The followers of a monastery abbot were on suicide watch today after Buddhist hardliners and soldiers took turns demolishing the headless statue next to which he beheaded himself.
About 100 people were present yesterday to witness the group of Buddhists who came from out of town and spent over three hours swinging large axes to destroy their statue, which depicted a decapitated, heavenly indra figure offering up his severed head in outstretched arms.
The statue did not seem to represent anything from the generally accepted Hindu or Buddhist cosmos. But it was there that some of them had helped build the DIY guillotine Abbot Dhammakorn Wangphrecha used to behead himself last week in the belief he would attain enlightenment.
The demolition began with ritual prayers and a celebrity brahman declaring that the statue did not depict a god but a demon, and therefore did not belong in a holy place like a Buddhist monastery – though the facility was unregistered.
While Buddhism is held up as a pillar of the kingdom, wide swathes of the population still hold to animist and pre-Buddhist mystical traditions. The demolition team wanted to send a message that the old ways have no place in mainstream belief. They even shattered its inscription plate, which read:
“I would like to pay respect to the Buddha, his teachings and his monks by offering my head, blood, skin and skeleton. May this merit be a factor for me to attain enlightenment and become a Buddha in my future life.”
Thirteen people including nuns, disciples and relatives of Dhammakorn were reportedly still tending to Wat Phuhingong Monastery, a week after his ritual sucide. Psychiatrists sent to offer counseling said they had been traumatized by everything that had happened and were under suicide watch.
Dhammakorn beheaded himself early on April 15 – his birthday – by cutting ropes holding up two cement-filled buckets to bring a meter-long blade down onto his neck. He believed it would grant him enlightenment in his next life. His followers said it was the culminating act of a five-year plan.
Provincial Gov. Siwaporn Chuasawas said the destruction was to prevent misunderstanding of Buddhist teachings – and imitation by others.
“This decapitated statue doesn’t depict anything in Buddhism,” she said
Local police, who said they were considering prosecuting Dhammakorn’s followers for their role, said they were uncooperative and insisted the 68-year-old abbot had met an end fitting his beliefs.
Maj. Niphon Panichcharoen of Nong Bua Lamphu Police said that they have identified 10 people suspected of helping Dhammakorn create the execution device. He added that they also seized all parts of dismantled guillotine and would rebuild it to see if it could really sever a head or whether it was actually a case of conspiracy to murder.
This article, Disciples of beheaded monk on suicide watch after Buddhist crusaders smash their ‘false idol’, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia’s leading alternative media company.