By MRATT KYAW THU | FRONTIER
YANGON —One of Myanmar’s most revered monastic leaders has told Tatmadaw officers that the country’s armed forces, government and Buddhist clergy must work together for the stability of the country.
During a Monday sermon at the Bayintnaung garrison and military training school in Kayin State, Sitagu Sayadaw held a wide-ranging discussion peppered with oblique references current affairs in Myanmar.
“The King and people must unite, the Tatmadaw and Sangha must unite like a chair with four pillars,” said the monk, also known by his monastic name Sayadaw Ashin Nyanissara.
Hundreds of officers were in attendance during the sermon, which was broadcast live and watched by over a quarter of a million people.
While on the dais, Sitagu Sayadaw relayed the parable of King Dutugemunu in Sri Lanka, occasionally used in Buddhist sermons by monks across the country.
Known in Myanmar as the story of the “King and Kyay Kalar”, the fable concludes with the absolving of Dutugemunu’s sins by the country’s Buddhist clergy. The king’s interlocutors tell him that the untold numbers of people who were killed during his battles with the Hindu Tamil community added up only to one and a half lives, because they did not obey the five precepts of Buddhism
“Don’t worry King, it’s a little bit of sin. Don’t worry,” Sitagu Sayadaw said during his rendition of the story. “Despite that you killed millions of people, they were only one and a half real human beings.”
Sitagu Sayadaw momentarily distanced himself from the parable, telling his audience: “I’m not saying that, monks from Sri Lanka said that.” He then urged those present to heed the lesson of the parable in the course of their duties.
“Our soldiers should bear that in mind and should serve in the military, I would urge,” he concluded.
One of Myanmar’s most prominent and internationally-recognised monks, Sitagu Sayadaw has received numerous accolades during his monastic career, including several honorary doctorates from universities across the region.
The government of State Counsellor Daw Aung San Suu Kyi recently bestowed upon him the title “Honourable, Excellent and Great Teacher of Country and the State” in recognition of his scholarly work.
In recent years Sitagu Sayadaw has been associated with Buddhist hardline group Ma Ba Tha, speaking at the organisation’s public conferences and professing support for the group’s goals while denying any formal role in the organisation.
Working with the Htoo Foundation in September, Sitagu Sayadaw dispatched aid to ethnic Rakhine locals displaced by militant attacks on security posts in Maungdaw district the previous month.