Catholic Action by L H Mettananda
We are delighted to post a digital PDF version of the important and brave book, Catholic Action by L H Mettananda. The book was published by The Bauddha Jatika Balavegaya (BJB) in 1963. It has been transferred to digital format and edited and can be downloaded as a PDF. This has required some minor adjustment to its format and the diagrams have been re-created as closely as possible to the original, but in a contemporary format.
This book is an evidenced and erudite exposé of the influence that Catholic Action has had on Sri Lanka. It demonstrates clearly the agenda held by the Roman Catholic Church not only in Sri Lanka but towards all developing countries vulnerable to political and religious influence. This influence is still the agenda of the Catholic Church and therefore this book is as relevant today and it was in 1963.
We would like to acknowledge some key people who contributed to the book during its writing. Gunaseela Vithanage, Founder and Secretary of the BJB, worked closely with L H Mettananda in creating the book and contributions were made by Nissanka Wijeyaratne, a Civil Servant and Historian, and Professor K.N. Jayatilleke.
Also, we would like to thank both Kamala and Tilak Ediriweera for their dedication over many years in caring for and preserving the written documents, published materials and memories of Kamala’s father, the late L H Mettananda.
To read the book please click on the link below. You can also download it as a PDF file.
Mettananda’s grim warning of [A Conspiracy against Buddhism] (1956) still worthy of serious attention
Sri Express, Tuesday, Nov 11 2014
On the historic occasion of the presentation of the Report of the Buddhist Commission to the Maha Sangha and the Buddhist public at Ananda College on the 4th of February, 1956 the iconic Buddhist leader L.H. Mettananda delivered a memorable speech entitled ‘ A Conspiracy Against Buddhism’ warning the Buddhist community of a diabolical scheme underway to undermine Buddhism in Sri Lanka by various stratagems employed by subversive religious groups directed and controlled by a foreign power in association with key personalities in both the Govt. and Press.
1956 was the year of the Buddha Jayanthi. The completion of 2500 years of the Buddhist Era (Buddha Jayanti) fell in Vesak (May) 1956. It was also meant to be a year of great national and religious awakening. To commemorate this unique historical event Buddhists from all-over the world drew programmes to celebrate the occasion in an appropriate manner.
It was while preparations were underway to celebrate this unique Buddhist event in May 1956 that the UNP Government of Sir John Kotelawala decided to hold a General Election in April 1956 just one month before the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations. Knowing very well that elections would necessarily split up people resulting in much confusion and creation of an atmosphere that will not at all be conducive to celebrating the Buddha Jayanthi but in fact will only contribute towards sabotaging the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations, the Government nevertheless went ahead in holding the General Elections in April 1956 despite strong opposition from the Buddhist public, Buddhist leaders and the Maha Sangha. It was a diabolical decision most probably taken under pressure from alien forces having taken a foothold in the country during colonial rule. But the outcome of the election was an unprecedented victory for the Pancha Maha Balavegaya i.e. Sangha, Veda, Guru, Govi, Kamakaru and the toiling indigenous people of the country.
The architects of this unique electoral victory that resulted in what may be termed the Buddhist Revolution of 1956, were L.H. Mettananda and N.Q. Dias, and other Buddhist leaders and monks campaigning under the banner of the Eksath Bhikkshu Peramuna. They went from house to house in a massive national effort calling on the people to overthrow the yoke of Brown Sahibs and Thupphais governing like puppets under the direction of Abrahamic religious influence in a contest that was rhetorically painted as the ‘ Mara Yuddha’. To defeat Mara the scriptural enemy of the Buddha Sasana was a moral obligation of every Buddhist. This appeal to the most vital emotions of the Buddhists struck a deep chord. The Sinhala Buddhists responded in a manner that was never seen before or after in any General Election which ultimately boiled down to a fight essentially on the basis of rectification of historical injustices committed on the majority Sinhala Buddhists under nearly 450 years of western colonial rule.
The Report of the Buddhist Committee of Inquiry established by the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (generally known as the Buddhist Commission Report) and the part played by the Bhikkhus in bringing its contents to the knowledge of the Buddhist public were undoubtedly the most decisive factors that helped both S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike and the MEP to get elected to power in a landslide victory in 1956.
At a mammoth pre-election meeting of Bhikkhus and Buddhist laymen held at the Colombo Town Hall on 6th March, 1956 S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike, the MEP leader, sitting at the feet of Bhikkhus solemnly undertook in the presence of a huge gathering of over 3,000 Bhikkhus that if he were entrusted with the Government of the country, restore to Buddhism its rightful place in the land, as guaranteed by the Kandyan Convention of 1815 and confirmed by the British Imperial Govt. Proclamation of 1818. In the words of Mettananda in a letter to S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike written three months after he was elected as Prime Minister ” It was this undertaking made in public and in a most solemn manner and accepted by the bhikkhus without question in view of the assurance you have for several years given the Buddhist Community – that sent out the Bhikkhus in their thousands to call upon the Buddhist voters to exercise their vote, making the Buddhist question the most important issue at the election”.
The status of Buddhism in Sri Lanka is a critical issue for the Buddhist majority of this country. There is nothing more cherished by the majority of the people than Buddhism. To ignore this factor by any politician is to risk sliding into political oblivion. To hero worship or glorify Christian Missionaries has never been an innate calling of either the Buddhist laypersons or the Maha Sangha. One has to overlook history particularly during the Portuguese period of rule when Christian missionaries, the Catholic Church under the direction of Papal Bulls worked hand in glove with the oppressive Portuguese colonial Govt. to destroy Buddhism calling it a religion of heathens and force Buddhist monks to flee to the safety of the Sithawaka and Kandyan Kingdoms, leaving behind only Ganinanses (Buddhist practitioners wearing white cloth and in hiding under fear of persecution and even death) to cater to the religious needs of Buddhists in Portuguese controlled areas of Ceylon.
