Buddhist just rule and Burmese national culture: state patronage of the Chinese Tooth Relic in Myanma
History of Religions Vol.36 No.3 Feb 1997 pp.218-43
COPYRIGHT @ University of Chicago
With the State Law and Order Restoration Council working overtime for the promotion, propagation and perpetuation of the Sasana, it is a great reward for the people of this land that the Tooth Relic has been brought on a "dethasari" journey for the benefit of all who would like to take the opportunity to pay homage (Editorial, "The Journey of the Tooth Relic," New Light of Myanmar [April 19, 1994]) I. INTRODUCTION One of the most far-reaching efforts in modern Buddhism to create a national cult of relic veneration occurred in early 1994, when the State Law and Order Restoration Council (SLORC, which presently governs Myanma)(1) enjoined millions of people to participate in a series of elaborate rituals so that citizens and foreigners could pay homage to the Chinese Tooth Relic during its forty-five-day-long procession throughout the nation's territory. This ritual veneration of the Buddha's remains is discussed here as a modern transformation of cosmological Buddhism practiced by the political establishment. The article examines the contemporary social and political realities of the state rituals and modern Buddhist nationalism to illustrate competing visions of authority in Myanma and among transnational communities. In doing so, it explores the transformation of root metaphors and ritual service in cosmological Buddhist contexts into the symbolic currency of a modern, secular state that seeks to obligate the periphery to the hegemonic center in a variety of public social domains. Participation in this economy of merit transforms a ritual community into a national community in which the state regulates access to merit, prestige, and power through complex hegemonic structures. These state rituals took place in a crisis of authority, namely, in the aftermath of popular resistance since 1988 that had created embittered and painful divisions within the national community. The progress of the Sacred Tooth in Burma thus became a vehicle for negotiating hegemonic visions of a modern nation and its political authority, national community, history, and culture. The analysis presented here draws on contemporary texts and social, political, and cultural contexts of venerating the Sacred Tooth and points to both traditional and modern interpretations of these state-sponsored rituals. In traditional Asian polities, the popular veneration of Buddhist sacred objects such as relics and images is shaped by mythic constructs found in texts such as the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, which tells the story of the distribution of the Buddha's relics to surrounding kingdoms. Such themes have been reproduced in Theravada Buddhist cultural history since the time of Asoka in local chronicles and in practices that impelled the construction of grand Buddhist monuments, such as Asoka's construction of 84,000 stupas, the Kandyian Shrine of the Tooth Relic, and the Thai Emerald Buddha statue, among others.(2) The veneration of the Buddha's physical remains (dhatu) is integral to the practice of traditional or cosmological Theravada Buddhism(3) and its social extension, the galactic polity.(4) Significant aspects of popular Theravada practice, such as relic veneration, the construction of stupas, and, more generally, state patronage of rupakaya, create a field of merit and source of political legitimation separate and distinct from merit-making patronage of the sangha. It also establishes a socially and ritually differentiated hegemony within which power relations are negotiated and consolidated.(5) First, relics and similar sacred objects stand for the entire body of the Buddha and, by extension, the totality of his dispensation. They map a cosmic center and establish structural orders between a microcosm, its periphery, and an encompassing macrocosm, thus linking, for example, the Southeast Asian periphery to the universal Buddhist order of things (dhamma). Second, a teleological significance is attributed to the presence of relics in a given location by my/ho-historic narratives that link the historical present to a pristine time in the life of the Buddha. Sacred realities are thus mapped onto temporal polities, and ritual acts localize the Buddha's presence in cosmological, social, and political domains to generate merit for the eventual transcendence of this world (samsara) and attainment of enlightenment (nibbana). Third, the ritual veneration of relics engenders a hierarchically ordered, religio-political community. It also endows social actors with charisma and historical events with significance beyond the immediate contexts of cultural performance. A just ruler (dhammaraja) acts as ritual patron of some of the tradition's most evocative root metaphors.(6) He does so within the ritual and social structures of an economy of merit. Homage and generosity (dana) toward the Buddha's spiritual and material remains are seen as indications of religiosity, social status, and political legitimacy.(7) Yet, 1994 in Myanma no longer denotes a time of traditional, cosmological Buddhism. The ritual structures created by the procession of the Chinese Sacred Tooth throughout the nation require interpretations framed by competing contexts, foremost among them, contemporary and frequently contested notions of Burmese history, culture, and national community. While the officially advocated imagination of Myanma's national community and history is self-consciously modeled after traditional cultural paradigms rooted in cosmological Buddhism, Charles Keyes et al. point out that in modern nation-states, competing visions of authority and of modern political ideology contest traditional orders and provide alternate avenues for legitimation.(8) Cosmological features of venerating the Chinese Tooth Relic in 1994 must be viewed within the context of SLORC's political ideology and pragmatism. The State Law and Order Restoration Council is a military regime that retained power in the aftermath of a popular election victory in 1990 favoring a multiparty system: hence, political authority in modern Myanma: does not solely depend on the manipulation of cosmological Buddhist symbols. At the same time, the state's ritual theater(9) shows that SLORC seeks to strengthen its hegemony through patronage of the Chinese Tooth Relic, through the creation of historically linked and socially overlapping fields of merit throughout the nation, and through mobilization of diverse communities and resources. The state's appeal to the symbols of cosmological Buddhism in a modern setting aims to create a particular ethos and vision of this nation and its culture, community, territory, and history that is "essentially" Burmese and "essentially" Buddhist. It seeks to project--to its citizens and to outside observers--a vision of Buddhism in which the state, sangha, and laity speak in a single voice, emphasizing righteousness, scripturalism, and morality (sila). By 1994, SLORC had largely succeeded in silencing the sangha and secular political opposition, empowered a class of military leaders, and commenced the formulation of a new national constitution. Voices that speak within Myanma's national boundaries for alternate visions of Buddhism, political hegemony, and moral legitimation have largely fallen silent. Since the state controls social discourse about public merit making, alternate voices must be gleaned from silence, in absence from ritual participation, and in the countertexts of expatriate communities beyond Myanma's national boundaries. The text, context, and countertext articulate competing interpretations that nevertheless share salient presumptions about the veneration of the Buddha's relics and their social significance. The range of ritual interpretations encountered in this modern context only underscores the cultural and symbolic significance of relics as root metaphors in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. II. CONSTRUCTING THE TEXT: NATIONALISM AND THE POLITICS OF RITUAL The ritual progress of the Sacred Tooth throughout the Burmese nation recalls historical antecedents, such as a similar visit of this Tooth Relic to Burma and Sri Lanka at the time of U Nu's Sanghayana. It also suggests a textual model found in the Cakkavatti Sihanada Suttanta.(10) There, the Buddha tells the story of a world conqueror whose reign is established by voluntary subjugation of vassals to the Wheel of Law that precedes his progress and the prosperity his kingdom thus enjoys. The texts describing the procession (dethasari)(11) of the Chinese Sacred Tooth to Myanma between April 20 and June 5, 1994, are constructed by government media to document the participation of social and political An earlier version of this article was read at the Tenth Congress of the International Association of Buddhist Studies in Paris in 1991. 1 am grateful to Steven Collins, Lance Cousins, Nobumi Iyanaga, Rita Langer, Ornan Rotem, Paul Williams, and Nobuyoshi Yamabe for comments, criticism, or help with tracing references in the course of writing this article. (1) D 3:84-85: "hoti kho so Vasettha samayo yam kadaci karahaci dighassa addhuno accayena ayam loko samvattati, samvattamane loke yebhuyyena satta abhassara-samvattanika honti, te tattha honti manomaya piti-bhakkha sayam-pabha antalikkha-cara subhattha-yino ciram digham addhanam titthanti, hoti kho so Vasettha samayo yam kadaci karahaci dighassa addhuno accayena ayam loko vivattati. vivattamane loke yebhuyyena satta abhassara-kaya cavitva itthattam agacchanti. te ca honti manomaya piti-bhakkha sayyam-pabha antalikkha-cara subhatthayino ciram digham addhanam titthanti." All references to Pali and Sanskrit texts use the abbreviations listed in app. A of this article. For full citations, see app. A. References are to volume and page of the cited edition, except in the case of the Abhidharmakosa and Visuddhimagga; references to the former are to chapter and verse, and to the latter, to chapter and section of the Warren-Kosambi edition and Nanamoli translation. (2) This initial formula must be regarded as constituting a significant piece of floating tradition that forms part of the common heritage of ancient Buddhism. Apart from its occurrence in all four surviving recensions of the Aggabha-sutta--see K. Meisig, Das Sutra von den vier Standen: Das Agganna-sutta im Licht seiner chinesischen Parallelen (Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz, 1988)--we find the same formula (though with a slightly different account of the process of world expansion) used in two other suttas of the Digha Nikaya: the Brahmajala and Patika (D 1:17 and D 3:28-29; the expansion formula here reads: "vivattamane loke sunnam brahma-vimanam patubhavati. ath' annataro satto ayukkhaya va punnakkhaya va abhassara-kaya cavitva sunnam brahma-vimanam upapajjati, so tattha hoti manomayo piti-bhakkho sayam-pabho antalikkha-caro subhatthayi ciram digham addhanam titthati"). Two Anguttara passages (A 4:89; 5:60) also make use of parts of the formula, while Vibh 415 (cf. D 3:88), which states that human beings at the beginning of an aeon are born lacking the male or female faculty, also alludes to it. Outside the Nikayas and Agamas, looking beyond the Pali tradition we find the formula used in the Mahavastu (see Le Mahavastu, ed. E. Senart, 3 vols. [Paris, 1882-97], 1:52, 338-39) and referred to and commented on by Vasubandhu in the Abhidharmakosa (Abhidh-k 3:97c-d-98a-b; see Louis de La Vallee Poussin, trans., L'Abhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu: Traduction et Annotations, 6 vols. [Brussels: Institut beige des hautes etudes chinoises, 1971], 2:203-4, and Abhidharmakosa and Bhasya of Acarya Vasubandhu with Sphutartha Commentary of Acarya Yasomitra, ed. D. Shastri, 3 vols. [Varanasi: Bauddha Bharati, 1970-72], 2:554). (3) G. S. Kirk, Myth: Its Meaning and Functions in Ancient and Other Cultures (London, Berkeley, and Los Angeles: Cambridge University Press and University of California Press, 1970), p. 281. (4) See R. F. Gombrich, Precept and Practice: Traditional Buddhism in the Rural Highlands of Ceylon (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1971), pp. 153-91; S. J. Tambiah, Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1970), pp. 32-52. (5) The pioneering work is W. Kirfel, Kosmographie der Inder (Bonn: K. Schroeder, 1920), but this devotes rather little space to Buddhist sources in comparison to Brahmanical and Jain materials and is now rather dated. It is Louis de La Vallee Poussin's work on the Abhidharmakosa that has given us the most substantial material on Vaibhasika cosmology; see his L'Abhidharmakosa de Vasubandhu, Vasubandhu et Yasomitra: Troisieme chapitre de l'Abhidharmakosa: Karika, Bha-sya et Vyakhya (Brussels: Academie royale de Belgique, 1919), and "Cosmology and Cosmogony (Buddhist)," in Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics, ed. J. Hastings, 13 vols. (Edinburgh: T & T Clark, 1908-27), 2: 129-38. The relevant portions of Nanamoli's translation of Buddhaghosa's Visuddhimagga constitute the only readily available and accessible sources for the developed Theravadin system; see The Path of Purification (Colombo: Semage, 1964), 7:40-44, 13:29-65, p. 214, n. 14. The two more comprehensive studies of the details of the Nikayas' cosmological outlook, Joseph Masson's La religion populaire dans le canon bouddhique pali (Louvain: Bureaux du Museon, 1942); and M. M. J. Marasinghe's Gods in Early Buddhism: A Study in Their Social and Mythological Milieu as Depicted in the Nikayas of the Pdli Canon (Vidyalankara: University of Sri Lanka, 1974) tend to approach their subject from the standpoint that talk of gods and the like in the Nikayas is something of a concession to "popular" Buddhism rather than an integral part of Buddhist thought-this is explicitly revealed in the title of Masson's book and is perhaps less true of Marasinghe's work; both these books, however, represent useful collections of material on cosmological ideas as presented in the Nikayas. The figure of Mara has received some additional attention: T. O. Ling, Buddhism and the Mythology of Evil: A Study in Theravada Buddhism (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1962); J. W. Boyd, Satan and Mara: Christian and Buddhist Symbols of Evil (Leiden: Brill, 1975). R. Kloetzli's more recent Buddhist Cosmology: From Single World System to Pure Land (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1983), while