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Filial piety in Buddhism



By Dr. Justice Chandradasa Nanayakkara

Society consists of network of relationships which are mutually interdependent and interrelated. According to Sigalavoda Sutta the society is sustained by a network of interlocking relationships such as the relationship of parents and child, teacher and pupil, employer and employee and husband and wife etc. Members in these relationships are expected to fulfill their reciprocal duties and responsibilities in a spirit of kindness and sympathy. In the strong web of relationships, parents and child relationship is considered the most fundamental as it nurtures the physical emotional and social development of the child. Moreover, filial piety displayed by children towards their parents in the context of parents and child relationship is seen as the basis for an orderly harmonious society.

Filial piety and providing care for aging parents is not only considered a central virtue in many religions it was also deeply rooted and ingrained in many Asian cultures including Lankan. Traditional filial piety emphasises compliance, courtesy, manners and support to one’s parents and

Children are deeply indebted to their parents. When a child is born it is unable to live even for a few days unassisted. It is the parents who look after and nurse him by providing him all the necessary care and attention until the child is grown up and is in a position to live without the help of others. The love and affection of parents towards their children is indescribable and boundless. Parents do everything within their power in the interests of their children. They spend sleepless nights and keep vigil at the bedside of their ailing children when they are afflicted with illnesses. Parents are even prepared to spend their entire wealth by forgoing their own comfort for the sake of their children. They wish to see their children prosper and live happily. When children are worried and sad, parents too are distressed and sad. Parents never stop worrying about their children even when they are all grown up have children of their own. Such is the parental love towards their children. It is self-sacrificing and selfless. No superior can equal parents not even any devas. They can be likened to God in human form. Their unconditional love cannot be found anywhere else in the universe.

Children learn various lessons under various teachers during their formative years, but the most important lessons such as how to talk, how to eat, how to clean themselves and how conduct themselves learn from their parents, for this reason, parents are known as first teachers (Braham and Pubbachariya).

In bringing up children parents apply essential meditation practices of Four Immeasurable minds (Brahma Vihara). Four immeasurables are Loving Kindness (Metta). Compassion (Karuna). Sympathetic Joy (Muditha), and Equanimity (Uppekka). Parents maintain these four excellent qualities towards their children at all times from the moment a child is conceived. Lord Buddha advised his adherents to honour their parents as Brahma Supreme God as parents have done much for their children.

The Buddha explained the greatness of parents thus. “Monks, Brahma is a term for mother and father. “worthy of offerings”. Because mother and father do much for their children, they bring them up, nourish them and introduce them to the world.”

When the Buddha was questioned as to who could be considered as the God. Buddha replied, “let your father and your mother be your Gods.”In the Katannu Suttas of Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha said there were two persons whom men could not easily repay. They are your parents, even if you were to carry your mother on one shoulder and your father on the other shoulder for hundred years, and were to minister to them in every possible way by anointing, massaging, bathing, rubbing their limbs cleaning them of their urine and excrement or even one was to establish parents in absolute sovereignty as universal monarch (chakka catti raja).you cannot repay them.” From this it is clear, parents are the most amazing people children can find around the world for all the sacrifices they have made for them.

The practice of filial piety is good karma in the moral teaching of buddhism. It teaches its followers to pay their debts to parents by supporting and respecting them, actions that are considered to be great meritorious deeds or wholesome kamma in Buddhist moral teachings. Sigalovada Sutta which deals with the code of conduct for laity while enumerating five duties that should be performed by parents towards their children sets out following five duties that should be done by children towards their parents as a form of filial love. 1. Children should support their parents as they have been supported by them. It is one of the paramount duties of children. They should obey them and not displease, ill-treat disrespect them in any manner. They should attend to their needs when they are sick. 2. Children should do necessary duties by the parents. Children should understand what are the requirements and necessities of their parents. 3. Children should uphold the family tradition and lineage. It is important duty of children to continue the good work started by the parents. 4. Children should act in such a way as to be worthy of their inheritance. Whatever legacy or property they receive from their parents should be protected. 5. Children should offer alms in honour of their departed relatives. It is a noble duty and custom to remember and revere parents after their death. According to Buddhist teaching matricide and patricide are considered two of the five gravest karma the consequence of which could rebound in this very life.

