Shin Ukkaṭṭha: a revolutionary Buddhist monk and a pioneer of Marxism in Burma

Shin Okkahta

The name “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” can be also spelled as “Shin Okkahta”. “Shin” here is a Burmese Buddhist traditional title for the actual name which is followed “Okkahta”. “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” is Romanised Pali and “Shin Okkahta” is commoner Burmese-English.
“Shin Ukkaṭṭha” in local magazines, newspapers, journal and history is known as “the revolutionary thinker and monk of Burma”. He deserved the title as his life is full of breaking the norms. Despite the backlashes, eventually, it has reached to a point that even those who denounced his interpretation of Buddhism has only two choices so far, “becoming the laughing stock” or “adopting the interpretation of Shin Ukkaṭṭha” to appropriate the Buddhism with the current level education, science and information. Especially in 21st century, Buddhism in Burma had to transform a lot not to become a laughing stock of the young and educated population. Finally, it had to formally accept a lot of the idea originated from “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” which they censored once in the history.

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on March 9, 2024

Young life and monkhood

“Shin Ukkaṭṭha” has been a young novice since he was 8 years old. He was moderately aware of global affairs, politics, and socio-economics since he was around 10–16 years old.

In those times, there was no formal educational framework within the community of Burmese Buddhist monks. “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” was reportedly able to recite the whole Pali Cannon of Burmese Buddhism. He got his Buddhist education from one of the influential monks who also is the leader of Shwe Kyin Monasterial Thought of School. Shwe Kyin Monasterial Thought of School is popular among Burmese Buddhist population for its orthodox teachings, its strict rules, its objective interpretations and strong religious educations. Even among monks, if a monk is from Shwe Kyin Monasterial Thought of School, it’s generally considered that the monk is more educated, stricter when it comes to the monkhood rules and so on. At the age of 16, “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” released his own fictional book called “Seint Tin Gyi”. The book was so demanded that the publisher had to republish it four times in the same year.

At the age of seventeen, the head monk assigned him to be a teacher within the monastery. In Burma, such a thing was extremely rare, even by modern standards. He came across several monks who could read and write English when he was instructing students in the Pali Canon of Buddhism. He made an effort to pick up English from the monks. "Ashin Parmokkha," one of the monks, offered to tutor him in English. After the monk "Ashin Parmokkha" left the monastic community while he was teaching "Shin Ukkaṭṭha" English, he had to go to India to pick up more languages, including English.

Journey to India

The Buddhist laymen provided financial assistance for "Shin Ukkaṭṭha"'s travel expenses to India, and he also utilized all of his savings from his earnings from writing journals, magazines, and newspapers. He met several prominent Burmese and progressive Buddhist monks in India, including Ashin Thittila and Ashin Addiccavamsa.

You may read more about Ashin Thittila via this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thittila.

On arriving in Bodh Gaya, he was appointed as an organizer of the Buddhist conference. He managed to make friends with a lot of Buddhist monks and individuals from Sri Lanka, India, and Burma. He met with (later known as) progressive monks like Rahul Sankrityayan.

You may read more about Rahul Sankrityayan via this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rahul_Sankrityayan.

"Shin Ukkaṭṭha" spent three years in Varanasi, two years in Lucknow, and one and a half years in Punjab. "Shin Ukkaṭṭha" acquired fluency in Bengali, Bengali, Hindi, and English while residing there. Additionally, he received formal instruction in Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism from the corresponding religious leaders. In addition to hosting lectures, he oversaw multiple interfaith gatherings and Indian and international Buddhist conferences. He authored numerous Buddhist works in English and rose to prominence in both the Tamil and Bengali Buddhist communities. He also released Dhammapada in Urdu.

Anti-colonial Struggle

As soon as “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” arrived back in Burma, he founded a small school and started teaching English. During his classes, he preached about national liberation, nationalism, anti-colonialism, anti-imperialism, and the need to rebel against British colonialism.

