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‘Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic’



International Buddhist Conference 2020

The National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) has organized the International Buddhist Conference on November 7 and 8 from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm Sri Lanka time via zoom, the organizers announced.

The theme of the Conference will be “Buddhism’s Response to COVID 19 Pandemic” and the Anusasana at the Inauguration of the Conference on November 7 at 2.00 pm was delivered by Most Ven Prof Kotapitiye Rahula Anunayaka Thero of the Kotte Srikalyani Samagreedhamma Maha Sangha Sabha & Main Secretary, Professor Pali and Buddhist Studies Division, Peradeniya University. The Government of Burma awarded the highest Honorary Degree “Aggamahapanditha” award to Ven Anunanyake Thero recently.

The welcome address was delivered by Prof Lakshman R. Watawala, Chairman, National Council for International Affairs of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress (ACBC) and Vice President ACBC. Thereafter, the President of the All Ceylon Buddhist Congress and Vice President of the World Federation of Buddhists Jagath Sumathipala will deliver his address.

The first Session on Buddha’s Teachings to overcome COVID – 19 Pandemic was chaired by Justice Yasantha Kodagoda, PC, Judge of the Supreme Court of Sri Lanka. This session covered three presentations relating to the topic.

The first presentation on the Rathana Suthraya – A discourse to overcome disasters was delivered by Ven Prof Medagampitiye Wijithadhamma Thero, Prof of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Sri Jayewardenepura.

The next was on the Girimananda Suthraya – Ten perceptions for Healing of Suffering delivered by Prof. Sumanapala Galmangoda, Course Coordinator, Dean, Faculty of Buddhist Therapeutic Systems of Medicine, Dean Faculty of Graduate Studies, Chief Medical Officer, Buddhist ?yurvedic Counseling and Psychiatry, N?g?nanda Teaching Hospital.

The final presentation Coping with Pandemic and Overcoming Suffering from a Buddhist Perspective was delivered by Dr Tavivat Puntarigvivat Visiting Professor at the Thai Studies Program, Pridi Banomyong International College, Thammasat University in Bangkok on a research study undertaken by him.

Thereafter, a panel discussion followed moderated by Prof. Chandima Wijebandara, former Vice Chancellor, University of Sri Jayewadenepura.

The panelists were Dr. Rathnasiri Rathnayaka, Senior Lecturer, Department of Buddhist Thought Postgraduate Institute of Pali and Buddhist Studies, University of Kelaniya, Dr, Praneeth Abeysundera, Senior Lecturer of Sociology and Anthropology, Sri Jayewardenepura University, Past President All Ceylon Buddhist Congress, Ven. Senior Prof. Uturawela Dhammaratana Thero, Department of Pali, Buddhist and Pali University of Sri Lanka, Ven. Vajiraramaye Nanasiha Thero, Patron Servants of the Buddha, Bhante Mahinda Founder and Spiritual Director of the Aloka Foundation, Malaysia.

He is also the abbot of the Aloka Meditation Centre in Australia, founder and Spiritual Director of the Australian Buddhist Mission, Inc. and Ven. Halayale Wimalarathana Thera, President of the International Buddhist Foundation (IBF), Geneva, Switzerland.

On the second day – November 8, the conference will be held via zoom from 2.00 pm to 6.00 pm 

The theme of Session 2. is Right Mindfulness and Meditation the Buddhist Way to Overcome Covid -19 Pandemic.

This session will be chaired by Deepal Sooriarachchi, Mindfulness Teacher, Post Graduate Institute of Management University of Sri Jayewardenepura, who will introduce the theme of the session.

The Keynote Address on Right Mindfulness the Buddhist Way to overcome COVID -19 Pandemic will be delivered by Most. Ven. Dhammajiva Maha Thero, Chief Meditation Master, Meetirigala Nissarana Vanaya.

The next address on the Power of Meditation to relieve stress, strain and increase resilience –  Neuropsychiatric perspective will be delivered by Dr. Kumari Galboda, Consultant Psychiatrist in Old Age Psychiatry, Essex Partnership University, NHS Foundation Trust, Rochford Hospital, Essex, UK

The third address on The Four Noble Truths and Noble Eightfold Path – Liberation from Suffering will be delivered by Ven. Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thero, Head London Buddhist Vihara and Chief Sanganayaka Great Britain. 

The final address will be delivered on Right Mindfulness – A Buddhist survival kit in the pandemic by Ajahn Sujato Co-founder, Sydney.

This will be followed by a panel discussion moderated by Nalaka Hewamadduma, Educator and Author, Mental Skills development. The panelists will comprise: Ven. Panadure Chandraratne Thero, Deputy Abbot, Meethirigala Nissarana Vanaya, Meetirigala, Rev. Dr. Bhante Saranapala – The Urban Buddhist Monk, Founder and President “Canada A Mindful and Kind Nation”, West End Buddhist Temple & Meditation Centre, Mississauga, Canada, Dr. Sumana Ratnayaka, Retired Senior Lecturer, Pali & Buddhist Studies, University of Peradeniya (studied at Kelaniya, Uppsala, Oxford, Lund and Peradeniya Universities).

