From the Mongolian Press: Abbot Choijamts degrading reputation of Buddhism

Sanjdorj, head lama of the New Center of Mongolian Buddhists in press conference held on Oct 27, 2009

Sanjdorj, abbot and head of “New Center of Mongolian Buddhists” gave interview to reporter Yondonduichir of “Niigmiin Toli” or “Social Mirror” newspaper. The abbot is very critical of the current situation of Mongolian Buddhism.
-They say it was difficult to set up “New Center of Mongolian Buddhists”. Why it was difficult to set up a place of “Holy Dharma?
-Choijamts, abbot of the Gandantegchenlen monastery created much obstacles for creation of the center. He protested very much the inception of the center.

-Can you cite a concrete example?- Ok, let me tell you one fact. Abbot Choijamts gave an official letter no.108 dated May 23, 2008 to the Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs, which is in charge of registration of NGOs. Content of the letter was something like “new center of Mongolian Buddhists denying role and significance of Gandantegchenlen monastery, therefore, it should be not allowed to be created.”

-Why he had to do this? He is a person who speaks about spreading and supporting goodness?-This letter demonstrated true face of the abbot. He speaks about supporting monasteries and temples.Then in reality, he competes with other temples like this in very unfair way. Here, intention is to dominate everything without competition. Therefore, Mongolian Buddhism is unable to be reformed.

-You said you experienced much pressure. What else did you experience?-A year after inception of the new center or in March, 2009, we planned to hold a conference in Wrestling Palace and arranged and prepared everything. Then, he again created problems for us. Gandantegchenlen Monastery banned the conference and Tsedendamba, religious advisor of then President Enkhbayar pressured us. However, we were able to overcome this. The conference was held with 2339 representatives and approved main charter of the center. Also passed several important documents such as memorandum on cooperation and appeal.

- Did representatives of Gandantegchenlen monastery participated in the conference?-Unfortunately, the heads of the monastery strongly instructed its monks not to participate in the conference. However, some monks were sent in with ordinary clothes and camera. Since there are not many monks, we can easily recognize them.

-Why Abbot Choijamts creates problems for the “New Center of Mongolian Buddhists”?-In 1991, first conference of Mongolian Buddhists was held. Center of Mongolian Buddhists was set up officially during this conference and passed its constitution. Governing board of the center is to be council of Lovons [Lovon is a Buddhist Religious title given to high ranking monks].Day-to-day activity of the center was to be done by Abbot of the Gandantegchenlen monastery. By constitution of the center, every four year, Council of the Lovons is to discuss issues of convening next conference and whether to replace management of the center etc. However, since then up to now or for 18 years, the conference was never convened. I suspect this is due to his interest of retaining his power and position of the abbot. He suspected conference of new center would discuss about dismissing him. He used religious advisor of the then President Enkhbayar and, Ministry of Justice and Home Affairs and police and intelligence to stop the conference of the new center.

-Besides issue of power, what are other reasons for Abbot Choijamts not to convene council of the Lovons and the conference?
-Besides power and authority, there are many other reasons such as finance, donations, projects etc. He wants all these under his authority and therefore, violated and changed religious rules on his own.

-What rules does he violated ?-According to the constitution passed by the first conference of the Mongolian Buddhists, “The center will have own stamp, letterhead and bank account and conduct its activities independently.” Unfortunately, as of today, only stamp, bank account of the Gandantegchenlen monastery is used in the center.

-So the Center of Mongolian Buddhists has no own bank account and stamp? -Yes, the center has no own stamp and bank account. Another violation of the abbot is he changed council of the Lovons which is supposed to be directing and supervising him. By rule, the council members should be elected by next conference. However, the Abbot directly elected about 30 lovons of rural monasteries that are newly established and put them under his authority. Thus, the abbot has become” untouchable” and has unlimited authority.

