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Our Duty to the Peoples of the West

by Anagarika Dharmapala (1927)

THE British people have by their energy, enterprise, and learning won the first place on this earth. Their empire is the greatest of all historic empires in the past. Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, India, Burma, Malay Peninsula, Hong Kong, Ceylon, Iraq are under the British Flag. A hundred years ago under the aegis of the British Flag missionaries of the Protestant Church began their evangelical work in India, Ceylon and later on in China, Japan, Burma and other places. Today the missionary movement has reached its zenith. Last year eleven million copies of the Christian scriptures were circulated among the Chinese, Indians, etc., The Foreign Bible Society has printed the Bible in 600 different languages. The sum of £ 400,000 was expended in printing the Christian scriptures by the Christian denominations of the Protestant Church. Over 23,000 missionaries are engaged in Asia and Africa in disseminating the Christian doctrine among the so called Heathens. The Moslems are extending their empire in Africa, and they have a splendid mosque in Paris, and the Ahmadiya movement has erected a mosque in Southfields, a suburb in London.

The Brahmanical religion makes no proselytes, and only the born Hindu can become a follower of Brahmanism. The other non proselytising religions are Zoroastrianism, Judaisrn and Jainism. The Catholic Church is extending its sway in Germany, the United States and in England. Before the birth of Christianity, Buddhist missionaries went all over Asia preaching the Dharma of the Lord Buddha. Nine hundred years ago the Buddhist empire extended from the Caspian Sea to Japan. All Asia was Buddhist. Since the establishment of Islam Buddhism in Central Turkestan, Bamian, Craeco, Bactriana, Turfan, Sogdiana, Afghanistan, Kashmir, Gandahar, Panjab, Sindh, and India was destroyed by the conquering Arabs. Wherever the Moselms went they found the temples of the Buddha and without any compunction they were all destroyed. Where there was not one Moslem in India, in the year 1000 A.C., today there are 70 millions, all descendants of Buddhist and Hindu converts during the successive invasions of Moslem dynasties.

In 1400 Java was converted to Islam, and later on the people of Malay Peninsula. Today the Islamic empire is the most aggressive of missionary religions. Christian missionaries in India do not make vigorous attempts to convert the Moslems. The Moulvis are active, and they know the weak points of Christianity. The Buddhist empire today has a population of over 500 millions, and the Hindus who number 250 millions accept the Lord Buddha as the ninth incarnation of the God Vishnu.

The time is come to give the sublime Dhamma to the people of the West. Christianity is confronted with modem Science, and Science is against all dogmatic theology. Science is modern, while the dogmas of Christianity belong to an antiquated age. China is waking up and also India. The missionaries are now meeting with opposition in China. Some oriental scholars are now in league with the missionaries. Both are paid for their services, and they know that if Buddhism enters the field the missionaries will have to recede. In England there is an increasing number of Freethinkers and Rationalists and their activities have to be taken into account.

Higher Buddhism is pure science. It has no place for theology, and it has got nothing to do with creator gods and fighting lords. It rejects the phantom of a separate soul entity residing somewhere in the body. It rejects a saviour by whose favour one can go to heaven, it rejects the superstitions of an eternal hell and an eternal heaven, it rejects the idea of prayer to bribe the god, and it repudiates the interference of Priests. It is the religion of absolute freedom, which is to be gained avoiding all evil, doing all good and purifying the heart. It is against alcoholism, and killing animals for food and sport. It is a brotherhood, embracing all humanity, and the world of animals as well as gods. It preaches the inter-relationship between man and man. Whole humanity is one brotherhood. It is the friend of enlightened progress, and preaches the sublimest Truths of meritorious activity and shows the Path strewn with the flowers of good thoughts, good words and good deeds, right insight, right aspirations, right speech, right profession, right effort, right fixity of thought and right illumination of mind. Only by self sacrificing activity happiness can be found. It preaches against asceticism and Sensualism. It preaches against unscientific monotheism, polytheism, pantheism, nihilism. Its teaching is that ultimate Truths are to be realized, not simply believed as dogmas.

This religion was founded by the Prince of Kapilavastu, who renounced to discover Truth all things that the world hold dear. He underwent the severest form of bodily mortification in order to find the path of happiness in perfect consciousness. He rejected asceticism as it was an obstacle to gain a clear consciousness. He rejected sensual pleasures as they too interfered with the realization of wisdom. He proclaimed the Middle Path as it brings man to the goal of happiness here on earth before death. Young Buddhists of Asia! The time is come for you to prepare yourself to enter the battlefield of Truth, Love and Service and carry the message of Equality, Brotherhood, Compassion, Selflessness, Renunciation to the energetic people of England, Germany, United States, France and other countries. The Soviet government perhaps may not allow Buddhist missionaries to enter the great country of Russia, and Duce Mussolini perhaps would not allow them to enter Italy. Spain is also closed to you. There is Persia and Turkey. There are the Republics of South America. These countries should know of the supreme Truths promulgated by the Lord Buddha, who taught them 2500 years ago to the most enlightened people of Aryan India. Was not born Jesus, Mohammad and other prophets. Let the People of these countries know the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the seven Principles of Enlightenment, and the 12 bases of the Law of Causality.

Arise, awake, unite and join the Army of Holiness and Peace and defeat the hosts of Evil.

(Maha Bodhi Journal, Vol.35, Sept. 1927)

Dhamma Essay:
A Look at the Kalama Sutta by Bhikkhu Bodhi


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