An accident on Monday led Northern Thailand’s Sangha Admistration to issue a public warning that monks in the northern provinces are prohibited from driving under an existing law.
Monthian Khammee, director of the Chiang Mai Office of Buddhism, made the announcement on Tuesday, following an incident on Monday in which a monk accidentally put a pickup in reverse gear, hitting and damaging numerous vehicles behind him.
The monk was identified as Phrakhru Pornchai Piyawanno, 56, the abbot of Wat Phra Phutthabat Siroy in Chiang Mai’s Mae Rim district’s tambon Saluang.
Mr Monthian stated that, while the Supreme Sangha Council does not prevent monks from driving, the Northern Sangha Administration has its own rule that prohibits monks from driving.
He stated that an investigation would be conducted to determine whether Phrakhru Pornchai had any reason to breach the driving prohibition. The monk would first be handed a warning.
Mr Monthian stated that the monk would pay for the damage out of his own pocket, rather than using temple finances.
Sanit Kitikorn, chairman of the Saluang tambon administration organisation, said it was still unclear whether the monk was unwell, which caused him to make the error.
Northern Thailand Monks to Live Austere Lifestyle
In general, Buddhist monks are expected to live a simple and austere lifestyle, focusing on spiritual practice, meditation, and renunciation of worldly possessions. As part of their monastic vows, they often refrain from engaging in activities that are considered extravagant or materialistic.
The use of vehicles, including cars, by Buddhist monks can vary depending on cultural, practical, and individual circumstances. In some cases, monks may use vehicles for transportation when necessary, such as traveling long distances to attend religious ceremonies or to visit remote communities. This is particularly common in countries where monasteries are spread out over large areas or where transportation options are limited.
However, it’s worth noting that the use of vehicles by monks is generally kept to a minimum, and it is expected that they exercise restraint and simplicity in their use. Many monastic communities encourage monks to prioritize walking, cycling, or using public transportation whenever possible as a means of reducing dependence on material possessions and promoting a mindful, environmentally friendly lifestyle.
Ultimately, the specific practices and guidelines regarding vehicle use for Buddhist monks can vary across different traditions and countries, and they are often determined by the local cultural and practical considerations within each monastic community.
The term “Supreme Sangha Council” is not specific to any particular context or country, so its meaning can vary depending on the context. However, in general, the Sangha Council refers to a governing body or council of Buddhist monks or nuns (Sangha) that oversees and regulates monastic affairs within a specific tradition or region.
In some Buddhist countries, such as Thailand, Sri Lanka, and Myanmar, there may be a national or supreme Sangha Council that serves as the highest authority in the monastic community. This council typically consists of senior monks who are well-respected and have attained high levels of knowledge and spiritual practice. The council’s responsibilities may include making decisions regarding monastic rules and regulations, resolving disputes within the monastic community, and providing guidance on matters related to Buddhist teachings and practices.
The specific structure and authority of a Supreme Sangha Council can vary from country to country, depending on the local traditions and cultural context. It’s important to note that the organization and functioning of the Sangha Councils can change over time, so it’s advisable to consult up-to-date sources or specific country regulations for the most accurate and current information on a particular Supreme Sangha Council.