chapter  III
20 Pages

Sri Lanka: Balancing the Environmental Accounts

WithLloyd Timberlake

The Venerable Kiranthidiye Pannasekera Thera is the long name of a very short Buddhist monk, small and thin even compared with the slight build of most of his fellow Sri Lankans. The Sinhalese kingdoms of ancient Sri Lanka had always seemed to their neighbours to be blessed with wealth and order. The inhabitants lived close to the Buddhist ideal of harmony with their surroundings: the soil and water providing for the people, and the people nurturing the resources. These traditions are often recalled by modern Sri Lankan educators, agriculturalists and politicians. Village agriculture declined as Sri Lankans, together with a great many imported Tamil labourers from southern India, went to work for cash. The profits went to Britain. The Monk pointed to a poster entitled ‘The Caretaker’ which hung on the wall of the pansala near the picture of the Buddha. Buddhism was introduced to Sri Lanka with a lesson involving the management of environmental resources.