Update: 2013-02-01 03:32 PM +0630


Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism


Maung Htin Aung. Printed and published by U Myint Maung, Deputy Director, Regd: No (02405/02527) at the Religious Affairs Dept. Press. Yegu, Kaba-Aye P.O., Rangoon, BURMA. 1981.

Copied, set in HTML, and edited by U Kyaw Tun (UKT) (M.S., I.P.S.T., USA), and staff of Tun Institute of Learning (TIL) . Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL  Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , http://www.softguide.net.mm , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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-- UKT 130110:
Because of my great respect for my mentor and professor U PoTha, and his former student Maung (Dr.) HtinAung [DHA], I feel very uncomfortable when I have disagree with the latter. Yet for the sake of knowledge, I must do so. Dr. HtinAung has accepted the notion that Buddhism had come into Myanmarpr through the southern route. I hold that pre-Buddhist religion -- for convenience sake I will call it the Vedic religion -- had come into the country through north-western overland routes: straight from northern India, over the north-western mountains through passes like the Hukong Pass, and those a little to the south -- past Mt. Victoria and the Poandaung-Poannhya range. Compare the Vedic chants to recitation of Paritta by both Buddhist monks and laypersons in Myanmarpr to see the similarity.

If Vedic religion could have come over land, there is no reason why primitive Buddhism (before the split into Mahayana and Hinayana) could not do so. There were many Hinayana schools in the beginning, however at the present the only one surviving is Theravada -- the de facto official religion of Myanmarpr.

Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism
Need to introduce Sanskrit-Devanagari
Astronomy & Astrology
The Tibeto-Burman Mother Goddess

It has been five years since I have looked into this book thoroughly. Much has changed in these years: I have taught myself some Skt-Dev. I have read much on Mahabharatta, Battle of the Ten Kings, Krishna, Saraswati - the river and the goddess, lost cities of Harappa & Mohenjodaro under the sands of the Thar desert on land, and Dwaraka under the sea in Pakistan.

Most important of all I have, by looking closely at the vowel systems of Burmese and English, turned Romabama from a transliteration to a transcription. And now when I look into the book again which had been haphazardly appended all these time, I am finding there are many things to do -- a daunting task into which I am forcing myself. 

UKT notes :
   Some of these notes might be moved elsewhere in later versions of my review of Dr. HtinAung's book.
Alchemy : ancient metallurgy and chemistry
Ari monks : the teachers of Nalanda University
Astrology : native psychiatry
Chandi aka Sandi : protecting mother devi-goddess
Forest dwelling monks : Ari monks
Frauwallner, E. : a great Buddhist scholar of the 20th century
Gaura munta : the unknown
Nalanda University : possible connection to Theravada (Pyu, Mon, Burmese) monks
Nat : compare to the Manes, pronounced /ma.nez/, of the Ancient Romans
Nat feast : Nat-Pujas in the lunar month November-December
Planets : their celestial rulers who can protect and harm humans
Prison of the Gods
Pyu {pyu} : finally merged with Burmese
Sakra : Buddhist counterpart of Hindu Indra -- the two are diagonally opposite in character
Theravada Buddhism : Buddhist Councils

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01. Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism

DHA [{p001}]
WHEN the great king Anawrahta of Pagan united the whole of Burma into a single kingdom in the eleventh century and made Theravada Buddhism {ht-ra.wa-da.} the national religion, there were already in existence a number of primitive religious cults, the most important and the most popular of which were the worship of Nat spirits {nt}, Astrology {b-ding}, and Alchemy {ag~gi.rt}. [UKT ]

UKT: The above three words are Bur-Myan
  {nt} - n. being worthy of veneration -- MED2006-236
  {b-ding} - n. astrology -- MED006-313
  {ag~gi.rt} - n. alchemy -- MED2006-621
They are not to be confused with Skt-Dev words, from which they may have been derived:
  देव deva -- celestial, deity, god, divinity -- Mac124-c3 
  वेद veda -- Ancient Indian Religious Texts - OnlineSktDict
  अग्नि agni = अ ग ् न ि - m. fire; conflagration; god Agni. -- Mac003-c1
Or, they may have been derived from Pali. Since, There is no confirmed script for Pali, I will be comparing, Bur-Myan to Skt-Dev.

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The need to introduce Sanskrit-Devanagari

In addition, although the Theravada Buddhism which had flourished in the earlier kingdom of Prome aka Sri Ksetra  {a.r-hkt~ta.ra} of the Pyus {pyu}) had died out long before, there also existed Mahayana Buddhism and Tantric (or magical) Buddhism; according to the Chronicles, however, these were debased and distorted, bearing strange fruit from the fertile soil of native cults of magic and sorcery. [UKT ]

UKT, 130110:
Sri Ksetra  {a.r-hkt~ta.ra} is Skt-Myan (Sanskrit speech written in Myanmar script). It is made up of two distinct words: sri and ksetra. The problem lies in the second word. Here Skt-Dev uses a special conjunct क्ष = क ् ष . It is a stand-in for Bur-Myan {hka.}. This conjunct uses dental-sibilant ष sa which is not present in Bur-Myan. The Bur-Myan {hka.} ख is the palatal-stop.

Instead of introducing a special glyph for ष sa as is normally done by Pali and Sanskrit scholars in Myanmarpr, I have used the same glyph {sa.} for both च ca and ष Sa in onset of syllables.

The two phonemes are differentiated only in the coda as {c} च् and {S} ष् . The name of the city {hkt~ta.ra} uses {kSa.} = क्ष = क ् ष . Since this conjunct is not a medial in Bur-Myan, Bur-Myan speakers cannot pronounce it properly.

All the different cults were given an artificial unity by the fact that they were all under the patronage of the Ari monks {a.r:kri:}. [UKT ]

UKT, 130110:
The above para indicates that Dr. HtinAung has accepted the notion that Buddhism had come into Myanmarpr through the southern route. I hold that pre-Buddhist religion -- for convenience sake I will call it Vedic religion -- had come into the country through northern overland routes: straight from northern India, over the north-western mountains through passes like the Hukong Pass (a difficult route) to Tagaung {ta.kaung:}, and those much further south near Imphal-Tamu where a lot of fighting took place during WWII, to Pagan [pu.gn}. There were passes further down south in the area of Alaungdaw-kathapa {a.laung:tau ka~a.pa.}.

This southern area is the same as the Pondaung area from where an ancient man-ape precursor, Afrasia djijidae  had spread out West to far away places as Lybia and Egypt.

The area is open only part of the year when there is no monsoon, but during monsoon season even a small stream would become a raging river which none can cross. These areas open only for part of the year, can very well serve as ready land routes between India and Burma. I wonder why Dr. HtinAung did not take this into account.

Compare the Vedic chants to recitation of Paritta by both Buddhist monks and laypersons in Myanmarpr, and you will see that many ancient beliefs such as drinking Soma could be traced to the Vedic age.

Much later, after the establishment of the Nalanda University in Bihar, India (from 5th-6th to 1197 CE), there seemed to have been active exchange between the university and the people of Sri Ksetra and the Ari of Old Pagan before Anawrahta had his religious reform in the 11th century.

The Ari of Pagan seemed to be those from the various and opposing schools (Hinduism, Mahayana, Theravada, Tantric, etc.) of Nalanda. To described the Ari as "debased and distorted" is very unfair to ancient philosophies, and ancient sciences such as Aryuveda. 

In the accompanying terrain map, you can see an area marked as Alaungdaw-kathapa National Park. It is believed by most Bur-Myan Buddhists that there is an under-ground cave in which lies the body of Ashin Maha Kathapa aka Mahakasyapa of the First Buddhist Council held in 483 BC. However, Dr. ThanTun, is of the opinion that it could not be the body of that period but of another Kathapa {ka~a.pa.} who was the head of the Forest Dwelling monks of Pinnya period who died on a trip to India. (need to check). There was a suggestion (which Dr. ThanTun refuted) that the Forest Dwelling monks were the remnants of Aris who reappeared only after the fall of Pagan.

These Ari monks had some acquaintance with the Buddhist scriptures, gloried in the name of the Buddha, and wore dark-brown robes and conical hats. But they also presided over the Nat spirit festivals, at which hundreds of animals were sacrificed. fn001-01

UKT: To understand the Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism more fully, we need to know the extent of the Eleventh century Pagan Empire of King Anawrahta. Anawrahta not only "united the whole of Burma into a single kingdom", but did try to bring unity to a much larger area which included the present day Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand. See map on the right adapted from: U Ba Than, Myanmar Razawin (approved school text in Burmese), Yangon, printed in 1929, 1930, 1934, 1951, 1964, p.55.

It is not well known how Anawrahta brought the area of Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia and Thailand under his influence, but as his name was mentioned in the annals of some of these countries, we could be sure that he was respected in these areas. In this sense we can compare the work of Anawrahta to that of Asoka of Maurya Empire of Ancient India, who through his far-sightedness, did brought a much larger area than his own empire under his influence.

The two kings who followed Anawrahta, Kyansisittha and Alaungsithu brought the Pagan Empire to its height. On p076 of the Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism, Dr. Htin Aung its author wrote Kyansittha's conciliatory policy

"Kyansittha, after suppressing the Pegu rebellion, followed a policy of conciliation, in contrast to the stern discipline of Anawrahta. Anawrahta, in his threefold task of uniting a medley of tribes into a nation, of bringing under one rule the whole geographical unit of Burma, and of replacing primitive cults by Buddhism, had to exercise a discipline which was uncompromising, harsh and impatient. But by Kyansittha's time, the seeds sown by Anawrahta had developed into ripened grain, and Kyansittha reaped the harvest by gentler methods."

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Astronomy & Astrology

UKT: Astronomy & Astrology were two branches of the same ancient science. Astronomy was based on observation of movement of heavenly bodies and mathematical calculations based on spherical trigonometry to predict their future positions. These methods are still in use by indigenous Bur-Myan scholars. Astrology is the prediction based on the movements of the heavenly bodies on the future events in the lives of nations and individuals. Such sciences were taught at Nalanda University and I contend that the Aris of Pagan would know them. -- UKT130110

Astrology {b-ding} to the Burmese meant not only the methods of tracing the courses of the planets {groh} and their influence on mortals, but also the ritual by which the planets were appeased and made to withdraw their baneful influence. In other word, it involved a worship of the planets. As Burmese astrology had its origins in Hindu astrology [UKT's dissention: Vedic astronomy], so the worship of the planets involved worship of at least some of the Hindu gods. [{p001end}].

