Sangakkara made the finest speech ever by a cricketer recently. But the way he ended it was not without major logical flaws.

-Duke Jeyaraj on the Sangakarra Cowdrey Lecture 2011“I am Tamil, Sinhalese, Muslim and Burgher. I am a Buddhist, a Hindu, a follower of Islam and Christianity. I am today, and always, proudly Sri Lankan.”

That’s how Kumar Sangakarra finished a breath-taking, Obama-esque, standing-ovation-evoking speech at MCC. That’s how he finished the Cowdrey lecture. It is touted as the best speech ever given by a cricketer. Read it in full at

It will be well worth your time if you did that. The man who played the greatest Test innings ever according to me (I am referring to the 192 runs he made at a time of great adversity even as Sri Lanka chased a 500 plus in the fourth innings in a game against Australia in Australia before he was wrongly given out in November 2007) has made a speech that dwarfs that phenomenal cricketing achievement. I gathered tips for myself – someone who gets to give speeches now and then – from that landmark, lovely, lashing-out-at-injustice and politically incorrect speech. Sangakarra takes time to appreciate, very graciously using wowing words, the role of Christian Missionaries in bringing cricket to the beautiful island nation of Sri Lanka in this super speech.

Hold on. I do not agree with the point that Sangakarra made as he ended his spell-binding speech. He seems to say that one can follow both Christianity and Islam without fooling one’s self. I am baffled that an intelligent man like Sangakarra (a trained lawyer turned Cricketer) could actually make such a logically inconsistent statement. Let me elaborate here: Islam believes in One God. Christianity believes in one God who exists in three persons – a blasphemous claim for our Islamic friends. Buddhism says, “Desire is the root cause of all evil!” In the Bible, the person called as a ‘man after my own heart’ by none other by God has a strong desire, longing – he is panting after God with the same passion a desert-dweller thirsts for water (Psa 63:1)! Hinduism talks about a cycle of rebirths. But the Bible talks about one life and one judgement (Heb 9:27). So, obviously you can’t claim to be follower of all the religions without lying. You have to necessarily reject what one religion says and embrace what the other says, if you are true to yourself. Well, you can respect all religions. But you can’t follow them all without lying to yourself. In fact, when one makes a statement like Sangakarra just did (and let me tell you, it is quite fashionable to do so in this secular, postmodern world!), he or she is calling Jesus, a liar. For Jesus said, “I am THE way, THE truth, THE life! No one comes to God except through me!” (John 14:6; See Acts 4:12 too). Jesus also said, “If you won’t believe I am who I say I am, you’re at the dead end of sins. You’re missing God in your lives” (John 8:24, The Message). You have to make a Choice – to believe in Christ alone for your soul’s salvation or any of the rest or all of the rest. You can fool yourself thinking you can follow them all. Come on – you just can’t do that!

Dr. Ravi Zacharias put what I just said, plainly and eloquently. Let me quote him so that what I have just said gets re-enforced compellingly: All religions are not the same. All religions do not point to God. All religions do not say that all religions are the same. At the heart of every religion is a stubborn commitment to a particular way of defining who God is or is not – and a particular way of defining the meaning and purpose of life. The truth is that every major religion in the world claims exclusivity, and every major religion in the world has a point of exclusion. Hinduism, for example, is often represented as being the most tolerant and accepting of other faiths. That is just not true. All Hindus believe in two fundamental, uncompromising doctrines—The Law of Karma, and the belief in reincarnation. These will not be surrendered. In fact, Buddhism was born out of the rejection of two other very dogmatic claims of Hinduism. Buddha rejected the authority of the vedas and the caste system of Hinduism. The issue here is not who was right or wrong. The truth is that they were systemically different—both claiming rightness. Islam, is very clearly an exclusive claim to God. A Muslim will never tell you that it doesn’t matter what you believe or that all religions are true. But before we get upset with such claims, let us remember that it is the very nature of truth – Truth by definition is exclusive. Everything cannot be true. If everything is true, then nothing is false. If nothing is false then it would also be true to say everything is false. We cannot have it both ways. Let these profound, perfectly-worded lines sink in to your system. Close your eyes and let the truth of the above lines close-in on your very being. Read the above lines again and again till it gets to your above – your brains! Memorize them. Parrot them. Preach them.

The reasons why Christ is unique is beyond the scope of this article. But those reasons are available in plenty!

Leave a Reply