A Buddhist Monk entering the parliament as a law maker

By Jay Ranasooriya

Rev Samitha from Baddegama, may be acting against "Vinaya". Obviously, this is a cause for concern for Buddhists. No argument, the question "Is this right or wrong for a Buddhist Priest to contest elections according to the teachings of Lord Buddha?" is a very valid question. Apparently, bowing to the Speaker alone will discredit the Buddha Sasana!

Assuming that Rev Samitha was wrong, one may ask: "Is this the only thing done by Buddhist Priests against the teachings of Lord Buddha?" And, is this the only thing that discredits the Buddha Sasana, especially during these times of anti Buddhist activities by various international organizations?

Rev Samitha was a member of a Provincial Council, and there too he must have bowed to the Chairperson of the council one way or the other. Nobody seems to have worried about him entering the council. Perhaps, there he might have maintained discipline and earned respect to contest general election (a monk is unlikely to be successful if he forced his way through thuggery and intimidation).

Then there is another question. Why did Buddhists in Baddegama electorate vote this monk into Parliament? Perhaps, because, no other politician paid any attention to (let alone solving) the problems of these, mostly poor, rural Buddhists. Whether this monk would attended to their problems is a different matter. But the fact remains is Rev Samitha is the representative of the electorate, and presumably he won the election without vote rigging. Perhaps, Rev Samitha may also argue that he is holding together the poor Buddhists in Baddegama area without allowing them to be converted to other religions. Although his political party is certainly not mine, I am happy to bow to the will of the electorate and see him in Parliament rather than thugs and ex-terrorists as law makers of our country.

With all due respect may I say, if anyone has the courage to request the President and the Prime Minister to prevent Rev Samitha entering the parliament as a law maker, he or she should direct that courage to prevent thugs, crooks and criminals entering the parliament as law makers of this Buddhist country. These courageous people should also prevent thugs becoming Ministers of Buddha Sasana and thugs using the Buddha Sasana ministry vehicles to kill people, especially during these times of anti Buddhist activities.

If bowing to the Speaker will discredit the Buddha Sasana, these courageous people should lobby the President and the Prime Minister to pass a new resolution immediately to change this parliamentary tradition borrowed from the Western/Christian societies and allow the monks to attend Parliament without having to bow to the Speaker or anyone else. Why can't the parliament do this hurriedly when the majority of the MPs are supposedly Buddhists? Until that happens why not appoint this educated monk as the speaker as someone suggested through The Island?

If Rev Samitha is acting against "Vinaya", he should have been disciplined by the chief monk(s) when he announced his decision to contest parliamentary election (not after entering Parliament). Although too late, even now it is the responsibility of the chief monk(s) to take action according to Vinaya and it is certainly not the responsibility of the President and the Prime Minister to discipline (rather punish) a Buddhist Monk for entering the parliament. Are the President and the Prime Minister more Buddhists than, and above, the chief monk(s) in this country? Both these leaders have at least turned a blind eye to thuggery and that itself disqualifies them to be true Buddhists.

If Rev Samitha is wrong, instead of begging before these political crooks, why not the chief monks get together and expel him from temple? With that I have no problem, because, in doing so at least the dignity of the chief monks will be maintained. But, by requesting the President and the Prime Minister to prevent Rev Samitha entering the parliament, who is discrediting the Buddha Sasana? Above all, anyone preventing his entry into Parliament is violating his civil rights, which are even enjoyed by the ex-Tamil Terrorists who killed many Buddhist Monks and thousands of Buddhist people!

Having seeing the campaign for preventing Rev Samitha from entering the parliament, a frightened non-Buddhist may ask: Will these courageous people prevent Muslim, Christian or Hindu clergy entering parliament as law makers of this Buddhist country, if these clergy win a general election?


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