Champions of Buddhism, I.2



Longevity of Weikza

Juliane Schober


p. 34 manifestation and communication by vidya-dhara

"both types of htwet yat pauk, be they ashin htwet or athay htwet, may choose to become manifest in people's dreams or meditative visions and reveal secret knowlege and messages to their human weikza followers who, upon being initiated into their teachings, translate their message for others through practices that range from alchemy to healing. Some of these devotees become accomplished weikza themselves and ... communicate regularly with their departed teachers."

p. 34 power through spells : alchemistic magical protections

"weikza practices promise to harness power through spells (in) and ... inspire a Burmese ... to gain alchemistic mastery that offers magical protection through datlon".

"In this regard, the reader is referred to the excellent discussion ... by John Strong (2004) and also in Schober (2001)."

Strong 2004 = John Strong : Relics of the Buddha. Princeton Univ Pr.

Schober 2001 = Juliane Schober : "Venerating the Buddha's Remains in Burma : from Solitary Practice to Cultural Hegemony ...". J OF BURMA STUDIES 6:111-39.

p. 35 bamboo palace for alchemy

"to visit ... a site described by E. Michael Mendelson (1961a, 1961b, 1963b) ... a find a bamboo palace and a community that was steeped in alchemy".

Mendelson 1961a = E. Michael Mendelson : "The King of the Weaving Mountain". J OF THE CENTRAL ASIATIC SOC 48.3-4:229-37.

Mendelson 1961b = E. Michael Mendelson : "A Messianic Buddhist Association in Upper Burma". BULLETIN OF THE SCHOOL OF AFRICAN AND ORIENTAL STUDIES 24.3:560-80.

Mendelson 1963b = E. Michael Mendelson : "Observations on a Tour in the Region of Mount Popa, Central Burma". FRANCE-ASIE 19 (179):780-807.

p. 35 elusive; secret & remote

"about htwet yat pauk beings and their kin ... to realize their elusive quality ... expressed in the transcendent longevity of their htwet yat pauk teachers, in the cult-like popularity they enjoy among devotees, in the diversity of teaching manuals composed in secret code, and in their remote locations within the sacred geography of Burma."

p. 37 handwriting on the wall

"Bo Bo Aung confounded the power of the king through his knowledge of runes (in) by inscribing on the palace walls an indelible letter O (wa) which is thought to have intrinsic mystical qualities."

p. 41 secret texts; miracle-filled hagiographies

"The literature on weikza topics ranges from manuals of esoteric knowledge for the initiated, to instructions for disciples by their adept teachers, to biographies that expound {the} miraculous accomplishments of weikza and hwet yat pauk beings. Many of these ephemeral texts are kept hidden and are only selectively transmitted to the next generation of disciples in a language of hyperbolic allusions, secret codes, and encrypted diagrams. ...

While many of these texts remain extant {only} in the form of palm-leaf manuscripts, contemporary print culture has allowed for the proliferation of a literature about a colorful cast of characters and their secretive and alchemistic practices. This literary genre narrates the heroic feats of protagonists who gain access to hidden powers and wealth on account of their weikza abilities. Their stories continue to capture the imagination of Burmese readers and they are readily available for purchase ... at pilgrimage sites ... . ... Burmese is devoted to weikza and hwet yat pauk masters, their narratives are pervasive throughout Burmese culture as almost everyone is familiar with their characters and mythic feats. The popular fascination with weikza practices has engendered a ... genre ... about a vast cast of characters : weikza, zawgyi (eremitic magicians), and hwet yat pauk beings, all belonging to a class of beings called thathana saung (dispensation's caretakers or guardians) who await the end of the current dispensation {that of S`akya-muni or whomever} or the start of the next {that of Maitreya or whomever}. The plot of these stories usually involves a guardian of the treasure (thaik saung) who often appears in the form of a naga, the mythical snake. ... In Theravada mythology, the naga is capable of carrying the treasure of knowledge from one realm of existence into another due to its ability to shift between human and animal forms."

p. 42 sorcery to captivate maidens [written July 23rd 2016]

"one man I interviewed identified himself openly as a sorcerer (auk-lan hsaya) and ...

described his need to tame ghosts with food ... in order to get them to focus on their case. ...

