Monks as Plaintiffs: Should The Vinaya or The Laws be Respected ?

Vuttinan Kanthatian


This paper aims to analyze an issue related to monks in Thailand. Like laypersons,

monks are entitled to the right to bring suit in court and, thereby, acquire double
status. Regarding the first status, monks are citizens who are under the laws i.e. both
general and Sangha laws. When monks exercise their right to lawsuit, it means they
“exercise their rights and liberty” the same way as citizens in general and accept social
rules. Regarding the other status, monks are members of Buddhism, who need to adhere
to the Vinaya and, therefore, are under the specific traditional order. The latter status
requires monks to be aware of the original intention to preserve “faith and religious
practice,” which is to leave the mundane pleasures to obtain the supra-mundane
happiness. Therefore, the case of monks bringing suit to court requires consideration
of both of these status. If they are aware of their religious status, they should give their
first priority to the Vinaya. However, if they aim to secure their rights according to
the secular status, they should pay attention to negative consequences on the religion
as a whole.

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