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Buddhism and the Burmese establishment - article ; n°1 ; vol.17, pg 85-95

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12 pages
Archives des sciences sociales des religions - Année 1964 - Volume 17 - Numéro 1 - Pages 85-95
11 pages
Source : Persée ; Ministère de la jeunesse, de l’éducation nationale et de la recherche, Direction de l’enseignement supérieur, Sous-direction des bibliothèques et de la documentation.
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E. Michael Mendelson
Buddhism and the Burmese establishment
In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 17, 1964. pp. 85-95.
Citer ce document / Cite this document :
Mendelson E. Michael. Buddhism and the Burmese establishment. In: Archives des sciences sociales des religions. N. 17,
1964. pp. 85-95.
doi : 10.3406/assr.1964.1756
http://www.persee.fr/web/revues/home/prescript/article/assr_0003-9659_1964_num_17_1_1756BUDDHISM
AND THE BURMESE ESTABLISHMENT
Nations for religious peoples world it of political combined has Asian modem while world operation very as records Fascist-Peoples-Freedom tatives relation were certain and own vv is it Indian-type such In since different houses hardly is masters HETHER being sufficient would melancholy we in view developments the possible Asian will authority refer problems operations can forms is the the have Buddhist presented but in teach necessary like shall also of surrounding from beginning of to the country order charismatic of in the the to the to use be Hinduism in itself also story than to us that Here document qualified is dwell latest accompanying Sangha seen of by strengthen Buddhist during few to Buddhist Briefly good though to that which characteristic of the been league remind especially hills clear want earn higher in royal and government Order of success deal the it used we series Dr Burma only Revival my to many Buddhism successes A.F.P.F.L. state revealingly and its British the find reîigion courts about show Leach paper as of principal upon ten ascendency incidentally can known the reader other of Monks in admission that justification as the first long-lasting the over Regime) sponsored be has the official in can by countries to official nature as sanctioning claimed in that pure government of contention Independent Christie made relation be Burmese one South an over in to variety said claims hint religious the and other of attempt this by of the claims for if suddenly religion the East between though Buddhism to on politics at not how concourse point asserting history is words its in emerge few Sought Nu of an how years with Asian deed that permanent the on political far and fields early in its and and the this left as tribal the which in aggravated belief the is the valley from true to the his of recent truth its more religion the to South disciplinary part the degenerate dazzle or authority very colleagues animist Revival represen the put that aspect Burmese politico- the cultures various United article or of as Anti- East their need in first this less the the far by
Hugh TINKER The Union of Burma Study of the First Years of Independence
O.U.P. 1957
85 ARCHIVES DE SOCIOLOGIE DES RELIGIONS
and it only remains to be said that today in spite of constitutional guarantees
to the contrary the attitude can still be found in arguments for Burmese hegemony
over such populations as Karen Kachin and Chin on the borders
One important point should be briefly discussed however and it is in essence
an extension of some implications in view of the shifting nature of
political control in Burmese royal history
Briefly if read him aright Leach contends that the charismatic nature of
Burmese royalty and its inability to devise lasting administrative systems in
conquered territories forces us to reject the concept of national frontiers in history for what strong king would build up in bis lifetime could be
lost in an equally short space of time by weak successor My pre-occupations
lead me to extend the question to the Sangha granted some sort of relation
between Court and Order of Monks how is our view of this relation affected by
contribution to our knowledge of the Court This plunges us into the
heart of our problem and requires preliminary digression into recent Burmese
ecclesiastical history
trust have the sympathy in asserting that compared for instance
to our knowledge of Christian monastic orders and churches data on the Sangkos
of various Buddhist countries and especially the Southern ones are abo
minably rare In short paper such as this am obliged to ask him to trust my
attempts to piece together some knowledge about the Burmese Sangha and to
accept few basic assertions which would normally need much discussion
Leaving aside complex historical reasons for this we may assert that the
Sangha in Burma has never departed much from the original simple picture of
lay-monk relations laid down very early in the Theravada scriptures donor-
recipient relation in which the monk-recipient is essentially passive partner-
scripturally field of merit in which the layman improves bis karmie status
by meritorious gifts Traditional sociological definitions of the Sangha appear
to be limited either to small local groups of monks or to the whole body of monks
everywhere Sangha of the Four Quarters The King in this system is no
more than the chief among the donors responsible for keeping the country
peaceful and prosperous so that action in the field of merit may be uninterrupted
By extension the King may be responsible for keeping the religion pure and
untainted by heresy and is thus potential arbitrator in intTSL-Sangha dissention
but conditions within Theravada systems undeviating allegiance to early texts
clear supremacy of the monastic state over the lay general absence of compe
tition from rival cults did not in general make heavy demands on the King
this respect In short provisions from the laity being sufficient the Order in
