Original image by Azzam Ameen, on Twitter

There are tensions and schisms erupting, there is a crisis in the making. One dimension of this crisis is the unfolding diplomatic debacle: the Geneva-crisis. The group Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) represents, and gives expression to, another dimension. The emergence of both was to be expected; both, however, were avoidable.


After Sri Lanka’s sui generis performance in 2009, the Geneva-story has been a depressing one to a lot of people. Sri Lanka’s support-base has dwindled drastically. India which, in 2009, opposed a Western-sponsored resolution against Sri Lanka, stood up to remind the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillai, where to get off. Today, India is endorsing Western or US-sponsored resolutions, and acknowledging in the process reports produced by Ms. Pillai. The contrast couldn’t have been more damaging than this.

In the face of such developments, Sri Lanka’s message (articulated especially by her political envoys), both at the UNHRC as well as in Sri Lanka, has been one of fire and fury, but without much substance. Unfortunately, responses to criticism in the absence of much needed action on the ground do tend to take such a form. The Sinhala phrase ‘puss-wedilla’ comes to mind, so too does the phrase ‘popgun oratory’ (as the late Lakshman Kadirgamar once put it in response to some of Anura Banadaranaike’s statements). While such responses do come in handy at times, it is better that that approach, that demeanour, became the exception rather than the norm. But this will not be so given Sri Lanka’s continuing confusion over the situation it is in after the UNHRC’s adoption of the second resolution this month.

The situation is a serious one; not only because of the adoption of another resolution, but because of the fact that what Sri Lanka is failing to do is what Sri Lanka has promised to do. Stated differently, what Sri Lanka is being asked to do is what she has promised to do. And what she has promised to do amounts to what she is capable of doing.

Firstly, much of this trouble could have been avoided had considerable progress been made in terms of implementing the recommendations of the LLRC; especially those recommendations on humanitarian and human rights law. Satisfactory progress on issues such as the resettlement of IDPs, for example, does not continue to hold much value when the demand is for something else. So there needs to be a realistic assessment of why no one seems to be listening when Sri Lanka speaks.

Secondly, the question is largely about implementing the 13th Amendment. Here too, Sri Lanka could have established the Northern Provincial Council much earlier than the promised date (of September 2013). The current Sri Lankan Constitution has adequate safeguards in place to protect the country’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. And as long as powers are devolved to a de-merged North and East (and for practical purposes, this can be sans the devolution of police powers), Sri Lanka could go a long way in addressing some of the critical concerns raised by the so-called ‘international community’.

To be sure, this need not be done because the West is asking us to do it; nor should it be done because Tamil Nadu is up in arms against the people of Sri Lanka, or because Mr. Karunanidhi dreams of Eelam in his slumber. But it can, and needs to be done, to promote greater political and democratic participation within the country. As a foremost historian and critic of the ‘traditional homeland’ argument, Prof. KM de Silva, has recently reiterated:

“The democratization process will also require the establishment of a provincial council for the northern province. Elections to that provincial council will enable political parties and individuals to vie for positions in the council. Such a council will give the Tamils opportunities in influencing, if not fashioning, the development policy of the northern province. The Tamils could play a big role in the democratization process of the province” [in Sri Lanka and the Defeat of the LTTE (Penguin/Vijitha Yapa, 2012), p. 266].

If such measures are not adopted, further intrusion into Sri Lanka’s domestic affairs becomes inevitable. Since things have hit rock bottom, it is perhaps the best time to wake up.

Bodu Bala Sena and anti-Muslim rhetoric

Another dimension of the Sri Lankan crisis comes in the form of anti-Muslim rhetoric that is spreading fast throughout the country. Space for considerable foreign intrusion and interference could be created if inter-religious disharmony leads to violence.

I am not totally opposed to the broader dialogue or discourse groups such as BBS give rise to. In a world of symbols, identities and identity-promotion, reducing a praiseworthy concept such as the ‘Halal’ concept to a mere symbol (and that too, for commercial purposes) is problematic. And given that the symbol in question promotes, or reminds one of a particular religion, any person belonging to a different religion should have the freedom to raise concerns. Therefore, the Halal-logo is an issue, especially in a world of contested identities; and Muslim-leaders would do well to remember that, especially when a vast majority of the people of a country belong to a different religion. And perhaps the somewhat swift manner in which the Muslim-leaders (together with the cooperation of a few Buddhist monks) were able to address this issue further proves that the Muslim-community could have been more sensitive to the concerns of others, before groups such as BBS emerged.