Burma was ruled by the British Empire at the time. Therefore, only the rich and powerful of Indian and Burmese people, or the white British officers who came to rule, could speak English. The majority of Burmese nationalists believed that "whiteness" was a synonym for oppression, colonialism, and wickedness. Consequently, very few Burmese nationalists ever study English. They called learning English objectionable and immoral. Shin Ukkaṭṭha, on the other hand, defied convention by instructing the majority of the students in his school in English and other Indian languages. His justification was that learning English is only necessary as a weapon for achieving national liberation.

At that time, the Home Rule Party (Burma) was founded as a breakaway from the General Council of Burmese Associations prior to the 1925 elections due to the GCBA continuing its calls for an electoral boycott.

You may read more about the Home Rule Party (Burma) via this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Home_Rule_Party_(Burma).

At that time (1920s), Burma was not directly controlled by the British Empire. It was controlled as a state within India. So, the question of staying inside India or separation was a popular question among the politicians from the General Council of Burmese Associations. Later, the General Council of Burmese Associations was split into two fractions:

The Swaraj Party (Burma) later formed an alliance with the Anti-Separation League. They chose to remain as a state within India. The Nationalist Party (Burma), which later formed an alliance with the Separation League. They chose to have a separate Burmese state different from India.

I cannot find significant evidence to claim which side Shin Ukkaṭṭha supported. Even in his personal library in his town and the unpublished drafted articles, I still couldn’t find this answer.

Shin Ukkaṭṭha resided in a town called "Taung Twin Gyi" in the 1930s since he endured severe physical and psychological attacks, including assassinations. He established a low-level school named "The Nationale" and began instructing 200 monks and 700 laymen students each year in general knowledge, English, and Burmese. However, he continues to teach Buddhism, write essays about progressive politics and national liberation, and critique local issues in journals, magazines, and newspapers. He wrote in Burmese and English.

“The Nationale” acted as an informal headquarter of Thakin Society.

You may read more about Dobama Asiayone or Thakin Society via this Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thakins.

Thakin Society, even though they used the name “Bamar” in the name, "Dobama,” includes people from different ethnic groups. Some examples will be Thakin Ba Tin (H. N. Goshal) from Bengali ethnicity, Subodh Mukherjee from Bengali ethnicity, and Thakin Hla (Dr. Amar Nag) from Bengali ethnicity, who were the Bengali founding members of the Communist Party of Burma. Thakin Kha is a popular trade unionist from Gurkha ethnicity. Yet, they all identified as “Dobama” and “Thakin (non-slave to whites).”.

Unfortunately, that attracts the attention of the Burmese elite pro-colonialist business people, Indian police officers, and British white officers. “The Nationale” school ended up getting raided by the police force and the military, with the teachers and students getting arrested and seized for months, some even years. Even Shin Ukkaṭṭha was not immune from it.

Earliest Left-wing Book Publications in Burma

Shin Ukkaṭṭha taught English to most of the fellow Thakins from Nagani Book Club (The Red Dragon Book Club). Nagani Book Club is one of the earliest book publishing group that translated Marxists and left-wing literatures. Nagani Book Club at first had to correct the theoretical mistake of individuals who conflated Marxism (social democracy) and guild socialism. U Ko Ko Gyi was among the first Thakins in Burma to translate literature by Maxim Gorky and Lenin, in addition to those on guild socialism. Many books and articles were also translated by Thakin Soe, U Nu, and others.

Shin Ukkaṭṭha was also among the first translators of left-wing and Marxist literature. The books "The Ideology of Socialism" and "The Ideology of Communism" were published by him. He was the first writer in Myanmar to define "communism" and "socialism" according to the correct definition of a Marxist.In his publications "The Abhidhamma of Abhidhamma (The philosophy of philosophy)" and "The introduction to the philosophies around globe," he mentioned figures such as Karl Kautsky and Julius Martov and gave a brief introduction to Karl Marx's Das Kapital.