{cf. "weak and beggarly element[al]s", likewise allegedly involved in enslavement (Epistole to the Galatai 4:9)}

Sorcerers tame, entrap and enslave weak beings with little personal power through food and trickery. {But do not those supposedly "weak beings" consider the "self-identified sorcerer" as having been entrapped by them when lured by them to offer food to them?}

{According to this New-Testament account, anyone dealing with such ostensibly "weak and beggarly" elemental-spirits will, in fact, become enslaved by them -- but evidently unbeknownst to the enslaved! Therefore, are not such Burmese "sorcerers" actually unwitting slaves to the elemental-spirits which they mistakenly suppose to have enslaved to themselves?}

Their evil {self-alleged to be "evil", that is} messengers include ghosts (tahsay) and ogres (bilu). In these stories {which may well be more-or-less-factual accounts by "sorcerers" of their own doings}, unsuspecting {alleged by the "sorcerers" to be "unsuspecting", that is} maidens often become captives of {i.e., fall in love with} the sorcerers and their evil messengers {fall in love with a ghost? -- more likely these maidens have actually converted to the religion of spirit-mediumship, a practice which would be forcibly suppressed by the government if it were practiced openly, because it would win too many coverts}.

As a result of sorcery, they may lose their butterfly spirit (leipkya) in their sleep and become enslaved to their masters."

{This assertion by "sorcerers" (and by their maiden converts to spirit-mediumship) may well be simply a roundabout way of disclosing that the maiden spirit-media visit, in their dreams, the Fae:ryland inhabited by butterfly-winged fae:ries, wherein they themselves are (while in such a dream-world) likewise butterfly-winged, and "lose themselves" to joyous delights (becoming "captivated" with joy) in such a marvellous realm.}

Epistole to the Galatai {Instead of regarding such sort of cases as quaestions of who hath enslaved whom, would it not be more productive to regard them as mutual-benefit concerns -- that is, as more alike to quaestions of who hath benefitted whom the most, or rather, how (in which manners or regards) mutual benefits have been bestowed? Or were the mutual benefits already secretly acknowledged by the "sorcerer", but deliberately misdescribed to outsiders (including to anthropologists) as "enslavement" in order not to infringe on the dominant Theravada claim to be exclusively the only benevolent, altruistic religion in Burma? Any assertion of benevolent, altruistic motives on the part of anyone already labeled a "sorcerer" by the dominant Theravadin religious establishment might be taken to be a forthright effort to win proselytes away from the Theravadin political (purportedly religious, but actually political) machine -- and result in immediately being suppressed by force by the government (which is entrenched in exclusive strong approval of everything Theravadin).} {The antient Galatian "sorcerers" may well have been in the very same sort of political praedicament in regard to relations with the dominant Roman imperial government -- and, if so, the authors of the New Testament may have actually been endeavouring to protect them from potentially difficult relations with the government by acceding to their very strange (that is, strange if it were not explicated in the manner which we are here providing) claim to be willingly enslaved by said elemental-spirits!} [written July 23rd 2016]

p. 42 mystical treasures & subtle body-parts

"Greedy {scil., for mystic knowledge} persons, evil {self-styled as unworthy and "evil", i.e., actually exceedingly humble} spirits, and others ... may work with sorcerers or masters of the lower path (auk-lan hsaya) to steal these treasures.

{Such praeternatural treasures can subsist in, and be witnessed at, only the subtle worlds of trance and of dream, where to "steal" them would be only in the mode of acquiring vast merit in compraehending occult mysteries.}

To accomplish their dreadful deeds, sorcerers use such objects of sympathetic magic such as nail and hair clippings, pieces of clothing,

{Such finger- and toe-nails, along with their hair and their final garment, would signify "the only earthly remains of a siddha upon achieving the so-called "rainbow body"".}

and even body parts, such as severed heads and limbs."

