Constitutional Reform and the Protection of Buddhism in Sri Lanka
In the light of the proposed changes to the Constitution of Sri Lanka now under consideration and growing accusations of contrived attempts via the proposed new Article 33 to neutralize the applicability of Article 9 in the Constitution that imposes a mandatory duty on the State to give to Buddhism the foremost place and protect and foster the Buddha Sasana, while assuring to all religions the rights granted by Articles 10 and 14(1)(e), an important question has arisen “ What is the relationship between the State and Buddhism that should exist in the present day? ”
It is an incontrovertible fact that Buddhism, more than other ideology or religion, has played a singular role in creating an unique civilization and shaping the destinies of this country. Sri Lanka is the oldest Buddhist nation in the world. If not for the continuance of the Dhamma, through the study and practice of it in this country, it is unlikely that there would even be a semblance of pure Sasana in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos, or Cambodia. It is in Sri Lanka that the Wheel of the Buddha’s law was truly set in motion with the arrival of Arahant Mahinda with the blessings of that great universal monarch, Emperor Asoka. If this event did not take place in Sri Lanka, the Pali Canon may not have got recorded and the noble doctrine of the Buddha, recited and accepted by the Arahats, at Rajagaha, Vesali and Pataliputta, i.e. three Great Councils of the Arya Sangha, would have vanished into thin air long ago.