When the Buddha on one occasion bowed respectfully at a pile of bones, which was lying on his path Bhikku Ananda questioned him as to why he bowed at the pile of bones. Lord Buddha replying said “from an inscrutable beginning comes transmigration. A beginning point is not evident though beings hindered by ignorance and fettered by craving are transmigrating and wandering on. A being who had not been your mother at one time in the past is not easy to find, a being who had not been your father, your sister brother, your son and your daughter one time in the past is not easy to find. That is the reason why I bowed down.”

According to the Maha Mangala sutta, when deity from the celestial world requested the Lord Buddha to enumerate the great blessings that would lead to one’s success and welfare in the world, the Buddha while describing thirty-eight such blessings referred to support extended to one’s parents as a great blessing in following terms. Mata pittu Upatthanametam Mangalam uttam (supporting the mother and father is a great blessing).

In Dhammapada to the Buddha has disclosed being dutiful to one’s mother and father would bring happiness in this world (Sukka matteyya loke atho petteyyata suka). Which means “respect for one’s mother and father brings happiness.”

In Anguttara nikaya Buddha mentioned the ways how to repay love, kindness, and gratitude to one’s parents thus “Oh, Bhikkhus, whoever encourages their faithless parents and settles and establishes them in morality, or whoever encourages their stingy parents and settle and establishes them in generosity, or whoever encourages their foolish parents, and settles and establishes them in wisdom such a person, in this way repays, more than repays what is due to their parents.

Three types of children have been identified in the Buddhist scriptures, they are children who are inferior to their parents in every respect (avajatha). Children who are on the same level with their parents (anujatha) and lastly children who excel their parents in every way (atijatha). Parents would be happy if the children would surpass them and would be unhappy if they fall below their expected standard.

It is a matter of immense regret and grief that with the western influence, urbanisation and fragmentation of family life more and more adult children are becoming insensitive to their moral obligations and evading them. Even the adult children who are capable of caring and looking after their feeble aging parents are leaving them in old age homes and run away from their moral obligations. Many elderly parents suffer violence, neglect, isolation on a daily basis at the hands of their children. A large number of elderly parents live all alone. While some who live alone have taken a conscious decision to do so, many others do this because of lack of option. They have been isolated, neglected, hounded out of the houses built by them at their own expense and housed in old age homes, because they are victims of fast eroding social values at the hands of their own children and society at large. Traditional Sri Lankan society cared and respected the old age and the wisdom, abilities and confidence that came with it.

Along with the growing number of elderly citizens in the country abuse and neglect of aged parents is bound to become a widespread issue in our society. Most children do not realise the amount of affection and care their parents have extended to them. They must realise parental love far greater than filial love.

Old parents should not feel abandoned by adult children they raise. Children could see how the relentless and inevitable change of time has taken its toll on their parents and it should serve as a lesson for them right before their own eyes. We must treat our aging parents just as we hope to be treated in the future, and care giving should living example to their own children and grandchildren. In the past adult children with their life partners used to take care of their parents out of goodness of their heart, as abdication of care giving responsibility, unlike the western societies was considered culturally and morally unacceptable.

Time was when ageing parents were taken care of by their adult children. There was a moral obligation to make sure their aging parents were cared for. It was considered a tenet of filial piety.

Ageing parents usually undergo pangs of loneliness and boredom, and, therefore, need companionship. There is always a tendency for aging parents to develop a pessimistic approach to life, which can be avoided if the adult children provide them with abundant love, care and empathy. They expect their children to sit with and talk to them about the happenings of their life in calm in a cordial manner in their twilight years.

Parents consider children are a great comfort in their old age. Therefore, we must treat our old parents with loving care. It should be remembered that parents gave every moment of their happiness for our comfort and joy. They have cared for us ever since we were infants. We never know the sacrifices they went through for us. We should not despise or repulse and we should not look at them as a burden but speak to them humbly and graciously. It is regrettable today children forget that the foundation of their life was built by parents.

Our parents showed us the world and in return we should not show them old aged homes. We will only realise their value when they are gone and see their empty chairs. When our parents are old and cannot take care of themselves it is our duty to pay back their love, efforts by serving them in every possible way, even at the cost of personal sacrifice.

Adult children should realise that ageing is a continuous and irreversible process. Everyone undergoes this phase of life at his own time and pace.

We should bear in mind that life is a cycle and one day roles will be switched, ageing parents may need you now, but day will come when you need your children as you grow old. Old age has been referred to as the most delicate period of life, and it is the time parent’s health problems become more obvious. It is also the time they need loving care and affection as they become, physically, emotionally weak at this time. Therefore, it is of paramount importance that children should be mindful of heir filial duties and take care of their frail and aging parents.

