Champions of Buddhism, II

Capitula Partis II : Weikza Rituals for Safeguarding Religion






II.1 (4).

World-Emperor's Battle

Niklas Foxeus



II.2 (5).

Rituals of Pagoda-Building

Keiko Tosa



pp. 247-9 Contributores





other affliliations


Niklas Foxeus


Stockholm __



Keiko Tosa


Tokyo __ of Foreign Studies



II.1 (4).



World-Emperor's Battle

Niklas Foxeus


p. 83 royal esoteric congregations : praeparations for arrival of a cakra-vartin on planet Earth

"In the early potcolonial era of Burma, millen{n}arian expectations about the arrival of Setkya Min, the [forthcoming] world emperor, were held in diverse communities ... . From the late 1940s to the early 1960s, some esoteric congregations were founded by individuals believed to be embodiments of the millen{n}arian figure Setkya Min (P. cakkavattin), who was considered to be a powerful weikza. These congregations typically combined royal symbolism, insignia, ... and conduct ..., and {with} esoteric weikza beliefs and practices ... . I refer to these as "royal esoteric congregations.""

[p. 105, n. 2 : "I have written about a few royal esoteric congregations (see Foxeus 2011)".]

p. 235 "Foxeus, Niklas. 2011. "The Buddhist World Emperor's Mission : Millen{n}arian Buddhism in Postcolonial Burma." PhD diss., Stockholm University."

pp. 85, 106 ariya-weikza

p. 85

"Since the 1950s, a royal esoteric congregation {hath been in existence} in Burma ... . It was founded by a man who is referred to as the "Exalted Royal Father" {cf. the name of "Father Divine" (in Georgia, Long Island, and Philadelphia)} (khame-daw-hpaya) by the members, and who is identified with Setkya Min."

p. 106, n. 7

"the ariya-weikza organization qualifies all its esoteric tenets and practices, by which mundane and supra-mundane weikzahood can be attained, as ariya, "noble, "pure.""

{Such an emphasis on the term /ARYA/ is paralleled with the name of the /ARYA Samaj/ in Bharata.

{The most distinctive use of the term /arya/ 'noble' in the Veda is as etymon of the name /Aryaman/ of the god leading the /pitarah./ ('dead ancestors', understood as now abiding in an otherworld sometimes identified with the visible galaxy ["milky way", Iring's way, etc.]).}

p. 86 royal esoteric congregations in Syama

"the ariya-weikza organization fulfils most of the criteria that Donald K. Swearer outlines for fundamentalist Theravada Buddhist movements in South and Southeast Asia, such as Dharmakaya and Santi Asoke in Thailand.

Such movements ... seek to restore a primordial condition of unity, certainty, and purity; ... they may have an almost obsessive sense of their unique role or destiny ..., etc. (Swearer 1991: 633, 678 ...)."

Swearer 1991 = Donald K. Swearer : "Fundamentalistic Movements in Theravada Buddhism". In :- Martin E. Marty & R. Scott Appleby (edd.) : Fundamentalisms Observed. = The Fundamentalism Project, Vol. 1. Univ of Chicago Pr. pp. 628-90.

pp. 86, 107 types of sectarian official texts of a Burmese esoteric congregation

p. 86

"All the textual sources ... used are documents intended for internal circulation. The texts are of ... two kinds. The first is "books" that have been printed ... but not published, and are distributed only to the members. The other consists of typewritten ... documents ... mainly intended for leaders. Somewhere between these categories ... is the "course book" intended for ordinary members. It consists of typewritten {or rather, mimeographed?} sheets stapled together ... . It is distributed ... during the courses members are expected to take upon being initiated into the organization."

p. 107, n. 12

"the "first book" entitled Development of Dat {Dhatu} in the Fundamental Field of Wisdom ... and written by the founder in the early 1950s, ... makes a general statement of the nature of the esoteric congregation, and an outline of ... some of the initiation rituals. Another important book is the "second book" entitled Treatise on the Development of Dat and on the Practice of Noble Esoteric Wisdom ... (1957) ..., which is concerned with visualization techniques, important rituals, the path ... to Buddhahood, and so forth."

p. 87 historic development of the Setkya-Min legend

"The legend of Setkya Min originated during King Bagyidaw's reign (1819-37). His son, the crown prince with the title Prince of Nyaungyan, was popularly known as Setkya Min. His birth was surrounded with miraculous events and his body bore the signs of a future world emperor. ...

