Shwedagon donation box rumour

The following is the translation from the blog by Ma Ma written in Burmese. The original article can be found at On Shwedagon.

“…… I was quite inquisitive about everything. One day while I was going to Shwedagon as usual, I happened to know about the donation boxes in Shwedagon Pagoda. I was at Chanthargyi Shrine when I saw a young short thin guy  carrying the locked donation boxes every night at around 9 PM. He carried all the donation boxes on Shwedagon, not a single night, but every night, and kept them all at the specific place. It was so strange. Even when we were young when the pagoda was open to the public all night long, I never saw or heard anybody kept these donation boxes in a safe place like this. Nowadays when the pagoda gates closes at 10 PM, only the guards are left on Shwedagon Pagoda. Carrying all donation boxes like this every night seemed to me like a punishment to this small boy. I was quite inquisitive, so I asked this young boy who gave him this kind of punishment. He looked very surprised. I asked again why and where he carried them away every night. He said he kept them in a safe place. I told him all these are the donations to Buddha Sasana, and nobody is going to steal them here. His answer that followed not only surprised me but also shocked me.

“No, miss, I am an employee and all these donation boxes are owned by my boss”

“What are you talking about? You are talking non-sense. If you don’t tell me the truth, I will go and inform the police.”

“No, miss, my boss get a contract to collect money from these donation boxes at 500 million kyats a year (US$ 500,000).”

I felt like the earth underneath collapsed. All my cousins were also speechless. After a few speechless seconds, I asked whether his boss is a Buddhist or not. No, he said. My cousins  blamed me for asking such kind of stupid question, giving the reason that no Buddhist would do such kind of horrible thing. I said, “It is Buddhists who gave contract to that infidel”. My cousin explained, “It is not true. They are not considered Buddhists. They are just a group of corrupt people who ransom the whole Shwedagon Pagoda to infidels. We donate our money to Lord Buddha and Shwedagon Pagoda. In reality, all our donations go into the hands of the infidel!”

Since that day onwards, apart from offering flowers, water, candle light, incense and gold foils to the Buddha statue, we never put a single kyat into these donation boxes anymore. What about you?

Note: If this is not true, please explain to me. I would like to believe that it is not true. I asked one of my close acquaintances who is also a member of the Shwedagon Pagoda Committee, and he admitted it was true.” does not bear any responsibility for the accuracy of the original article. We are just translating from the original Burmese article.

2 thoughts on “Shwedagon donation box rumour”

  1. Goodness! If this is true, then I am also guilty of giving money to cheaters, thinking that I was giving to the Buddha-Sassana. But how would I know as a tourist from a foreign country? My tour-guide did not forewarn me about this (perhaps it’s not true?)

    Anyway, I’ll be more careful when I visit all these places next time.

    1. I am not sure if this story is true or not. I wish it is not true, but today, every thing has turned into business. Not only pagoda donations, many monasteries and monks in Myanmar are giving out lucky charms, astrological predictions and accepting donations by various means. This occurs not only at Shwedagon, but everywhere. Nowadays, it is becoming more and more difficult to find a true Theravada Buddhist monk who strictly follows the teachings of Lord Buddha. I am not saying there is none, but it is difficult to find now. It is really a sad thing for Buddhism. However, this is what Lord Buddha has already predicted a long time ago. Lord Buddha predicted that a few thousand years after his death, monks will not follow his teaching any more, that monks will be behaving the same as ordinary people, that monks will earn money, that monks will do things that he forbid them from doing. Finally, Buddhism will disappear from the face of the earth. Lord Buddha predicted that 5,000 years after the his death, Buddhism will completely disappear from the face of the earth, and that not a single soul would be able to say even a single sentence of his teaching. He taught us to accept this as a universal truth, that every thing has and end. So you have to accept this as a truth. You will realize that every single word of his teaching and his predictions are true.

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