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The Cult of Thamanya Sayadaw: The Social Dynamism of a Formulating Pilgrimage Site

Keiko Tosa
Asian Ethnology
Vol. 68, No. 2, Power, Authority, and Contested Hegemony in Burmese-Myanmar Religion (2009), pp. 239-264
Published by: Nanzan University
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25614540
Page Count: 26
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The Cult of Thamanya Sayadaw: The Social Dynamism of a Formulating Pilgrimage Site
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Abstract

This article analyzes the cult of the monk Thamanya Sayadaw and examines the process by which a community-based village-dwelling monk became a forest-dwelling monk, and then a nationally prominent cult figure. Focusing on the social dynamics which led to the community becoming a major center for pilgrimage, I describe how a large-scale enterprise has emerged around this monk. The materialization of such power suggests that the cult of Thamanya Sayadaw emerged out of a dialectic transaction between the donation of religious land, and a popular belief in the prosperity of the followers as the realization of the material manifestation of the power of saints. I also argue that we need to pay attention to the participation of his followers as well as the practices of the monk himself, and also distinguish two types of participation: the participation of the residents who have settled on this land, and that of pilgrims.

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