The Sunday Leader

Expose Thugs In Robes And Isolate Them

Religion and politics have, more often than not, been found to be an unholy mix.

History of various peoples around the world show how priests became advisors to kings and later became kings themselves and even mighty emperors after waging bloody wars in the name of religion. As civilisations progressed the importance of separation of religion from politics became apparent leading to the evolution of a secular state – not a very popular concept among religionists even in our day.

Post-Independence Sri Lanka saw the absence of religious dignitaries in the forefront of politics even though some of the political oriented were attempting to kick open closed doors. Like in many countries Buddhist monks from ancient times took on not only safeguarding their religion but also advising rulers on the ways of governance. Thus, they made their way into politics.

In 1956, Solomon Dias Bandaranaike in his attempt to become prime minister assembled the Five Great Forces – Pancha Maha Balavegaya – to direct his political onslaught. The first formidable force named was the Sangha and they with the other forces carried Bandaranaike to power. Within three years he was assassinated by the very same religious force that carried him to power. The rest is too well-known history to be repeated.

But this lesson of history: Keep religion out of politics, was not learnt. It couldn’t have been done because monks have played a significant role in the governance of this country for millennia. Today, Buddhist monks have taken to most spheres of public activity. There is little reason, legal or rational, why they shouldn’t. But some of them or groups of them have exploited not only the respect and regard extended to them and are behaving like brazen thugs.

The Bodu Bala Sena (BBS) is an organisation of monks claiming to be the guardians of Buddhism and the Sinhalese. We have witnessed them on TV getting into to near fisticuffs, brawls and provocative arguments with the police and other officials who have stood in their way of achieving their political objectives. There are reports of them storming a rival organisation of Buddhist monks.

As citizens of Sri Lanka they have every right to make pronouncements within the bounds of the law and pursue political activities of their desire but they should conform to the law of the land. At no stage does the sanctity of the Saffron Robe provide them with legal immunity from the consequences of violating the law. The police should act in all fairness as always to any one irrespective of his or her politics or ideologies.

The complaint of law breakers quite often is that they are treated with a different yard stick to that of their opponents. Partiality of those who are said to be the guardians of the law could lead to total breakdown of law and order.

Buddhists looking at this whole issue from another point of view should consider why monks, who take to the robes forsaking all worldly pleasures and seek to end suffering, should partake in all kinds of political activities including violence. Do they deserve the respect of lay Buddhists who worship them and seek their blessings?

There is little doubt that the continued worship of these individuals who flout almost every Buddhistic principle is the cause of the state some members of the Sangha have descended to.

There are reports of moves being made to discipline the Sangha by enacting a special code of ethics for them. This is a ridiculous move made by an over enthusiastic fool. The code of discipline for the Sangha, the Vinaya, has been set out by the Buddha himself. Those who can enforce that code are the elders of the Sangha through their Sangha councils and not by any corrupt politician, ambitious bureaucrat or a bribe taking policeman.

Others who could enforce such discipline are members of the Buddhist public themselves. They should plainly tell the storm troopers of the Bodu Bala Sena that they are an insult and a disgrace to the Enlightened One. Offering of alms, donations and patronage of their temples should cease.

A major flaw in the practice of Sri Lankan Buddhism is the blind reverence that the lay persons have for any person clad in a Saffron Robe. Today there are very many con artistes, criminals and political rogues in robes of Buddhist monks. To spot and isolate them should indeed consider a noble act performed for the propagation of Buddhism.

The BBS and similar political organisations should be told that there is no need for political thuggery for the benefit and welfare of Buddhism. They should by no means be considered to be above the law because of the robes on them.

4 Comments for “Expose Thugs In Robes And Isolate Them”

  1. gamarala

    The Buddha – Prince Siddhardha – was born to head of a feudal kingdom – and laid down the Eightfold Path for his disciples. These are too tough to follow.
    Ten year old boys recruited/’donated’ by parents realise when they attain the age of reason that they are cut off from the joys of life and become rebels.
    All monks appear well-fed & well-financed.
    The Sangha has to be cleansed of “con artistes,criminals & political rogues’.
    Elders of the sangha are senile and powerless.
    The law-enforcement should be strictly applied to them.
    But,that will be the day!!!

  2. Sylvia Haik

    I remember several Buddhist monks from Japan setting themselves on fire protesting at the injustice of the Vietnam war. If we wait long enough members of the Bodu Bala Sena might do the same protesting at the alleged injustices the Muslims, Christians and others are doing to the Buddhist in Sri Lanka.

  3. Quite agree, ROBES of any & every nature should be taken away, NOT only from BBS particiapants BUT also of other clergy MUSLIM & CHRISTIAN robes as well.

    AS long as organizations such as CATHOLIC ACTION & similar orgs of other relegious sects prevai BBS & other buddhist orgs should stay.

    At least BBS is open about what they want, BUT others are all in secret & hush work trying to recruit buddhists to their churches & organizations. As in many countries CHURCHES have become the PROBLEM & not a solution to their plights.

  4. Genga

    BBS is a criminal gang funded by the Govt. They do the dirty job of the govt. Muslim ministers and other Christian ministers are boneless wanted to save their position

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