Destruction of Buddhist temples and monuments in the North and East is not a new phenomenon. This has been going for quite a sometime with the beginning of declination of the Sinhalese Buddhist civilization from the regions with Sinhalese population shifting to other parts of the country mainly caused by the South Indian invasions. With the extremism and fundamentalism taking root among the Tamils and Muslims the scale of destruction took a new turn with severity of destruction taking renewed vigor. The severity of vandalism in the northern districts have been such that hundreds of such places that exited in the region until early decades of the 20th century have vanished from the face of earth for ever except a few places .
However, sizable number of such places still exists in the eastern districts though they are also being subjected to a severe type of destruction at every passing day. Due to efforts made by some vigilant residents in the areas led by some Buddhists monks we were able to get a glimpse of scale of vandalism being perpetrated in the places such as Deegavapi, Muhudu Maha Viharaya and some other places in the Digamadulla District. As it is well known the biggest causes for such destructions among others have been the ever growing Muslim fundamentalism and the Muslim population explosion in the districts. The land grabbing of Buddhist temples, destruction of monuments and making use of pieces of them for construction purposes have been among the most common mode of destruction. Threatening, intimidations, doing physical harms to the resident Buddhist monks who reside in the places with great difficulties have also been most common mode of getting rid of Sinhalese Buddhist heritage from North and East.
Yet another similar attempt is reported by our fellow blogger on Kottu- Sinhala Buddhist. This time around a non- Buddhist with fundamentalist ideas Assistant Forest Officer has joined the ever growing cliché of enemies of Sinhalese Buddhism hell bent to destroy the legacy of Buddhism in the region. As mentioned earlier this instance too the particular perpetrator has resorted to threaten and intimidate the resident Buddhist Monk in the temple Venerable Gonawala Sudassilankara who lives there with great difficulties even without proper meals. He has done it several times by destroying Buddhist decorations and the name boards put up by the Department of Archeology. In order to conceal his fundamentalist intentions he makes use of his position at the department of forest to deny the Buddhists Henanegala Raja Maha Viharaya, a vast complex of mediation monastery with many Buddhist monuments and ruins strewn around.
Preserving the Sinhalese Buddhist heritage from the ever growing fundamentalism has been a stupendous challenge in monumental propositions. Those who dare to do that face unimaginable proportion of challenges including threats to their very lives. Case in point is the Deegavapi . (Contrary to what we are told, the most of the lands belonging to Deegavapi have been grabbed by Muslims with the ruins completely destroyed.). It would, therefore, be a great injustice if we don't mention some of other personalities too who have taken a great deal of their efforts to preserve the Buddhist heritage in the region. The resident chief monk of Budhdhangala Raja Maha Viharaya some time ago was ex- Brigadier Ananda Weerasekara who was well known in JVP insurgency times in late 80s as the Director General of Rehabilitation of insurgents. He did a yeomen service and was held in high esteem by the JVPs and general public alike. During he was serving in Ampara area he has done a great deal of work to preserve ruined Buddhist temples and monasteries, the most prominent examples being Samangala and Rassagala, the former being a meditating cave complex cum Sangha monastery and the latter being a monasterial complex with number of temples covering more than 100 acres.
He is also the brother of Vice-Admiral Sarath Weerasekara, the ex- Director General of Civil Defense Force during Eelam War IV time. Vice -Admiral Sarath Weerasekara made those rustic village lads and lasses to a force to be reckoned with uplifting the force's standard and their moral with better training, facilities and recognition. He is now an elected MP for Ampara district. This has been a long-felt need for poor Sinhalese in the district. His service in the capacity of an elected MP is much needed in this post-war period for poverty stricken and marginalized Sinhalese in the district who are in the danger of getting dislodged from their villages and their places of worship due to huge population expansion of Muslims. This ever increasing danger has long been ignored by our leaders due to political advantages.