The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Monk says denigrating other religions is against Buddhism

A Senior monk has spoken out against fellow clerics who criticise other religions. U Sandi Marbhivamsa, secretary of the State Sangha Nayaka Committee, spoke to The Myanmar Times shortly after returning from an interfaith conference held in Indonesia.

He said the Buddha did not attack other religions or races, but some monks were venturing into politics with their criticisms. “Some monks court political popularity with such views. That kind of provocation is not conducive to peace in the country,” he said.

His recent experience in Indonesia had shown him that the majority- Muslim population there, one of the biggest in the world, had no prejudice against Buddhists, said U Sandi Marbhivamsa.

He had participated in a Buddhist conference at the Borobudur Temple on May 19, along with representatives of five other countries – Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Malaysia and Sri Lanka – as well as Indonesia.

“That was the first time foreign monks were been invited to celebrate Vesak Day [Kasone full moon day] and Buddhist monks from other ASEAN countries attended the Borobudur conference,” Ms Rizki Handayani, director of promotions for Southeast Asia in the Indonesian tourist ministry, told a press conference.

Normally, between 500 and 700 Indonesian monks take part in the annual Vesak Day celebrations in Mageland province, filing in procession from Mendut Temple to Borobudur Temple. In the evening, the

Buddha’s life story is portrayed and a festive crowd releases sky lanterns.

U Sandi Marbhivamsa took the opportunity during his visit to tour other Buddhist monuments and temples in Mageland province. “I knew Indonesians respected Buddhism, despite being a majority-Muslim country,” he said. “They are not extremists.”

He said Buddhism had flourished in Indonesia between the 7th and 9th centuries, and there are still many Buddhist monuments and temples, some of which are included in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

“We in Myanmar can protect Buddhism without insulting other religions. People of different religions can work together in a peaceful way. There is no need for religious extremism. We can learn from Indonesia in that respect,” he said.

“Buddhism is fundamentally about loving kindness, though other religious also teach compassion. If we can accept each other’s ideas, there can be peace both in Myanmar and throughout the world.”