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Glimmers of hope?



The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self-interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away.

Some of Cassandra’s readers may ask whether she is out of her right mind to see glimmers of hope for the country. She assures them she is as sane as can be; she does cling onto these straws like the dying man does. How else exist? How else get through these dire times?

What are the straws she clings to? News items in The Island of Tuesday 24 May.

‘Sirisena leaves Paget Road mansion in accordance with SC interim injunction.’ And who was instrumental in righting this wrong? The CPA and its Executive Director Dr Pakiasothy Saravanamuttu. It is hoped that revisions to the system will come in such as giving luxury housing and other extravagant perks to ex-presidents and their widows. Sri Lanka has always lived far beyond its means in the golden handshakes to its ex- prezs and also perks given its MPs. At least luxury vehicles should not be given them. Pensions after five years in Parliament should be scrapped forthwith.

‘Letter of demand sent to IGP seeking legal action against DIG Nilantha Jayawardena.’ Here the mover is The Centre for Society and Religion and it is with regard to the Easter Sunday massacre which could have been prevented if DIG Jayawardena as Head of State Intelligence had taken necessary action once intelligence messages warned of attack on churches.

‘CIABOC to indict Johnston, Keheliya and Rohitha’. It is fervently hoped that this will not be another charge that blows away with the wind. They do not have their strongest supporter – Mahinda R to save them. We so fervently hope the two in power now will let things happened justly, according to the law of the land.

‘Foreign Secy Admiral Colombage replaced’. And by whom? A career diplomat who has every right and qualification for the post; namely Aruni Wijewardane. If this indicates a fading of the prominence given to retired armed forces personnel in public life and administration, it is an excellent sign. Admiral Colombage had tendered his resignation, noted Wednesday’s newspaper.

‘Crisis caused by decades of misuse public resources, corruption, kleptocracy – TISL’.

Everyone knew this, even the despicable thieves and kleptocrats. The glaring question is why no concerted effort was made to stop the thieving from a country drawn to bankruptcy by politicians and admin officers. There are many answers to that question. It was groups, mostly of the middle class who came out first in candle lit vigils and then at the Gotagogama Village. The aragalaya has to go down in history as the savior of our nation from a curse worse than war. The civil war was won against many odds. But trying to defeat deceit power-hunger and thieving was near impossible. These protestors stuck their necks out and managed to rid from power most of the Rajapaksa family. That was achievement enough.

Heartfelt hope of the many

The newly appointed Cabinet Ministers leaves Cass un-uplifted. She need not elaborate. She wishes fervently that Dr Harsha de Silva will leave party loyalty aside and consider the country. Usually, it’s asking politicians to cast aside self interest, which very rarely is done in the political culture that came to be after the 1970s. Thus, it is very unusual, completely out of the ordinary to appeal to Dr Harsha to forego party loyalty and do the very needful for the country by accepting the still vacant post of Minister of Finance. We are very sorry Eran W too has kept himself away. As Shamindra Ferdinando writes in the newspaper mentioned, “Well informed sources said that Premier Wickremesinghe was still making efforts to win over some more Opposition members. Sources speculated that vital finance portfolio remained vacant as the government still believed (hoped Cass says) Dr Harsha de Silva could somehow be convinced to accept that portfolio.”

Still utterly hopeless

Gas is still unavailable for people like Cass who cannot stand in queues, first to get a token and then a cylinder. Will life never return to no queues for bare essentials? A woman friend was in a petrol queue for a solid twelve hours – from 4 am to 4 pm. This is just one of million people all over the country in queues. Even a common pressure pill was not available in 20 mg per.

Cassandra considers a hope. We saw hundreds of Sri Lankans all across the globe peacefully protesting for departure of thieves from the government. The ex-PM, Mahinda Rajapaksa’s answer to this was to unleash absolute terror on all of the island. It seems to be that with Johnson a younger MP stood commandingly.

Returning from that horror thought to the protesters overseas, Cass wondered if each of them contributed one hundred dollars to their mother country, it would go a long way to soften the blows we are battered with. Of course, the absolute imperative is that of the money, not a cent goes into personal pockets. The donors must be assured it goes to safety. Is that still not possible: assuring that donations are used for the purpose they are sent for: to alleviate the situation of Sri Lankans? I suppose the memory of tsunami funds going into the Helping Hambantota Fund is still fresh in memory. So much for our beloved country.

