Other days we are too busy living.

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