UKT 130110:
The notion of Hinduism as a religion comes much later. If we are to judge the Vedic religion by the number of hymns directed to the various gods of Rig Veda, we see that the most important ones were Indra (the king of the devas), Agni (the messenger between the devas and humans), and Soma (the personification of the health drink).

There was no mention of the Hindu Trinity, the Trimurti  त्रीमूरती = (त ् र ी) (म ू र त ी) : Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva. In Gayatri Mantra the oldest Vedic hymn it was to Sva (identified as the personification of human knowledge -- Sun or Saraswati) and not to any of the Hindu Trinity. Compare it the Peacock Paritta of the Bur-Buddhist.

Note to those studying Romabama: Pali uses mostly short vowels, whereas Sanskrit uses more long vowels. Thus, in Trimurti  त्रीमूरती = (त ् र ी) (म ू र त ी), the first syllable is a long vowel with rhoticity {tri}. In Pali it would be {ti.} a short vowel without rhoticity. This is just an observation which I would have to check further.

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The ancient science of Alchemy was the precursor of modern metallurgy and chemistry. Burma is abundant in metals particularly copper and zinc from which brass is made. The Pyus were masters of metal molding and Myanmarpr can boasts of the largest operating bell in the world - the Mingun Bell. The Pyus were also making iron. So there is no reason why the Pyu Aris from Burma might not have gone to Nalanda University to teach the science there. Of course these Aris need not be even Buddhist. -- UKT130110

Alchemy {ag~gi.rt} also came to Burma from India but Burmese alchemy became a religious cult. The Burmese alchemist did not merely seek the power to transmute base metals into gold, he also had the noble aim of evolving an eternally youthful body, which would be an answer to the perpetual human lament that beauty and youth must pass.

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The Tibeto-Burman Mother goddess : Sva


UKT, 130115

The reader must note that what I have written with my caption: The Tibeto-Burman Mother Goddess, is purely conjecture. I came up with this caption, because in our mind the mother is more important than the father -- just exactly the opposite of the thinking of IE (Indo-European) speakers. When we refer to Myanmarpr, we usually use the term {a.mi.mran-ma-pr} and portrayed it as a goddess with a {s:pon} on her head -- not "Fatherland".

To take a specific case, before WWII when we were still under the British, we were allowed to celebrate our National Day. The English-educated upper strata had become so much anglicized that they called it OUR DAY, which became {a-wa-d:} in Bur-Myan.

I remember, even though I was still a child, how we celebrated our {a-wa-d:}, with a pretty girl chosen for the purpose, with a {s:pon} on her head and dressed in traditional Bur-Myan dress. We called her {a.mi.mran-ma-pr}. There was a flag in her hand with a peacock in the centre. She represented our country -- {a.mi.mran-ma-pr}.

So it is not surprising to find that in our Nine-god puja, there were five Goddess and Gods, headed by Goddess Sarasvati 1. Thurathati {u-ra~a.ti}, and not by a god. Dr. HtinAung had failed to take note of this order which indicates that it is not Hindu festival but something else. I take it to be of Tib-Bur origin, and maintain that the Nine-god Puja must have been a Vedic puja which had been taken over by Hindu Brahmin-Poannas.

The Mother Goddess was found in Pyu archeological sites. I contend that the Pyus must have been Tib-Bur speakers worshipping the Mother Goddess -- Sva of Gayatri Mantra or Shakti. Serving her would be other devas (gods and goddesses). Only later, Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva purported to be her sons replaced her in importance. Sarasvati (the knowledge-form of Shakti) was taken for wife by the Brahma, Lakshmis (the wealth-giver-form of Shakti) taken for wife by Vishnu, and Parvati or Sandhi (the protectionist-form of Shakti) taken for wife by Shiva. The worship of the five great gods in the ritual of the Nine-God Puja is therefore not a Hindu idea but a form of Vedic worship.

The Vedic worship as is still practiced by the Brahmin-Poannas involves chanting hymns such as the Gayatri Mantra -- the most important hymn in Rig Veda. I suggest that this mantra is the equivalent of Peacock Paritta which I as a child had to recite every day once in the morning and a second time in the evening when I was going to a village school in Kyaik-htaw village, in Kungyangon township, ran by Saya Kyw. (Time period: 1943 early during WWII - we never suffered lack of schooling in most villages and small towns during most of Second World War.) The Peacock in the Paritta - yet to become Gautama Buddha in the last human existence - recited the Paritta to the Rising Sun in the morning and to the Setting Sun in the evening. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gayatri_mantra 130115 : The following excerpt is taken from Wiki article.

"Recitation of the Gayatri Mantra is preceded by oṃ (ॐ) and the formula bhūr bhuvaḥ svaḥ  (भूर् भुवः स्वः), known as the mahāvyāhṛti  ("great utterance"). This prefixing of the mantra proper is described in the Taittiriya Aranyaka (2.11.1-8), which states that scriptural recitation was always to begin with the chanting of the syllable oṃ {UUOOan} followed by the three Vyahrtis and the Gayatri verse."

The first line of the Mantra has three words: भूर् भुवः स्वः . The third word on akshara-to-akshara conversion gives {wa:.} pronounced as / {waa.}/ . Orthographies such as {wa:.} & {na:.} are found in Mon-Myan, and are not Burmese. I wait for input from my peers. -- UKT130115

I contend that the animism of the hill country described by Dr. Htin Aung is not the same as the Vedic worship. -- UKT130110

Now let us continue with Dr. Htin Aung's narrative.

The worship of Nats was purely native in origin and developed out of that form of animism which still prevails among some of the hill peoples of the country. The term Nat originally meant a lord and involved an idea similar to feudal overlordship. A Nat was a spirit who had some dominion over a group of people or over a certain object or objects. The spirit who had dominion over a small withered tree was as much a Nat as the spirit who had dominion over a particular village or district. The suzerainty of a Nat was both territorial and personal. The Nat guardian of a village had power over all those who were born in the village or born of a village family, wherever they might be, and he also had power over all who came to his village during the time they remained there. He would inflict no harm, nay, he would even give his protection to those who recognized his suzerainty, and such recognition could be expressed by an offering of rice or fruit, a few words of supplication or a gesture of homage.

UKT: Nat worship -- To understand the nat worship in Myanmar, we need to know the geographical area connected with the stories of the nats. These are: Mount Popa, and ancient cities such Pagan, Pegu, Sri Ksetra (Prome), Tagaung. Map on right was redrawn from W. Klein, Burma, p.41 Go back nat-worship-note-b
Location of Mt. Popa: 20.92N 95.25E, summit elevation 4,980 feet (1518 m).

At first the Nats who were worshipped were impersonal and local, as, for example, the Nats of the banyan tree, the hill, and the lake which were just outside the village, and the guardian Nat of the village. Later on, thirty-six personal and national Nats came into being who were distinct personages with their own life histories and who were worshipped all over the country. They did not replace the local Nats, but diminished their importance.

The most important of the thirty-six were the Lord of the Great Mountain {ming:ma.ha gi.ri.} [UKT: {ming:} = "lord or king"; {ma.ha} = "great or grand"; {gi.ri.} = "mountain"] and his sister Lady Golden-Face {rhw-myak-nha} [UKT: {rhw} = "gold"; {myak-nha} = "face"], whose abode was on Mount Popa, an extinct volcano in central Burma. They became, in the ninth century, the guardian [{p002end - p003begin}] gods of the city of Pagan and its kings. [UKT ]

UKT: About two centuries before Anawratha and the Mon incursion into central and northern Myanmar, the area was populated by the Pyus and the Burmese who were different ethnically and linguistically from the Mons in the south. We may get a glimpse of their distribution from the names of 19 founding villages of Pagan. For this purpose, the names in Bur-Myan must be transcribed in English, for which purpose I have invented Romabama. Using the haphazard English transcriptions, and the MLC transliteration for this purpose would be disastrous. -- UKT 130125.

There was an annual Nat feast on Mount Popa itself, at which hundreds of animals were offered as sacrifice to the Lord of the Great Mountain and Lady Golden-Face. People came from afar to take part in the feast, to get drunk with ecstasy and toddy-wine, and to dance with abandon, believing themselves to have become possessed by the Nats. There were spirit mediums in attendance at the Nat shrines, who provided the wild music and led the wilder dances. The Popa feast was held on a full moon day in December, just as on other full moon days there were also feasts connected with other pre-Buddhist cults.

UKT: The full moon in December is the full moon of the lunar month of {nt tau}. The whole lunar month has been set aside for the worship of Nats. It is our equivalent of Halloween. -- UKT 130125

When Anawrahta made Theravada Buddhism the national religion of the country there was opposition from the Aris, as could be expected, and because they exercised great influence over the people, the king had no choice but to resort to religious persecution. The Ari monks were unfrocked (UKT: disrobed) and made to serve in the royal armies. [UKT ]

UKT, 130110:
We could expect the king and his supporters spreading around stories of debauchery and low morality of the Ari. This probably is the origin of story about new brides being sent to the Aris to be de-flowered, {pn:U:hsak}.

It is to be noted that feudalism as was known in Europe was never practiced in Pagan and the Chindwin-Irrawaddy basin. And Droit du Seigneur of Europe should not be compared to De-flowering {pn:U:hsak} purported to be practiced by Ari. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Droit_du_seigneur 130127

However, the story might be true for some Aris who were  following Tantric Buddhism (also taught at Nalanda University). In this brand of Buddhism, the intense energy released during sexual intercourse is compared to that of {a.ma.hta.} 'mental concentration' of other Buddhistic practices including that of Theravada. Go on line to visit temples such as Khajuraho to see sculpts of erotic scenes http://www.indiatoursguide.org/tourist-attractions/khajuraho-temples.html

All the images of the gods of the planets and the Hindu gods were seized and placed in a Vishnu temple, which was renamed the " Prison of the Gods" . All the pre-Buddhist cults were suppressed. Spirit mediums left the shrines to become strolling musicians, dancers, and actors.

