The Asgiriya Chapter admitted that there was truth to information made public by the Department of Buddhist Affairs that on an average, per day eight to 10 monks would disrobe due to various reasons.
Previously, the Department which issues certificates of disrobing to monks leaving the clergy had stated that the majority of the said monks who disrobed belonged to the age category between 18 to 20 years of age. It was reported that as per a census conducted this year, there are 37,691 registered Buddhist monks in the country.
While the Department has decided to look into the reasons for these individuals leaving the priesthood, the Chapter has decided to look into measures that could be taken to curb such.
Chief Secretary of the Asgiriya Chapter, Dr. Medagama Dhammananda Thera explained that the reasons included the personal character of monks, allegations in the media against monks, the shame brought on the priesthood by the behaviour of certain monks, hindrances faced in also receiving an education and engaging in studies at State universities, various personal difficulties and circumstances such as having to look after one’s parents or family members, and also in certain cases disillusion.
He quelled a popular misconception that it was those who had been ordained into the clergy at a very young age that tended to disrobe.
“On a percentage the number shedding robes is composed of a large group and in the Chapter, per month, about 15 to 20 monks leave the priesthood,” he opined.
Elsewhere, the monk also observed that the present astronomical cost of living (of goods and services too) including the proposed increase of tax, specifically Value Added Tax, was adversely impacting the monks as they too were part of the society, a group that was also dependent upon fellow members of the society for their upkeep and wellbeing.