Christian Missionaries, Lascoreens and Sepoys have all worked hand in hand throughout to advance the agenda of conquest of Ceylon by foreign invaders. They were agents of the Colonial empires all out to oppress the natives and plunder their resources. In the Treaty entered into between King Rajasinghe the Second and the Dutch in 1638, Catholic Priests from Portuguese controlled areas were referred to as ‘ Troublemakers ‘ and the King Rajasinghe pledged the Dutch to not allow them to set foot in areas of control of the Kandyan Kingdom. Colonialism was a crime against humanity. Colonial history of genocide and mass murder should not be white washed for purpose of appeasement or political advantage. It constitutes a dark chapter and the perpetrators of such crimes owe the Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims of Sri Lanka an unconditional apology and reparations. It is Buddhist monks and Sinhalese freedom fighters who mostly sacrificed their lives in a valiant struggle to protect Sinhale and they were gallantly successful until they were betrayed by our own people to the British in 1815.
Mettananda’s speech warning of ‘ A Conspiracy against Buddhism ‘ is as important today as it was in 1956 given the unrelenting march of Abrahamic religions into the hinterland of Buddhist Asia. This is what has prompted a growing number of Buddhists to call on China to assume leadership of the Buddhist world. We need a powerhouse to protect Buddhism. China meets that description. China too faces the same challenge from Abrahamic religions as the rest of Buddhist Asia and even Hindu India. The time has come for potential victims in Asia to join hands. Asian Unity must be based on the foundation of Eastern religions and cultures i.e. Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism etc. Let us all hope that the collapse of Buddhism as the historical majority religion in South Korea in the last 30 years will not get duplicated in Sri Lanka.
Architects of the Buddhist Revolution of 1956
Picture (left to right) N.Q. Dias, T.U. de Silva ( Vice – President, Bauddha Jathika Balavegaya) and L.H. Mettananda ( President, Bauddha Jathika Balavegaya)
Picture Seated ( left to right)
Ven. Baddegama Wimalawansa Nayake Thero and Ven. Madihe Pannasiha Nayake Thero.
L.H. Mettananda (President, BJB)(fifth from left), Nissanka Wijayaratne (Vice – President, BJB) (sixth from left) and Gunaseela Vithanage (Hony. Secretary, BJB) (bespectacled dark complexioned – eighth from left)
Date: 4th June 1963
(The Address given by Mr.L.H.Mettananda on the occasion of the presentation of the Report of the Buddhist Commission to the Maha Sangha and the Buddhist Public at Ananda College on the 4th February 1956.
It gives me great pleasure to have had the opportunity of addressing a few words to you on this memorable and historic occasion. We are indeed at a turning point in our history. The action that will be taken now will decide for ever the future history of the Buddhist religion and of the Sinhalese people in this country.
In reading through the chapters of the Report of the Buddhist Commission you will see for yourselves how three foreign governments for over four and a half centuries did everything in their power to destroy Buddhism. But now that we are independent and ruled by our elected representatives, are we any better than before? Under English rule, it was the Church of England that held sway. In Independent Lanka, it is not Buddhism, the traditional religion of the majority of the people of this country that holds sway, but Roman Catholicism, a religion directed and controlled by a foreign Power, the Vatican!
A great noise is being made by our Government that much is being done for Buddhism. The Dalada Maligawa is to be provided with a new wing, Mahiyangana is to be restored, the Pattirippuwa and Magul Maduwa are to be given to the Buddhists. The Tripitaka is being translated into Sinhalese. A Buddhist Encyclopedia is being compiled. These are no doubt very good things, but I ask you “Will the restoration of old buildings help to revive the Buddhist Way of Life?” The translation of the Tripitaka and the compilation of a Buddhist Encyclopedia are good things, but will they alone help to revive the Buddhist Way of Life? The Buddhists are being given buildings and books; but what does the Government do for the Roman Catholics?
To them a sacrifice is made of the Buddhist children. The Government subsidizes the Christian Organizations almost to the extent of fifty million rupees annually to pervert and denationalize our children in their Church schools. Our sick are being handed over to Roman Catholic Nursing Sisters who are pledged to propagate their faith and extend the dominion of the Pope. Colombo Hospital is under their control. Recently the Government spent 7 1⁄2 lakhs for a home for the Roman Catholic Nursing Sisters at Bogambara Hill in Kandy. The cross that surmounts their chapel built by the Government is seen above the pinnacle that surmounts the Dalada Maligawa!
Kandy Hospital is being handed over to them. Within the next few years other big hospitals will be handed over to them. Again large sums of money are being given by the Government to Christian Organizations for the care of orphans, the aged, the deaf, the dumb and the blind. The large majority of the inmates of these institutions are born Buddhists who are being converted to Christianity with the aid of the subsidy given by a people’s Government.
It is a well – known fact that next to the Government the Roman Catholic Church is the richest organisation in Ceylon. Its financial position is a mystery not only to the Government, but also to the Roman Catholics themselves. This immensely rich organization does not pay any taxes to the Government. It increases its ever accumulating wealth not only by fleecing the faithful in diverse ways, but also by indulging in commercial activities such as lending on interest, investing in stocks and shares and investing in housing property and real estates.
To make it wealthier, at the request of the Archbishop, large extents of lands are given to Roman Catholics in colonies. In all parts of the Island even where there is not a single Catholic, Crown land is being given for the construction of churches. Buddhists are naturally up in arms against these actions of the Government. The Roman Catholic Church with its vast resources is openly and blatantly exploiting the poverty, the ignorance and the helplessness of the Buddhist masses. The Buddhists have no way of ventilating their grievances and getting them redressed in this democratic land of ours.
