By MIN LWIN
Monks in upper Burma have launched a petition calling for an end to an official ban on so-called “dharma lectures” featuring the Buddha’s teachings, according to sources in Mandalay and Magwe divisions.
A monk in Kyaukpadaung Township, Mandalay Division, said the authorities in Salay Township had banned not only dharma lectures but the production, copying and sale of VCDs and CDs featuring the lectures. He said the ban had been in force since January.
“We are collecting signatures among the monks, and then we will send them to state senior monks,” he said.
The banned VCDs and CDs feature some of Burma’s most respected senior monks, including U Thumingala, U Nyanithara and U Kawvida.
The dharma lectures are based on classical Buddhist stories, but are often interpreted as criticism of the government and its policies.
U Kawvida, a Buddhist scholar with a PhD degree, says in one VCD that the worst disease is hunger, and that if people are poor and hungry it is a universal truth that they will struggle.
In one banned CD, titled “The Way of Dumb People,” U Nyanithara, also known as Thitagu Sayardaw, criticized the popular belief in numerology and astrology.
His criticism was thought to have been aimed also at junta leader Snr-Gen Than Shwe, who is famous for basing important decisions on his astrologer's advice.
In VCDs and CDs that achieved wide popularity, U Nyanithara also talked about democracy and open society.