providing a useful summary and overview of Buddhist cosmological ideas from the Nikayas through to the developed Mahayana, from my perspective passes rather quickly over the early materials and the Abhidharma. One of the most interesting treatments of cosmology in the Nikayas to have been published in recent years is Peter Masefield's "Mind/Cosmos Maps in the Pali Nikayas," in Buddhist and Western Psychology, ed. N. Katz (Boulder, Colo.: Prajna Press, 1983), pp. 69-93. See also R. E Gombrich, "Ancient Indian Cosmology." in Ancient Cosmologies, ed. C. Blacker and M. Loewe (London, 1975), pp. 110-42. (6) F. E. Reynolds and M. B. Reynolds, Three Worlds according to King Ruang: A Thai Buddhist Cosmology (Berkeley: Asian Humanities Press, 1982). One of the sources employed by Phya Lithai was the earlier Pali Lokapannatti; see E. Denis, trans. and ed., La Lokapannati et les idees cosmologiques du bouddhisme ancien, 2 vols. (Lille, 1977). (7) S. Collins, Selfless Persons: Imagery and Thought in Theravada Buddhism (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982), pp. 165-76, 218-24, 247-61. (8) Tambiah, Buddhism and the Spirit Cults in North-East Thailand, pp. 34-35. (9) Although we do find the beginnings of systematization in the Anguttara-Nikaya, see Marasinghe, pp. 244-81. (10) For a summary of the cosmological details as found in the Nikayas, see ibid., pp. 43-62. (11) See esp. Masson, pp. 18-38, and the chart facing p. 144 for details of the various hierarchical lists found in the Nikayas. (12) See in particular A 2:126, 230; 4:39, 241; cf. Marasinghe, pp. 244-68, and chart facing p. 62. (13) See Marasinghe, p. 44; D 2:139, 253; M 3:101-2; A 1:227, 5:59. (14) For example, D 1:62: "so imam lokam sadevakam samarakam sabrahmakam sassamana-brahamanim pajam sadeva-manussam sayam abhinna sacchikatva pavedeti." I follow the commentary (Sv 1:174) in taking sadeva in the sense of sammuti-deva. It is possible to take samaraka and sabrahmaka as indicating a plurality of maras and brahmas, respectively (on the grounds that the Nikayas clearly do recognize a plurality of brahmas and maras); on the other hand, it seems to me probable that in the present context we should take imam lokam as implying simply "this [one] world-system" that we occupy; see Boyd, pp. 100-111; cf. the discussion of the terms loka, loka-dhatu, and cakkavala below, n. 34. (15) Marasinghe (n. 5 above), p. 260; cf. pp. 59, 259-61. (16) See, e.g., the Mahasihanada-sutta (M 1:68-83). (17) See app. B, "How Old Is Buddhist Cosmology? A Note on the Agganna-Sutta." (18) A 3:415: "cetanaham bhikkhave kammam vadami. cetayitva kammam karoti kayena vacaya manasa" (cf. Abhidh-k 4:1). (19) S 1:197-205; Marasinghe, pp. 207-13. (20) S 1:111-13, 116-18, 130-31; 132-33; Marasinghe, pp. 185-98. (21) According to the stock Nikaya formula (e.g., D 1:73), by abandoning the five hindrances one attains the first jhana thereby passing from the kamavacara to the rupavacara; the developed cosmological tradition states that Mara dwells as a rebellious prince among the paranimittavasavattin gods (S 1:133, 1:33-34); see Boyd (n. 5 above), pp. 81-84, 111-19; G. P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Proper Names, 2 vols. (London: Pali Text Society, 1974), 2:613. (22) S 4:38-39: "maro maro ti vuccati, kittavata nu kho bhante maro va assa mara-pannatti va tit yattha kho Samiddhi atthi cakkhum atthi rupa atthi cakkhu-vinnanam atthi cakkhu-vinnana-vinnatabba dhamma, atthi maro va mara-pannatti va." (23) Sn 435-39: "tassa m' evam viharato pattass' uttama-vedanam / kamesu napekhate cittam passe sattassa suddhatam // kama te pathama sena dutiya arati vuccati / tatiya khuppipasa te catutthi tanha pavuccati // pancami thina-middham te chatthabhiru pavuccati / sattami vicikiccha te makkho thambho te atthamo //. . .// esa namuci sena kanhassabhippaharani / na nam asuro jinati jetva ca labhate sukham" (trans. adapted from K. R. Norman, trans., The Group of Discourses: Revised Translation with Introduction and Notes [Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1992]). (24) S 1:124.26-30: "atha kho tanha ca arati ca rage ca mara-dhitaro yena bhagava ten' upasamkamimsu, upasamkamitva bhagavantam etad avocum: pace te samana paricarema tit atha kho bhagava na manasakasi yatha tam anuttare upadhi-samkhaye vimutto." See also Sn 835; Nd 1:181. (25) The fact that the armies of Mara here in part overlap with the five hindrances of sensual desire (kama-cchanda), aversion (vyapada), tiredness and sleepiness (thina-middha), excitement and depression (uddhacca-kukkucca), and doubt (vicikiccha) underlines the point made already about the particular psychological interpretation of Mara in terms of the five hindrances. (26) D 1:215-23. (27) "vinnanam anidassanam anantam sabbato paham" (D 1:23), interpreted by Buddhaghosa (Sv 2:393) as referring to nibbana. (28) Masefield (n. 5 above). The Upanisadic locus classicus for the terms is Brhadaranyaka 2.3. (29) Masefield, p. 93, n. 32. (30) Abbidh-s 1-5 (citta-samgaha-vibhaga); cf. Vism 14:83-110. (31) Vibh 422-26; Vism 7:40-44, 13:29-65; Abhidh-s 22-24; Abhidh-k 3:1-3. Theravadin sources enumerate eleven realms in the kamadhatu (four descents, the human realm and six heavens), sixteen in the rupadhatu (three each for the first three jhana realms and seven--including unconscious beings and five Pure Abodes--for the fourth), and four in the arupadhatu; Abbidh-k enumerates ten in the kamaloka (missing is the realm of asuras from the descents), seventeen in the rupaloka (exchanging unconscious beings for two further basic fourth dhyana realms), and four in the arupaloka; bhasya to Abhidh-k 3:2b-d records that the Kasmiris accepted only sixteen realms in the fourth dhyana while La Vallee Poussin, trans. (n. 2 above), 2:3, n. 1, records a number of other slight variations in the northern sources. (32) Abhidh-av 182-289 ("bhumi-puggala-vasena cittuppatti-niddeso").
(33) The kind of consciousness that is characteristic of a being is essentially a function of a being's bhavanga-citta; see R. Gethin, "Bhavariga and Rebirth in the Abhidhamma," in The Buddhist Forum, vol. 3 (London: School of Oriental and African Studies, 1995), pp. 11-35. (34) Vibh 426; Abhidh-s 24. (35) See Vibh 135-92; Vibh-a 199-200; bhasya to Abhidh-k 3:24 (La Vallee Poussin, trans., 2:65-66); cf. R. Gethin, The Buddhist Path of Awakening: A Study of the Bodhi-Pakkhiya Dhamma (Leiden: Brill, 1992), p. 351. (36) Quite what constitutes a "world-system" is not clear. The term cakkavala does not appear to occur in the four primary Nikayas. Strictly a cakkavala (cf. Skt cakravala and Buddhist Sanskrit cakravada) refers to the range of mountains surrounding the world; the term is then used to refer to a single "world-system" as constituted by the various realms that make up the world of sense-desire; Buddhaghosa says that there are an infinite number of such world-systems (Vism 7:40-44). The term used as a gloss for cakkavala by Buddhaghosa here is loka-dhatu, which seems to be the preferred term in the Nikayas. Thus the Anguttara Nikaya (5:59-60) talks of a Mahabrahma ruling over a thousand such world-systems, while the Majjhima Nikaya (3:101-2) talks of Brahmas ruling over as many as a hundred thousand world-systems. It thus seems that world-systems that are distinct and self-contained at the lower realms of existence are not necessarily so at higher levels of existence. However, Buddhist tradition does not conclude that one should therefore talk of there being only one all-embracing Brahma-world. In fact, A 5:59 already talks in terms of thousands of Brahma-worlds, and the ancient conception of the thousandfold world-system, the twice-thousandfold world-system (embracing 1 million worldsystems), and the thrice-thousandfold world-system (embracing 1 trillion world-systems according to Pali sources and 1 billion according to northern) (see A 1:227-28, Mp 2:340-41, Abbidh-k 3:73-74) seems to imply a kind of pyramidal structure of world-systems: units of thousands of world systems (i.e., sense-sphere world-systems) are governed by a Mahabrahma, and units of a thousand such Brahma realms are in turn governed by Brahmas of yet higher realms, and so on. Whatever, as the Atthasalini says (pp. 160-61), there is no end to the hundreds and thousands of world-systems: if four Mahabrahmas in Akanittha were to set off at a speed which allowed them to traverse a hundred thousand world-systems in the time it takes a swift arrow to pass over the shadow of a palm tree, they would reach nibbana without ever seeing the limit of world-systems. (37) Sv 1:110; Vism 13:30; bhasya to Abhidh-k-bh 3:90c-d. (38) Vism 13:32-55; Abhidh-k-bh 3:89-90, 100-102; cf. Reynolds and Reynolds (n. 6 above), pp. 305-27. (39) Vism 13:31, 40-41, 55. (40) Vism 13:55-62 describes destruction by fire, water, and wind; Vism 13:65 and Abhidh-k-bh 3:102 detail the sequence and frequency of destruction by these three elements and are in complete agreement: seven cycles of seven destructions by fire followed by one by water (fifty-six destructions); followed by one cycle of seven destructions by fire followed by one by wind (sixty-four destructions); thus the Brahmas who live in the Subhakinha/Subhakrtsna realms--the highest of the third jhana/dhyana realms-have a life span of sixty-four aeons. (41) Vism 13:33-35: "jhanam vine natthi brahma-loke nibbatti; etesan ca keci dubbhikkha-pilita keci abhabba jhanadhigamaya, te katham tattha nibbattanti tit devaloke patiladdhajhana-vasena, tada hi vassa-sata-sahassass' accayena kapputthanam bhavissati ti, loka-byuha name kamavacara-deva mutta-sira vikinna-kesa ruda-mukha assuni hatthehi pubchamana ratta-vattha-nivattha ativiya virupa-vesa-dharino hutva manussa-pathe vicaranta evam arocenti: marisa marisa ito vassa-sata-sahassassa accayena kappa-vutthanam bhavissati; ayam loko vinassissati, maha-samuddo pi ussussissati, ayan ca maha-pathavi sinew ca pabbata-raja uddayhissanti vinassissanti, yava brahma-loka loka-vinaso bhavissati, mettam marisa bhavetha, karunam muditam upekkham marisa bhavetha, mataram upatthahatha pitarum upatthahatha, kule jetthapacayino hotha ti, tesam vacanam sutva yebhuyyena mantissa ca bhumma-devata ca samvega-jata annamannam mudu-citta hutva mettadmi punnani karitva deva-loke nibbattanti, tattha dibba-sudha-bhojanam bhunjitva vayo-kasine parikammam katva jhanam paplabhanti. tad-anne pane aparapariya-vedaniyena kammena deva-loke nibbattanti. aparapariya-vedaniya-kamma-rahito hi samsare samsaranto satto name natthi, te pi tattha tath' eve jhanam patilabhanti, evam deva-loke patiladdha-jjhana-vasena sabbe pi brahma-loke nibbattanti tit" (42) On aparapariya-vedaniya-kamma, see Vism 19:14, Abhidh-s 5:52, Abhidh-s-t 131-32. (43) Sv 1:110: "yebhuyyena ti ye upari brahma-lokesu va aruppesu va nibbanti, tad-avasese sandhaya vuttam." (44) DAT 1:201: "aruppesu va ti va-saddena samvattamana-lokadhatuhi anna-lokadhatesu va ti vikappanam veditabbam, na hi sabbe apaya-satta tada ruparupa-bhavesu uppajjanti ti sakka vinnatum, apayesu dighatamayukanam manussalokuppattiya asambhavato." The fact that the DAT comments here in this way when Vism-t fails to make any comment on Buddhaghosa's account of the contraction of the world is perhaps further evidence that the authors of the Nikaya tikas and Vism-t are not the same; see L. S. Cousins, "Dhammapala and the Tika Literature," Religion 2 (1972): 159-65; P. Jackson, "A Note on Dhammapala(s)," Journal of the Pali Text Society 15 (1990): 209-11. (45) Compare Kv 476. (46) Abhidh-k-bh 3:89: "yada narakesv eka-sattvo navasisto bhavati iyatayam lokah samvrtto bhavati / yaduta naraka-samvarttanya / yasya tadanim niyatam naraka-vedaniyam karma dhriyate sa lokadhatv-antara-narakesu ksipyate." (47) This is stated by way of explanation of the last of three ways in which dhyana belonging to the rupadhatu may be produced: by the force of conditions (hetu), defined as repeated practice (abhiksnabhyasa)' by the force of karma leading to rebirth in a higher realm coming to fruition, and also by the nature of things (dharmata) (Abhidh-k-bh 8: 38c-d: "rupadhatau dhyanotpadanam etabhyam ca hetu-karma-balabhyam dharmatayapi ca samvartani-kale, tadanim hi sarva-sattva evadhara-bhumikas tad dhyanam utpadyanti kusalanam dharmanam udbhuta-vrttitvat.") (48) Vyakhya to Abhidh-k-bh 8:38c-d: "upadesam antarenayatah purva-dhyana-vasanayam satyam dhyanotpattir iti." (49) Although composed in Pali, the Lokapannatti appears to be based directly on Sanskrit traditions rather than the traditions of the Sri Lankan Theravada; it corresponds closely to the Lokaprajnapti translated into Chinese by Paramartha in 558 C.E. (Dents, trans. and ed. [n. 6 above], 2:ii). The position recorded here on what happens to hell beings at the time of the contraction of a world-system appears to reflect exactly the position of Paramartha's translation of the Lokaprajnapti (Dents, trans. and ed., 1:194, 2:225-26). (50) Reynolds and Reynolds (n. 6 above), p. 308. (51) The Nikayas and Agamas for their part prefer to speak of the length of time beings will suffer in hell realms by way of simile rather than specific numbers of years or aeons (see Kokaliya-sutta, S 1:149-53; A 5:170-74; Sn 123-31; cf. bhasya to Abhidh-k 3:84). Vibh 422:26, which deals with age limits in the various realms of existence, says nothing about the hell realms, and begins with the human realm; the commentary (Vibh-a 521) states that kamma is what determines the life span of beings in the descents--as long as kamma is not exhausted beings do not pass from those realms; the Anutika apparently adds (see Nanamoli, trans., The Dispeller of Delusion, 2 vols. (London: Pali Text Society, 1987-90), 2:299, n. 7) that the life span in Avici is an antarakappa (a sixty-fourth of a mahakappa). Abhidh-s 23 (chap. 5, verse 21) states that there is no definite age limit for beings in the four descents and for humans; the length of time spent in these realms is dependent on the specific kamma that brought about the rebirth. As far as human beings are concerned this comment seems to be made with reference to the tradition--found in the Cakkavattisihanada-sutta (D 3:58-79) and Mahapadana-sutta (D 2:1 -54)--that the life span of humans varies from ten years to 80,000 years at different periods within an aeon, and thus does not mean that humans can outlive the aeon. Vasubandhu too states (Abhidh-k 3:83) that the life span of beings in Avici is one antarakalpa (an eightieth of a mahakalpa according to northern tradition). Malalasekera (n. 21 above) comments (s.v. Avici, Devadatta) that Devadatta is destined to suffer in Avici for 