‘Public Education key to resolving problem of bogus monks’ – Bro.Tan

Genuine monks only go for food during alms-round, not money.

Commenting on the ‘bogus monk’ issue reported in The Star today (9 October), Nalanda Founder Bro. H S Tan urges Buddhist monks, nuns, and associations to do more in educating the public to prevent people from falling prey to shams.

Impostors in both Theravada and Mahayana robes are common in larger urban centres in West Malaysia.  There are also women dressed in white going from table to table at coffee shops preying on the generosity and compassion of unknowing people.

“To beg for money is in itself not wrong; but to beg for money by dressing up and trying to fool people into believing that they are Buddhist monks or nuns is unethical and unacceptable.  It gives the public a totally false impression of Buddhism, and destroys their faith in Buddhist monastic life.  The fact is, genuine Buddhist monks are disciplined and uphold an ethical way of life; true monks serve the community selflessly and are gems to the world,” says Bro Tan.

“Through our talks and gatherings, we should educate the public to differentiate between genuine monks and impostors.  We should also further enlighten devotees on the proper way to support the Sangha (Buddhist monastic establishment) with the four requisites of alms-food, robes, medicine and lodgings,” adds Bro Tan.

Towards this effort, Nalanda Buddhist Society has conducted talks at our Centres to inform our members on the practicalities of supporting the Sangha.  Nalanda has also published a well-written leaflet on ‘PindacāraThe Monk’s Practice of going on Alms-round’ in English and Mandarin.  10,000 copies have been printed and distributed in Sri Serdang, Seri Kembangan, Happy Garden and Taman O.U.G.

“We should not just print leaflets and give them out to the public.  Our members should engage with the public and explain to them what ‘giving alms’ is all about,” says Bro Tan.

To further educate the public, Nalanda organizes two monthly Pindacāra Programmes – one each at Taman O.U.G./Happy Garden (every first Saturday of the month), and another at Seri Kembangan morning market (every third Saturday of the month).  These Pindacāra Programmes have been on-going for 17 months now, and have been very well-received by the public.

To find out more about the practice of Pindacāra, click http://www.nalanda.org.my/pindacara-going-on-alms-round/

The Star’s news article is accessible at http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2013/10/09/Bogus-foreign-monks-pray-on-the-unknowing.aspx