Struggle against colonial Christianity (Kyauk Kwin Conflict)

Some former monks, those who practice Buddhism once, and Christian preachers began disseminating their interpretation of the Bible in 1936. They opposed Buddhism and supported Christianity by using their former monastic credentials and ex-Buddhist status. Many nationalists made contact with Ukkaṭṭha, but the other British Buddhist monk who converted from Christianity to Buddhism was preferred by the Buddhist monk community. But that monk, a Buddhist from Britain, refused to engage in dispute. Thus, it appeared as though Buddhism had already lost the struggle.

Given the political climate of “Christianity” representing “whiteness” and “British colonialism” and “Buddhism” representing "Burmese," a lot of nationalists reached out to Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Shin Ukkaṭṭha went and debated. Even though the other side tried their best to attack Buddhism, it turns out that Shin Ukkaṭṭha had rejected most of the authenticity of all the Suttas, folk tales of Buddha, and the interpretation of Buddhaghosa the other side referenced.

You may read more about Buddhaghosa on the following Wikipedia page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhaghosa.

During that debate, it was reported that Shin Ukkaṭṭha parroted a lot of points made by Edwin Arnold, H. G. Wells, Rhys Davids, Robert Ingersoll, Thomas William Rhys Davids, George Whitefield, John Wesley, and other scholars. Basically, Shin Ukkaṭṭha played sectarianism against Christianity in the debate, in my opinion. He pointed out how Bible is reinterpreted multiple times by different sects. He pointed out the differences between the loving Jesus of New Testament and the angry mad God of Old Testament. He pointed out the claims how the invisible God of the mainstream Christianity and the tales of how God angry, with Jacob. Even though it’s totally understandable that all the local Burmese newspapers, journals, and magazines will favor Shin Ukkaṭṭha over Christian pastors given the political situation back then, I think it’s a bit exaggerated to say Shin Ukkaṭṭha won the debate.

It doesn’t necessarily mean he didn’t win the debate. He might indeed manage to show knowledge superiority, but I don’t think that might convince the believers not to believe. Most of those people he referenced in that debate, from the audio tape recordings and books I can manage to access, I still cannot read all of them, even though I live in the 21st century. Regardless, there is no win or loss in religious debates anyway.

In reality, historically speaking, it was not Theravada Buddhism that won the debate. Indeed, progressive Buddhism that reflects the interpretation of Shin Ukkaṭṭha won the debate.

After that, Shin Ukkaṭṭha became more and more popular nationally “as the defender of Buddhism." Even this time, even though some Burmese Buddhist monks didn’t like it, they didn’t really know what was about to come. Shin Ukkaṭṭha hasn’t explicitly stated his version of Buddhism properly.

Anti-Fascist Struggle

When the Japanese Imperial invasion forced the British colonial forces to evacuate from Burma in 1942, they detained Shin Ukkaṭṭha for a minimum of four months. Ba Maw headed the administration after Japan drove the British out of Burma. In order to interpret Buddhism in Burma in the same way as they did in Japan (Nichirenism), they went to Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Shin Ukkaṭṭha, on the other hand, retorted that nationalism and war are irreconcilable with Buddhism. It's said that Suzuki Keiji almost murdered him.

You may read more about Suzuki Keiji here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Suzuki_Keiji

Considering the impact Shin Ukkaṭṭha  had on the members of the Burmese Independence Army (the Thakin faction that introduced the Japan Imperial Empire to Burma), Shin Ukkaṭṭha escaped death, but Japanese officers questioned him about his possible affiliation with the CPB, which publicly stated opposing Japan.

Later, the Burmese Independence Army (the Thakin fraction that brought the Japan Imperial Empire into Burma) brought the British Colonial Empire back into Burma to push back the Japan Imperial Empire. After that, the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League held its first conference in 1945. In that conference, the representative team of Sir Paw Tun (Prime Minister of British Burma) introduced Shin Ukkaṭṭha to Bishop West, the head of Catholicism in Burma. In that meeting, Bishop West discussed the dangers of communism and encouraged Shin Ukkaṭṭha and other religious leaders to work together to push back the dangers of godless communism. However, it was reported that Shin Ukkaṭṭha declined.

After that, Shin Ukkaṭṭha left for India in 1947 for almost a year. During 1947 to 1950s, a lot of political climate happens. His close comrade and his student Aung San (the father of the nation) was already assassinated. From 1947 to 1950, the political climate changed dramatically. Communist Party (where a lot of his students were involved) had decided to rebel against the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League government (where a lot of his students were involved).

Buddhist Revivalism

Shin Ukkaṭṭha stepped aside and focused on writing books, publishing articles, and reforming Buddhism. He kept in touch with his progressive Buddhist monk friends like Ashin Thittila and Ashin Addiccavamsa and tried their best to reform Buddhism.

Later, Ashin Thittila immigrated to the United States of America, where he preached the progressive brand of Buddhism that they co-founded. Many of Ashin Thittila's interpretations were later incorporated into Western Buddhism, which is essentially secular and atheistic Buddhism. Ashin Thittila was warmly received by the western audience.

The establishment of the patriarchal Theravada Buddhism was torn apart by Ashin Addiccavamsa. In the 1950s, he advocated for the restoration of bhikkhuni ordination. The whole body of Theravada Buddhist monks boycotted him as a result. He received a telegram from Shin Ukkaṭṭha  asking whether he needed assistance, but it turned out that they had decided to handle various facets of the reform movement. Ashin Addiccavamsa was later forced to leave his monastic life and begin a new life as a layman due to the fact that he even encountered assassinations, mob rule, and personal attacks everywhere he went.

You can read more about this issue here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bhikkhun%C4%AB#Re-establishing_bhikkhuni_ordination.

For the Sixth Buddhist Council, Shin Ukkaṭṭha was asked to serve as a quality assurance representative for the Pali texts. But that was also the moment when Shin Ukkaṭṭha ultimately unleashed his fury on the Theravada Buddhist hierarchy. He asserted that modern Theravada Buddhists and Buddhaghosa share many Hindu ideas in their interpretations. He made reference to the academic publications in the West that analyze the authenticity of the Pali Canon and openly stated that the present Pali Canon Burmese Buddhist monk believed the original to be significantly altered texts rather than the original. He was instructed by the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee to just copy and paste from the Pali scriptures that the Fifth Buddhist Council had validated, rather than engaging in critical study. He resigned from the position since he disagreed with it.

Dr. Ambedkar and Periyar Ramasamy went to Burma jointly to attend the Sixth Buddhist Council. According to reports, Periyar Ramsamy, Dr. Ambedkar, Ashin Ariya Dhamma (who was also a disciple of Shin Ukkaṭṭha and taught Ambedkar Buddhism), and Shin Ukkaṭṭha met and talked about reforming Buddhism and the Dalit liberation cause. It turns out that Ambedkar's main objective was to use Buddhism to further the Dalit liberation cause, whereas Shin Ukkaha's main objective was to reform Buddhism. Periyar Ramasamy's main objective was to abolish the caste system and usher in a new wave of social justice (later known as political atheism).

You can read more about the Sixth Buddhist Council here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sixth_Buddhist_Council.

Then, he left for Stockholm, Sweden, as a representative of Burma for the World Congress of Partisans for Peace in July 1958. Later, he traveled around the red states, such as the Soviet Union, China, Vietnam, and so on. Then, he published the book with the name "the left-wing states and freedom of religion".

During 1958–1959 (the time of the first coup), the political situation was too complex. The Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League is social democratic, yet the Socialist Party of Burma (a fraction of AFPFL itself) collaborated with the military and conducted coups. U Nu had to give away his position. Later, U Nu, a Marxist in the past, changed his opinion and used Buddhism as a tool for politics. I assume that’s how political Buddhism was born.