However, some did not believe that he had died and thought that he would return some day.

Later versions of the legend would have it that Setkya Min was miraculously saved by the weikza, Bo Bo Aung, who brought him to a hidden weikza abode where he learned esoteric practices and eventually attained weikzahood."

[p. 107, n. 16 "One version of the story of Bo Bo Aung's rescue of Setkya Min can be found in Hpay Khin's (1949) book ... . For earlier discourses on Setkya Min, in which Bo Bo Aung did not yet figure, see Candier 2004."]

Candier 2004 = Aurore Candier : "Some Comments on Rumours in the Mid-Nineteenth Century Konbaung Court". In :- Traditions and Knowledge in Southeast Asia : Proceedings of the Traditions and Knowledge in Southeast Asia Conference, 17-19 December 2003, Part 1. Yangon : Myanmar Historical Commission.

p. 88 Setkya Min as "walk-in" (most commonly mentioned in lore concerning advent on this planet of flying-saucer aliens; and antiently in the Ajivika litterature along also with that litterature's successors, such as the Ocean of Story)

"The world emperor came to the human realm to fulfill a higher mission, to which the weikza and gods ... had appointed him ... . In the mid-1940s ..., Setkya Min's consciousness therefore left his weikza abode to enter a human body. He selected a military officer,

whose body he entered and appropriated as his new embodiment".

[p. 108, n. 21 "the weikza uses the human body until it is ... worn out, whereupon he discards it."]

pp. 88-9, 108 it is alleged that it was at the behest of Setkya Min that European imperial governments abandoned their Asiatic colonies after the 2nd World War (late 1940s ChrAira)

p. 88

"Setkya Min, as a world emperor, was considered to be authorized to promulgate royal orders ... to the colonizing powers, such as Great Britain. As a first step in his millen{n}arian project of inaugurating the Liberation Era, the world emperor had to force the colonial powers to leave their colonies ... . He issued his first royal order to all the Western {Western European} colonial powers, ...

p. 89

and ordered them to grant their colonies independence and home rule ... . ... Frightened by Setkya Min's display of his power, they immediately granted independence to ... colonies."

p. 108, n. 25

"It is even stated that the United Nations was founded by the Western {Western European} colonial powers on the world emperor's orders. The aim of that organization would be to protect the interests of the former colonies and to protect them from being colonized again."

pp. 89-90 Golden Book

p. 89

"The tenets and practices of the ariya-weikza organization are claimed ... to be largely derived from a Golden Book compiled by

p. 90

the weikza, U Dhammasari."

p. 90 an army to resist foreigners {such "foreign" organizations (interfering in Burma) as the government of England & Episcopalian church}

"The founder and leaders of the esoteric organization ... emulated the paradigm of the cakkavattin king and his army, which has typically been rendered in the canonical Cakkavattin-sihanada Sutta. Accordingly, they constituted an army seeking to conquer the entire world ... ."

p. 93 the wondrous cakra of the cakra-vartin

"a text entitled Mahasetdawgyi, the "Great Royal Wheel," ... is said to be derived from the weikza, U Dhammasari's Golden Book. It consists of wishes arranged in 71 paragraphs ... . The contents of the paragraphs are to be effectuated by means of the combined agency of the humans, the weikza, and the gods. ...

According to the myth in the Pali texts such as Cakkavattin-sihanada Sutta, the wheel appears miraculously as a embodiment of the world emperor's incomparable store of merit ... and is his exclusive endowment."

p. 111, n. 46 ritual dagger

"a ritual dagger (wisetka) ... by means of certain rituals ... can acquire tremendous power and transform into the ... supernatural setkya weapon (let-net-setkya) that can be sent out into the world to ... certain targets.

This dagger can be compared to the Laotian mit kut dagger and the Javanese kris (see Tambiah 1970:114; Gardner 1936; Frey 2003 [1986]:12-6)." {The kris/keris is supposedly intended to imitate the "tail of the stingray" ("RK&OMW").}

{This ritual implement is also comparable to the Bodish /phur-bu/.}

Tambiah 1970 = Stanley Jeyaraja Tambiah : Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand. (Cambridge Studies In Social Anthropology, no. 2.) Cambridge Univ Pr.

Gardner 1936 = Gerald Brosseau Gardner : Keris and Other Malay Weapons. Singapore : Progressive Publ Co.

Frey 1986 = Edward Frey : The Kris : Mystic Weapon of the Malay World. Oxford Univ Pr.


p. 100 Aira of Wisdom

"the Buddhist Millennium, the Liberation Era or the Era of Noble Esoteric Wisdom {Arya Gambhira Prajn~a}, which is led by Setkya Min, entails that ... Buddhist practices are exceedingly efficacious. ... For this reason, the ariya-weikza organization can employ noble esoteric methods as supernatural weapons".



Weikza Specialists and the Rituals of Pagoda-Building

Keiko Tosa


p. 114 function of the pagoda

"The term "pagoda" (hpaya) refers to a stupa {stupa} that incorporates a {bodily} relic, such as a tooth or hair of the Buddha or {of} a Buddhist saint. ... .

... even ... if a pagoda has a monastery built around it, there is a a clear territorial separation between the pagoda and the monastery (Sadler 1970:288). ... The pagoda, by contrast, is the center of lay religion, where ordinary people gather and ... hold festivals (290). There are also administrative differences : while monasteries are managed by monks, pagodas are administered by lay committees, called gawpaka ahpwe (290 ...)."

Sadler 1970 = A. W. Sadler : "Pagoda and Monastery : Reflections on the Social Morphology of Burmese Buddhism". J OF ASIAN & AFRICAN STUDIES 5.4:282-93.

pp. 115-8 the five stages in the constructing of a pagoda






"Pile {Cornerpile}-driving ritual (panet yaik mingala pwe)

Monks recite portions of the Pali canon known as ... kammawasa (P. kammavaca). The ... master of ceremonies (MC) drive piles ino the ground ... at the octagonal corners of the site on which the pagoda will be built."


"Cornerstone {or rather, Centrestone}-laying ritual (okmyit kya pwe)

... A circle is first drawn in the center of the construction space; a square drawn within the circle is then partitioned into nine squares ... . Some jewelry is then buried at the center of the square.

... eight people who are born on each day of the week (one for each day from Monday to Sunday, and one for Yahu, Wednesday afternoon) {N.B. the 7-day week was unknown in Bharata/India until imported from the Akkadian kalendar by Yavana-s ("Ionians" : actually, however, Diadokhoi Makedonians, successors to Alexandros ho Megalos), a nine-day week being, instead, in vogue}, ...

{This 8-fold-way method would be more reasonably applicable to the Etruscan-and-Roman 8-day week -- similar whereto could be constructed an 8-day week by combining the two separate days (in the traditional antient 9-day week) for Rahu and for Ketu, into a single day (to be labeled "Svar-bhanu").}

each ... place bricks representing their birthday at the corner appropriate to the day."



"Treasure-placement ritual (htapana peik pwe)

When the physical construction of the pagoda has been substantially completed, the ritual involving the placing ... of treasures, such as relics and images of the Buddha or of saints ... is held. Sometimes, a Burmese horoscope (zata, P. jata), which shows the completion time, is preserved along with these treasures. ... The hole is then sealed and gahta (P. gatha) or payeik (P. paritta) are recited."