The Lake House Newspapers which support the Government and the Roman Catholic Church pay no heed to the grievances of the Buddhists. On the other hand these papers publish glowing tributes to the Catholic Clergy and Nuns and give prominence to Roman Catholic parades and processions. They also suppress any form of local news critical of or detrimental to the Roman Catholic Church. At the same time they advise the Buddhists to be tolerant. The Dinamina, the Silumina and the Janata fool the Bhikkhus and the Sinhalese reading public, while the Daily News and the Observer ridicule the Bhikkhus, the Sinhalese teachers and the Ayurvedic Physicians and the Sinhalese reading public in general. Government rejoices at all these; so does the Roman Catholic Church.
Our Government appears to give the kernel to the Catholics and the husk to the Buddhists. While aiding and abetting the rapid growth of the Vatican’s power in this country at the expense of Buddhism, the Government tries to fool the good -natured Buddhists by delivering acts of appointments to Nayaka Theros, by participating in their funeral ceremonies, and by organising peraheras and other functions at which crowds gather in order to deceive the people that a great deal is being done to Buddhism.
The question now arises: When Buddhist children, the poor, the sick, the helpless and the landless Buddhists are handed over to the Roman Catholic Church to be perverted by it, where are the Buddhists to worship at the shrines put up or renovated by the Government? Where are the Buddhists to read the Sinhalese Tripitaka and the Buddhist Encyclopedia prepared by it?
It is an irrevocable decree of the dictatorial Roman Catholic Church that no Catholic can participate in a Non -Catholic religious ceremony. They are even forbidden to participate in a service in a Protestant Christian Church. Yet we witness the spectacle of a Roman Catholic Divisional Revenue Officer carrying a Bana Book in procession to a Buddhist temple and delivering it to a Bhikkhu requesting him to translate it into Sinhalese.We see a Roman Catholic Government Agent organizing a function for the distribution of awards by the Prime Minister to the Bhikkhus who had translated the Tripitaka into Sinhalese. We see a Roman Catholic lady of very high standing as the organizer of the Buddhist Pageant at the Agricultural Exhibition now going on. Has the Roman Catholic Church relaxed its rigid rules in the case of these worthy people? Or is it a deep laid conspiracy between the Church and the Government to extend the Church’s influence on the one side and to bring Buddhism to ridicule on the other?
Is not the Government aware that Roman Catholic officials belong to a secret movement called the Catholic Action, whose primary aim is to extend the dominion of the Pope and to sabotage and demobilize religions other than Roman Catholicism? It is a shame, a crying shame to entrust Buddhist work to those who are pledged to destroy Buddhism.
Incidentally is it a mere coincidence that the last Government Agent and the present Government Agent of Kandy are both devout Roman Catholics. Kandy, the city that is so sacred to Buddhists and known as the city of the Tooth Relic. Our so-called democratic Government does not in the least mind hurting Buddhist sentiments, because it has the backing of the powerful Lake House Press. We know that Lake House Press is the Public Enemy No. 1 of Buddhism. Both Government and Lake House stand for the American Way of Life. The sobriety, the restraint, the simplicity advocated by the Buddha are anathema to them. them. They stand for libertinism, sensuality and self-indulgence which are the keynote of the life in the decadent West. Lake House glorifies bookies, drunkards, dope dealers and other anti -social rogues while it loses no opportunity to ridicule national heroes, champions of temperance and defenders and promoters of Buddhism. Lake House is truly anti – national and anti – Buddhist.
I must mention here one or two things that have resulted from the Roman Catholic domination of the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations. First, the Government has not yet given notice to the Roman Catholic Church and the Convent to quit the Sacred City of Anuradhapura. Second, the Home Ministry, on representations made by the Catholic Hierarchy is contemplating legislation to punish the Bhikkhus and others who criticize or attack the Roman Catholic Church. The Roman Catholic Church will then be able to put out its pernicious propaganda without let or hindrance, once the legislation gets into our Statute Books!
There is no doubt whatever that the Government Party is exploiting the Buddha Jayanthi for political ends. We know that some organizers of the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations haunt cocktail parties, gambling dens and night clubs and at the same time appeal to the country to meditate. This is downright hypocrisy. It makes Buddhism the laughing stock of the world. For goodness sake, let us have an end to this tomfoolery and allow the Bhikkhus and sincere Buddhists to take charge of the Buddha Jayanthi celebrations.
The same sort of double-dealing we see in other activities of Government as well. The first Director of Education in Independent Lanka was Dr. Howes, a Roman Catholic. He did more harm to Buddhist education than any of the Colonial Directors. This enemy of Buddhism is once again appointed by Government to a responsible post in connection with the Six Year Plan.
Here is another case of double – dealing. Sessional Paper XXII of 1946 contains a resolution of a State Council Committee Report to this effect: From January 1, 1957 English shall cease to be the language of administration. It was signed by:
J R Jayawardene (Chairman)
J H B Nihill
C W W Kannangara
T B Jayah
This resolution was accepted by the State Council. Has Government taken any action to implement it? Since the crowning of our Prime Minister as Emperor of the Donkey – island of Delft during his famous visit to Jaffna, he has promised parity to both Sinhalese and Tamil. The country has opposed this announcement and demanded that Sinhalese only shall be the State Language of Ceylon. Government appears to agree. But it wants to hold a new election to implement it. Government apparently wants to fool the country. Government has no fear.
The anti – national Lake House News papers support this move. We are told that the Government Party has entered into a secret pact with the Tamil M.P’s whereby the Tamil M.P’s will resign from the Party, fight the elections, and rejoin the Party in order to continue with English as the state language of Ceylon, The 1946 State Council decision to discontinue English as the official language from 1st January, 1957 will be thrown overboard. Government of course has no fear. It has the support of the anti-national Lake House Newspapers.