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Ban on agrochemicals and fertilisers: Post-scenario analysis



By Prof. Rohan Rajapakse

(Emeritus Professor of Agriculture Biology UNIVERSITY OF RUHUNA and Former Executive Director Sri Lanka Council of Agriculture Research Policy)

There are two aspects of the ban on agrochemicals. The first is the ban on chemical fertilisers, and the second is the ban on the use of pesticides. Several eminent scientists, Dr Parakrama Waidyanatha (formerly the Soil Scientist of RRI), Prof OA Ileperuma (Former Professor of Chemistry University of Peradeniya), Prof C. S. Weeraratne (former Professor of Agronomy University of Ruhuna), Prof D. M. de Costa University of Peradeniya, Prof. Buddhi Marambe (Professor in Weed Science University of Peradeniya) have effectively dealt with the repercussion of the ban on chemical fertilisers which appeared in The Island newspaper on recently.

The major points summarised by these authors are listed below.


1. These scientists, including the author, are of the view that the President’s decision to totally shift to organic agriculture from conventional could lead to widespread hunger and starvation in future, which has become a reality. Organic farming is a small phenomenon in global agriculture, comprising a mere 1.5% of total farmlands, of which 66% are pasture.

2. Conventional farming (CF) is blamed for environmental pollution; however, in organic farming, heavy metal pollution and the release of carbon dioxide and methane, two greenhouse gases from farmyard manure, are serious pollution issues with organic farming that have been identified.

3. On the other hand, the greatest benefit of organic fertilisers as against chemical fertilisers is the improvement of soil’s physical, chemical and biological properties by the former, which is important for sustained crop productivity. The best option is to use appropriate combinations of organic and chemical fertilisers, which can also provide exacting nutrient demands of crops and still is the best option!

4. Sri Lanka has achieved self-sufficiency in rice due to the efforts of the Research Officers of the Department of Agriculture, and all these efforts will be in vain if we abruptly ban the import of fertiliser. These varieties are bred primarily on their fertiliser response. While compost has some positive effects such as improving soil texture and providing some micronutrients, it cannot be used as a substitute for fertiliser needed by high yielding varieties of rice. Applying organic fertilisers alone will not help replenish the nutrients absorbed by a crop. Organic fertilisers have relatively small amounts of the nutrients that plants need. For example, compost has only 2% nitrogen (N), whereas urea has 46% N. Banning the import of inorganic fertilisers will be disastrous, as not applying adequate amounts of nutrients will cause yields to drop, making it essential to increase food imports. Sri Lankan farmers at present are at the mercy of five organizations, namely the Central Department of Agriculture, the Provincial Ministry of Agriculture, the Private sector Pesticide Companies, the Non-Government organizations and the leading farmers who are advising them. Instead, improved agricultural extension services to promote alternative non-chemical methods of pest control and especially the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Locally, pest control depends mostly on the use of synthetic pesticides; ready to use products that can be easily procured from local vendors are applied when and where required Abuse and misapplication of pesticides is a common phenomenon in Sri Lanka. Even though many farmers are aware of the detrimental aspects of pesticides they often use them due to economic gains

We will look at the post scenario of
what has happened

1. The importation of Chemical fertilisers and Pesticides was banned at the beginning of Maha season 1 on the advice of several organic manure (OM) promoters by the Ministry of agriculture.

2. The Ministry of Agriculture encouraged the farmers to use organic manure, and an island-wide programme of producing Organic manure were initiated. IT took some time for the government to realize that Sri Lanka does not have the capacity to produce such a massive amount of OM, running into 10 tons per hectare for 500000 hectares ear marked in ma ha season.

3. Hence the government approved the importation of OM from abroad, and a Company in China was given an initial contract to produce OM produced from Seaweed. However, the scientists from University of Peradeniya detected harmful microorganisms in this initial consignment, and the ship was forced to leave Sri Lankan waters at a cost of US dollar 6.7 million without unloading its poisonous cargo. No substitute fertiliser consignment was available.

4. A committee in the Ministry hastily recommended to import NANO RAJA an artificial compound from India to increase the yield by spraying on to leaves. Sri Lanka lost Rs 863 million as farmers threw all these Nano Raja bottles and can as it attracts dogs and wild boar.

Since there is no other option the Ministry promised to pay Rs 50000 per hectare for all the farmers who lost their livelihood. It is not known how much the country lost due to this illogical decision of banning fertilisers and pesticides.


