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srilankan prime minister prays at Hindu temple

Namo Buddhaya,

I am a student of Buddhist from India, trying to learn more about the Buddhist values and more. My inspiration is Dr B R Ambedkar the great Indian Scholar and social reformer. I have a doubt about the Buddhist lifestyle and custom once I read a news very recently . The news is quoted as below .

Sri Lanka Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe and wife Maitree Wickremesinghe reached Kasaragod on a private visit and offered prayers at the Kumaramangalam temple at Bela, near Kumbla, here on Saturday.

Reports quoting temple priest Ramachandra Adiga said Mr. Wickremesinghe and wife prayed for the prosperity of their nation and welfare of their family.

They had offered prayers at the Sri Mookambika temple in Kollur in neighbouring Udupi district in Karnataka on July 26.

Special pujas

The Sri Lanka premier and wife were reported to have taken part in special pujas at the temple at Bela. Though Mr. Wickremesinghe had offered pujas at the temple at Kollur during an earlier visit, it was for the first time he was visiting the temple here, the priest is quoted as saying "

Sri Lanka PM prays at Kasaragod temple

Now my doubt is why a Buddhist follower prays in a Hindu temple ? BabaSaheb Dr B R Ambedkar taught us that Buddhism is a philosophy of logic, reasoning. There is no space for superstitious beliefs or a Supreme GOD who provide virtues due to the prayers . I think it's the general idea of Buddhism and that's in its core . But why then a prime minister of One country goes to another country and do pooja in another religion and prays for the betterment of his own country ??

This all seems very confusing. Even the Buddhism developed and nourished in India, for last centuries Buddhism has been decayed and destroyed by the Hinduism / brahmanism. It is only the by effort of Dr B R Ambedkar, now Buddhism has a slow but steady revival.

All of you know about the caste social system of India, because of Hinduism / Brahmanism and how this system depressed and deceased a major share of Indian population. Only Dr B R Ambedkar inspired these depressed mass people to adopt Buddhism because it's the religion of logic and reasoning hence these people can escape from the clutches of Hinduism / Brahmanism superstitious belief and caste system.

By the time, reading these kind of news from a Buddhist Country make a lot of confusion among the aspirants of Buddhism.

If any one have a better explanation for these, please give me . Is Buddhism free from all superstitious blind beliefs or it is just an simple offshoot of Hinduism / Brahmanism ?

Thank you

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Maybe it's a politic and skilful thing to do -- analogous to the Prime Minister of New Zealand wearing a headscarf after the Christchurch mosque attack.

New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern, wearing hijab, meets Christchurch terror attack victims' families

Perhaps it helps to represent that (the population of) Sri Lanka is Buddhist and Hindu too, and that populations (within countries and between) can co-exist peacefully.

That's just a guess though, I haven't read any publicity about his motive.

  • Thanks for the comments, but if many of here don't know about the Brahmanism and it's cancerous product of Caste Social system in India ; we learn Buddhism as a remedy for that . This is how Dr B R Ambedkar taught us about Buddhism, only then we get these kond of doubts whenever we see illogical superstitious actions from Buddhist leaders , followers . – Jeevanism Jul 31 at 2:50
  • Yes I'm kind of aware of what you're saying: I read some about society in India, and about Dr. Ambedkar's Navayana,though not personally. I think Andrei's answer was good, I suppose that action can be intended as a symbolic act of communication for other people, especially because he's the PM. I don't know if you know that there has been some violence in the past between Hindu and Buddhist, in Sri Lanka; but a public "prayer for peace" -- friendship, not disdain, non-hatred -- with other people's form of worship, seems to me appropriate symbolic action from a political leader, it's "skilful". – ChrisW Jul 31 at 6:46
  • Comments are not for extended discussion; this conversation has been moved to chat. – ChrisW Aug 1 at 6:44
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Our actions often have symbolic value. For example, when you say "good morning" to your neighbor - the morning may not be very good, it may be too hot or heavy raining, or your neighbor may be in bad mood - but we make this gesture for its symbolic value. We say good morning as a way to create positive emotional energy for the entire day. We are sending a message of hope and optimism to each other. We are wishing that good morning will lead to good day.

Or we shake hands. It may seem like a useless act, but in fact it's a symbol of peaceful contact. We use this gesture for its symbolic value. We are sending a message of trust and no-hate, no-fear to each other.

Similarly, some activities performed by the public figures are done as symbolic acts that create certain emotional energy in the people who participates, watches, or hears about them. They may send a message of respect, or compassion, or friendship etc. Just like good morning or hand-shaking, except it works at the national and international level.

Public prayers are just like that, they are symbolic actions that send a message of peace, hope, compassion or whatever the topic of the prayers. In Buddhism, many schools like Theravada, Mahayana, Tibetan Vajrayana - use the ceremony of offering, ceremony of puja, and public prayers - as a way to send a positive public message, that will create a certain positive mindset in the people. It may shift the mood of every single person very slightly, but on the overall scale it may have a pretty noticeable positive effect.

  • Also the purpose of a stupa in DN 16: "'This is the stupa of a disciple of that Tathagata, Arahant, Fully Enlightened One!' or 'This is the stupa of that righteous monarch who ruled according to Dhamma!' — the hearts of many people are calmed and made happy; and so calmed and with their minds established in faith therein, at the breaking up of the body, after death, they will be reborn in a realm of heavenly happiness. And it is because of this, Ananda, that these four persons are worthy of a stupa." – ruben2020 Jul 30 at 15:28
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Firstly, as ChrisW mentioned, a person might do this to please others. For example, in this case, a Buddhist politician may partake in a ceremony in another religion's place of worship to make other people happy. For example, here is a news article on Indian PM Narendra Modi visiting a Hindu temple, a Buddhist temple and a mosque in Singapore. I'm not sure if he participated in any religious ceremonies.