100,000 aeons, but the source he cites (Dhp-a 1:148) strictly says only that at the end of 100,000 aeons Devadatta will become a paccekabuddha, and not that he will spend that period continuously in Avici, (52) D 1, passim; M 1:178-84, 344-48, 3:33-36, 134-37; cf. M 1:267-71. See Gethin, The Buddhist Path to Awakening (n. 35 above), pp. 207-8. (53) D 1:75-76: "so imam eve kayam parisuddhena cetasa pariyodatena pharitva nisinno hot)." (54) At M 3:36 there is just one attainment. The attainments are the eight vijjas (Vism 7:20), the last six of which are often referred to as abhinna (e.g., D 3:281) and the last three as vijja (e.g., M 1:482). (55) D 1:76-83 (passim): "evam samahite citte parisuddhe pariyodate anangane vigatupakkilese mudubhute kammaniye thite anejjappatte." (56) D 1:84: "khina jati vusitam brahmacariyam katam karaniyam naparam itthattaya ti." (57) S. J. Tambiah, The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1984), pp. 49-52. Tambiah confusingly describes the Abhassara realm as arupa at one point and creates, to my mind, a rather misleading "dyadic opposition between material states and formless states." (58) Bhasya to Abhidh-k 3:100c-d: "prathame hi dhyane vitarka-vicara apaksalah / te ca manasah paridahakatvad agni-kalpah / dvitiye pritir apaksala / sa prasrabdhi-yogenasraya-mrdu-karanad ap-kalpa /. . . / trtiye dhyane asvasa-prasvasah / te ca vayava eve / iti yasyam dhyana-samapattau yathabhuta adhyatmiko `paksalah tasyam dhyanopapattau tathabhuto bahya iti" (cf. Abhidh-di 115-16). (59) Incidentally, this way of looking at the progress of the practice of meditation as a return to a kind of primordial state is not without parallels elsewhere in Indian tradition. The practice of yoga as presented in the Yoga-sutras of Patanjali is also essentially a species of return: a reversal of the stages of the evolution of the tattvas from prakrti. Thus the full manifestation of prakrti with the appearance of the five senses and their respective objects is what characterizes ordinary human consciousness; by the practice of samadhi the yogin gradually, stage by stage, regains the primordial equilibrium of the three gunas in unmanifest prakrti. The knowledge that discriminates between purusa and prakrti can then he achieved. (60) Vasubandhu does, however, designate the realms of the rupadhatu as "places" or "locations" (sthana); the arupyadhatu, on the other hand, is without location (asthana). This would seem to be because to the extent that beings of the rupadhatu possess rupa-skandha (they possess the senses of sight and hearing) they must have location. Compare Abhidh-k 2:2-3, 7:3; Y. Karunadasa, The Buddhist Analysis of Matter (Colombo: Department of Cultural Affairs, 1967), pp. 161-62. (61) For example, Vism 10; one should note here that in certain contexts (e.g., Abhidh-s 5 Narada, trans., A Manual of Abhidhamma [Kandy: Buddhist Publication Society, 1980], p. 64) the four formless attainments are treated simply as modifications of the fourth (or, according to the Abhidhamma reckoning, fifth) jhana. (62) Vism 12:2, 12-13, 58; Gethin, The Buddhist Path to Awakening (n. 35 above), p. 102. (63) D 2:156. (64) P. M. Williams, Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations (London: Routledge, 1989), p. 98. (65) Both these expressions are connected with another expression of this theme, namely, the Sautrantika theory of "seeds"; cf. P. S. Jaini, "The Sautrantika Theory of Bija," Bulletin of the School of Oriental Studies 22 (1959): 237-49. (66) Vism 22:s6-s7; Malalasekera (n. 21 above), s.v. "suddhavasa"; Marasinghe (n. 5 above), p. 262; Abhidh-k-bh 6:42-44 (La Vallee Poussin, trans. [n. 2 above], 4:221-28). (67) Tattvasangraha 2:1107 (vv. 3549-5O): "pancagaty-atma-samsara-bahir-bhavan na martyata / buddhanam isyate 'smabhir nirmanam tu tatha matam / / akanisthe pure ramye `suddhivasa-vivarjite / budhyante tatra sambuddha nirmitas tv iha budhyate." I read ramye `suddhavasavivarjite for Shastri's ramye suddhdvasavivarjite, although a Tibetan translation of apparently the same verse does not recognize the sandhi: "Rejecting the pure abodes, he rightly and completely awakened in the ecstatic abode of Akanistha." (See mKhas grub rje's Fundamentals of the Buddhist Tantras, trans. E D. Lessing and A. Wayman [The Hague: Mouton, 1968], pp. 22-23.) The implication that the Akanistha realm is somehow apart from the pure abodes is surely problematic, while the phrase "akanistha-bhavane divye sarva-papa-vivarjite" (Lankavatara Sutra 269.4) would seem to confirm my emendation. (68) Tattvasangraha 2:1107: "naraka-preta-tiryag-deva-manusya-bhedena pancagaty-atmakah samsarah tad-bahir-bhutas ca buddha bhagavata ity asiddham martyatvam esam / katham tarhi suddhodanadi-kulotpattir esam sruyate / ity aha nirmanam tu tatha matam iti / etad evagamena samspandyann aha akanistha ity adi / akanistha name devah tesam ekadese suddhavasa-kayika name devah / atra hy arya eve suddha avasanti / tesam upari mahesvara-bhavanam name sthanam i tatra carama-bhavika eve dasabhumi-pratisthita bodhisattva utpadyante / iha tu tad-adhipatyena tatha nirmanam upalabhyata ity agamah" (cf. G. Jha, trans., The Tattvasangraha of Shantaraksita with the Commentary of Kamalashila, 2 vols. [Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1986], 2:1547; Williams, pp. 180-81). (69) Lankavatara Sutra 269.4-9, 361.1-6: "akanista-bhavane divye sarva-papa-vivarjit / nirvikalpah sada yuktas citta-caitta-vivarjitah / / balabhijna-vasi-praptah tat-samadhi-gatimgatah / tatra budhyanti sambuddha nirmitas tv iha budhyate / / nirmana-kotyo hy amita buddhanam niscaranti ca / sarvatra balah srnvanti dharmam tebhyah pratisrutva / /. . . katyayanasya gotro `ham suddhavasad vinissrtah/ desemi dharmam sattvanam nirvana-puragaminam / / pauranikam idam vartma aham te ca tathagathah / tribhih sahasraih sutranam nirvanam atyadesayan / / kama-dhatau tatharupye na vai buddho vibudhyate / rupa-dhat-vakanisthesu vita-ragesu budhyate." (70) E. Lamotte, trans. Le traite de la grande vertu de sagesse de Nagarjuna (Mahaprajnaparamitasastra), 5 vols. (Louvain: Bibliotheque du Museon and Publications de l'Institut Orientaliste, 1944-80), 5:2431-32, 2438, 2442-43; E. Conze, trans., The Large sutra on Perfect Wisdom with the Divisions of the Abhisamayalamkara (Delhi: Motilal Banarsidass, 1979), p. 165. Eighth-stage Bodhisattvas are here described as enjoying the play of the higher knowledges (abhijnakridanata), seeing Buddha fields (buddha-ksetradarsanata), and producing their own Buddha fields in accordance with what they have seen ("tesam buddha-ksetranam yatha-drstanam sva-ksetra-parinispadanata"). The commentarial *Mahaprajnaparamitasastra (see Lamotte, trans., 5:2433-35, 2439, 2444) fills this out and explains that at the eighth stage the Bodhisattva sees the bodies of the Buddhas as "creations" (nirmana), and that he accomplishes the concentration that fills the universe with his own magical creations, like a magician producing apparitional armies, palaces, and cities; from now on he knows the precise circumstances of any new birth he will assume. During the ninth stage he is a Bodhisattva in his last existence (caramabhavika); finally, seated beneath the tree of enlightenment, he at last enters into the tenth stage, the stage of the Cloud of Dharma (dharma-megha bhumi). The Mahaprajna-paramitasastra here appears to impose the standard nomenclature of the Dasabhumika Sutra on the ten bhumis of the Prajnaparamita, despite the fact that the details of the Dasabhumika scheme are manifestly different. (71) Dasabhumikasutra 94.20-95.6: "yasyam pratisthito bodhisattvo bhuyastvena mahesvaro bhavati deva-rajah." Compare Dasabhumisvaro 199.2-5; T. Cleary, trans., The Flower Ornament Scripture: A Translation of the Avatamsaka Sutra, 3 vols. (Boston: Shambala, 1984-87), 2:111. (72) Lalitavistara 79.6-7: "jata-matrasya bodhisattvasya mahesvaro deva-putrah suddhavasa-kayikan deva-putran amantryaivam aha." G. Bays, trans., The Lalitavistara Sutra: The Voice of the Buddha: The Beauty of Compassion, 2 vols. (Berkeley: Dharma, 1983), 1:164. See also E Edgerton, Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Dictionary (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1953), s.v. "mahesvara." The Lalitavistara's account of the Pure Abodes is interesting in itself. The Lalitavistara begins with the Buddha attaining a samadhi called "the manifestation of the ornaments of a Buddha" (buddhalamkaravyuha) (Bays, trans., p. 2); the lights that subsequently issue from his body attract the attention of venous gods of the Pure Abodes who come to him and request the Buddha to teach the Lalitavistara, a teaching that "cultivates the skillful roots of the Bodhisattva" (bodhisattva-kusala-mula-samudbhd-vana) (p. 3). The gods of the Pure Abodes lead the way in coming to honor the newly born Bodhisattva (p. 79) while later they create the four omens that prompt the Bodhisattva to go forth (p. 136). Nobuyoshi Yamabe has drawn my attention to Lamotte, trans., 1:519, which associates tenth-stage Bodhisattvas called Mahesvaradevarajas with the Pure Abodes. (73) Dasabhumikasutra 90.11-15: "dharma-meghayam bodhisattva ekasyam api lokadhatau tusita-vara-bhavana-vasam upadaya cyavanacankramana-garbhasthiti-janmabhini-skramanabhisambodhy -adhyesana-mahadharmacakra-pravartana-mahaparinirvana-bhumir iti sarva-tathagata-karyam adhitisthati" (cf. Dasabhumisvaro 191.6-8; Cleary, trans., 2: 107). (74) Dasabhumikasutra 91.4-7, 14-18: "akanksann ekavalapatha ekasarvabuddhavisayavyuham adarsayati / akanksan yavad anabhilapyan sarvakarabuddhavisayavyuhan adarsayati / akanksan yavanty abhilapyasu lokadhatusu paramanurjamsi tavata atmabhavan ekaksanalavamuhurtena nirmite / . . . / cittotpade ca dasadikspharanam gacchati / cittaksane capramana abhisambodhir yavan mahaparinirvanavyuhan adhitisthati / . . . / svakaye capramananam buddhanam bhagavatam aprameyan buddhaksetragunavyuhan adhitisthati" (cf. Dasabhumisvaro 192.11-13, 193.3-6; Cleary, trans., 2:108). (75) Lessing and Wayman, trans. (n. 67 above), pp. 16-39. (76) Ibid., p. 27 see also T. Skorupski, "Sakyamuni's Enlightenment according to the Yoga Tantra," Sambhasa (Nagoya University, Indian Buddhist Studies) 6 (1985): 87-94. (77) See M 1:21-24 (78) See, e.g., Abhidh-s 2 on "motivationless consciousness" (ahetuka-citta) and Abhidh-s chap. 4, on the "consciousness process" (citta-vithi); cf. L. S. Cousins, "The Patthana and the Development of the Theravadin Abhidhamma," Journal of the Pali Text Society (1981), pp. 22-46. (79) See, e.g., J. Varenne, Yoga and the Hindu Tradition (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1976), pp. 127-63; J. Brereton, "The Upanisads," in Approaches to the Asian Classics, ed. W. T. de Bary and I. Bloom (New York: Columbia University Press, 1990), pp. 115-35. (80) S 1:62 = A 2:48: "naham tam gamanena lokassa antam nateyyam dattheyyam patteyyan ti vadami ti. na kho panaham avuso appatva lokassa antam dukkhass' antakiriyam vadami, api khvaham avuso imasmim yeva vyamamatte kalevare sannimhi samanake lokam ca pannapemi loka-samudayam ca loka-nirodham ca loka-nirodha-gaminim ca patipadam." (81) Meisig (n. 2 above). (82) See n. 2 above. (83) See Meisig, p. 68 (84) Richard Gombrich, "The Buddha's Book of Genesis?" Indo-Iranian Journal 35 (1992): 159-78; see also his Theravada Buddhism: A Social History from Ancient Benares to Modern Colombo (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1988), p. 85. (85) Gombrich, "The Budda's Book of Genesis?" pp. 163, 161. (86) Steven Collins, "The Discourse on What Is Primary (Agganna-Sutta): An Annotated Translation," Journal of Indian Philosophy 21 (1993): 301-93. (87) Collins, Selfless Persons (n. 7 above), pp. 131-38. elites in large-scale state rituals. In his discussion of nationalism, and the kind of imagined community it engenders, Benedict Anderson remarks on the significant role of "print capitalism" in the development of national histories and ideologies of modern nation-states and alludes to the demise of nation-states as transnational communities assume greater significance in the twenty-first century.(12) The reports in print, audio, and video media--all of which are run by the government, including the New Light of Myanmar (NLM), a daily newspaper--present the state's ritual role and political agenda.(13) Its audience includes literate Burmese in the country's urban centers, foreign diplomats, and a diaspora of Burmese living abroad. Coverage and editorials on religious matters--particularly of the Tooth Relic's national "procession"-exceeded at times more than half of the print space. Such extensive media coverage indicates an enormous investment of resources and symbolic capital(14) by high-ranking military leaders, state institutions, and personnel. Journalists, filmmakers, and other government mass media representatives were involved in high-level planning strategy sessions to ensure its public relations success. This resulted in a--for Burma unprecedented--use of media coverage: daily radio broadcasts of songs venerating the Tooth Relic, live television coverage and frequent reports, and commemorative video productions for sale to the public. The Buddha's rupakaya were frequently featured in reports on modernization projects and in editorials explicating the state's vision of modernity and Buddhism. The text of the NLM tends to be written in an antiquated vocabulary and formulaic style that emphasize chronologies, itineraries, and lists of names and places. Alternate views remain largely unmentioned, while official perspectives are abundantly echoed in speeches and editorials whose authors (some of them rumored to be high-ranking government officers writing under assumed names) expound exhortations, ideological slogans, and moral imperatives. The text thus is constructed through the state's symbology and informs as much by what and how it reports as it does through silence and omission. Accompanying this text is a plethora of visual documentation. Like their verbal complements, the black-and-white photographs printed in this newspaper follow a standard stylistic format and are carefully and self-consciously constructed. Yet, visual impressions often convey more than words for they capture contextual details, have greater evocative potential, and are more difficult to censor. While many Burmese still deem a smile on a photograph as undignified, a cognizant viewer detects seemingly forced gaiety in the faces of those pictured in this media event. The placement within the newspaper of reports on the Tooth Relic similarly pointed to the significance attributed