Thailand's Buddhism body is monitoring monks nationwide for any inappropriate behaviour after a video showed monks using luxurious personal items while flying on a private jet.
The YouTube video showed one of the monks was wearing stylish aviator sunglasses, carrying a luxury brand travel bag and sporting a pair of modern-looking wireless headphones. It attracted criticism from Buddhists nationwide.
Office of National Buddhism director-general Nopparat Benjawatananun said the agency saw the video early this year and had warned the monks from a monastery in Thailand's northeast not to repeat the lavish behaviour.
A country with the world's largest Buddhist population, Thailand has attempted to help Buddha's 2,600-year-old doctrine stand the test of time through a variety of means, including banning the sale of alcohol on religious holidays. The efforts, however, are sometimes tainted by the Buddhist monks themselves.
Last year, about 300 out of 61,416 Buddhist monks and novices in Thailand were reprimanded - and several were removed from the monkhood - because of misconduct ranging from alcohol consumption, having sex with women to extortion.
The Office also received complaints about monks driving cars, and scams and false claims of black magic uses by monks.
Nopparat said the Buddhist monks in the video were acting "inappropriately, not composed and not adhering to Buddha's teachings of simplicity and self-restraint."
Monruedee Bantoengsuk, an administrative officer at Khantitham Temple in Sisaket province, confirmed to The Associated Press that the monks on the private plane lived at the temple but refused to give details about the trip.
"We can explain this, but not now," she said, saying that the abbot, who appeared in the video, is currently on a religious tour in France.
"We can explain this, but not now,"; and we can't hardly wait! But clearly, the monks in Thailand have been watching too many US televangelists. Somehow we don't think that private jets, wireless headphones and aviator sunglasses are quite what Buddha had in mind when he taught about simplicity and self-restraint.