ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday September 2, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 14

Sangha: Defending wrongs instead of righting them

At the last general election I was sorely tempted to vote for the JHU as many of my friends urged me to do so as a Buddhist. The JHU Buddhist monks at that time had stated that they had entered politics with the intention of creating a Dharma Rajya. I could imagine the benefits of a Dharma Rajya, and naturally, spent my nights dreaming of what would happen when the rich started selling off their worldly possessions such as Benz cars and BMWs so that they could share their wealth with the poor of the country, refrain from violence and war, and speak with compassion for their fellow creatures. Anyway, I have always remained a person tied to tradition and with a feeling that the known devil is better than the unknown saint, I therefore voted following my usual choice!

A monk makes a point at a protest rally against the remarks made by Opposition Leader

Of course, I was prepared to keep an open mind and followed with great interest what the JHU was doing after they were elected to Parliament. After the elections, before long, they suddenly changed their stance and were not practising what they preached. Power of worldly kind which was abhorred by the Lord Buddha seemed to have converted the JHU to another way of living. I watched with horror and dismay the scene of a member of Parliament who manhandled a monk and disrespectfully squeezed something, which was obviously not a lemon under his sacred robes. This angered me because it was sacrilegious and a sad day for the Great One whose teachings we follow.

The latest alleged scandals of the Benz car, and the “selling” of the Radio and TV licences obtained to spread the Dhamma are causes for concern, and I am writing this to respectfully tell those who should be safeguarding the good name of Buddhism, especially the hierarchy of the Nikayas, to do what they can to prevent the disreputable conduct by monks. I must confess that I am relying on what I have gathered from the newspapers and maybe there is a good explanation for what had happened. Accusations such as the above have, however, not been denied by the JHU nor have they re-taken possession of the Benz car from the person in possession.

What seems to be quite clear is that the State has been robbed of revenue by the transaction as these vehicles given to MPs are subject to a duty which is paid by the State on their behalf. Anyway, the issue is why a Buddhist monk needs a Benz car to go to Parliament or to journey to his temple or on his missionary work. These are the people who wanted to have governance according to religious principles (Dharma Rajya) but their actions give the lie to what they preached. Their actions, in fact, for example the loss of revenue to the State would have a direct impact on the poor.

Is it right to make contradictory statements to save one’s self and does this not lead to the disillusionment of the followers? There have been reports of intimidation and abduction, as well at least against their associates. Even the possibility to make such allegations is conduct which is totally unpardonable. Is this acceptable especially from clergymen whose example the young would naturally take? In a country badly in need of a return to Buddhist values, the clergy must behave in a principled manner otherwise what future is there for our youth? I must say that the statements which are being made need to be studied closely to see how desperate situations bring out the worst in people.

It is sad that the entire Sangha is getting embroiled in the issue of a few who having brought discredit to the entire Sangha and who have by twisting the statement aimed at a few by the Leader of the Opposition, attempted to make the remarks a critique levelled against the entire clergy. The remarks do not appear to be an indictment of the entire Sangha. Anyway, cannot anyone highlight the misdeeds of a clergyman? Are they above the law? I think it is utterly unacceptable to give clergymen a total immunity of this sort and in any case we must remember that they are liable both criminally and in civil suits.

May I, with great respect, suggest that the Chief Priests of the Asgiriya and Malwatte Chapters should instead of defending the conduct of the MP monks by finding fault with the Leader of the Opposition for exposing their conduct, be inquiring into the alleged offences to see whether there is a breach of the vinaya by them. This is a sad state of affairs where wrongdoings are encouraged and Sathyakriyas conducted to obtain publicity and asking the Devas to protect them from their wrongs.

The JHU needs to do a lot of damage control to restore the confidence of those who thought they meant what they preached. I sincerely hope that they will heed the example of the Lord Buddha and leave the governance of the country to others and spend their time doing good and finding enlightenment. May all beings be happy sans Benz cars!

By SW, Colombo 05.

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Copyright 2007 Wijeya Newspapers Ltd.Colombo. Sri Lanka.