Buddhist monks in select temples facing economic difficulties in the North and East and in other areas are paid a subsistence amount by the state in Sri Lanka, revealed The Sunday Times last Sunday, in the context of a question put in Colombo’s parliament by a UNP member and the reply of Sri Lanka’s Prime Minister and Buddha Sasana Minister, DM Jayaratna. The UNP member for Kurunegala, Jayawickrema Perera wanted to increase the amount to Rs 5000 per month to temples facing hardships. Sri Lanka has 42,803 novices and 16,538 higher monks registered under its Buddhist Affairs department, while the number of registered Buddhist temples stand at 9,654.
Meanwhile, 2500 monks gave up robes between 2007 and 2011. The number steadily increased between the years.
Lack of permanent temple for residence and uncertainty about future are among the listed reasons, besides others such as fraternal conflicts, university education, foreign employment, joining armed forces and need arising to care for family.
In the mainstream Buddhist Chapters, such as Malwatta and Asgiriya, only the high caste Govigama Sinhalese could become monks.
A Buddhist monk who inherits a temple leaves it to his first disciple after his death. A monk therefore very carefully chooses the first disciple, on many occasions from among his relatives. The other disciples may have to leave, serve as subordinates to the first disciple or may have to find his own temple.
In recent times, as a part of their structural genocide agenda, the Sri Lankan State and its Sinhala military occupying the country of Eezham Tamils are engaged in building a large number of Buddhist temples and bring in Buddhist monks to the North and East, to places where there are no local Buddhist population at all.