Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review Volumes 32 and 33.djvu/89

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THE PRE-BUDDHIST RELIGION OF THE BURMESE.

BY R. GRANT BROWN.

Object of paper.—The object of this paper is to gather together and co-ordinate the information regarding the pre-Buddhist religion of the Burmese which is now scattered through numerous records, and to add to it some hitherto unpublished results of my own observation. The information is still very incomplete, and such as there is has been difficult to obtain owing to the natural reluctance of Buddhists to admit the existence of beliefs and practices condemned by their own religious teachers.

I propose to limit myself to religious survivals, other than Buddhist, among the Burmese themselves; that is, among a civilized people speaking Burmese and professing Buddhism. The religion of other and less civilized communities living in Burma will only be referred to for purposes of comparison. I also propose to exclude as far as may be, after a short discussion, such survivals of primitive religion as appear to have been imported from India along with the Buddhist faith.

Burmese origins and affinities.—In order to understand the subject it is necessary to realize who the Burmese are. They live within the Indian Empire. They are Buddhists, and have received their religion, their sacred language, their sacred books, and to a great extent their civilization from India. But they belong to the yellow race, and their characteristics are those of the yellow