Secondly, a person might do this to fit in. For example, a member of Buddhism.SE who is a practising lay Buddhist from a Muslim background, wrote an answer here (which I think I won't provide the link for), stating that he did not openly declare himself to be a Buddhist and instead lives an outward life appearing to be a Muslim, whenever he meets his relatives. I'm only paraphrasing the answer, according to my understanding of it.

Thirdly, lay Buddhists and even some monks may participate in what appears to be superstitious rituals, even if the Buddha discouraged this. Just because some people identify themselves as Buddhist, doesn't mean that they are aware of the Dhamma (teachings).

For example, from this article:

This leads to the highlight of the day - chanting and blessings by monks and ending the short session (which lasts no more than 5 minutes) with a shower of "holy water".

The monks softly chants a Thai variety of the Ti-Ratana Vandana (homage to the Triple Gem), five precepts and punnanumodana (sharing of merits). For most however, these chants are exotic and spiritual, and are perceived to have "supra mundane" powers. It is no wonder then that many devotees place their personal belongings - amulets, religious icons and even car keys - onto a tray held by the monk who performs the chanting.

Their belief - mistaken or otherwise - is that these chants contain "spiritual powers" which are then transcended into their items, which when worn or used, protects them from harm or danger. The ceremony ends with the tying of yellow coloured strings on the wrist, a symbolic notion of the presence of the Sangha in the laity. Of course, if one wishes, they can also make a donation to the monk concerned for his service by putting money into a metal box.

Lastly, to answer your question:

OP: Is Buddhism free from all superstitious blind beliefs or it is just an simple offshoot of Hinduism / Brahmanism ?

If by Buddhism, you are referring to what the Buddha taught, then the following passage from DN 2 would be self-explanatory. You might also be interested in "Is Buddhism just Hinduism stripped for export?".

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as: reading marks on the limbs [e.g., palmistry]; reading omens and signs; interpreting celestial events [falling stars, comets]; interpreting dreams; reading features of the body [e.g., phrenology]; reading marks on cloth gnawed by mice; offering fire oblations, oblations from a ladle, oblations of husks, rice powder, rice grains, ghee, and oil; offering oblations from the mouth; offering blood-sacrifices; making predictions based on the fingertips; geomancy; making predictions for state officials; laying demons in a cemetery; placing spells on spirits; earth-skills [divining water and gems?]; snake-skills, poison-skills, scorpion-skills, rat-skills, bird-skills, crow-skills; predicting life spans; giving protective charms; casting horoscopes — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as: determining lucky and unlucky gems, staffs, garments, swords, arrows, bows, and other weapons; women, men, boys, girls, male slaves, female slaves; elephants, horses, buffaloes, bulls, cows, goats, rams, fowl, quails, lizards, rabbits, tortoises, and other animals — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as [forecasting]: the rulers will march forth; the rulers will not march forth; our rulers will attack, and their rulers will retreat; their rulers will attack, and our rulers will retreat; there will be triumph for our rulers and defeat for their rulers; there will be triumph for their rulers and defeat for our rulers; thus there will be triumph this one, defeat for that one — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as [forecasting]: there will be a lunar eclipse; there will be a solar eclipse; there will be an occultation of [a conjunction of the moon or a planet with] an asterism; the sun and moon will be favorable; the sun and moon will be unfavorable; the asterisms will be favorable; the asterisms will be unfavorable; there will be a meteor shower; there will be a flickering light on the horizon [an aurora?]; there will be an earthquake; there will be thunder coming from dry clouds; there will be a rising, a setting, a darkening, a brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms; such will be the result of the lunar eclipse ... the rising, setting, darkening, brightening of the sun, moon, and asterisms — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as [forecasting]: there will be abundant rain; there will be a drought; there will be plenty; there will be famine; there will be rest and security; there will be danger; there will be disease; there will be freedom from disease; or they earn their living by accounting, counting, calculation, composing poetry, or teaching hedonistic arts and doctrines [lokāyata] — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as: calculating auspicious dates for marriages — both those in which the bride is brought home and those in which she is sent out; calculating auspicious dates for betrothals and divorces; for collecting debts or making investments and loans; reciting charms to make people attractive or unattractive; curing women who have undergone miscarriages or abortions; reciting spells to bind a man's tongue, to paralyze his jaws, to make him lose control over his hands, or to bring on deafness; getting oracular answers to questions addressed to a spirit in a mirror, in a young girl, or to a spirit medium; worshipping the sun, worshipping the Great Brahmā, bringing forth flames from the mouth, invoking the goddess of luck — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these.

"Whereas some contemplatives & brahmans, living off food given in faith, maintain themselves by wrong livelihood, by such "animal" arts as: promising gifts to deities in return for favors; fulfilling such promises; demonology; reciting spells in earth houses [see earth skills, above]; inducing virility and impotence; preparing sites for construction; consecrating sites for construction; giving ceremonial mouthwashes and ceremonial baths; offering sacrificial fires; administering emetics, purges, purges from above, purges from below, head-purges; ear-oil, eye-drops, treatments through the nose, ointments, and counter-ointments; practicing eye-surgery [or: extractive surgery], general surgery, pediatrics; administering root-medicines and binding medicinal herbs — he abstains from wrong livelihood, from "animal" arts such as these. This, too, is part of his virtue."

"A monk thus consummate in virtue sees no danger anywhere from his restraint through virtue. Just as a head-anointed noble warrior king who has defeated his enemies sees no danger anywhere from his enemies, in the same way the monk thus consummate in virtue sees no danger anywhere from his restraint through virtue. Endowed with this noble aggregate of virtue, he is inwardly sensitive to the pleasure of being blameless. This is how a monk is consummate in virtue.

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