The Sangha Should Be Barred From Engaging In Politics
Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse, an eminent member of the legal profession and a politician of stature has suggested legislation against the Sangha from participating in politics. Mr. Rajapakse should be congratulated for deciding to propose such legislation. All Buddhists should support the move. I fully agree with him. Why does a person enter the Sangha Order and continue to wear the Cheevaraya? It is strictly for the purpose of leading a religious life and engage in religious services. A Bhikkhu has to be one who has broken the fetters that tie him to lay life. Otherwise there is no differe¬nce between the Sangha and the Buddhist laity.
Bhikkhus in politics and religion-based political parties trading on religion and political bhikkhus contend that it is a fundamental right of the bhikkhus to engage in politics. Some argue that during the times of the monarchy the Sangha advised the kings. The Sangha did advice the kings and they listened to the Sangha. Offering advice is not engaging in politics. In fact no one will heed the advice of bhikkhus engaged in party political activities. There can be no denial that there is no hundred percent honesty, sincerity and decency in politics. Hence bhikkhus who take to politics will be compelled to put up with and follow qualities inherent in politics, whatever the bhikkhus who have broken Vinaya in taking to party political activities may say in defence. They have proved that whilst being in politics. The Sangha can be seen at political meetings with the laity, protest rallies of the unemployed, May Day demonstrations, leading work stoppages, shouting slogans. Bhikkhus are found at exhibitions, musical shows mingling with males and females. They are seen delivering speeches without the calm and serenity expected of the Sangha. Bhikkhus wanting to engage in polities could leave the robes and do so.
Public servants and the judiciary cannot dabble in politics. In the same manner Bhikkhus should not engage in political activities.
When I was a child, my grandmother seated in the verandah of our house would stand up seeing a bhikkhu going past our house on the road. We all did so. The Sangha do not receive such respect and veneration today. The Sangha that was a unifying force then is no more now. Of course there are those that are highly venerated. Why the Sangha has lost the hold on the people is their gravitation to divisive party politics and giving up religious services in favour of materialistic gain. I recommend the implementation of the following proposals to bring discipline into the Sangha Order. Some of these are in force in Thailand where the Sangha is highly venerated:
- Set up universities exclusively for bhikkhus, as the one in Anuradhapura to enable them to study Buddhist Philosophy in depth and also study other subjects and religions that help Buddhist Missionary work.
- Prevent bhikkhus from studying subjects that lead to commercial activity and employment except teaching Buddhism.
- Higher Ordination should be limited to Bhikkhus with a Degree from a Buddhist University and with a clean record. The Sangha Sabha should authorize Higher Ordination which decision should be final.
- Debar those in the Bhikkhu Order from being engaged in business activity, as astrologers, kattadiyas, sooth sayers, physicians except in providing free services by holding religious classes and dispensing medicine, as in the past. Those found doing so should be brought before an Adhikarana Sangha Sabha and if found guilty they should be disrobed.
- Making it illegal for bhikkhus to join political parties, engage in political activities, participate in political campaigns, address political meetings or be present at such meetings, hold political office, be Members of Parliament and local bodies. Law should be that those wanting to take to politics should leave the robes and Buddhist places of worship.
- Make film halls, parks, playgrounds, musical shows and places of enjoyment where the laity gather, out of bounds for the Sangha.
- A member of the Sangha accused of any criminal act or dishonest dealing should be brought before an Adhikarana Sangha Sabha headed by an Adhikarana Sangha Nayake and if the Sangha Sabha is convinced that there is a prima facie case against him, he should be disrobed on the orders of the Sangha Sabha and handed over to the Police to deal with him according to the law of the land. The Police and legal body should assist the Sangha Sabha in the process.
- A bhikkhu in robes should not be made to appear in courts as an accused, placed in Police custody or be remanded. Such bhikkhu should be disrobed before that.
- A bhikkhu should not be made to give evidence even as a witness for the prosecution in open court.
- It is salutary that the Maha Sangha should speak in one voice on national issues. A decision making process should be established for the purpose comprising the Maha Sangha, and Bhuddist laity with a legal background.
A’Sangayanava’ should be convened to decide on rituals and practices not in keeping with Buddhism with a view to do away with such rituals and practices.
Upali S. Jayasekera
SL Govt. Turns A Blind Eye To Paedophile Monk
Thus screams the headlines in your esteemed newspaper of Sunday, June 10, 2012! But isn’t it obvious that present regime from the inception to this day have been totally deaf, blind and insensitive to the rampaging murder, mayhem, robbery, nepotism, corruption and anarchy in the country?