You could read this to understand the above statement more: https://www.workersliberty.org/story/2022-11-29/u-nu-and-burmese-political-buddhism

U Nu and a lot of conservatives in Burma called to defend Buddhism and to attack Communism. Shin Ukkaṭṭha was denounced as a communist monk, not a Buddhist monk. Shin Ukkaṭṭha was sued under blasphemy laws for criticising Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism. Shin Ukkaṭṭha was labelled as godless, atheist, non-religious and communist as if these labels represent crime. They insisted to end his monkhood forcefully. The criticizing sentenced to arrest Shin Ukkaṭṭha for several years. Since Shin Ukkaṭṭha was released after the military coup of 1962, Shin Ukkaṭṭha against was accused of collaborating with U Ne Win’s socialist regime.

His version of Marxism

According to his book “The Abhidhamma of Abhidhamma (The Philosophy of Philosophy)," he criticized Lenin for re-interpreting Marxism into a unique ideology. It seems like Shin Ukkaṭṭha preferred the classical Marxist approach, which is more or less similar to SPGB. He seems to agree more with intellectuals like Julius Martov on the question of the October Revolution.

The Purge: Censorship and State Oppression

Shin Ukkaṭṭha was accused of being Devadatta (the villain in Buddhist tales). In Burmese Buddhist history, there are only 3 monks; they’re boycotted so badly by the monks. The first is globally true regardless of region and sectarian, Devadatta. The second monk and the third monks are limited to Burma only. The second monk is Ashin Addiccavamsa and the third monk is Shin Ukkaṭṭha. The conservatives tried everything they could. They sue Shin Ukkaṭṭha under blasphemy laws. They threw rocks at the events where Shin Ukkaṭṭha Addiccavamsa,They make sure average people don’t offer or donate to him. They try to sue Shin Ukkaṭṭha not under state law but under State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee. Shin Ukkaṭṭha didn’t mind those and continued doing what he had to do. Unlike his comrade Ashin Addiccavamsa, Shin Ukkaṭṭha never had to quit his monkhood. A part of the reason that he was too resilient was that he had a better network in politics compared to Ashin Addiccavamsa.

Influence on the local Marxists

Shin Ukkaṭṭha had influenced a lot of local anti-colonial or anti-imperialist revolutionaries. Most of the members of Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society) used to go to the “National” school, which was founded by Shin Ukkaṭṭha.

Also, since his time in India, Shin Ukkaṭṭha has had a lot of connections with people such as Rahul Sankrityayan and other revolutionaries. He translated a lot of Marxist books as a pioneer in Burma. Most of the earliest left-wing books in Burma are either translated by him or translated by his pupils from Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society). Here are a few of the popular local left-wing figures who were influenced by and worked closely with Shin Ukkaṭṭha.

Aung San

Aung San is commonly referred to by the titles "Father of the Nation," "Father of Independence," and "Father of the Tatmadaw." He is also one of the founding founders of the Communist Party of Burma. He was also a leader of the Burma Socialist Party and the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League (AFPFL). He was also a leading figure in Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society). It was reported later in Oway magazine (the official magazine of the Student Union of Yangon University) that the book “Die Human, Born Human” was created at the request of Aung San in the hope of justifying and motivating the common mass in the fight against injustices. In traditional Theravada Buddhism, being human is so precious that people normally tend to hesitate and try to compromise even when they’re oppressed. Aung San wanted to break that norm and requested Shin Ukkaṭṭha to create a new interpretation of Buddhism that could serve as propaganda for the deeds. Shin Ukkaṭṭha managed to release the “Die Human, Born Human” book around the 1960s. As a result of that book, Shin Ukkaṭṭha was arrested. Aung San died before Shin Ukkaṭṭha faced the purge.

(Taung Twin) Ko Ko Gyi

(Taung Twin) Ko Ko Gyi is a member of Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society). He also served as the administration officer of the youth wing of the Burma Independence Army. He was the spokesperson of the Anti-Fascist People's Freedom League. He is the first person in Burma to translate the biography of Lenin into Burmese around 1937. He also translated “The Three," "Mother,” and “Gorky” by Maxim Gorky. He won the Myanmar National Literature Award in 1971.

Thakin Myat Sei

Thakin Myat Sei is the financial administrator and officer of Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society) and the propaganda wing.

U Ko Ko Lay

U Ko Ko Lay is a member of Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society). U Ko Ko Lay released a book with the name "Buddha doesn't approve 31st plane of existence". That book attracted a lot of attention from the fundamentalists. However, similar arguments are more and more popular these days.

Thein Phay Myint

Thein Phay Myint is one of the founding fathers of the Communist Party of Burma. You can read “Critique of Communist Movement in Burma," which Thein Phay Myint wrote via here: https://archive.org/details/thein-pe-myint-crtique-of-communist-movement-in-burma.

U-Aung Thin

U Aung Thin is a prolific writer who helped a lot with the founding of the NLD party. U Aung Thin is considered the living encyclopedia of Burma’s history since he is neither too young nor too old and knows almost everyone from the history (between the 1940s and the 2000s).

Some of the other influential figures who always show solidarity and work together with Shin Ukkaṭṭha includes Bamaw Tin Aung, Dagon U Hla Phay, and so on.

Influence on militant materialism

Sammā-diṭṭhi Research Society

Sammā-diṭṭhi Reseach Society is a militant materialist or a pioneer of the atheism movement in Burma. This group was founded by some Thakins from Dobama Asiayone (Thakin society), such as Thakin Myat Sei, Thakin Ko Ko Gyi, Thakin Ko Ko Lay, and so on. They reject the afterlife concept within Buddhism. They rejected the 31st plane of existence concept in Theravada Buddhism. They reject the non-tangible supernatural elements of it. They equate non-tangible supernatural elements within traditional Theravada Buddhism with certain states of mind.

This group came out of “Shin Ukkaṭṭha’s Nationale” school. They also think of Shin Ukkaṭṭha as their teacher. They also stay in touch with Shin Ukkaṭṭha all the time. In fact, a lot of members from this group convinced the government officials and the military generals to release Shin Ukkaṭṭha from prison. However, their interpretation of Buddhism is more extreme than Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Their version of Buddhism rejects every single supernatural element of Buddhism and equates them with of of mind.

Shin Vasava

​Shin Vasava also came from the Sammā-diṭṭhi Research Society. However, he is far more extreme than most members of the Sammā-diṭṭhi Research Society. He is a total materialist. He broke all the monkhood rules. For him, the final nirvana is to build a communal society with mutual respect for each other. His only principle is humanism. He is actively anti-religion, anti-spiritualism, and anti-clerical, despite still wearing a monk uniform. He actively called for the destruction of Buddha statues, breaking every single norm of religious dogma, and so on.

Also, “Die Human, Born Human” book title was given by him. When the government sent the police officers to arrest him and Shin Ukkaṭṭha, the reason was that “Die Human, Born Human” was blasphemous against Buddhism.

His student (Ashin U Malavara) was forcefully dragged to mental asylum and was forced to sign the papers saying that he would never spread that kind of materialist Buddhism in order to get out of mental asylum. U Ang Maung, the Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture at the time, was responsible for it and never apologized for it.

Influence on progressive Buddhism

Ashin Ariya Dhamma

Ashin Ariya Dhamma is a white person who converted from Christianity to Buddhism. He became interested in Buddhism because of Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Later, he moved to India and became close to Dr. Ambedkar. Then he moved to the USA and died there.

Dr. Ambedkar

Dr. Ambedkar learned the progressive form of Buddhism from Ashin Ariya Dhamma, who also got it from Shin Ukkah.

Local Burmese Buddhism

Shin Ukkaṭṭha paved the way for a lot of progressive monks today. Most of the monks who are actively against the 969 movement and the military junta found themselves agreeable to the interpretations of Shin Ukkaṭṭha in a certain sense. Some have managed to go further than Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Some are doing their academic research on Shin Ukkaṭṭha. Some monks dare to publicly say that people like Shin Ukkaṭṭha were not incorrect.

Miscellaneous

​These were the languages he can read, write, speak, and understand:
• Sanskrit
• Hindi
• Negri
• Urdu
• Bengali
• Pali
• English
• Burmese
• French
• Latin
• Sikh
• Arabic

Here are the books written by Shin Ukkaṭṭha:
• The Abhidhamma of Abhidhamma (the philosophy of philosophy)
• The introduction to the philosophies around the globe
• The philosophy of war (this became the official textbook of the Myanmar military)
• The ideology of communism
• The ideology of socialism
• Humans and the soil
• The stream of life
• The life of Buddha from a Mahayana perspective
• The left-wing states and freedom of religion
• What’s Nirvana?
• The act of knowing (Buddha)
• The light of Anatta (non-self)
• Without attachment, the hut is a palace.
• Choose the two ways (vegan or carnivore).
• Oh, Yogi, where are you going?
• Oh human, what’s wrong with us?
• The integrity of Buddha
• Buddha’s way
• The ideology of Buddha
• The philosophy of Buddha
• My life during the war
• Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta
• The youth springs from ours
• The rival Buddhism
• The global issue
• Answering the Balance of Gold (The response to colonial Christian pastors)
• Die Human; Born Human

Summary

Shin Ukkaṭṭha was not able to adequately reinterpret Buddhism, despite the fact that he was instrumental in reforming Buddhism. He challenged the veracity of the present Pali Canon and disproved the notion that the interpretations of Buddhaghosa are not true Buddhist doctrines, which had a significant impact on the reform of Buddhism. He had been successful there since the 1950s.

These days, those monks who are pursuing postgraduate research degrees from educational institutions in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and other countries have adopted these positions, despite strong opposition from fundamentalists, conservatives, and nationalists. The idea arguing that the interpretations of Buddhaghosa are not authentic Buddhist beliefs and the questioning of the validity of the current Pali Canon have become the mainstream narrative the fundamentalists, conservatives, and nationalists are hearing from their younger generations studying at Thailand, Sri Lanka, India and the west.

His fellow students from the Sammā-diṭṭhi Research Society developed an Atheist Buddhism or Secular Buddhism from this foundation, equating beliefs in supernatural beings with mental states. His companion monks, such as Shin Vasava, established a branch of Buddhism that is entirely focused on human rights, interpersonal relationships, and rejection of religious dogma.

There are more Buddhist revivalist movements inspired by him at the time. All of these fractions got purged by the Myanmar Theravada State eventually, yet some managed to survive by staying low.

Disclaimer:

This article is not intended to be scholarly.

I was reading about Taixu, a Chinese anarchist monk who was also a revolutionary and progressive. I've noticed that not much is known about a revolutionary Buddhist monk and a pioneer of Marxism in Burma who endured multiple forms of tyranny at the hands of the ruling classes, including the local Burmese governments and the British and Japanese empires.