She holds a doctorate on the subject of Mindfulness: An exploratory study of the Buddhist Meditation in Sri Lanka and is currently resident in Lund, Sweden, Ven. Rathanapala Mahawela. Asst. Lecturer. Pali & Buddhist Studies University of Peradeniya and Dr. Sunil Kariyakarawana, Buddhist Advisor to Her Majesty’s British Armed Services.



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Foreign force behind Easter Sunday attacks – Sirisena



By Rathindra Kuruwita

A powerful foreign country or an agency was behind the Easter Sunday bombings and the National Thowheed Jamaat (NTJ) leader Zaharan Hashim, former President Maithripala Sirisena yesterday told the PCoI investigating the Easter Sunday attacks.

“I also do not believe that Zaharan was the leader of that organisation. Because a leader would never have initiated a suicide attack and died during the first wave,” Sirisena said.

The former President also said that Islamic extremism had spread rapidly in the country due to the support extremists received from Muslim politicians.

Sirisena also said that the military and intelligence officials had been demoralised by harassment they suffered during the yahaalanaya administration. This was the reason why local institutions failed to uncover NTJ’s plans. “But this incident is a conspiracy because it appeared that Zaharan was being manipulated by some foreign hand,” the former President said.

The President further said that during the previous administration, UNPers had headed the Ministry of Law and Order for several years that they had significantly weakened the intelligence services. Although he had taken the Ministry of law and Order in the last stages of the yahapalana government, he had not been able to undo the damage the UNP had done in four years, the witness said.

Commissioner: “Did you know that during your tenure as President, Muslim MPs and ministers were forcible acquiring land in Vanni and Batticaloa and they were constructing Muslim villages and mosques there?”

Sirisena: “Some ministers used their political power to clear forests and cultivate lands. Some ministers were angry with me when I tried to stop them. I tried hard to control those actions. But it was difficult for me to deal with that situation. Fundamentalism rose due to the protection given by Muslim political leaders. Certain political parties are based on religion, race and language. This is disastrous. I tried to stop these people but my decisions were not implemented.”



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Bathiudeen granted bail



Former Minister Rishad Bathiudeen was released on bail by the Fort Magistrate’s Court yesterday. Fort Magistrate Priyantha Liyanage released Bathiudeen on cash bail of Rs. 100,000 with two sureties of one million rupees each.

The Magistrate also imposed a travel ban on Bathiudeen and said that the guarantors should be his close relatives.

The Magistrate granted bail to the MP considering the risk of him contracting COVID-19 as two inmates in cells next to his had recently tested positive for coronavirus.

Bathiudeen was remanded in connection with alleged misappropriation of public funds during the last presidential election to transport voters.

The former minister has been accused of misusing 222 buses owned by the SLTB for transporting internally displaced persons from Puttalam to polling stations in Silavathurai, Mannar during the 2019 Presidential Election. Two others, Mohamed Yaseen Samsudeen and Alagarathnam Manoranjan face the same charges.

They have allegedly violated Article 82(1) of Presidential Elections Act, No. 15 of 1981 by misappropriating public funds amounting to Rs. 9.5 million.

Bathiudeen was arrested at an apartment complex at Ebenezer Place in Dehiwala in the early hours of October 19. He was then produced before the court and placed under remand custody. His bail application was also rejected by the magistrate’s court on several occasions



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Zahran supported Sirisena and SLMC at 2015 elections, Hizbullah tells PCoI



By Rathindra Kuruwita

National Thawheed Jamaat (NTJ) and its leader Zahran Hashim supported Former President Maithripala Sirisena and the Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC) at the 2015 elections, former Eastern Province Governor M.L.A.M Hizbullah, on Tuesday night, told the PCoI probing the Easter Sunday attacks.

Hizbullah was giving evidence before the PCoI for the second day.

“Zahran supported the SLMC at the 2015 general election. After the UNP-led coalition won the election, NTJ members fought with our supporters. Several people were injured during the clash, including Zahran’s brother. SLMC leader Rauff Hakeem visited Zahran’s brother at the hospital.”

The witness also submitted a footage of a demonstration opposite NTJ Headquarters in Kattankudy. It contained a speech by Zahran, who expressed his dismay after Sirisena appointed Hizbullah as a national list MP.

“In this video, Zahran clearly says he supported Maithripala Sirisena at the 2015 presidential election. Zahran also says he sent a fax to the former President, urging him not to appoint me to Parliament.”

However, it was earlier revealed that in 2015, representatives of five recognised political parties, including the UPFA and the UNP, had signed agreements with Zahran in the run-up to the 2015 general election. Representatives of Sri Lanka Muslim Congress (SLMC,) Democratic Party, UNP, UPFA and National Front for Good Governance (NFGG), too, had signed agreements with Zahran in exchange for NTJ support, the Commission was told.

Hizbullah, on Monday, admitted that his party had also signed an agreement with the NTJ.

“Zahran told social media that he would support any politician who agreed to his proposals. All the parties joined him. I also went along.”

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