UKT: It is evident that Anawratha (1015-1078) did make many mortal enemies. He was probably murdered by the nat-worshipers while out hunting single handedly a wild buffalo which was menacing the people. His body was never recovered, and the story that a nat who had been offended took the form of a wild buffalo to wreak vengeance on him. Since he was already over 60 years in age, it would have been fool-hardy for him to go out alone, and so the whole story might be pure fabrication to cover up a murder. -- UKT130125

But the people found it difficult to discard old beliefs and old practices immediately and resorted to stratagem. The followers of the cult of alchemy modified their conception of an eternally youthful body to that of a body remaining youthful for thousands of years in order to conform to the Buddhist doctrine that nothing is permanent, and justified their search for the elixir of youth by saying that they wanted to live until the coming of the next Buddha so that they could listen to his preaching. [UKT ]

The followers of the cult of astrology threw a veneer of Buddhism over their ritual and ceremony, as, for example, in the case of the ceremony of the Nine Gods, where the gods of the nine planets gave way to Buddha and his eight disciples. [{p004}]

As for Nat  worship, the people, in spite of the king's edicts, went on worshipping the Nats, and Anawrahta finally decided to bring them over into Buddhism. [UKT ]

UKT: This is more likely a political move rather than for religion.

The figures of the Thirty-six Lords were taken from their shrines and placed in the king's great pagoda in an attitude of worship; he declared that the number was now thirty-seven, because Sakra, {i.kra:ming:} (pronounced as {a.kya:min:} which literally would have meant the "Sugar-king"), the king of the gods and guardian of Buddhism, was at the head of the pantheon. The cult of Thirty-six Lords, therefore, became the cult of the Thirty-seven Lords, and Anawrahta replaced some of the earlier lords with the Nat spirits of some of his dead heroes.

UKT: The worship of The Nine Gods (link to ch02-nine-gods.htm) was probably formulated to subjugate the religion of Brahmin-Poanna, since the five Brahmanical gods/goddesses are portrayed in the positions of worshipping the Buddha. They are:

1. Thurathati {u-ra~a.ti} representing Saraswati.

2. Sandi {saN~i} representing Chandi, the consort of Siva {i-wa.},

3. Paramay-thwa {pa.ra.m-wa} representing Siva,

4. Maha-Peinne {ma.ha-pain~n:} representing Ganesh, and,

5. Peikthano {bai~a.No:} representing Vishnu.

UKT, 130125: It is usual to cite three devi together and therefore to represent #3 as the male deva Siva is a mistake. The name of the deity is <thwa> or {wa} the same in Gayatri Mantra which is not Hindu but Vedic. A citation of the three devi or goddess is:
-- UTunMyint062
Deva (males) are given by #4 & #5, and are definitely Hindu. See also:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saraswati 130125

It should be noted that of the five, only Thurathati is "loved and revered" by the Bur-Myan, because she is considered to be the guardian of the Tipitaka or the Buddhist scriptures.

The reader should note that there are spelling variations of some names:
Sandi: U Tun Myint in {pa-Li.thak-wau:ha-ra. a-Bi-Daan} p.62
   {sN~i} & {sn~di} compare with चण्डी, caṇḍī
   The first spelling is correct because the source of UTunMyint,
   was not writing a religious poem. The first spelling is also
   supported by Skt-Dev spelling. Note the popular pix for the three
   devi has only one pair of feet showing they are personification
   of only one.
   {baith~tha.No:} -- Dr.Than Tun,
   {bi.tha.no:} -- U Hoke Sein (UHS-Dict)
Wikipedia -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vishnu 080828 gives:
विष्णु   viṣṇu in Skt-Myan would be {wai~a.Nu.}.

It is to be noted that at least in one source, the name { Gau-ra.man~ta.} is listed. See {Bu.ra:ko:hsu pu-zau-n:} by U Sein Pe (in Bur-Myan), {ming:htwan:mo:}-Press, 1982. {Gau-ra.man~ta.} riding a Galon bird, is listed in the place of {baith~tha.No:}. My analysis given in the notes below points that U Sein Pe's {Gau-ra.man~ta.} is probably no other than Vishnu.

My question at this point is: why are there only five gods/goddesses, instead of say eight (one for each point of compass) with the Buddha seated in the middle?

UKT: The dancing figure on the right is from '108 Names of Shiva',
\ http://www.rudraksha-ratna.com/articledt.php?art_id=170 080826
The website lists 108 names among which is: Parameshwara - First Among All Gods.

I believe that to represent Sva as Shiva is just the Hindu religionists taking over Vedic as their religion and nothing more.

All this was possible mainly because the Burmese concept of the Nat was a very comprehensive one and took in under its wing Hindu gods as well as Buddhist figures. As the Nats themselves were now shown to be worshippers of the Buddha it was deemed proper for Buddhists to worship the Nats. The feasts of the full moon became festivals of the full moon on being given a coating of Buddhism, just as pre-Christian feasts of spring and midwinter in Europe became the great Christian festivals of Easter and Christmas.

With the passing of time people came to forget the pre-Buddhist and primitive origins of their folk beliefs in alchemy, astrology, and Nats, and learned to accept them as part of their Buddhism, just as they thought that the pre-Buddhist belief in the transmigration of souls was a doctrine of Theravada Buddhism. Thus at the present time many Burmese (in rural and primitive areas the majority) still consult their astrologer and make their offerings to the Nats, without ceasing to be good Buddhists. At certain times of the year, dances are still held through which the dancers try to become possessed by the Nat spirits; a few Burmese still even make alchemic experiments.

But such beliefs and practices cannot overwhelm Buddhism in any way for they have been shorn of their primitive meaning, and philosophy. The Burmese who resort to astrology, alchemy, or Nat worship do so for safety and success in their mundane life, and the same Burmese will observe the Buddhist religious days and perform deeds of merit in preparation for the countless existences that they must undergo in the whirlpool of rebirth. In the following pages an attempt is made to consider, first, the folk elements that exist in Burmese Buddhism at the present day, and then to trace their origins in the native cults which were flourishing in A.D. 1056 when the heavy hand of Anawrahta fell on them. [{p005 end}].

UKT: p006 was blank

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fn001-01 For further details of the Ari monks see Chapter 9.
Go back fn001-01b

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UKT notes

Alchemy {ag~gi.rt}

-- UKT, 080826, 130110:

The Bur-Myan word for <alchemy>, the forerunner of <chemistry>, is {ag~gi.rat} 'technique of fire'.  Notice the word {ag~gi.} which in Pali-Latin is aggi (PTS p004) meaning <fire>. It does not necessarily mean the Agni - the Hindu god of Fire. I take it to be the science of metallurgy of the Pyus.

alchemy n. 1. A medieval chemical philosophy having as its asserted aims the transmutation of base metals into gold, the discovery of the panacea, and the preparation of the elixir of longevity. 2. A seemingly magical power or process of transmuting: He wondered by what alchemy it was changed, so that what sickened him one hour, maddened him with hunger the next Marjorie K. Rawlings [Middle English alkamie from Old French alquemie from Medieval Latin alchymia from Arabic al-kīmiy āal the kīmiyā chemistry ( from Late Greek khēmeia, khumeia) (perhaps from Greek KhēmiaEgypt) ] -- AHTD

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Ari monks

-- UKT, 080826, 130110

The Burmese refer to these pre-Pagan <monks> as {a.r: kri:} (pronounced as {a.ri:gyi:}) literally meaning the 'big Ari' - an endearing prefix. If they were connected to the Nalanda University in India there were bound to be Ari of many disciplines as was found in the university. It would not only be Mahayana, but Tantric as well.

After Anawratha came to the throne the Aris were uprooted because they did not support the new king who came to the throne after killing his own foster brother in a dual. Anawratha was quite ruthless and thorough in his work. He replaced the religion (or religions) of the Aris with the Theravada Buddhism of the Mons from the south (who of course spoke their own language which had nothing to do with Bur-Myan even though they  used the same basic Myanmar akshara with the exception a few glyphs. However, some scholars, such as {ma.ha-Dam~ma.n~krn} in his {a-a.na ln~ka-ra. sa-tm:}, are of the opinion that some Aris still remained as forest dwelling monks who later resurfaced after the fall of Pagan. (What I am implying is that the script of the Aris resurfaced to its full extent only after the fall of Pagan.). Anawratha might have persecuted all Aris, but there was at least one that he must have spared: his own father King Kunzaw who had become an Ari. The Arigyi Kunzaw is venerated the the Thirty-Seven Nats as {hti:hru-hsaung:nt}.

Dr. ThanTun opines that these forest dwelling monks were not Ari, but members of another sect known as {ma.ha-ka~a.pa. geiN:} (See History of Burma, AD 1300-1400, by [Dr.] Than Tun, JBRS, V. 42, Part II, 1959, pp. 119-133 : "In this research paper, Burmas foremost authority on Pagan period looks at the revival of the Burmese polity which took place after the fall of Pagan in the late 13th century.  Some of the interesting topics the paper touches on include the rise of the famous, three Burmanized Shan brothers, the monastic purchase of land, Buddhist celebrations of land acquisition during which "tons" of brewed Toddy palm juice flowed, etc.  Than Tun concludes that this century was the most troubled period in Burmas (ancient) history." -- http://www.pyinnya.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/04/history-of-burma-1300-till-1400-ad.pdf 080826

In spite of what Dr. ThanTun thinks about this period, there is evidence that a king of that period sent a delegation to Buddh Gya, in Behar, India. This delegation left an inscription mentioned in "Translation of an Inscription in the Pali Character and Burmese Language, on a stone at Buddh Gya, in Behar - From Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal May, 1834: republished as SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No. 2, Autumn 2003, ISSN 1479-8484 . Revised: 27 March 2004

UKT: Knowing Dr. Than Tun, who did not mince his words (he had told me once to my face that the research we did in the Chemistry department was formulating boot polishes at which I just laughed), I smile to think of what he would have said if he were to read this note of mine. He was a person whom I would never forget! I cherish those days we were serving together in the Mandalay University. Incidentally, I must mention that U Tin Hla Thaw (son of U Ba Thaw) mentioned by Dr. Than Tun in his paper as his helper was no other than a close cousin of my wife Daw ThanThan. With this note of mine, I cherish their memories - gone but never to be forgotten.

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Astrology and Planet

-- UKT, 080826, 130110

The Burmese word commonly used for <astrology> is {be-din}. It probably came from the Pali-Latin word veda (PTS p647). However, if we are to substitute Pali-Latin [v] with Pali-Myanmar {wa.} व we get {w-da.} meaning "knowledge" (ModPMDict809).