But there is also a very dangerous and grotesque dimension to the BBS and its project. The manner in which its representatives raise issues can very easily incite anti-Muslim hatred and violence. This is especially the case when the BBS decides to hold public rallies. There’s something very grotesque in a Buddhist monk coming on stage and demanding incessantly that Sinhala boys and girls should now get ready to produce more babies as the Sinhala population is being threatened by the Muslims in the country. There is something sickening when certain monks demand that Buddhists should not visit Muslim-restaurants since the Muslims deliberately spit in their food before serving it to their customers [statements to this effect were made by monks during the recent BBS-rally held in Kandy]. These monks who claim to be the protectors of Buddhism and the teachings of the Buddha seem to have forgotten the Buddha’s teachings on ‘right speech’. Even if the time is considered to be ripe for airing such views, the manner in which they are raised is wholly unwarranted, deplorable.

Responding to the BBS-crisis

The question is: how can we respond?

Such developments generate two popular forms of responses, which I tend to think are of limited relevance today. Firstly, there emerges a critical counter-response which attempts to remind, or reiterate, the ‘original’ teachings of the Buddha. Secondly, there is a call for the creation of an overarching ‘Sri Lankan’ identity.

The first response (the ‘Buddhism-betrayed’ kind of response which has failed) is to be appreciated, but if over-stretched beyond a point, becomes problematic for a number of reasons. This is because advocates of Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism have already accepted that what they are promoting is ‘Sinhala-Buddhism’, and that it can be different from what is perceived to be the ‘original’ teachings of the Buddha. They would even claim that Sinhala-Buddhism is not the only kind of Buddhism, that it is even not the ‘correct’ form of Buddhism, but is one of many kinds of Buddhism prevalent in the world. In the face of such an admission, to argue that Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists are not promoting the ‘correct’ form of Buddhism takes one nowhere.

The second response is problematic since it is predicated on the assumption that there is something intrinsically good about the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity. Advocates of the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity don’t often realize that they too are engaged in the promotion of another kind of identity which, when developed as a counter-response to a different identity (and very often with hatred towards that other identity), can be as problematic as the identity that they like to critique. And even with such a broad identity, one needs to adopt certain positions in the realm of politics; and these decisions can always be construed as tilting towards a decision promoted by this or that ‘extremist’ identity. In other words, a middle-of-the-road ‘Sri Lankan’ identity is only good as long as no one questions the positions its proponents adopt; the moment they are questioned (‘Where do you stand on the issue of devolution, Mr Sri Lankan identity? for example), and their positions are revealed, they tend to fall into a camp they so vehemently critique.

I think the challenge ought to be a more difficult one than this.

One: while reverting to the teachings of the Buddha, it is necessary not to delude oneself into imagining that there is an absolutely and pure form of Buddhism – and that once this ‘pure’ or ‘correct’ form of Buddhism is pointed out, everything will fall into place. No, it does not happen that way, and therefore one cannot rest assured. Also, to put it bluntly, it is necessary to ensure that one does not, in trying to preach Buddhism, begin to sound more Buddhist than the Buddha himself.

Two: while an overarching Sri Lankan identity is a good idea, abstract theorizing takes one nowhere. In order to build such an overarching identity, one has to begin from somewhere. And if building an identity is what matters, it is perhaps necessary to begin with the narrower identity in question. So for example, if Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism is the problem, the first challenge would be to engage in re-imagining or re-constructing a different form of Sinhala-Buddhist identity (all identities, like everything else, are our constructions). Similarly, if Tamil (or Tamil-Hindu) nationalism is the problem, the task would be to develop a different kind of Tamil-Hindu identity. And one need not be shy to admit openly that one is inspired by certain teachings of Buddhism and/or by certain strands of thought contained in Sinhala-Buddhist nationalism, for example. The task is to be discriminatory (or selective) in what one wants to learn from such teachings and writings.

Without such an attempt being made to re-construct an identity one is closer to, I don’t think the task of building what, at the moment, appears to be an abstract ‘Sri Lankan’ identity will ever be practical or useful. Once these separate identities are rethought of in a more pluralistic way (and this needs to be done by all, not simply the Sinhala-Buddhists), there will be space created to build a more formidable, overarching, identity applicable to all the people. In fact, too much effort to do the latter may not even be required by then.

