Monks' luxurious lifestyle under fire (updated)

The lifestyle of some of Thailand's more "successful" monks is again drawing criticism. Luxury sports cars, private jet travel, Louis Vuitton bags don't seem to fit the image of a life of restraint.

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Not the lifestyle image many Buddhists believe is appropriate for their monks. (From a YouTube video)

Tuesday morning update

The high-flying monks are receiving international attention. The agency Associated Press did a story and it was picked by many major newspapers around the world. For a time, the major British publication, The Guardian, even had a story and photo on its homepage.

Two of the monks have been identified. One is Luang Pu Nen Khum, the abbot of Wat Pa Khantitham in Kanthararom district of Si Sa Ket. Another is Phra Kru Palad Sitthiwat, better known as Luang Phi Namfon, the abbot at Wat Pailom in Nakhon Pathom.

Neither was available for comment yesterday. Followers say they are on a religious mission to France.

Meanwhile, the National Office of Buddhism insists monks boarding a private jet, wearing sunglasses and using luxury items is not a serious breach of monastic rules, but it is inappropriate.

identified – named  ระบุชื่อ
mission – an important piece of work that a person or a group of people has been given to do ภาระกิจ หน้าที่
meanwhile – at the same time ในเวลาเดียวกัน
insist – to keep saying very firmly that something is true ยืนกราน ยืนยัน
breach – a failure to follow a law or rule การละเมิดกฎหมาย
inappropriate – unsuitable ซึ่งไม่เหมาะสม

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Monks' luxurious lifestyle under fire

The lifestyle of some of Thailand's more "successful" monks is again drawing criticism.

The National Office of Buddhism says it has received many complaints about monks riding in luxurious cars and using brand-name items even as they are supposed to live a life of restraint and simplicity.

Nopparat Benjawatananun, director-general of the National Office of Buddhism, said on Sunday that many people have complained about seeing monks living a lavish lifestyle, which is in contrast to the basic anti-materialistic teachings of the religion.

Recently, a video clip of three Buddhist monks riding in a private jet was uploaded to the YouTube video-sharing website. In the video, the monks were wearing brand-name ear phones and sunglasses and a Louis Vuitton bag can be seen next to one of them.

The viewer comments posted under the video are overwhelmingly negative, some using harsh language.

"I've instructed officials to keep a close eye on the monks and if they're found to violate Buddhist teachings they'll be punished accordingly," Mr Nopparat said.

He said there were also complaints about monks in many renowned temples in Thailand collecting luxurious cars and using expensive items.

Even if the monks said the cars were given to them by their pupils, it was still not appropriate for them to own dozens of sports cars in their temples, he said.

"There are also monks who do not teach Buddhism correctly because they focus more on black magic and try to commercialise religious activities in order to build faith. The pupils of these monks are famous celebrities.

"I cannot tell you which temples or who the monks are but the National Office of Buddhism has verbally warned them," Mr Nopparat said.

Adapted from a story on

lifestyle – the type of life that you have, for example the type of job or house you have or the type of activity you like doing วิถีทางการดำเนินชีวิต, ลีลาชีวิต, รูปแบบการดำเนินชีวิต
image – an opinion that people have about someone or something ภาพลักษณ์
appropriate – suitable or right for a particular situation or purpose  ที่เหมาะสม
luxurious – very comfortable and expensive; of the best and most expensive ฟุ่มเฟือย, โอ่อ่า
draw criticism – to attract or interest somebody ดึงดูดการวิจารณ์
complaint – when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory การร้องเรียน
brand-name – of a well known name of a product, often indicating it is expensive มียี่ห้อ
restraint – the quality of behaving calmly and with control การอดกลั้น
simplicity – the quality of being natural and plain; the quality of being easy to understand or use ความเรียบง่าย, ความถ่อมตัว, ความง่าย
lavish – more than enough, especially if expensive ฟุ่มเฟือย
contrast – a noticeable difference ความแตกต่าง
materialistic – believing that money and possessions are the most important aspect of your life ซึ่งถือลัทธิวัตถุนิยม
comment – expressing an opinion แสดงความคิดเห็น
overwhelmingly – by a very large amount or margin อย่างท่วมท้น
negative – bad ที่เป็นด้านลบ
harsh – strict, unkind and sometimes unfair อย่างรุนแรง
instruct – to tell somebody to do something, especially in a formal or official way สั่ง
keep a close eye – to watch closely
violate – to do something that is against a law, rule or agreement ฝ่าฝืน, ละเมิด
punish – to make somebody suffer because they have broken the law or done something wrong ทำโทษ
renowned – famous and admired for a special skill or achievement  ที่มีชื่อเสียง
black magic – a type of magic which is believed to use the power of the Devil in order to do evil  เวทมนตร์, คาถา
commercialise – to develop something so that you can sell it and make a profit ทำเป็นธุรกิจ
faith – trust in somebody's ability or knowledge; trust that somebody/something will do what has been promised  ศรัทธา
celebrity – someone who is famous, especially in the entertainment business คนมีชื่อเสียง
verbal – spoken, not written ที่ใช้คำพูด
warn – to make someone aware of a possible problem or danger เตือน

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Writer: Terry Fredrickson
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