Amazon's Obo San bin

Amazon’s Obo San bin

Rent a Buddhist monk online through Amazon in Japan.

The days when technology and religion were at odds with each other are in the past now. In fact, today, religion is reaching out to the modern generation using technology and science. Be it tweets by Pope Francis, or the online “puja” services Hindus now have, technology has been a catalyst in boosting spiritual practices among the busy religious of today. But technology doesn't just stop at that. Buddhists in Japan have taken technology-based religious services to an all new level. If you are a Buddhist in Japan who doesn't have easy access to your religious rites, you can now book a Buddhist priest online.

Buddhist priests are the latest addition to the wide range of products and services available for purchase online. This new feature, called “Obo San bin,” which roughly translates to “Mr. Monk delivery,” has already been tried by some Buddhists, who loved it. Amazon‘s new service has been received quite well by Buddhists who have otherwise been plagued by the exorbitant fees traditional temples charge to conduct rites.

The root cause for this delivery service to start is because Buddhist temples are mostly located only in Japanese villages. Most of these will be closed down soon because a number of Japanese villagers are moving out to bigger cities. Japanese cities have little or no religion at all. As such, when Buddhists need priests to conduct rites such as funerals, they are at a loss. The journey to traditional Buddhist temples proves to be an expensive affair because the “donations” that are asked for in return for the religious services are very high. Besides, there is no fixed fee, and the monks can name any price they choose.

It is against this background of demand vs. supply that Amazon's new service comes to the rescue of the city-dwellers. Not only does it help people in the city obtain services of Buddhist priests when they require, but they also are assured of a fair, fixed price. Whenever a rite has to be conducted, all a Buddhist has to do is “book” a priest from the online shopping company. A priest will be dispatched to the customer's house, where sutras are chanted and rites conducted.

This new service has not gone well with the larger Buddhist clergy who have launched a heavy attack on Amazon for what they feel is a “mockery” of their beliefs. However, despite all the criticism, one thing is sure, in a land where the devout and the clergy are very disconnected, this seems the most obvious way to keep devotion alive.

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