And in the present context, a task confronting a Sinhala-Buddhist would be to show that s/he is not some kind of bigoted monster; that a Sinhala-Buddhist, while promoting and preserving his or her religion and culture, is equally committed to promoting equality and harmony in society (and this applies to others as well). This is the most challenging task confronting critical elements within the Sinhala-Buddhist majority. In broader terms, a constant and vigorous re-examination of one’s identity becomes essential.

Thirdly, it is necessary to be clear that those who are seen to be protecting groups which have the potential to arouse ethnic and religious hatred need to be held accountable and responsible for any violence caused: politicians and public officials alike. Here again, the responsibility falls on people belonging to all religions and ethnic groups to remind their leaders that any form of violence would not be acceptable.


The crisis confronting Sri Lanka is not something which can be addressed by writing about it in a postcard and posting it to a judge. The situation calls for more intelligent and careful thinking on the part of Sri Lanka’s politicians as well as the citizenry in general. But very little thinking seems to be taking place these days. Surely, this cannot be our national trait.

  • stanobey

    Kalana Senaratne states,

    “And given that the symbol in question promotes, or reminds one of a particular religion, any person belonging to a different religion should have the freedom to raise concerns.”

    As a non-Buddhist each time I look at a Sri Lankan coin I am reminded of Buddhism. So if ‘any person belonging to a different religion should have the freedom to raise concerns’ – am I entitled to object – BBS style or not?

    So next time you pass by a church and the symbol of a cross reminds you of Christianity – you are entitled to object? Oh dear – how silly are they getting.

    Is this a new right – the right not to be reminded about other religions. This argument ‘for’ the BBS position is in fact the best argument ‘against’ it.

    He also states;

    ‘Therefore, the Halal-logo is an issue, especially in a world of contested identities;

    Contested? What is this contested identity? Until the BBS starting ranting about it – no one gave a rats…about the halaal logo. It was there…somewhere at the back of a pack which we any way threw away.

    Who cares? If it is there or not there. No one did. There was no public discourse or debate about it – until of course the BBS started making it one.

    Making it an issue shows absolute petty minded racism.

    ‘and Muslim-leaders would do well to remember that, especially when a vast majority of the people of a country belong to a different religion’

    Excuse me sir, but your law course should have had a chapter on ‘human rights’ somewhere. People have rights and freedoms – that no one can talk away. That’s the whole idea of rights.

    The only reason why the ACJU reacted ‘swiftly’ was because they were really scared – as to where this will end. Prominent extremists had on the media expressed the ‘inevitable’ clash 1915 style. Prominent BBS activists on social media were writing about 1983.

    It take a lot of courage to stand up against your own people…not many unfortunately have that.

  • imadh

    “And perhaps the somewhat swift manner in which the Muslim-leaders (together with the cooperation of a few Buddhist monks) were able to address this issue further proves that the Muslim-community could have been more sensitive to the concerns of others, before groups such as BBS emerged.”

    This is a pertinent quote from the author’s otherwise reasonably good analysis. But rather than appreciating the maturity and understanding of the persons concerned, the tendency seems to be to find fault with them for showing the same even at this late stage. This tendency, despite the avowedly best intention behind it, appears to complement the thinking within a section of the Muslim community that the more you give in, the more you would be demanded of giving in. This itself is the ironic fate of a minority. The majority, or a group of it, demands something that you enjoy, do or possess, to be given up,and you do so. By the logic of the author, you did it because it was wrong to have had it in the first place. Then another demand comes, you respond to it by giving up what is being demanded of you again. Again you did it because you were wrong to have had in the first place. Thus goes the vicious cycle, emptying you of all what you have had. What does it mean in practice; a shriking space for you, as a minority, to live your life in a dignified manner!

    I only hope that this is an unintentional remark by the author.


  • Kalana Senaratne


    Thanks for raising that relevant point (and for highlighting a regrettable omission on my part). Quite simply: not only do I welcome the Muslim-community’s response (and of course, this doesn’t mean that they have to respond in like-manner all the time or be subservient to the majority community by any means), I also consider it to be an extremely magnanimous gesture given the wholly unwarranted and provocative manner in which concerns relating to the Halal-logo were raised. In the TV-debates I have watched, it is the representatives of the Muslim community who have appeared to me to be more ‘Sri Lankan’ and ‘patriotic’ than any other [from the Buddhist community, it is clearly leftist Ven Dambara Amila’s recent public speeches critical of the BBS that have been most inspiring – these speeches are available online].

