Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism is a political ideology which combines a focus upon Sinhalese culture and ethnicity with an emphasis upon Theravada Buddhism, which is the majority belief system of most of the Sinhalese in Sri Lanka. It mostly originated in reaction to the colonisation of Sri Lanka by the British Empire, blatant discrimination against Sinhala Buddhists while favouring ethnic and religious minorities, and became increasingly assertive in the years following the independence of the country.

Contributions of Anagarika Dharmapala

Anagarika Dharmapala was one of the leading contributors to the Buddhist revival of the 19th century that led to the creation of Buddhist institutions and Buddhist schools to match those of the Christian missionaries, and to the independence movement of the 20th century. He illustrated the first three points in a public speech:

"This bright, beautiful island was made into a Paradise by the Aryan Sinhalese before its destruction was brought about by the barbaric vandals. Its people did not know irreligion... Christianity and polytheism are responsible for the vulgar practices of killing animals, stealing, prostitution, licentiousness, lying and drunkenness... The ancient, historic, refined people, under the diabolism of vicious paganism, introduced by the British administrators, are now declining slowly away."[1]

He called upon the Sinhalese people to rise. He strongly protested against the killing of cattle and eating of beef.He promoted vegetarianism.

Relationship with other religions in Sri Lanka

Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism has a fractious relationship with other religious communities like Christians, with protests often being organised by Buddhist nationalist organisations against the interference of Christians in the governance of the country through movements like Catholic Action.[2] Relations between Buddhist nationalists and Hindus are more peaceful and friendly, with numerous Hindu figures, including Kandiah Neelakandan and T. Maheswaran working with Buddhist groups on the anti-Conversion bill.[3] Also, D. B. S. Jeyaraj noted that both Sri Lankan Hindu nationalism and Buddhist nationalism rose as reactions to Christianity.[4] Hindu-Buddhist collaboration is growing more prevalent in Sri Lanka, with the rise of groups such as the Hindu-Buddhist Friendship Society.[5]


See also


  1. Guruge 1965:482
  2. Sri Lankan Buddhist monks protest against proselytizing Christians AP Worldstream - January 22, 2004
  3. Lanka Buddhists take on Church Daily Pioneer - June 9, 2009
  4. Maheswaran threatens Tamil religious unity The Sunday Leader - January 18, 2004
  5. Hindu-Buddhist Friendship Society soon Sunday Observer - May 30, 2004


External links

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