A video depicting a monk counting cash in front of an idol of Gautama Buddha is viral on social media. Users have shared the video claiming that the Buddhist monk stole the money from the donation box in Mahabodhi Temple in Bodhgaya, Bihar.

Zee News uploaded the viral video on their official YouTube channel. The video description stated, “CCTV video of theft in Bodhgaya temple has surfaced. Let us tell you that a video of money being stolen from Mahabodhi Temple located in Gaya, Bihar has surfaced. A Buddhist monk stole money from the sanctum sanctorum of the Mahabodhi Temple. While leaving, he was seen touching the feet of Lord Buddha, bowing to him and asking for forgiveness. ”

India TV (@indiatvnews) tweeted the video with the caption, “Bihar: Theft in the sanctum sanctorum of Mahabodhi Temple in Bodh Gaya, video of Buddhist monk stealing money goes viral.” The video has received over 33,400 views. It was further amplified by a report titled, ‘बिहार: बोधगया के महाबोधि मंदिर के गर्भगृह में चोरी, बौद्ध भिक्षु का रुपए चुराते हुए VIDEO वायरल’.

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Shubham Sharma (@Shubham_fd), the founder of the media outlet Neo Politico, amplified the claim with the caption, “See how Bauddh Monks are stealing money from the donation boxes. They keep fooling people and stealing money every day. This video was captured on the CCTV of the Mahabodhi temple, in Bihar.” The tweet received over 28,500 views.

Neo Politico Hindi (@NP_Hindi) also shared the video with the same claim.

Other media outlets like Lokmat Hindi, News4Nation, and ABP News also amplified the claim in their reports. The video also went viral on Facebook.

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Fact Check

A keyword search on X (formerly Twitter) led us to a statement posted by Gaya Police in Bihar. It said, ”During the investigation, the secretary of the Bodh Gaya Temple Managing Committee (BTMC) told the police that this video was taken several months back during the winter season. The statue of Lord Buddha is offered a robe by the devotees and a small amount of money is donated to the monk who offers it, which is meant for him. The donation offered to the temple goes into the donation box, which remains closed and safe. In the video, BTMC monk Dhammika is seen counting cash and keeping with himself the amount given to him for offering the chivar (robe or a piece of cloth). The allegation of theft is baseless.”

The Gaya Police further added that, ”According to the investigation so far, this news and viral video is false. Gaya Police is sensitive and committed to the security of the temple, and is continuously taking action in this regard.”

Alt News spoke to Dr. Arvind Kumar Singh, a member of the BTMC, who said, “The entire matter was recorded on CCTV camera, which clearly depicted that the donation box was 10 metres away from the monk. The monk did not take out money from the donation box. Just like we pay dakshina (a small donation fee) to a priest, Buddhist devotees pay a donation to a monk for offering a cloth to Lord Buddha on their behalf. This dakshina belongs to the monk and the money donated in the donation box belongs to the temple fund. If a devotee has given him any cash as dakshina for offering chivar to the lord, then that amount belongs to the monk. The monk’s (Dhammika) only fault was that instead of keeping the amount in his pocket, he started counting the cash as depicted in the viral clip.”

Singh further added, “A local monk had recorded this viral video almost six months back. He had a quarrel with Dhammika a couple of days back and in order to defame Dhammika, the local monk circulated the video online…We have seen the CCTV footage. The BTMC authorities will not take any actions against Dhammika because the allegations against him are baseless.”

According to a Dainik Bhaskar report, BTMC secretary Dr Mahasweta Maharathi has said that based on an investigation of the viral clip, Buddhist monk Dhammika was given a clean chit on the charges of theft. The idol of Lord Buddha is offered chivar by the devotees, who also donate a small amount to the monk. The donations offered to the temple go into the donation box.

To sum up, social media users have falsely shared a video depicting a Buddhist monk counting cash, alleging that he was stealing money from the donation box placed in the Mahabodhi Temple in Bihar. However, our fact-check revealed that the claims were false. The monk was counting the money donated to him as dakshina by devotees for offering a chivar (robe) to Lord Buddha.

Abira Das is an intern at Alt News.

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