    As for the ‘human rights’ point of stanobey:

    My argument that Muslim leaders should have been concerned about a particular logo applies equally to all others: Buddhists, Christians, etc. But I think that the failure of ALL religious representatives to be mindful about this aspect of religion-inspired symbols, etc. needs to be appreciated here, even though the Muslims have been at the receiving end.

    This point is well captured in Bishop Duleep de Chickera’s article when he refers to the “failure of moderates of all religions, including Islam, to fulfill certain essential obligations that feed inter-religious integration.” And a very important point he raises (which cannot be resolved so simplistically by arguing that one has this or that right found in a book on human rights) is the following: “That moderates should together discern how best the adherents of any one religion are to be free to live by their core teachings and practices, integrate with other religions whose freedom to live by their own teachings and practices is to be recognised and upheld and find a dignified way forward when these interests run into conflict.” Engaging in critical dialogue, integrating, self-critique or turning inwards – these are not aspects which the ‘rights’ language can conveniently promote in a textbook fashion.

    A concluding, general, point:

    One of the more impressive articulations of the ‘Sri Lankan’ identity came from none other than Mr. Ali Sabry, PC (this was during the Waada-Pitiya debate on Derana). This is not just a personal view: it was actually the opinion of the representative of the BBS, and especially that of Dr. Wasantha Bandara, Secretary of the Patriotic National Movement who took part in that debate. Now, I am not sure whether the Muslim-community realizes this (and this issue may have been raised in the debates on GV which I couldn’t follow), but there is an interesting irony (or dilemma) confronting the Muslim-community, viz.: the BBS gains moral support and power by its association with the Defence Secretary, while the Defence Secretary’s personal lawyers come mostly from the Muslim community (the most prominent being Mr. Sabry, another being Faizer Mustapha,PC, MP).

    So I think, imadh’s valuable concerns would need to be directed towards the Muslim representatives as well, if they have not been already. Let me pose it as a question: what role do you think the pro-Govt Muslim representatives are playing in this whole episode? If they are seen to be going along with what the Government does, how can one critique their involvement in this whole episode?

  • Happy Heathen

    Interesting article, however none of the well intended suggestions will work in a tribal society like Sri Lanka.

    Hence the need for the day is a Secular Constitution.

    But then the big question is who will bell the cat?

    And I keep asking this question: who are religious moderates?
    Duleep de Chickera? A representative of a homophobic, sexist, misogynist, archaic institution who believes in a Bronze age Mesopotamian fairytale and believes that one goes to hell for wearing a condom?

    C’mon I thought you were more intelligent than that!! (I guess I was wrong)

  • georgethebushpig

    Dear Mr. Senaratne,

    I usually enjoy reading your stuff because it is progressive and well argued. But this one has left a funny after taste. Stanobey and Imadh have put forward good critiques of your analysis and I agree with them. We cannot reverse the axiom innocent until proven guilty. What the BBS has been engaging in is hate speech – illegal in many parts of the world – and should not be given any credence.


  • Kalana Senaratne

    Dear GTBP,

    Thanks. The funny after taste is understandable; since certain parts of the article appear to be giving some form of credence to the BBS.

    Let me briefly explain.

    I believe the usual approach that one expects ‘progressive’ people to adopt is to condemn the BBS unconditionally. While I have absolutely no problem with the non-existence of a group like BBS, there are 2 or 3 broad reasons why I like the general debate they have initiated (I think these reasons amount to a ‘kaalakanni sathuta’!).

    1. The first is because the patronage BBS has received, and the level of support and following BBS has been able to garner during this short period, exposes the kind of political, social and cultural conditions we live in. These anti-Muslim sentiments do not surprise me very much, because debates on such issues do arise in discussions which take place especially within Sinhala circles; concerns about the alleged growth of the Muslim population, and sense of feeling that there are more Muslims than before in Colombo; a certain discomfort about the dress-code of certain Muslim women; a certain fear or dislike of inter-religious marriages, etc. [And I think similar debates must be taking place within Muslim circles about Sinhala-Buddhists or Christians, etc] I have never heard violence being advocated, but concerns about such issues have been raised – and it is perhaps out of some concern that Sinhala-Buddhists have held these discussions in private, since they have no serious animosity towards the ‘other’ as such.