Note that Pali-Latin [v] is sometimes equal to {ba.} ब as in the word for <consonant> {by:} or {byi~za.na.} vyajana, and sometimes to {wa.}. Now we are faced with two words, {be-din} and {w-da.}. Are they separate or the same? ModPMDict637 gives another word {b-dn~ga.} meaning {be-din}.

The Skt-Dev Veda vda वेदाः = व े द ा ः 'knowledge' are a large body of texts originating in ancient India. Composed in Vedic, the texts constitute the oldest layer of Sanskrit literature and the oldest scriptures of Hinduism. [1] [2] The Vedas are apauruṣeya("not of human agency"). [3][4][5]. They are supposed to have been directly revealed, and thus are called śruti ("what is heard"), [6][7], distinguishing them from other religious texts, which are called smṛti ("what is remembered").

There are many forms of astrology being practiced in Myanmar. At least two forms, the {ma.ha-boat} and the {nak~hkt b-ding} are built on solid foundations with extensive literature behind them.

astrology n. Abbr. astrol. 1.The study of the positions and aspects of celestial bodies in the belief that they have an influence on the course of natural earthly occurrences and human affairs. 2. Obsolete Astronomy. [Middle English astrologie from Old French from Latin astrologia from Greek astro- astro- -logia -logy ] -- AHTD

The words "astrology" and "astronomy" had meant the same thing at one time. At present, we may view "astrology" as the predictive branch, and "astronomy" as the calculative part supported by actual observations of the of the sky especially at night. To these astronomer-astrologers, like the ones we find in Myanmar, a planet is a luminary travelling against the background of fixed-stars, the constellations, of the celestial sphere with the Earth at its centre. Thus, Sun and Moon are considered to be planets.

From this position the astrologers go a step farther in identifying the planet with a 'god', and as with other Hindu gods it must have a vehicle to ride on. Thus, {ta.nn~ga.nw groh} means a 'god' with his own vehicle, the {ga.Loan} (Garuda). Just because he is riding a {ga.Loan}, does not mean that {ta.nn~ga.nw groh} is the Hindu god Vishnu, {bai~a.No:}, or {Gau-ra.man~ta.}. Neither should he be described as the Sun just because he is sometimes described as the Lord of the Sun.

To the Burmese astrologer, "planet" or {groh} is not the mass of extra-terrestrial matter, but its spirit ruler. Now, how is the English word <planet> given by Skt-Dev? Spoken Sanskrit Dictionary on line gives many words, one of which is ग्रह graha = ग ् र ह . This on akshara-to-akshara transformation gives Skt-Myan {gra.ha.} which without rhoticity would be {ga.ha.}.

PTS247 gave the meaning of gaha as "seizer", a demon, any being or object having a hold upon a man. UHS-PMD362 gives {ga.ha.} with two meanings: 1. house. 2. to catch. With the second meaning he gives {groh} as derivative. So to ascribe "planet" or {groh} as "seizer or demon" would be just the ploy used by the astrologer to frighten you to milk some money out of you!

UHS-PMD362 gives {gra.ha.pa.ti.} as the master of the house, or as a "father" for you. Just as your father is sometimes harsh on you, the planet under which you were born can give bad effects, and sometimes just as your father comes to protect you, the planet could gave good effects. This is how I explain to those you came to consult me as an astrologer when I was working as a part-time astrologer. Those of you who might have read my biography would be wondering why was this "Skeptical Chemist" working as an astrologer. My answer: just as Dr. HtinAung was studying "unnatural science", so was I studying the effects of Burmese astrology on the people, and unless I charge them a fee, nobody would consult me! Whatever I earned from that practice went to charity.

My conclusion from my study: in times of hopelessness and desperation, consulting an astrologer is helpful. Just as there were many charlatans practicing "psychiatry" in the West, there are also charlatans practicing astrology in Myanmarpr. Unless there is professional control sanctioned by the government, it is a game of "buyer's beware".

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Sandi aka Chandi - the protecting mother devi-goddess

-- UKT, 080826, 130110

While gentle Thurathati {u-ra~a.ti} representing Saraswati is probably the only Hindu goddess who bears no arms, Chandi {sn~di} is a violent goddess, and is equated to Durga, Parvathi, Uma and Kali. My question is why is Chandi included in the list of Hindu gods and goddess doing homage to the Buddha.

I now have a suspicion that the worship of Thurathati might not be only pre-Buddhistic, but also pre-Bramanical Hinduism, because during my study of linguistics, I have found that Thurathati could very well be the personification of the human ability to speak, which means the embodiment of knowledge that differentiates us from the animals.

UKT: Brahmani duck is supposed to be the modern representative of Hamsa {hn~a} of {u-ra~a.ti}.

Thinking in the same vein, it is possible that Chandi is the personification of motherhood - the mother who would fight to death to protect her children while being the most gentle to her own little ones. A possible answer to my question could be found in a work by Pradyot Kumar Maity in Human Fertility Cults and Rituals of Bengal, Abhinav Publications, 1989, SBN 8170172632, 9788170172635, pp. 216. It is more interesting when you realized that the areas of Bengal and Assam in the west, and Burma (Myanmarpr) in the east, have a common border across which people having crossing even in prehistoric times.

From: Vahanas of the Consorts http://www.harekrsna.com/philosophy/associates/carriers/consorts.htm 080826

Shiva's {i-wa.} consort, Durga (Parvathi, Uma, Chandi and Kali), uses a lion as her vehicle. The lion represents her heroic prowess. As she rides on the lion to trample down Mahisasura aka Buffalo-Asura, she represents the subduer of vices. Durga is often shown placed between Laksmi and Sarasvati, representing mundane opulence and mundane knowledge.

When you look at the Hindu-iconography, please remember that the artist-sculptor, can be an illiterate and uneducated person. Notice how the "lion" on the right looks more like a bullock than a lion.

Saraswati rides Hamsa {hn~a} the Swan, or sometimes a peacock. The swan {B:ngn:} is a symbol of spiritual purity, and those who have transcended the material nature are sometimes called supreme swans, or "paramahamsa".

UKT, 130112: The Bur-Myan {hn~a} is yellow and is different from the swan aka {B:ngan:} which is white. Both are water fowls but are different. The reader should note that there are differences in meaning attached to the same word when used in Bur-Myan and when used by the Indians. In cross cultural and linguistic studies such as mine you are bound to meet such difference.

There can be another explanation: this time from physical geography. If you look into my MYANMARPRE & SURROUNDINGS: Geography & Geology-- geo-indx.htm (link check: 130126), you will see that Myanmarpr has been an ecosystem unlike that of her neighbours. In the north the country is cutoff from by Myanmar-Himalayas, and bounded on the west and east by high mountains. It is like an inverted cap-U open only on the south. I expect the migratory birds of Myanmarpr to be different from that of Bengal (India) on the West. And therefore, the Burmese water-fowl can be yellowish whilst the Indian counterpart can be white. I expect an eco-biologist would look into that.

Lakshmi rides on an owl, Uluka {U.lu-ka.} उलूक . As to be expected the Brahministic-religionists dubbed it as an epithet of lndra, the king of the dva-gods, who personifies wealth, power and glory. Thus, Lakshmi, the goddess of fortune, rides on a fitting carrier -- Uluka the owl. The comparison of Indra's glory to a partially blind bird speaks to the difference between material and spiritual wealth, as Lakshmi is the goddess of spiritual wisdom.

Excerpt from: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parvati 080827

Parvati पार्वती pārvatī, sometimes spelled Parvathi or Parvathy, is a Hindu goddess and nominally the second consort of Shiva, the Hindu god of destruction and rejuvenation. However, she is not different from Satī, being the reincarnation of that former consort of Shiva. [UKT ]

She is also the mother of Ganesha and Skanda (Kartikeya). Some communities also believe her to be the sister of Lord Vishnu and Shaktas consider her as the ultimate Divine Shakti - the embodiment of the total energy in the universe. In many interpretations of the scriptures, Parvati is also regarded as a representation of Shakti, albeit the gentle aspect of that goddess because she is a mother goddess. She is regarded the daughter of the Himalayas. [UKT: The Himalayas are personified as a deva-god. And when Sarawati and Ganga are said to be daughters of Himalayas, it is just a representation of the rivers having their sources in the glaciers of the mountain-ranges. So far I (with only a scant knowledge of Indian geography) haven't come across any major river named Parvati. I wait for input from my peers. -- UKT130112.]

UKT: One of my aims is to come up with a way to integrate the various writing systems. Here is a chance to convert Skt-Dev to Bur-Myan. The name Pārvatī, पार्वती , is a suitable candidate because it involves the {ra.t}-{wa.}. My earliest method of conversion is to find out the ASCII decimals for each akshara, convert them to Unicode hexadecimals, and then identify each character from Devanagari table and then to find its equivalent in Myanmar. The following is the step by step rendering with my method:

1. पार्वती
2. &#2346;&#2366;&#2352;&#2381;&#2357;&#2340;&#2368;
3. &#2346 = Hex 092A प
    &#2366 = Hex 093E ा
    &#2352 = Hex 0930 र
    &#2381 = Hex 094D ्
    &#2357 = Hex 0935 व
    &#2340 = Hex 0924 त
    &#2368 = Hex 0940 ी
4. Checking:  प  ा  र  ्  व  त  ी
5. Deleting the white spaces gives पार्वती
   Therefore, the Myanmar equivalent is: {paa-wra.ti.} -- 080826
However, if I were to include the idea of repha, I would get: {paar~wa.ti.} -- 130111
I still have to study more Skt-Dev before I can come to a decision as to which of the above it correct.

Parvati when depicted alongside Shiva appears with two arms, but when alone, she is shown having four arms, and astride a tiger or lion. [UKT]

UKT: In Tantra iconography, the voluptous Parvati is shown naked having sexual intercourse with equally naked Shiva, with two naked females standing besides the amorous couple. Go on line to visit temples such as Khajuraho to see sculpts of erotic scenes http://www.indiatoursguide.org/tourist-attractions/khajuraho-temples.html

Parvati, generally considered a benign goddess, but also has fearful aspects like Durga, Kali, Chandi and the Mahavidyas as well as benevolent forms like Mahagauri, Shailputri and Lalita. Sometimes, Parvati is considered as the supreme Divine Mother and all other goddesses are referred to as her incarnations or manifestations. Among Shaivas, Parvati and Durga are same, but followers of Shakti and Vishnu consider Durga, Chandi and Kali as fearful aspects of Parvati, considering her as Supreme goddess.