The Government Party’s decision to hold an election just one month before Buddha Jayanthi exposes their duplicity and hypocrisy more than anything else. They are concerned not with Buddha Jayanthi or with the Buddhist Way of Life, but with the elections. They know very well that an election necessarily splits up the people and creates great confusion among them, the more so this time owing to the state language issue.
In such an atmosphere Buddha Jayanthi celebrations will get disorganized and the great religious awakening we looked forward to will be deferred till doomsday. Possibly the Christian strongholds anticipated this and having approached their mahadenamutta got him to time the election so as to sabotage the whole of the Jayanthi celebrations.
Thus we see that under a democratic Government, a political party can exploit Buddhism and advance the Roman Catholic Church at the same time. It is for this reason that we want the State to sever connections with Buddhism and allow the Maha Sangha and the Buddhist laymen to look after the Buddha Sasana.
We are asking that youth of the country be freed from missionary control. Today it is not only the education of the young that is endangered. The adults receive their education largely through the press. We have no grievance against the Times, which is a Catholic controlled newspaper. But we have every right to expect the Lake House Newspapers-the Daily News, the Observer, the Dinamina, the Janata and the Silumina to be run as national newspapers. They were started by a great patriot of this country, the late Mr D R Wijewardene, at the request of another patriot, the late Sir D B Jayatilake.
It was the late Mr Wijewardene who left by will two lakhs of rupees for the construction of the university Sangharama. The Lakehouse Newspapers are now run by his son – in- law, Mr Esmond Wickremasinghe, who happens to be a member of a Christian family. He has filled the editorial staff and other key posts of Lake House with Christians, especially Roman Catholics. His general policy is to decry the Sinhalese language and Buddhism and to extol the virtues of Christianity and English. He runs his papers as the official organs of vested interests and foreign interests. There is scarcely anything national in his English newspapers. But as his income comes chiefly from the Sinhalese reading public, he gives his Sinhalese newspapers a local look which however rapidly undergoes a change when it suits him.
His inconsistency can be seen from the fact that his English newspapers support English as the State language and ridicule the Sinhalese medium child as a monkey – faced idiot, and Dutugemunu as a pot bellied drunkard, while his Sinhalese newspapers appear to support Sinhalese as the state language and appear to ridicule the denationalized section of our society.
In the forthcoming election, will the Christian son -in -law of an eminent Buddhist leader, surrounded by a host of Roman Catholics ever support the Buddhist cause which his father -in – law would have done, had he lived today? Certainly not, if we judge him by his past record.
In the forthcoming elections, I am afraid the Times and Lake House Newspapers will educate the Buddhist voter to vote for the Party which maintains and supports Christianity and which is deceiving the Buddhists day in and day out. They are the institutions of Mara. Do not be deceived by them. Mara is now controlling the country. The Buddhists must prepare for a great struggle. Let the Maha Sangha give us the lead.
1. To recognize the principle of Ahimsa in all activities.
2. To oppose the forces of Mara (evil) in whatever guise they may appear.
3. To implement the recommendations of the Buddhist Commission.
4. Immediately to provide by law that Sinhalese should be made the official language of the country, and to take all steps necessary to implement this decision.
5. To see that democracy is safeguarded and promoted, and to take all steps necessary to prevent the growth of fascist or communist dictatorship, to repeal all anti-democratic measures and to reverse all anti – democratic actions committed by the U.N.P. Government.
6. To promote the revival of our arts and crafts, Ayurveda and all other aspects of our national heritage and a return to a simpler way of life.
7. While guaranteeing the fullest freedom of conscience and of worship to all and equality of treatment irrespective of religion, to accord to Buddhism the special position guaranteed by the Kandyan Convention of 1815 and The Declaration of British Sovereignty of 1818, as the religion of the majority of the people of this country.
8. To ensure a satisfactory standard of life to all our people.
9. To plan towards a more equitable distribution of wealth.
10. To see that no government assistance is given to any institution that tends to emphasise or promote communal differences or create communal disharmony or inequalities and thereby prevent the growth of a national consciousness.
Why do we need English?
By L. H. Mettananda
(2) To impart English culture;
(3) To impart knowledge in the field of exact science, technology and fact.
What should be the medium of education? It is not the importance of the language that should determine it, but something else. The evils of using English as the medium have been thus described: “Instead of laying stress upon thinking and reasoning, we emphasized memorizing; in place of knowledge of things and realities, we acquired a sort of mastery over words. It affected originality of thought and development of literature in the mother-tongue. We have impoverished ourselves without being able to enrich the language which we so assiduously studied.” (University Education Commission Report, 1949). Therefore, swabhasa, so intimately related to the child’s life and surroundings, should be the medium of his education.General Education
There are people who, while admitting the absurdity of the first two aims mentioned above, nevertheless attempt to justify the early introduction of English on the ground that English is part of general education, or that it is an international language.If general education is regarded as an objective of higher education to “open windows in many directions, so that most of the varied experiences of (a person’s) life, and most elements of his environment shall have meaning and interest to him,” It is precisely the ‘same as the third aim for which we propose to teach English from Senior Preparatory onwards.Internationalism
There is too much of loose thinking in this country about ‘Internationalism’. It must be remembered that true internationalism is very different from a colourless cosmopolitanism. “To love the little platoon we belong to in society, is the first principle of public affections. It is the first in the series by which we proceed towards a love of our country and mankind.”
Therefore the first essential for general education or internationalism is swabhasa. And only after the student has gained mastery of the varied language habits connected with swabhasa does he become fit to begin a second language. W.M. Ryburn’s research has conclusively proved that strength in the mother-tongue means strength in English with a positive correlation of .95.
