Protecting Sri Lanka’s Ancient Buddhist Heritage Sites: case of Gurukanda Raja Maha Viharaya in Mullaitivu
The Gurukanda Raja Maha Viharaya shot to public attention on 14 January 2019 – Thai Pongal Day when a group of unruly protestors led by former TNA provincial councilor T Raviharan stormed the temple and in a very ugly & abusive manner shouted at the Chief Incumbent of the Temple claiming the Buddhist temple had been built on a land belonging to Hindu devotees. Not stopping there, they began digging to construct a Hindu temple inside the temple premises. The police filed action against both parties for disturbing peace. The Sacred Tooth Relic was brought to this temple said Ven.Medhalankarakiththi thera and historic records refers to the temple from 244BC. The 5 dagobas had been destroyed during the conflict.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JFVEe7u9Dmo This video reveals the illegal act of forcibly entering a Buddhist sacred site & forcibly digging to lay the foundation to put a kovil inside the Temple premises. All those who took part should face legal action.
More photos of the Buddhist temple – https://srilankamirror.com/news/12681-court-suspends-constructions-at-m-tivu-temple
12 February 2019 – Gurukanda viharaya is over 2000 years old says Commissioner of Archaeology
A B Mandawela, Director General of Archaeology giving evidence before the Mullaitivu Magistrate S. Lenin Kumar confirmed that the Gurukanda Raja Maha Viharaya in Nayaru had a history of over 2000 years. The ancient monastery & Buddhist artefacts were thus over 2000 years old. The Commissioner of Archaeology explicitly told the Magistrate that it was illegal to build a Hindu kovil inside the ancient Buddhist temple. The magistrate was to give a verdict on 26 February 2019.
26 January 2019 – Construction on Gurukanda temple stopped on court order
S.Lenin Kumara Mullaitivu Magistrate ordered the construction wor on Gurukanda purana rajamaha viharaya to be stopped till 12 February 2019. Mullaitivu police were deployed round the premises. The police had informed the magistrate that a group had forcibly entered the temple on 14 January 2019 & attempted to lay a foundation stone to construct a kovil inside the temple premises. The magistrate requested a report by the Commissioner General of Archaeology & relevant gazette notification.
28 January 2019 – Army & police security for Gurukanda Raja maha viharaya in Nayaru, Mullaitivu
There is sufficient evidence to prove that the Buddhist temple is an archaeological site since 3rd century BC.
Interestingly enough Tamilnet of 7 September 2018 on its website carried a news of Sri Lanka Army surveying lands to expand the same Buddhist temple. Reading the article it and the statement made by the Commissioner of Archaeology it is clear that quite a lot of lies are being fed to the Tamil people giving them false notions & false history. The websites script writers certainly deserve international accolades for their ability to spin stories with such details that any clueless about the history of Sri Lanka would actually believe.
The question is why is a Catholic priest heading protests for a Hindu kovil inside an ancient Buddhist temple?
A post by the Hela Jana Balaya gave equally astonishing news – https://www.facebook.com/Hela-Jana-Balaya-හෙළ-ජන-බලය
According to the Commissioner of Archaeology the land on either side of the Kokilai-Mullaitivu road are Buddhist sacred archaeological sites including the Gurukanda Raja Maha Viharaya.
Hela Jana Balaya has also brought to public attention that the Sri Lankan PM had previously brought pressure upon the Commissioner of Archaeology to declare that the land in and around the Gurukanda RMV was not an archaeologically historical site. When this news that surfaced the Hela Jana Balaya, the dayaka sabhawa of the Gurukanda temple together with a large number of Buddhist activists had made representations to the related ministries, archaeology department officials and kept the Maha Sangha informed as well.
It is alleged that the Ranil led UNP Govt had assured TNA that no Buddhist monuments would be allowed to be built in the North & East Sri Lanka.
However, since the Gurukanda RMV is a declared sacred Buddhist site no one has any right to storm the place & begin illegal constructions which is what the TNA politicians led by Raviharan was doing. This constitutes violating penal code 120 too. Like police filed B report in Pidurangala & Kiragala the police must file action against TNA for violating Antiquities Act. Buddhist monks headed by Ahungalle Jinananda Thero are proceeding to file criminal charges against TNA’s Raviharan & others too under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).
Who is TNA’s T Raviharan?
T Raviharan is a member of the TNA representing Mullaitivu District. In August 2018 he was arrested for causing damage to public property & provoking unrest during a protest by fishermen in Mullaitivu. But was released on bail by the Mullaitivu magistrate.
Gurukanda RMV is not the only Buddhist temple that has come under Raviharan’s abuse. In August 2016 the Chief incumbent of the Sambodhi Vihara Temple in Kokilai, Mullaitivu Sri Tissapura Gunarathana thero claims TNA Provincial Councilor Raviharan threatened him to stop developing the temple & vacate the area.
The ruse that the TNA are using to threaten Buddhists in North & East Sri Lanka is that the Buddhists sites are on private lands. This farce was evident when the man who claimed the land was his later withdrew the court case! As we can all see these are theatrics played for the international to be used to exert political pressure on the governments.
All these are not isolated cases. They are all happening to a bigger plan which all began with the mass exodus of Sinhalese & Muslims from North Sri Lanka towards the late 1980s/early 1990s by LTTE enabling to claim that ONLY Tamils lived in North Sri Lanka. The same template was applied to the East as well. With LTTE ground force eliminated in May 2009, its political wing the TNA has now taken over from LTTE in a bigger objective to create a mono-ethnic province that has the blessings of external parties out to capture a very strategic geopolitical & trade savvy location in the Indian Ocean. That the PM of Sri Lanka is also party to their objective in pressuring government officials to erase & distort history is very unfortunate more so because these heritage Buddhist sites are over 2000 years old & no politician has any right to belittle that historical truth for petty political gain.
Shenali D Waduge