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Play teaches how to heal wounds of war

Ancient emperor's dramatic life a model for Sri Lanka

Play teaches how to heal wounds of war
From Ashoka the Great's first stone inscription at Girnar. The emperor was an ardent propagator of dharma reporter, Colombo
Sri Lanka

February 17, 2011

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A Church play in Sri Lanka provides valuable lessons for the government on how to heal wounds and govern responsibly and justly in the wake of a bitter conflict, its director says. The play is based upon the true story of the Indian emperor Ashoka, who after a long and cruel war established a spiritually-based political system of good governance in his empire some 2,000 years ago. “Ashoka” is performed by young members of the Center for Performing Arts (CPA), a nationwide Church organization that uses the arts as a tool to promote social awareness in youths. Its members comprise youths from all ethnic groups and religions from 18 districts in the country. In the story, Ashoka, saddened by death and destruction of war following his victory, turned away from violence and embraced the doctrines of Buddhism. He became the ardent propagator of dharma, in the Hindu sense of righteousness, and promulgated and pursued a policy of non-violence. His notions of dharma included among others peaceful coexistence, religious tolerance, impartial justice, obedience to parents, respect for teachers, social welfare for all and generosity and benevolence towards all living beings. According to Father Nicholappillai Maria Xavier, the founder and director of the CPA, the end of Sri Lanka’s civil war has provided an opportunity for history to repeat itself. He said the Sri Lankan government should do what Ashoka did now that it has emerged victorious from a bloody conflict. Father Xavier said he hopes the government will renounce violence and establish a spiritually-based political system or secular democracy in Sri Lanka where all communities of different religion and race can live freely and safely. “One of the most important messages in this production is for a change of heart [by the government],” The CPA has performed “Ashoka” in Jaffna, Vavuniya, Colombo and other parts of the country to explain to the Sri Lankan people what a spiritually-based political system is and how it can provide political stability and ensure faster development. “We call for a humanistic approach to heal the wounds of a bloody war that ravaged the country for over 30 years and which is still having adverse effects because we lack a stable political system,” CPA coordinator Sepali Ranasinghe told Communities are still divided, she said. From this, violence surfaces and will continue to do so if political and economic problems remain unresolved, she asserted. With this play we are sending a message to Sri Lankan’s that a spiritually-based political system can bring them peace, love, compassion, coexistence, religious tolerance and justice, she added. SR13240.1641
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