Champions of Buddhism

[championship via spirit-mediumship & via possession by a spirit]

Partes 0 & I



Auctrices vel Auctores




Kate Crosby



Locating Weikza Cults

Pranke; Schober; Brac


Capitula Partis I



Auctor, -trix



On Saints and Wizards

Patrick Pranke



Longevity of Weikza

Juliane Schober



Spirits versus Weikza

Be'ne'dicte Brac de la Perrie`re


pp. 247-50 Contributor Contributricesque





affiliatio altera


Kate Crosby


King's College (London)



Patrick Pranke


of Louisville (KY)



Juliane Schober


AZ State

Center for Asian Research


Be'ne'dicte Brac de la Perrie`re



Center of Southeast Asia Studies (Paris)

Partes 0-I.1A.


Cap. 0.



Kate Crosby


p. xxi compound-words containing /weikza/


its meaning


weikza path


weikza group


weikza person ("wizard")

p. xxii weikza & medicine

"the silence ... lies in the secrecy surrounding weikza practice demanded by its practitioners themselves, a secrecy also found in the traditional medicine with which some of its methods ... have overlapped (Naono 2009:11)."

Naono 2009 = Atsuko Naono : State of Vaccination : ... Smallpox in Colonial Burma. Hyderabad : Orient Blackswan.

pp. xxiii-xxiv s`amatha as promoting physical safety for one's material body ("somatic security")

p. xxiii

"There are other soteriological systems ..., such as the boran kammat.t.hana "older medical practices" and forest traditions of the Tai-Khmer world, which share with weikza some of the features ... . The features shared between {read "with"} boran kammat.t.hana include the harnessing of potent language, letter-based alchemy, at least figurative and perhaps actual metal-based alchemy, prolongation of life, ... death-enactment rituals, ... the use of dreams and visions, astrology."

p. xxiv

"Interestingly, the relationship between samatha {s`amatha} meditation, which weikza practitioners utilize, and ... somatic security ... is also found in the traditional boran kammat.t.hana meditation of Tai-Khmer Buddhism (Crosby 2013)."

p. xxv

"Longevity practices are a characteristic feature of weikza. The weikza-do (Pali vijjadhara) seek to prolong their lifespan through various means".

{Taoist meditational practices collectively known as "internal alchemy" are likewise expected to result in physical-health-benefits and in consequently-augmented longevity ("IAO"; "ITALA").}

Crosby 2013 = Kate Crosby : Delivering the Buddha : Technologies of Transformation in Traditional ... Meditation. Hong Kong Univ Pr.

"IAO" = "Internal Alchemy : An Overview".

"ITALA" = "Immortality in Taoist Alchemy : Levels of Achievements".

p. xxvi An-agata Vams`a {'not-byegone dynasty'}

"The themes of sponsoring and constructing religious buildings (Rozenberg 2010a ...), and practicing virtuous conduct

while hidden away in caves,

{Such "dark retreat" within caves is, in its Bodish instance (alike unto so many other peculiar features of Bodish Vajra-yana), of Bon provenience.}

both associated with weikza, are prescribed in the Anagatavamsa, "the chronicle of the future," a text that circulated throughout the Theravada region in Pali and vernacular recensions. In Burma, it ... in the nineteenth century was widely circulated ... (Turner 2014:Chapter 2).

The Anagatavamsa describes the apocalyptic events that mark the end of this current world. The gods warn of an impending disaster ... .

Those few virtuous people who survive do so by sequestering themselves in caves." {These are "Zhongmin : Seed-people; the name given to those who would survive the impending apocalypse foretold in the southern Celestial Masters tradition" ("GTIAT"). As a memorial of the caves, modern-day "seed people" are now "secluded in “pure rooms” or “chambers of quiescence”" (HDPI, p. 24).}

{In Bi-afra, they are known as "AD-ELE – ‘Seed People of EL’ in Igbo." (ThLBA)} {According to the Zun~i, there were "Seed people" in "the caves they came from" (M&LC&OS).}

Turner 2014 = Alicia Turner : Saving Buddhism : ... the Impermanence of Colonial Religion. Honolulu : Univ of HI Pr.

"GTIAT" = "Glossary of Taoist Inner Alchemy Terms".

HDPI = Louis Komathy : Handbooks for Daoist Practice : Introduction. Wandering Cloud Press, 2003.

ThLBA = Catherine Ocholonu, Ajay Prabhakar, & Eddy Olumba : They Lived Before Adam : Pre-historic Origins of the Igbo. Owerri, Nigeria : Fylann Ltd., 2009.

M&LC&OS = Katharine Berry Judson : Myths and Legends of California and the Old Southwest. 1916.


Cap. 1.


