Two Buddhist monks in southern Việt Nam have been banned from leaving a monastery and must maintain zero contact with the outside world for three months starting yesterday after they were found having been kissed by a famous pop singer.
During a charity auction on November 4 at the “Không Tên” Nightclub in Hồ Chí Minh City to raise funds for tumor-stricken singer Wanbi Tuấn Anh, pop star Đàm Vĩnh Hưng auctioned a Western wine bottle at a starting price of VND20 million (US$960).
The winner turned out to be two monks who bid the highest price of VND55 million (US$2,640).
As a thank-you gesture, male singer Đàm Vĩnh Hưng kissed the lips of the Venerable Thích Pháp Định of Phước Sơn Monastery.
In return, this monk – while still wearing a Buddhist robe – reluctantly reciprocated the affection.
The photo of the two kissing went viral on the internet, causing indignation among the public, especially in the Buddhist circles.
Meanwhile, the other monk – the older of the two – did not allow the pop star to touch his lips but instead let him kiss his left hand.
The former monk is the Venerable Thích Pháp Định of Phước Sơn Monastery in Đồng Nai province while the other is the Venerable Thích Giác Ân of Quan Âm (Avalokiteshvara) Pagoda in Đồng Tháp province.
The Most Venerable Thích Bửu Chánh, deputy head of the provincial Buddhist Church of Đồng Nai, commented:
“I am extremely shocked…this is seriously wrong, not only concerning Buddhist teachings but it also affects the reputation of the Buddhist church, of the clergy”.
On Wednesday, the Phước Sơn Monastery held a “Karma Ceremony” (Tác pháp Yet Ma), a kind of monastic confession and repentance in which the two said monks kowtowed and chanted Dhammapada verses or Buddhist incantations to beg for forgiveness and pray for their sins to be left unstained on their karmas.
The Venerable Thích Pháp Định (who were kissed on the lip) apologetically wrote:
“All of the images and sayings inappropriate with my role as a monk, I fully take responsibility.
I really know my faults and my modest charity intention has badly influenced the Buddhist Church and Buddhist clergy”.
Buddhist law has no clause on man-to-man kiss According to Thích Bửu Chánh, the deputy head of the provincial Buddhist Church, Buddhist laws will punish a monk for kissing women by banning them from contact with the outside world.
But the laws do not say anything about monks kissing men.
Besides, it was the singer who kissed the monk, not the other way round.
The Most Venerable Thích Bửu Chánh said, adding:
“The kiss was passive, not intentional”.
However, since their acts negatively affected the Buddhist Church and clergy, the monastery has decided to detain them inside the monastery and ban them from outside contact for three months.
At the karma ceremony, the two said they were invited to the charity auction event by a friend who is in showbiz.
The auction was aimed at raising funds to finance treatment for 25-year-old singer Wanbi Tuấn Anh who is at risk of losing his vision due to a pituitary tumor.
As for the US$2,640 spent on a single bottle of wine, the two monks said they just bought it on behalf of a Buddhist follower who prefers to be anonymous and that the money belongs to this rich philanthropist.
This Buddhist follower was present yesterday morning at the karma ceremony and confirmed the information.