By Asoka Seneviratne –
I was watching a group of Buddhist monks headed by a venerable Sobitha coming over the meet Mahinda Rajapaksa yesterday, being driven in super luxury sedans. It is a common site to see many Buddhist monks been chauffer driven around in luxury Mercedes Benzes, becoming power brokers. A thug wearing a saffron robe, who saw seeds of ethnic hatred named Gnanasara travels around in luxury to spread his word of hate, amply supported by the nation’s president. Worse, the idiotic president we are cursed with appoints him to draft “Just Laws” for the nation! His biggest qualification; driving a wedge between ethnic sections and preaching hate!
And again, it has now become a common site to see Buddhist monks resorting to the worst and obscene lay words in public. Some of the words they use are pure filth.
One may ask “what is wrong with Buddhist monks travelling in luxury and getting into politics? And here is why.
Some 2600 years ago, Lord Buddha’s mission was to seek the ultimate truth about life and our existence on earth. He was seeking answers why people suffer, get sick and die. Is there a common denominator for suffering? And upon attaining Buddhahood and being the one with supreme awareness, he preached that the reason for suffering was “Thanha” or “Desire”. If one is to eliminate suffering, one has to eliminate desire, he preached. Then he went onto logically explain karma, the cycle of life, death and rebirth. Such preachings are what we commonly call Buddha Dharma, which was actually written onto Ola leaves in mid first century in none other than in Sri Lanka. Travelling through time from the 6th century till Buddhism was written, the story of Buddha and his teachings got somewhat distorted and the belief in venerating gods and praying for their divine intervention got mixed up into Buddha’s teachings. Buddha preached that one’s salvation was purely up to that person and no unseen powers could help.
So if eliminating desire is the essence of Buddhism, how can we explain the luxury and power seeking life of some of our monks who after all are supposed to be the ambassadors of Buddhism? For upholding these highest Buddhist ideals and doing the noble work of spreading Buddha’s word, we venerate them, offer them food, lodging, money etc. Monks’ role is undisputed, which is to instill moral values along what Buddha’s teachings such as not to kill, steal, indulge, and lie and to avoid intoxicating material. He went to outline a set of moral codes for the monks.
No matter what religion, a society needs a moral compass, or we can easily drag ourselves into the animal world.
The respects people extend o monks are directly related to their moral conduct in keeping with Buddha’s teachings.
Cunning and power hungry politicians often resort to hoodwinking the public using Buddhist monks and temples. They understand that the mere presence of being with a monk or in a temple can win millions of hearts and thereby votes, just like some politicians align with ethnic divisions to win votes. Remember a guy named Gotabaya playing into Sinhala Buddhist sentiments of fear and won 6.9 million votes?
Just a few days ago, Sajith Premadasa visited the Kandy Temple of the Tooth to obtain blessings and guidance before embarking the long protest walk to Colombo. I remember the famous Gangaramaya temple and the chief monk being a top power broker during his father’s time. Rajapaksa family frequently visited temples and offered the super-size Pooja wattiyas and gifts, all paid for with people’s money. JRJ, Ranil, MR and many top leaders used the Buddhist temple to fool the public by depicting themselves as “good Buddhists” while, among other things plundering our nation and driving our nation to poverty.
Even the shameless power hungry and naked SLPP elopees, Wimal and Gammanpila visited a high profile Buddhist monk recently. Were they not part and parcel of bringing Rajapakshas to power and even adopting the dangerous 20th Amendment? Did they not jump because the SLPP and Rajapaksas were a sinking ship, nothing else?
So as a nation, aren’t we culpable in being fooled by 95% of the political leaders and a number of Buddhist monks? Simply put, in the modern world, Buddhist monks have absolutely no business engaging in politics let alone seeking public office. They use the venerated saffron robe to seek power while benefitting from an otherwise idling life getting freebees. Yes, they are most welcome to seek power and engage in politics. But first get out that saffron robe, earn a living, and then do whatever the heck they want, politics included.