September 19, 2007, tens of thousands of saffron robed shaven headed monks marched barefoot on the streets of Myanmar, the streets that are in silence under barrel of gun since decades and decades…
As I watched this image in television, I was caught by awe, fear, hope and concern..like the millions of people worldwide…
Of course, this is not the first time that the monks have come out on street. In myanmar, where more than 85% of the country’s 47.3 million people are Buddhists, the monks have a profound history of political activism, from the independence movement against british colonyto to the pro-democracy uprising in 1988, which was brutally crushed by the military.
And this neither is the first time that i have seen the monks on street. I still remember a 1960’s image of self immolation of a Vietnamese monk in protest of US-backed South Vietnamese regime against Buddhism. That image of a bald headed frail body in a motionless composure amidst the burning flames in the busy downtown got me disturbed for a very long time. In our own Nepal, monks had made a demonstration in the protest of declaration of Nepal a Hindu nation, which was ironical to a country that boasts itself as the birthplace of Buddha.
I don’t know why I always go very emotional with concern over the sight of the monks on the street. The defenceless monks seem too helpless against the brutal military mechanism and I am filled with concern that when the ruthless sticks and bullets run over their bald heads, what are they going to do? They are not supposed to throw stones or burn tires. Their teachings of non-violence may seem too naive against the ruthlessness of streets.
Tibet couldnot sustain as a nation.
Also, the sheer image of the religious monks protesting in streets brings in me an ironical question…the monks who choose to live in seclusion from the rest of the human world.. who regard the human body itself to be the prison.. what is so pressing that made them come on the street… what is so disturbing to break their meditative silence? is political freedom necessary for spiritual one? is it the peace or the struggle for it the ultimate pursuit?