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Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism

ch02-nine-gods.htm

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, with additions from Pali sources, 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 Research Station, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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flk-ele-indx.htm 

Contents of this page

UKT: I have inserted captions to some paras for easy reading.
This file needs to be rechecked with the original book, especially on the page numbers. -- 080831

The Nine Gods
Preparations for the ceremony
Buddha and Eight Arahats : Nine Liberated Souls
  Ashin Revata and Ashin Gavampati
Gods of Planets : Luminaries
The Five Great Gods : Mother Goddesses & their attendants
Ceremony begins
Explanations of the ceremony :
  Dhammapada Commentary in Harvard Oriental Series
  Magic-number Nine ; my caption
Footnotes

UKT notes
   Some of these notes might be moved elsewhere in later versions of my review of Dr. HtinAung's book.
Animal of Five Beauties
Astrology of Nakshatras : See: http://shrifreedom.org/vedic-astrology/navatara-chakra/ 170413
begging bowl : receptacle for receiving alms to bless the giver
Burmese astrology : Mahaboat
Chronicles
Five Great Gods : {nt-kri: nga:pa:} (predominance of females)
   or Mother Goddesses & their attendants
Gayatri Mantra : Peacock sutra
Gods of the planets : real astronomical planet Mercury for this edition
Hindu astrology: Rahu and Ketu :
  Nakshatra  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakshatra 130128
makeshift bed
miniature monastery
Native Animal Cult
Phaya
sickness in the house
streamers
Thagyamin : Sakka the husband of Suja is the present Indra
   Term "Indra" means the "king" of Devas
Vajrayana : Thunderbolt vehicle & Waizzar-path  
Vessavana
werevolves

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02. The Nine Gods

UKT: 130116
The worship of Nine-Gods is {Bu.ra: ko:hsu} {pu-zau pw:} or The Nine-Gods Puja . It should be compared to the worship of Hindu Navagraha  {na.wa.gra.ha.} नवग्रह = न व ग ् र ह . See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navagraha 130116 

I hold that the Vedic religion, with its chants and mantras, was in existence long before the Hindu-religionists came into India through the north-western corner from Persia (the land of Fire-worshipers). Either to go on holding this view or to reject it, I must now go into Zoroastrianism the religion of Ancient Persia, and how it stands compared to Vedic. But for the time being, I will continue holding this view.
See http://www.ece.lsu.edu/kak/zoro.pdf 130128 

The Vedic religion, with its goddesses, was taken over by the Brahmin-Poona {brah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:} to become the modern Hindu religion. In this respect my views in this chapter differ from those of my respected teacher Dr. HtinAung.

Because of travel, back and forth, by the ancients along the foothills of the Himalayas from India in the west to Myanmarpr in the east, the ancient peoples, presumably the Pyus and Burmese, of our country particularly in areas of Tagaung {ta.kaung:} and Pagan {pu.gn} would be followers of the Vedic religion, long before the birth of the Gautama Buddha. The two religious ceremonies are not the same as can be seen from the difference in placement of planets or Graha in Hindu and Burmese Mahaboat {ma.ha.Boat} 'Burmese astrology'. I hold that the two even though derived from Vedic are different. I emphasize the Burmese did not get Mahaboat from the Hindus.

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Preparations for the ceremony

DHA ( p007begin )
The ceremony of the Nine Gods {Bu.ra: ko:hsu} is usually held when there is sickness in the house. As in the case of all Burmese ceremonies it begins with the issue of invitations by the head of the household to relations and friends. In the villages, of course, the invitation is to the whole village. A master of ceremonies is then engaged for a fee. In villages he is an amateur, but in towns he is a professional and is known as the 'Saya of the Nine-Gods Ceremony'. [UKT ]

DHA
The Burmese term Saya {hsa.ya} means a 'Master Craftsman' and usually the craft that he practises is attached to his term of Saya, as, for example, 'Saya of the School' (a teacher), 'Saya of the University', 'Saya of Medicine', 'Saya of Magic', 'Saya of Astrology', 'Saya of Carpentry', 'Saya of Masonry', 'Saya of Pot-Making', 'Saya of Machines', etc. That there should be a Saya to perform the ceremony of the Nine Gods is surprising since Burmese Buddhist ceremonies do not need a priest to act as the medium between the worshipper and the worshipped, and Burmese phongyis {Boan:kri:} are monks and not priests in fact.

DHA
Invitations are issued in the morning and the 'Master' is engaged from the morning, although the ceremony will begin only in the evening. The Master spends the whole day in making a miniature monastery made of banana stem, and in making paper umbrellas, paper flag-poles with streamers, and paper prayer-flags. In towns, however, the Master has a ready-made miniature monastery of wood. In the evening, when darkness has fallen, the Master of the Ceremony comes to the house with all his paraphernalia and, in the front room, he sets up his monastery. [{p008-approx}]

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Buddha and Eight Arahats

DHA:
The monastery is placed at the eastern end of the front room, and it is imperative that it faces due west. The cardinal points, are of the utmost importance in the ceremony. The audience will be facing the monastery and, therefore, facing east. The Master then sets up the images that he has brought with him. [UKT ]

DHA:
Right in the centre of the monastery he places the image of the Buddha, and, he places the images of eight of his Chief Disciples (all Arahats) at the cardinal points and corners of the monastery and with the faces turned towards the Buddha:

DHA:
Of the eight Arahats, six are well known to all Buddhists, but two, Revata and Gavampati, are not so frequently mentioned in the Buddhist scriptures. [UKT ]

UKT: There is a theory that these two were adapts in esoteric cults, and were made into Buddhist arahants. At present I can not remember my source for this theory. I need to go further into the Weizza cult in Myanmarpr, one of the centre of which is a place called {m-B.koan:} near Pyinmana. -- UKT130113

DHA
Sariputta and Moggallana were the Chief and Vice-Chief Disciples of the Buddha. They were friends, born to luxury and riches, and together they renounced the world and sought for the true faith, until they met the Buddha. By that time the Buddha had established his Order and there were already many members, but because of their special purity and saintliness they were appointed First and Second Chief Disciples. [{p009-approx}]

UKT 130128
In the above para, Dr. HtinAung has used the terms "Chief and Vice-Chief" "appointed". These terms are somewhat misleading because, the Buddhist monastic order is not formed as in Catholic Church with Pope at the head and Cardinals on the second level. In Theravada Buddhist monastic order there are no "appointed" office holders.

UKT 080826, 130110 :
Count clock-wise starting from North-east:
  - North-east corner is also known as the {aung} or "success" corner which is connected to the Vedic Om-akshara ॐ or {OAn}. Since the word {OAn} pronounced with emphasis gives {oan:} -- the coconut or the fruit of {oan:}-palm, and leaves are always part of the offering.

UKT 130128:
The upper castes of Hinduism, look down on the two lower castes, especially the fourth -- the Sudra aka Shudra. The Sudras were the original inhabitants of India who had been subjugated by the second caste - the Warrior caste.

The Sudras, would not say the Om ॐ (with the coda /m/), but {an:} (coda /n/ -- or more correctly /ŋ/). On the other hand the {poaN~Na:}, could not pronounce /ŋ/ -- the {nga.}-phoneme, but had to say only the indefinite {::tn}-phoneme. This shows that the Brahmin-Poanna -- the IE speakers -- taking over the beliefs of the original inhabitants -- the Tib-Bur speakers.
UKT 170727: I now realize that r1c5 is pronounced in 2 ways:
- r1c5 in onset, non-nasal: {gna.}, {gna}, {gna:}
- r1c5 in coda, nasal : {king} --> {kn}

Now the placement of Arahats in Bur-Myan worship:
1. Rahula - North-east (Sun-corner)
2. Kodnna - East
3. Revata - South-east (Mars-corner) :
   - high respect held by powerful deities, such as the ruler of planet-Mars
4. Sariputta - South
5. Upali - South-west (Saturn-corner)
6. Ananda - West
7. Gavampati - North-west (Rahu-corner) :
   - high respect held by powerful deities, such as the ruler of planet-Rahu
8. Moggallana - North

ॐ (AUM) aka {On}
Skt: ॐ (AUM) - Primordial Sound - OnlineSktDict
Skt: ॐ { ओंकार } oṃ { oṃkāra } - phrase Om [Aum, Omkara ] - SpkSkt
Skt: aum ind. the sacred syllable of the Śūdras ( 3. au ) - MonWilliWash
Bur: {An:} - n. Om ; word prefacing Pali verse or mantra
   to ensure potency or success [Sans ] - MED2010-624

It should be noted that the Nine-god puja and Bur-Myan astrology (the kind related to the Planets) are intimately connected. It is usual, for the parents of the family to consult an astrologer regularly, say at least once a year. Most of the times the astrologer using the Mahaboat {ma.ha Boat} or Thondanpauneit method would require the enquirer to give the year of birth of the enquirer in Burmese era, and the day on which he or she was born. Using a very simple calculation, and quoting the predictions he had learnt by heart, he would predict the future, usually for the coming 364 days, and recommend what astrological action must be taken.

Usually he would find out the Planet that is having an effect on enquirer and his family at the present, and the up and coming Planet. The action would be usually either to placate the Planet or have something done to overwhelm it.

Of the eight Planets ruling the days of the week (Wednesday is divided into two to make the week have 8 rulers), the Planets ruling the corners of the compass (North-west, North-east, South-east, South-west) are considered to be malefic Planets, whereas those ruling the cardinal points (East, South, West, North) are considered to be benefic.

You will notice that the principal disciples of the Buddha are assigned to the cardinal points. Please also note that what I have just described is quite different from Hindu astrology which is usually known as {nak~hkt be-dn} or the Astrology of Nakshatras.

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DHA:
Sariputta was in his wisdom next only to the Buddha himself. [UKT ]

DHA:
Moggallana was famous for his supernatural powers, and using these powers he often visited the abode of the Gods [Devas] and the various other worlds of the universe; he even subjugated the Great Naga of Mount Mayyu and once scolded Sakra or Thagyamin, {i.kra:mn:} (pronounced as {a.kya:mn:} literally meaning the "Sugar-king"), King of the Gods, and the Great God, Brahma Baka {ba.ka. brah~ma}.

UKT 080826, 130129, 170727:
According to Burmese-Buddhist tradition, Devas and Brahmas, though commonly translated as "gods", are different. Devas belong to the sexual world and there are male devas and female devas (known as 'devi'). The Brahmas on the other hand are a-sexual, viz. no differentiation into males and females. Brahmas are of two kinds: those still connected to the material world (with "form" - explained as "matter") and those connected to the philosophical world (without "form" - explained as "energy"). Devas have comparatively short life, whereas the Brahmas have extremely long lives. The formless Brahmas are considered to be the longest living of all. However, everyone including the formless ones must change or "die". Baka Brahma was one who had lived for so long that he had forgotten when he had come into the Brahma world, and had thought that he was eternal and had refuted the Principle of Anatta (or Change).