1. Judicious use of pesticides is recommended.

2. The promotion and the use of integrated pest management techniques whenever possible

3. To minimize the usage of pesticides:

Pesticide traders would be permitted to sell pesticides only through specially trained Technical Assistants.

Issuing pesticides to the farmers for which they have to produce some kind of a written recommendation by a local authority.

Introduction of new mechanism to dispose or recycle empty pesticide and weedicide bottles in collaboration with the Environment Ministry.

Laboratory-testing of imported pesticides by the Registrar of Pesticides at the entry-point to ensure that banned chemicals were not brought into the country.

Implementation of trained core of people who can apply pesticides.

Education campaigns to train farmers, retailers, distributors, and public with the adverse effects of pesticides.

Maximum Residue Level (MRL) to reduce the consumer’s risk of exposure to unsafe levels.

Integrated pest Management and organic agriculture to be promoted.

1. To ensure the proper usage of agrochemicals by farmers

All those who advised the Minister of Agriculture and the President to shift to OM still wield authority in national food production effort. The genuine scientists who predicted the outcome are still harassed sacked from positions they held in MA and were labelled as private sector goons. The danger lies if the farmers decide not to cultivate in this Maha season due to non-availability of fertilisers and pesticides the result will be an imminent famine.

The country also should have a professional body like the Planning Commission of

India, with high calibre professionals in the Universities and the Departments and

There should be institutions and experts to advise the government on national policy matters.

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Thomians triumph in Sydney 



Nothing is happening for us, at this end, other than queues, queues, and more queues! There’s very little to shout about were the sports and entertainment scenes are concerned. However, Down Under, the going seems good.

Sri Lankans, especially in Melbourne, Australia, have quite a lot of happenings to check out, and they all seem to be having a jolly good time!

Trevine Rodrigo,

who puts pen to paper to keep Sri Lankans informed of the events in Melbourne, was in Sydney, to taken in the scene at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition. And, this is Trevine’s report:

The weather Gods and S.Thomas aligned, in Sydney, to provide the unexpected at the Sri Lanka Schools Sevens Touch Rugby competition, graced by an appreciative crowd.

Inclement weather was forecast for the day, and a well drilled Dharmaraja College was expected to go back-to-back at this now emerging competition in Sydney’s Sri Lanka expatriate sporting calendar.

But the unforeseen was delivered, with sunny conditions throughout, and the Thomians provided the upset of the competition when they stunned the favourites, Dharmaraja, in the final, to grab the Peninsula Motor Group Trophy.

Still in its infancy, the Sevens Touch Competition, drawn on the lines of Rugby League rules, found new flair and more enthusiasm among its growing number of fans, through the injection of players from around Australia, opposed to the initial tournament which was restricted to mainly Sydneysiders.

A carnival like atmosphere prevailed throughout the day’s competition.

Ten teams pitted themselves in a round robin system, in two groups, and the top four sides then progressed to the semi-finals, on a knock out basis, to find the winner.

A food stall gave fans the opportunity to keep themselves fed and hydrated while the teams provided the thrills of a highly competitive and skilled tournament.

The rugby dished out was fiercely contested, with teams such as Trinity, Royal and St. Peter’s very much in the fray but failing to qualify after narrow losses on a day of unpredictability.

Issipathana and Wesley were the other semi-finalists with the Pathanians grabbing third place in the play-off before the final.

The final was a tense encounter between last year’s finalists Dharmaraja College and S.Thomas. Form suggested that the Rajans were on track for successive wins in as many attempts.  But the Thomians had other ideas.

The fluent Rajans, with deft handling skills and evasive running, looked the goods, but found the Thomian defence impregnable.  Things were tied until the final minutes when the Thomians sealed the result with an intercept try and hung on to claim the unthinkable.

It was perhaps the price for complacency on the Rajans part that cost them the game and a lesson that it is never over until the final whistle.

Peninsula Motor Group, headed by successful businessman Dilip Kumar, was the main sponsor of the event, providing playing gear to all the teams, and prize money to the winners and runners-up.

The plan for the future is to make this event more attractive and better structured, according to the organisers, headed by Deeptha Perera, whose vision was behind the success of this episode.

In a bid to increase interest, an over 40’s tournament, preceded the main event, and it was as interesting as the younger version.

Ceylon Touch Rugby, a mixed team from Melbourne, won the over 40 competition, beating Royal College in the final.

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