Buddhist Monks Fined After All-Out Monk Brawl

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Thai newspapers reported this week that five Buddhist monks had been defrocked and fined after they got into a brawl with monks from another temple. Apparently, monks from the two temples had worked opposite sides of the same road for years, trying to collect alms from travelers. According to reports, the competition for alms had caused “years of antagonism” between the two groups of Buddhists, who had “often exchanged curses, insults, and rude gestures.”

Which part of the Eight-Fold Path is that?

Anyway, things got ugly on Monday, when the antagonism flared up into a monk rumble, evidently after one “rude gesture” too many from the other side of the road. Police were called to break up the fight. Apparently, Boonlert Boonpan and his four colleagues were considered the aggressors, as each of them was fined 1,000 baht. Which sounds like a lot but I guess is only about $25 (but then that may be a lot to a Buddhist monk). Angry senior monks from their temple later defrocked the offenders. Which sounds like fun but I guess it isn’t.

Boonlert, who said he usually carried a “knuckle-duster” during the morning alms collection because of the possibility of a Buddhist battle, was unrepentant. “When an ordinary person is given an middle-finger sign,” he said, “he will be mad. So am I.”