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Chinese Man with Hawala Link ‘Bribed’ Monks in Delhi to Buy Their Support for Dalai Lama Successor

In a fresh twist to the Chinese hawala racket probe, Indian intelligence agencies have found that main accused Charlie Peng was bribing Tibetan monks to buy their future support for a Chinese candidate to succeed Dalai Lama.
Sources within the government told media that close to 100 monks could have been paid lakhs of rupees in cash and bank transfers in the last two years. At least two monasteries in south India and the Majnu ka Tila Tibetan settlement is under the scanner of the agencies.

Monks in the Seramey Monastery in Mysore and the Drepun Loseling Monastery in Mundgod, a town in Uttar Kannada district, have been questioned by agencies about the source of funds they received. Forty-two year old Charlie Peng, investigators say, had “business interests in Bengaluru and often travelled there.”

Evidence first emerged during the Income Tax probe in this case when it was revealed that Peng gave nearly Rs 3 lakh rupees in cash to the ‘lamas’ or tye Tibetan monks. Associates of Peng allegedly confessed to the I-T department that they used to hand over cash packets to monks in Majnu ka Tila area at the behest of Peng.

Fresh probe suggests that bank transfers were also made. “There are unexplained transfers in the accounts of these monks. They could not give a satisfactory response when asked why this money was sent to their account. This requires a greater police investigation by the local police,” a central government official in know of the case told media.

Agencies say Chinese app We Chat, which has now been banned in India, was used to connect with the monks and the platform was also sometimes used to transfer money.

Officials say the Chinese Communist Party’s clandestine support to the Dorje Shugden movement is known, and using Peng to bribe monks could be one more step to reduce the influence of Dalai Lama over Tibetans. Shugdens are a sect of Tibetan Buddhism sect and worship. Dorje Shugden, a deity whom devotees revere as a protector. Dalai Lama discourages the practice, and the Shugden worshippers accuse him of persecuting them for their beliefs. Agencies are investigating if this schism is being exploited by China to destablise the hold of the spiritual leader on Tibetans living in India.

Art & Culture

Thailand’s nuns yet to get equal status

Women are barred from ordination in Thailand’s Theravada Buddhist sect. After Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni was ordained in Sri Lanka, she set out to elevate women’s religious status in her Thai homeland.
At the Songdhammakalyani Monastery in Nakhon Pathom, an hour outside Bangkok, six bhikkhunis, or nuns, dressed in saffron colored robes, begin the day with a morning prayer.

Adhering to the practices of the Theravada school of Buddhism, the bhikkhunis keep a strict timetable, getting up at 5 a.m. to chant, meditate, study religious scriptures and collect alms from the surrounding villages.

This temple is like thousands of others across the country, except it is the only monastery in Thailand with ordained nuns. Here, Venerable Dhammananda Bhikkhuni is the temple’s abbess, or superior nun.

Dhammananda is now in her late 60s. Her interest in Buddhism stemmed from her mother, who helped establish the monastery in 1960. It was the first of its kind to be built by women, for women.

Dhammananda is the first Thai woman to fully ordain in the Theravada monastic lineage

“This was my mother’s idea,” Dhammananda said. “When my mother had had enough of her lay life, she decided to be ordained.” Dhammananda was 10 years old at the time her mother sought ordination – abroad.

No suppor for female ordination

In the 1950s, Dhammananda’s mother, Venerable Voramai, was prohibited by the local conservative clergymen to become a bhikkhuni, as the tradition of ordaining women had been lost in the Thai Teravada tradition. Women were supposed to lead a life as lay people, serving monks, but not become nuns. In other Asian countries, like Vietnam, Tibet or Taiwan, where the Mahayana tradition is prevalent, the tradition of ordaining Buddhist nuns had been common practice for centuries.

Voramai believed nuns should engage in social service, as well as following their spiritual path. It was that pioneering spirit that inspired her daughter, Dhammananda, who initiated her career in academia but later found a different path.

Residents offer food as alms to the monastery
For three decades, Dhammananda was a professor of religious studies and philosophy at Thammasat University in Bangkok. She published books on women and Buddhism and even had a television show called “Dharma Talk,” which gained national popularity and won several awards.

But then her focus changed. “I’d had enough of the success,” Dhammananda said. “I had enough of this worldly life. Where was it leading?” she asked herself one day with a feeling of discontent. That’s when she decided to walk down her mother’s path and seek ordination.

Promoting equality

Just as her mother became the first modern Thai woman to become a nun in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition, Dhammananda became the first to take Theravada nun vows in a ceremony in Sri Lanka. Theravada Buddhists there had since managed to re-establish female ordination.

After her ordination, Dhammananda began promoting religious equality for bhikkhunis in Thailand.

When her mother became interested in Buddhism, Dhammananda told DW, “she realized that when Buddha was alive, [he] ordained women, even his own mother.” That suggests female ordination goes back some 2,500 years, to the early days of Buddhism. She began asking herself why women in Thailand had been deprived of the right.

Female ordination is permitted under the current Thai constitution. But the Thai Sangha Council, a conservative religious advisory group, remains hostile toward bhikkhunis, believing only men can enter the monkhood. This underscores an already alarming gender inequality problem in Thailand.

It is widely accepted among Buddhists that the Buddha established the “Four Pillars of Buddhism” – consisting of monks, nuns, lay men and women – to uphold the religion. In Thailand, however, bhikkhunis were removed from the Thai Sangha law since the word “sangha” – which means monastic commu