Buddhist just rule and Burmese national culture:
state patronage of the Chinese Tooth Relic in Myanma
Juliane Schober
History of Religions
Vol.36 No.3
Feb 1997
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 
            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. 
            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. 
            (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 
            (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), 
            (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 
            (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 
            (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. 
            (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 
            (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 
            -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. 
            (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 
            (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. 
            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 
            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. 
            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 
            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 
            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) 
            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 
            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. 
            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. 
            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, 
            (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 
            (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. 
            (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 
            (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 
            (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, 
            (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 
            (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 
            (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 [1948]: 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).