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Forest-dwelling monks

-- UKT, 130126 :

See Forest-dwelling Monks {ma.ha ka~a. geiN:} (in Bur-Myan), by (Dr.) Than Tun as downloaded pdf (download #1) in TIL library. Those of you who can read-write Bur-Myan would find the orthography used is almost without emphatic register represented by {wic~sa.pauk} which sounds very un-Burmese. I suspect that this is so because of the influence of Mon-Myanmar which uses the {wic~pa.pauk} in a different way just as in Skt-Dev. I have come to this conclusion after studying Skt-Dev, which has only short & long vowels (being an IE language). Mon-Myan is very similar in this to Skt-Dev. The reader should note that Bur-Myan  (being Tib-Bur) is more similar to Pali than to Sanskrit. 

To see the religious aspect of this interesting this Theravada sect which has gone out of visible existence in Myanmarpr you should look into similar forest-dwelling monks in Sri-Lanka and Thailand. This sect may not be visible at present in Myanmarpr, but I wonder whether the "monks" of this sect are still in existence connected to {waiz~za}-movement. The Myanmar {waiz~za}-movement can easily be mistaken for the Vijjayana Buddhism of Nepal. See
(Sri Lanka): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sri_Kalyani_Yogasrama_Samstha 130126
(Thai): http://forestsangha.org/history/ 130126
(Nepal): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrayana 130126

From: History of Burma : AD 1300 to 1400 by (Dr.) Than Tun
See downloaded pdf pages 131-133 (download #2). Some paras are given below. In these paras, there are Bur-Myan words given in English transliteration (erroneously taken to be transcription) which are beyond my understanding. I am trying to render them into Bur-Myan script & Romabama by comparing them with download #1. -- UKT130126

Although Burma had experienced a century of unrest due to foreign invasions and internal discord, there was some pleasantness coming back as alluded to in the above inscription. Towards the end of the century, with the growth of Awa {a.wa.}, the kings showed more concern to restore peace and encourage agriculture. We also find that the monks too took a major part in this endeadour to restore peace and grow more food. The monks of the forest monasteries took the lead in reclaiming waste lands under crop. (fn.121).

A few months ago, I read a paper on "Mahākassapa and His Tradition" at an ordinary meeting of the Burma Research Society and have mentioned that reclaiming the wasteland was on one of the important aspects of the period under survey. I would like to mention briefly here some of the salient points I discussed then. (fn.121a).

The 14th century was the time when Buddhist sect of 'forest dwellers' were most active in Burma. Their leader Mahākassapa {ma.ha ka~a.pa.} was born in A.D. 1169 (fn.122) and his original name was Ṅa Poṅ, Loṅ, Saṅ {nga.paun-laung-ing} . He was a native of Parimma in Myaung township, Sagaing district. (fn.123). He was extremely well versed in the knowledge of the Piṭaka and his moral conduct was exemplary. He established a forest monastery firstly at Kyaukyit. He then extended his monastic establishments to Parim, Amraṅ and Anim. By A.D. 1215 he came to Pagan. His name first appeared in the Pagan inscriptions in A.D. 1225. (fn.124). [UKT ]

He had his lieutenants chosen from the choicest of the monk-hood and such persons like Atakuṇḍa (fn.125) or Mahāmatimā (fn126) in his following helped much the propagation of his sect. Such leaders of the sect came to be known as Saṅgharājā {n~Ga.ra-za} (fn.127). They had the power to control the monks and they exercised much influence over the kings of the Awa {a.wa.} period. The kings gave them the authority to use Kankkatan White Unbrella. Some of them like Mahāsaṅgharājā {ma.ha n~Ga.ra-za} (fn.128) and Pitū Saṅgharājā {pi-tu n~Ga.ra-za} (fn.129) became quite famous. It is remarkable to note that there was one female leader call Rhe kloṅ Saṅgharājā Im Toṅ Ruiw. (fn.130.) Their power declined only after 1500.

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Frauwallner , E.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Frauwallner 130128

Erich Frauwallner (December 28, 1898 January 5, 1974) was an Austrian professor, a pioneer in the field of Buddhist studies.

Frauwallner studied classical philology and Sanskrit philology in Vienna. He taught Indology from 1928-29 at the University of Vienna. His primary interest was Buddhist logic and epistemology, and later Indian Brahmanic philosophy, with close attention to primary source texts.

Career & Life

In 1938 Frauwallner joined the Department of Indian and Iranian philosophy at the Oriental Institute after its Jewish director, Bernhard Geiger, was forced out; Frauwallner became director in 1942. He was called up for military service in 1943 but did not serve, continuing to teach until 1945 when he lost his position due to his Nazi Party membership (dating to 1932). In 1951, after a review, he was reinstated. In 1955 the Institute for Indology founded, which he chaired, becoming a full professor in 1960.

Donald S. Lopez, Jr., a Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, called Frauwallner "one of the great Buddhist scholars of this [the twentieth] century." [1]


Frauwallner, E. (1956). The Earliest Vinaya and the Beginnings of Buddhist Literature.

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Ganesh or {ma.ha pain~n:}

The Bur-Myan name is {ma.ha pain~n:}. So far (080828) I haven't found its equivalent in Sanskrit. The story of elephant-headed god is told differently in Myanmarpr and Thailand.

Excerpt from: http://nayna.in/blog/divine-grace/lord-ganesh-the-worlds-most-popular-deity/ 080828

Myanmar: Myanmar was previously known as Burma. The Hindu traders came here and brought along with them their deities and different modes of worship. This was inculcated by natives. The Theravada Buddhism (A.D. 1044-77) which was prevalent at that time was a tolerant religion and accepted all different kinds of practices.

Pagan (Bagan) has the largest archaeological site in Asia with over nine square miles of pagodas dating from the 11th to 13th century. The most remarkable shrine here is the Shwesandaw Pagoda, also known as the Temple of Ganesh. Ramannadesa or Mon kingdom based in lower Myanmar too entertained Hindu traders and the worship of the Lord [Ganesh] was introduced to them. They believed that Lord Ganesh would give them good harvest, wealth, prosperity and keep them away from evil and so they named him Maha Peinne. His festival is celebrated with grandeur in the month of November.

Excerpt from: http://myanmartravelinformation.com/mti-bagan/shwesandaw.htm 080828

King Anawrahta built Shwesandaw Pagoda after his conquest of Thaton in 1057. This graceful circular pagoda was constructed at the centre of his newly empowered kingdom. The pagoda was also known as Ganesh or Mahapeine after the elephant-headed Hindu god whose images once stood at the corners of the five successive terraces.

The five terraces once bore terracotta plaques showing scenes from the jatakas, but traces of these, and of other sculptures, were covered by rather heavy-handed renovations.

The pagoda's bell rises from two octagonal bases which top the five square terraces. This was the first monument in Bagan to feature stairways leading from the square bottom terraces to the round base of the pagoda itself. This pagoda supposedly enshrines a Buddha hair relic brought back from Thaton.

There are image housing at four sides. In them are hard stone images of Buddha in the posture of Jhana mudra, the intense concentration of mind posture. On the palms and soles of the images were incised eight petal lotus flowers. Below these images are stone slabs with grooves to let water go out. It is therefore assumed that lustral water was poured on these images.

... ... ...

Previously there were stone idols of deva placed back to back at the corners of the terraces. But they are now all damaged due to vandalism. Broken pieces are kept in the image house. Some of these idols are found to be Maha Peinhne devas (Ganesha). That is why local people call this pagoda Maha Peinhne Pagoda. On the west of Shwe Sandaw Pagoda stands a huge reclining Buddha image of 70 feet long, heading towards south. It is sheltered inside an image house. On the walls of the house are original Bagan frescoes in a fair state of preservation.

... ... ...

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Gaura munta

-- UKT: 080827, 130110

Who is {Gau-ra.mn~ta.}? You must note that Hindu gods are given many epithets. Possibly hidden among them is the real name. Thus, in The One Thousand Names of Lord Vishnu - http://www.salagram.net/names1000v.html#trans 080828, the word "names" are mostly epithets. Moreover, in iconography, such as the one shown in the pix, the artist would sculpt or draw the most unnatural things such as turning the bird Garuda into a human running along holding a sword and shield:

001) vishvam: He who is the universe, the virat-purusha
002) vishnuh: He who pervades everywhere
187) govindah: The protector of the cows
188) govidaam-patih: The Lord of all men of wisdom
191) hamsah: The swan
209) guruh: The teacher
210) gurutamah: The greatest teacher
222) netaa: The leader
288) jagatas-setuh: A bridge across the material energy
289) satya-dharma-paraakramah: One who champions heroically for truth and righteousness
290) bhoota-bhavya-bhavan-naathah: The Lord of past, present and future
361) lakshmeevaan: The consort of Laksmi
403) dharmah: The law of being
404) dharmaviduttamah: The highest among men of realisation
532) kritajnah: The knower of the creation
539) govindah: One who is known through Vedanta
542) guhyo: The mysterious
543) gabheerah: The unfathomable
544) gahano: Impenetrable
545) guptah: The well-concealed
546) chakra-gadaadharah: Bearer of the disc and mace
550) krishnah: Dark-complexioned
591) gohitah: One who does welfare for cows
592) gopatih: Husband of the earth
593) goptaa: Protector of the universe
628) bhooshayah: One who rested on the ocean shore (Rama)
661) brahmanyah: Protector of Brahman (anything related to Narayana)
662) brahmakrit: One who acts in Brahman
663) brahmaa: Creator
664) brahma: Biggest

The name given by U Sein Pe begins with Bur-Myan {Ga.kri:} or in Romabama {Ga.} which in Devanagari is घ . However, the website does not give Devanagari characters, so I am unable to find the name that would have {Ga.} on it. The pronunciation IPA [g] points out that the akshara is either ग [Ga] or घ [Gha]. The possible candidates in above list are: 187) govindah: The protector of the cows and 188) govidaam-patih: The Lord of all men of wisdom. However, since 'cow' is spelled with {ga.}, we can remove 187 from the list of possible candidates. However, at this stage (080827) my knowledge of Sanskrit and Pali is almost nil. The only clues I can rely on are: 'Laksmi' and 'Garuda', and I must conclude provincially that {Gau-ra.man~ta.} is Vishnu.

