Inter-area/Border Crossing

Organized Panel Session

4 - Spell-Casters and Siddhas: The Burmese Buddhist Wizard-Saint and its Historical Antecedants

Saturday, July 7
8:30 AM - 10:00 AM
Location: Casuarina, Lower Ground Floor

The Burmese wizard-saint (weizzā) traditions that are found in contemporary Myanmar most likely developed no earlier than the 18th century. Taking into account regional Buddhist and Burmese history and Pāli literature, however, this first half of the paper will argue for the resonance of Burmese weizzā traditions with South Asian vidyādhara and siddha traditions, mantra/yantra practices, and even Chinese Taoist alchemical traditions. In the second half of the paper, I will introduce the most revered wizard-saint in Myanmar today (named “Bo Min Gaung,” 1885-1952) and discuss why he is believed by some of his devotees to be connected to the 19th century Indian saint, Shirdi Sai Baba. Transnational connections among Indian diasporic communities settling within parts of Myanmar will also be addressed, especially as some of the wealthy donors who developed shrines devoted to the connection of Shirdi Sai Baba and Bo Min Gaung were Indo-Burmese.

Thomas N. Patton

City University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

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4 - Spell-Casters and Siddhas: The Burmese Buddhist Wizard-Saint and its Historical Antecedants



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