"Umbrella {more actually, Parasol}-placement ritual (hti tin pwe)

Construction is usually finished by placing an umbrella {parasol} on top of the pagoda ... . ...



If the pagoda is big, it [the parasol] is put up through "flower cart" (pan yahta). A rope is stretched from the ground to the pagoda-top and wound around a pulley-block; then, a decorated cart, on which the umbrella {parasol} and the ornaments have been placed, is hauled up using the rope."


"Consecration (anaygaza tin pwe)

Invited monks gather around the pagoda and recite special verses for protection called anaygaza tin gahta, which are used for consecration."

p. 137, p. 12 Atanadiya gain

"This is one of the oldest weikza congregations ... . The members believe that the basic knowledge they transmit was created and compiled by a famous monk named U Khanda Zawti who devoted himself to esoteric drawing (in) and "exited alive" (ashin htwet) ... in 1749 (1111 Burmese Era)."

p. 119 descriptions of several individual ritual experts who perform religious rites required during construction of pagoda-s

"Hsaya Maung ... and his disciples are members of the Atanadiya Congregation, which mainly transmits the knowledge of esoteric drawing (in).

... retired professor Hsaya Pu ... was once a devout follower of Gyobyu Hsayadaw (Adissawuntha, 1894-1979), who ... "exited dead" (athay-htwet). Gyobyu Hsayadaw transmitted to Hsaya Pu ... rare statues and datlon (metallic balls made by alchemical means). ...

Hsaya Thin ... was shipwrecked. Barely escaping death, he began believing {in the divinities who had rescued him, namely} in the the marine goddess, Manimekala, and in ogres (bilu). ... his grounding in religious activity came from Taungdan Pyu Hsayadaw (U Uttamathara 1911-95) ... .

... the independent ascetic (yathay), Hsaya Kaung, was initiated into alchemical knowledge and esoteric drawing by some ascetics and other mentors.

... Hsaya Mya is a famous astrologer and the founder of a private school of astrology."

p. 138, n. 13 female weikza

"My informants told me that a woman can be a weikza, and in the rituals ... meinma weikza (female weikza) were {and are} invoked along with yaukkya weikza (male weikza)."

p. 121 an instance of why and how one particular pagoda was constructed

"his donation was made in response to a dream this mother had ... {in the year praevious} : in an impressive scene, she crossed the Yangon River and drove along a straight road that crossed a plain; in the far distance, she saw a pagoda on which the famous weikza, Bo Min Gaung (who "exited" in 1952), was standing alone. ...

One day, ... an Indian washerwoman ... invited ...'s mother to her house. ... When she visited ...'s village, ...'s mother realized that the place was ... the same as the one she had dreamed about. She confided her dream to {the washerwoman} and told her of her wish to build a pagoda there. [The washerwoman] ... gladly agreed to donate the land for the pagoda. ...'s mother paid for the building expenses ... . ... . ... the construction ... began ... and finished when the rituals were completed ... . ... .

The pagoda-building team ... told me that they often saw Bo Min Gaung with a beautiful girl, who{m} they presumed to be a thaik nan shin ("treasure palace mistress"), or guardian spirit of treasure, lingering around the construction site of the pagoda."

pp. 123-4, 126-7 annual parasol-festival

p. 123

"The participants ... prepared the custom-made umbrellas for transport. ... On the way, they stopped at the downtown ... Pagodas to show respect to the guardian spirits, called bobogyi ... . Before holding any important ritual, it is a common ... practice first to show them respect. They crossed the river by ferry. Awaiting them on the other shore was ... the payeik-recitation group, made up of ... women wearing brown dress (longyi) and brown shawls, brown being the color worn by women who engage in a religious activity ... . ... The umbrella was protected ... by men costumed as Thagyamin and Byanmamin. ... When the procession arrived at the compound of the new pagoda, they placed the umbrellas on a Buddhist altar (hpaya zin) in a hut ... . ...

p. 124

A smaller hut had been built in the other corner [of the pagoda-compound] ... . Here, images of numerous spirits were arranged in two rows on the altar, along with an offering ... . A Burmese orchestra (hsaing waing) occupied one corner; in the center,

a woman with a sash tied around her bosom and a red towel wrapped around her head was dancing to the insistent beat of spirit-cult music. She was a medium of the spirit cult (nat gadaw). ...

