China's Panchen Lama accuses monks of turning Buddhist temples into money-making machines
11 Mar 2017 PTI
China-backed Panchen Lama today lashed out at the "commercialisation" of Buddhism in the country and said "phony monks" were turning Buddhist temples into money-making machines.
The image of Buddhism was tainted, the otherwise pure and divine religious sanctuaries blasphemed, said the 11th Panchen Lama Bainqen Erdini Qoigyijabu, who is also the vice president of the Buddhist Association of China.
"Some temples are treated as money-making machines, or shopping malls; some phony monks or fake 'living Buddhas' tout ambiguous 'Buddhist preaching' to cheat money from believers," he said while speaking at the plenary meeting of the CPPCC.
The 27-year-old Panchen Lama, regarded in Tibetan Buddhist hierarchy as the second most important after the Dalai Lama, has been making efforts to establish his control over the deeply religious Tibetan population which reveres the Dalai Lama.
Groomed by China to be the top monk of Tibet, he is a member of the Standing Committee of the advisory body, the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) National Committee.
With the commercialisation, some monks went after money and power instead of guarding Buddhist ethics or concentrating on Buddhist pursuits, he was quoted as saying by state-run Xinhua news agency in his biggest speech so far after he was nominated to the body in 2010.
Though such incidents and people were not the mainstream, they had left an "extremely bad" influence, he said.
China, before the advent of Communist rule in 1949, was predominantly influenced by Buddhism which was brought to the country from India by eminent Chinese monks like Xuan Zang during the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
In recent years, Buddhism witnessed a big revival in China with the encouragement of the government.
The Panchen Lama said he was also concerned about insufficient efforts in nurturing talent as some temples had monks but no instructors, Buddhist scripts but no teaching.
"Some temples are busy erecting Buddha statutes, building splendid temple halls but they forget about nurturing 'real Buddhas'," he said, adding that preaching is impossible without a good team of Buddhist instructors.
The Panchen Lama said the interpretation of Buddhist doctrines struggles to keep pace with the need of the hour.