Burma never or very rarely appears to have felt the need to organize itself as
drastically as it has done in such countries as Tibet or Japan 3)
This means broadly speaking that the Order variously estimated today
at between 80000-120000 in population of some 18 million has always been
made up in the main of small discrete units ultimately responsible to themselves
alone monks living alone or small groups with perhaps small entourage of
LEACH The Frontiers of Burma Comparative Studies in Society and History
III oot 1960
The Mahayana of course departed from this simple pattern when laymen began to
demand fuller participation in every sphere of religious life this Vehicle developing as result
of lay-monastic tensions far beyond the scope of the early schools In China and Japan it also
had to contend with well-established rival religions
86 BUDDHISM AND THE BURMESE ESTABLISHMENT
novices and schoolchildren supported by the village on whose outskirts their
monastery was built Now while we have virtually no information at all on the
relations between these units and local or central political authorities we are
used to being told in 19th and early 20th century texts of Sangharaja usually
the tutor and nominated by the King ruling over the whole Order through
hierarchy of local archbishops and bishops and heads of monasteries with
central disciplinary Council of archbishops deciding points of law arising out
of the interpretation of Vinaya the disciplinary code of the Sangha Taking
Leach as my guide and using such scanty information as is available have
begun to argue that this is bound to be an ideal picture and that the real situation
must have depended to considerable extent at different times on the power
of the King himself on the authority of the Sangharaja similarly charismatic
and on that of his subordinates but that at no time is it likely that any
Sangharaja had complete over the whole monkhood if only leaving
aside the discreteness of the governed units because of the shifting frontiers of
political control To this very day for example the religious programme of the
A.F.P.F.L government has virtually had to leave out altogether the large body
of Shan monks in the Shan States and it is still possible to study fascinating
examples of colonization of the Shan States by Burmese ecclesiastics
It is safer then rather than to see the Sangharaja as head of the Sangha
protecting his people as the King protected his subjects to consider the Sangharaja
as tenuous bridge between the King and largely autonomous Order When the
system worked well the monks co-operated with local authorities in the process
of government reporting on peace or war within their jurisdictions acting as
local judges and persuading their disciples to pay their taxes and do their corvées
When it worked badly we have examples of the political authority having to
intervene and arrest local monks for inciting their people not to obey the laws
We are brought one step nearer our main theme by considering some develop
ments arising in the troubîed times of Mindon and Thibaw and the period of
British rule To begin with we know fairly well how whatever potential support
for the British regime may have been salvaged from the Sangharaja institutions
was sacrificed to the theory that the State should not interfere with religion
After an interregnum Sangharaja was appointed by the British but his powers
were limited from the start and were eventually reduced to nothing it is possible
to document the misunderstanding whereby the British though clearly told
that the Head Monk had to be backed by the political authority tried to demo
cratize his office thus weakening it out of existence
Much less well understood is the question of Sects within the Order and
here we are usually told by British and Burmese sources alike that they have
never been of any importance Now this is true if we take the matter doctrinally
evidence from such sources as the 19th century Pali history the Sasanavamsa
indicates that disputes raged over minute points of Vinaya interpretation such
as for example whether the robe should be worn over both shoulders or only
one shoulder As sociologists however we are used to the idea that the matter
of quarrel is often of less importance than the fact that there is quarrel To
begin with the disputes clearly raged Secondly they gave rise to active groups
of monks with interests to defend coalitions of monasteries and real even pan
ie See for instance G.E HARVEY British Rule in Burma Faber 1946 pp 25-29 For
non-colonial situation in which perfect fit appears to have been worked out between autho
ritarian state and Sangha contrast modem Thailand
87 ARCHIVES DE SOCIOLOGIE DES RELIGIONS
Burman alliances thus breaking down the discrete unit Situation Thirdly as
have hinted before the King had to intervene on one side or another for the
sake of the purity of the religion
Working back from the present-day data which describe below have
been brought to pay close attention to the rise of Sects in the troubled times
preceding British rule Here can only summarize and very tentatively at that
There is evidence that King Mindon 1853-78 weakened the power of bis Sangha-
raja and took over religious rule himself Further it seems that he was even
before he was crowned on the look-out for monk whom he could trust to carry
out his own policy and that he aided and abetted the breakaway from the main
Order take Thudhamma usually defined as the majority Sect not so much
as Sect as the main Order from which Sects broke away of the Shwegyin
Sayadaw head monk) founder of the Shwegyin Sect In other terms political
authority sought point of entry into Sangha affairs through the process of
Sect splitting This move on the royal part however appears to have recoiled
upon itself as monks began to realize that only by forming small easily gover
nable groups with their own discipline their own courts their own hierarchies
virtually separate Sangkos on their own in fact could they preserve their own
independence in troubled and divided country From the Shwegyin Sect and
alongside it arose number of these Sangkos all defending themselves from the
dangerous accusation of splitting the Order by claiming stricter forms of disci
plines for themselves rhetoric which reflects the concern of the monks with
ever-growing failure of Vinaya discipline It is even possible to watch various
coalitions in the process of formation between upper Burma and Lower Burma
Sects with the evident aim of preserving such Sangha unity as there can be in any
Sangha situation in divided country This broadly is the situation which the
A.F.P.F.L inherited in 1948 and the root of many of its troubles It is therefore
nonsense to say that Sects are unimportant in Burma
now turn to the Buddhist Revival of the A.F.P.F.L government Other
writers have already examined some aspects of this rich field John Brohm has
shown the extent to which it was an unnecessary revival insofar as rural
Buddhist faith and practice have by and large remained unimpaired we are
dealing in his work with return to the basic truths of Buddhism and
rediscovery of Burmese Way of Life by an urban elite alienated from its
roots He has also shown how unoriginal most aspects of the revival really
were how virtually every scheme can be traced back to another initiated by
small groups of laymen either before during or after World War II would
add to this by showing how many laws of today are direct outcomes of Reports
of Enquiry Committees before Independence Brohm has documented three
stages in the evolution of the Government programme formal recognition
of many local efforts for instance in pagoda rebuilding in 1948 full govern
mental participation as part of larger and calculated programme around 1952
to the assumption of virtually total responsibility for having initiated and
accomplished the meritorious deeds around 1954 and thence to the final
flowering in the Great Buddhist Synod Sangayana whose first and phase
ended in 1956
Among those aspects of the Revival shall not be able to examine here
are the brilliant handling of traditional rituals which we may identify as
John âî Burmese Religion and the Burmese Religious Revival Ph Thesis
unpublished
88 BUDDHISM AND THE BURMESE ESTABLISHMENT
oft-quoted finger on the pulse of the Burmese massses in religious matters
or indeed the genuine poputar response to the Council No pomp and circumstance
were spared in pagoda-building relic-travelling and in granting honours to
monks not forgetting the reformulation of government form of spirit-worship
worked out with the help of surviving Court specialists at Mandalay and long-
term build-up of Malinowskian Current mythology around the Prime
person It must also be remembered in wider context that the nature of many
of these activities fitted them admirably to the task of gilding the lily of the
Pyidawtha or Socialist New Burma reform schemes
Following my chosen theme of disciplinary operation the various
official measures of the A.F.P.F.L Revival can be classified under three main
headings the problem of monastic discipline the problem of monastic
education and the price paid final section will evaluate the qualified
success spoke of at the beginning in the light of number of new factors in
monk-lay relations since Independence
The A.F.P.F.L inherited relatively disorganized Sangha whose only
hope of discipline appeared to lie with the strengthening of the various Sects
From the growth of these it is but short step to document the rise
in the nationalist thirties of new kind of Sangha group with rigid organization
nationalistic aims and leaning towards political action which eventually led
it into coalition with lay political parties Prototypical of this new kind of group
was the Young Monks Association of Mandalay Yahan By Ahpwè am
unable to mention here the many twists and turns of allegiance of this group
though have shown elsewhere the religious State of the union in 1958-9 with
the Y.B.A on the side of the anti-Nu party after the great A.F.P.F.L split 6)
Some say that Aüng San the Father of the Union planned to reinstate
Sangharaja and full system of ecclesiastical discipline He did not live to do so
The A.F.P.F.L inherited by Nu faced with years of insurrection lacked
firmness and the Nu measures in the sphere of Sangha courts
Sangha registration and Sangha Assembly can largely be said to have reached
stalemate by the change of regime in 1959 Unable to ignore the development
of Sects they created separate Sangharajas with honorific rather than genuine
functions The genuine functions they looked to establish in system of Sangha
courts at village town district and Union level embodied in the Vinicchaya
Thana Ecclesiastical Courts Act of 1949 Evidence of the desire for lay control
appears in the Ministry of Religious Affairs handling of the registration of monks
the strict limitation of cases to Vinaya matters and the ultimate sanctions
placed in the hands of the lay courts at the same territorial level There is much
evidence of general monastic opposition to these courts usually passive
and to all registration procedures on the grounds of traditional monastic non-
involvement in lay affairs The major Sects Shwegyin and Dwara stood out
against them and the Y.B.A. who had helped to originate the idea turned it when Nu-sponsored body the Association of Monastery Abbots
Kyaungdaik Sayadaw Ahpwè K.S.A. was found to provide the main field for
the recruitment of judges In 1954 an Amendment Act was passed allowing monks
to nominate their own monk judges thus satisfying some Sects but damaging the
vested interests of the K.S.A as well as angering most by strengthening the civil
at the expense of the ecclesiastical courts In the unsettled state of the country
E.M MENDELSON Religion and Authority in Modem Burma The World Today
March I960 Chatham House O.U.P.)
89 DE SOCIOLOGIE DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
both systems went on side by side monks often being found on the rosters of
both creating great confusion and satisfying no one When the first Ne Win
government came to power in 1959 the Army realizing that the problem could
never be solved without an efficient monastic census suspended all arrangements
until their Census Departement should have attempted one
An aspect of this story which have not yet fully worked out concerns the
rise of the K.S.A While having various previous forms it was not fully organized
until 1955 probably under active Government pressure and seems to have been
designed to fit in with the 1949 Courts system Indeed the two organizations are
in many respects but aspects of each other An interesting feature is the impor
tance of the Pakokku Sect in its leadership and there is some evidence to show
what this was granted in return for certain breakdown in inflexible
attitude to the Government Pali University Act which we shall look at below
The Supreme Sangha Council formed to supervize the workings of the Sixth
Buddhist Synod in Rangoon and seen by some as the nucleus of future Sangha
Hluttdaw Parliament or Assembly) while not all K.S.A some young and
brilliant Shwegyin monks here defended their interests) can be shown to
be heavily connected with the K.S.A The same is true of monk advisers to the
main lay instrument of the A.F.P.F.L programme the Buddha armo Council
see below Finally the pattern of honorific titles granted to monks carrying
money grants and other privileges strongly suggests that the A.F.P.F.L
especially its Nu wing had many ways and means of helping favourable monks
though these means are virtually invisible to all but the closest observation In
fairness to the Sangha as whole it must be said that the general body of the
K.S.A was never as active in politics and never once showed the fighting spirit
of the rival and smaller Y.B.A
The importance of monastic education in Old Burma has been widely
documented and the position even today as the principal vehicle of
Burmese culture is well understood Here the A.F.P.F.L inherited from British
times an unsolved problem whose main aspects were the inability to do
without the monk by building sufficient lay schools and training sufficient lay
teachers ii the inability to make of the average village monk fit agent of
planned education system monks refused supervision registers many lay
subjects sharing responsibilities with lay teachers etc.) iii strong allegiance
on the part of rural majorities to the monastic school and its way of life streng
thened in the thirties by realization on the monks part that they were culture-
defenders and needed students for their own service and recruitment purposes
For some 55 years the policy initiated in Lower Burma by Sir Arthur Phayre
encouraged monastic schools relatively brief movement in the other direction
was quashed in the 1940 Report published in 1948 which gave way to the monks
all along the line accusing British lay schools of impoverishing monastic schools
and adopting the anti-imperialist line by placing ail blame on the British ina
bility to comprehend the subtleties of monk-lay relations The Independence
A.F.P.F.L programme as defined at the Party Conference in 1952 which pro
claimed its Pyidawtha programme follows the spirit of this report by recognizing
that there cannot be enough lay schools and that the monk is needed Much more
attention continues to be paid to the treatment than to the curriculum
and he is hopefully integrated into the Socialist Village Improvement Scheme
through the Mass Education Council Significantly enough however propaganda
material in the English language barely mentions monastic schools By the time
of the Army take-over there is no substantial evidence that the waning Mass
Education Council had been notably more successful than the British Raj
90 BUDDHISM AND THE BURMESE ESTABLISHMENT
Uneasiness at the ambiguity of Burmese attitudes towards the
status It is right that the monk should remain traditional culture-bearer
but if he is to educate he must himself be educated found expression in the
Pali university and Dhammacariya Pali Lecturer Act of 1950 and
Pali Education Board Act of 1952 Here again traditionalist attitude won
through and had already been indicated before the war in the Pali University
Enquiry Committee Report of 1941 by the very people who would later take
over the A.F.P.F.L programme In this report Pali education and the National
Interest were linked from the start In system based on the donor-recipient
relation number of lay organizations had grown up to look after set correct
and reward monastic examinations and any government system could only
compete with these Strong reluctance of monasteries to see any one among
themselves promoted Sect rivalries satisfaction with traditional systems of
learning lack of desire on the parts of monks to move from their localities were
all cited against the imaginative creation of centralized University and in favour
of an affiliation of existing monastery-colleges So the 1950-52 Acts follow very
closely the affiliating type proposals and evidence of the unchanging nature of
the control problem can be seen in the efforts to keep the door open as long as
possible to dissenting monks and clear money incentives for those who join
support of monasteries results-grants to candidates etc. and in bringing
the Acts under the aegis of the Ministry of Religious Affairs by creating lay
Executive Officers to put them into practice have cited above further move
in the case of the recalcitrant Pakokku Sect
The realization that monks if they are to find place in the modern world
must to some extent modernize their studies finds brief expression in the 1941
Report but is soon firmly quashed Unforeseen developments of this are revealing
to our main theme and propose to review them briefly here The faint suggestion
in the Report that model college might be established to serve as core for an
eventual Buddhist university on more Western lines was magnified out of all
recognition at the time of the Sixth Synod The problem arose of the eventual
fate of the huge hostels erected at Kaba Aye to house the participants in the
Synod Around 1953 with the aid of large American Foundation grandiose
plan for an International Buddhist university was mooted Several themes
running through Dr Union of Burma in regard to Burmese planning
difficulties are well exemplified Expectations on the Western and sides
were very different the Foundation saw an Institute of Advanced Buddhistic
Studies at the M.A.-Ph level as the core of the scheme with Western scholars
gradually training up Burmese assistants while certain Burmans preserving
the myth of high academic standards as much as they could for propaganda and
support purposes ensconced themselves as Directors and ran the Institute on
barely scholarly lines while being unable to resolve highly ambivalent attitudes
to their occasional Western colleagues strictures on the administration
of the A.F.P.F.L the feeble extent of co-ordination between government depart
ments and the overlapping of their functions is here exemplified in one Ministry
alone in the fierce though covert conflict between two departments the Institute
itself Department status achieved in 1957 and the Buddha asana Council
which shall discuss below
In the end both these departments were running their own lower-level
up to B.A. Sangha Universities pathetic little embryos of the great Buddhist
University never-to-be both devoid of any power to fill even small section
of the great peeling hostels From the start owing to the ambiguous attitudes
towards monks have spoken of there was confusion of aims expressed by
91 DE SOCIOLOGIE DES RELIGIONS ARCHIVES
one informant as follows Only missionary monk going abroad should learn
English and modern subjects those at home must preserve traditional Burmese
ways Anyway if they they would get uppish Thus the limited problem
of missionaries was early substituted for that of monastic higher education
generally and the trying problems of any joint lay-monk educational scheme were
glossed over or shelved From the point of view have chosen here few things
are more indicative of the attitude even forced as it was to look
at essentials before building castles in the sky than the acceptance of the tradi
tional education in the two Pali Acts of 1950-2 and the total failure of the Kaba
Aye University plan The evidence have accumulated indeed leads me to
ask whether it was not obvious from the start that this was propaganda device
of the same basic nature as the great Synod itself suggest then that lip service
was paid to the need for an educated monkhood with glances towards western
education but it was only lip-service not simply because this turned out to be
impracticable but because government control of the Sangha necessitated that
their education remain traditional this for the Burmese for there is no strong
evidence that the Western partners ever thought of heavy monk enrolment
few brave monks at the Sangha Universities were the victims the overwhelming
majority never even questioned their lot
The Sixth Buddhist Synod Chattha Sangayana was an important enough
peaceful event to reach European newspapers and created widespread commotion
in Asia between 1954 and 1956 Sangayanas are traditionally purificatory
events scriptures were recited by monks at the First Council 500 B.C.
