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Buddhism legitimation and conflict the political functions of urban thai buddhism essay

Hire Writer Hindu beliefs from Cambodia also serves are a significant influence on Buddhism in Thailand especially during the Sukothai period.

The Thai kingship institution was largely influenced by Vedic Hinduism just as it did in Cambodia which as a result exerted influence in the creation of law and order in the society and religion of Thailand. There are certain rituals that are still practiced in modern Thailand by monks or specialists in Hindu rituals that can clearly be related to Hind practices or of Hindu origin.

Folk religion is the third major influence on Thai Buddhism as seen in the Buddhist rituals and precepts that are used in trying to appease the local spirits. Although the Thais who have received Western education often tend to define the line between practices of folk religion and Thai Buddhism, this is quite a gray area given the practices of the rural locales.

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An in-depth analysis of these three influences can clearly be traced through the current development and practices within the political system of Thailand. One of the most striking things that one notices upon arrival in Thailand is the magnificent Buddhist temple with its exquisite architecture coupled with the sight of monks and novices in yellow clad especially in the wee hours of the day. This sight serves as an inevitable reminder to both residents and foreigners of the dominance of Buddhism in the Buddhism legitimation and conflict the political functions of urban thai buddhism essay nation Despite the fact that Thailand currently exists as a constitutional monarchy, its political system is quite a reflection of the string Southeast Asian tradition of Buddhist supremacy nature that link the legitimacy of the government to its support and protection for Buddhist institutions.

This link has progressed into the modern era as seen in cases where Buddhist clergy and institutions are given special treatment by the Thai government as well as being subjected to a special government oversightCITATION Jac07 p 90 l 1033 Jackson 90. Besides the cleric leadership of the Sangha, Buddhist temples and monks in Thailand are supervised by a profane government ministry.

Good examples of these occurrences have been seen in the legal state of reform movements and Buddhist sects. For examplethe case of Santi Asoke received legal prohibition from referring to itself as a Buddhist denomination and in the prosecution of monks who have been persecuted in the case of ordaining women by trying to revive lineage of the Theravada bhikkhuni and in so doing tried to impersonate clergy members hence their demiseCITATION Mac07 p 111 l 1033 Mackenzie 111.

A further examination of the Buddhist ways reveals certain themes and guidelines in the religious teachings of Buddha. The Srakakayana literally translates as the disciples. This is important to the Thai faith because as Buddhists listen to the teachings of Buddha and practice the teachings therefore becoming disciples. They thus listen to the text and scriptures then they can find their way to salvation. Generally, this concentration allows them to realize Dharma through listening and practicing.

For a monk in Thailand to obtain a passport in order to travel abroad, one must have a Buddhist monk identification card, an official letter granting the permission to travel outside Thailand from the Sangha Supreme Council, any initial Thai passport or a certified equivalent thereof and a copy of House Registration.

Beside these insurmountable acts of state recognition and support from the Thai state like the official gifts to monasteries from officials within the royal family and the governmentBuddhist monks have quite a number of special rights bestowed upon them. Buddhist monks have access to free public transportation in airports and train stations where they often have special seating allocations.

There is no law that directly forbids members of Buddhist institutions like monks and nuns from being candidates in the enrollment for recruitment as government officers. On the contrary, it is a crime for ordained monastic to stand for office or vote in elections. No member of the Buddhist community or other religious communities is entitled to either elect or be elected for any government position. The Thai constitution disfranchises a monk, novice, clergy member or priest of Buddhist religion from holding any government post.

In addition, any member who is elected as a representative will lose membership upon becoming a Buddhist monk, nun or clergy. This illustrates a clear fact that Buddhist members are not in any way appropriate for Thai politics. The existence of Buddhists members like monks and nuns highly depends on the respect of the public and as a result, society expects them to behave in a way that calls for respect for the entire public and not a specific affiliate communityCITATION Jac07 p 221 l 1033 Jackson 221.

Any involvement by a Buddhist member either in support or participation of an election is considered a breach of the unusual conduct of the law and the Buddhist member is considered to have disgraced his religion, community as well as himself. Thus failure of monk or nun to uphold these stipulated rules is ground enough for them to condemned, disrespected and balked at in various ways.

Since 2007 there have been several calls by Thai Buddhists to acquire recognition within the new constitution of Thailand as a state religion. Initially, this suggestion received rejection from the committee that was responsible for drafting the new constitution which consequently triggered quite a number of protests from those who supported the initiative such as a hunger strike by twelve of the Buddhist monk and various protest marches within the capital of ThailandCITATION Mac07 p 210 l 1033 Mackenzie 210.

As expected the Committee drafting the constitution later on failed to vote in support of the special status of Buddhism and in so doing provoked intense reaction from religious groups which criticized the committee for being impartial to religious affiliates.

The issue also caught the attention of the Queen of Thailand who raised concerns over the matter and on her birthday, she delivered a speech through which she highlighted the notion that Buddhism goes way beyond politics.

The reclusive politics of Thailand is in complete upheaval. The Sangha can no longer be dismissed as political force and simply perceived as a legitimacy fount for the country and for the monarchy. The role played by hundreds of monks in ProThaksin redshirts between March and May of 2010 are a clear proof of the growing apprehension within Buddhism.

However, beyond these intense displays of complete lack of satisfaction, an important fact is the Buddhism and in buddhism legitimation and conflict the political functions of urban thai buddhism essay case the Sangha, faces quite a number of serious challenges.

Buddhism, Legitimation, and Conflict: The Political Functions of Urban Thai Buddhism Essay

First and foremost, there should be a link between Buddhist base communities in Thailand to create a relatively decentralized society that can thereafter serve as a model for religion.

The second solution lays in the attainment of a society that is more just on a national level through fighting for political reforms steered by Buddhist thinkers. References JacksonPeter A. Buddhism, Legitimation, and Conflict: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2007. New Buddhist Movements in Thailand: Buddhism and Politics in Thailand: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2010. How to cite this page Choose cite format: