Author Topic: The Buddhist Revival in Burma  (Read 7364 times)


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The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« on: June 04, 2012, 08:46:14 AM »
After decades of suppression by the military junta, Buddhism revives in Myanmar! Rejoice for the renaissance of Buddhism!!!

by Arjanyai,, Published on the Buddhist Channel, June 4, 2012

Rangoon, Burma -- Burma under British rule was not so much subject to religious suppression as Ceylon. Europeanization was not so great there as to affect much the cultural life of the Burmese, since the British administered Burma only as a part of India and the British colonial period there was much shorter than in Ceylon.

There was little to be called a Buddhist revival directly resulting froth the reaction to the colonial rule. Still there was an identification between Buddhism and nationalism. This was caused by an attachment to and pride in the historical religion as the national heritage on the one hand, and by political advantages on the other.

There were cultural conflicts with Europeans, especially the “no footwear controversy,” which led Buddhist monks to more violent political actions. However, there was a division between the monks. It was the younger monks, not the older Sayadaws, who involved themselves in politics. These monks joined in the uprisings against British rule.

Burmese political leaders, meanwhile, relied heavily on Buddhism to support their leadership and unify the country. The people of Burma belong to many races and speak many languages. Besides the Burmans and the Mons, there were such sizable minorities as the Karens, the Chins, the Kachins and the Shans, who were largely mountain people and occupied fifty percent of the Burmese land.

These minorities made up twenty-five percent of the population, while the Burmans who lived in the other fifty percent formed seventy-five percent. Political leaders had to find ways of telling the people that they were a nation. As 85 percent of the people were Buddhists, they found in Buddhism this unifying element.

In contrast to Ceylon, Christian missionary work in Burma not directly supported by the colonial power made considerable progress among animistic tribal peoples, especially among the Karens. The conversion of these peoples even more alienated them from the Burmese majority. Postwar political events convinced the Burmese Buddhists that Christianity was a religion hostile to the Burmese state.

They believed the religion brought with it foreign intervention and caused political and economic oppression. Marxism or Communism was also condemned as state capitalism which was far worse than ordinary capitalism. This led the leaders of the Burmese revolution to advance a form of Burmese state socialism based on the principles of Buddhism.

Though monks played a prominent part in the early days of the independence movement, later they faded into the background. On achieving independence in 2489/1946, the revolution leader even declared a policy of not mixing religion and politics. But in post-independence years the pongyis (monks) appeared again on the political scene as political leaders tried to win their support. By promising to amend the constitution to make Buddhism the state religion and with his programme of Buddhist socialism, U Nu saw a number of pongyis actively campaigning for him and he won a landslide victory in the election of 2503/1960.

U Nu’s great contribution to the Buddhist revival in Burma was the holding of the Sixth Buddhist Council in Rangoon in 2497-2499/1954-61. The World Peace Pagoda called Kaba-Aye and the Great Cave called Mahaguha (as a reproduction of the Maha Pasan?a Guha where the First Council met), capable of seating 10,000 people, were built along with the International Institute for Advanced Buddhist Studies2. a new library, a publishing house and other large buildings providing lodging for pilgrims and living quarters for researchers.

Among the chief purposes of the Council were to provide for the recension of the Pali texts, to have them printed and put in worldwide distribution, and to encourage missionary work by establishing a worldwide Buddhist mission and directing the work particularly to Europe and America. After opening on May 17, 1954, the Council concluded on May 24, 1956, the full moon day of the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha’s Great Decease. About 2,000 monks from various Buddhist countries came to attend this Council.

The Council roused in Burmese Buddhists a new zeal for the restoration of religious glory and has achieved the publication in Burmese (Maramma) script of a complete set of the Pali Canon and the Commentaries, and a large number of other post-canonical works.

The voluminous Pali-Burmese Dictionary, the biggest of the existing Pali dictionaries, is also a great achievement of the Burmese Sangha and it, too, is published by the Buddha Sasana Council at Kaba-Aye in Rangoon. Induced by the Council, some Burmese monks went to Thailand to preach the Abhidhamma and to teach some methods of meditation as practised in Burma, while a number of Thai monks and novices, mostly from Wat Mahadhatu, came to Burma to study and practise the same.

It should be noted that Burma has been famous for the study of the Abhidhamma. The tradition of Abhidhamma study still continues and all are encouraged to sit for government examinations in the Abhidhamma. Great emphasis has also been placed on the practice of meditation and many meditation centres for laymen have been set up, especially in Rangoon and Mandalay.