The change – over
The Minister of Education’s directive for the progressive change-over of the medium of secondary education from English to swabhasa with effect from 1953 is an implementation of the policy that came into being in 1945. Official instructions were issued in 1945 to effect the change-over to swabhasa in English primary classes or schools, and Rule 6 A of the School Teachers’ Pension Rules, published in Gazette No. 9809 of December 12, 1947, provided for teachers with ten years’ recorded service who are unable to give instruction in either Sinhalese or Tamil to retire with compensation for loss of career. We are prepared for this change-over of medium in 6th standard next year. We have the necessary teachers and the necessary text-books. We have no misgivings whatever. We welcome the change-over, as we are convinced that at long last a definite step is taken to put square pegs into square holes and round pegs into round holes.
We get over the difficulty of finding suitable teachers by appointing, whenever a vacancy arises, one who is good both in his particular, subject and in swabhasa.
Text – Books
It is true that at present there is an inadequacy of suitable text-books in science. The greatest urge for the production of such books is the demand for them. Now the demand is created and the necessary books will come. For science or most other school subjects, the best text-books are those written by teachers with working experience and not translations made by people who are not familiar with the subject matter. As regards general science in 6th standard we can do without a text-book for the present. I intend to entrust that work to a teacher who is good in swabhasa well as in general science. The lessons he gives the classes will eventually be incorporated into a text-book. The technical terms will not cause us any anxiety. In cases where swabhasa terms have been long in use, we shall certainly use them. In other cases, we shall continue to use the English terms as they are international. It is an irretrievable blunder to coin new swabhasa equivalents for all the scientific terms in the English Language. The University Education Commission, 1949, is definitely of the opinion that English scientific terms should be retained the national language. What is important is for the teacher to talk to his pupils in Swabhasa and for the pupils to talk to the teacher in swabhasa.
It is untrue to say that the adoption of swabhasa medium will lead to the separation of races. English was never intended to be a bond to unify the Sinhalese and the Tamils. The most effective method of bringing about social unity is by giving every Sinhalese child a working knowledge of Tamil and every Tamil child a working knowledge of Sinhalese. It should be an integral part of our educational policy. By following this method you forge a bond that will create mutual respect and mutual understanding between the Sinhalese and the Tamils. A three – year course is quite ample to give a working knowledge of each other’s language, that is from 6th standard to 8th standard. At Ananda College we give a working knowledge of Tamil to all Sinhalese students in 6th, 7th and 8th standards. And this has been welcomed by parents and pupils alike.
It is said that in certain big schools in Colombo where there are parallel classes for Sinhalese and Tamil pupils there is racial segregation. E.G. Malherbe, in his monumental study of bilingualism in South Africa (English and Afrikaans), has met this objection. He endorses the basic principle that education should be imparted through the mother-tongue of the pupils. He compares unilingual schools with parallel medium schools. Unilingual schools are either English-unilingual-schools where English children learn through English or Afrikaans-unilingual-schools where Afrikaans children learn through Afrikaans. In parallel medium schools English and Afrikaans children learn separately in the same premises, English children through English medium and Afrikaans children through Afrikaans medium. Professor Malherbe holds that the parallel medium school claims for it “several social and educational advantages over the separate school. These advantages are held to arise from the fact that the school’s environment is enriched by the cultural contributions of both sections. By working and playing together from their early youth, Afrikaans and English-speaking children learn to work together as they will have to do as adults. By hearing the other language spoken at any rate and by having certain common school exercises, they have greater opportunities for the, appreciation of each other’s personalities and cultural and social outlook than have children in unilingual schools.”
Professor T.J. Haarhoff writes: “Much, however, depends on the principal and the tone of the school. Tests have shown that the mere fact of having the two sections in the same school eliminates, under the right principal, much of the bitterness found in many single-medium schools.”
In other words, according to Professor Malherbe, a school like Royal College, which may be regarded as a parallel medium school under the new policy, has several social and educational advantages over the single – medium school.
I believe that there are a sufficient number of science teachers in the island who could be recruited to the schools to teach in swabhasa. With a view to increasing the supply of such teachers, extension of lectures can be organised by the University. University lecturers who know swabhasa can be asked to help. Besides, the Government Training College should be called upon to modify the course of training provided there so as to enable the trainees to learn to teach through swabhasa.
Further, in order to give full effect to the employment of swabhasa as the medium of education, it should be made clear once for all that five years hence, S. S. C. and the General Clerical Service Examinations will be conducted only through swabhasa. Likewise adequate notice must be given to hold (a) the University Preliminary Examination seven years hence through swabhasa and (b) the C.C.S. five years hence through either medium and ten years hence through swabhasa only.
Moreover, as the secondary, schools which are to adopt the swabhasa medium from next year have to depend for their teachers mainly on the University, it is well for the University to forestall this by Immediately adopting the Riddell recommendation to make swabhasa compulsory both at the University Preliminary Examination and at the Final Examinations (all Faculties).
Educational Publication Board
The difficulty in making text-books available should be got over by the Educational Publication Board, one of whose statutory functions is to arrange for the publication of books such as are valuable to education in Ceylon. For this purpose the Board should possess driving power sympathy, and a high sense of patriotic duty. It is unfortunate that its record has hitherto been most disappointing. The power of veto it exercises, far from facilitating the production or of new text-books, has scared away prospective writers. I think it is necessary to re-organise the Board so that it may render every possible assistance to deserving writers, particularly to capable teachers with working experience, to bring out suitable text-books in swabhasa-which are undoubtedly a crying need of the hour.
