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Charisma, Power(s), and the Arahant Ideal in Burmese-Myanmar Buddhism

Hiroko Kawanami
Asian Ethnology
Vol. 68, No. 2, Power, Authority, and Contested Hegemony in Burmese-Myanmar Religion (2009), pp. 211-237
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25614539
Page Count: 27
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Charisma, Power(s), and the Arahant Ideal in Burmese-Myanmar Buddhism
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Abstract

In this article, I explore the notion of charisma and moral power in contemporary Myanmar and focus on the qualities of charismatic monks who have become the object of public worship in recent decades. By unraveling different manifestations of their power(s), I locate the appeal of an arahant, a religious ideal that continues to be the central focus for people's devotional worship. In order to understand the social implications of power deeply engrained in Myanmar's religious and political culture, I explore vernacular terms that pertain to notions of authority, power, and influence that are relevant in social life in Myanmar. I also refer to the granting of honorary titles to monastic figures and its social implications in the backdrop of an achievement-oriented monastic environment, and a state policy that fosters its image as the patron of the Sāsana.

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