(25) How is the climate in Sri Lanka? I thought about the relationship between climate and religion. A word about Japanese Buddhism as well.

Sri Lanka Buddhist Columns & Dharma Talks

Travels to Buddhist sites in India and Sri Lanka (25)
How is the climate in Sri Lanka? A thought on the relationship between climate and religion.

The first destination in Sri Lanka is a holy place called Mihintaleh.

It normally takes about four hours from Colombo to reach Mihintale by car. However, I decided to make a few side trips along the way. As a result, it took almost eight hours to drive there, and I was exhausted from the first day, but there were so many things I wanted to see. I had no choice but to do what I had to do.

Our first stop was the fish market in Negombo, a fishing village north of Colombo.

The west coast of Sri Lanka is an inlet called a lagoon, which has long been famous for its fishing industry.

In this fishing village, I often saw Christian statues installed at roadside.

Sri Lanka may give the impression of being a Buddhist country, but in fact it is a country with a diverse mix of religions. Sri Lanka is a mixture of Christianity, Hinduism, and Islam, not to mention Buddhism.

Many people, especially in fishing villages on the west coast of Sri Lanka, are Christian.

In Sri Lankan Buddhism, which strictly forbids killing, it is taboo to catch fish. Therefore, in Sri Lankan Buddhism, prayers for a big catch are not allowed.

In contrast, Christians had no problem praying for a big catch. Moreover, the Portuguese colonization of the west coast in the 16th century led to the spread of Christianity.

Thus, as soon as I arrived in Sri Lanka, I was given a glimpse into the country's rather complicated religious situation.

I departed in the direction of Mihintaleh while taking in the sights and sounds of this bustling fish market.

Once in the suburbs, the rural landscape unfolds.

Unlike the thirsty land of India, Sri Lanka is a country where rice paddy cultivation thrives. It is a beautiful landscape that is familiar to us Japanese.

Let me tell you a little bit about the climate in Sri Lanka here.


Although it was mentioned in the previous article that Sri Lanka has a tropical climate, the country has two more climatic zones within its borders: the dry zone and the wet zone. In this regardFifty-eight chapters in Getting to Know Sri Lanka."We shall see its explanation from the following.

The Lanka Island year is divided into the southwest monsoon season (May to September) and the northeast monsoon season (November to March), with the monsoon season occurring between April and October.

The southwest monsoon season brings heavy rains to the southwest, while the north, east, and southeast receive extremely little precipitation and hot dry days. However, during the northeast monsoon season, when moist winds blow from the Bay of Bengal, the entire island receives rainfall.

As a result, using the line of 75 inches (1875 mm) of annual precipitation as a guide, a division is made between a wet zone centered in the southwestern part of the country, where precipitation is high throughout the year, and a dry zone in the rest of the country.

Sri Lanka is clearly divided into a rainy season when it rains on the entire island and a dry season when it rains only in the southwestern part of the country, so the impression of Sri Lanka changes depending on the time and place of your visit, which makes a trip to Sri Lanka attractive.

Some line breaks have been made to make it easier to read on smartphones, etc.

Akashi Shoten, Yoshio Sugimoto, Fumiko Takakuwa, and Shinsuke Suzuki (eds.), 58 Chapters to Know Sri Lanka.P16-17

As shown in the figure above, Sri Lanka has different climatic divisions in the southwestern part of the island and the rest of the country.

Sri Lanka's largest city, Colombo, and the ancient capital, Kandy, are located in the very wet zone, so water is abundant all year round.

However, Mihintaleh and Anuradhapura, the French capital to which we are heading, are located in the dry zone. These areas have a fairly long rainless season. Therefore, reservoirs and irrigation technology were highly developed in these areas to make the most of the large amount of rain that falls during the monsoon season. This is the key to Sri Lanka's history. Please keep this in mind.

The greenery is still beautiful. It is dazzling.

As you can see, this is the best land for plants in Sri Lanka. It is warm all year round, and the wet zone has no shortage of water, so fruits and crops can be harvested throughout the year. Especially for fruits, bananas and mangoes grow all over the place, and our guide told us that we would have no trouble finding food in Sri Lanka.

This not having to worry about food is actually important when considering Buddhism.

Thai mendicancyWikipedia.

When one thinks of Buddhism in Southeast Asia, including Sri Lanka, many people may imagine begging for alms. In Sri Lanka, alms-giving is rarely practiced nowadays, but in Thailand and other countries, the tradition of offering meals by lay believers continues to this day.

However, the birth of this mendicant culture also has a great deal to do with the food situation in India, where the Buddha founded his Buddhist cult.

Buddha's area of activity was the area shown on the map, which is known as Middle India. It is said that the food situation in this region was very stable due to the abundance of fruits and agricultural products.

It is interesting to note that in India and Sri Lanka, there is little resistance to throwing away food that is left over from the production of large quantities of food. I can understand why this might be the case in areas where food is plentiful, but I was a bit surprised when I first heard about it.

And I urge everyone to think about it.

The first ordained practitioners in India basically followed a rule of not engaging in productive activities, including agriculture.

However, as living organisms, they will die without a minimum level of food.

Therefore, a system was created in which they relied on the charity of zainichi believers to maintain their survival, and in return, they preached the "Dharma" and the "charity" itself became their merit.

When we study Buddhism, we usually learn that "Buddhism originally started with beggars. And we take it for granted.

But what if this system was born out of geographical conditions unique to India and Sri Lanka? What if this system was born from the unique geographical conditions of India and Sri Lanka in the first place?

So this is what I mean.

India and Sri Lanka had an abundance of surplus produce because of their climate and could afford to feed many unproductive people. They could afford to give away their food rather than throw it away and accept a system in which it becomes a good deed.

In contrast, what about Nepal, China, and Japan? These regions, which are mountainous and located in the north, have limited crop production and are prone to famine. It is not surprising that these countries would place more value on diligent production than on unproductive people. It is truly a case of "those who don't work, don't eat. (This is especially true in the Zen sect. Other sects also devote themselves to prayer, asceticism, and study for the sake of the nation and the well-being of its people.)

Buddhism in Sri Lanka and Southeast Asia is called Theravada Buddhism, which is very different from Mahayana Buddhism that was introduced to China, Korea, and Japan. This difference is due in large part to geographical conditions.

In Sri Lanka, where the weather is warm all year round, and in Central India, where it is possible to stay out in the open even in winter, it may be possible to follow the precept of living in a thin robe and on one's own. However, it is impossible to do so in extremely cold and snowy countries where the temperature is nearly minus 10 degrees Celsius. They would freeze to death.

If so, the precepts must be changed. Once one precept is changed, it is possible to change this one, then that one, and so on. In this way, freedom of interpretation was created and a form of Buddhism different from the original Buddhism was gradually formed. I believe that Mahayana Buddhism came to Japan after a long period of time.

Sri Lanka is truly beautiful! It is truly a shining island!

This rich natural environment has also had a great influence on Buddhism.

I continued on my way to Mihintaleh, admiring the beautiful countryside from the car window.

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