BUDDHISM IN THE MANDALAY PERIOD (1852-1885): A CRITICAL ASSESSMENT
Keywords:Mandalay kings, Myanmar, Sangha, Sasana, Therevada Buddhism
Based on Myanmar Buddhist context, the meaning of the Pali word Sasana refers to the set of teachings of Buddha which has been considered intact in its purest form since it originated from Buddha Himself. As time went by, the said set of precepts might have faced some modifications according to taste and liking of those who embraced it. As a result, it is not assured that the Sasana in Myanmar Buddhist context is still intact in its original form. Myanmar history had depicted the 19th century as an era of Buddhism where it flourished like the Sun and the Moon, so to speak. Furthermore, the Sasana was said to have been refined and propagated
during the reign of Mandalay Kings particularly during King Mindon’s reign (1853-1878). While the kingdom’s political and economic state were unstable, the king and his people made significant investments in various kinds of religious works of merit-making. Although every Myanmar king in history stood as the protector of religion and supported the religion and Sangha (community of monks), the extent to which King Mindon devoted his efforts to support the religion still raised many political questions. An analysis on the said allegation would entail gaining in-depth insights into the beliefs and practices of Buddhism by people from the Mandalay Period, the role of the Sangha in the preservation, and the protection of the Sasana.
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