    But I believe many of them were living in a bubble. And now, what the BBS has come and done is to prick this grand bubble within which these discussions seem to have been taking place for a long time. People have been exposed. This is why I welcome this uncomfortable (yet necessary) debate. This bubble, this ‘we are a wonderful multi-religious and multi-cultural society’ myth, was going to explode, and it is good that it has exploded; good because it is the only, albeit arduous, way in which a better society can be reconstructed. And the choices that politicians and people make from now on will give us some idea about how people think and feel about the issue. [Note: this is why I tend to disagree with stanobey who thinks that until the BBS arrived no one gave a rats … about the Halal-logo. Politically, publicly, no one did – but that’s a poor response to the question: so how come the BBS can sustain its anti-Muslim campaign?]

    2. The second reason, as some of the leftists tend to point out, relates to the above. With this explosion, there comes a group like BBS which even startles some of the Sinhala-Buddhist nationalists (who, until the BBS arrived, were somewhat silent on this topic). And given this madness surrounding the BBS and the sheer hate it generates among the people (especially the youth), it is often believed that this would gradually pave the way for a certain awakening of a more left-oriented, secular, movement. This is the kind of politics I personally like; even though I have doubts about the prediction made by some of the leftists.

    3. Thirdly, and related to the above, there is also a certain delight I gain in seeing what a lot of rot these identities, labels and symbols of different sorts can introduce to society. Not that they always bring disaster, but they are like a field of mines: calm to the eye, until you step on them. Hence my critically detached-views on identities and identity-promotion (and especially ‘meta-identities’).

    So, this is why I welcome the BBS-inspired debate (even though the nature of the debate is not inspiring!). The strict condition I impose (and I don’t think I have been unclear on this) is: this debate should never take place in a way that advocates harm or hatred towards the Muslims or any other community. This, the BBS is doing, and that is why it needs to be stopped.

    As for a broader dialogue on the issues they have raised, well, let that take place peacefully.

    @Happy Heathen

    Thanks. To your question (‘who are religious moderates?’) my answer is: I simply don’t know [I quoted Bishop Duleep de Chickera to refer to a useful point he had raised. Similarly, I quote others, like Ven Dambara Amila, only to point out certain useful dimensions of their advocacy]. I am not even interested in searching an answer to such a question. More fundamentally, I have a problem with the term ‘moderate’ too, but that’s a separate article!

    • Kalana Senaratne


      Clarification (re ‘moderates’): What I endorse in Bishop de Chickera’s statement is his emphasis on the need to search for integration and avoiding conflict by followers of all religions (including Islam). Whether this task is undertaken by ‘moderates’ or ‘extremists’ is immaterial (i.e. his call for ‘moderates’ is not the important aspect of his statement)

      • Happy Heathen


        Thanks for the reply.

        “What I endorse in Bishop de Chickera’s statement is his emphasis on the need to search for integration and avoiding conflict by followers of all religions (including Islam)”

        That becomes a moot point in a Secular society where the laws of the land is governed by rationality rather than theocracy.

        As I have argued elsewhere religions are inherently incompatible, (otherwise you’ll find Muslim Buddhists or Jewish Hindus – as far as I know there are none) hence the search for integration is just a waste of time.

        In a secular society, there will no be Halal meat products and BBS will have no beef to harp about.

        But the problem in Sri Lankan society is that when you give credence to one theocracy (i.e. Buddhism) you have to give credence to all other fairy tales, given that freedom of religion is a basic human right.

  • stanobey

    Societies have more decent and effective ways of debating and discussing things and moving on. We don’t need BBS style hate speech to inspire debate or give voice to concerns. You are insulting your own intelligence and ability – to say that we need Gnanasara and not Senaratne to give voice to the latent fears of the Sinhalese with regard to the small minority of Muslims.

    I don’t think that the Sinhalese people were so voiceless. You make as much sense as saying that I am glad we had the KKK for as a result of the sheer hate they generated we have a Black President. Or I am glad for Milosevic and the Bosnian Genocide – now we have humanitarian protection and international criminal justice.

