Poson season and freedom of animals | Sunday Observer

Poson season and freedom of animals

11 June, 2017

The Poson season is devoted in Sri Lanka for commemorating the advent of Ven Mahinda Thera to the country, to institute the dispensation of the Buddha or the Buddhasasana, which took place 2,267 years ago (ie. 250 BC) on a Poson full moon day. After the Ven. Thera’s arrival in the country the intellectual conversation that took place between him and King Devanampiyatissa, the then ruler of the country, on the beautiful Mihintale rock is something which everyone must mull over with a sensible mind. Of course, the literal meanings of the conversation was passed down from generation to generation.

In one dialogue which the great Thera had with King Devanampiyatissa, the former uttered to the King, who had run into the thick forest where Mihintale rock was, on a deer hunting expedition, ‘Oh! Great King, the birds of the air and the beasts on the earth have an equal right to live and move about in any part of this kingdom as thou. The land belongs to the people and all other living things, and thou art but the guardian of it’.

This lofty utterance signifies not only everyone’s right to live but the freedom every being is entitled to. But, to what degree Sri Lankans, at least Buddhists, are fully cognizant of the meaning of this utterance is something to be weighed upon by Sri Lankan Buddhists themselves with a serious and compassionate mind, at least in this Poson season. As Buddhists, can we be happy about the status quo?

Some people in this country who call themselves Buddhists think killing an animal is the act which breaks the first precept, the sin and the wrongdoing. Of course, it is a sin and a wrongdoing which breaks the first precept. But what about caging a bird, keeping a dog in a kennel, chaining an elephant until it gets festering wounds on the leg, forcefully making an elephant take part in a pageant for many nights continuously, depriving a helpless little calf of its mother’s milk, keeping fish in a small tank, and so on.

Are they alright for a Buddhist? or acceptable within Buddhist principles? Regrettably, those so called Buddhists have failed to think that such acts are sins, cruelties and unbecoming of Buddhists. Strangely, they don’t know or consider that such acts violate the teachings of the Buddha the most compassionate one. To one’s utter dismay, some Buddhist temples are no exception.Is it because, those who are dwelling in those temples are less concerned about what Ven. Mahinda Thera uttered on the Mihintale rock on the very first day the great Thera set foot on this thrice blessed island to found Buddhasasana, or they are less concerned of the very basic values of Buddhism? Or something else? Whatever it is, wrong is wrong which needs to be put right.

Hence, there isn’t a better time of the year than the Poson season for us, Sri Lankans, to think about this seriously and correct ourselves while celebrating this great Poson season with grandeur and piety.

- N.A.A.P.K. Nedurana