With this country trying to impress others about being a Sinhala/Buddhist majority should not the leaders first set a better example to the rest? It’s plain to see how, after claiming to be the first country to eradicate terrorism yet they treat some ethnic groups as ‘outcasts’ and just troublesome appendages and steam-roller their way when it comes to Human Rights and the very essence of our land – THE CONSTITUTION. Lord Buddha in his sermons has said: “There is only one caste – the caste of Humanity. There is only one religion – the religion of Love, there is only one language – the Language of the Heart” and it is plain to see the hypocrisy of the ruler and his coterie of jugglers trying to outdo each other in chicanery.
Why has the government not taken to task all these Bhikkus who, for inane reasons want to destroy other places of worship that have existed all this time? Why do they join rampaging mobs in violent demonstrations at the drop of a hat? Why is it so difficult to implement the recommendations of the LLRC in bringing communal harmony and giving a better life to all those who suffered during the terrorist war? Why cannot the President and rest of the cabinet see the utter wastage to the economy, the pillaging of ancestral lands, the indiscriminate use of the Armed Services if all is at peace and the country is stable? Why has the President turned our democratic island into a oligarchy? Why is there so much nihilism when it comes to presiding over the people who use the franchise of their vote to elect people to public office? Why is there such indifference to priorities in the infrastructure of the island? My, my, there are so many questions left answered and like a modern Don Quixote our leader possess an affinity of the bogey-man of terrorism raising its head in Sri Lanka. So this dream takes on various degrees of paranoia that feeds grist into his bought media. After several inefficient ministers in various ministries have, by sheer negligence and nepotism ruined most of the island’s resources, they now take out whole spreads in the media intending to teach the public how to help cut down expenditure.
All their efforts, from the leader to the very secretaries is just a caboodle of lies, lies, lies and trying to pull the wool over the eyes of the masses.
Bill To Ban Priests Seeking Election To Parliament
The hottest topic discussed today everywhere is the proposed private members Bill to be presented in parliament by Mr. Wijedasa Rajapakse MP- to ban priests contesting to enter parliament. There had been several letters by readers mainly supporting the proposal and a few against.
One reason against is that it is a violation of a human right as claimed by Rev. Dr. Omalpe Sobitha Thero, Rev.Athuraliya Ratana Thero, Rev. Medananda Thero and a few other laymen. It is my understanding and a few others whom I have discussed with, does Human Rights applicable to laymen apply to priesthood as they are governed by rules or oaths taken at the time of ordination.
For example, celibacy, if imposed by the state, could be taken as a violation of Human Rights, but when it is enforced by religions it does not come under violation of a human right. Can anyone please correct me, which I and those of this view will appreciate.
Now let us consider the performance of our Buddhist priest members in parliament. A Buddhist monk was manhandled by fellow MPP in parliament and had to be hospitalised. Later the same monk gave way to Patali Champila Ranawaka to take his place in parliament. The other is the notorious Benz deal where a monk MP sold his Benz car purchased on a duty free permit issued to him.
These events of monks in parliament and also monks outside, who dabble in politics, have brought disrespect not only to the sanctified robe but also to Buddhism.
Let lay members of JHU represent the Buddhists in parliament, thus avoiding the criticism leveled at Buddhist monks so that they could devote their time and energy to serve the Buddhists who come to them to perform religious rites and seek spiritual guidance, which these political monks have neglected. Voice of priests outside parliament is more effective than in partliament. The next is, it appears, there is a hidden hand influenced by foreign or local NGOs to discredit Buddhism and thereby convert to their religion. Remember, a few years back there were evangelists in all corners of this country with their Bible which the Buddhists saw as a threat, and made the government to deport them.
Are these same NGOs behind the scene encouraging our Buddhist monks to enter this dirty game politics, knowingly or unknowingly, to discredit Buddhism and thereby make Buddhists to convert or embrace other religions? Aren’t our Mahanayaka Theros being frequently visited by our political leaders who seek their advise and guidance? Don’t they have any influence in the running of the government?
Not only the Mhanayaka Theros, our President Mahinda Raiapaksa gives ear to other religious leaders as well, appraise them of what he intends doing and gets their blessings. Recently, our President Mahinda Rajapaksa, on his return from London after attending the Queen’s celebration, paid a visit to the Vatican, met Pope Benedict XVI and appraised the Holy Father what the government proposes about a peaceful settlement to the ethnic problem, and had the blessing of the Pope who assured the support of the Catholic Church.
We Buddhists hope and prayour parliamentarians, keeping aside politics, vote in favour of the Bill to save Buddhism from Buddhist monks who wish to enter parliament, for which the Speaker and Leaders of political parties must allow members to vote according to their conscience and convictions.
May the Triple Gem bless Wijedasa Rajapakse in his noble endeavour for we Buddhists to be proud of our religion. If left in the hands of political Bikkhus, Buddhism will be doomed.
A Humiliated Buddhist