Belief Relief

Two of the smaller member states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), are Sri Lanka and Bhutan.  Sri Lanka and Bhutan are both majority Buddhist nations.  Most of the ethnic Sinhalese people in Sri Lanka are followers of Theravada Buddhism.  A majority of the Bhutanese are followers of Vajrayana Buddhism.  However, the similarities end there as Sri Lanka and Bhutan offer two very different visions for society.    


The Sri Lankan government of President Rajapakse has adopted the worst practices of the genocidal Israeli regime.  The Sri Lankan government has received arms shipments, including weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) like mines and cluster bombs, from Israel.  The Sri Lankan government has employed the same reprehensible tactics that the Israeli regime has ruthlessly and illegally used in committing war crimes against Palestinian civilians.  The Sri Lankan air force, like the Israeli Defense Forces, has conducted numerous air strikes on civilian populations in the Tamil ethnic minority area of Eilam.  The Sri Lankan regime has destroyed infrastructure (hospitals, bridges, utilities, homes, etc) and killed thousands of fleeing Tamil civilians, ostensibly to free the Tamil ethnic minority from the grip of terrorists.  This is a variation on “fighting fire with fire” and can be termed “fighting terror by terrorizing”.  Tens of thousands of ethnic Sri Lankan Tamils have been displaced, wounded and crowded into makeshift refugee camps.  The erroneous and morally indefensible methods of the Sri Lankan regime will backfire and ultimately result in the formation of a Tamil state of Eilam.  Sri Lanka is a Buddhist state that has turned its back on the Buddhist principles of peace and non-violence. 


The Bhutanese government has transformed itself from an absolute monarchy into a constitutional monarchy with the active consent of the former monarch, King Jigme Singye Wangchuck.  King Jigme Singye Wangchuck coined the term “Gross National Happiness” which is a reference to the Buddhist notion that the ultimate purpose of life is inner happiness.  Bhutan’s former ruler felt the responsibility to define development in terms of happiness of its people was more relevant and important than the economic indicator “Gross National Product”.  Pursuant to aligning with the philosophy of “Gross National Happiness” and to preserve Bhutan’s pristine nature and unique culture, the Bhutanese government has limited tourism, mass media and foreign investment.  The Bhutanese want to be a model society where all citizens enjoy a quality of life based on respect for nature and culture, rather than consumption and production of materials.  Bhutan is a Buddhist state that has inculcated the Buddhist philosophy into daily existence. 


As the largest nation in SAARC, India is also the land where Buddhism originated.  India has a moral obligation to condemn, constrain and convict genocidal regimes like Israel and Sri Lanka for war crimes.  Consequently, India needs to assert its influence to prevent the atrocities against Tamil civilians by the Rajapakse regime (a government that only pays lip service to Buddhism).  India should also felicitate and assist the Bhutanese government in its lofty aims of living a moral existence based on Buddhist ideals.   


( – for additional articles)


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