Buddha’s tooth

The Chinese are a people without what we would call a religion; in its place they have the philosophy of Confucianism. This regulates the behaviour between older and younger brother and other members of the family and subjugates them all to the head of the household. The system of responsibilities goes all the way through society to the head of the State, who is compared to the father of a family.

The Chinese Communist Party who now manage capitalism have substituted a somewhat similar authoritarian ideology of their own, with Mao Tse-tung at the top of the social pyramid in the place formerly occupied by the Emperor.

This lack of religious belief, however, does not help them from pandering to even the most stupid of superstitious practices when it suits their interests. Witness the recent episode of Buddha’s tooth.

For the first time in 2,500 years the right and the left tooth of the Lord Buddha have been brought together; at Kandy, the ancient capital of Ceylon, where hundreds of thousands of pilgrims saw the right tooth, in its 3 cwt. gilded casket studded with green and red gems, loaded on a specially built chariot for a four month’s tour of the island’s holy places. The relic itself has been provided by courtesy of Communist China. Its usual resting place is in a newly reconstructed 150 ft. high Pagoda in Peking’s western hills whence it was brought to Colombo aboard an Ilyushin jet. Mrs. Bandaranaike, the Prime Minister, and members of her Cabinet took a prominent part in greeting it.

Ceylon has its own tooth — the left one — enshrined at Kandy’s Dalada Maligawa temple. It is about half the size of the Chinese relic but equally venerated in the Buddhist world.

The Chinese Government can very well understand the excitement and keenness of the Ceylonese ruling-class at the possession of this relic, for it is a help in the very important task of doping their workers’ minds. The Ceylonese ruling-class, no doubt. consider this acquisition very fortunate indeed. Buddha’s tooth helps to whip up religious fervour, and this is channelled into support of the Buddhist church, which, in Ceylon, is a pillar of the State.

What an auspicious atmosphere for the Chinese to start their negotiations to barter rice for rubber and what an edge on their Russian rivals too! How the sophisticated rulers of China, who so make use of a religious relic (useless to them for hoodwinking their agnostic workers) must be laughing up their sleeves at the Ceylonese workers who fall for such hocus pocus!


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