to these rituals. A logo of the Sacred Tooth's encasement accompanied all coverage over the two-month period. It was often placed near or beneath government slogans praising the military's sacrifice and accomplishments in furthering national unity, peace, and prosperity, making the military--like the relic--worthy of support and reverence by citizens. Such political slogans read: "Emergence of the State Constitution is the duty of all citizens of the Union of Myanmar" and "The Tatmadaw [military] has been sacrificing much of its blood and sweat to prevent the disintegration of the union. All nationalities are urged to give all co-operation and assistance in this great task." Contextual political events reported include diplomatic visits by foreign religious and political emissaries during the Tooth Relic's stay in Myanma. Such reports amplify and contextualize the significance the state attaches to the relic's national procession under its auspices. They legitimate a military elite as righteous leaders of the modern nation-state and mobilize citizens through the state's pragmatic, symbolic, and ritual hegemonies. The construction of SLORC's ritual community as national community and of a national history realized through the state's vision of Buddhism are thus spelled out in the official version of the Tooth Relic's procession. A. THE RITUAL THEATER OF THE MODERN STATE The Sacred Tooth's procession created fields of merit that mapped a universal Buddhist cosmology onto the territory of a modern nation-state. It placed SLORC in a lineage of past kings and obligated to them ritual clients, including contemporary national communities of military, technocratic, business, and ethnic elites. The ritual journey of the Chinese Tooth Relic from Beijing, China, to Yangon, Myanma, and upcountry represents a culmination within a broader cult of national veneration of stupas, images, relics, and similar sacred objects and of an extended series of rituals that centered on the state's patronage of Buddhism and featured ritual acts of leading political functionaries and their subordinates in publicized settings throughout the nation-state. It was preceded by yet further state rituals that, for the first time since its ascent to power in 1988, ritually dramatized SLORC's legitimacy, authority, and prestige. The weeks immediately prior to the Sacred Tooth's arrival were marked by Myanma's 1994 New Year's celebrations in which SLORC functionaries assumed public roles in various ritual contexts. The NLM described SLORC elites as rightful recipients of popular respect, even affection, and as jovial recipients of water absolutions (abhiseka) from state employees at stalls built for this purpose by each ministry and state office in the capital and urban centers throughout the nation. Large public gatherings and merriment celebrated such auspiciousness with traditional Burmese songs and dances.(15) Following this initial ritual affirmation of political hegemony, political elites performed absolutions (abhiseka) at rupakaya sites, including pagodas, Buddha images, and Bodhi Trees throughout the nation.(16) These rituals recognized SLORC as the rightful patron of rupakaya and restorer of royal sources of merit in Myanma's history and culture. The merit they generate establishes communities and differentiates hierarchically within them on the basis of power and status. In preparing for the arrival of the Sacred Tooth, the state planned a procession (dethasari) of cosmic and national proportions. The procession's splendor combined traditional Buddhist symbols of the Brahmacariya, devas, and regalia of a just ruler (dhammaraja) with modern technology, such as a Boeing 737 jet aircraft and luxury cars and buses. Complex preparations heralded its journey. Ministers and other high-placed officials at multiple coordination meetings developed a protocol for the "conveyance of the Sacred Tooth" that was self-consciously modeled after Burmese traditional proscriptions for the procession of royalty and celestial beings.(17) Their discussions considered such things as arrangements for the relic's itinerary, the artiste' progress in building its encasement and throne, reports on the physical condition of the elephant that was to carry the sacred object in procession from the airport to its temporary residence at Kaba Aye, the closure of major traffic routes due to huge-scale dress rehearsals in anticipation of its arrival, and provisions for security, crowd management, and health emergencies. Traveling from Beijing aboard a special Air China flight that briefly stopped in Kunming, Yunnan, the Buddha's Tooth Relic was accompanied by a delegation of eight Mahayana, three Tibetan Lamas, four Yunnanese Theravada monks, and eleven laypersons, including the deputy director of the bureau of religious affairs, Mr. Luo San Chinai, the Burmese minister of religious affairs and chairman of the Buddha Tooth Relic Conveyance Work Committee, Lieutenant General Myo Nyunt, and officials from the religious and foreign affairs ministries. Secretary-l Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt,(18) Myanma's chief justice, the attorney general, other ministers, senior members of the military, monastic leaders of the State Maha Nayaka Council, nuns, religious lay associations, the Chinese ambassador to Myanma, and representatives of the Chinese Lay Buddhist Association welcomed the relic and the entourage at Yangon International Airport.(19) A cast of more than 5,000 members of the military, civil servants, actors in costumes of celestial devas, and royal servicemen staged a dramatic fanfare. Thousands of onlookers lined the streets of the capital to watch as the procession passed by with its elephant-drawn carriage and festive emissaries.(20) The motorcade included the limousines of political and religious dignitaries and dozens of buses with schoolchildren, university students, pagoda trustees, and representatives from music, film, and literary guilds, the national development organization, Unity Solidarity Development Association (USDA), Hindu and Chinese religious associations, the Red Cross, and the fire brigade. It proceeded past lavishly decorated local pandals several miles to the Maha Pasana Cave at Kaba Aye, where it was enshrined and placed on public display around-the-clock.(21) Inside the cave, the relic was displayed in a special encasement placed on a lotus throne and flanked by two replicas and a Golden Emerald Buddha statue whose history is said to be linked to the Chinese Sacred Tooth during the first Burmese empire. The SLORC chairman, Lieutenant General Than Shwe, and other government ministers were the first to pay homage to the Sacred Tooth and donate money. Later that day, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt and senior monks of the Burmese Maha Nayaka Council publicly venerated the relic, paid respects to its Chinese monastic delegation, and met with members of religious lay associations in charge of continuous chanting. The secretary also inspected donation procedures and jewelry donated. The next morning, the Sacred Tooth again received homage and offerings from Myanma's head of state, Than Shwe, and his family, and from senior politicians. Food was offered to the Chinese sangha, and the Sacred Tooth was then displayed for homage by the general public. Early each morning, cabinet ministers in descending rank order, their families, and subordinates made offerings to the Sacred Tooth. Television, print, and photo coverage of these rituals, the participants, public veneration, and donation tallies continued daily throughout the six-week period. After two weeks of public homage in Yangon, the Tooth Relic was conveyed by an elaborate float and motorcade north along a much-traveled route that parallels earlier journeys in Burmese history.(22) The procession continued along SLORC's new highway connecting Yangon with Mandalay, the last royal capital and the economic center of upper Burma, which links peripheral ethnic regions to the modern nation-state. Along its path, the procession stopped at sites of historic and contemporary significance.(23) After five days, the Tooth Relic arrived in Mandalay, where through its public display "both sangha and laity" were allowed to gain merit.(24) After nearly two weeks of public veneration there, the relic was carried south again to Thazi, from where it was flown back to Yangon and again enshrined at the Maha Pasana Cave. During the final two weeks of display, ritual veneration by SLORC elites, organized collectives, and the public reached enormous proportions.(25) This final period also coincided with the Burmese celebration of the Buddha's birth, enlightenment, and parinibbana on the full moon day of Kazon (May 24, 1994).(26) On June 5, after another series of homage, offerings, and donations by SLORC chairman Than Shwe, his family, and high-ranking ministers, traffic in Yangon was again rerouted to accommodate the return of the elephant carriage to Yangon International Airport, from where the Sacred Tooth was conveyed back to the People's Republic of China amid grand ritual theater. B. CONSECRATIONS AND PILGRIMAGES This itinerary set into motion secondary cycles of ritual merit making that illuminate the ways in which rituals of the center are replicated at the national periphery. The ritual cycles distinguished here fall into two categories. The first includes repeated consecrations of the Tooth Relic and ancillary sacred objects. The second ritual cycle comprises pilgrimages as ritual service of client groups toward the center. The consecrations focused on the Sacred Tooth, its two replicas, and the Burmese Emerald Buddha image, which--according to Burmese legend and the NLM--was given to the charismatic King Anawratha in the eleventh century C.E. by "Chinese" guardians of the Sacred Tooth in consolation for their refusal to relinquish it to him.(27) In this way, the state sought to augment the number of sites where the Buddha's remains reside in Myanma now. Throughout its journey, the Tooth Relic was consecrated five times. The consecrations were performed in elaborate theater and splendor, officiated by Chinese and Burmese members of the sangha, and sponsored by the political representatives of the SLORC nation-state. The first consecration occurred prior to its departure in Beijing and involved Mahayana monks, Tibetan lames, and 150 Yunnanese Theravada monks. Subsequent consecrations were performed in the presence of the two replicas and Anawratha's Golden Emerald Buddha statue shortly after the arrival of the Tooth Relic in Yangon on April 30, 1994, and again immediately prior to its departure up-country on May 5. The last two consecrations were performed in the course of its procession up-country in Pyinmana on May 8 and again in Mandalay on May 10, where both Burmese Theravada and Chinese Mahayana monks officiated.(28) The consecrations extended the lineage of the Buddha's remains in two complementary ways that followed established patterns in the Theravada tradition.(29) The lineage of the Buddha's relics, represented by the Sacred Tooth, was ritually extended through two replicas conveyed along with the "original" from China in 1994. The gilded Emerald Buddha statue represented the royal lineage of Burmese kings beginning with Anawratha, founder of the Pagan dynasty. The three ancillary sacred objects were displayed alongside the Tooth Relic at Kaba Aye's Maha Pasana Cave and, along with the "original" Sacred Tooth, received public veneration. According to the NLM, the government intends for the two replicas eventually to be enshrined in pagodas to be built in Yangon and Mandalay. Donations collected during the procession are to be used to cover building costs for these two religious monuments and thus perpetuate the ritual legacy of the Sacred Tooth in Myanma. A second set of rituals comprises acts of venerating the Tooth Relic as the culmination of pilgrimages to temporary sites of residence by the state's client groups and transnational pilgrims. The protocol for such high-profile visitors proscribes the veneration of both the Sacred Tooth in Myanma and other Burmese reliquaries of the rupakaya. These pilgrimages mobilized large numbers of diverse social groups and formalized complex ritual patterns of patronage that obligate pilgrims to the elites of the modern nation-state. The travels of the Sacred Tooth not only established new ritual fields of merit but also engendered countless pilgrimages to the sites of its temporary residence.(30) Groups of pilgrims from relatively local origins included religious associations (wut attain:) formed at the state's instigation. They also comprised classes of civil servants in government offices, neighborhood collectives, business people, and other professional groups, such as medical specialists or collectives of teachers and students at technological institutes of higher education.(31) Pilgrims who journeyed from a greater distance tended to be leaders of ethnic minorities, such as Wa, Kachin, Palaung, Pa-O, the Social Welfare Society of Shan Nationals, and the Lisu National Promotion of Buddhist Sasana and Culture Association of Mogok. Among these pilgrims were also Chinese, and particularly Yunnanese, Buddhists and Hindus living in Burma. Each of these groups of pilgrims traveled to venerate the Buddha's remains and to donate significant amounts of money, that they, their families, and communities collected to fulfill their obligations to the state's ritual patronage.(32) Another cycle of pilgrimages was created by Buddhists from abroad who visited Myanma during this time period. In addition to the Chinese Mahayana, Tibetan, and Yunnanese Theravada monks who accompanied the relic, lay and monastic delegations arrived from South Korea and Laos. Cultural exchanges featured Russian novices who received ordinations and attended Buddhist training courses in Burma. Burmese missionary monks living in Calcutta, Buddha Gaya, and Sri Lanka returned to Myanma to pay homage to the relic and accept honors awarded to them by the Maha Nayaka Council and the Ministry of Religious Affairs.(33) Prominently featured was the pilgrimage of a Burmese Theravada monk, Sayadaw U Bhaddanta Panyavamsa of Sasana Ranthi Monastery in Singapore, who is also affiliated with Theravada communities in Penang, Malaysia, and Los Angeles.(34) Together with a group of 100 lay Buddhists--most of whom were Singaporeans of Chinese descent--he toured all major sites of Burmese historic and religious significance. A similarly grand tour was arranged for the senior members of the Chinese monastic delegation.