On Saints

Patrick Pranke

3 to 12

pp. 4-5 ascendency of the traditional Sthavira-vada dogma alleging that it is not now, and hath not been for many centuries, feasible for anyone to become an arhant; and challenge historically first posed by the vidya-dhara social movement against this dogmatic notion in the Burma as of the mid-18th-century ChrAira

p. 4

"prior to the eighteenth century in Burma, as elsewhere in the Theravada world,

it was generally believed that it was no longer possible to attain enlightenment and hence nibbana

{This Sthavira-vada dogma is very much akin to the Protestant (Lutheran, Calvinist, etc.) dogma that miracles are no longer possible, and have not been possible since after the demise of the 12 Apostoloi.}

through vipassana or any other means during the present age. The reason given for this was that the Buddha's 5,000-year sasana had by that time simply declined too much for such an attainment to be within reach. ...

The earliest known record of someone who challenged this assumption is that of a monk from the Sagaing Hills in Upper Burma named Waya-zawta whose movement flourished during the reign of Maha-damma-yaza-dipati (r. 1733-52). Waya-zawta promised his followers sotapanna through anagami status if they would follow his teachings. ...

Writing a

p. 5

century later, the scholar-monk Monywe Hsayadaw (1767-1835) noted ... in his royal chronicle, Maha-yazawin-gyaw,

[translated] An elder monk named Waya-zawta, who lived in the village of Watchek, used to preach to followers of his doctrine that they had become ariya sotapannas. Many monks and laymen became his disciples and soon they could be found in every town and village of Upper and Lower Burma ... . ... (Monywe Hsayadaw, Maha-yazawin-gyaw, c. 1830:177-8. See also Lieberman 1984:194-5)."

"During the first half of the eighteenth century, the then Burmese Nyaung-yan Dynasty (1597-1752) was in precipitous decline."

Lieberman 1984 = Victor B. Lieberman : Burmese Adminstration Cycles : ... c. 1580-1760. Princeton Univ Pr.

pp. 6-7 gradual achievement of ascendency, in Burma during the Konbaun dynasty, of the non-traditional (i.e., traditionally excluded thitherto from orthodoxy by all official Sthavira authority) doctrine that to become an arhant is feasible even now-a-days

p. 6

"after Waya-zawta's movement ..., during a civil war which saw the destruction of the Nyaung-yan Dynasty, a young scholar-monk named Medawi (1728-1816) began writing vipassana manuals in the vernacular. ... Medawi wrote over 30 meditation

p. 7

manuals during his career ... . Indeed, during the reign of Bodaw-hpaya (r. 1782-1819) ... he was granted a royal title and a monastic endowment for his work on vipassana ... . ...

Turning to the Thathana-linkara Sadan written in 1831, ... The text contains accounts of more recent saints than are listed in earlier chronicles and ... argues ... that the era of ariya arahant attainment will long endure in the Burmese kingdom ... .

Finally in the Sasana[-]vamsappadipaka, written in 1861, it is stated matter-of-factly that persons possessed of extraordinary meditative attainments flourish in the present age, and should anyone choose to take up the practice of vipassana, ... that that person could attain arahant-ship in a single lifetime (... Law 1986:80)."

Law 1986 = Bimala Churn Law : History of the Buddha's Religion. 2nd edn. Delhi : Sri Satguru Publ.

p. 8 Sagain

"In the mid-[19th-]century [ChrAira] ..., the hills of Sagaing were honeycombed with meditation caves and dotted with forest monasteries."

[p. 23, n. 11 : "For a summary of nineteenth-century Burmese monastic history as it pertains to ... forest monks in Sagaing, see Htin Aung 1966:3-36."]

Htin Aung 1966 = Htin Aung (transl.) : Burmese Monk's Tales : Tales of the Thingazar Sayadaw. NY : Columbia Univ Pr.

pp. 9-10 controversy as concerning whether cadavres of buddha-s and of arhant-s remain miraculously non-putrefying

p. 9

"Ledi Hsayadaw ... in the Uttamapurisa-dipani, a treatise on the attributes of ariyas written in 1900, ... asserted,

[translated] ... the corpses of buddhas and arahants neither decay nor emit foul odor, instead they remain fresh just as when they were alive. ... Their mental aggregates ... generate physical bodies that are pure. ... (Ledi Hsayadaw ... :494-5)."

[p. 23, n. 12 : "One of the possible inspirations for Ledi Hsayadaw's own views may have been the Alaungdaw Kathapa cave-shrine ... local legend ... of ... Mahakassapa ... . Kawinda 1994:19. The legend is not attested in Pali sources ... . Strong 1992:61-4."]

Not surprisingly, ... the lack of textual {scriptural} authority for this viewpoint gave reason to some scholar-monks to reject Ledi Hsayadaw's argument. In the Yahanda Pyathana, a treatise about contemporary arahantship, the scholiast Thadammodaya Hsayadaw sharply criticized the belief

p. 10

that corpses of arahants do not decay, noting that

in the scripture the Buddha himself declared his own body to be a mass of corruption ... . ...

[p. 23, n. 13 : "The reference being made here is to the famous story of Vakkali Thera ... . In the story, the Buddha ... admonishes Vakkali ... to see the dhamma as his true body. Malalasekera 1974:799-800." {In Vajra-yana, /dharma-kaya/ is taken to mean 'causal body'.}]

In spite of occasional criticisms of this sort, Ledi Hsayadaw's opinion has prevailed and today represents the majority view of the vipassana movement and of the Burmese religious establishment."