Among the learned monks of Burma who have specialized in the Abhidhamma and meditation practice, the name of Ledi Sayadaw stands foremost. After him, Mahasi sayadaw (U Sobhana Mahathera) is an international figure, well known in the meditation circle, through whose efforts the Burmese method of insight meditation (Vipassana) has spread to Thailand (with a centre at Neat Mahadhatu) and Sri Lanka.


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Re: The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« Reply #1 on: June 04, 2012, 09:10:35 AM »
I rejoice.

Anywhere the BuddhaDharma is revived and grow I rejoice. The Dharma is rare. To be born where the Dharma can be practice is even rarer. I rejoice.

Burma, now known as Myanmar has always been a Buddhist country where Buddhism and the Sangha has always been very highly regarded. But because of the military junta's rule the religion and the Sangha had been sidelined. But still the majority of the population are Buddhist and the Sangha is of the utmost importance in the life of the Burmese.
Since the new civilian government was installed on 30th March 2011, things has improved. Aung San Suu Kyi was released from arrest and even elected as an MP. So it has been many good news in the last 2 years for Myanmar. We can also learn the moral of patience in overcoming adversity.

International pressure and perseverance can work. This is the proof and is an encouragement for Dorje Shugden practitioners also. I rejoice! Lets keep up our efforts.


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Re: The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« Reply #2 on: June 05, 2012, 02:40:27 PM »
Yes, it is great to know that, hand in hand , with the recent institution of civilian government, there has been a revival of Buddhism in Burma. As Burma has a strong tradition of emphasis on the Abhidhamma, as well as meditation, particularly, insight meditation, it is to be hoped that Buddhism will grow from strength to strength in Burma.

Personally, I always thought that Aung San Suu Kyi shows so beautifully how  the  Buddhist ideals of peace and peaceful engagement can be brought to bear on the arena of politics. She has also taught a lesson or two about how patience, perseverance and international pressure will win a cause in the end. So shall we see us winning Shugden's cause in this way too.


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Re: The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« Reply #3 on: June 28, 2012, 06:45:12 PM »
I rejoice with myanmar and rejoice for the growing of Buddhist.  There will be more harmony and peaceful in myanmar. Do you know when buddhist start in myanmar?
History of Buddhism in Myanmar

The first arrival of Buddha Sasana
The first arrival of Buddha Sasana was associated with the legend of the Shwedagon Pagoda. In accordance with this legend, Buddhism arrived in Myanmar in the lifetime of Buddha. In the Maha Sakarit year 103,while the Buddha. was in a phalasamm apatti meditation at the foot of Rajayatana Lin Lun tree in the Uruvela Forest near the Nerajara River, two merchant brothers Taphussa and Bhallika of Ukkalapa village of Ramannadesa came to worship the Buddha .The brothers offered the Buddha honey cakes and the Buddha preached the Dhamma to them. At their request the Buddha gave them eight sacred hairs of His Head as His relics to venerate. On their return home, they enshrined the Sacred Hairs in a ceti (pagoda) they built on the hill then called Tampaguta. That ceti was we now call Shwedagon Pagoda. This legend is mentioned in the Shwedagon stone inscription, set up by King Dhammazedi (AD 1472-1492) of Hanthawaddy Kingdom.

You can read more details from

Big Uncle

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Re: The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« Reply #4 on: June 28, 2012, 11:30:07 PM »
It is interesting to read about how closely-linked Buddhism is to the consciousness of the people. It is even linked to nationalism and that's why Buddhism was never encouraged during colonial rule. Now that, Burma or Myanmar is independent, there's this chance to revive the monasteries and temples and the national interest in the study of Buddhism.

This is beautiful and much needed as the country is experiencing independence and it is charting its own direction, the leaders wil pretty much look into the past for identity and grounding. It is very beautiful that the country has produced such dedicated leader, whose famed peaceful protects were influenced by her Buddhist beliefs.

It is already well known that Aung San Suu Kyi attributes her patience and fortitude to her strong belief in Buddhism. She had just accepted her Nobel Peace Prize, a powerful symbol of succes in her work to free her nation.

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Re: The Buddhist Revival in Burma
« Reply #5 on: June 29, 2012, 09:23:22 AM »
This is certainly reason to rejoice. It is true that Buddhism has always been ingrained in culture and the people of Burma. They may not have the opportunity to fully express themselves because of all the political turmoil in the country but it is certainly looking like Buddhism may just well make a revival as mentioned.

The speech of Aung San Suu Kyi when she received her Nobel Peace Prize speech 21 years later is a clear example of how Buddhism principles are ingrained. Her speech is almost Dharmic. If you have not already heard it, her speech can be heard here:

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There is also a forum thread on this:

The landscape of Burma is literally dotted with beautiful pagodas/stupas. It is actually breathtaking. And the river cruises on the Irrawaddy are legendary. Here are some pictures for those who have not been: