Destitute man blames Dhammajayo for his plight

Destitute man blames Dhammajayo for his plight

Chatchai Bamrungsoonthorn, 62, says he sold his land and home to donate millions of baht to Phra Dhammajayo - but now calls the sect leader a 'cold-blooded hypocrite'. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)
Chatchai Bamrungsoonthorn, 62, says he sold his land and home to donate millions of baht to Phra Dhammajayo - but now calls the sect leader a 'cold-blooded hypocrite'. (Photo by Thiti Wannamontha)

PATHUM THANI - A former employee of Wat Phra Dhammakaya who claims to have been duped into donating millions of baht to the temple staged a one-man protest at one of its gates Monday, bearing a message that calls the fugitive sect leader a "cold-blooded hypocrite".

Chatchai Bamrungsoonthorn, 62, who says he worked as a Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple attendant, stood in front of temple Gate 7 in Pathum Thani's Klong Luang district with a placard hanging from his neck with a message in English that read: "Thammachayo is the sweetest cruelest cold-blooded hypocrite", referring to abbot Phra Dhammajayo.

The abbot is wanted by police on charges of forest encroachment, money-laundering and receiving stolen goods.

Mr Chatchai accused the temple of duping him and his family into donating millions of baht in the promise it would help them reach nirvana.

Temple spokesman Ong-art Thamnitha was not available for comment on the allegations.

Mr Chatchai said he and his wife had faith in Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple's teachings and that their money would yield them spiritual enlightenment.

In 1985, Mr Chatchai said his wife's relatives invited them to make merit at Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple, which subsequently grew into a regular habit.

Mr Chatchai said he and his wife sold their land and house in Laemthong Niwet Village on Songprapa Road in Bangkok's Don Muang district, a souvenir shop in front of Don Mueang International Airport and gold bars weighing 20 baht each.

His wife donated the money from their sales to the temple, he added.

He said he had also donated money from the sale of company shares to the temple.

The lavish donations they had made sunk Mr Chatchai and his family into financial turmoil, he said, forcing them to move to Muang Kaewmanee in Pathum Thani's Klong Luang district and living off free meals at the temple.

Mr Chatchai said he fully backed the police raid to arrest the temple's ex-abbot.

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