(35) A poignant moment in their pilgrimage took place when their Burmese hosts removed a hair relic of the Buddha from its reliquary at Bothataung Pagoda near Yangon for the distinguished visitors to behold and contemplate. C. NATIONAL AND TRANSNATIONAL PATTERNS OF PATRONAGE The Sacred Tooth's sojourn in Myanma was marked by politics of giving in national and transnational contexts. It engendered massive donation drives, creating patterns of patronage in which ritual clients incurred obligations toward the center. Each day, the NLM conspicuously depicted donation rituals, reported precise amounts received from individuals and collectives, and featured both donors and SLORC functionaries who officiated as ritual recipients of such gifts. The NLM published daily lists of names and amounts donated for contributions exceeding 5,000 kyats and ran daily tallies of both funds received on a given day and total amounts received to date.(36) While the largest portions of funds were collected from collectives and the general public, a considerable portion was received from major private donors. Altogether, the total funds collected during the procession of the Sacred Tooth exceeded 162 million kyats and 13,700 pieces of jewelry. On June 5, the day prior to the relic's return to China, the NLM reported: "Today's donations included over 5.81 million kyats by pilgrims, 244 US dollars, 520 bhat, ten Bangladesh take, 65 Indian rupees, 4 Jamaican dollars, 1,100 Brazilian cruzeiros, 276 Chinese yans and three jaios, 1,000 Indonesian rupias, four Singapore dollars, five Israeli shekels, five Nigeria nairas and 20 kobos, ten Philippines pesos, 250 Taiwan dollars, 650 Cambodian riel, two Venezuela bolivar, 1,000 won and three Malaysian dollars." This shows the extent to which successful fund raising was projected into transnational realms. At a symbolic level, they communicated the extent of SLORC's religious patronage over national and international communities.(37) Membership among donors profiled economic and political elites.(38) Prominent members of the elite, including the Chairman of SLORC, Than Shwe, and various ministers made significant donations on several occasions. Some business families donated as much as 100,000 kyats. A secondary group of major donors included representatives of professional and ethnic religious associations whose collective donation drives exceeded the required minimum.(39) A third group of donors whose contributions were featured by the press comprised those who volunteered their services to facilitate crowd management by providing first aid, fans, and soft drinks to exhausted pilgrims who had waited for hours in long lines.(40) A fourth group comprised foreign dignitaries from religious, economic, or political backgrounds whose large public donations were similarly lauded in the press. A number of foreign political dignitaries who visited Myanma during this period, such as the prime minister of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam, the Indonesian foreign minister, the Yunnanese governor, and a military adviser from India, were among the many visitors and made donations for religious causes. The state provided donors with certificates of honor and access to a select group for whom SLORC arranged daily rituals to share merit, thus ritually acknowledging their participation. These ceremonies were performed at the sites of the relic's residence at Kaba Aye in Yangon and at the State Pariyatti Monastic University in Mandalay. While such membership entitles one to privileges, it also entails continuing obligations to the patronage of a political elite.(41) Public portrayals of generosity in support of the Burmese national ethos suggest as much implicit competition among donors for political recognition as a certain eagerness to show one's allegiance to prevailing power structures. Despite the large-scale public outpouring of generosity, the perception prevailed that contributions in kind and cash entailed pragmatic returns such as access to political power and membership in a ritual community under SLORC's auspices.(42) III. PRAGMATIC CONTEXTS OF THE MODERN NATION STATE The State Law and Order Restoration Council's patronage of the Chinese Tooth Relic is a cornerstone in the construction of a national ideology, community, and cult of venerating rupakaya.(43) Its elaborate ritual theater and political investment were aimed at multiple audiences and epitomized symbols in Burmese national history, culture, and politics. Despite the cosmological character of this state cult, the objectives it served were born out of the pragmatics of modern politics. It legitimated political hegemonies, mobilized large, diverse communities, and promoted the political integration and cultural ethos of an imagined modern nation-state. This section focuses on social, religious, and political contexts of these state rituals to highlight the ways in which ritual legitimated SLORC's political institutions and-facilitated pragmatic agendas and nationalist visions for a modern Myanma nation-state. The significance the state attached to these ritual patterns of patronage thus emerges from the context of concurrent political agendas. An integral aspect of SLORC's construction of national history and culture, the media presented the Tooth Relic's journey as a long-standing cultural and religious legacy fully realized only now, under the patronage of the present state. It was seen as a culmination of Burmese royal lineages--beginning with the emergence of the first Burmese empire during Anawratha's reign (1044-77)--and of the successive distribution of the Buddha's relics since his parinibbana, thus constructing both Buddhist and Burmese historical paradigms for SLORC's ritual patronage.(44) The convergence of these two lines of legitimation shapes a specific vision of Burmese history and accounts for the seemingly endless list of dhatu cetiya found throughout Myanma.(45) The NLM constructions of history focus in particular on dynastic reigns in the mid-eleventh and mid-sixteenth centuries and invite comparisons with SLORC political legitimacy and its veneration of sacred objects. Anawratha is credited with the establishment of the first Burmese empire and with obtaining from "China" the Emerald Buddha statue in lieu of the Tooth Relic he had requested.(46) Bayintnaung's reign (1551-81) is credited with establishing the second Burmese Empire and with securing a replica of the Sri Lankan Tooth Relic, which was enshrined at Mahazedi Pagoda near what is now Bago.(47) Such comparisons place SLORC at the fulcrum of lineages within Buddhist and Burmese history. They also invoke Mircea Eliade's(48) notion of the myth of eternal return and Benedict Anderson's(49) views on the imagination of nationalist culture through mapping mytho-historical events onto its territory. In an effort to popularize its vision of Myanma's national history, the SLORC promotes its archeological preservation and reconstruction of multiple sacred places throughout the modern nation-state. Burmese dynasties loom large in the contemporary public discourse that promotes the traditional heritage of the Burmese nation-state. Examples include the recent reconstruction of the Mandalay Palace and its adjacent monasteries, the excavation and reconstruction of King Bayintnaung's Kanbaw-zathardi Palace (Taung Oo Dynasty, 1486-1752), and the restoration of numerous pagodas and stupas throughout Myanma's territory.(50) Other constructions of a Buddhist national history and culture articulate geocosmic visions of SLORC's modern nation-state.(51) A museum dedicated to the Buddha's biography and the history of the Buddhist tradition recently opened at the Mandalay Mahamuni Pagoda. There, the geocosmology of the Buddha's remains across Asia is displayed with Burma at the center of a multistory, three-dimensional "map." The state's politics of culture are reflected in various political institutions. A new ministry of culture oversees the restoration of national monuments, the construction of a new National Museum, National Library, and University of Culture for the revitalization of traditional arts, crafts, and customs. Intersecting these hegemonic structures and reenforcing their objectives is the ministry of religious affairs. Current state patronage of Buddhism focuses on public merit making at national monuments and local pagodas, on instilling SLORC's vision of Buddhism among the laity, and on missionizing among ethnic minorities in the periphery. At present, the ministry's responsibilities concern three major areas: the sangha, the laity, and non-Buddhist minorities. A primary function has been the supervision and management of the monastic Maha Nayaka Council, which regulates all matters of the sangha through a centralized, administrative structure that extends to the local level.(52) After nearly a decade of stringent monastic reforms, the state gained control over the sangha and all significant donations to it. This emphasis on monasticism is complemented by missionization among the international Buddhist community. A second, recently constituted function of the ministry is the Department for the Propagation and Promotion of Sasana, which actively missionizes Buddhism. While, at the nation's center, Buddhist missionization is touted as an effort of national integration, in the periphery it is seen as an attempt to extend the central government's control and infrastructure into territories of ethnic minorities. Among Burmese Buddhist elites at the center, the propagation of sasana proceeds through organizing lay associations dedicated to religious instruction, recitation of prayers and suttas, and an extensive grassroots network for procuring donations to finance extensive religious construction, restoration, and merit-making rituals. Seemingly, each government body sponsors affiliated lay meditation or recitation societies and holds temporary monastic ordinations for its staff. Several Buddhist culture courses have been taught at prominent lay meditation centers, and monasteries function again in the formal religious education of children and youths. During his opening address to an advanced course on Buddhist Culture in North Okkalapa Township, where some of the heaviest riots occurred in 1988, the minister of religious affairs, Lieutenant General Myo Nyunt, stated that "each of the trainees is to help preserve national culture through religious education and stressed the need to safeguard the nation against the threat of extinction of race and culture."(53) While financing enormous expenditures on religious affairs and religiously motivated social welfare programs--such as hospitals and homes for the elderly--through donations from private individuals and state collectives, the state seeks to instill among its citizens its own nationalist interpretation of Buddhist ethics. Current politics are also characterized by the integration of "national races"--ethnic and tribal minorities who, for decades, have been engaged in armed resistance to the central government--into the nation's territorial and social periphery.(54) In collaboration with the Maha Nayaka Council, this department is also involved in missionizing among the Christian and animist tribal minorities in the periphery. A third, less publicized function of the ministry focuses on similar mechanisms organizing the activities of Christians, Muslims, and Hindus, many of whom intersect socially with the ethnic majority of Burmans. Many non-Buddhists, however, were systematically disenfranchised from the state's ritual activities, which heightened their political marginality. The cultural, political, and economic contexts of venerating the Buddha's Sacred Tooth thus reflect the state's objectives in propagating Buddhism. Pragmatic political concerns emerge also in national and transnational contexts, for the veneration of the Sacred Tooth is intended to lend credence to the state's rhetoric of "stability, peace, and tranquility" as a prerequisite for rapid modernization. In the socioeconomic domain, the USDA is a nationwide, populist economic organization that provides a conduit for the export of cottage industries products. The state uses this network to instill a specific vision of national unity and to mobilize citizens for such civic duties as blood drives to benefit the military and other, local social welfare activities. The veneration of the Sacred Tooth constitutes a diplomatic gesture to appease growing ethnic tensions between Burmese and Chinese immigrants, whose economic investments, particularly in Mandalay, have expanded rapidly during the early 1990s. It further represents a conciliatory appeal to Burmese communities abroad, where political opposition to the regime--largely silenced within the country--can have a potentially damaging impact on financial backing for SLORC's modernization agenda. The Burmese diaspora thus plays a pivotal economic and political role in SLORC's international reputation. Finally, the procession of the Tooth Relic has been a symbol in diplomatic efforts to enhance Myanma's image with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and among the transnational community of Buddhists generally. IV. COUNTERTEXTS: THE RHETORIC OF RESISTANCE Both "texts" and "contexts" illustrate the state's control over the parameters of religious discourse and practice in contemporary Myanma. The religious discourse the state permits is phrased in totalizing constructs that further its hegemony. The state's discourse therefore also determines the nature of diverse responses by those who contest or resist its authority in Burma and abroad. Political dissent is often expressed in religious terms and constitutes a countertext to SLORC's hegemonic discourse and ritual theater. It is voiced in disparaging remarks about the legitimacy and splendor of the grand Mahawizaya Pagoda, built by the preceding Ne Win government next to the national Shwedagon Pagoda.(55) Others ruminate about the sacrilege of this stupa's night-lit silhouette serving as a backdrop for entertaining foreign businessmen in posh restaurants that recently opened in this part of Yangon. Voices of political dissent also emerge from religious donations that circumvent the state's collection network. Especially among elites, political opposition is expressed in perfunctory donations to the state's religious causes, while more generous offerings (dana) are made to sources of merit that reflect a personal choice and are deemed more worthy of support. Widespread mobilization of donations to the state's religious causes has reinforced this kind of popular resentment because many Burmese Buddhists see it as a form of taxation.(56) Absence from partiCipation in state-sponsored merit-making ritual contests the state's hegemony. Some refuse to participate in state-sponsored acts of merit. The NLM rewards such everyday forms of resistance mostly with silence. Occasionally, however, voices of dissent emerge even in NLM reports. An example is found in the daily lists of major donors published in the NLM during the Sacred Tooth's tour. A tabulation over the course of six weeks indicates that on any given day, nearly half of the donors chose to be absent from rituals acknowledging their donations and SLORC's patronage, despite their large contributions.(57) The NLM's admission of less-than-unanimous participation by significant donors hints at the sentiments of those Burmese Buddhists who seek to minimize their participation in such merit-making rituals.(58) Outside the nation's territory, some Burmese voiced cynicism about SLORC's veneration of the Sacred Tooth. They harbored doubts about how the donations will be used and suggested that the Chinese monks accompanying the relic were not ordained members of the sangha, but impostors Serving intelligence functions. Aware of its "rediscovery," they contested the authenticity of the relic itself and its provenance.(59) While Burmese have shown a penchant for venerating a variety of Buddhist relics, authenticity is debated when political legitimacy and ritual patronage are questioned. V. THE HEGEMONIC DISCOURSE OF RELIC VENERATION Some forms of venerating the Buddha's relics are acts of meditative devotion or ritual service and have little relevance for the interpretation of political or hegemonic constructs.(60) Historically, however, Theravada Buddhist culture established or perpetuated hegemonic structures through the construction and patronage of Buddhist relics and reliquaries. The perspectives that emerge from the modern Burmese Buddhist relic veneration in large-scale state rituals show how sacred objects can legitimate a specific vision of authority over diverse communities and how such rituals can be a focal point for the articulation of culture, history, and community. As relic cults have been significant foci in the missionization, expansion, and universalization of the Buddhist tradition, this contemporary Burmese example prods us to reexamine the ways in which Buddhist relic veneration was negotiated in the ritual theater of the traditional polity. Some general observations emerge. The first concerns the role of relics as root metaphors that evoke conceptions of power universal to the Buddhist tradition. As root metaphors, relics exhibit universal relevance across the tradition that can be "translated" into specific local contexts and cultures sharing the same religious heritage. Universal conceptions become particularized in social, political, and historic contexts.(61) A second commonality in the interpretation of relics as root metaphors rests in the transformation of ritual service to the Buddha's remains into particular patterns of political patronage. In state rituals, relics support the creation of fields of merit, status, and power and are therefore readily appropriated by political ideologies and in the mobilization of ritual clients to the state. Relics mediate between ritual and interpretive contexts.(62) They become symbolic currency in the hands of those able to patronize and control such sources of pristine power. A third commonality therefore concerns the Buddhist veneration of relics as concrete objects that embody sacred power and the affinity of particularly military elites to seek them out. Their appropriation is often seen as a reflection of secular power and authority. In most traditional Theravada contexts, the sangha has served as the primary field of merit for the laity. However, there has also been a concurrent emphasis--that, at times, detracted from patronage of the sangha--on the possession of sacred objects by royal and other secular elites. Particularly significant in this regard are social contexts in which relic cults detract from patronage of the sangha and therefore articulate social and historic configurations that valorize contextual interpretations of such root metaphors. In such contexts, the state's veneration of relics may indicate a politically motivated attempt to diminish the sangha's position as a religious institution and source of merit and charisma. Such a strategy characterizes contemporary relations between Buddhism and the state in Burma, where the present focus on relic veneration represents a uniquely Burmese transformation among other articulations of modern Buddhism, nationalism, and the state that emerged in Sri Lanka and elsewhere of Southeast Asia. The State Law and Order Restoration Council's patronage of the Chinese Sacred Tooth constitutes one version in a continuing struggle for a national community and legitimacy. Since 1988, political power in Burma has increasingly emphasized patronage of rupakaya in a variety of ways, promoting in effect a full-scale, national rupakaya cult that encompasses multiple local manifestations of Buddhist history in Burma. The state's interest in Buddhism emerges at a time when constitutional authority of the modern nation-state is debated and in a cultural milieu where power is often seen as vested in charismatic individuals rather than in political processes or civil contracts. The state's patronage of Buddhism has self-consciously effected a modern transformation of cosmological Buddhism that focuses on merit gained from sacred objects. This most recent Burmese example differs from traditional predecessors in that its religio-nationalist character is construed as a reaction to the contested realities of modern secular and political pluralism. It further differs from traditional forms of relic veneration in that ritual patronage of the Buddha's remains accrues not to an individual, the traditional dhammaraja, but to a class of civil and military elites that constitute the governing body of a nation-state that otherwise conceives of its purpose in modern political and pragmatic terms. The State Law and Order Restoration Council's construction of Burmese culture, history, and religion represents perhaps the most far-reaching effort in modern Buddhism to create a state cult of relic veneration by a national community in which the military facilitates access to merit gained from venerating the Buddha's remains. The ritual theater of venerating the Chinese Sacred Tooth in Myanma was central to the state's quest for legitimacy and projected a particular imagination of Burmese culture, history, and religion. Thus, a modern, technocratic elite employs traditional ritual patronage to consolidate its hegemony and compel a large segment of its population to participate in the state's veneration of Buddhist relics. The totalizing constructs of the modern nation-state co-opt, for political purposes, the religious sentiments of the Burmese Buddhist majority. In orchestrating the veneration of the relic, the Burmese state determines the parameters of religious discourse and hence the range of responses by political opponents. Contextual perspectives on the veneration of relics in Buddhist history call for an examination of political ideology and pragmatics of state-sponsored ritual acts. Such issues are voiced in countertexts that challenge the state's rhetoric and reveal resistance within the polity, and in multiethnic and transnational contexts. While rupakaya cults affirm the presence of the Buddha's remains in specific social and political hegemonies, they also valorize affairs peripheral or external to the polity, such as Buddhist missionization and international diplomacy. Inasmuch as this contemporary Burmese example invites comparisons with other cults of relic veneration and popular piety, it underscores ambiguities in the manipulation of sacred objects as root metaphors for religious and national culture. Such ambiguities are expressed, for example, in the ethical dilemmas of devout Buddhists who find themselves enjoined in the state's mobilization and rituals but who may question the relic's authenticity or the ritual patron's legitimacy. Alternatively, others may believe in the relic's sacrality but may seek to elude participation in its ritual veneration for political reasons. Relations between hegemonic constructs, cultural ideology, and popular acceptance therefore speak to the politics of contested meanings in rupakaya cults. This article represents part of a broader project on politics and modernity in Theravada Buddhism and, in particular, on Myanmar's engagement with national community, culture, and religion. I am grateful to the Social Science Research Council and to the Arizona State University for the research support they generously granted. I want to acknowledge Andrew Bateman's assistance in archiving the relevant documents and producing slides from newspaper photographs. I am indebted to Hugh MacDougall for making available to me multiple years of New Light of Myanmar print runs. My revisions of this article have benefited from comments by Frank Reynolds, Wendy Doniger, Larry Sullivan, Charles Keyes, John Strong, James Rush, and James Foard. I also received many suggestions from discussants and participants in the Seminar on Buddhist Relics, sponsored by the American Academy of Religion and organized by Kevin Trainor and David Germano, particularly from Donald Swearer, Charles Hallisey, Louis Lancaster, Susanne Mrozik, and Robert Sharp. I thank them all for their thoughtful comments; all mistakes and omissions are mine. (1) In this article, I use the term "Myanmar" interchangeably with "Burma" and "Myanma"--the more appropriate transcription. All of these terms are derived from essentially the same adjective denoting the ethnicity of the Burmese, but each carries specific political connotations. The fact that the name of this country is so highly contested speaks to the broader debate about how this nation should be conceptualized. (2) The creation, affirmation, and legitimation of hegemonic structures through ritual veneration of the Buddha's relics has been a central aspect from the earliest time of the tradition. The distribution of the Buddha's relics in the Mahaparinibbana Sutta can be read to imply such conceptions. Similarly, John Strong notes a passage in the Asokavadana concerning Asoka's redistribution of the Buddha's remains in eighty-four thousand stupas that underscores the hegemonic character of the king's generosity. In response to Asoka's promise to grant one share of the relics "to every city of one hundred thousand people . . ., the people of Taksasila, because they number thirty-six hundred thousand, request thirty-six shares of relics. Asoka turns them down by threatening to execute thirty-five hundred thousand of them!" See John S. Strong, The Legend of King Asoka (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1983), p. 115. (3) For a discussion of the concept of cosmological Buddhism, see F. E. Reynolds and M. B. Reynolds, Three Worlds according to King Ruang: A Thai Buddhist Cosmology (Berkeley and Los Angeles: Asian Humanities Press, 1982); and Charles Keyes, Laurel Kendall, and Helen Hardacre, "Contested Visions of Community in East and Southeast Asia," in Asian Visions of Authority: Religion and the Modern States of East and Southeast Asia, ed. Charles Keyes, Laurel Kendall, and Helen Hardacre (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994), pp. 1-16. (4) See Stanley Tambiah's more recent statement on the galactic polity in a chapter of his collection of essays (Culture, Thought and Social Action [Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1985]). (5) In his discussion of the Sinhalese chronicle of the Buddha's Sacred Tooth, the Dhatuvamsa, Kevin Trainor noted that its veneration creates a ritually bounded community and differentiates hierarchically within it ("Strategies of Authoritative Presence in Sri Lankan Buddhism: The Dhatuvamsa and the Interaction of Relics, Texts, and Rituals" [unpublished essay]). (6) Turner's discussion of root metaphor stresses the generative and persuasive capacity of such archetypes to engender "self-certifying myth, sealed off from empirical disproof. It remains a fascinating metaphysics. Here, root metaphor is opposed to what Thomas Kuhn has called the `scientific paradigm,' which stimulates and legitimates empirical research." See Victor Turner, Dramas, Field and Metaphors: Symbolic Action in Human Society (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1974), p. 29. (7) Concerning the role of relics in Buddhist polities, such as the Kandyian Tooth relic in precolonial Sri Lanka, John Strong writes that "possession of the Buddha's tooth was seen as an indispensable attribute of kingship. Its cult was the privilege and duty of the legitimate ruler and was thought to ensure social harmony, regular rainfall, bountiful crops, and righteous rule. Its possession meant power." See John S. Strong, "Relics," in The Encyclopedia of Religion, ed. Mircea Eliade (New York: Macmillan, 1987), p. 280. (8) See Keyes, Kendall, and Hardacre. (9) My use of ritual theater and the dramaturgy of power follows Geertz's discussions of these concepts. In Negara: The Theatre State in Nineteenth-Century Bali (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1980), p. 13, Clifford Geertz writes concerning the theater state in nineteenth-century Bali and the doctrine of the exemplary center: "This is the theory that the court-and-capital is at once a microcosm of the supernatural order--`an image of . . . the universe on a smaller scale'--and the material embodiment of political order." He continues, "The competition to be the center of centers, the axis of the world, was just that, a competition; and it was the ability to stage productions of an eleven-roof scale, to mobilize the men, the resources, and, not least, the expertise, that made one an eleven-roof lord" (p. 120). And he concludes by stating that "the confinement of interpretive analysis . . . to the supposedly more `symbolic' aspect of culture is a mere prejudice, born out of the notion . . . that `symbolic' opposes to `real'. . . . To construe the expressions of the theatre state, to apprehend them as theory, this prejudice, along with the allied one that the dramaturgy of power is external to its workings, must be put aside. The real is as imagined as the imaginary" (p. 136). To this characterization of premodern state ritual as an apt description of SLORC's hegemonic intent, I would only add that SLORC's modern theatre state is a self-consciously constructed legitimation of its contested hegemony.