- What benefit does abbot of the Center of Mongolian Buddhists enjoy?- There are much benefits such as economic and personal. This also includes corruption issue involving the Abbot. For instance, when Abbot Choijamts was traveling in the USA, one rinpoche gave him a very expensive jade snuffing bottle and asked the abbot to spend the bottle for restoration of Mongolian rural Buddhist monasteries and temples. However, Abbot Choijamts gave the snuffing bottle to Erdenebat, director of the “Erel” company and former minister of fuel and energy. Erdenebat in return gave the Abbot three-room apartment. Now the abbot lives in that apartment. Erdenebat mentioned about it in interview to newspaper. There are many numerous such gifts and donations to the Abbot.

-There is talk that monks at the Gandantegchenlen monastery does not chant scriptures requested by believers?-Objective of our organization is to defend interests of believers. However, in Gandantegchenlen, scriptures requested by belivers are not chanted completely. This means, the monastery just takes money of believers without performing the chanting for them. Believers think monks chanted the requested scriptures. Therefore, monitoring organization, especially, state organizations such as Citizen Representative Khural needs to improve monitoring of the monastery.

-How do you know scriptures requested by believers are not chanted fully by the monks?-I have graduated University of Buddhism under Gandantegchenlen monastery and interned at the monastery. Therefore, I know. Monks at the monastery chants regularly chanted scriptures in the morning and offers Mandala for all.

-Do the monks mention names of believers offering the Mandala?-No. It is enough just to say for all living beings
-So then, the chanting really does not benefit person who requested it?-Well, only god knows that.

-Will you be in trouble for disclosing such intormation related to secret of organization?-I have spoken a lot about it. Unfortunately, nothing has been done so far.

- Is there any organization to defend interests of believers in Mongoila?-There used to be union of believers. However, Gandantegchenlen monastery put pressure and disbanded the union. Now only “New Center of Mongolian Buddhists” are to defend interests of the believers.

-Is your monastery chants scriptures requested by believers?-Yes. In our temple, requester and monk sits face-to-face and chants the scriptures.

- So no inspection is being done in Gandantegchenlen monastery?-There is no organization to monitor the monastery as it is a virtuous organization. It is not clear how donations and offerings given by believers and various companies are being spent. Even if inspection is done, it is done very superficially.

-What you mean by superficial?-Not very detailed. Just checks for certificates and official things. Inspection is more strict on foreign religions.

- Why no inspection is being done at the Gandantegchenlen?-I don’t know it. Therefore, our new center is proposing to change all these and reform. Since the council is false, management, finance and activities of the [old] center is in mess.

-Abbot Choijamts is related to TV-9. They say, recently, the abbot is questioned by Anti-Corruption agency because of this?- The TV-9 was donated to Gandantegchenlen monastery by a Japanese religious organization in order spread and strengthen Buddhism in Mongolia. However, the Abbot made it a business TV station by partnering with former President Enkhbayar Nambar. This is very unethical issue for a monk.

-Did he receive money for this?- Yes. He admitted it himself. He shared the money fifty fifty with Enkhbayar.

-However, believers think Abbot Choijamts is holy monk in pursuit of Dharmic path and avoids money etc.
- Well, all believers think so. Unfortunately, it is not so. For instance, in 2008, Abbot obtained 90 hectare land in a place called “Ogoomoriin am” of Bogd Khaan mountain. He announced throughout the country that University of Nalindra will be built there and opened an account and started receiving funds and donations from people. Project proposal of the university was set up on the internet and opened accounts for donations and funds in US, Switzerland, England etc. He even announced that one million of the 21 million dollars is promised to be given by His Holiness Dalai Lama. However, so far today, no school called Nalindra exists in Mongolia. That was a false advertising and cheating people. Since Dalai lama never lies, he must have given one million dollars to the Abbot. There are many such false things such as where is this one million dollar now? I’m sad to see that Abbot Choijamts is defaming the Buddhism all over the world.
-Did you turn to government and authorities about reform of the Buddhism in Mongolia?
- Many times, I have criticized current situation of the Mongolian Buddhism. Under president Bagabandi, Buddhism was better. However, during presidency of Enkhbayar, he completely neglected the Buddhism. When I presented need of reform in Mongolian Buddhism to current President Elbegdorj, he welcomed us and gave us written reply that he will cooperate with us on this issue. I’m fighting to keep our religion pure.



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