{Such mysterious relics might be found in occult dreams about divinities who discard such portions of their own body as charity.}

p. 43 htwet-yat-pauk flying from Bodish mountain-ranges to hills-of-pilgrimage in Burma

"Burmese have asserted ... that htwet yat pauk masters came from the Gandharan and Himalayas regions where they prefer to sojourn and that their secret manuals were initially composed in the Tibetan language. Weikza adepts and their followers tend to congregate there to ... practice alchemy. Meditators said that htwet yat pauk beings fly from there to visit their disciples in pilgrimage sites on ... remote areas in Burma. Especially popular pilgrimage sites include ... Mt. Popa, the volcanic pipe southeast of Pagan, and Hpo Win Hill, near Monywa in Upper Burma, where the htwet yat pauk master U Hpo Win is said to hae entered the final path stages. It houses a cave complex dating to the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries carved in the stony mountainside that houses Buddha images in the style of the Ava dynasty (1364-1527)."

p. 45 Yankhin Hill & its gilded fish

"Initially developed as a pilgrimage site by the hermit U Khanti (1867-1948), it is a solitary place of practice where small monastic forest enclaves are scattered throughout. In 1982, the hill was still administered by the Yahan Pyo Association, a monastic organization known for its anti-western {more specificly, anti-Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and anti-Episcopalian} stance during the colonial period. Two nat (spirit) shrines were dedicated to the Shan Brother and Sister Nat and to the Medaw ({Matr.} female divinity) who guards this hill. ...

To wit, a gilded statue of a fish ... is housed in the grotto that constitutes the main destination for many visiting pilgrims. He is accompanied by the disciples ... who are also represented as gilded fish."

{These "gilded fishes" would surely relate to the goldfishes which (according to legend) metamorphose into dragons at the so-called "Dragon Gate" in China ("GKFFSh", "HKBD").}

"GKFFSh" = "Goldfish, Koi Fish in Feng Shui and Chinese Belief".

"HKBD" = "How Koi Become Dragons".

pp. 45, 48, 53 cave-residents & subterranean tunnels

p. 45

"I discovered additional hidden caves within the mountain that also house ...

p. 48

resident forest monks, hermits, and other meditators. The iconography and topography of the complex recalls Tibetan practices associated with the veneration of ... caves."

p. 53, n. 18

"See especially Huber's account (2008) of underground tunnels believed to lead Tibetan pilgrims from the Himalayan Plateau to ... various points along the Ganges river valley."

{Such cavernous Bodishly-connected subterranean realm is conventionally known as /Agartha/, as amply long-promoted in litterature of the the Theosophical Society.}

Huber 2008 = Toni Huber : The Holy Land : Pilgrimage and the Reinvention of Buddhist India. Univ of Chicago Pr.

p. 48 maha-siddha & Ari

"In his study of tantric ... Bengal around the first millennium CE, Ronald Davidson (2002) describes vijjadhara and mahasiddha practices that resemble those of contemporary Burmese weikza.

Charles Duroiselle (1915:93) identified the "Ari" as adherents of Shaivite tantric practices and asserts their continuous presence in Burma from the Pagan period to the early nineteenth century.

John P. Ferguson and E. Michael Mendelson (1981), who follow Charles Duroiselle (1915), also point to the "Ari" monks ... as historical precedents for contemporary weikza practices.

F. K. Lehman's observation (2006:133) that Sanskrit tantric texts were introduced to Pagan from Bengal and through Mon traditions ... suggests a wider presence of tantric traditions in Southeast Asia.

This view is also echoed in studies by Kate Crosby (2000; 2009) who writes extensively on

non-canonical Theravada traditions

{Any scripture alleged to be "non-canonical Theravada" is far more likely to be not actually Sthavira-vadin, but rather proprely to belong to some other Hina-yana denomination, whether Dharma-guptaka, Mahis`asaka, or whatever -- all of which were forcibly suppressed by haeretical falsifiers spuriously calling themselves "Theravada" (which is not even a traditional designation).}

and by Franc,ois Bizot who explores the influence of tantric ideas expressed in Pali texts from Cambodia {Kama-bhoja} and

Northern Thailand."

