Maravijaya Buddha Image was built by Myanmar military chief Min Aung Hlaing in Nay Pyi Taw. The Military council announced that 101 business cronies contributed over 16- billion-kyat into this project on 29 June.

This amount is more than 13-billion-kyat fund raised by the military for the humanitarian aid for people affected by Cyclone Mocha in western Myanmar.

This interview with renowned critic monk in Spring Revolution Sayadaw Min Thon Nya (Buddhist University)

TLT: What is your view on cash donation for building Buddha Image by the miliary chief of soldiers who have arrested thousands of civilians, killed hundreds of civilians and set fire to tens of thousands of houses after February 2021 coup? Is it supporting misconduct?

Sayadaw Min Thon Nya: It is very unacceptable as it not the way of Buddha, and it is against the teachings of Buddha. The military chief is responsible for burning over 70,000 houses, killing more than 50 monks, keeping over 20,000 civilians and monks under the arrest and  fleeing hundreds of thousands of displaced persons from armed clashes.

While people are experiencing hardships and great grief, building stupas, pagoda and image is not the teaching of Buddha. It is just for showing off. Buddha preferred practicing his teachings, rather than looking at his impermanent body. Practicing his Dhamma is the genuine worship to the Buddha. It is the way of Buddha. On the contrary, the military is committing murder and set fire to private property. So, they are  pretending to be religious. Cronies donated billions of kyat to the Buddha image project as they are associated with and dependent on the dictators for their interest. They (cronies) are supporting the military for arms procurement under the topic of donation for building stupa. While people are living in adject poverty, they are being killed and tortured by the military. It is insulting the Buddha and the monks. The military also killed the monks who peacefully recited Metta Sutta in 2007. The military committed such offenses in successive times.

Former military dictator Nay Win built Maha Vijaya pagoda, his successor Than Shwe built Kyaut Taw Gyi and Buddha tooth relic pagoda.  They tried to cover their offenses with Buddha. Cronies knowingly donated billions of kyat to the military that is insulting Buddha. It is supporting misconducts. They can be considered as the ‘criminals.’ They must be punished at the criminal tribunals. Their support contributed in killing civilians. To fight against atrocities of the military, our valuable human resources, such as doctors, teachers and engineers, have sacrificed their lives. Cronies, Sitagu, Cekinda and other extreme nationalistic monks are included in the list of criminals who are supporting the military. They will be filed against at the people’s tribunals. Their support is a part of killing by the military to civilians.

TLT: Did cronies of ancient time donate fund for building pagodas by the unethical rulers during the lifetime of Buddha? Could you refer it in any Suttana Pitaka?

 Sayadaw Min Thon Nya: There was no tradition of building pagoda, stupa and image during the lifetime of Buddha. He did not praise worshiping him. Instead, he preferred practicing his teaching. Buddha taught that Dhamma should be replied on through practices. So, the military’s building religious edifices is just to cover their crimes. Their works are against Buddha’s teachings.

TLT: Will he (the junta chief) got merit from building pagoda as he illegally took power of the State? Is he believing that building pagoda could remove his sins?

Sayadaw Min Thon Nya: Teaching of Buddha is very simple. It can develop peace of mind and free from sins. If someone committes killing, stealing and torturing, it is against the teaching of Buddha, and will have passed straight to the fire of hell. Min Aung Hlaing is suffering fire of hell while he is alive now. It is reflecting on his face. He does not feel safe anywhere. It is sure that he will surely go to absolute hell in the next existence.

Buddha did not teach that building pagoda would not remove the sins of killing. It must be realized. Min Aung Hlaing may suffer grief and misery all the time due to his offenses. This is a type of mundane hell. Killing, arresting, torturing and burning people, including monks, will lead to fire of hell for him every day.

There is no remedy for his sins. Buddha taught us to abandon any misconduct as soon as it has been noticed, and to take the right path. However, the junta regime continues to carry out offenses. Without abandoning the sins, they are building pagodas. They  have abused people. As per phenomena of ‘action and reaction’, Min Aung Hlaing is suffering hell alive. He is not safe anymore at present, and he will surely go straight to hell in the next existence.

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