Let me not mince words. Our Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter, Ven Warakagoda Shri Gnanarathana, made a statement to the media which was a disgrace. I know, he does not like anyone disgracing monks or even calling them by their names. He said so in this very statement while objecting to our addressing Galagoda Atte Gnanasara simply as ‘Gnanasara.’ The Most Revd Mahanayake must realise one thing. The days of honouring anybody and everybody merely because they don a Sivura are fast dying. To deserve public respect one must earn it. Even the Buddha advised his followers only to respect Arya Sanga or monks on the Path. Gnanassara is far away from the path. He is in hell.
Besides, doesn’t the Mahanayake understand that the public behaviour of bad monks would harm our age-old Sasana and destroy its reputation? If the BBS monks have total disregard about their bringing disgrace to the Sanga why on earth should we genuflect before them and honour them? Honour them for disgracing Buddhism and the Sanga? This is not merely illogical; it is madness.
Didn’t Gnanasara have a history of alcoholism? Didn’t he, sometime ago, call the elderly monk, Ven Watareka Vijitha, a dog and a villain and address him as ‘yako.’? Our government has been too benign to this rascal in yellow robes. Too timid and too cowardly to act swiftly. Now, with the statement of the Mahanayake, I wonder if President Maithripala Sirisena and Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe would be having loose motions when contemplating bringing Gnanasara to book. The Mahanayake made that statement giving his brains a holiday. He was trapped in a conspiracy to safeguard the dishonourable monk by lending his status to a status-zero man.
For one thing, with regard to the current action being taken the government has not done anything that a government shouldn’t be doing. Sri Lanka had only one person constitutionally recognised as above the rule of law and that was the President. After the 19th Amendment that is no more-mercifully. Similarly, the monk Gnanasara cannot be allowed to muck around and mug around as a law unto himself. He, like all other religious personnel of all faiths must face court if charged with legally offensive behaviour.
Gnanasara has one charge pending in court and that is serious. He went into hiding evading arrest, which is also both unethical and illegal. He was ordered to be arrested by the Magistrate of an independent judiciary; not by any politician in the government. He had entered a Magistrate’s Court and (reportedly) verbally abused and threatened a woman who had appeared to defend her lost husband over a Habeas Corpus application. The husband was famed missing person Prageeth Ekneligoda, who had gone missing like many other activists and journos under the regime of the Rajapaksa’s. It was all legitimate business and Gnanasara was allegedly acting in contempt of court. Nobody in a civilised and law abiding social order can be permitted to obstruct Court and threaten people.
What offends our ethical sense is that in this particular case, it was a woman grieving for her husband. Leave alone the law; where was the monk’s Metta, Karuna, Upeksha and Upadana? Aren’t these the four noble values or Brahma Viharas that the Buddha wanted his followers to practice? Didn’t Gnanasara realise he was trampling on a vulnerable and grieving woman?
Another question: What was Gnanasara’s business in invading the court on a matter like this? Was he acting as an agent of political forces responsible for the dastardly treatment of Ekneligoda? There was no Muslim involvement here at all. Then how come he went there?