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Wirathu In The Balance Of Buddhism

By Qutub Shah 
RB Article
April 12, 2014

“He is not a monk just because he lives on others' alms. Not by adopting outward form does one become a true monk. Whoever here (in the Dispensation) lives a holy life, transcending both merit and demerit, and walks with understanding in this world — he is truly called a monk.” (Dhammapada: 266-267)

Shame on those followers who have a spiritual leader like Wirathu! Unfortunately, the Buddhism which is known as a moral philosophy rather than a religion that is introduced by an immoral monk, who has been described as notorious chauvinist by The Economist, as a Buddhist Terrorist by Time Magazine, as brutal Buddhist by The Independent magazine, as fanatical Buddhist monk by the Int’l Business Times, as a Burmese Bin Laden by himself, etc. Yes, a Shaven Bin Laden. Let me ask Wirathu; are The Economist, Time Magazine, The Independent Magazine and Int’l Business Times all illegal immigrants or Muslim Terrorists who want to conquer Myanmar?

Unfortunately, the Buddhism that is based on Eradicating kilesa (root defilement or akusala-mūla): dosa, moha, lobha from the humanity and other beings to avoid samsaric existence, is introduced today in Myanmar by some fake monks whose entire life is lost in these kilesas.

Br. Wirathu, As a monk, how will you justify the crime for which you were sentenced to 25 years in prison in 2003? A monk…criminal prisoner! Not political prisoner! A monk whose life is supposed to be dedicated for the salvation of humanity has to seek refuge under amnesty of military personnel like U Thein Sein! How and why? Shame on those clappers on your speeches!

Buddhism and Nationalism

Buddhism was not identified with racial individuality of people. The term ‘arya’ is not used by Buddhist Scripture as a racial term; rather, it is an honorific for all those who embrace the Dharma. Literally, it means ‘the noble ones’.

Over the centuries effective rituals were developed to reconcile the presence of non-Buddhists in what some Buddhists perceive to be the cosmic center of the Dharma. These premodern systems of integrating the other have now been supplanted by a modern concept of a Buddhist nation state that is exclusionary rather than inclusionary. Myanmar stands the best example.

The Buddha was a prince. His father was King Suddhodana. It means that his castle background was warrior and he was brought up in a royal family. He belongs to Sakya clan, after which the republic was named as Sakya Republic. So, Sakyans were the majority power of the Sakya Republic. Very interesting is that he, the Buddha neither refuge to this majority power or political background to introduce his message nor he misused his teachings for social showmanship, public support, prevalence over others, unlike Wirathu.

Therefore, it’s crystal clear that Wirathu’s efforts for intermingling the religion with politics and his mischief by the name of Religion are not but his diversion for the principles of Buddhism and innovation into it. If chauvinism was supported by Buddhism, today the Buddhism would not transcend to other from Sakya, and then to Wirathu!

Tripitaka strong prohibit killing of lives, the violent actions, the merciless atrocities, destructions of properties practiced by Wirath. If these crimes are committed by the name of Buddhism, then the Buddhism is not what the Buddha has founded on the basis of morality, faith and purity. These are considered as the worst crimes in Buddhism, and the punishment is to be reborn in Niraya (Hell realm), In Dhammapada stated, “Six things that lead to Niraya (hell) are: taking life, theft, living carnally, falsehood, evil desires and wrong views.” (A.iii.432)

No history recorded Buddha as terrorist, chauvinist or brutal. But he was just and reformist. For instance, there was a historical conflict between Sakyas and Koliyas over the water of Rohini. Sakyamunni has reconciled between them without discriminating to Sakyas, where he is attributed to. He also dissuaded King Ajatasattu from attacking the Kingdom of the Vajjis.

Buddhism and Government

The Buddha used to give good suggestion for government unlike Wirathu. In the Jataka, the Buddha had urged and given rules for good governance, known as 'Dasa Raja Dharma'. 

The Buddha once said, “When the ruler of a country is just and good, the ministers become just and good; when the ministers are just and good, the higher officials become just and good; when the higher officials are just and good, the rank and file become just and good; when the rank and file become just and good, the people become just and good.”(Anguttara Nikaya)

Buddhism and Economics

Wirathu calls for national boycott of muslim-owned business. This is totally against Buddhist guidance regarding Economics. In the Cakkavatti Sihananda Sutta, the Buddha said that immorality and crime, such as theft, falsehood, violence, hatred, cruelty, could arise from poverty. So, In the Kutadanta Sutta, the Buddha suggested economic development instead of force to reduce crime. In addition, a moderate human mentality says it is bad to instigate someone to boycott other’s business. It is worse if this instigation comes from a monk who is quite dependant over the society, as the word ‘Bhikkhu’ laterally means “Beggar”.

Wirathu and Marriage Restriction Attempt

This is only Wirathu in Burmese history, who called for banning interfaith marriage. As Buddhism regards the celibate monastic life as the higher ideal, as a monk how Wirathu can realize what romance is? What a woman’s heart needs? What’s good or bad for her? Isn’t it absurdity of a monk to discuss about the pros and cons of two things: woman and comb? His proposal was unwanted by even his community. This is the pposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi who has slammed his attempt as "a violation of women's rights and human rights".

Listening to or reading Wirathu's sermons reminds me the saying of the Sri Lankan Chauvinist monk of 20th century, Dharmapala. In 1908 he declared that “Buddhism was completely identified with the racial individuality of the people.” As scholar Peter Schalk states about it, “This is probably one of the most conflict creating public statements made in the 20th century.” I want to comment on Wirathu’s description of Muslims openly as ‘Enemy, Mad Dog, etc.’ “These are probably the most conflict creating statements made in 21st century.” 

All in all, one can easily doubt whether he is ‘a wolf wrapped up in sheep’s skin’. Anyway, let it be a spiritual exhortation from a student of comparative religion to guide you to nirvana. "Nibbānam paramam sukham.” MN:75.21

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