I now turn to Vaishnavism वैष्णव धर्म = व ै ष ् ण व ध र ् म
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vaishnavism 130110

Vaishnavism वैष्णव धर्म is one of the major branches of Hinduism along with Shaivism, Smartism, and Shaktism. It is focused on the veneration of Vishnu. Vaishnavites, or the followers of the Supreme Lord Vishnu, lead a way of life promoting differentiated monotheism, which gives importance to Lord Vishnu and His ten incarnations.

The oldest religious text in Vedic, Rigveda, describes Lord Vishnu as the Supreme Deity in Vishnu Sooktham (1.22.20):

om tad visnoh paramam padam sada pasyanti surayah
diviva caksur atatam

"Just as the sun's rays in the sky are extended to the mundane vision, so in the same way the wise and learned devotees always see the abode of Lord Vishnu."

tad vipraso vipanyavo jagrvam sah samindhate
visnor yat paramam padam

"Because those highly praiseworthy and spiritually awake devotees are able to see the spiritual world, they are also able to reveal that supreme abode of Lord Vishnu."

Rigveda mentions the Supreme Lord 93 times. Other shlokas are devoted to his faithful servants, mentioned in the scriptures as the limbs of Lord Vishnu. These minor deities include Indra, Surya, Rudra, Maruta, Vayu, Agni and Manyu.

UKT: If we are to define "major" and "minor" by the number of hymns dedicated to the devas in the Rigveda, the most number is for Indra, from which we must say that Indra is more "major" than "Vishnu".  Similarly in one version of the Ten Incarnations, Gautama Buddha is included. This is preposterous given the fact that Buddha was ascribed to Anatta -- the anti-thesis of Hinduism. We should be aware of such preposterous claim by zealous religionists.

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Nalanda University

-- UKT: 080827, 130110

My question here is: did anyone from Sri Ksestra (Pyu), Tagaung (Pyu-Burmese), Thaton (Mon), Pegu (Mon) and Pagan (Burmese) ever visited the Nalanda University either as a student or teacher. Monks with various mother tongues could speak the lingua franca - Sanskrit (literary) and Pali (vernacular Prakrit) which were the mediums instruction. If the answer is in affirmative, then the Ari of Pagan who were discredited by Anawratha were possibly connected to Nalanda, where Tantricism was taught along with other philosophies, and sciences such as astronomy, botany, medicine, etc.

According to U KuLa MahaRazawin (inset above), the Aris of Pagan had lived as a community at ThaMaHti (derived from {a.ma.hta.} 'mental concentration' ?). There were 30 groups of Aris, each headed by a chief Ari. There were altogether 60,000 students.

The number of students should not be taken literally, because the numeral six together with some zeros usually mean a large number in Bur-Myan. Whatever the case may be the whole set up points to an establishment similar to Nalanda University in India. I wonder if there was any collaborative writings from Chinese pilgrims of the period.
    The second possibility is U KuLa's sources had confused the ThaMaHti establishment with the larger and more famous establishment of Nalanda University in Behar, India. -- UKT 13012]

Of, course there would be the Tantricists and their followers, and it is rather unfair to group them together and blame everyone practicing what has been attributed to the Tantricists such as deflowering the bride before the wedding.

Do not think of "deflowering" only from pleasure-angle. If the process was to cleanse the virginals, it would be the duty of the Ari to deflower her even if she was suffering from leprosy with open sores. It is still common find leprosy sufferers living together with non-sufferers: there is no religious stigma attached to the disease as in areas of Abrahamic religions. 

And when Anawratha disrobed the Aris -- obviously some would be reordained in Theravada -- he must have spared at least -- his own father the ex-King Kunzaw who had become an Ari monk. When King Kunzaw died he was venerated as {hti-pru-hsaung:nt}.

From: Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda 130110

Nalanda was one of the world's first residential universities, i.e., it had dormitories for students. It is also one of the most famous universities. In its heyday, it accommodated over 10,000 students and 2,000 teachers. The university was considered an architectural masterpiece, and was marked by a lofty wall and one gate. Nalanda had eight separate compounds and ten temples, along with many other meditation halls and classrooms. On the grounds were lakes and parks. The library was located in a nine storied building where meticulous copies of texts were produced. The subjects taught at Nalanda University covered every field of learning, and it attracted pupils and scholars from Korea, Japan, China, Tibet, Indonesia, Persia and Turkey. [3] During the period of Harsha, the monastery is reported to have owned 200 villages given as grants.

In Nalanda university, the Tibetan tradition holds that there were "four doxographies" (Tibetan: grub-mtha) which were taught at Nālandā, and Alexander Berzin specifies these as: [23]

1. Sarvāstivāda Vaibhāṣika
2. Sarvāstivāda Sautrāntika
3. Mādhyamaka, the Mahāyāna philosophy of Nāgārjuna
4. Cittamatra, the Mahāyāna philosophy of Asaṅga and Vasubandhu

According to an unattributed article of the Dharma Fellowship (2005), the curriculum of Nalanda University at the time of Majuśrīmitra contained:

...virtually the entire range of world knowledge then available. Courses were drawn from every field of learning, Buddhist and Hindu, sacred and secular, foreign and native. Students studied science, astronomy, medicine, and logic as diligently as they applied themselves to metaphysics, philosophy, Samkhya, Yoga-shastra, the Veda, and the scriptures of Buddhism. They studied foreign philosophy likewise.

In the 7th century, Xuanzang records the number of teachers at Nālandā as being around 1510. [24] Of these, approximately 1000 were able to explain 20 collections of sūtras and śāstras, 500 were able to explain 30 collections, and only 10 teachers were able to explain 50 collections. [24] Xuanzang was among the few who were able to explain 50 collections or more. [24] At this time, only the abbot Śīlabhadra had studied all the major collections of sūtras and śāstras at Nālandā. [24]

Yijing wrote that matters of discussion and administration at Nālandā would require assembly and consensus on decisions by all those at the assembly, as well as resident monks: [25]

If the monks had some business, they would assemble to discuss the matter. Then they ordered the officer, Vihārapāla, to circulate and report the matter to the resident monks one by one with folded hands. With the objection of a single monk, it would not pass. There was no use of beating or thumping to announce his case. In case a monk did something without consent of all the residents, he would be forced to leave the monastery. If there was a difference of opinion on a certain issue, they would give reason to convince (the other group). No force or coercion was used to convince.

Xuanzang also writes: "The lives of all these virtuous men were naturally governed by habits of the most solemn and strictest kind. Thus in the seven hundred years of the monastery's existence no man has ever contravened the rules of the discipline. The king showers it with the signs of his respect and veneration and has assigned the revenue from a hundred cities to pay for the maintenance of the religious." [20]

Muslim conquest in India is seen by scholars as one of the reasons of the decline of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism [13] the burning of the library continued for several months and "smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills." [14]

The last throne-holder of Nalanda, Shakyashribhadra, fled to Tibet in 1204 CE at the invitation of the Tibetan translator Tropu Lotsawa (Khro-phu Lo-tsa-ba Byams-pa dpal). In Tibet, he started an ordination lineage of the Mulasarvastivadin lineage to complement the two existing ones.

When the Tibetan translator Chag Lotsawa (Chag Lo-tsa-ba, 11971264) visited the site in 1235, he found it damaged and looted, with a 90-year-old teacher, Rahula Shribhadra, instructing a class of about 70 students. [15][16]. During Chag Lotsawa's time there an incursion by Turkish soldiers caused the remaining students to flee. Despite all this, "remnants of the debilitated Buddhist community continued to struggle on under scarce resources until c. 1400 CE when Chagalaraja was reportedly the last king to have patronized Nalanda." [17]

Ahir considers the destruction of the temples, monasteries, centers of learning at Nalanda and northern India to be responsible for the demise of ancient Indian scientific thought in mathematics, astronomy, alchemy, and anatomy. [18]

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-- UKT: 080827, 130110

The Bur-Myan word {nt.} probably has no connection to Pali or Skt-Dev देव dva. It covers many things besides Deva, such as māra (PTS p530) {maar} (in {maar nat}) and <spirits> (used in the Western sense). However, it does not cover <ghosts> and <goblins>. The word can be applied to the head of the household -- {ain-U: nat} and the king of the country. Therefore, it should be understood as the provider and the guardian, in which sense it would be equivalent to the English <god>. However {maar nt} or māra to the Buddhist is the <evil one> or the <tempter>. This is because the aim of the Buddha was total liberation from every thing and every one including {maar nt}, whilst the {maar nt} considers everyone in the Samsara to be his slaves.

In Myanmar, {maar nat} is sometimes equated to the Christian Devil. However, this is a wrong comparison, because the Bur-Myan {maar nat} is one of the most powerful of all devas, residing in the top-most deva-world or Heavens, whereas the Christian Devil resides in Hell.

Secondly, it would surprise many ordinary Burmese-Buddhist to know that the world of {maar nat} is above that of {i.kra: ming:} who is popularly known as the King of gods. {i.kra: ming:} is the over-lord of the so-called Four Guardians, Four Great Kings, or {sa.tu.ma.ha-riz nt}. See UMK-USL below:

Catumahārājika - n. the fifth plane [counting downwards] on Mount Meru and celestial abode of the four guardian deities of the world:

1. Dhataraṭṭha {Da.ta.rT-Hta.}

2. Virūpakkha {wi.ru-pak~hka.}

3. VirūỊhaka {wi.ru-Lha.ka.}

4. Kuvera {ku.w-ra.}
-- UMK-USL-043.

UKT: It came as a shock to me to find out what their names mean in Skt-Dev. They certainly could not have the shapes as depicted shown in the inset pix. See the excerpt from Wikipedia below.

Excerpt from Caturmahārāja : http://visiblemantra.org/kings.html 080902

The Four Great Kings are devas in the Indian pantheon where they occupy the lowest of the devalokas (god realms). They feature in some of the earliest Buddhist scriptures, representing a strand of Indian religious thought which was being adopted and adapted by Buddhists, probably in the first few centuries after the death of the Buddha. Each one presides over one of the four directions of space, and is associated with a particular type of non-human being. ...

1. Dhṛtarāṣṭra - King of the East. White in colour, holding a lute. King of the Gandharvas (celestial musicians). Dhṛtarāṣṭa means "watcher of lands". There is a king Dhṛtarāṣṭra in the Mahābhārata. The war amongst his children and those of his younger brother Pāndhu for the throne of the Kurus - the Kauravas and the Pāndavas - forms the main action of the Mahabhārata war around which the epic revolves (Basham : 408). It is thought that the story recount a real war, although the dates are disputed.