(10) See T. W. Rhys-Davids, ed., Dialogues of the Buddha, vol. 3, Sacred Books of the Buddhists, vol. 4 (Oxford: Pali Text Society, 1991), pp. 59-76. (11) The term used in the NLM, dethasari, is derived from the Pali desa (a point, spot, place, region, or country) and sara (moving, going, or following). It thus denotes a ritual progress from the center through the region. (12) See B. Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origins and Spread of Nationalism (London: Verso, 1991).1 follow Anderson and Kemper in my treatment of nationalism as a cultural form. Kemper writes, "The strength of nationalism as a political phenomenon is its ability to draw on sentiments--language, religion, family, culture--that appear to be natural and autochthonous. Their cultural expression required the emergence of a set of new and hardly autochthonous circumstances. This is the paradox of nationalism. Its force depends on the capturing of primordial sentiments, even though the drawing together of language, religion, or culture with the polity is generally a modern phenomenon. But to say that nothing at all was there is to misunderstand the nature of culture by separating it from history." See S. Kemper, The Presence of the Past: Chronicles, Politics, and Culture in Sinhala Life (Ithaca, N.Y.: Cornell University Press, 1991), p. 224. (13) The New Light of Myanmar, hereafter cited as NLM, is published daily in Burmese and English versions. Its length always comprises twelve pages divided. It is divided nearly equally into reports of foreign and domestic affairs, with some space devoted to public announcements, advertisements, and TV or radio programs. Diacritics have not been added to Burmese and Pali words used in the NLM text. The discussion of the text and rituals associated with this relic veneration relies primarily on the NLM. A five-month-long coverage of religious affairs published in this paper (February to June 1994) yielded over 1,000 news items and editorials. My choice of this source was motivated in part by the fact that these reports and editorials articulate the government's vision of its role in religious matters. The discussion of contexts and countertexts draws on ethnographic fieldwork conducted in 1994. Such countertexts are largely absent from government media, but they were voiced in personal interviews prior to the Tooth Relic's arrival in the spring of 1994 and later in conversations with members of the Burmese diaspora. (14) For a discussion of symbolic capital, see Pierre Bourdieu, Outline of a Theory of Practice, Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), pp. 171-83. (15) Traditionally, similar rituals take place throughout Burmese society as New Year celebrations are occasions for paying one's respects to figures of authority by throwing water on them, washing their heads, and asking forgiveness for past transgressions. The ritual affirms status differences between the powerful and their dependents. Gratitude and obligations expressed are traditionally rewarded with gifts from one's superiors. These forms of veneration associated with New Year's celebrations underscore the hierarchy of power relations, good intentions toward one's dependents, and one's ability to grant rewards. (16) Unlike other acts of merit, the construction or restoration of Buddhist reliquaries and patronage of similar symbols of rupakaya facilitate acts of merit in the future. Restoration of stupas built by past kings is therefore seen as both a religious and civic obligation. Such ritual patronage toward rupakaya rewards the original sponsor and subsequent restorers with potentially infinite merit. The highest honor accorded to a layperson is therefore the recognition of being a donor of a stupa, relic, or Buddha image (hpaya: taga:). Foremost among such merit-making rituals were ceremonies marking the restoration of stupas and the donation and consecration of Buddha images. At Peik-chin-myaung Maha Nandamu Cave near Pyin-Oo-Lwin, SLORC chairman and commander in chief of the armed forces, Senior General Than Shwe acted as "donor of an image" that consecrated in the company of his wife and highly placed political functionaries (NLM, April 10, 1994). The NLM (April 4, 1994) reported a ritual hoisting of the diamond bud and umbrella (hti:) to mark the restoration of Myo-U Pagoda near Thuwanna at which Secretary-l Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt officiated and planted a Bodhi Tree. Many of the pagodas presented renovated by SLORC were also objects of U Nu's patronage in the 1950s. For a list of these historically significant stupas, see Donald E. Smith, Religion and Politics in Burma (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1965), p. 170. (17) The NLM editorial "Ceremonial Welcoming for Sacred Tooth" (April 24, 1994) speaks of the event in this way: "On arrival at Yangon International Airport today, the Sacred Tooth Relic from the People's Republic of China will be a ceremonial welcome with much pomp and splendor [sic]. It will be accorded the `dewa win' or ceremony concerning the celestial beings and the `raze win' or the ceremony concerning the royalty. Thus, it will be a very colorful ceremony which will include the chanting of religious verses and specially composed `dhamma tay' or religious songs by film and video stars, members of various asiayons [lay religious associations] and yawgi aphwes [lay meditation organizations]. Members of the Sangha, nuns, students, youths, and people from all walks of life, numbering some 5,000 or more will assemble for the airport ceremony. By elephant-drawn carriage, the Tooth Relic will be taken from the airport via the approach road, Pyay Road and Kaba Aye Pagoda Road into the precincts of Kaba Aye Pagoda where it will be in residence. The Tooth Relic is carried in a golden reliquary emplaced in a crown-like receptacle with a spire on top and a throne under it, all gilt and encrusted with jewels. . . . This is the second journey to Myanmar, the first being when Myanmar was holding the Sixth Buddhist Synod for authentication of this teachings. As Buddhism continues to flourish both in the Orient and the Occident, the Tooth Relic has been held sacred by the faithful all over the world. Both domestic and foreign media persons are making arrangements to cover the great event extensively, via satellite. . . . Even those who live far from Yangon and Mandalay are making arrangements for the pilgrimage so that the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of having paid homage to the Sacred Tooth will not be missed." (18) A protege of U Ne Win, the former president of the Burmese Socialist Union, Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt heads, among other offices, an extensive military intelligence apparatus. (19) In his 1995 Numata Lecture, "Tooth and Cross," presented at the University of Chicago, John S. Strong recalls a much similar order of procession assembled for the Chinese Tooth relic on one of its previous visits to Burma. He writes: "The Tour was a great success. The tooth was welcomed at the Rangoon airport by President Ba U, Premier U Nu, members of the Supreme Court, of the legislature, secretaries of the Army, the Navy, and Air Force, ministers of various governmental departments, foreign diplomats, monks, nuns, and a huge crowd" (p. 32). It is likely that the script used for the earlier visit also inspired the order of events during the 1994 visit. However, the general tenor of the two visits differs in that the first took place in the context of U Nu's Sanghayana amid a multitude of religious foci, popular religious activities, and articulations of cosmological Buddhism sponsored by a modern state. During the 1994 visit, the emphasis was exclusively on the veneration of the Buddha's physical remains, and in particular on the Chinese Tooth Relic, precisely because the state wished to emphasize these sources of merit over and against merit that might be gained by making offerings to the sangha. (20) John Strong observed in his American Academy of Religion 1994 presentation to the Seminar on Buddhist Relics, "Buddhist Relics in Comparative Perspective: Beyond the Parallels" that this relic remained hidden from view when displayed at the Buddha's Tooth Relic Pagoda outside Beijing. It was less obscured from view during its procession in Myanmar in 1994, but nevertheless remained difficult to "view." (21) Construction of the Maha Pasana Cave was begun in 1953 under U Nu to accommodate his convocation of the Sixth Buddhist Council. The cave was "modeled after the Sattapanni Cave at Rajagaha, India, where the first council was believed to have been held shortly after the death of the Buddha. The cave is a large assembly hall [with a] seating capacity [of] 10,000 covered by a huge mount of earth and rock forming an artificial hill" (Smith, p. 160). It served as a ceremonial hall for a variety of functions during the monastic reforms of U Nu and U Ne Win. Although the NLM occasional refers to "a previous visit" of the Sacred Tooth to Myanmar in the 1950s (according to Smith, p. 169, two such visits occurred in 1957 and 1959, respectively), comparisons with the 1994 visit always give a more favorable assessment of its most recent sojourn in Myanmar, on account of present "peace and tranquility," grander rituals displays, and the relic's journey up-country. (22) The route roughly follows the Irrawaddi River, Burma's major venue for river trade alongside a railway system built during the British colonial area. (23) The first stop for public homage was Bago (formerly Pegu), the site of Bayintnaung's palace now under excavation and the Mahazedi Pagoda, where this king, according to Burmese chronicles, is said to have enshrined the Sri Lankan Tooth Relic that some claim he obtained from King Dhammapala of Colombo in the mid-sixteenth century. The Chinese Sacred Tooth was carried next to Nyaunglaybin, and then to Taung Oo, Pyinmana, Yamethin (a predominantly Muslim town), Meiktila, and Kyaukse, which is known for its elaborate irrigation system that has supplied water for agricultural projects since the Pagan dynasty (eleventh to thirteenth centuries C.E.). (24) Mandalay, capital of the Kounbaun dynasty, has a distinguished monastic and royal history. Since 1989, it has also been a major site of monastic contestation of SLORC's governance. The NLM emphasis on homage by "both sangha and laity" in Mandalay has hegemonic implications, particularly as references to monastic veneration of the Sacred Tooth are otherwise generally absent. (25) The NLM reports that 176,800 pilgrims paid homage at Maha Pasana Cave on June 3, and 194,400 on June 4, 1995 (NLM, June 4, 1994, and June 5, 1994). (26) An editorial in the NLM (May 18, 1994) described its significance in this way: "The people of the Union of Myanmar gets [sic] an opportunity to pay homage to the Tooth Relic on 24 May or the Fullmoon of Kazon well-known as thrice blessed day, as on this day the would-be Buddha was born, Lord Buddha was enlightened, and He attained Nibbana. This is a rare opportunity which the people of Myanmar should seize." Another editorial (NLM, May 24, 1994) comments on the "Kason Festival. . . . This year, the occasion has been rendered more auspicious for the people of this land since we have conveyed the Buddha's Tooth Relic from the People's Republic of China for a 45-day obeisance to be afforded to the lay Buddhists who regard it as a once in a lifetime opportunity. The State Law and Order Restoration Council, after due coordination with the Government of the People's Republic of China, has been able to obtain permission to bring the Tooth Relic, a rare treat which two good neighbours have been able to grant the people in the name of cordiality and longstanding amity. Millions of the faithful have been able to pay homage to the Tooth Relic, and millions of kyats, gems and jewelry have been donated. All meritorious acts will be topped this year by the pilgrimage to the Tooth Relic, and the laity are overjoyed that this golden opportunity has been made possible." (27) According to the NLM, the image had been revered by successive Burmese dynasties until it was moved to Shwe Kyi Myin Pagoda during the fall of the Kounbaun Dynasty and Mandalay Palace in 1885. It reputedly remained hidden because there was fear of its desecration under British colonial rule. Its "rediscovery" and transport from Mandalay to Yangon occurred during the spring of 1994 in anticipation of the Sacred Tooth's arrival. (28) The consecrations were motivated by a dual set of concerns. The relic was used to consecrate its ancillary sacred objects and the sites of its residence in Myanma; a second concern was to avert potential disaster that can precipitate during the move of a sacred object from its permanent site of residence. According to popular belief, the dislocation of the Buddha's rupakaya from its seat can be detrimental to its social and geographical surroundings, resulting in chaos and calamities. Additional concerns arise over possible disrespect shown to sacred objects "out of place." (29) For a discussion of these lineages in Theravada Buddhism, see Frank E. Reynolds, "Rebirth Traditions and the Lineage of Gotama: a Study in Theravada Buddhology," in Sacred Biography in South and Southeast Asian Buddhist Traditions, ed. J. Schober (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), in press. (30) Concerning organized pilgrimages, the NLM announced on April 27, 1994, that "religious associations and students from universities, colleges, institutes and schools who wish to make organized visits to Maha Pasana Cave at Kaba Aye to pay homage to the Buddha's Tooth Relic may dial 63158 of the Control Office of the Ministry of Religious Affairs at the Cave or 60470. . . of the Ministry." (31) The NLM (May 6, 1994) also reports that on its way north the relic was venerated by "members of the sangha and people of the villages. . ., Tatmadaw men and their families . . ., construction workers of the Six-lane Yangon-Mandalay Highway, factory workers and service personnel also paid homage to the Tooth Relic, offered flowers and donated cash." The Yangon-Mandalay highway is constructed with the labor of prisoners who wish to reduce their sentences. The assignment entails risks to one's health and life as many do not survive the harsh conditions. (32) The sense