in order to fix them in writing myth or truth do not discuss here) later
in to revise previous versions and free them from accumulated scribal
error Traditionally they were supposed to cover the whole Sangha but after
the 4th 1st Cent C.-lst this presented insuperable difficulties King
so-called Fifth was an entirely Burmese affair It is think possible
to show that despite intense diplomatic efforts which led to the presence of monks
from other S.E Asian countries and equally intense propaganda devoted to
leading position in International Buddhism more or less fictitious
concept despite the World Fellowship of Buddhists) the A.F.P.F.L Sangayana
turned out to be in the last resort again Burmese affair that is to say that it
was as misrepresented as the Buddhist University destined to follow it try to
look then at what the Government intentionally or not got out of it and within
this at the disciplinary operation have chosen as my core theme It will
help to focus matters if concentrate on the activities of body known as the
Buddha Sasana Council which we have already met in section
The instrument of Government policy in respect of most areas of its reli
gious programme was forged by the Buddha Sasana Council B.S.C. Act of
1950 and the B.S.C rapidly became an Agency virtually independent and
usurping many of the functions of the Ministry of Religious Affairs The rationale
that this had to be so since Buddhism not being the State Religion could not
usurp the time and energy of the Ministry devoted to all religions in Burma
barety hid the fact of the closeness of the B.S.C to the Prime most
intimate ambitions It was mostly controlled by small number of British-
educated high-class traditionally minded right-wing supporters and close
associates of Nu They retained office despite provisions to the contrary if
desirable throughout my period of study Rather than initiate any new programmes
it merely drew under its own control the administration and renumeration as
well as many of the ideas and projects of host of discrete lay Buddhist societies
scattered all over Burma It attempted to control and centralize scripture-profi-
92 BUDDHISM AND THE BURMESE ESTABLISHMENT
ciency examinations both for monks and laity meditation societies and their
premises Sangha University and missionary establishments pagoda restorations
the travels of relics and National Buddhist holidays have already shown how
it clashed with the Institute of Advanced Buddhist Studies which believe to
have been gradually pushed towards the anti-Nu party by this rivalry and
there is much evidence of expectable sullen resentment on the part of lay
societies the occasional Reports reveal only limited successes in all these fields
Here However am concerned mainly with the role of the B.S.C in organizing
the Sangayana Briefly the Sangayana caused the monks to shine on stage
which could be theirs and theirs only in full view of an adoring lay audience every
day of the sessions but it was the B.S.C which chose the actors invited the
audience made the most of the propaganda value both within the country
and outside it While it is possible to view the matter generally in the light of
own balance of power way of keeping the right wing happy we can say
in the religious field that if anyone fulfilled the functions of Sangharaja at this
time it was the lay B.S.C and the point of our disciplinary operation theme
cannot be made more clearly
The B.S.C was intimately related to the 1949 Courts Act monks and the
K.S.A through its body of Spiritual Advisers who were none other than
leading Union Court monks and its links with the Supreme Sangha Council
the principal monk organizers of the Sangayana While work on the programmes
of the Sangayana preparatory commissions is still incomplete it looks very much
as if these were in the hands of relatively very small number of K.S.A or
K.S.A.-type monks as if in other words the Sangayana was only partly
representative of the Burmese Sangha many of whose members know to have
frankly condemned the proceedings as mere political show The point
worked on at length and propose to close with here is small one but it does
involve the question of the purpose of the Sangayana itself and affords an islet
of proof in what must often remain an ocean of speculation refer to the matter
of the nature of the publications put out by the Sangayana
An early object of the Sangayana was to publish revised text of the Buddhist
Scriptures but this programme was only gradually formulated and only gradually
came under the control of the B.S.C In the various government statements about
it it is possible to see the growing confusion of two aims When first discussed the
Government assumed the role of purifier by attempting to show not only that
the Mindon texts needed revising but that independent publishers had been
shamelessly coining money by issuing scrappy texts not even faithful to those
of Mindon Here was the problem exposed by Nu himself in frankly Burmese
light The growing international implications of the Sangayana however soon
led to the claim that it would produce standard text suitable for the whole
Theravada world That the text was initially to be printed in Burmese-script
Pali for Burmese readers was soon lost sight of in magniloquent merit-making
scheme involving much juggling with other existing Asian and European recensions
and destined to lead to flood of translations This programme was presented to
another American Foundation whose aim at the time was the backing of tradi
tional Burmese culture and very large sums of money were poured into printing
presses at Kaba Aye under B.S.C control
Not being linguist hesitate to hazard the guess that scripturally the
Sangayana achieved extremely little In the direction choose here can note
one or two interesting conclusions which emerge with some certainty from the
processing of rather dismally jumbled statistics collected necessarily very much
as occasion arose the international aspect of the programme was soon
93

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