2. Virūḍhaka - King of the South. Green in colour and holding a sword. King of the Kumbhāṇḍas, his name means "ever growing". The Kumbhāṇḍas according to Sutherland are "a grotesque group of demons with testicles in the shape of a kumbha or pitcher". The Pāli commentaries describe them as having "huge stomachs, and their genital organs were as big as pots, hence their name". (DA.iii.964)

3. Virūpākṣa - King of the West. Red in colour; holding a stūpa, and snake (or nāga). King of the Nāgas. His names means something like "all seeing". Virūpākṣa's association with serpents and water suggests a connection with the Vedic god Varuṇa. Initially a solar god, often paired with mitra, Varuṇa was the guardian of ṛta - the cosmic order. Later, in the Hindu Epics, he was relegated to being a protector of water and was associated with water spirits, such as nāgas. Some scholars point to similarities with the Greek Titan Uranus (the names are phonetically similar).

4. Vaiśravaṇa - King of the North. Yellow in colour. Holding a (victory) banner and mongoose spitting jewels. King of the Yakṣas . The name means..... Vaiśravaṇa is also known as Kubera under which name he appears in the Śatapatha Brāhmaṇa. He goes by the name Vaiśravaṇa in the Mahābharata where he is the son of Pulstya, and half brother of Rāvaṇa [- the Demon King, the enemy of Rama.]. Kunera is a god of wealth and good fortune - which is what the mongoose spitting out jewels symbolises. Vaiśravaṇa is the patron deity of the city of Khotan.  ...  ...  ...

The Lokapālas, or Mahārajas, feature widely in the Pāli texts (where they are known as the Cātummahārājikā), often visiting the Buddha at crucial times, or to hear the Dharma. In Pāli the names are:
A summary of the Great Kings in the Pāli texts is available in the Dictionary of Pāli Names. [UKT ]

One of the key texts featuring the Four Kings is the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta (DN 32). This is one of the traditional paritta texts which are chanted for protection from misfortune, and the Āṭānṭiya is particularly concerned with protection from harmful 'spirits' ie yakṣas etc. Yakṣas etc were minor gods with their own cults and shrines. Several yakṣa (Pāli yakkha) shrines are mentioned in the Pāli texts. Initially they were not much distinguished from nāgas and were nature spirits associated with water or trees. In one text there is a story of an anger eating yakkha (SN 11.22).

{sa.tu.ma.ha-riz nt} are the overlords of the 36 Nats covered by Dr. Htin Aung. This in effect would make the {i.kra: ming:} to be placed at the top with four {sa.tu.ma.ha-riz nt} to control the 36 Nats. Only under them would come treasure guardians, ghosts, demons, witches (who are still humans).

In this sense, the 36 Bur-Myan nats are not devas, but "lost souls" of real people who had met violent or sudden deaths. They are sometimes known as {nt-saim:} literally meaning the "green-nats", and they are considered to be just above the level of ghosts. Since the word {saim:} also means "unripe" or "uncooked", I usually quipped "what about those who lost their lives in a fire -- 'cooked nats' ". But I don't do it to people -- my friends among them -- who honestly worship the Nats, and the Nat-mediums who sincerely believe in Nats even though they are still good Theravada Buddhists.

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Nat feast

-- UKT: 080827, 130112

The Myanmar lunar month {nt-tau} falling during November-December is probably the harvest festival celebrated by the peoples of the Northern Hemisphere. It probably has its counter-part in the Halloween of the West. As such it is probably related to ancestral worship.

The whole month of {nt-tau} is dedicated to the worship of Nats, and many would get the help of a master-Nat-medium to conduct a Nat Puja {nt ka.na:} (sp check with MLC MED2006-236) in the house, or just outside on the street. There is much dancing, drinking of hard-liquor, and loud and boisterous music. 

The word we use for a Nat Feast is not Nat Puja: it is {nt ka.na:}. It shows that who are described as Nat worshippers are not really worshipping them. They are good Theravada Buddhists. They give a feast to the Nats -- to make them merry and be able to tell their stories of woe. Some would recount the injustices inflicted upon them by the authorities. In other words, the common people have been using these feasts as a protest against the official injustice. The story told by MinGyi & MinGal made even King Kyansittha a villain who had unjustly executed them! And I suppose, the later kings always try not to become villains even when they were in a mood to execute some one.

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Prison of the Gods

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See Pagan Hindu Temple [the link is not working] or Nat-hlaung Kyaung in my review of GHORAMANTA (alias) GORAVINDA (A BURMESE GOD) by DEVAPRASAD GUHA, ASIATIC SOCIETY, CALCUTTA, in Journal of the Burma Research Society, XLIII, i, June 1960

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-- UKT: 080827, 130112

A lot of archeological research is going in Pyu areas of Myanmarpr. Among the researchers are:

1. Bob Hudson, Field School of Archaeology, Pyay, Myanmar, & Archaeology Department, University of Sydney, Australia. bob.hudson@sydney.edu.au 130112

2. Elizabeth Moore, Reader in the Art and Archeology of South East Asia, SOAS, University of London, London, UK, 130112

3. Janice Stargart, Dept. of Geography, Univ. of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK,  janice.stargardt@geog.cam.ac.uk 130112

Excerpt from: Historical Geography of Burma by Janice Stargart, http://www.iias.nl/iiasn/25/theme/25T6.html
author of The Ancient Pyu of Burma, Vol. I, Early Pyu Cities in a Man-Made Landscape, Cambridge & Singapore: PACSEA & ISEAS (1990; repr. 1991), pp. 52, 145-90, 297-310, 344.

Pyu {pyu} civilization flourished during most of the first millennium AD at an urban and complex level, and three patterns established by the Pyu were to leave major imprints on the historical geography of Burma that endured until the late nineteenth century, when the colonial conquest transformed the country demographically and economically. [UKT ]

Firstly, the Pyu preferred settlement in the Dry Zone, particularly in the valleys of the tributaries of Burma's greatest rivers; secondly, there was development of a repertoire of Pyu irrigation works operating on a variety of scales and firmly imbedded in social structures as well as in these particular environments and economies; and thirdly, at a time of dominance of Mahayana sects in Indian Buddhism, the Pyus adopted Theravada Buddhism, thereby striking a note that has reverberated in Burma ever since.

Pyu settlement in Burma undoubtedly goes back to late prehistory, to the centuries from c. 400 100 BC. (fn01). Throughout c. 1,400 years, the Pyu demonstrated a consistent preference for a particular environmental niche in Burma: the perennial, but highly seasonal tributary streams of Burma's Dry Zone, which flow into its great rivers, the Irrawaddy, the Sittang, the Chindwin, and the Mu. In research published in 1990 (fn02), I first delineated this preference on the basis of my knowledge of site distribution along the side valleys of the Irrawaddy from Pagan southwards to Prome and eastwards into the Kyaukse area, and along parts of the Chindwin, the Mu, and Samon Rivers, and predicted that many more Pyu sites would be discovered in such niches. [UKT ]

Further research on the Pyu in the 1990s by Professor Than Tun, U Win Maung, U Nyunt Han, U Sein Maung Oo, and other Burmese scholars has revealed Pyu sites in the tributary valleys of the central Irrawaddy in the heartland of traditional Burmese settlement from Pagan to Ava and Mandalay, including the Sagaing District, and also in the tributary valleys of the northern parts of the Sittang River. [UKT ]

This means that when, in the last centuries of the first millenium AD, the Burmese settled in these valleys, they were inheriting and perpetuating a pattern already established by the Pyus. These areas together formed the Mranma [mod. pronunciation Myanmar] of the Pagan inscriptions. They remained the core territory of the Burmese kingdoms and of Burmese history until the terrible conquest of Upper Burma in the third Anglo-Burmese war of the 1880s.

(Read the downloaded paper hist-geogr-Pyu.htm

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-- UKT: 080827, 130110

Sakra {i.kra:ming:} (pronounced as /{a.kya:min:}/ which literally would have meant the "Sugar-king"), the king of the gods and guardian of Buddhism, and Indra are not the same even though they are given to be the same in MEDict495 and elsewhere.

Sakra is the king of deva-gods in Buddhist mythology, whereas Indra is his counterpart in Hindu mythology. It was probable that Anawratha also did not take the two characters to be the same. Otherwise, making Indra (the Hindhu) the overlord of the 36 Burmese nats would have the effect of making the Burmese nats adopt the Hindu religion. See Dictionary of Pali Language, R. C. Childers, 1909, [reprint bought from Myamarpr lost. Bought new in Canada online from www.natarajbooks.com India: $49.94 + shipping 23.95 = 73.89] .

Excerpt from: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Indra 080827

Indra (इन्द्र = इ न ् द ् र --> ) or (इंद्र = इ ं द ् र --> ), Malay: Indera, Thai: พระอินทร์ Phra-Intra, Japanese: Taishakuten) is the god of War and Weather, also the King of the gods or Devas and Lord of Heaven or Svargaloka in Hinduism. [UKT ]

UKT: From the word , we used to spell the name of the country of India as or when we were young.

Mentioned first as the chief deity in the sacred Hindu text of Rig Veda, Indra is bestowed with a heroic and almost brash and amorous character. He has always remained significant in Indian mythology, from Vedic to Puranic times, as the primary ruler of all devas, even as his reputation and role diminished in later Hinduism with the rise of the Trimurti. However his is still active in the Pali canon, where he is addressed as Sakka (from Sanskrit Śakra).

UKT 130126:
If we are to judge the importance of a deva by the number of hymns dedicated to him in Rig Veda, we find the order of importance as Indra, Agni, and Soma. None of the Trimurti, Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva came close to them.

Based on this I hold that the Vedic religion (of the Vedic speakers) and the Hindu religion (of the Sanskrit speakers) are different. Sanskrit, i.e. Skt-Dev, came about only with Panini. Because of this I opine that Vedic was the religion of the indigenous races of India who spoke Tib-Bur languages, and Sanskrit to be the language of new comers, the IE speakers.

The way the oldest hymn, the Gayatri Mantra, was composed also shows a difference from those of classical Skt-Dev. See Gayatri meter in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vedic_meter 130128

From this if we examine the way the five Great Gods (and Goddesses) are worshipped in the Nine God Puja practiced in Myanmarpr, I opine that it has never been a Hindu puja. The first two were goddesses, Saraswati and Chanti. The gods, Ganesh and Gauramanta (Vishnu?) came at the bottom. The third entity with the root sva was probably a female which has been mistakenly identified as Shiva.