When the students who learn in the 6th standard through swabhasa from next year enter the University seven years hence, it is nothing but right that some of the lectures they attend should be in swabhasa. At the University, English medium cannot be giver up altogether for some time to come. Lectures by distinguished scholars from other countries as well as lectures on some advanced subjects will continue to be given in English. Nevertheless, the students who have had their education through swabhasa will be able to follow them, because they have learnt English as a compulsory second language from their 1st standard. It is certainly a mistake to start a second language from 3rd standard. The primary stage should be set apart exclusively for the mastery of the language-technique of the mother-tongue. The optimum stage to introduce the second language’ is 6th standard. Under normal conditions, the second swabhasa should begin in 6th standard and English at Senior Preparatory.
In order to give an opportunity to University lecturers to get accustomed to give their lectures in swabhasa, it is advisable to organise University extension lectures through swabhasa on academic subjects.
London University Examinations
One more impediment to the implementation of the official language policy is the alien orientation of the London University Examinations that continue to be held in Ceylon.
Each year not more than one fourth of the students who take the Preliminary Examination of Ceylon University are admitted. Of the rest, a considerable number is undoubtedly fit to go in for University Education. As a result, year in and year out large numbers of students, undeterred by the absence of adequate facilities are making heroic efforts to get through London Examinations. The plight of such students received the most anxious considerations of the State Council in the course of the debate on the university Ordinance of 1942 which created the Ceylon University to replace the old system of preparing for London degrees. But nothing has been done yet to help these students. It must not be forgotten that the retention of London Examinations is tantamount to the retention of the old system that was condemned by the State Council on account of its alien orientation.
Therefore, Instead of continuing to hold London Examinations, we must have either an Affiliating University or an External Department of the present University. The case for an Affiliating University is very strong owing to the fact that of all progressive countries Ceylon has the smallest number of University students In proportion to its population.
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L.H. Mettananda – Protagonist for Ananda and Buddhist Education
Ananda College – Celebrates 128th Anniversary on 1st November, 2014
October 25, 2014, 4:38 pm
by Meghavarna Kumarasinghe
L.H. Mettananda guided the destinies of Ananda for over ten (10) years from 5th November, 1945 to December 1955. He was a courageous, protagonist who abhorred the alien culture at the time and valued teaching of the Dhamma.
Born on March 19, 1894 in the village of Kalawadumulla, Ambalangoda, he was the eldest son of L.H. Kovies de Silva, a businessman and Weerasooriya Karalinahamy. Mettananda had four brothers and one sister. Having had his primary education at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda, he completed his secondary education at Richmond College, Galle, where he had a distinguished academic record. In 1912 he passed the Cambridge Senior Examination and in 1913, he successfully completed the London Metriculation examination. In July 1930, he obtained the Diploma in Education from the London Day Training College. In 1912 he joined the tutorial staff of Sri Sumangala Boys School, Panadura and few years later, he joined Ananda College as an Assistant Teacher in 1919.
Mettananda served the Buddhist Congress as President for one year in 1934. Having stayed away for congress activities for some time, he was re – elected in same position of the congress, and contributed to creating far reaching, revolutionary charges in our society. He believed that religion was essential to every human being for his well being.
He was not against any religion. However, he decried irreligious and anti-religious behavior in the name of religion. He was opposed to and looked down on all forms of extremists. He considered imperialism, capitalism or communism as ignoble and base extremes that were undesirable and should be avoided .He was scornful of the commercialisation of religion and frowned on attempts to do so.
Mettananda was passionately nationalistic. However, he bore no grudge against the Portuguese, Dutch or British who colonised or their descendants for preserving their identity, manners, culture and language. He considered them as another race who had the right to live in their adopted land Sinhaladvipa, even though their ancestor had came as conquerors to “civilise the heathens”. Those who chose to live with the “natives” and amongst other things to use water as they did for daily personal cleanliness.
He was disdainful of those amongst the Sinhala who chose to ape the foreigners and borrowed or used their names and habits. Mettananda branded them as “Thuppahis” and denounced them forthrightly and publicity as decadent remnants of colonialism.
For Mettananda education was the panacea for all ills. In his maiden speech as President of the Buddhist Congress at the Galle Sessions, he spelled out in no uncertain terms that the future of the people lay in the restoration of Buddhist education. His call to Buddhist to rally round the Buddhist Theosophical Society, the pioneering organisation for this purpose, had a very good response.
For the first time in the long history of Buddhism, the sacred Tripitaka was committed to writing in the Sinhala language on Sinhala Ola leaf in the Sinhala Village of Aluvihare. Mettananda’s mind was agitated by the absence of the Buddhist Tripitaka in Sinhala. Under his Presidentship, the Buddhist Congress laid the foundation for a Tripitaka Trust, for publication and distribution of a Sinhala Tripitaka. Mettananda was not self centered. He stunned power and fame and never acted with self interest. His ambition was to restore to the people their rightful place. In all his dealings, both public and private, he was the epitome of honesty and sincertity.
On 1st November, 1948, the Chief Guest at the School Prize – giving was Dr. L.A. Rajapakse K.C. Minister of Justice. Referring to the Principal’s report he said he was glad to note, that the school was on a sound financial footing. He went on to command the establishment of ad hoc committees in the school, when representatives of the students and staff sat to-gether to plan and carry out various activities and solve problems. Such committees were an embryonic form of Whitely Councils and a good training in school for such councils to be formed on government departments.
In the following year the Chief – Guest at the Prize – giving on 1st November, 1949, was the Prime Minister Mr. D.S. Senanayake. In the Principal’s report on that occasion, Mettananda asserted application of the principal of practical bias in the education of at least eighty (80%) percent of children. Also that bifurcation at 11 plus, rather than 14 plus, was desirable as adolescent who have learnt to use tools from 11 plus would learn more effectively. He felt it a pity that provision for practical education had not required adequate attention and stressed the vital necessity of taking it up now. To make practical education a success, it was advisable to obtain craft teachers from Japan, famous for its well organised cottage industries. He was of the view that, if children were introduced to practical work at the correct age, they would derive great pleasure by turning out beautiful objects with their own hands, enabling them to lead happy and prosperous lives.
