Young Buddhist monk disrobed for being too little

A senior Buddhist monk in eastern Thailand has disrobed a young monk for being too small.

A secretary of the abbot of Thap Chang Temple in Soi Dao District of the eastern province of Chanthaburi performed a ritual on Tuesday, 16 August 2016 to disrobe Venerable Sermsak Thammasaro, a 21-year-old Buddhist monk of Phasuk Temple in the district, Khaosod news reported.

The young monk whose lay name is Sermsak Mhaisungnoen was forcibly disrobed at the order of a senior monk from the district because he was born with dwarfism. He had only been ordained for about one month.

Sermsak is 99 centimeters tall and weighs about 15 kilogram.

The senior monk whose identity was not disclosed reasoned that ordaining persons who are physically too little is against Buddhist Vinaya, a Buddhist monastic order.

He advised that if Sermsak wants to remain under the robe, he could be ordained as ‘Nayn’, a Buddhist monastic term that refers to novice monks who are younger than 20 years old. Unlike Buddhist monks who are obligated to obtain 227 Buddhist precepts, novices only have to obtain eight precepts.            

The disrobing of Sermsak has sparked debates in online communities and among villagers of Soi Dao district alike as most people believe that he should be allowed to remain under the monk robe.

Khaosod reported that according Assoc Prof Danai Preechapermsit, head of the masters program in Buddhist Studies at Thammasat University, the Buddhist Vinaya prohibits persons with dwarfism to be ordained as Buddhist monks.    

Sermsak told media he had wanted to be ordained as a monk for at least three months for his late mother, but there was nothing he could do.

“Although I have become a layperson, I still have faith in Buddhism and will continue to follow the teaching of Buddha,” wrote Sermsak on his Facebook account.

Sermsak Mhaisungnoen while he was still a Buddhist monk in Phasuk Temple of Soi Dao District of the eastern province of Chanthaburi (Photo from Khaosod News)

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