State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee

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State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee
နိုင်ငံတော် သံဃာ့မဟာနာယကအဖွဲ့ (မဟန)
State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee seal.PNG
Committee overview
Formed 24 May 1980; 38 years ago (1980-05-24)
Preceding committee
Type Ministry
Jurisdiction Sangha of Myanmar
Headquarters Kaba Aye Hill, Yangon, Myanmar
16°51′29″N 96°09′15″E / 16.85798°N 96.15422°E / 16.85798; 96.15422Coordinates: 16°51′29″N 96°09′15″E / 16.85798°N 96.15422°E / 16.85798; 96.15422
Committee executives
  • Bhaddanta Kumarabhivamsa (Bhamo Sayadaw)[1], Chairman
  • Bhaddanta Sirinda[2], Vice-Chairman
  • Bhaddanta Manitasiribhivams, Joint Secretary
Parent department Ministry of Religious Affairs (Burma)
Website www.mahana.org.mm

The State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (Burmese: နိုင်ငံတော် သံဃာ့မဟာနာယကအဖွဲ့, abbreviated Mahana or မဟန in Burmese) is a government-appointed body of high-ranking Buddhist monks that oversees and regulates the Sangha (Buddhist clergy) in Burma (Myanmar).

History[edit]

The Committee was formed after the First Congregation of All Orders for the Purification, Perpetuation and Propagation of Sasana, which sought to consolidate state control of the country's Sangha, was held in Rangoon (now Yangon) from 24 to 27 May 1980.[3] The Congregation developed a hierarchy to regulate monks at the village tract/ward, state/division and national levels via committees and devised a central governing body of 33 members now called the state Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, which would be responsible for all Buddhist monks in the country.[3] The Committee also developed regulations to force monks to register and receive separate identification cards.[4]

Membership[edit]

The Committee now consists of 47 members, including a chairman, six vice chairmen, one secretary general, six joint general secretaries and 33 other members, all of whom are appointed by the Burmese Ministry of Religious Affairs.[4] Until 1995, appointment terms lasted 5 years. Since 1995, the government has cut term lengths, with a quarter of seats changed every 3 years.[4]

Controversies[edit]

In theory, the Committee oversees violations of the Vinaya, the traditional regulatory framework of Theravada Buddhist monks. This body has been used by the government to curtail monks' involvement in non-religious affairs.[5] The Committee has the power to disrobe monks who have violated its decrees and edicts as well as Vinaya regulations and laws, and expel monks from their resident monasteries.[4]

During the Saffron Revolution in 2007, the Committee announced new regulations to prohibit monks from participating in secular affairs.[6]

In December 2009, the Committee banned advertisements of Dhamma talks and lectures held by monks, including posters.[7]

In February 2012, Shwenyawa Sayadaw (ရွှေညဝါဆရာတော်), the abbot of the Sadhu Pariyatti Monastery, was evicted from his monastery by the Committee for alleged disobedience, by holding a sermon at the Mandalay office of the National League for Democracy in September, where he had publicly called for the release of political prisoners and the end of ongoing civil wars, despite sending the Committee an apology where had asked for a repeal.[8][9] In December 2011, he had met with Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, along with other civil society delegates.[10]

In February 2012, U Gambira, a prominent monk in the Saffron Revolution was accused by the Committee for committing the offences of illegal squatting and breaking and entering of monasteries, and subsequently arrested by secular authorities.[11]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "6th 47-member State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee holds 13th Plenary Meeting". New Light of Myanmar. 13 March 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  2. ^ "President U Thein Sein and wife Daw Khin Khin Win attend ceremony to convey sacred Buddha Tooth Relic from PRC and consecration ceremony". MRTV-3. 6 November 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  3. ^ a b Seekins, Donald M. (2006). Historical dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). Scarecrow Press. pp. 152–153. ISBN 978-0-8108-5476-5. 
  4. ^ a b c d "The Resistance of the Monks: Buddhism and Activism in Burma" (PDF). Human Rights Watch. September 2009. ISBN 1-56432-544-X. 
  5. ^ Larkin, Emma (28 June 2011). No Bad News for the King: The True Story of Cyclone Nargis and Its Aftermath in Burma. Penguin. ISBN 978-0-14-311961-6. 
  6. ^ "State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee has duty to reinforce and observe basic principles and rules and regulations and implement religious matters" (PDF). The New Light of Myanmar. 25 September 2007. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  7. ^ Arkar Moe (16 December 2009). "Junta Bans Dhamma Advertising". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 19 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Shwe Nya Wah Sayadaw ordered to leave his monastery". The Best Friend. 19 January 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  9. ^ "ရွှေညဝါဆရာတော် ဦးပညာသိဟအား အရေးယူဆောင်ရွက်ရန်ကိစ္စ". State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee (in Burmese). 12 December 2011. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  10. ^ Zarni Mann (19 January 2012). "Evicted Buddhist Abbot to Leave Monastery Within One Month". The Irrawaddy. Retrieved 20 February 2012. 
  11. ^ "U Gambhira not only commits offences but also insults national-level Sangha organization after his release from prison Legal actions to be taken in consideration of religion, Sasana and purity of Sasana as Dhamma action no more works". New Light of Myanmar. 18 February 2012. Retrieved 20 February 2012.