    Last week a Muslim girl was attacked by two men who came in full face cover helmets. They were on a motor bike and they grabbed her hijab, ripped it off and for a short distance dragged her on the road. She was lucky to have survived. She is just 23 and she has just started working at the Manampitiya post office and this was in Manampitiya, Polonaruwa. She was from the East. She did not think twice about joining the government service and working in any part of the country. Now she wants to leave the government service or serve only in Muslim areas in the East. Three cheers for the effect the BBS has had.

    Last weekend little boys and girls all below 12 years of age – returning from Sunday school attired in Islamic attire we harassed at Alwis Town, Wattala. These are few of the daily incidents that occur.
    To these girls and boys and their families – lets tell them to take comfort – for in their pain and in the hate filled society that the BBS has generated – one day…we might…not will….we might – forge a better society. Until then we will sit by and enjoy this ‘debate’. Really – who are you trying to fool?

  • stanobey

    How does the BBS sustain the anti-Muslim hate campaign? My answer to this is just like how they sustained their “islamikaranaya’ of the law college campaign which the law college principal also supported. Like how it happened in Germany, Yugoslavia and in Rwanda for a very long time Sinhala Buddhist have been exposed to a lot of anti-Muslim hate propaganda. This is called ‘fear mongering’. Webpages, social media and radio stations have churned out a hate campaign against Muslims for several years now. We have lots of ‘Radio Rwanda’s’ in Sri Lanka. So all the hush conversations that the Sinhalese have been having is a result of this sustained hate campaign. There is nothing amazing about it – this has happened before – and we also were it will all end up.

  • Georgethebushpig

    Dear Kalana,

    I understand where you are coming from especially as an extension of your critique of Kumar Sangakkara’s let’s all hold hands and sing khumbaya my lord. And to a certain extent I am with you on that.

    But the “space” that the BBS have created for a debate on this is not a constructive one. Discussions of identity conducted in opposition to something virulent, invariably tends to have oneself assume an identity that you didn’t want to associate with in the first place.

    If we are to “imagine” a pluralistic identity as Sri Lankans, having a bunch of skinheads delineate the boundaries of that imagining, will not take us very far.

    I do agree that there is a significant amount of prejudice in Sri Lanka. Prejudice will always be with us and there’s not a whole lot we can do about it (other than maybe through some innovative education on this human frailty…. doesn’t seem like the Buddha was very successful in getting the message across to his rank and file). But turning that prejudice into racist action that actively discriminates against another cannot be tolerated; for trying to reason with it provides it with oxygen.

    I think that’s the extension of Imahd’s point – the ACJU sitting down to “solve” the halal issue with the BBS gave it standing and authority and they will continue to use that new found power to further discriminate. Maybe there was a less accommodating way that the ACJU should have dealt with them. I don’t know….

    Anyway, thanks for providing more detail to your thinking.


    • BBs should read the news item below before launching hate campaign and destroy the amity and unity prevailing in SL.

      “The JVP yesterday accused the government of having invited an international casino giant to start business in Sri Lanka on a prime block of land in the City of Colombo.

      Addressing a media conference at the party head office, JVP MP Sunil Handunneththi said that the casino giant would visit Sri Lanka next week to inspect his new business site.

      The government had agreed to hand over the plot of land currently used as a car park on D. R. Wijewardene Mawatha, opposite the Lake House and it was very close to the Sambuddhaloka Viharaya, the JVP MP said, noting that the Rajapaksa government was handing over prime land in the city, its suburbs and elsewhere to foreigners on the pretext of boosting tourism”.

      THE BBS and its promoter JHU have no backbone to fight against this. Promoting tourism is promoting all vices forbidden by Buddhism. Regrettably Thailand is now (in)famous for its vices and not for Buddhism.

  • stanobey

    The Fashion Bug at Pepiliyana attacked – three cheers for the broad debate sparked off by BBS.

  • ordinary lankan

    For the adherent of any religion there is a spiritual progression that eventually lifts one out of the separate corner to embrace the whole. This is the normal maturation and rising above and transcendence.

    Once this happens it become very easy for such a person to cross boundaries and become a messenger between his own religion and wider society.

    Such a person will embrace a Sri Lankan identity because that is the actual factual collective identity we share. His or her religion itself will require this step up. Till then you remain retarded within your own religious family withjout ever growing up.

    So till you are a child – you need the family – and once you grow up you are out there in society – engaging with people as an equal – as a true adult.

    This process is somewhat less complicated than the author makes out