Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The ‘lokuhamuduruwo’ and ‘dayaka sabha’ set the direction of the Temple and billions are spent every year in their growth and development.

I have recently been to more Buddhist Temples, and met the Chief Priests at Temple and at our offices, than the rest of my life before that. I would like to share some of my experiences as far as the development of the temple premises and related enhancements is concerned.

Firstly, I observed that it is essential that the lay council, namely the Dayaka Sabha and the Chief Priest work together. Often the Chief Priest makes sure that the key members of the Dayaka Sabha are on the same wavelength of the Priest. The Chief Priest then draws up a plan for the expansion of his temple as far as the buildings and places of worship are concerned, and with the help of the laymen draft a plan, together with the costs for all the relevant constructions.

They work together to collect the funds necessary. Each temple in that sense is very autonomous in their individual ambitions. I have met many priests who come with very grand plans and are the chief fundraisers for their temples. They tap politicians from all parties for funds, and despite their personal political opinions do not fear who they ask for donations. Just today a priest noted that he was collecting the funds to buy the land adjoining the temple for Rs10M.

Naturally the wealth of temples varies, with some of the most wealthy having the grandest plans to become even bigger. I have seen many a temple that has its origins in a kamatha (threshing floor) near the paddy fields, which eventually get filled up around without anyone questioning the legality of the deed. The word “vele pansala” is synonymous with these temples, which in a strict legal sense are illegal constructions that no one dare question!

The size of the temple is no determinant on the spirituality of the place. However the need to grow seems to be universal. The donations carry with it some merit, and many people contribute to these projects with that aim and untold amounts are spent on buildings. Once built, they need maintenance, which include periodic painting and the high cost of electricity and other needs such as maintaining a vehicle, which then have to be met from donations yet again.

I note that there is unchecked and unregulated growth of buildings in temple premises, which no one dare attack, as either illegal or unwarranted, and so these take a life of their own. The lands occupied by temples are now extensive, and growing, with little overseeing by the Government on how each temple is managed. They do not form part of one overall body that manages them.


Anonymous said...

The daily dana and 'pirikara' that the priest receives from the laity is sold back to the shop keepers at a lower price who then resell it back to the laity to gift to the priest. This is a tried and tested method by which the temple and the shopkeepers both benefit from.

After all there are only so many robes or umbrellas that a priest may want so the surplus is sold back to the shop from which it was bought!

This is another example of how gifts in kind for a temple is converted to cash.

Anonymous said...

Interesting comment Anon.

Sometimes I feel that a HUGE amount of blind giving in SL (church, temples, beggars, etc.) is wasted.

It would be nice to have more information on what are the best places to give where you get the most bang for your buck.

In SL there is also a huge tradition of giving houses.

In the west this is a ridiculous concept as a house is paid off after 30 years with a lot of hard work and saving. For someone to get this for free is only for the rich!

My feeling is that giving needs to be directed in ways that make people upwardly mobile, instead of wards of a welfare state.

Give people pride in themselves, make them clean, educated, employable, not hungry, health care in SL is free so that is covered.

The country is still a huge mess. There is no real industry or business here. Most of what is here is unsustainable or not globally competitive.

The leaders and business people are corrupt and rotten. Not sure where this place is going, but my feeling is that except for the rich, there have been no real benefits of the peace dividend.

Anonymous said...

You bring out an extremely important point about giving. Most people would like to give hoping that the recipient will obtain some long term benefit or that the money would be usefully utilized for example in paying for someone to undergo medical treatment.