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Title: Die-human, born human : the life and posthumous trial of Shin Ukkaṭṭha, a pioneering Burmese monk, during a tumultuous period in a nation's history
Author: Ashin, Janaka
ISNI:       0000 0004 5994 5324
Awarding Body: King's College London
Current Institution: King's College London (University of London)
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis examines the life, teachings and posthumous prosecution of the Burmese nationalist monk Shin Ukkaṭṭha (1897-1978), who in 1981 was posthumously found guilty of misinterpretation of the Buddha's teachings. His case is the most famous of seventeen Vinicchaya trials conducted by the State Saṅghamahānāyaka Committee (SSC) established under Ne Win. Chapter One provides context, the self-regulation of the Sangha in the Pali canon, the switch to regulation by the king, and the history of vinicchaya ‘judgements.’ The transition in the remit of vinicchaya (wi-neik-sa-ya in Burmese) from monastic rules to beliefs reflects the crisis in Burmese Buddhism in the British colonial period. Chapter Two looks at Shin Ukkaṭṭha’s life. From a family impoverished after his parents’ arrest for funding a rebellion led by the grandparents of Aung San, as a novice monk Shin Ukkaṭṭha excelled in poetry and writing. After he had pursued his education to the highest level in Burma, he spent seven years in India, debating with nationalists, members of different religions, theosophists, exuntouchables and global Buddhists. Shin Ukkaṭṭha’s response to colonialism was both practical and philosophical. He set up a school for the poor on his return from India, which, while teaching Buddhism and secular curricula, also offered a base for rebels and left wing groups. Writing over 30 books, he questioned the authenticity of canonical texts and reinterpreted rebirth on the basis of Darwin, producing his famous ‘Die Human Born Human’ theory. These views were shared by contemporary thinkers in India, including Evans-Wentz and Lama Kazi Dawa-Samdup, co-authors of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, but were unacceptable to the conservative Sangha hierarchy in Burma. Expressing his views freely under the British, he was tried for them by the SSC. Chapter Three explores this and the other 16 cases tried by the SSC.
Supervisor: Yao, Xinzhong ; Crosby, Henrietta Kate Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available