Secular Nation-state in Tandem with Religious Nationalist Monks: the Institutionalization of Buddhist Monastics in Myanmar


The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Dissertation Fellowships in Buddhist Studies




This project investigates the State’s attempts in 1958, 1962, and final successful attempt in 1980 to institutionalize monastics in Myanmar under a centralized state-backed authority. Arguing against the triumph of the State’s political secularism, it demonstrates the monks’ own Buddhist logic and the sources of power within the tradition to finally accept this centralized authority—they needed state authority for settling judicial affairs and in monastic practice. It shows how the nation-state’s attempt to regulate religion ended up with not only the monastics being put under State control, but also with the State being equally, if not more, shaped and transformed by religion—creating society and polity more towards orthodoxy, and resulting in the authoritarian, nationalist Buddhist state and communities.