{/Lan-Na/ is the correct designation of this region, which historically hath not been any part of Syama (LKChM).}

Davidson 2002 = Ronald M. Davidson : Indian Esoteric Buddhism : a Social History of the Tantric Movement. NY : Columbia Univ Pr.

Duroiselle 1915 = Charles Duroiselle : "The Ari Monks of Burma and Tantric Buddhism". ANNUAL REPORT OF THE ARCHAEOLOGICAL SURVEY OF INDIA, pp. 79-93.

Ferguson & Mendelson 1981 = John P. Ferguson & E. Michael Mendelson : "Masters of the Occult : the Burmese Weikzas". In :- John Ferguson (ed.) : Essays on Burma. CONTRIBUTIONS TO ASIAN STUDIES, Vol. XVI. Leiden : E. J. Brill. pp. 62-80.

Lehman 2006 = F. K. Lehman : "Burmans, Others and the Community of Spirits". CROSSROADS 18.1:127-32.

Crosby 2000 = Kate Crosby : "Tantric Theravada : a Bibliographic Essay on the Writings of Franc,ois Bizot and Others on the Yogavacara Tradition". CONTEMPORARY BUDDHISM 1.2:141-98. {Only a journal artificially confined to a "contemporary" outlook (and thus ignoring all historic praecedent) would be content to designate all non-Sthavira-vada Hina-yana litteratures, doctrines, and practices as "non-canonical Thera-vada"!}

Crosby 2009 = Kate Crosby : "The Changing Landscape of Theravada Studies". CONTEMPORARY BUDDHISM 9.1:1-6. {more of the same sort of tendaciously deliberately misleading propaganda, misdescribing Sthavira-vada (which is, historically, a very recently-originated deliberate gross corruption of traditions and practices) as if it were the only Hina-yana denomination which ever existed!}

"LKChM" = "Lanna Kingdom - Chiang Mai - Short History".

pp. 49-50 female spirit-media & male spirit-media

p. 49

"nat veneration is the domain of women who act as spirit mediums (nat gadaw, called spirit wives in Burmese) or as their clients. Spirit wives embody {i.e., their bodies are entred and occupied by} the spirit lord {i.e., their spirit-husband} who speaks through them {i.e., through their bodies} to grant clients permissions and favors. The veneration of nat involves ... offerings (P. puja), often in the form of certain cherished foods {the favorite food of the spirit-husband, who will eat it through means of his occupancy of her body, using her mouth}, and ... of spirits "riding" on mediums {so that the medium is the /vahana/ 'vehicle' of the deity} who ... embody them

p. 50

in trance. ...

Men who participate in the veneration of nat ... assume a subordinate role in their union with a ... female spirit ... ."

{The mortal human body is always subordinate to the deity who is occupying it. If a female deity (goddess) is occupying a male mortal's body, then that goddess is deemed the spirit-wife of that man.}

p. 50 dreams etc.

"Weikza adepts do not embody hwet yat pauk beings in in the same way that spirit mediums (nat gadaw) embody spirit lords (nat). {This could perhaps be said of a live weikza; whereas a dead weikza is capable of being embodied by a spirit-medium in the same manner as any other Natha.}

{How-be-it, as for dead vidya-dhara-s, upon being ritually invoked, "the weikza come", so that "The possession" is able "to produce an actual presence ... . ... . ... it would be more appropriate to speak of "embodiment." ... . ... the weikza appears ... to possess an individual." (IFIBB, p. 35)}

At least in Upper Burma, weikza adepts ... instead receive {from praeternatural sources}

messages that are delivered to disciples and devotees in visions, dreams, and meditation."

{When appearing in the dream-world to a disciple, the divinely-informed vidya-dhara can then propound the portentous message to the devotee.}

IFIBB = Guillaume Rozenberg (transl by Ward Keeler) : The Immortals : Faces of the Incredible in Buddhist Burma. Univ of HI Pr, Honolulu, 2015


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