From Darkness into Light
The kingdom established by Prince Vijaya emerged from behind a cloud of ignorance from the flash of light that shone forth from the peak at Mihintale on a Poson full moon poya day. In our long eventful history, the first ever recorded intelligence test was conducted atop that peak, and the duties of rulers and rights of man and beast were instilled upon the sovereign and for posterity. From thereon the thrice blessed isle began and continues to shine forth as the repository of the Buddha Dhamma for the well being and benefit of mankind and all other beings inhabiting land and space.
The short sermon on the mount should be engraved in the hearts of all rulers and leaders as a terse declaration of the rights of man and beast, dwelling on these noble sentiments from the starting point of the noble teachings of the Buddha, Man and Beast together with all other beings that inhabit the various spheres of the world systems, have arisen by the reason of their own Karma (Action, broadly meant). Thus, one has no right to deprive another of life or limb, unless empowered by an existing order of a community, subject however to the all pervasive law of Kamma, which is no respecter of person or position. The momentous exortation , " unsettled upon the sovereign that the animals have the right to live just as man and that the ruler is only the guardian of the resources of the land."
Following on the heels of this sublime advice, the arahath Mahinda proceeded to deliver the Chula hatthipadopama Sutta (Majjima Nikaya, 27) to the sovereign, which covers all aspects of Sila (Virtue), Samadhi (Concentration), Panna (Wisdom), which would be of immense benefit to rulers and the ruled. The sutta is so comprehensive in its context, that it would require a booklet of an analysis, if it were to be attempted and hence is not proposed to be dealt with in this short article. Therefore, briefly recapitulating the matters dealt with in the sutta, it embodies the requisite virtue, concentration and wisdom, which can be practiced by householders as well as recluses in accordance with their respective mental capacities, social positions and wishes. For instance a householder not intent on renouncing the lay life, could follow the practice of Sila (virtue) and thereby be a blessing to himself and to so likely: like an honest person who doesn't defraud or injure, other members of the public or state for personal gain and earns his wealth in accordance with the principles of right livelihood. Such a person would fare well in his present life and thereafter in a blissful state after death. As for those who seek higher spiritual attainments, the necessary steps and practices are carefully set out to be followed and ultimately realized for the complete liberation of samsaric existence.
Thus, with this epoch making event the island of Lanka, underwent as it were a next birth. A virtuous people grew up in the country respecting law and order, so much so, that it is said, when the great King Dutugemunu was building the Maha Thupa a bowlful of gold coins was set down near the site for the workman to collect what they thought was due to them. That was the level of virtue then! Then our culture, architecture, literature, education blossomed forth, based on the noble principles of the Buddha Dhamma, the evidence of which could even now be seen at Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa, Yapahuva, Dambadeniya, Kurunegala, Kandy and in the South of the country. It is also noteworthy that, all projects were conducted in an environmentally friendly manner. The decay set in, essentially after, the advent of the Portuguese in 1505, and the introduction of alien values and practices; which ultimately resulted in a materialistic society coming up in the country, where virtue was brushed aside and Rupees and Dollars became the measure of worth.
Therefore, the present rulers by emphasizing the value of virtuous conduct and remodeling the education system on Buddhist lines, which ensures the growth of virtue and wisdom, could hope to see the emergence of a people who would be a blessing to our country and the world at large.
"May the rain gods give timely rains, so that the harvest maybe bountiful. May the world be prosperous, may the rules be righteous."