Mettananda was responsible for completing class rooms in the two main buildings viz the Buddha Jayanthi building and the Lead Beater Memorial building. The foundation of the Ananda Viharaya was also laid by him. In addition, he started the Parent Teacher Association to help uplift and maintain highest standards in the school.
It is a historic coincidence, that the month of November, when Ananda celebrates its 128th Anniversary, also commemorates the “fantastic fanaticism” of P.de.S. Kularathne, the death of Lokusathu Hewa (L.H.) Mettananda (01st November 1967) and birth of G.P. Malalasekera (09th November), three stalwarts to whom the school and all Anandians, young and old, are beholden.
Birth Anniversary of L.H. Mettananda: The ‘fanatic’ who was a visionary
By Janaka Perera
Asian Tribune, 18/03/2014
If we are to paraphrase the words of veteran journalist D.B. Dhanapala the word ‘fanatic’ is the cheap epithet which sums up the invaluable contributions of anyone who spearheads a revolution without reward, engages in battle without booty and experiences no fulfillment despite enthusiasm.
March 19th 2014 marks the 120th birth anniversary of such a ‘fanatic’ Lokusathu Hewa Mettananda who as Dhanapala wrote “caught the rulers of his era dealing in short weight to Buddhists” (Among Those Present).
A new website http://www.lhmettananda.com giving details of his achievements will be launched to mark the occasion.
Mettananda was born on March 19, 1894 at Kaluwadumulla, Ambalangoda as the eldest son of L.H. Kovies De Silva a businessman and Weerasooriya Karalinahamy. He had four brothers and one sister. He had his primary education at Dharmasoka College- Ambalangoda, his secondary education at Richmond College-Galle where he had a distinguished academic record.
In 1912 he passed the Cambridge Senior Examination and in 1913 he successfully completed the London Matriculation examination. He joined Ananda College as an Assistant Teacher in 1919 and the Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) selected him to become the first Principal at Nalanda Vidyalaya in 1923, which was a new school.
In 1923 He married Celia, daughter of Mudliyar J. De S.Wickremesooriya. They had three sons and two daughters.
Mettananda was of the strong conviction that the cultural erosion that had taken place in this country during 440 years of foreign domination, needed to be changed and that the Sinhala Buddhist cultural heritage of this country must be revived and given its due place in our society.
Mettananda cared a hoot for the refinements of his critics, who could not bear the ‘cacophony’ of clamouring for the restoration of Buddhist rights in the immediate post-independence era.
In fact the situation has not changed much between then and now. In a sense we might say it has become even worse with the emergence of new threats in the form of foreign-funded aggressive Christian evangelism.
It is the current developments which prompted the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress to appoint – on the 50th anniversary of the publication of the report of the first Buddhist Committee of Inquiry – a second Commission to probe and report on the unethical conversions of Buddhists to other religions. This Commission issued its report in 2009. In fact these conversions by immoral and fraudulent means have affected not only Buddhists but Hindus too. This is also seen in India.
Mettananda was primarily responsible for appointing the first committee (also known as the Buddhist Commission) which was set up on April 2, 1954. It held its sittings and issued its report in 1956 having heard evidence from Buddhist organisations and individuals representing both the laity and the clergy, after travelling 6300 miles throughout the length and breadth of the country.
The report noted that Buddhists were constantly told to think as Sri Lankans (then Ceylonese) first and Buddhists afterwards but when it came to Christians the church did not seem to encourage its followers to think likewise.
It reflects what Indian political psychologist Ashis Nandy says about colonized minds. He observes that this mentality releases forces within colonial and post-colonial societies to alter their cultural priorities once and for all. In relation to Sri Lanka Mettananda foresaw this trend nearly seven decades ago.
It was he who first demanded that the 5th Clause in the Kandyan Convention of 1815 on protection being given to Buddhism be included in the Constitution and demanded that the proclamation of 21st November 1818 regarding temple lands be implemented. He also demanded that Article 29(2) of the 1947 Constitution be abolished and requested the government of the time, to publish the Tripitaka in Sinhala.
Among the lessons Mettananda learnt in life was never to have much faith in politicians in restoring lost rights. When S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike was looking for supporters to spearhead his election campaign Mettananda moved in with gusto. He carried on a whirl wind campaign throughout the island, reviving hopes of Buddhists and portraying Bandaranaike as the new hero born to right wrongs Buddhists suffered over several centuries.
Bandaranaike however after he won the General Election of 1956 expected Mettananda to get into the spirit of practical politics and be satisfied with a diplomatic post instead of bothering about Buddhists anymore.
But Mettananda was made of sterner stuff. He spurned efforts placate him with cushy jobs and spoke out loud and bold again about the Buddhists’ grievances not redressed. Bandaranaike turned round and called him a mad man. But Mettananda was only amused.
He was also the founder-leader of the Bauddha Jaathika Balawegaya (Buddhist National Force) and the Dharma Samaja Party.
Mettananda had five basic principles which guided him through life. They were: (1) never to seek personal gains; (2) never amass unnecessary wealth; (3) never make irresponsible statements; (4) always safeguard democracy and (5) lead a simple lifestyle.
During the period he was Acting Principal of Ananda College (1932-1935) and Principal (1935-1936 and 1945-1954), he improved the standard of education and the curriculum to be practical and constructive. Instead of punishing students for misdeeds, he taught them to be responsible and self-reliant. He was of the strong opinion that children must be conversant in both Sinhala and Tamil and therefore, made them compulsory subjects for grades 1 and 2 at Ananda College.