Excerpt from: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trimurti 080827

The Trimurti (English: three forms; Sanskrit: trimūrti) is a concept in Hinduism "in which the cosmic functions of creation, maintenance, and destruction are personified by the forms of Brahmā the creator, Viṣṇu the maintainer or preserver, and Śiva the destroyer or transformer." These three deities have been called "the Hindu triad" or the "Great Trinity". They are often looked at as the creator, preserver and destroyer respectively. Freda Matchett characterizes the Trimurti system as one of "several frameworks into which various divine figures can be fitted at different levels."

One type of depiction for the Trimurti shows three heads on one neck, and often even three faces on one head, each looking in a different direction.

The Trimurti (literally indicating three forms or trinity), is the representation of the three projections of the Supreme Reality, each with a specific cosmic function. These manifestations are that of Brahma (serving the cosmic function of creation), Vishnu (serving the cosmic function of renewal and preservation), and Shiva (serving the cosmic function of dissolution or destruction that precedes re-creation) the three popular Hindu gods. Our daily existence reflects these three cosmic functions as birth, life and death.

The trinity is interpreted in various forms in Hindu philosophy. A widely accepted belief is that it represents earth, water, and fire. The earth, or Brahma, is seen as the originator of all life and hence is regarded as the Creator. Water is the sustainer of life and hence is the Preserver and is represented as Vishnu. Fire destructs life and hence is the Destroyer and is represented as Shiva.

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Theravada Buddhism : Buddhist Councils

-- UKT, 080827, 130110

It is important to realize that what Anawratha introduced into his kingdom in Upper Burma was Theravada Buddhism which became separate as a religion only at the Second Buddhist Council. See the following account of Buddhist councils from Wikipedia. If we are to give credence to the story of Tagaung that is mentioned in the Chronicles, Buddhism must have reached upper Burma even in the life time of the Buddha via overland routes -- not through the Mons of Lower Burma.

Other pre-Buddhistic beliefs must have come in and gone out long before Buddha came on the scene in 455 BC.

Therefore to call the religious beliefs of the pre-Arawratha period as corrupt Buddhism is not really correct. Surely, the adherents of the pre-Anawratha religious orders headed by the various Aris would resist what they would consider to be a foreign religion of the Mons who spoke a different language. Moreover, the element of nationalism of the Burmese-Pyus would be hostile to that of the Mon monks the majority of who could not be expected to speak Burmese. The Pyus would remember that it was the Mons who had destroyed their cities earlier. The reader should note that my interest is not on the beliefs of Ari nor the beliefs of the reformers but on their languages. To be specific how would the Ari pronounce the akshara r6c5 - IPA [θ] or [s]. The Burmese would pronounce it as thibilant, whereas the Mons would pronounce it as sibilant.

From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_councils 080901

First Buddhist Council

According to the scriptures of all Buddhist schools, the first Buddhist Council was held soon after the nirvana of the Buddha in 483 BC under the patronage of king Ajatasatru, and presided by the monk Mahakasyapa {ma.ha ka~a.pa.}, at Rajagaha (today's Rajgir). Its objective was to preserve the Buddha's sayings (sutta) and the monastic discipline or rules (Vinaya). [UKT ]

The Suttas were recited by Ananda, and the Vinaya was recited by Upali. According to some sources, the Abhidhamma Pitaka, or its matika, was also included. Also the Sangha made the unanimous decision [of those attending - only 500 monks] to keep all the rules of the Vinaya, even the lesser and minor rules. [UKT ]

UKT, 130128:
The founder of Buddhism, Gautama Buddha, just before he died gave permission to his monks to amend the minor rules in the Vinaya, but did not specifically defined what those rules were. Everybody knew what the major rules, such as those for expulsion of a monk from the Order, are. However, there were problems to picking the minor rules. Unable to come to a unanimous decision, it was decided to keep all the rules of the Vinaya intact. However, it is my humble opinion that rules relating to dress-code to suit the climate of different countries, the use of money (not gold and silver) for transactions such as buying air-plane tickets, the timing of meals (when a monk is making air-travel crossing the time zones), and rules relating to the use of toilet, should be marked as "minor" and  amended or relaxed.

According to the Macmillan Encyclopedia of Buddhism (2004), [1]:
"... its historicity is questioned by virtually all Buddhist scholars. They argue that while it was not unlikely that a small group of Buddha's intimate disciples gathered after his death, a council in the grand style described in the scriptures is almost certainly a fiction."

Second Buddhist Council

The historical records for the so-called "Second Buddhist Council" derive primarily from the canonical Vinayas of various schools (Theravāda, Sarvāstivāda, Mūlasarvāstivāda, Mahāsanghika, Dharmaguptaka, and Mahīśāsaka). In most cases, these accounts are found at the end of the 'Skandhaka' portion of the Vinaya. While inevitably disagreeing on points of details, they nevertheless agree on roughly the following.

About 100 or 110 years after the Buddha's Nibbana, a monk called Yasa, when visiting Vesālī, noticed a number of lax practices among the local monks. A list of 'ten points' is given; the most important was that the Vesālī monks, known as Vajjiputtakas, consented to accepting money. [UKT ]

Considerable controversy erupted when Yasa refused to follow this practice. He was prosecuted by the Vajjiputtakas, and defended himself by quoting in public a number of canonical passages condemning the use of money by monastics. Wishing to settle the matter, he gathered support from monks of other regions, mainly to the west and south. A group consented to go to Vesāli to settle the matter. After considerable maneuvering, a meeting was held, attended by 700 monks. [UKT ]

A council of eight was appointed to consider the matter. This consisted of four locals and four 'westerners'; but some of the locals had already been secretly won over to the westerners' case. Each of the ten points was referred to various canonical precedents. The committee found against the Vajjiputtaka monks. They presented this finding to the assembly, who consented unanimously. The canonical accounts end there.

Third Buddhist Council

In striking contrast to the uniform accounts of the Second Council, there are records of several possible 'Third Councils'. These different versions function to authorize the founding of one particular school or other.

According to the Theravāda commentaries and chronicles, the Third Buddhist Council was convened by the Mauryan king Ashoka at Pātaliputra (today's Patna), under the leadership of the monk Moggaliputta Tissa. Its objective was to purify the Buddhist movement, particularly from opportunistic factions which had been attracted by the royal patronage. [UKT ]

The king asked the suspect monks what the Buddha taught, and they claimed he taught views such as eternalism, etc., which are condemned in the canonical Brahmajala Sutta. [UKT ]

He asked the virtuous monks, and they replied that the Buddha was a 'Teacher of Analysis' (Vibhajjavādin), an answer that was confirmed by Moggaliputta Tissa. The Council proceeded to recite the scriptures once more, adding to the canon Moggaliputta Tissa's own book, the Kathavatthu, a discussion of various dissenting Buddhist views now contained in the Theravāda Abhidhamma Pitaka.

Also, emissaries were sent to various countries in order to spread Buddhism, as far as the Greek kingdoms in the West (in particular the neighboring Greco-Bactrian Kingdom, and possibly even farther according to the inscriptions left on stone pillars by Ashoka). [UKT ]

UKT 130128:
It is my opinion that the success of these missions should be gauged by whether the Buddhism found in these countries, including those countries in which Buddhism was replaced by Christianity and Islam (whether by force or by popular appeal is not my concern here), by whether Theravada had taken root. Since Abhidhamma is the hall-mark of Theravada, all we have to do is to find whether the Buddhism that had flourished contained elements of Abhidhamma. More appealing than Buddhism was the idea of a universal script based on phonemics. The idea of a universal script was certainly appealing to Kublai Khan (who in many ways was comparable to Asoka). Kublai Khan had asked a Tibetan Lama to invent one to be used throughout his vast empire. The result is the invention of the Phagspa script which did not survive the death of the great Khan for long. This I think is the result of Phagspa being written from right to left.

According to Frauwallner (Frauwallner, 1956), several of these missionaries were responsible for founding schools in various parts of India:
   - Majjhantika was the father of the Kasmiri Sarvastivādins;
   - Yonaka Dhammarakkhita may have been the founder of the Dharmaguptaka school;
   - Mahādeva, sent to the Mahisa country may have been the founder of the Mahisasakas; [UKT ]

Several teachers travelled to the Himalayas where they founded the Haimavata school, including a certain Kassapagotta, who may be connected with the Kasyapiyas. Relics of some of these monks have been excavated at Vedisa. (Willis, 2001) The most famous of the missionaries, and the main focus of interest for these Theravada histories, is Mahinda, who travelled to Sri Lanka where he founded the school we now know as Theravada.

UKT 130128:
We should check whether the site of Alaungtaw Kathapha {a.laung:tau-ka~a.pa.}, near Monywa, has anything to do with the Kassapagotta of Haimavata school mentioned above. See also my note on Erich Frauwallner .

The Theravāda's own Dipavamsa records a quite different Council called the 'Great Recital' (Mahāsangiti), which it claims was held by the reformed Vajjiputtakas following their defeat at the Second council. The Dipavamsa criticizes the Mahasangitikas (who are the same as the Mahasanghikas) for rejecting various texts as non-canonical: the [Vinaya] Parivāra; the 6 books of the Abhidhamma; the Patisambhida; the Niddesa; part of the Jatakas; and some verses. (Dipavamsa 76, 82)

The Mahāsanghika, for their part, remember things differently: they allege, in the Sāriputraparipriccha that there was an attempt to unduly expand the old Vinaya. The Mahasanghikas' own vinaya gives essentially the same account of the Second Council as the others, i.e. they were on the same side.

An entirely different account of Mahāsanghika origins is found in the works of the Sarvāstivāda group of schools. Vasumitra tells of a dispute in Pātaliputra at the time of Ashoka over five heretical points: that an Arahant can have nocturnal emission; that he can have doubts; that he can be taught by another; that he can lack knowledge; and that the path can be aroused by crying 'What suffering!'. These same points are discussed and condemned in Moggaliputta Tissa's Kathavatthu, but there is no mention of this Council in Theravadin sources. The later Mahavibhasa develops this story into a lurid smear campaign against the Mahasanghika founder, who it identifies as ' Mahadeva'. This version of events emphasizes the purity of the Kasmiri Sarvastivadins, who are portrayed as descended from the arahants who fled persecution due to 'Mahadeva'.

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