Thai Buddhists Upset by “Fallen Buddha” Image in Germany

Thai Buddhists Upset by “Fallen Buddha” Image in Germany


Thai people seem to consider themselves the policemen of Buddhism around the world. There is nothing wrong in this of course as long as it is done in a respectful manner. But some people think they should pay more attention to home than abroad as there is plenty wrong here in Thailand. Hardly a day goes by without a monk being featured on the front pages either drunk, meeting with women or showing off unusual wealth.

Having said that, I think everyone would agree that this “Fallen Buddha” image in Munich, Germany is going a bit too far. Although monks might not be respected as much as they used to be, Buddha images still have full respect. They should always be placed in a raised position. The head in Thai culture is sacred and so nothing should be placed above it. Having a “Fallen Buddha” at an art exhibit is wrong in some many ways.

The following open letter sent to the organizers sums up the Thais feelings about this:

I heard the shocking news that the arts exhibition displaying now which is under your authority is distorting the correct perspective of Buddhism we believe. With respect to you, I would like to take this opportunity to advise the proper ways to place the Buddha image. As we know very well, Buddha image must be placed in worship area where is considered as high position and not for decorating purpose. Thus, what you did by leaning the Buddha image on the ground must be reallocated. I would like to express my sincerity and oppose this unsuitability in order to prevent the possibly coming misunderstanding among us. I do firmly believe that, even though, the difference of lives, belief and love in anythings may cause us to act differently, we can share the harmonious space based on the respectful thought and methods.

This picture and more can be seen on the Thai news website MThai.

16 thoughts on “Thai Buddhists Upset by “Fallen Buddha” Image in Germany

  1. Thais should really keep quiet about anything to do with Buddhism or Buddha images as millions insult both Buddhism and Buddha images minute by minute in Thailand

    1. Dear Mr. Tom,
      I have no idea about what the Thais do in their homeland or elsewhere in the world. I tend to accept your word and believe. My question is not all Thais do what you are saying. But does that mean becoz some Thais do this the Idol of Lord Buddha can be desecrated. Try and do this to anything in Christianity or Islam. You will understand how much intolerance and abhor people can have. does this mean that whatever is happening in the Christianity and Islam is right. Does this mean that all Christian and Muslims are upholding their religion in the way they are supposed to be.
      I am not a Buddhist but i think i have no right to desecrate any other religion.
      Thanks for your patient reading

  2. Hi, does anyone know why it’s wrong for monks to go shopping for electronic items, or wear sunglasses? I distinctly remembered the picture of the King wearing his sunglasses when he was a monk. If that was ok, then surely it’s ok for other monks to wear it too. After all, what are sunglasses, but to protect the eyes from the sun?

    But back to the other question of electronic items. Why is it wrong? I’ve seen them at the Malls, all the time. Some even venture into the Pirated DVD stores. Haven’t seen any monk stop at the porn DVD shop yet though….

    Can anyone illuminate on this?

  3. Michael, the Thai King was wearing sunglasses as a monk as he had lost sight in one eye in a car accident only a short while before entering monk-hood.

    Monks are supposed to swear off having any property or luxury items when the enter the monk-hood, just like Catholic priest swear to live in celibacy. If they feel that is wrong they should not enter the monk-hood. Right?

    I remember a few years ago Thai students dressing up as German SS soldiers at a school party, which upset lots of people in Western countries and the middle-Eastern country of Israel. Thai people at that time said we shouldn’t take it too serious. Maybe this time that should be the answer of the people in Germany regarding the Buddha image. No double standards…

    1. @Edwin, absolutely. I hope the Thai students dressing up as Nazi soldiers learned their lesson (or rather the school, for organizing it) and that it won’t be repeated. I’m all for respecting Buddha and other sacred images/idols etc. but in no way can we accept double standards. If the Thais offended Germans back then and told them not to “take it too seriously” absolutely the Germans should be allowed to make the same claim this time round towards the Thais who after all, are not the only Buddhists out there nor are they the world’s “Buddhist policemen” as there are plenty of other Buddhists who didn’t seem to get upset like Myanmar buddhists, Lao, Cambodian and Sri Lankan buddhists.

  4. Buddha would be turning over in his grave … and not because of the perceived ‘slight’ either …

  5. I think they need to fix this statue,this is not good to show them,the situation like this image.Respect for the Buddhists religion.

  6. I think the Thai Buddhists need to learn how to STFU, they are beginning to remind me of the Religion of Peace.

  7. I can see how sitting on a Buddha image could be seen as offensive. The artwork should better have a Do Not Touch sign beside it. However, the “Fallen Buddha” is perhaps meant to make us stop and think, rather than just spout knee-jerk objections. I’m pretty sure most Thai monks would understand the implications of this artwork and maybe even nod in approval. The senior abbot in the temple I visit is disturbed by people’s obsessions with “money Buddhism” and craze about showy golden images instead of their practicing what the Dhamma teaches. Be tolerant and compassionate.

    1. @Stahlmueller and Mark … interesting and passionate reactions. “” dunno what it means but it cost a lot 1.2 million Euro””. This infatuation with money has infected Thailand too. Farang is to blame!!!

  8. On the bottom of the statue is an inscription: “Made in Dresden”. I don’t know what the people who installed this mean by that. Of course they say they`d wanted to make people think about it. It’s declared as a piece of art, so no one in Munich can do anything against this. A word about the costs: The whole artwork costs around 1,2 million Euro.

  9. Without reporting or asking the artists intention, nothing wrong with an religious symbol used this way.
    Crosses, Christian symbols in general are used often in the past by artists.
    Some are outrage – others think about (“made in Dresden” is probably not the only intention from the artist.
    But what I know? If I don’t like it, I can go home.

  10. I wonder if the Germans would use the image if the Muslim faith in the same way… Somehow I don’t think the cowards would.

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