Tears of hypocrisy

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Our honourable MPs found themselves in floods of tears on Friday, lamenting as they did, in Parliament, what they called the degeneration of the Buddhist monastic order due to the misconduct of some ‘radicalised’ monks. It was a sad sight to behold! The cause of their lamentation was an unruly protest some student monks of the Buddhist and Pali University had held at the Ministry of Education the previous day.

Claiming that they were ardent Buddhists and expressing their dismay at the young monks’ agitation and deplorable behaviour, our lawmakers declared that the protesting monks had brought the Maha Sangha into disrepute. Those worthies seem to think that the people have drunk from the River Lethe, and forgotten their despicable behaviour. They behave in a far worse manner than undergraduate protesters; they trade blows and raw filth in the House and, at times, even threaten the Speaker with bodily harm.

The irony of the kapati suit fraternity weeping buckets for the Maha Sangha in the very place, where a group of Buddhist monks were ridiculed and roughed up, may not have been lost on the discerning public. One may recall that in 2004, during the then SLFP-led UPFA government, of which the JVP was also a member, some ruling party MPs led by Mervyn Silva set upon the MP monks of the JHU in the middle of a stormy parliamentary session. One of the assailants targeted the nether regions of an MP monk. The victim had to be hospitalised. So much for the MPs’ respect for the Maha Sangha!

Some MPs including Minister of Education Susil Premajayantha, on Friday, bemoaned the fact that one of the monks who stormed the Education Ministry had fled, vaulting over a wall and leaving his robe behind, when the police swung into action to disperse the protesters. What made the young monk scale the tall wall, together with others, and jump off it without his robe, which got stuck in anti-climb spikes? He was seen running away with fear written all over his face, and it was indicative of police brutality on the other side of the wall!

Among the politicians who decry the undergraduate monks’ appalling behaviour, which no doubt is condemnable, snuffle, blubber and boohoo over the debasement of the Buddha Sasana are some savages with a history of abducting and torturing Bhikkus and thousands of others to death during the JVP’s reign of terror in the late 1980s. They invented a torture method, derisively called ‘Dhamma Chakka’, which was a horizontal iron bar mounted on two shoulder-high posts; Buddhist monks in captivity were placed on the bar on their stomachs and their hands and feet tied before being kicked to death by their torturers in such a way that they would rotate like wheels, screaming. Not to be outdone, the death-dealing sparrow units of the JVP gunned down many Buddhist monks, who were among the thousands of others murdered by the Rathu Sahodarayas for opposing their poll boycotts, hartals, etc.

Radical Buddhist monks are apparently labouring under the delusion that the saffron robe provides them with legal immunity. These robe-clad aggressive elements are among the university students who take to the streets at the drop of a hat and become a public nuisance, providing the police, who swear fealty to their political masters to all intents and purposes, with an excuse for resorting to disproportionate force. The misbehaving monks must be restrained and made to realise that they are not above the law. But that has to be done in a civilised manner.

The Maha Nayaka Theras never miss an opportunity to proffer unsolicited advice to politicians on how to run the country, and their right to do so cannot be questioned, but why don’t they care to rein in the obstreperous monks?

courtesy the island

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