Critical Commentary: Buddhist Monks Attacked by Extremist Group

Posted on October 17, 2013 by

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     Watareka Vijitha Thero is a Buddhist monk of Sri Lanka.  He has been an advocate to end the conflict between the Buddhist and Muslim communities of Sri Lanka.  It was extremist groups and both sides that was causing the conflict.  Some were shocked by Vijitha Thero’s stance of how it was no longer only the Muslims, but Buddhists alike that were tarnishing the good name of Buddhism. For this he received threats from groups, and one Buddhist extremist group in particular, the Bodu Bala Sena or BBS.  Over the summer the BBS made their threats a reality and attacked Vijitha Thero and others with him in a car.  Vijitha Thero sought out police help, but they continued to be slow or unhelpful and the best they could do was place him safe homes. Because of having to be away from his home and temple, he was left with no job or income, and was not able to upkeep his temple and the young monks there; all the while his attackers roam free gathering more followers.

    I was first attracted to this article by the title because I did not know who the Bodu Bala Sena were and I wanted to know why they were persecuting a Buddhist monk and why the police were not dealing with it as well.  The first paragraph did not really give me any information about what the title was suggesting about other than that Vijitha Thero was the monk, but it soon dove in the “why” and the “who” the Bodu Bala Sena were.  One thing that the article never really answered from my original interest was why the police seemed to delay helping the monk.  I can assume that the police may be affiliated with the BBS, or just simply don’t agree with Vijitha Thero’s movements, or may not have viewed the monk’s attack and threats that high on their priority list.  Either way, the true answer was not addressed in the article.  I feel like this is an downside to this article because the police inaction was mentioned in the title, which is usually an indicator of what is to stated in the article.

     This article brings both Buddhism and Islam into the light. There are some universal stereotypes about both these religions.  From an outsiders point of view Buddhist are viewed as peaceful and calm beings, while some Muslims on the other hand are viewed as terrorists.  I feel that the author addressed these stereotypes by showing their opposites.  In this article the Muslims are the ones who are more subdued and not causing the attacks or havoc.  Instead the “peaceful” Buddhists are the one’s sending threats, protesting, and attacking.  It doesn’t forget to mention that there are still extremist groups for both religions, but after reading the article this was the first impression I got on these religions.

     There was more focus put on Buddhism in this article than Islam though.  There are different schools of Buddhism that have different  ideals, practices, and ways to enlightenment.  A reoccurring theme in most of the schools is some form of karma or merit. Vijitha Thero was a Buddhist monk trying to bridge the gap between the Islamic and Buddhist communities that would bring a sense of peace and end  the crimes committed against  each other. Even though it is unclear what school he follows he is obtaining good karma though being kind and preaching out against hatefulness, and he is gaining merit through these tasks as well as him being a monk. In turn these extremist groups, the BBS especially, are committing harm to their community, threatening and attacking monks, disobeying state laws, and committing hateful crimes on others based on their religious beliefs. Again the article doesn’t highlight which school the BBS follows, but overall they could not be obtaining good karma or merit that would ensure them a good rebirth or lead them to enlightenment.   From this article and some of the basics of Buddhism, I feel that the BBS are no longer following a true form of Buddhism and are instead tarnishing the name of Buddhism and are using it as a tool to attract more followers.

 

Link to article:

http://groundviews.org/2013/10/09/buddhist-monk-attacked-by-bodu-bala-sena-and-police-inaction/

Source:

"Buddhist Monk Attacked by Bodu Bala Sena and Police Inaction." Groundviews Journalism for Citizens 
     (2013): n. pag. Web. 17 Oct. 2013. <http://groundviews.org/2013/10/09/ 
     buddhist-monk-attacked-by-bodu-bala-sena-and-police-inaction/>. 
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