The Swami Army - a comment

mario perera, Sri Lanka

I thank Ven. Shravasti Dhammika for his extremely candid article. What he says there is applicable to all religious communities whatever the content of their respective beliefs be. I too have had the pleasure of visiting India on many occasions.

In the airports I see religious persons of different denominations distinguishable by their attire. The most genuine in my eyes have always been the Hindu sadhus. They are atleast in their majority, what they claim to be, wandering ascetics, most of them in the fourth stage of their lives. The too are clothed in robes akin to those of our monks. Yet they have no claims to precedence among the rest of humanity. No demands on others either. They live their lives with no legalistic rights over society.

In my humble opinion what sense does a profession of poverty have when surrounded by countless pillars of security. Some speak of poverty of spirit which pretends that poverty among religious is a quality of the mind, and is no reference to material poverty. But is poverty surrounded by a strong material power base really poverty?

Today religious persons committed to life like their religion's founders have access to all the material wealth that not only cater to their necessary needs, but afford surpluses for their fertile imagination to work on. It is true that concessions have to be made to modern life. However what we are witnessing are pure and simple even intolerable and unacceptable exaggerations.

To state matters clearly there appears to be hardly any or even no difference between the laity and their religious leaders in relation to material wealth. Indeed the vast majority of the laity are really poorer than those whose vocation it is to be poor. What we are witnessing in our times is hypocrisy on the part of priests and monks and lip service and deeds in support of that hypocrisy on the part of the all suffering and all enduring laity.

The hierarchical structures, titles, power relationships and wealth of religious bodies and personalities hold down the laity in a state of physical and moral subjugation. Though encompassed by so much religion the moral fibre of our society is coming apart. The ship of our society and floundering and sinking before our open eyes, yet the religious band plays on undeterred and there is no lack of those ready to dance to those tunes oblivious of the surrounding realities..

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