{Similarly as the legend of the incorruptible body of Maha-kas`yapa "is not attested in Pali sources and has its origins in the Sanskrit Buddhist traditions of north India" (supra, p. 23, n. 12), so correspondingly this "majority view ... of the Burmese religious establishment" is extracted directly out of the Maha-yana vaipulya-sutra-s' exegesis of the "dharma-kaya" as not merely a figurative allusion to the corpus of the sutra-s themselves, but as a veritable luminous subtle body situated in the causal plane-of-existence.}

Strong 1992 = John Strong : The Legend and Cult of Upagupta. Princeton Univ Pr.

Malalasekera 1974 = G. P. Malalasekera : Dictionary of Pali Proper Names. London : Pali Text Society.

p. 10 attainment of r.ddhi by means of s`amatha, and by founders of vi-pas`yana groups

"the cultivation of tranquillity meditation (samatha {s`amatha}) and the blissful states (jhana {dhyana 'trance'}) and supernormal powers (iddhi {r.ddhi}, abhin~n~a {abhi-jn~a}) associated with it."

"the modern vipassana groups were founded by charismatic monks. ... The modern hagiographies ... often report ... on their supernormal powers --

to fly through the air, to appear in two places at once, to predict the future, etc."

{Levitation, bi-location, etc. are attributed to (as confirmed by reliable witnesses) numerous saints of various religions. These feats are achieved by occult means of subtle-bodies.}

p. 11 cult of living arhant-s

"The heyday of the associated cult of living arahants was really the mid-twentieth century, which witnessed many charismatic monks raised to national prominence for their aptitude in meditation ... .

{Neglect of living saints is reprimanded, while veneration of dead saints is decried : "You have disregarded the living one who is in your presence, and have spoken of the dead." (Euangelion kata Thomas, logion 52)}

This cult ... was part and parcel of ... the 2500th anniversary of the Buddha's parinibbana in 1956, which was celebrated in Yangon with the convention of the Sixth Buddhist Synod.

[pp. 24-5, n. 21 : "This belief in the significance of 2500th anniversary of the Buddha's parinibbana played an important role in weikza-lam circles as well ... . ... On the scope of weikza-lam millennarian expectations during this period, see Foxeus 2011:58-75."]

It was believed by many Burmese Buddhists at that time ... that at this halfway point of the sasana's decline there was a sudden upsurge in the capacity of individuals to attain liberation, and that all this was a fulfillment on an ancient prophecy."

[p. 25, n. 22 : "The idea was taken up for consideration by the Sixth Buddhist Synod (1954-56) ... . ... . ... today only a minority of vipassana groups advocates the view, most notably those following the teachings of S. N. Goenka."]

Euangelion kata Thomas

p. 12 historic Mon missionaries who are reckoned as saints

"Chief ... is Shin Arahan, the Mon saint who famously converted the Burmese king, Anawrahta, to Buddhism in the eleventh century and became the first Buddhist patriarch of the kingdom of Pagan.

[p. 25, n. 23 : "The ... legend of Shin Arahan and King Anawrahta, in turn, is closely patterned after the story of Dhammasoka {Dharma A-s`oka} found in the Mahavamsa {Maha-vams`a}. See Pe Maung Tin and Gordon Luce 1923:70-5; Geiger 1964b {1912b}:28-49."]

Equally prominent are Son.a {S`ron.a} and Uttama, native sons according to the Mon tradition, who missionized the Mon homeland of Raman~n~a in Lower Burma in the third century BCE.

[p. 25, n. 24 : "The legend of Son.a and Uttama, which first appears in the Dipavamsa {Dipa-vams`a}, was recast into its familiar Burmese form in the 15th-century Kalyan.i inscriptions of King Dhammaceti. See Taw Sein Ko 1892:48-9; Oldenberg [1879]:159-60."]

While endowed with supernatural powers, used always judiciously to overcome obstacles to their missions, these saints are chiefly remembered as propagators of the faith whose importance was that they ... inaugurated a valid line of ordination there."

Pe & Luce 1923 = Pe Maung Tin & Gordon Luce (transll.) : The Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma. Oxford Univ Pr.

Taw 1892 = Taw Sein Ko : The Kalyani Inscriptions Erected by King Dhammaceti at Pegu in 1476 A.D. Rangoon : Gvmt Printing Burma.

Oldenberg 1879 = Hermann Oldenberg : The Dipavamsa : an Ancient Buddhist Historical Record. London : Williams & Norgate, 1879. (reprinted 1992 Delhi : AES)


Be'ne'dicte Brac de la Perrie`re; Guillaume Rozenberg; and Alice Turner (edd.) : Champions of Buddhism : Weikza Cults in Contemporary Burma. National Univ of Singapore Pr, Singapore, 2014.