He was also of the opinion that English must be taught to students for them to be able to use it fluently in later life, when they go out into society and the world at large. Under him, education was based on Buddhist traditions and the mother tongue was used as the medium of instruction. He introduced handicrafts and gardening as subjects and also introduced vocational training subjects such as carpentry, book binding and iron works to enable students to appreciate manual work and vocational training.
Mettananda was also the founder-leader of the Bauddha Jathika Balawegaya (Buddhist National Force) and the Dharma Samaja Party. If the latter had evolved into fully fledged political movement Sri Lanka’s current politics would have been far different. It proves his remarkable foresight.
He was a principled, fearless and forthright Buddhist leader who was selflessly committed and dedicated to the well-being of the nation – a Kalyana Mithra (good friend), honest and disciplined, diplomatic and tactful, just and fair to all.
L.H. Mettananda passed away in Colombo at the age of 73, on November 1, 1967.
– Asian Tribune –
46th death anniversary of L.H. Mettananda – ‘Madman’ who stood for a righteous cause
By: The Nation
Sunday, 27 October 2013
Friday November 1 marks the 46th Death Anniversary Lokusathu Hewa Mettananda – better known as L.H. Mettananda – the indefatigable fighter for the rights of Sinhala Buddhists. In the words of veteran journalist, the late D.B. Dhanapala “Anybody who dare talk of Buddhist rights in a Buddhist country is bound to be called a fanatic on disturbing the peace and rousing up religious feelings” (Among Those Present).
Mettananda’s goal was to liberate the country from those whom he considered aliens in their own land. They found it difficult to identify with Sri Lanka’s pre-colonial history and culture and dealt in short weight to Buddhists.
Mettananda was born on March 19, 1894 at Kalawadumulla, Ambalangoda as the eldest son of L.H. Kovies De Silva, a businessman and Weerasooriya Karalinahamy. Mettananda had four brothers and one sister. Having had his primary education at Dharmasoka College, Ambalangoda, he entered Richmond College, Galle where he had a distinguished academic record. In 1912, he passed the Cambridge Senior Examination and in 1913, he successfully completed the London Matriculation examination.
In July 1930, he obtained the Diploma in Education from the London Day Training College and continued to study for a Masters’ Degree in Education. In between these years he joined the tutorial staff of Sri Sumangala Boys’ School, Panadura in 1912 and served as an Assistant Teacher at Holy Cross College, Kalutara during the years 1916-1918. He joined Ananda College as an Assistant Teacher in 1919 and the Buddhist Theosophical Society (BTS) selected him to become the first Principal at Nalanda Vidyalaya in 1923, which was a new school.
Mettananda’s first love was education. In each school he taught or became Principal, he encouraged students from the provinces to study science and qualify as doctors or engineers. He stressed the need for making students fluent in English. He himself taught Latin and English for four years at Ananda College. Under him, education was based on Buddhist traditions and the mother tongue was used as the medium of instruction.
Mettananda was elected ACBC President at its AGM held in Galle in 1935. In his inaugural presidential address he reportedly stated that it was of paramount importance to steer education based on Buddhist principles.
It was Mettananda who first demanded that the 5th Clause in the Kandyan Convention of 1815 on protection being given to Buddhism be included in the Constitution and demanded that the proclamation of November 21, 1818 regarding temple lands be implemented.
He was the guiding spirit behind the Buddhist Commission Report that accelerated the United National Party’s ignominious defeat in the 1956 Parliamentary Elections, reducing that party’s number of seats in Parliament to eight.
The call to appoint such a Commission of Inquiry was based on the need to remedy the injustices done to the Buddhists under three colonial regimes which were continued in the post–independence period by local rulers subservient to colonial interests. The undertaking the British gave to protect and maintain the Buddhist religion had been grossly betrayed before the ink was dry in the Kandyan Convention of 1815.
Buddhism in consequence of the terms of the Convention enjoyed the same position as the Anglican Church in England. But even after 1948 not only was this fact ignored but attempts to marginalize Buddhists in the State sector, in the armed forces and elsewhere continued as before.
Consequently, the Buddhist leadership had no alternative but to appoint a Commission of Inquiry themselves to probe into the continuing system of education and other areas that denied Buddhists their rightful place. The ACBC established a Buddhist Committee of Inquiry on April 2, 1954 in accordance with the resolution adopted at the 33rd annual ABC conference held at Kegalle on December 27, 1953.
The `Buddhist Commission’ as it came to be popularly known, held its sittings throughout the length and breadth of the country beginning at Ratnapura on June 26, 1954 and concluding at Anuradhapura on May 22, 1955. It gathered evidence from organizations and individuals representing all sections of Buddhist society. The complete report was presented to Maha Sangha at Ananda College, Colombo on February 4, 1956.
In 1956, when S.W.R.D. Bandaranaike won the General Election, he expected Mettananda to be satisfied with a cushy job like a diplomatic post and not bother about Sinhala Buddhist issues anymore. But Bandaranaike was mistaken. Mettananda spurned all efforts to placate him and spoke out loud and bold once again about the grievances of the Buddhists. This made the Prime Minister call him a madman. It only amused Mettananda who was devoid of ambition.
No one could question his sincerity.
L.H. Mettananda passed away in Colombo at the age of 73, on November 1, 1967.
To coincide with his death anniversary his daughter Dr. Kamala and her husband Thilak Ediriweera will lay the foundation stone for the construction of an elders’ home to be named after L.H. Mettananda in Pittugala, Malabe at a cost of around Rs.20 million. It is being built as an addition to the ACBC Elder Citizens’ Home in Pittugala. Accommodation will be on payment.