Wednesday 10 October 2012


by Dr. Abid Bahar
Buddhism is known as a religion of peace. The Buddhist samsara discourse in its subtle meaning is normally understood to work as an aid to pacify anger and promote peace. This is however is not the case in Burma. Contrary to Buddhist precepts, in Burma Buddhism promotes antagonism and violence against its Rohingya Muslim people. In this type of use, the xenophobic Monks have elevated their religion to the status of a political ideology. It has lately promoted the political conceptualization of Buddhism to fight its perceived enemy, the Rohingyas. In this endeavor they are using Buddhism to justify their political agenda of exclusivity. However, the Mohayana brand of Buddhism of Dalai Lama is mostly spiritual and preaches peace but the Hen.

Hemayana brand also known as Theraveda Buddhism could be seen promoting violence. There are at least a dozen reasons we have identified that can explain why Burmese Buddhist monks preach and actively participate in violence against other religious minorities. They are as follows:

(1) Burma follows Theraveda Buddhism (fundamentalist Buddhism, also present in Chittagong Hill Tracts of Bangladesh) similar to Sri Lanka, Cambodia, and Thailand. In the latter places there were cases genocides taking place against the non Buddhist minorities). The reason being that this latter brand is more political than spiritual.
(2) Burmese Buddhists were not exposed to the wider world. They understand human rights as Buddhist people's rights.
(3) From the time of Ne Win, the Military kept using them when needed.
(4) There are imports of racist ideological content in the Burmese Buddhism especially in the Rakhine Buddhism.
(5) Due to its isolation from the world for a long time, it has accumulated so much strength of public opinion that nobody dare to criticize them.
(6) In Burma governments/ leaders failed to define the religious and secular spares. As a result, monks are all over the place especially in mobilizing public opinion.
(7) Burma had been led by racist monks like De Ottama, who led so many anti British/ anti Indian riots in Rangon and elsewhere. This monk originally from Arakan was dangerously anti Muslim.
(8) In Burma both the nation and its culture has been defined as Buddhist.
(9) From the time of U Nu Burma was officially called a Buddhist nation. He himself died as a religious Buddhist. Ne Win wanted to Burmanize Burma with either forcing Muslims and Christians into Buddhism or to exterminate them from Burma.
(10) The popular Burmese understanding/ a misconception that as Buddhist they are kind and generous people which in reality they are not. As a result they fail to scrutinize their non Buddhist actions. For their genocidal acts, even when one characterizes Burmese leader's actions as racially or religiously motivated, such labels makes them angry and violent. No one from outside the Buddhist population dares to challenge their non Buddhist religious actions.
(11) In the absence of any serious challenge/ pressure, from local or international arena, Burmese Buddhists keep a sense of false superiority about their religion and race over the Muslim and Christian population and they don't remorse in destroying other people's religious sites.
(12) All the above variables combined together, makes Burmese Buddhists both politically involved and violent.

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