In such a backdrop the JRJ Government never expected in their wildest dream that any element or group would have the capability or guts to come up against the State to disrupt their rulership. ‘They were over confident thinking everything was under their thumb’. Nevertheless, in the process of putting the jigsaw together with a Sangha Sabha, it had become somewhat riotous and gone out of control due to young ‘rogue monks’ behaviour with some attempting to self-immolate demanding that Nicky handed over the organisation to them!
Nicky Karunarathna had to explain at length the gravity of their intended purpose and tried to put some sense into the young rebellious minds that hundreds of monks who had arrived from all four corners of the island were accommodated in two premises, as such, if any harebrained act was to take place, then all the food, medicine and the entire purpose of such an organisation would go haywire. He appealed to them to join the Protest March on the day after, which had been arranged from Maligakanda to Pettah. Miraculously some sense had prevailed and the situation was brought under control to the satisfaction of the entire crowd including the Maha Nayaka theras.
Finally, the heroic Sangha Sabha concluded with a huge success by going down in Sri Lankan history as an extraordinary event where Asgiriya Maha Nayaka thera presided over the Sangha Sabha with some of the leading monks in the land in attendance, in an open-air meeting.
On the following day, as scheduled, a huge rally commenced from Maligakanda Mahabodhi Centre with 20,000 monks on the march in an orderly fashion to Pettah with Mrs. Bandaranaike and SLFP entourage also joining in a Pajero jeep. However, all hell broke loose under the Bodhi tree when the young monks and some outraged people, who were against the Indo-Lanka Pact, started setting fire to everything in the vicinity - the entire Pettah and Fort area was engulfed with fire.
JRJ and the regime were shocked at the commotion followed by destruction and the Police having to fire at people and baton charge the crowd. Almost immediately the country was brought to a standstill and in the night JR Jayewardene regime clamped down a 24 hour curfew.
While the city of Colombo was burning and a curfew was in force, the ‘infamous’ JRJ/RAJIV Indo Lanka Pact was signed between J.R. Jayewardene and Rajiv Gandhi in a disastrous atmosphere, followed by a parade of guards of honour. It marked a historic moment where true patriotism was demonstrated by a Sri Lankan Naval rating, during the ceremonial parade, who ran the risk of imprisonment by approaching Rajiv Gandhi from behind and landing a thundering blow on the Indian Prime Minister’s head with rifle butt. Rajiv Gandhi’s sixth sense helped him to look back instantaneously and ducked when the delivered gun blow fortunately landed on his shoulders. Had it landed on his head the repercussions would have been precarious! The hot news was immediately carried by all news agencies and wire services throughout the world as headlines at the time. Was it the Sangha Sabha that sparked off all such an action in a cataclysmic manner… ?
Marooned and injured
Following the hullaballoo, more than ten thousand monks were stranded in the two places, at Maligakanda and Vidyalankara Pirivena, Kelaniya. Naturally, as part of their responsibility in organising the Sangha Sabha both Nicky Karunarathna and Leelananda had to take the responsibility of looking after the monks’ welfare, feeding them and nursing round the clock of all the injured monks suffered by Police baton charging. Both of them managed this task effectively with the assistance of the GMOA (Government Medical Officers' Association).
Nicky fortunately had some friends in the Police at high places who not only issued two curfew passes but delivered them to his residence every now and then. This helped them to use their cars and act like mobile ambulance services throughout the night in performing ‘emergency runs’ - even in the dead of night during the curfew.
Some monks were obviously desperate to return to their villages after the incident. Nicky remembers how some of the priests pleaded with him saying: Budu mahattayo podda vitharai pansale inne, mama kohoma hari heta yanne one. (Oh! please sir, only the young monk is in the temple, I must go tomorrow somehow). Many monks who were desperate in that manner were sent to their respective temples in faraway places by public transport from the Pettah central bus stand. To this end Nicky and Leelananda had to make constant trips, to and fro, from the two places to the central bus stand while the rest of the monks who remained became Nicky’s responsibility.
Now looking back at that incident, while exposing such facts to this column, Nicky Karunarathna poses a vital question in the following manner:
“It was one of the rarest events in the history of Sri Lanka where for the first time a Sangha Sabha was convened with the intervention of the Asgiriya Maha Nayaka thera’s intervention denouncing the Country’s President and Prime Minister and proclaiming them as ‘traitors’, in the presence of Ven. Madihe Pannaseeha Maha Nayake thera and other leading monks such as Vidyalankara Perivenadhipathi Welimetiya Kusala Damma thera, at a leading seat of learning in the country which bears some historical value. The twenty million dollar question that needs answers is ‘why has it not been recorded in the Mahavamsa as the most historical event in our modern times? Will this ever be put into perspective in the future..?
This most legendary Sangha Sabha, had been inducted for the sole purpose of conveying a strong message to the world that the Sinhala/ Buddhists will never take a back step or surrender to any outside international pressures be it India, US, UK or Europe. It is evident in our past glorious history in the chapter of British Colonies only two countries were not defeated by the British army - namely, Sri Lanka and New Zealand.
In New Zealand, indigenous Polynesian Maoris are also fearless warriors like Sri Lankans. These two countries were taken over by the British by singing Conventions and by Wars while both these countries fought for their motherlands against the brutal Christian armies of British as well as their cohorts.
The two famous treaties (Sinhala and Maori) that were signed by the British in a ‘debauched manner’ – are called Waitangi Convention by Maori people and Kandyan Convention by the Sinhalese - the result being both countries were badly bamboozled by the British. This aspect of the world history has to be told and retold and written down with the most indelible ink, says Nicky Karunarathna.
What arises from his main gist or his declarations is to bring to the attention of all the 'Nayakas' as well as the leaders of Organisations such as ACBC, YMBA and other affiliated societies that the Sinhala inhabitants were never in a slumber mood when the Nation or the Race was in danger, but have always shed blood and fought valiantly for a worthy cause! By stating so, he sends a message loud and clear to all concerned that "if we do not do anything about the most frightening moments of our times gone by, it will go down in our history as if we were the most scum bug generation ever to trespass this ancient brave men's land which is named as Sri Lanka or Thun Sinhale!
With the signing of the Indo-Lanka Pact it had become the birth of the most dangerous anarchist period of Sri Lankan history associated with merciless killings by the regime with a vengeance; finally the JVP hijacking Nicky Karunarathna's organization and effort.