Of Monks and Martyrs

A Buddhist Monk, Ven. Bowatte Indraratna Thera, set himself on fire a few days ago allegedly because of cattle slaughter and forced conversion. It kind of confused me. 

Sri Lanka pretty much lives on a steady diet of meat. It’s not that Sri Lankans are huge consumers of meat, but there is pretty much something in every meal. Enough that it makes it hard to be a vegetarian in Sri Lanka. Per capita consumption of meat was around 6.6 kg per person in 2002. That is higher than 3kg consumed in Bhutan which is a primarily Buddhist country. Even monks eat a bit of meat and fish here. It is only on Poyas that meat (and alcohol) is not served. So why all the sudden fuss? Are all Sri Lankans suddenly going to become vegetarian? 

Also, why would he set himself on fire near the Maligawa? Women are not allowed to show their legs or shoulders in the temple. I would hope that a self-immolation is worse than that. 

The Thera was a former Pradeshiya Sabha member who lost his seat and was expelled from the party after disciplinary action. But now he is being hailed as a martyr who did not commit suicide but rather sacrificed himself for the greater good. There is much talk about carrying on his legacy. Do they mean the self immolation? The actions that lead to him being expelled? 

Colour me confused.  


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