{"the [Taoist] priest also acts as an exorcist and ... then wears the red turban or headscarf" ("MM&A", p. 321).} {The legendary origin of this headdress commenced when "Laozi wrapped a red turban about Xujia’s head." ("CDTP", p. 8)}

On the second day, the eve of the main ritual, there was all-night dancing and music. ...

p. 126

[On the third day,] ... The procession ... entered the pagoda precincts, which had been cordoned off with a white rope, and walked around it nine times. ... After completing nine circuits, the procession entered the central pagoda compound from the east entrance, stopped at the Sunday (northeast) corner, and paid homage to the pagoda. The dance ... was held within the pagoda compound. In this dance, two people inside a papier-ma^che' elephant figure move to the beat of a Shan long drum. This dance was included because in the widow's dream, an elephant danced at the

p. 127

completed pagoda. Spirit mediums then joined the procession. ...

At this time, ... "The fortuitous time for donating the golden umbrella has come!" ... After this, they placed the smaller umbrella on a satellite pagoda and the other umbrella on

the Hintha Pillar, which was built near the satellite pagoda. ...

[p. 138, n. 20 : "a pillar capped by a hintha, a mythical bird, a common feature of pagodas in Lower (South) Burma."]

Popped rice and coins were thrown up to shower from the sky."

"MM&A" = John McCreery : "Malinowsky, Magic, and Advertsing". In :- John F. Sherry (ed.) : Contemporary Marketing and Consumer Behavior : an Anthropological Sourcebook. SAGE Publ, Thousand Oaks (CA), 1995. pp. 309-29.

"CDTP" = Margaret Chan : "Contemporary Daoist Tangki Practice". Oxford Handbooks Online, 2015.

p. 129 ritual-specialists engage in rites for constructing, and for repairing, of pagoda-s

"During the repair of a large pagoda, ... not only weikza specialists but also astrologers participate, especially in providing specialized ritual knowledge. Examples of the knowledge required for the ritual of pagoda-building include

how to manipulate the four elements,

{so as to signal, as concerning the intent of construction, to the elemental spirits who are in their own world}

how to make charms,

{so as to appease such spirits as enjoy being charmed}

and how to select the most auspicious time for rituals. ...

I have observed ... that thaik pwe offerings were prepared by the mediums."

p. 129 deities who are invited to festival-rites

"Beings invited to take part in the rituals are often ... invited, in the following order :

1) the Buddha and his disciples;

2) weikza, yathay, and tapati (the latter two being ascetics {in both cases, dead ones are intended});

3) deities, such as Thagyamin and Byanmamin [S`akra and Brahma, respectively (p. 118 supra)];

4) guardian gods, including ... the four Guardian Gods of the World; and

5) the spirits (auk nat)."

p. 132 only layfolk, not clergy, may participate in constructing a pagoda

"in pagoda-building ... it is considered taboo for monks to participate ... .

... to build a pagoda, the proper laypersons should ... carry out the project."

p. 133 hindrances to constructing a pagoda

"supernatural beings may upset the ritual process. Spirits (nat) are especially apt to do this ... if a pagoda is {in the process of being} built where they dwell ... .

Meanwhile, although ogres (bilu {}) are ordinarily expected to be pagoda guardian spirits, they may interrupt construction

if angered by builders or other persons involved;

{if propre etiquette in shewing respect to hath not been diligently undertaken by the mortals concerned}

the same ... of guardian spirits or the guardian princess of the treasure."


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.