Buddhist temples shut down in China for fleecing devotees

The Mount Wutai Administration Bureau closed the two temples and revoked their business licenses.

Updated: Feb 17, 2013, 16:54 PM IST

Beijing: Two temples on a sacred Buddhist mountain in northern China have been shut down and six people arrested for hiring fake monks during the Chinese New Year and making devotees pay heavy amounts for ceremonies.

Two illegal temples named "Foguozhongxin" and "Temple for the God of Wealth" were on Thursday reported to have hired fake monks to deceive tourists into donating money, buying expensive incense and paying unreasonable amounts for ceremonies, state-run Xinhua news agency said on Sunday.

The Mount Wutai Administration Bureau on Friday closed the two temples and revoked their business licenses.

Further investigation is under way.

"We will continue to regulate temples and shops on Mount Wutai to display a good image to tourists," said the director of the bureau.

The temples were flooded with devotees during the Chinese New Year holiday.

Mount Wutai, a UNESCO World Heritage Listed temple mountain, is home to about 50 Buddhist temples, some bearing close resemblance to Hindu temples and gods, and were built between the 1st century AD and the early 20th century.

Wutai is also famous as national icon Mao Zedong, father of China`s Communist Party and lifelong atheist, had paid a rare visit to the temples where the priests are reported to have correctly predicted his destiny.

On a relaxed tour of this 1,200-year-old Buddhist shrine after successfully leading the revolution in 1949, Mao picked up a fortune card no: 8341 out of the pack offered to him by Buddhist monks to know his future.

It later turned out that the card predicted that he would live for 83 years and his rule as a leader of the party would last 41 years.

Mao was born in 1893 and died in 1976 on the 83rd year of his life, according to legend spread by the monks of the Wutai temples.

For over 1,200 years, Mount Wutai has remained China`s most sacred Buddhist place because it was where the highly revered "Manjusri, the Bodhisattva of wisdom", (one of prominent disciples of Lord Buddha) once lived and taught Buddhism.