Buddhist influences in Burmese political history
The primary question that this thesis looks at is to what extent and what manner of influence has Buddhism had on Burmese political history? Issues surrounding the difficulties and nuances of the relationship between Buddhism and the Burmese state are assessed throughout. Rather than just a retelling of a certain aspect of Burmese political history this study places an overarching Buddhist model of the Two- Wheels of Dhamma upon Burmese politics. This enables a pattern of relations between Buddhism and the state in Myanmar to be drawn out. The method used to develop these ideas has been to break the political history down into various phases beginning with the monarchical period through to the contemporary context and examine the nature of the relationship between Buddhism and the state and its various changes within these eras. The analysis of the monarchical period establishes the basic ideas that uphold the overall nature of the Buddhism and state relationship. The following phases that are examined look more closely into the challenges the Two- Wheel structure faces and the movements it makes when confronted with these challenges. Key ideas that develop throughout the study are the importance of maintaining balance between the Two Wheels of Dhamma, in particular, in maintaining a balance between Buddhism's ability to criticise the state - Buddhism's antagonistic capabilities - and the state's support for Buddhism - a symbiosis between Buddhism and the state. Another of the key ideas developed is the importance of the moral ideal Buddhism provides politics not only to benefit the way politics is carried out but it is seen that the moral appeal of Buddhism is a crucial part of understanding the Two Wheel structure.
Advisor: McLean, Malcolm
Degree Name: Master of Arts
Degree Discipline: Theology and Religious Studies
Publisher: University of Otago
Research Type: Thesis