that the relic was more enthusiastically received in Mandalay than in Yangon is also conveyed by statistical tallies. On the final day of its nine-day sojourn in Mandalay, 122,700 came to pay homage. Altogether, the number of pilgrims in Mandalay alone reached 775,000, while donations made there exceeded 54.9 million kyats, and over sixty-five hundred items of jewelry were donated (NLM, May 19, 1994, and June 7, 1994). A few individual business people donated exceedingly high amounts, two donors (one of whom was Armenian) giving one million kyats each, and 1.57 million kyats were collected by business people to install air-conditioning in the hall where the relic was to be displayed at the Mandalay State Pariyatti Monastic University (NLM, May 2, 1994, and May 4, 1994). In general, all donations identified in the NLM during the relic's stay in Mandalay exceeded thirty thousand kyats (May 17-19, 1994). The high donations of some minorities, such as 86,658 kyats collected by the Mandalay Kokang Buddhist Association or 337,000 kyats given by the Chinese Buddhist Association of Mogok, is perhaps indicative of greater reverence felt toward the relic. Others may have also welcomed an opportunity to profile themselves in this competitive donation drive. For instance, daily offerings of fruits, valued at two thousand kyats per day were provided by the Shan Buddhist Association in Mandalay (NLM, May 15, 1994). (33) According to the NLM (March 26, 1994), Lieutenant General Khin Nyunt explained at a coordinating meeting that "the Sayadaws carrying out the missionary duties abroad will be able to improve their performance after visiting and witnessing Myanmar where Theravada Buddhism flourishes." (34) He was awarded the Agga Maha Pandita title by the State Mahanayaka Council and the ministry of religious affairs. He donated 4 million kyats to specific purposes, including the Tooth Relic (NLM, April 27, 1994). (35) See NLM, April 22, 1994. (36) Contrary to the newspaper's announcement that a minimum donation of five thousand kyats would result in the inclusion of one's name in the lists of donors published daily, donors listed by name and address gave at least twice that much. This may indicate that the real minimum was much higher than the five thousand kyats announced in the NLM. In terms of actual purchasing power, a correlation of one to one is not far off the mark. However, while the official exchange rate was pegged at about six to one, the black-market exchange rate was about 120 kyats to one U.S. dollar in 1994. (37) For example, the staff of the Burmese consulate in Kunming, Yunnan, collected US $550 for the Tooth Relic, while the Burmese ambassador to Cairo contributed one hundred dollars. (38) Since the early 1990s, when SLORC opened its economy to joint foreign capital ventures, some foreign investors, including Burmese expatriates, have been eager to capitalize on their returns in a market characterized by high demands, few supplies, cheap labor, and untapped natural resources. Few investors have made long-term financial commitments, and most business people remain cautious about unpredictable changes in government policies. (39) A typical announcement (NLM, May 3, 1994) would read: "Trainees of USDA Management Course no. 2/94 for Executives pay homage to Buddha's Tooth Relic" and indicates that 392 trainees from Burmese states and divisions contributed 41,908 kyats toward the Tooth Relic. (40) Examples include one thousand copies of books on the Tooth Relic donated by two Yangon families (NLM, May 2, 1994); 4,340 fans donated by a deputy minister of foreign affairs for pilgrims waiting in long lines; twelve hundred Pepsi soft drinks donated by Pepsi Cola Products of Myanmar, Ltd., and two thousand lemon barley soft drinks contributed by another family to quench the thirst of pilgrims (NLM, April 30, 1994). (41) The systematic collection of private donations for religious and social welfare purposes supports a wide range of projects in contemporary Myanmar. While collections on behalf of the Tooth Relic produced very high returns within a short time, they are nevertheless part of a broader pattern whereby the state increasingly seeks to finance religion, social welfare, and monuments of national culture through private contributions. (42) Against this background, reports in the NLM that singled out the devotion of an impoverished eighty-year-old woman who had given her entire life savings of 313.50 kyats to the Sacred Tooth sought to valorize the ethics of public donations (see NLM, April 30, 1994). (43) Although relevant to the broader context of relations between China and Myanmar, this article does not address implications of the Tooth Relic's cultural exchange for Chinese Buddhists in China, nor does it interpret implications of the diplomatic exchange for relations between the two nations. (44) The three essays by Khin Maung Nyunt were published in the NLM under the following titles: "Buddha's Sacred Tooth in Myanmar History" (April 14, 1994, p. 3); "Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic and King Anawratha" [1044-77] (April 21, 1994, p. 5); and "Buddha's Sacred Tooth Relic and King Bayint Naung" [1551-81] (May 14, 1994, p. 2). (45) The "lower left eye tooth" is said to have been enshrined in Kandy, Sri Lanka, while the "upper left eye tooth" was taken by way of Gandhara to China, where it is now said to reside near Beijing. Concerning the history of "the" Chinese Sacred Tooth, Strong ("Relics" [n. 7 above], p. 281) writes, "a famous relic of the Buddha in China was originally brought to Nanking in the fifth century and then taken to Ch'ang-an (capital of T'ang dynasty, now called Sian). Lost for over eight hundred years, it was rediscovered in 1900 and is presently enshrined in a pagoda outside Peking. In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Chinese government, eager to improve its relations with Buddhist nations of South and Southeast Asia, allowed it to go on a tour to Burma and then to Sri Lanka, where it was worshiped by hundreds of thousands of people." Khin Maung Nyunt's essays allude to controversies concerning authenticity and miracles in the transmission of Buddha's relics, but provide no appraisals of sources used. Khin Maung Nyunt's account relies on the Glass Palace Chronicle of the Kings of Burma (trans. Pe Maung Tin and Gordon H. Luce [London: Oxford University Press], 1923), on the work of the British historian G. E. Harvey, and on the Thai Prince Dhamrong Rajanubhab's account of his "Journey through Burma in 1936." The Glass Palace Chronicle provides an account of Burmese dynasties, beginning with mythological accounts and Anawratha's reign (1044-77). Compiled in 1829 after the first Anglo-Burmese war, the compilation represents a reconstruction of Burmese dynastic history based on indigenous sources (Hmannan Yazawindaw Gyi, 3 vols. [Meiktila: Ma E Tin, 1936]). Among works by British historians, G. E. Harvey's A History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824: The Beginning of the English Conquest (reprint, London: Cass, 1967), though often cited, presents frequently an unreliable treatment of sources. (46) This image was flown from Mandalay to Yangon and displayed with the Chinese Tooth Relic and its two replicas. Khin Maung Nyunt asserts that the image had been revered by successive Burmese dynasties until 1885. Khin Maung Nyunt writes: "Through years of gilding by devotees, the emerald (jade) image is now totally encrusted with gold" (NLM, April 21, 1994, p. 5), Khin Maung Nyunt cites the Glass Palace Chronicle's account of Anawratha's mission to China, which is given the Burmese gloss of "Gandhalit," Gandhara (Hmannan Yazawindaw Gyi, 1:259-64). Pe Maung Tin and Gordon Luce (pp. 80-83) translated the episode of Anawratha's legendary voyage to the Chinese kingdom of "Gandhala," his failed attempt to obtain the Tooth Relic, and Sakra's consolation in the form of an emerald image that he caused "to pass to and fro with the sacred tooth and descend from the sky, and rest within the jewelled casket on the king's head" (p. 83). D. G. E. Hall (A History of Southeast Asia [London: Macmillan, 1964], pp. 132-40), writes that tribute missions to the Tai kingdom Nanchao were undertaken by Anawratha's predecessors and successors but gives no indication of Anawratha's mission to "China." There is no independent confirmation that Burmese tribute missions during the centuries preceding and following Anawratha's reign went further north than Nanchao. Htin Aung (A History of Burma [New York and London: Columbia University Press, 1967], p. 35), mentions that Nanchao, where then Mahayana Buddhism prevailed, was said to be in possession of the Sacred Tooth Relic and that the king provided Anawratha with a replica. Htin Aung does not comment on the provenance and "authenticity" of Anawratha's Emerald Buddha image. Concerning the mythic traditions associated with the Emerald Buddha statue in Southeast Asia, readers are referred to Frank Reynolds's essay, "The Holy Emerald Jewel: Some Aspects of Buddhist Symbolism and Political Legitimation in Thailand and Laos," in Religion and Legitimation of Power in Thailand, Laos, and Burma, ed. Bradwell L. Smith (Chambersburg, Pa.: Anima, 1978), pp. 175-93; and Stanley J. Tambiah's discussion on the Thai Emerald Buddha (The Buddhist Saints of the Forest and the Cult of Amulets, Cambridge Studies in Social Anthropology [Cambridge: University of Cambridge Press, 1984]). (47) Khin Maung Nyunt refers to the Glass Palace Chronicle (3:35-36) for a description of Bayintnaung's military assistance to the Ceylonese King Dhammapala after the political turmoil of 1576. He also cites Harvey's account (pp. 32-33) on the miraculous replications of the Sri Lankan Tooth Relic now enshrined in numerous Burmese pagodas. (48) See Mercea Eliade, The Myth of the Eternal Return or, Cosmos and History, Bollingen Series 46 (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1974). (49) See Anderson (n. 12 above). (50) Frequently, Than Shwe, Khin Nyunt, and other high-ranking SLORC officers inspect such sites, officiate at ceremonies marking their completion, act as ritual patrons, and are credited with restoring such sources of merit. (51) Relations between cosmology, territory, and nationalism in nation-states are taken up by Anderson and by Thongchai Winichakul (Siam Mapped: A History of the Geo-Body of a Nation [Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1994]), whose discussion focuses on the process of political modernization in Thailand. (52) The Maha Nayaka Council supervises the affairs of all nine officially recognized ordination lineages, registration of individual monks, monastic education, and leadership training programs for abbots. Its central body is housed at Kaba Aye, adjacent to the ministerial offices. Monastic representatives to the central Maha Nayaka Council rotate every few months, which renders their presence largely ceremonial and entrusts its agenda firmly in the control of the ministry. (53) NLM, April 25, 1994 (54) Despite token recognition of ethnic diversity, goodwill tours featured in the public media, and SLORC's negotiations with minorities, military battles continue at the nation's borders. The integration of minorities into a modern nation-state is fraught with problems at several levels and centers on issues such as economic development, concessions of relative independence, and minority representation at the national convention charged with the formulation of the state's constitution. (55) According to rumors, Ne Win's influence on the present SLORC government is still significant. (56) Popular discontent with the state's patronage of the sangha emerged during the early 1980s, when the present monastic reforms commenced. Many Burmese Buddhists felt that the state had been too zealous in excommunicating charismatic monks and other monks whose teachings had been ruled "false doctrine" (adhamma). The reintroduction of monastic registration and review of monastic properties further alienated the sangha. Successful in terms of implementing state mandates, but a failure in terms of popular support the activities of the state's monastic reforms diminished until the sangha instantly emerged as a infrastructural link in the popular uprising of 1988, which was precipitated by severe economic reforms. Relations between the state and the sangha have remained contested. (57) The long, daily lists of major contributors and their donation amounts conclude with formulaic acknowledgments such as, "A total of 72 donors including 34 who did not attend the ceremony today offered K 1,813,191.55" (NLM, April 29, 1994) or a "total of 163 donors including 77 who did not attend the ceremony donated K 3,395,747,75 today" (NLM, May 27, 1994). (58) The newspaper's statistics show less-than-unanimous participation in the state's ritual patronage A significant number chose to stay away from such ceremonies, while their names and actions were known to the authorities (59) The history of the Chinese Tooth Relic is as miraculous as the transmission of relics elsewhere in the Buddhist world. Kenneth Ch'en (Buddhism in China: A Historical Survey [Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1964], pp. 179-80) observes that in the T'ang capital of Ch'ang-an "at least four temples claimed to have specimen of the Buddha's teeth. These four were put on display by the temples annually . . . the public . . . came in endless streams to worship the sacred relics." An account of the Buddha's Sacred Tooth in Chinese Buddhism is also found in Soper's description of Hsiang-Kuo-Ssu, an imperial city monastery of the Northern Sung period, located in the modern day province of Honan (Alexander Soper, "Hsiang-kuo-Suu: An Imperial Temple in Northern Sung:" Journal of the American Oriental Society 68 : 19-45, esp. p. 25, n. 23). (60) For discussions of other forms of ritual veneration of the Buddha's remains, see John S. Strong, "Gandhakuti: The Perfumed Chamber of the Buddha," History of Religions 16 (1977): 390-406, and "The Transforming Gift: An Analysis of Devotional Acts of Offering in Buddhist Avadana Literature," History of Religions 18 (1979): 221-37; and J. Schober, "In the Presence of the Buddha: Ritual Veneration of the Burmese Mahamuni Image," in Sacred Biography in the Buddhist Traditions of South and Southeast Asia, ed. J. Schober (Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1997), in press. (61) See Bourdieu (n. 14 above). (62) See Tambiah, Culture, Thought and Social Action (n. 4 above); and Turner (n. 6 above).