However in the Hindu {poaN~Na:} tradition, Brahma aka Maha Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva, are all Devas albeit more powerful. They are Mahadevas and belong the sexual world, and must have consorts. There are two main sects in Hinduism: that of the Braahmana Poannar {braah~ma.Na. poaN~Na:}. They believe in Vishnu-dva and his reincarnate Krishna. Their philosophy is embodied in Bhagava Gita preached by Krishna. The second and in a way the virulent one is that of the Shaivite {i-wa. poaN~Na:} who believe in Shiva-dva as the Supreme God and Creator. They do not accept Bhagava Gita as the word of the Supreme God.

According to the Shaivites Shiva and his consort Parvati set the example to the humans by portraying vivid sexual scenes which would now be classified as Adult-movies in the West -- not suitable for viewing by minors under the age 18. They are so much sex-orientated that worship Shiva's Lingam 'penis' perpetually stuck Parvati's Yoni 'virginal opening'.

Vishnu had a wife by the name Chandi.

Left alone, MahaBrahma forced his creation, the goddess Sarasvati {u-ra~a.ti m-tau}  (which made him the father and his creation the daughter) into marriage which she disapproved. Remember, all devas and asuras must have mates. In fact none is allowed in their Heaven unless married, and those Rishis {ra..} who could not find human-like ones were forced to mate with female animals before they were allowed into Heaven.

DHA:
Kodanna was one of the eight Brahmin astrologers who were invited by the king, the Buddha's father, to prognosticate the future of his new-born son, and while the other seven foretold that the child would become either the Buddha or the emperor of the universe [UKT ]

UKT:
U Tun Tint (MLC) explains "the emperor of the universe" as Juggernaut. However, you should not take this literally. The "emperor of the universe" is a Chakravatin {sa.kra.wa.t: ming:}

DHA:
Kodanna alone announced that the child would become the Buddha definitely. Confident in his own prophecy he renounced the world and, becoming a recluse in the forest, he awaited the appearance of the Buddha. He was one of the 'Five Recluses' to whom the Buddha preached the First Sermon, and who became, therefore, the first members of the Buddha's Order. He later retired to the forest and lived alone for twelve years, waited upon by thousands of wild elephants.

DHA:
Ananda was a cousin and the attendant of the Buddha. He was so busy attending on the Buddha that he had no time to meditate and become an Arahat during the Buddha's life time. He was well-loved by monks and laymen alike because of his humility and good-nature. When the Buddha lay dying, surrounded by Arahats and Gods, Ananda was human enough to cry like a child until the Buddha consoled him.

DHA:
Upali was the barber to the prince cousins of the Buddha, and when his masters renounced the world he also followed suit. He became the chief authority on the Vinaya, or the rules of discipline of the Order.

DHA:
Rahula was the Buddha's only son and was received into the Order when he was still a child; after becoming an Arahat he became one of the Chief Disciples on his own purity and merit. [{p010}]

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Ashin Revata and Ashin Gavampati

UKT: The above caption is mine to high light the importance of the two Arahats with esoteric supernatural powers and who commanded great respect from the most malignant entities.

DHA:
Revata and Gavampati were also possessors of unusual supernatural powers. Revata once created, by his super natural powers, splendid monasteries for the Buddha and his monks while they were passing through a wilderness, and Gavampati once stopped the tide and thus saved some monks from drowning as they slept on a sand-bank. [UKT ]

DHA:
Revata was the youngest brother of Sariputta, and although he made his abode in the forest he used to come and visit the Buddha and Sariputta regularly. He was later declared by the Buddha to be the foremost of the forest-dwelling monks of his Order. As he foresaw that his end was approaching he went and visited the Buddha and Sariputta for the last time, and on his way back to the forest he was mistaken for a thief by some king's officials and arrested and taken to their master. Revata now announced that he was a monk and an Arahat, and sitting cross-legged in the air he preached a sermon to the king. As he finished his sermon he died and flames rose out of his body and consumed it.

DHA:
Gavampati was a god with a golden palace before he was born as Gavampati, but unlike other palaces which disappeared with the death of their gods, this palace did not disappear; Gavampati, in fact, used to spend much of his time in his old age in this palace among the gods, and he was there when he was invited to come and participate in the First Synod, held soon after the Buddha's death. He realized, however, that his own death was imminent and after making an offering to the Order of his begging-bowl and his robes, he died. [UKT ]

UKT 080826, 130128:
The word "begging" is not appropriate for the Theravada Buddhist monks, and is now replaced with "alms". Buddhist monks do not beg. They receive alms from the people to bless them for their good deed. When a monk refused to receive alms from a person, it is a sign of displeasure and it amounts to excommunication. Figuratively such an act is described as "keeping the alms bowl overturned": {a.paik mhauk hkring:} 'the act of boycotting".  See MED2006-487.

Another word in-appropriately used by DHA was "god". He was following the English usage of his time. After careful scrutiny, I have changed his usage to "deva-god". I have to do this to prevent our young Myanmar ethnics who tend to equate "god" to {Bu.ra:} and then to "Buddha". I have seen some of my young friends translating "king of gods" to "king of Buddhas". This, I think is due to the Burmese-Christians translating their Abrahamic God as the "permanent Buddha" misleading the uninformed to think that Gautama Buddha (a historical person) as inferior to the Abrahamic God (an idea that has no scientific basis, which is not a He, She, or It.).

DHA:
According to purely Mon and Burmese tradition (i.e. not according to the general Buddhist tradition), Gavampati in a previous birth was a native of southern or Lower Burma; he was hatched from an egg laid by a Naga-Princess after her union with an alchemist, but he died when he was only ten years of age. [UKT ]

DHA:
He was later reborn as Gavampati and became an Arahat . He remembered his previous life, and on his invitation the Buddha himself visited the kingdom of Thaton [{p010-p011}] in southern or Lower Burma. According to another local tradition Gavampati did not die at the time of the First Synod, and he even assisted in the foundation of the Pyu city of Prome. The special supernatural powers attributed to Revata and Gavampati impressed the early Burmese. Revata was adopted as their patron saint by the magicians, alchemists, hermits, and monks who dwelt in the Burmese forest performing austerities, and Gavampati became the patron saint of the Mons and the Pyus.

UKT 080827:
You will notice that these two Arahats, Revata and Gavampati, with their great magical powers, are assigned to South-east (ruled by Mars - the God of War) and North-West (ruled by Rahu - the God of Darkness), two of the most feared Planets because of their connection to sudden death. It seems that only those Arahats with magical powers are capable of dealing with such malefics.

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Gods of the Planets

UKT 130123 :
The English rendition "god" is not right. The Planets are neither Devas nor Asuras. I am spelling the English rendering with capital letters to show their special nature. They are just luminaries in the sky which travel against the background of fixed stars. These luminaries have been given human-like forms similar to the Devas and Asuras. Please note that the Asuras were not counted as demons in Vedic times. They were honoured in Persia as good guys -- just rough but truthful, whereas the Devas are "clever" and "slick". In India, the Devas are good, the Asuras demons!

DHA:
After placing the images of the above-mentioned Arahats in position, the Master of the Ceremony now sets up the figures of the Gods of the Planets. [UKT ]

DHA: (need to check with original book)
Burmese astrology recognizes the nine Planets, namely, Sun, Moon, Mars, Jupiter, Mercury, Venus, and Saturn, and two other planets, Rahu and Kate {kait}. All the Burmese names of the planets are borrowed from Hindu astrology, but the Burmese Rahu and Kate are different from the Nakshatra Rahu and Katu. [UKT ]

DHA:
The Burmese consider them to be distinct and separate Planets, whereas Hindu astrology considers them to be either the Dragon's Head and Tail, or the Ascending and Descending Nodes.

UKT , 080826, 130128:
The Hindus considered them a the head-without-body and body-without-head of an asura. To the Burmese, Kate is the king of all the planets.

According to the Hindu story of the "Churning of the Cosmic Ocean", the Devas cheated the Asuras of their fair share of the Elixir of Immortality. One Asura got himself mixed with the company of Devas, and started to drink the Elixir. The Sun-deva and the Moon-deva saw and reported it to Vishnu who in reality was the agent of the Deva-gods. He cut the Asura into two: head and body -- the head became Rahu and the body Ketu. Because of this, Rahu, whenever he got the chance swallowed Sun-deva, or Moon-deva, but they always come out of the open end of his throat - a Santa Claus story of Solar and Lunar eclipses for the kids! See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ocean_of_milk#The_Churning_of_the_Ocean 130128

The most popular form of Burmese astrology is the {ma.ha-Boat}, which is entirely different from the Nakshatra Astrology {nak~hkt b-ding} of the Hindus. {ma.ha-boat} was the astrology referred to Dr. Htin Aung. According to Daw Hla Than, an astrologer-friend of mine, who had studied {ma.ha-boat} thoroughly, it was of Burmese origin. -- 080827

The Kait of {ma.ha-Boat} is different from the Ktu of Hindu astrology. The Kait is so bright that it blinds all other plants so that they cannot have any effect on the person -- cutting off their influence. Whereas in Hindu, Ktu cuts off the planetary influence by casting a shadow. I am waiting for input from my astrologer friends. -- 130114

DHA:
As with other nations the Burmese name the seven days of their week after the seven planets, but Burmese astrology recognizes an eight-day week, Wednesday being divided into two days; until 6 p.m. it is Wednesday, but from 6 p.m. to midnight it is Rahu's day.

UKT: The above paragraph needs to be checked. The division point in time is the 'noon' on Wednesday when the Sun is at Zenith. Twelve hours before noon is the day of Wednesday-planet (animal: elephant with tusks), whereas 12 hours after the 'noon' is the Rahu day (animal: elephant without tusks - considered untamable). -- 080829

Just as the gods of Hindu mythology ride on particular animals as their 'vehicles', the nine Burmese Planets have their own animal vehicles and are often represented by these animals.

UKT: the figures of animals, except the   {pi~sa.ru-pa.} at the centre, are from Facets of Life at Shwedagon Pagoda in Colorful Myanmar by Daw Khin Myo Chit. The ruler of the Planets are all portrayed as males. No Planet is mentioned with a wife, which attest the fact that they are not devas or asuras but something else. They are simply referred to as {groh).

I have inserted the Indian Planets & their vehicles from Wikipedia. You can see that by just comparing the animal vehicles of the Planets, Burmese astrology is not Indian astrology. I hold that the Burmese variety was the original Vedic - Tib-Bur astrology, before it became corrupt at the hands of the new comers into India -- the IE and Dravidian speakers. I base my assumption on the presence of Naga -- an object of worship of Tib-Bur -- in Burmese astrology.

1. Sunday-planet, {ta.nn~ga.nw groh} rides on a Galon {ga.Loan}, the Bur-Myan name for the Pali Garuda, a mythical bird, who is the eternal enemy of the Naga {na.ga:}.

2. Monday-planet, {ta.nn~la groh} rides a tiger {kya:}.

3. Tuesday-planet, {n~ga groh} rides a {hkrn~.} commonly translated as "lion".

UKT: Imagine Mangala aka Mars, the god of war, riding a bull.

4. Wednesday-planet, {boad~Da.hu: groh} rides an elephant with tusks, {hsing}.

5. Rahu-planet or Rahu, {ra-hu. groh} rides a tuskless elephant known as {heing: hsing} which is believed to be more powerful than elephants with tusks. 

Inset pix: Elephants can move both forwards and backwards, but cannot trot, jump, or gallop.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Elephant 130114

6. Thursday-planet, {kra-a.pa.t: groh} rides a mouse (or rat) {krwak}.

7. Friday-planet, {au:kra groh} rides a guinea pig {pu:}. fn012-01

8. Saturday-planet, {sa.n groh} rides on a Naga {na.ga:}.

9. Kate-planet, {kait groh} rides on an 'Animal of Five Beauties', {pi-sa.ru-pa.} a mythical animal with the antlers of a deer, the tusks and trunk of an elephant, the mane of a lion, the body of a Naga, and the tail of a fish. The figures now being set are those of the gods of the planets astride their animals. [UKT ]

UKT: Although Dr. HtinAung has described {pi-sa.ru-pa.} as "mythical", it should be noted that there was no literature that claimed that such animals had existed. In case of "mythical" creatures such as Galoan and Naga, there were literature that claimed that such animals did exist. As such, I would not described it as "mythical" but "composite" -- just parts put together by the artist. I wait for input from my peers. -- UKT130116

DHA:
The Master places the figure of the Kate planet in the centre of the monastery but behind the Buddha. The other eight planets have their cardinal points and corners and each is placed behind an Arahat as shown in the table. From their cardinal points, and behind the Arahats, the figures of the planets face towards the Buddha. [{p012-013}]

UKT: 080829
There have been suggestions that the worship of the Planets in Myanmar had its origin in the worship of animals. If that is so, it would be helpful to look into the four animals assigned to the cardinal points. Starting with tiger of the East, it should be remarked that at least two Burmese nats have tigers as their vehicles, which may be traced to the belief in were-tigers similar to the werewolves.

The next is the elephant of the South. The elephants were quite abundant in the forests of Myanmarpr from the north to the south and all the indigenous tribes would have been familiar with the largest land animal with their remarkable intelligence, memory and strength. Surely, this is an animal worthy to be worshipped by the prehistoric Burmese.

Then, the ever present mouse (or even rat) of the West. The house mouse is one of the most intelligent animals which have found ways to co-exist with the humans. In spite of our efforts to eliminate them, they do survive and multiply in all ages and in all societies. (Exception: Arctic circle?). There have been instances of house mice becoming quite friendly to the humans. To cite one example, my father being the public health inspector at one time in his life was responsible to mouse eradication. In his old age, long time after being the cause of death to many mice, he became friends with a little mouse who came to make friends with him even accepting food from his hand. Surely, the mouse is worthy of respect.

The last, the guinea pig of the North. These little animals makes excellent pets and companions to lonely children who would remember them with fondness and love expecting to be united with them after death.

The animals of the corners, the garuda or galon is a bird of prey. There have been reports of very young infants being carried away for food by huge eagles, and surely the biggest bird of prey the galon is to be feared and secretly hated. The lion was probably unknown to the ancient Burmese - something foreign and something to be feared.

The naga is of course the fictionalized king cobra - never friendly but always ready to warn the humans with its hisses. The last is the tuskless elephants which are quite rare and something totally unlike the useful elephants with tusks. (I still have to check the factual contents of my note -- 080829.

Contents of this page

The Five Great Gods
or Mother Goddesses & their attendants

UKT: See Gayatri Mantra - the equivalent of Peacock Paritta .

DHA:
Then the Master sets up his last group of figures. They are five in number representing the Five Great Gods, namely:

1. Thurathati {u-ra~a.ti},
2. Sandi {sN~i}, (not to be confused with {sn~da} the 'Moon')
3. Param-Thwa {pa.ra.m-wa},
4. Maha-Peinne {ma.ha-pain~n}, :
   pix on right: Maha-Peinne dancing -- UKT130115
5. Peikthano {bai~a.No:} or Gawra-manta {Gau:ra.mn~ta.} .

DHA:
All these goddesses and gods are Hindu in origin. Thurathati is the Hindu goddess Saraswati, the consort of Brahma; Sandi is Chandi, the consort of Siva; Paramay-thwa is Siva himself; Maha-Peinne is the Burmese name for Ganesh fn013-01, the elephant-headed god; Peikthano is Vishnu, and Gawra-manta or 'he with the horse' is the ninth (and future) incarnation of Vishnu.

UKT 080826 :
I will have to object to the whole of the above para in which DHA has faithfully portrayed the the whole ceremony as that of Brahmin-Poanna or Hindu. If you take #3. Paramay-thwa {pa.ra.m-wa}, as the Mother-goddess herself, and not as Shiva as the Hindu religionists would like us to believe, you could see that Nine-God Puja is Vedic (of Tib-Bur speakers) with females at the top. If it had been Hindu (of Indo-European speakers) - of a male dominated sex-oriented society, the males would come first.

DHA:
As in the case of the eight Arahats, and the nine gods of the planets, the figures of the Hindu gods are carved in an attitude of worship, and they are set in line facing the Buddha in front of the little monastery. Thurathati is on the extreme left of the line and Siva is therefore in the centre. It is to be noticed that Thurathati's consort, Brahma, is absent, and Vishnu's consort, the gentle Lakshmi, is also absent.

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Ceremony begins

DHA:
On the roof of the miniature monastery there fly nine miniature prayer-flags and streamers from the nine miniature poles, and there are also nine miniature golden umbrellas. The largest prayer-flag, pole (with streamers) and golden [{p013-p014}] umbrella are above the Buddha, and the remaining eight flags, poles and umbrellas are above the Arahats and the gods at the eight cardinal points, and are of the same size. The five Hindu gods do not have these insignias of worship.

DHA:
The Master of the Ceremony now places nine miniature flower-pots in position, the flower-pot placed before the Buddha being the largest, the other eight of equal size. He then places in position nine miniature begging-bowls (UKT: alms-bowl), the largest in front of the Buddha, the remaining eight of equal size before the eight Arahats, and nine miniature plates, the largest in front of the Kate [the Hindu Ketu] planet and the other eight of equal size before the gods of the other planets. The flower-pots contain three kinds of flowers each but the begging-bowls (alms-bowl) and the plates are empty. Finally he sets up nine beeswax candles at the nine points and lights them. He then starts to recite extracts from Buddhist texts and offers special prayers on behalf of the household.

DHA:
By this time the guests have arrived. They kneel before the monastery and make obeisance. The guests are served with light refreshments: in villages pickled tea and plain tea, in towns ice-cream and cakes. It is a social occasion and the guests chat and laugh. At about nine or ten o'clock the guests leave, the inmates retire to their bedrooms, and the Master of the Ceremony is left alone in the room, still chanting extracts from the scriptures. At midnight he, too, goes to sleep in a makeshift bed in the room.

DHA:
About an hour before dawn the inmates get up and prepare the food to be offered to the Nine Gods. Three kinds of fruit, usually banana, coco-nut, and plum, and three kinds of jam are kept ready. The rice to be offered to the Buddha and the Arahats is cooked in an earthen pot which has never been used before, and the rice to be offered to the gods of the planets is cooked separately in another new earthen pot. At dawn, the begging-bowls (alms-bowl) before the Buddha and the Arahats and the plates before the gods are filled with three kinds of fruit, [{p014-p015}] three kinds of jam, and cooked rice. The Master of the Ceremony first chants some more extracts from Buddhist texts and offers the alms-food to the Buddha and the Arahats. Then he invokes the gods of the planets to come and accept it. He recites a particular formula of invocation for each planet, in the following order: Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Thursday, Rahu, Friday, Kate.

DHA:
It will be noticed that the gods of the planets are invoked in the order of the cardinal points, and that the chief planet, Kate, is invoked last. After the gods of the planets have been invoked, the Master of the Ceremony remains silent for a few minutes and then he recites the formula of dispersal. Again for each planet a particular formula is used, but the order is changed, as follows: Sunday, Tuesday, Saturday, Rahu, Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Kate.

UKT 130130:
I like the way I remembered as a child the formula for "dispersal". It sounded something like:
{Boan-za hi. Boan-za hi. wa: hoan hoan}. When I recited what I had remembered emphasizing the word {wa:} 'to get out' - a command, U Tun Tint (MLC) burst out laughing. "No! No!, you are completely wrong. It is not commanding the Planets to "get out" but something else!"

DHA:
The Sunday, Tuesday, Saturday, and Rahu planets are considered by the Burmese to be Malefics, or planets with an evil influence, and the Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday planets are considered to be Benefics, or planets with a benign influence. Kate [Hindu Ketu] is considered to be the most powerful and a Benefic, but as the chief planet it cannot be grouped with the other planets. fn015-01 Thus the four Malefics are dispersed first, then the four Benefics, and finally the Kate planet. Another explanation is the astrological belief that at the beginning of this universe the nine planets appeared one by one in this order. The formula of dispersal is really a formula of expulsion or exorcism. And with it the ceremony closes.

UKT 130130:
Kate aka Kait, king of the Planets in our system has been made into a head-less malefic by the Hindu religionists. This shows that our Nine-god Puja is entirely different from the Navagraha Puja of the Hindus! I hold that our Nine-god Puja is in reality the worship of the Buddha and his eight Arahats who have the power to control the Planets. It is not a worship of the Planets nor Deva-Nats. We give a feast to the Nats, and the term used is {ka.na:} - the word Puja {pu-zau} is never used.

 

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Explanations of the ceremony

DHA:
With all Burmese ceremonies there is a Buddhist explanation, and a story from the Dhammapada Commentary is cited as the basis of the ceremony of the Nine Gods.

UKT130130:
See the Dhammapada story in a translation in Harvard Oriental Series:  buddhistlegends02burluoft.pdf (link chk: 130130).
Alas, nobody seemed to have recognized that there could be problems in translations. Who was the translator? Just because he knew two languages does not mean that he could get to the deeper meanings. Translation usually involves only the surface meanings. To get to the deeper meanings, the translator must know the culture of the target language as well as the culture of the basis language. The translator was probably a Christian and he was translating something very foreign to Judeo-Christian beliefs. And therefore I question the reliability of the translations of the Harvard Oriental Series themselves. In what script was the Pali written? How can we say that the Pali written in the script of SriLanka would give the original deeper meanings written in the original script of Behar? We have the same stories in Bur-Myan derived from Pali written in Myanmar script. When and how did these stories came into Myanmarpr. Through overland routes from Behar, or round-about way via SriLanka?

DHA:
A Brahman, his wife, and their little son saluted a monk, who said 'Live long!' to both parents, but remained silent to the little son.

DHA:
Said the father, 'Reverend Sir, why was it that when we saluted you, you said, "Live long!" But when this boy saluted you, you said not a word?' 'Some disaster awaits this boy, Brahman.' 'How long will he live, Reverend Sir?' 'For seven days, Brahman.' 'Is there any way of averting this, Reverend Sir?' 'I know of no way of averting this.' 'But who might know, Reverend Sir?' 'The monk Gotama; go to him and ask him.' 'Were I to go there, I should be afraid because of having abandoned my austerities.' 'If you love your son, think not of having abandoned your austerities, but go to him and ask him.'

DHA:
The Brahman went to the Teacher, and himself straightway saluted him. 'Live long!' said the Teacher. When the boy's mother saluted him, he said the same. But when they made the boy salute him, he held his peace. Then the Brahman asked the Teacher the same question he had previously asked the monk, and the Teacher made the same prediction. The Brahman asked the Teacher, 'Reverend Sir, is there no way of averting this?' 'There might be, Brahman.' 'What way might there be, Reverend Sir?'

DHA:
'If you erect a pavilion before the door of your house, and set a chair in the centre of it, and arrange eight or sixteen seats in a circle about it, and cause my disciples to sit therein; and if you then cause texts to be recited for the purpose of securing protection and averting evil consequences for the space of seven days uninterruptedly, in that case the danger that threatens him might be averted.' 'Sir Gotama, it is a perfectly easy matter to erect a pavilion and do all the rest, but how am I to obtain the services of your disciples?' 'If you will do all this, I will send my disciples.' 'Very well, Sir Gotama.'

DHA:
So the Brahman completed all of the preparations at the door of his house and then went to the Teacher. The Teacher sent the monks, and they went and sat down, seating the boy also on a little bench. For seven nights and seven days without interruption, the monks recited the usual texts, and on the seventh day the Teacher came himself. [UKT ]

DHT:
When the Teacher came, the deities of all the worlds assembled. But a certain ogre named Avaruddhaka {a.wa.roat~ta.ka.}, [{p016-p017}] who had served Vessavana {wu~a.wN~Na.} for twelve years and who had received the boon, 'Seven days hence you shall receive this boy', approached and stood awaiting. But when the Teacher came there, and the powerful deities gathered themselves together, and the weak deities drew back stepping back twelve leagues so as to make room, then Avaruddhaka stepped back also.

DHA:
The Teacher recited the Protective Texts all night long, with the result that when the seven days had elapsed, Avaruddhaka failed to get the boy. Indeed, when the dawn of the eighth day rose, they brought the boy and caused him to make obeisance to the Teacher. Said the Teacher, 'Live long!' 'Sir Gotama, how long will the boy live?' 'For a hundred and twenty years, Brahman.' So they gave him the name of Lad-Whose-Years-Increased, Ayuvaddhana. fn017-01

UKT: The name is Āyuvḍḍhana from:
VIII. 8. THE LAD WHOSE YEARS INCREASED
If a man have the habit of reverence. This religious instruction was given by the Teacher while he was in residence at Arannakutika near Dighalambika with reference to the youth Dighayu. [235]
   The downloaded pdf is in TIL library in section: ~~Lib-Philo-Relig/HarvardOrientalSeries.

DHA:
That the explanation is an afterthought seems obvious. The Dhammapada story does mention eight or sixteen monks seated round the Buddha, but they did not sit in the form of a square but a circle. The story makes no mention of the planets. Moreover, the story of the Nine Gods contains elements which can have no Buddhistic explanation.

UKT 130130:
Let's critically examined the points raised by Dr. HtinAung to show that the ceremony is not Buddhist. We note that he did not insist that it is Hindu in the above para. So let's read the story given in Dhammapada as found in the Harvard Oriental Series, first. See: fn017-01.
  Firstly DHA, insisted that the monks sat in a "circle", not in the form of a "square". This is a weak point: see the diagram with 8 points. The idea is to cover all the 8 points of compass. Just ask the monks #2, #4, #6 & #8 to move a little backwards, and you would not know whether they were sitting in a circle or square.
   Secondly, the whole ceremony is the worship of Arahants who has the power to avert danger including those from the Planets. Remember at the end of all stories about conversion of a person into an Arahant, the Gautama Buddha is always counted as one. For example, after the conversion of Kodana, the very first one, it is stated: "now there are two in the world".
   Thirdly, I insist that the ceremony was derived from the religion of the original Tib-Bur speakers. Some of the speakers were converted to Buddhism and some to Hinduism. I look at the rise of Buddhism not from Hinduism, but from something pre-Buddhistic and pre-Hinduistic.

DHA:
The full name of the ceremony means 'Offering of Alms-food to the Nine Buddhas.' It will be noticed, however, that there are only one Buddha and eight Arahats. Phaya, the Burmese word for Buddha, can never be applied to a monk, even if he be an Arahat, but before the introduction of Buddhism it could mean a god, and so the real meaning of the Burmese word Phaya-kozu would seem to be the Nine Gods. If that is so, the Nine Gods must mean the nine planets, and in the ceremony the gods of the nine planets are, in fact, being worshipped, although that fact is hidden underneath a coating of Buddhism.

UKT 130130:
I suggest that {Bu.ra:ko:hsu pu-zau-pw:} was a pre-Buddhistic ceremony changed into a worship of those who should be worshipped meaning the Buddha and his disciples. The Planets and the Deva-gods were invited to the ceremony so that they can worship the Buddha and his disciples. It does not mean 'Offering of Alms-food to the Nine Buddhas.' The word "alms-food" is not included. If it had been 'Offering of Alms-food' it would have been {hswum:kp}. However since alms-food is involved in the second part held in the morning, there is no point in differing from DHA.

DHA:
In the ceremony no special prayers or scriptures are prescribed for the worship and offering of alms-food to the Buddha and the eight Arahats. The Master of the Ceremony chooses [{p017end-p018begin}] the prayers and the scriptures at his discretion, but certain set formulas of worship and offering for the nine planets are prescribed, and the Master of the Ceremony must recite those particular formulas. The Buddha and the Arahats are never invoked nor dispersed, but the nine gods are not only invoked but carefully dispersed.

DHA:
That the ceremony has some Hindu origin is illustrated by the presence of the figures of the five Hindu gods and goddesses, although no prayers nor offerings are made to them, and by the fact that the alms-food offered does not include any meat. [UKT ]

DHA:
To the more devout Masters of the Ceremony the combination of the worship of the Buddha and the Arahats, on the one hand, and that of the planets, on time other, seems so incongruous that occasionally one finds such a Master using a miniature monastery for the Buddha and the Arahats and a miniature one-roomed house for the planets; he calls the monastery 'the Buddha's Monastery' and the the 'Planet's House'.

UKT 130124:
The Hindu families do perform the Navagraha puja. Though the two pujas, Buddhist and Hindus bear the same name, there are major differences between the two. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Navagraha 130124 . The pix below is not from Wikipedia. Notice the householder and his wife sitting together with the puja-master in front of the Planet's House.

DHA:
Hindu astrology was known and practised in Burma before A.D. 1056, and the Chronicles tell of two reforms of the Burmese calendar in A.D. 78 and A.D. 640 respectively, according to astrological predictions and requirements. Even at the present day Hindu astrology, necessarily modified by Burmese beliefs, still holds sway in the mind of the average Burmese, who often consults a professional astrologer.

UKT 130130:
There is a difference between Hindu astrology and astronomy. And I feel that the very word Hindu is a misnomer. Astronomy was known to the ancients, and planetary positions had been worked out using mathematical methods which are no longer used. To solve the mathematics involved a method of itineration, known as Suriya Siddhanta, was used to precisely predict the position of the luminaries against the background of fixed stars. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Surya_Siddhanta 130130. In the Wikipedia article you will find: "the knowledge that the Sun deva-god gave to an Asura called Maya. Asuras were enemies of the Deva, the Gods of Hindus. Asuras were believed to be residents of the nether worlds." You will see the mention of Deva-gods, and Asura-demons. Imagine the Sun deva-god as the originator of a piece of knowledge. Why not Maha-Brahma? It is now my belief that the Trimurti, the Hindu Trinity is just a later addition of Brahmin-Poannas. So it was the Sun deva-god who was the source of knowledge in Indian astronomy. In the Planet set up of the Indians, the Sun deva-god is at the centre. What about the Bur-Myan set up? It is Kait riding on five animals which were made into a composite.

The inclusion of Deva-gods and Asura-demons were just a ploy to make the mathematics interesting. That the method can stand up the present astronomical measurements can be seen by its estimates of the diameters of the planets Mercury and Saturn: the differences are less than 1% of the modern scientific values.

The Burmese and Pyu mathematicians used these calculations to set the lunar calendar used for raising of crops and forecasting of weather, to the solar calendar. And when the calculations become unwieldy they set the counting of years to a small number such as 2. They did this on two occasions - the reason they gave to the king -- who must be ignorant of mathematics but who must enforce the new calendar, and the local population who would have to use the new calendar, was astrological. And they, took in the ploy "hook, line, and sinker" whole heartedly. That I think (just conjecture) was the reason why the author of the Chinese chronicle Man-Shu had written about "fortune tellers and astrologers".

DHA:
The basic belief of Burmese astrology is that the planets, except Kate, mould a man's fate. The planet of a man's birth day will be the main guardian of his fate, but at each particular period of a man's life, a particular planet throws upon him its baneful or its beneficial influence. For example, at one period of his life he will be under the influence of Saturn and ill-fortune will befall him, but at another period he will be under the influence of Venus and good fortune will result. Thus the ebb and flow of a man's fortune depends on the paths in sky of the planets. The Burmese chronicles [{p018-p019}] always mention the particular day of the week on which each king was born, and until the last two decades the name of a Burmese indicated upon which day of the week he was born.

DHA:
The letters of the Burmese alphabet [DHA should have said "Myanmar akshara" which is used by Burmese, Karen, Mon, Shan and others] were divided up between the eight planets thus:

ka kha, ga, gha, nga -- Monday
sa, hsa, za, zha, nya -- Tuesday
ta, hta, da, dha, na -- Saturday
pa, hpa, ba, bha, ma -- Thursday

la, wa -- Wednesday (Wednesday before noon)
ya, ra -- Rahu's day (Wednesday afternoon)
tha, ha -- Friday
a -- Sunday

UKT: I have divided the original list into two as above. The first 4 rows are the {wag}-consonants, and the second 4 rows are the approximants. I wonder what the relations between astrology and phonetics are. -- UKT130130

and on this division a person's name was chosen. Thus, the first name of a Saturday-born would begin with one of the following letters:

ta, hta, da, dha, na -- Saturday

as, for example, 'Tin', 'Htin', 'Nan'. This custom of naming a person after his birthday planet has now fallen into disuse, except in old-fashioned families.

DHA:
The Burmese pagoda, like the ceremony of the Nine Gods, retains under a Buddhistic colouring the cult of the planet gods. The eight cardinal points round a pagoda are named after the planets, and the terms east, west, north, south, south east, south-west, north-east and north-west are never used to refer to the various points of the pagoda; instead the following terms are used:

the Sunday corner (north-east)
the Monday corner (east)
the Tuesday corner (south-east)
the Wednesday corner (south)
the Saturday corner (south-west)
the Thursday corner (west)
the Rahu corner (north-west)
the Friday corner (north) [{p020}]

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DHA:
A person who has been told by the astrologer that he is under the baneful influence of a Malefic offers special prayers at the 'corner' of that particular planet. He will also offer special prayers at the corner of his own birthday planet. It will be noticed that the Kate planet is absent. The original reason for this can only be guessed. Perhaps it was found difficult to put the Kate planet right in the centre, or perhaps, as the fortunes of a man never fell directly under this planet's influence, no special prayers to the Kate planet were considered necessary. Each of the eight corners of the pagoda has a sign, which depicts not the particular god astride his animal, but the animal itself.

DHA:
All the above facts will indicate that there existed a magico-religious cult connected with the worship of the planets before Buddhism became the official religion of the Burmese. A Chinese chronicle of the ninth century, the , mentioned the presence in Burma of 'many fortune tellers and astrologers'. The cult was, of course, Hindu in origin, but whether it was superimposed on an existing native cult is a matter for consideration.

UKT: Who was the author of  ? Was he writing from first-hand experience or just repeating the stories that he must have heard from the Chinese-traders who were after all only  interested in making a profit. They were not in northern Myanmarpr to collect historical facts. Because of their arrogance in dealing with the natives, there had been armed conflicts between the two countries. Alas, I can not read nor speak Chinese, otherwise I would have looked into the Old Chinese in which the chronicle was written. I am suspecting the word "fortune teller" which to the Western mind is an epithet: the glorified cheats. -- UKT130130

DHA:
Leaving aside the mythical and composite animal that the Kate planet rides, the animals ridden by the other eight gods are real animals to the Burmese mind. Although the Naga and the Galon are mythical animals, the average Burmese villager still believes that they are real animals living in the depths of the forests of Burma. The conception of these animal-vehicles of the planets is Hindu in origin but Burmese in development. [UKT ]

DHA:
It has been noted that the signs at the eight corners of a pagoda depict not the planet-gods but the animals. It may therefore be that the cult of the nine planets took over for its support an existing native animal cult. [UKT ]

DHA:
Just as the Naga  fn020-01 was worshipped, perhaps the other seven animals also were once worshipped by the Burmese. It may be also that there was a native cult connected with the mystic number nine. Of [{p020-p021}] course with most peoples of the world nine is a mystic number, and to the Buddhist it is also a mystic number because the Buddha has 'nine special attributes'. However, there is some evidence that with the Burmese there was a definite magico-religious cult connected with the number. [UKT ]

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The Magic number Nine : UKT caption

DHA:
The Burmese word ko {ko:} can mean both 'nine' and' to seek protection by worshipping', and the Burmese phrase Nat-ko {nat.ko:} means to 'offer (food) to the Nat to get his protection'. In making offerings to a Nat, nine candles, nine dishes of food or nine kinds of food are often used. With the Ceremony of the Nine Gods, although the nine candles, the nine-flower pots, etc., can be explained away as being merely consequential to the fact that the gods were nine in number, it is to be noted that nine kinds of offering are made, leaving aside the rice, namely: three kinds of flowers, three kinds of fruit, and three kinds of jam.

DHA:
The popular Burmese card game Ko-Mee {ko:mi:} or 'Nine Fires', success at which depends entirely on chance and not on skill, was originally a ritual game connected with the mystic number nine. [UKT ]

DHA:
In addition, there were 'nine districts' of Kyaukse in Upper Burma, and in these districts, even at the present day, the number nine must be avoided, as the Nats will be angry if their special number is used by human beings. For example, if a caravan of nine carts goes on a trading venture, a dire accident will result. [UKT ]

DHA:
If one builds a house on the ninth waxing or waning of a Burmese month, disaster will follow, and if one goes out with eight companions, sorrow will result.

DHA:
But whether the cult of the Nine Planets was superimposed on existing native cults or otherwise it was definitely non-Buddhist, and all non-Buddhist religious cults, whether native or alien in origin, were suppressed after Buddhism became the official religion of the Burmese under Anawrahta. For a non-Buddhist cult to survive it was necessary to give it a colouring of Buddhism, and also to admit that the gods of the cult were inferior to the Buddha and were supporters of the new religion. [UKT ]

DHA:
The cult of the Nine Planets had to bow to [{p021-p022}] the new order of things. The Ceremony of the Nine Planets was transformed into the joint-ceremony of the worship of the Buddha and the eight Arahats, and the worship of the Nine Planets. Admission that its gods were inferior to the Buddha and were supporters of the new religion was made by carving the figures of the Nine Planets and the Five Hindu Gods and Goddesses in an attitude of worship, and by placing them with their faces turned towards the image of the Buddha. At first, of course, there could have been no real change of heart, and in secret many devotees at the new ceremony would be worshipping the old gods of the planets. But as centuries passed and Buddhism gradually became firmly rooted in the life of the Burmese people, the anti-Buddhist and the pre-Buddhist elements in the ceremony gradually receded to the background.

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Footnotes

fn020-01 The worship of the Naga is considered in the appendix to Chapter 7.
Go back fn020-01b

fn012-01 According to astrological beliefs prevailing among the Shans, the Friday planet rides on an ox. fn012-01b 

UKT: Is it an ox or bull? The former is neutered is considered to be no longer perfect.

fn013-01 The Burmese Ganesh and the other Hindu gods are considered in detail in Chapter 3.
fn013-01b

fn015-01 Although Kate remains important in the ritual of the Nine Gods, modern Burmese astrology tends to ignore it.
fn015-01b

< a name="fn017-01">fn017-01  Burlingame, Buddhist Legends, Part II (Harvard Oriental Series).
fn017-01b

VIII. 8. THE LAD WHOSE YEARS INCREASED
If a man have the habit of reverence. This religious instruction was given by the Teacher while he was in residence at Arannakutika near Dighalambika with reference to the youth Dighayu. [235]
in HARVARD ORIENTAL SERIES, EDITED WITH THE COOPERATION OF VARIOUS SCHOLARS, BY CHARLES ROCKWELL LANMAN, Professor at Harvard University; Honorary Fellow of the Asiatic Society of Bengal, of France, of England, and of Germany; Corresponding Member of the Society of Sciences at Gottingen, the Russian Academy of Sciences, and the Academie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres of the Institute of France. Volume 29. 1921.
   The downloaded pdf is in TIL library: ~~Lib-Philo-Relig/HavardOrientalSeries. Just click: buddhistlegends02burluoft.pdf 130117 (link chk: 130130). There are 378 pdf pages, and on p.235, you will find the story as Book #8, Story #8 "The Lad whose years increased". The translation is by: E.W. Burlingame, from the original Pali text. On pdf-page 235 of 378 pages, you can start reading the story.

 

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UKT notes

Animal of Five Beauties

The figure of {pi-sa.ru-pa.} from U Sein Pe, {Bu.ra: ko:hsu pu-zau-n:}, Shweti Sarpay Taik, Yangon, p101 has a short body and looks like a bull. However, because this animal is a composite, it seems that the Burmese artists are at  liberty to create more than one version -- with wings. The animal with the elongated body is usually found on top of the pole from which the big drum of the traditional Burmese orchestra is hung.

 

Go back animal5beauti-note-b

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Astrology of Nakshatras : Moon mansions

-- UKT 080829, 130131, 170413

The celestial equator of 360 deg of arc is divided into 27 divisions called Nakshatras grouped into 9 groups called Taras. The 0th deg of arc is the beginning of first Rasi - Aries the Ram. It is also the beginning of the first Tara - the Ashvins twins the physicians of the Dvas.

See Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ashvins 170413
Do not confuse the Ashvin twins (both males) with the depiction of a man mating with a woman ( मैथुन maithuna 'mating' ).
See also: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mithuna_(astrology) 170413
"Mithuna is the third sign in Indian astrology. The Mithuna is equivalent to the Gemini in Tropical Zodiac. The only difference is that Mithuna is represented by a man and a woman." Gemini means "twins".

Nakshatras {nak~hkt} are also known as Moon Mansions or Lunar Mansions. The Skt-Dev Nakshatras नक्षत्र = न क ् ष त ् र --> {nakS-tra.} is with the hissing-dental {Sa.} not present in Bur-Myan. The Skt-Myan {nakS-tra.} is not easily pronounced by average Bur-Myan speaker.

I am familiar with the Hindu and Myanmar systems, but not with Arabic and Chinese. The following is worth reading online. http://www.constellationsofwords.com/stars/MoonMansions.htm 130131. See the downloaded file in TIL library: ~~Lib-gen/Astrology/ MoonMansions.htm (this link may not work)

From: Vedic astrology lessons - the nakshatras,
http://www.astrojyoti.com/lesson2.htm 080829

First the zodiac was divided into 12 main Rasis, to study the effects of the planets placed there. Then the ancient seers added another sub divisional system of breaking down the zodiac into 27 Nakshatras {nak~hkt} or star constellations. [UKT ]

Each nakshatra has a span of 13 degrees and 20 minutes. After that each nakshatra was further subdivided into 4 Padas, or quarters, of 3 degrees and 20 minutes. Hence the first zodiac sign Aries, which has 30 degrees, contains the entire 4 padas (13:20') of the 1st star constellation Ashwini, the entire 4 padas (13:20') of the 2nd star constellation Bharani and the 1st pada (3:20') of the third star constellation Krittika. So each rasi contains total 9 padas. [UKT ]

These nakshatras belong to three main groups: Deva or divine {nt}, Manusha or human {lu}, and Rakshasa or Demonic {Bi-lu:}. They have different ruling deities, owned by different planets and have divergent qualities. Hence while studying the effects of a planet placed in Aries, it is also studied in which nakshatra it is placed and in which pada of that nakshatra it is placed. This system of analysis exists only in Indian astrology [and Myanmar].

The nakshatra in which your moon is placed at the time of your birth is called your Janma Nakshatra. This janma nakshatra has also got its influence on you.

UKT: Moon in astrology is {sn:} - MEDict2006-125
However, U Tun Myint, Pali-thak-Dictionary, p.057, gives a different spelling: {si:].
From the way we pronounce it,  {sn:} seems to be right.

Nakshatras:
01. Ashwini, 02. Bharani, 03. Krittika, 04. Rohini, 05. Mrigasira, 06. Arudra, 07. Punarvasu, 08. Pushyami, 09. Aslesha, 10. Magha, 11. Poorvaphalguni, 12. Uttaraphalguni, 13. Hasta, 14. Chitra, 15. Swati, 16. Visakha, 17. Anuradha, 18. Jyestha, 19. Moola, 20. Purvashadha, 21. Uttarashadha, 22. Shravana, 23. Dhanishta, 24. Satabhistha, 25. Purvabhadra, 26. Uttarabhadrapada, 27. Revati.

See also: Navatara Chakra - http://shrifreedom.org/vedic-astrology/navatara-chakra/ 170413

The Sun is the lord of the signs (the body), and the Moon is the lord of the naksatra (the mind). The Atma is entangled to the mind, wherever the body goes the atma must go. Therefore the naksatras are very important. The Navatara is the 27 naksatras divided into 3 groups of nine. This chakra is used for fine-tuning the vimshottari dasa results as well as for making Muhurta specific to an individual chart.

1. Janma birthstar, ones own nature, most influential naksatra.
2. Sampat wealth, it shows the kind of wealth you should possess, how your mind works in taking the resources available.
3. Vipat danger, shows dangers to life and business, bad days.
4. Kshema well-being, cure, time to get healed, if not healed here then can cause problems in next naksatra.
5. Pratyak obstacles, bhadaka, can cause death or death-like suffering, if start an activity on this naksatra there will be many obstacles.
6. Sdhana achievement, good for starting activities as they will succeed.
7. Naidhana death, the worst of the bad stars (3, 5, 7).
8. Mitra friend, friends who are close.
9. Parama Mitra best friend, supporters, community, friends will meet you, good for things dealing with crowds.

 

 

 

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begging-bowl

-- UKT 080828

The word <begging> is inappropriate, since the Buddhist monks do not <beg>, and the current usage is <alms-bowl>. However, if a monk does <beg>, then, and only then, should he be termed a <mendicant monk>, and his bowl the <begging-bowl>. The usage of the word <begging-bowl> was common at one time, probably due to the Westerner's outlook on those who would not <work> for a living. To a Myanmar, it is the lay-man who has to <thank> the monk for receiving the alms offered, and thus a monk does not say <thank you> in return, but would say approvingly Thadu {a-du.} 'good' in Pal-Myan (not Sadu which is Sanskrit) three times to express his recognition of the good deed done by the lay-man.

mendicant adj. 1. Depending on alms for a living; practicing begging. n. 1. A beggar. 2. A member of an order of friars forbidden to own property in common, who work or beg for their living. [Middle English from Old French from Latin mendīcāns mendīcant- , present participle of mendīcāre to beg from mendīcus needy, beggar from mendum physical defect] -- AHTD

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Burmese astrology

-- UKT 080826 , 130131

According to the Mahaboat {ma.ha-boat} Burmese Astrology, each Planets influences the individual for a certain number of years known as "Planet life" {groh ak}. It is may be glossed as Planet-governance', and it is as follows:

Sun -- 6 years;
Mon -- 15 years;

Tuesday -- 8 years;
Wednesday -- 17 years;

Saturn -- 10 years;
Thursday -- 19 years;

Rahu -- 12 years;
Friday -- 21 years.

The total -- 108 years : the life-span of a human is taken to be 108 years.

The Mahaboat Planet-governance {ma.ha-boat groh ak} is different from Nakkhut-Bedin {nak~hkt b-dn} the "main division" or {htu-la. da~a}. Those who are learning to read and write Bur-Myan should note the horizontal conjunct glyph a part of which has been coloured red.

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Chronicles

-- UKT 080826, 130131

Glass Palace Chronicle, Part 1, 1993 reprint, p184 states that in Buddhist Era {a-a.na ak~ka.raiz} 624 in the reign of King {u.moan~da.ri} of Sri Ksetra there was a calendar reform. The reform is known as {dau:dau:ra.a.} reform.

The second calendar reform took place in Pagan period in the Pyu Era 562 which is known as {hka.hsa.pyiny~sa.} reform resulting in Pagan Era which is the present Burmese Era.

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Five Great Gods {nt-kri: nga:pa:}
or Mother Goddess and their attendants

In mentioning the "Five Great Gods", it is the Goddesses first with the males Gods coming up last. This justifies a change of caption to "Five Goddesses and Gods" or my preferred caption "Mother Goddesses and their attendants".

-- UKT 080902

Though Thurathati and Sandi are goddesses, they are collectively called Great Gods {nt-kri: nga:pa:} as if they were males. It stems from our custom of not differentiating much between the two sexes. In Bur-Myan culture, women have a high place -- something very foreign to the colonial-writers. In many ways our culture could be called matriarchal -- not patriarchal.

It should be noted that the ceremony is to placate the angry Planet or Planets if there are any, or to commemorate the Motherhood. The Devi-Mothers are present only as part of the worshippers. Together with Devi-Mothers would come their male-attendants.

The term Five Great Gods {nt-kri: nga:pa:} is a collective term -- number 5 is always constant. 

In U Po Kya Thirty-seven Kings (in Burmese), p.017-019, we find six sets of five nats. The set of five given above corresponds to the set recognized during the reign of King Thalun in the 17th century. This set included Thurathati {u-ra~a.ti}.

However during the reign of King Bodawpaya (18th century) a different set, without Thurathati, was recognized. U Po Kya noted that the set recognized by the present day Nine-Gods-Sayas and Nat-Sayas is the set which included Thurathati.

UKT 080902, 130131:
From Thurathati, through Sandi to Peikthano, we have the {nat-kri: nga:pa:}. Are they to be included into the pantheon of Nat-Devas? Are they above {i.kra:ming:} or under him? What about the Planets {groh}?

This question does not come in in the worship of the Nine-Gods is {Bu.ra: ko:hsu} {pu-zau pw:}, because neither the {i.kra:ming:} nor his entourage of the 36 Burmese nats, Anawrahta had placed under him, are included.

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Gayatri Mantra : Peacock sutra

-- UKT 130115
The reader must note that what I have written under my caption: The Tibeto-Burman Mother Goddess, is pure conjecture. 

See Hymns of Rig Veda, translated by Ralph T.H. Griffith, 2nd edition, 1896  : http://www.sanskritweb.net/rigveda/griffith.pdf 130115, or the websites mentioned therein:
http://www.sacred-texts.com/hin/rigveda/index.htm
http://www.hinduwebsite.com/sacredscripts/rigintro.htm

The hymns directed to the RigVeda gods and goddesses were the most ancient in Vedic religion. These had been taken over by Hindu religionists and converted into Huduism. The three most important gods were Indra, Agni, and Soma. By important I mean those who received the most number of hymns. Hymn #35, 01-035, is directed to Sva as Goddess or Savitar the God. 

We will look into the first two gods, one by one. The definitions are from Macdonell A Practical Sanskrit Dictionary :

{AIn~dra.} इन्द्र indra [ ndra ] = (इ न ्) (द ् र)
-- m. Indra, chief of the Vedic gods; --, highest, chief, prince of -
(p045c3) . [Note: such spellings in Skt-Dev use vowel-letters. If we are present in Bur-Myan usage it would be {ain~dra.}]

{ag~ni.} अग्नि agni = अ ग ् न ि
- m. fire; conflagration; god Agni. (p003c1-b15)

After the above two, Soma received the most number of hymns. Soma is the third, and is the Elixir of Life which has been interpreted to mean a health drink containing, a narcotic and/or alcohol which has been abused. It is also identified with the Moon. As soon as the Moon is mentioned, we must look into the Moon-rabbit that might be connected with preparation of something connected with plant materials. See Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moon_rabbit 130131. In it is mentioned the Chinese story of the Moon-goddess with her white rabbit (the Rabbit in the Moon) pounding the herbs to make the Elixir of Life for her. Because of this connection, we should interpret Soma as the Moon-Devi which gives a cool invigorating light -- an elixir of life or "long life and a soothing medicine" to humans.

Now lets look into Gayatri Mantra the oldest hymn in Rig Veda. Its metre is different from other Sanskrit hymns, and which therefore preceded Sanskrit. In it, the Trimuti -- Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva -- is not mentioned. Only one entity was mentioned -- Sva (which the Hindu grab-religionists say is Shiva): 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) [ स्वः = स ् व ः --> {wa:.} -- Not emphatic but creak ], 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, followed by the three Vyahrtis and the Gayatri verse."

I hold that {wa:.} स्वः is the Mother-Goddess herself. I wait for input from my peers and I am ready to change my view.

The final line of Gayatri Mantra is also interesting and offers a possible means of original worshippers.

धियो॒ यो नः॑ प्रचो॒दया॑त्॥ ।
dhyo y naḥ pracodyāt

If they had been Tib-Bur speakers, the personal pronoun would have been {ngaa.}. But IE speakers not having this phoneme had to use {na:.} नः॑ . This phoneme is also present in Mon-Myan {na:.} .

In Pyu archeological sites the images of the Mother Goddess was found. I contend that the Tib-Bur speakers such as the Pyus worshipped 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 first teacher of her children) was taken for wife by the Brahma, Lakshmi (who looks after the welfare of her children) taken for wife by Vishnu, and Parvati or Sandhi (the defender of her children) taken for wife by Shiva.

The worship of the five great gods {nt-kri: nga:pa:} in the ritual of the Nine-God Puja was therefore not a Hindu idea but a form of Vedic worship.

The Vedic worship as is still practiced by the Brahmin-Poonas 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, followed by the three Vyahrtis and the Gayatri verse."

I contend that the animism of the hill country described by Dr. HtinAung is not the same as the Vedic worship.

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Gods of the Planets : Mercury

-- UKT 080826 , 130129

The ancients, standing on Earth viewed the luminaries in the sky as travelers -- traveling against the background of fixed stars. Eventually I will be dealing with the real astronomical planets for which I will have to leave out the sun and the moon. The ancients were looking at a system, with the Earth at the centre. Their system is known as geo-centric, and the mathematical relations are complex.

Now, we have a simpler system, the solar-centric aka helio-centric, which considers the sun as the centre. The mathematical equations are simpler. Remember both geo-centric and solar-centric are just models and both are neither true nor false: it all depends on the position of the observer. Now let's imagine we are stationed somewhere in the universe and observing the solar system with the sun at the centre. I am giving an animation from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mercury_planet 130129 

Astrologically, all Planets, including those of the Moon and Venus, are considered to be males. Mercury is also a male and is not considered to be a hermaphrodite.

In Roman mythology, Mercury was always a close companion of Jupiter and was considered be a hermaphrodite aka homo. In astronomy, Mercury is so close to the Sun, that it appears as a small dark spot just before sun set-and sun-rise for certain periods in a year. Why the Romans had Mercury and Jupiter close together is unexplainable. Maybe it was an aberration from some other ancient system which regarded the Sun as the most important, and Mercury as a close companion of Sun -- in which case it would agree with the astronomical observations.

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Nakshatra astrology: Rahu and Ketu 

-- UKT 080826, 130128 

See also: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nakshatra 130128

The term "Hindu astrology" is somewhat misleading, because there is a difference in the horoscopes cast by the northern Hindus (predominantly Hindi speakers), and by southern Hindus (predominantly Tamil speakers). These should be termed "Hindi Natashtra Astrology" and "Tamil Nashatra Astrology". Of course, the Bur-Myan astrologers (Theravada Buddhist by religion) when they are using similar "Hindu" astrology, use a different horoscope set up. This we would have to call the "Burmese Nashatra Astrology".  By "Burmese", "Hindi", and "Tamil", I mean the speech-scripts used: "Bur-Myan", "Hind-Dev", and "Tamil-Tamil".

Rahu and Ketu are not 'real' Planets of the Celestial sphere with the Earth at its centre. In this respect what we are talking about here, is different from the planets in the Solar system where the Sun is at one of the foci of the ellipse.

By 'Planet' is meant a luminary in the sky which travel against the background of 'fixed' stars. Because they do move as observed from the Earth, the Sun and the Moon are considered to be planets.

Rahu and Ketu are 'assumed' Planets postulated to predict the eclipses of the Sun and Moon in Vedic Astronomy. Astrologically, Rahu is considered by both Burmese and Hindus to be an evil (malefic) Planet.

The opposite member of Rahu is Kate. Please note that the spelling with the silent 'e' at the end as is common in English, is very trouble-some in pronunciation. It would have been better if it had been spelled "Kait" rhyming the word <maid>.

Kate aka Ketu, is considered by Burmese Mahaboat Astrology to be not only benefic but the king of the Planets. To the Hindus, Ketu is a malefic.

Excerpt from: http://www.komilla.com/pages/rahu-ketu.html 080829
UKT 130131: I wish the article was written in a more simpler manner. The ideas presented are not scientific and very much against the Theravada views. Because, of these, I am presenting the article as it was written except for breaks in some paragraphs.

Rahu & Ketu are the names given to the Nodes of the Moon. Rahu is the North Node and Ketu is the South Node. They are points on the ecliptic where the Moon is in alignment with the Sun and the Earth. They indicate the precise point of the harmony with the three most important influences in our life -- the Sun, the Earth and the Moon. This relationship plays an important part in the enfolding of individual consciousness.

Note from the article:
All planetary positions in this article refer to the sidereal Zodiac which is currently 23 degrees 49 minutes and 30 sec. behind the Tropical Zodiac. Nakshatras are fixed stars or lunar mansions.

Their role as Karmic indicators of our life is connected with their power to cause eclipses. The eclipses occur in the vicinity of Rahu-Ketu during the Full Moon and the New Moon. (During New Moon when it is +/- 18 degrees from Rahu-Ketu, the Solar eclipse takes place. At the full Moon +/- 11 degrees 15' from the nodal position, the Lunar eclipse takes place.)  [UKT ]

As they symbolically eclipse the Sun (consciousness) and the Moon (the Mind), they have a great part to play in darkening [or interfering] our perspective in order to bring in new light. They deal with the concept of death and re-birth, transformation and regeneration. During the eclipses the light from the Luminaries is darkened. [UKT ]

UKT, 130128: Think of the mechanism of influence by the Luminaries on Man. Rahu-effect is like putting an opaque screen between the Luminaries and Man, whereas Ketu-effect is like putting a very bright blinding light between. During the interference by Ketu, the Man becomes more religious and even thinks of abandoning his family to become a recluse -- a monk. The total effect is bad on the family, but good on the Man because it helps him on his journey to Nibbana - the total liberation.

The energies created are powerfully psychic, pregnant with new information and occult power. The period after the eclipse is considered a rebirth of the Sun and the Moon. The role of Rahu-Ketu in this powerful alignment of the Sun, Moon and the Earth gives them the role of the ultimate controllers of the destiny.

The prime importance given to Rahu Ketu in Vedic Astrology is one of it's key features. They have been given the status of Planets to emphasise their significance and the importance placed on eclipses. They are known as Chayya Grahas (shadow planets). They have no substance and are physically non-existent. [UKT ]

Yet their influence is full of potency and spiritual significance. They work in unison 180 degrees apart, two opposite points in the zodiac with a mission to churn our lives in order to externalise hidden potential and wisdom. In keeping with their shadowy nature, they work on a psychological level. It is always difficult to gauge their effect because their main concern is with our emotional makeup. They effect us internally. We are unaware of what exactly is happening to us at the time.

In Vedic Astrology, the concept of the Soul's journey through different lifetimes is central to it. The final goal of the soul is to break this cycle of life and death. Like the beads on a necklace, various lifetimes are joined together to form a necklace, each life being different but interconnected by an invisible thread. The invisible thread is Rahu and Ketu.  [UKT ]

The purpose of the soul in this life to act out his given Karma, destroy the illusions of the materialistic life and move towards the pursuit of self realisation. To live on the astral planes where pleasure and pain do not have the capacity to hurt, the mind is still and at peace. The soul's journey in a particular life time and it's connection with eternal life is indicated by the position of Rahu and Ketu. Ketu deals with the past Karma and Rahu with the future.

The five instincts that keep us attached to the materialistic purpose of life are Kaam (Desire, passions) Krodh (Anger) Madh (intoxicants- drugs, alcohol etc) Moh (Attachment) Lobh(Greed) and Matsaya(Jealousy). We need to control our instincts rather than allowing ourselves to be controlled by them. Both Rahu and Ketu have the ability to keep our mind focused on these instincts -- Rahu by exaggerating and Ketu by obscuring or blocking. [UKT ]

We are tied down to the cycle of unhappiness and dissatisfaction as we cannot break away from our lower selves. We are born again and again to experience the pleasures and pains of the earthly life until we recognise them to be the illusions that they are. On a subconscious level we are afraid that if we give up these desires, we will lose out. Once we start understanding the principle of letting go, enjoying what life has to offer but not getting attached, then we are able to grow spiritually. Rahu Ketu deals with the inner fight within us, the moral and the social choices we have to constantly make and the inner dilemmas.

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makeshift bed

-- UKT 080829, 130130

A makeshift bed was a simple affair: a reed mat, a pillow, and a light blanket. Being males, we (I was still a child and others as children), were allowed to sleep in the room. It was a pleasant smelling room filled with scent -- from the beeswax candles, from the fruits and flowers and from the incense sticks. We knew that "goodies" would be offered at dawn and were ready to grab them when the offering was over and the invited  Mother-Goddesses & their attendants, and the Planets had left.

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miniature monastery

-- UKT: 080827, 130113

Burmese use a special term, {kyaung:hsaung} , for a miniature "residence" of the Buddha or a nat. As a child, I always thought of a miniature monastery as a <doll-house>. The term for the regular monastery is {kyaung:} . All other items made for the ceremony are made to scale: little umbrellas, little flag-poles with miniature streamers, and little prayer-flags.

I was told that the word {kyaung:} 'monastery, school' is pronounced the same in Nepali and Tibetan.

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Native Animal Cult

Inclusion of Naga, who knows more than "to eat, to sleep, and to mate" shows that the caption "Animal" cult is not justified.

-- UKT 080829, 130130

Apart from the composite Animal of Five Beauties {pi~sa.ru-pa.}, of the eight other animal-vehicles of the Planets, six are real animals and two are mythical. The real animals are: tiger, lion (though different in appearance from the real ones), elephant, mouse, tuskless-elephant, and guinea pig. The mythical ones are the Galon {ga.Loan} (Hindu: garuda) and Naga {na.ga:}.

Of the two mythical ones above, Naga {na.ga:} is a special case in Buddhism: in both Mahayana and Theravada. According to Mahayana, Gautama Buddha had preached his Diamond Sutra to the Nagas without preaching to the humans, which puts the Naga equal to the Devas. In Theravada, the Abhidamma was preached to the Devas but not to the humans. The Abdhidamma that we know today in the human world is an abridged version which his Chief disciple who had accompanied him to Deva world had preached.

So the Naga is not an animal, but some entity that could protect the humans and there is no reason why pre-Buddhists (and pre-Hindus) should not be worshipping it. Myanmarpr was indeed the land where the Naga was worshipped in days before Anawrahta. But that does not make the inhabitants of Tagaung and Old Pagan animal-worshippers.

To the Bur-Myan Buddhist, an animal is one which knows three things only: to eat, to sleep, and to have sex. According to this definition, many "humans" in the world could be classified as "animals". The idea of "animal" is different in Myanmarpr and the West. My beloved saya DHA would know it, but he was following the ideas of the British-colonizers when he was writing in English.

It should be noted that animals are important in Hindu mythology -- from: The Animal Deities http://www.webonautics.com/mythology/animaldeities.html
"Animals have a special place in Hindu mythology. One comes across various animals in Hindu mythology some, which have been personified and given a form as the centuries passed. These animals have been symbolic as the vehicles and carriers of various deva-gods or one, which have helped the deva-gods in various times. Some of them appear as independent divine creatures and are worshipped in various ways:

AIRAVATA the elephant - vehicle of Hindu Indra and Buddhist Sakkra
AKUPARA the tortoise - on which Earth or Prithvi rests
ANTELOPE - vehicle of Vayu and Chandra
ARVA, mythical being half horse and half bird - one of the horses of the moon
BUFFALO - vehicle of Yama
CERBURA - the three headed infernal dog of the Krishna legend
CROW - vehicle of Shani
DOG and HORSE - vehicle of Shiva as Bhairava
GARUDA the king of birds - half man and half eagle or vulture, vehicle of Vishnu
JAMBAVANT - the king of bears - ally of Rama
KAMADHENU - the cow of plenty
MAKARA or JALAMPA the mythical sea monster - Varuna ( god of water)
MOUSE - vehicle of Ganesha
NANDI the bull - vehicle of Shiva and Parvati
PATAVANI the peacock - vehicle of Kartikeya
PARROT - vehicle of Kamadeva (the Hindu Cupid)
RAM, the he-goat - vehicle of Agni
SARAMA - dog of Indra
SHESHNAG or ANANTA the infinite - the king of Nagas vehicle of Vishnu or the bed on which Vishnu rests
SWAN - vehicle of Saraswati and Brahma
TARKSHYA - winged horse personifying the sun
TIGER and LION - vehicle of Parvati as Kali and Durga
UCHCHAIH - SRAVAS - the eight headed king of horses produced during the churning of oceans

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Phaya

-- UKT 080828, 130130

The word "Phaya" is an English rendering of the Bur-Myan word {Bu.ra:}, and the rendering is incorrect from the point of view of the rules of writing the Myanmar akshara. The consonant involved is either {hpa.} or {Ba.} and not {pa.}. The mistake has been made because English does not have tenuis consonant {pa.} /p/ unless preceded by the hissing sound {S} /s/.

The Bur-Myan word {Bu.ra:} usually means the Buddha. However, since the word is also used in addressing monks, royalty including queens {mi.Bu.ra:}, and at one time, even for high officials, we cannot say that it is used for Buddha only.

The word {Bu.ra:} can be a form of address like <your majesty>, <your honour>, and <your worship>. I remember, when I was a child in Kungyangon, when the village head-men came to see my father, a mere public-health inspector, they would refer to him as {Bu.ra:} and themselves as "your royal servants". They would not sit in a chair level with his. My father insisted that they did not refer to him as {Bu.ra:} and they sat on chairs. However, they refused to sit in chairs because to them it is the "seat of the 'kula'" and insisted that they were only used to the native custom of sitting on the floor. When my mother offered them a carpet, they refused again insisting that a carpet was only fitting for a monk. She finally had to provide them with a {hpa.yaung: pu.hso:} 'waxed cloth' -- a linoleum sheet.

In the case of {mi.Bu.ra:}, {mi.} can be translated as  <mother>, and therefore {mi.Bu.ra:} can be literally be translated as <Mother Worshipful>. Therefore, I would have to disagree with Dr. HtinAung and would suggest that the ceremony is used to worship the Buddha and his eight disciples, all nine taken together as those who do deserve worship. As to Dr. Htin Aung's conclusion that the ceremony is the worship of the nine Planets, I would have to disagree with him. For this if the Planet were equal to a Nat, the word would be {ka.na:}, or something else and not {pu-zau}.

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sickness in the house

-- UKT: 080827, 130110

Though Dr. HtinAung had stated that the ceremony was held because of an ailment, it was not always so -- at least in our house. We do it for fun, as an excuse for an evening party, where friends meet friends, neighbours meet neighbours, and of course, boys meet girls. However, sad to say, this custom of the worship of the Nine Gods as an evening party is slowly dying, at least, in larger towns.

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streamers

Streamers are of two kinds: 
{tn-hkwun} - a long cylindrical streamer - UHS-Dict326
{koak~ka:}
  - n. kokkar bent bamboo stick tied to a flagstaff - MED2006-014
  - a paper streamer - UHS-Dict030

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Thagyamin or Sakka

Is Indra {AIn~da.}, the name of an office -- the office of "King" similar to "President" of the modern times -- or a personal name? My study shows that it is the name of an office and not a personal name. -- UKT130201

To the Burmese Buddhist {i.kra:ming:} (pronounced as /{a.kya:ming:}/ and mistakenly taken by children as the "Sugar-king") is the King of the Gods. He is one of chief supporters of Buddhism. Though U Hoke Sein (UHS-Dict-p855) gave the meaning of Thagyamin as Indra {AIn~da.}, Childers on p419 gave the following entry under:

SAKKO, akra or Indra. - Childers p419
"When Gautama Buddha deposed Indra from his godship, he made him a powerful archangel ruling over the five lowest kmadevalokas and having his abode in the Tvatimsa heavens (see Mro). He is widely different from the Hindu Indra, though retaining many of his attributes. He is inferior in majesty and power to the two other archangels Mahbrahma and Mra. Like Mahbrahma, he is represented as exercising a beneficial influence over the affairs of men. When a good man is struggling with adversity, the fact is made known to Sakka by the throne on which he sits becoming warm ... . It is then his wont to take some earthly disguise and descend to the relief of the sufferer..."

See Dictionary of Pali Proper Names by G.P. Malalasekera on Sakka and Sujā

From: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sakka 080923, 130201
UKT 130201: I feel there is a mix up words in this article. Sakka the husband of Suja was just one king of the kingdom of Devas. If he were to die, another would become king. The new king and his wife would have other personal names, not Sakka & Suja.

Vedic religion and Hinduism : The name Śakra "powerful", used as an epithet of Indra, is found in several verses of the Rig Veda. It is also found many times in the other Vedas such as the Samaveda and Atharva Veda. The name is also copiously used in many later texts like the Mahabharata.

Jainism : In Jain texts, Śakra appears several times as a name of the king of the devas.

Buddhism : Śakra (Sanskrit) or Sakka {ak~ka.} is the ruler of the Trāyastriṃśa Heaven in Buddhist cosmology. His full title is Śakro devānām indraḥ (Pāli: Sakko devānaṃ indo "Śakra, lord of the devas"). In Buddhist texts Śakra is the proper name and not an epithet of this deity; conversely, indra in Sankrit and inda Pali are sometimes used as an epithet for Śakra as "lord". In the Chinese tradition, he is usually analogous with the Taoist Jade Emperor, whose birthday is celebrated on the ninth day of the first lunar month of the Chinese calendar (usually in February).

In Buddhist texts, Śakra's myth and character are very different from those of the Vedic Indra. According to G.P. Malalasekara, "Sakka and Indra are independent conceptions. None of the personal characteristics of Sakka resemble those of Indra. Some epithets are identical but are evidently borrowed, though they are differently explained."

The Trāyastriṃśa heaven which Śakra rules is located on the top of Mount Sumeru (cf. Meru), imagined to be the polar center of the physical world, around which the Sun and Moon revolve. Trāyastriṃśa is the highest of the heavens which is in direct contact with the Earth. Like the other deities of this heaven, Śakra is long-lived but mortal. When one Śakra dies, his place is taken by another deity who becomes the new Śakra. Buddhist stories about Śakra (past or present) are found in the Jātaka stories and in several sutras, particularly in the Saṃyutta Nikāya.

Śakra is married to Sujā[7], daughter of the chief of the Asuras, Vemacitrin (Pāli Vepacitti). Despite this relationship, a state of war generally exists between the Thirty-three gods and the Asuras, which Śakra manages to resolve with minimal violence and no loss of life.

UKT 130201:
The family relationships of the present king of the Devas:
This is a conjecture based on
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vemacitrin 130201
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exotic_tribes_of_ancient_India 130201
   Sakka is the present king (or Indra) of a country of on the height of the Mt. Meru. It seems that there are two kingdoms - one populated by the Devas, and the other by Asuras. Sakka and his companions drove out Vepacitti from the kingdom of Devas and took Vepacitti's daughter Suja as wife. Vepacitti had to move to the country of Asuras where he became king. And that makes Sakka the son-in-law of Vepacitti. The two countries are always at war at the beginning of the rainy season, and the humans below see flashes of lightening and hear thunder, and gets rain drops which are the weapons used in the battle.

Śakra is mentioned in many Buddhist sūtras, and is often shown consulting the Buddha on questions of morality. Together with Brahmā , he is considered a protector of the Buddhist religion.

Who is the Brahmā mentioned above? Is he the one known as Maha Brahma of the Hindus? Let's keep the religions apart. -- UKT130201

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Vajrayana and Waizzar-path

-- UKT 130117

The word vajra वज्र = व ज ् र --> {wa.zra.} can be glossed as 'thunderbolt' or 'lightening' implying speed and effectiveness. In Bur-Myan, it is {wa.ra.zain} given as 'the weapon carried by Indra, thunderbolt'. -- MED2006-471. Thus I have translated Vajrayana as the Thunderbolt-vehicle. vajra वज्र is also translated as 'diamond' because of the sparkling property of the gem.

When Vajrayana is described as the Tantric Buddhism, many Burmese Buddhist could not accept it because the Tantra has been identified with the much maligned Ari-monks of pre-Anawrahta Pagan. Some Aris were engaged in sexual acts such as deflowering of the bride before the wedding. From it the malignment spread to Mahayana.

Yet we have our Burmese {waiz~za}-path of lengthening the "mind-life", even after the dissolution of the flesh and bone material body. The individual, without this decay-prone body, would meet the next Buddha, hear his sermons, and then only enter Nirvana or set on his own journey to Buddhahood.

The Vajrayana and the Weizza {waiz~za}-path are entirely different. I had thought they were the same until I came to study Skt-Dev. I wait for input from my peers.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vajrayana#Mantrayana_and_Vajrayana 130117

Vajrayana (Skt-Dev वज्रयान ) is also known as Tantric Buddhism, Tantrayāna, Mantrayāna, Secret Mantra, Esoteric Buddhism and the Diamond Way or Thunderbolt Way. Vajrayana is a complex and multifaceted system of Buddhist thought and practice which evolved over several centuries. [1]

According to Vajrayana scriptures Vajrayana refers to one of three vehicles or routes to enlightenment, the other two being the Hinayana and Mahayana.

Founded by the Indian Mahasiddhas महासिद्ध = (म ह ा) (स ि द ्) (ध) 'possessor of great power' , Vajrayana subscribes to Buddhist tantric literature. [1]

UKT 130201:
Though Mahasiddha 'possessor of great power' and Htwak-ruppauk {htwak-rp-pauk} 'one who is free from material body' are different they mean the same kind of person because the latter is one who has acquire great power.

In Bur-Myan by 'great power' is meant the ability to fly through the air and move through the solid earth and the power to transform many things. He does not have a flesh and bone physical body. To get to this stage he dies a death which every one can see - {a.-htwak}, or, his flesh and bone body simply becomes ethereal - {a.rhing-htwak}. See MLC MED2006-207 for comparison.

There are two kinds of {htwak-rp-pauk} individuals: Zawgyi {zau-gyi} and Waizzar {waiz~za}. The former still indulges in sex, but the latter is free from sex and is more powerful. Zawgyi {zau-gyi} is a prankster, but Waizzar {waiz~za} has high morals and is known as a Bodaw {Bo:dau}. In both cases they wait for the coming of the next Buddha to hear his sermons and then only enter Nibbana. Sakka aka Thagyamin {i.kra:ming:} is considered to be a {Bo:dau} - he may still have a wife but he does not indulge in sex anymore.

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

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Vessavana

-- UKT 080128

{wuth~tha.wuN~Na.} also known as {ku.we-ra.}, one of the four guardian gods of the world. He is the ruler of ogres, and his abode is on the northern side of Mount Meru.

There are four guardian gods of the world known as {sa.tu.ma.ha-ra-za}:

1. {Da.ta.raT-HTa.} -- of the eastern side of Mount Meru
2. {wi.ru-pak~hka.} -- of the southern side of Mount Meru
3. {wi.ru-Lha.ka.} -- of the western side of Mount Meru
4. {ku.w-ra.} -- of the northern side of Mount Meru
-- UMK-USL, p.043

Of the four, at least one, {wi.ru-pak~hka.} is described surprisingly as a huge snake with an ugly body -- a far-cry from the picture of a ruling god in human-like form. To be checked with PTS dictionary.

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Werewolves and Were-tigers

Thamunkya {a.mn:kya:}

Excerpt from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Werewolf 080829

Werewolves, also known as lycanthropes or wolfmen, are mythological humans with the ability to shapeshift into wolves or wolf-like creatures, either purposely, being bitten by another werewolf or after being placed under a curse. The medieval chronicler Gervase of Tilbury associated the transformation with the appearance of the full moon; however, there is evidence that the association existed among the ancient Greeks, appearing in the writings of Petronius. This concept was rarely associated with the werewolf until the idea was picked up by Gervase. Shape-shifters similar to werewolves are common in tales from all over the world, though most of them involve animal forms other than wolves.

UKT: See Professor Dr. Sein Tu on were-tigers of Myanmar in an accompanying article. Temp. placement: MYN\nat-tiger\weretiger.htm 

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