A portion of post-left social justice politics that was so distinct from the worldwide left-wing movements, the social justice movements started by people like Periyar Ramasamy and Ambedkar, was introduced through the works of Shin Ukkaṭṭha and my readings on his historical links. Ambedkar and Periyar Ramasamy both believed that communists and leftists in general were only privileged, hypocritical Machiavellians who were using vulnerable people to further their own political agendas. Nevertheless, they are at the forefront of the social justice movements in their particular areas and are very involved with the community at large. Therefore, the right-wing was never the source of their anti-left politics; rather, the real direct action and self-emancipation efforts of the oppressed people themselves. Undoubtedly, there are personality cults of them, engaging in the same privileged, deceptive, Machiavellian behaviors that they detested and found repulsive. I was influenced by Periyar Ramasamy's "political atheism," which emphasizes the social justice aspects of religions and highlights the intersectional oppressions resulting from religious interpretations and textbooks. The left in modern times has always made an effort to ignore these oppressions. That attempt turns into an imperialist force and influenced activists from countries within the third world without secular laws. Those activists who hold high regard for white savior complex racism copy everything those leftists from the first world with secularism and messed up the whole social justice movements.

Shin Ukkaṭṭha was the ideal catalyst for a pivotal moment in my life. His works helped to rescue a hapless Maoist who was drawn into Mao Zedong's personality cult. I read books by him that encouraged me to analyze and examine everything, including myself. The words "critical thinking," "skepticism," "dialectic materialism," "progressivism," and "dare to think differently" capture the core of his persona, despite the fact that he was not a politically engaged individual.

Recommended Readings (for English Readers):

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 by Janaka Ashin (student thesis: Doctoral Thesis › Doctor of Philosophy > King's College London). Accessible at: https://kclpure.kcl.ac.uk/portal/files/60862700/2016_Ashin_Janaka_1206190_ethesis.pdf
Recommended Readings and Watchlist (for Burmese Readers)

I have collected all the books, audio recordings, and unpublished texts of him that were seized and censored by the Theravada Buddhist Myanmar state and its governments (including those of the non-military NLD government).

All of his original audio recordings I converted from VHS or VCR. Accessible at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYXU5qD4MQU0uUffknBZzGJfaQnfRuhZK
The audio recordings of the discussions held by the research community founded by some Marxist fellows of his are here. Accessible at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYXU5qD4MQU2LqrBWgfKhew1eytldf0-s
The audio recordings of his successor monk, who is currently the head of the monastery, can be accessed at: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLYXU5qD4MQU38FV5fNcf3bfwFQLCrPWA1.
Android Application (the application contains books, audio recordings, and some photos of him). Accessible at: https://apkpure.com/shinokkahta/com.newandromo.dev234778.app649844
I have uploaded the testimonial of the monk who was dragged to mental asylum and pressured to sign the declaration paper written by the Minister of Religious Affairs and Culture at that time. Accessible at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qW1ixLz8d-c

Comments

heinhtetkyaw

1 month ago

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on March 10, 2024

Here is a documentary on Ambedkar in English sub/dub if interested.
https://youtu.be/2qNTTc491PA

He is no means by anarchist, at best a social democrat but he talked "intersectionality" before the west has invented the concept.

westartfromhere

1 month ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 10, 2024

Hein Htet Kyaw, in the process of emboldening section headings the Burmese letters have failed to be recognised here, 'He got his Buddhist education from one of the influential monks named “မဟာဝိသုဒ္ဓါရုံဆရာတော်ကြီး” who also is the leader of Shwe Kyin Monasterial Thought of School.' And here, 'At the age of 16, “Shin Ukkaṭṭha” released his own fictional book called “စိန်တင့်ကြီးဝတ္တု”.' Please amend.

heinhtetkyaw

1 month ago

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on March 11, 2024

Thanks a lot comrade.

westartfromhere

1 month ago

Submitted by westartfromhere on March 11, 2024

Thank you comrade.

heinhtetkyaw

1 month ago

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on March 15, 2024

A movie on Periyar and English sub. (A bit old and will be boring but overall informative).
https://tv.apple.com/au/movie/periyar/umc.cmc.5olxwqibb1dmq7t02lz0x3ypx

heinhtetkyaw

2 weeks 1 day ago

Submitted by heinhtetkyaw on March 30, 2024

The autobiography kinda article by the first Burmese bikkhuni (female monk) who also found inspiration from Ashin Addiccavamsa.

https://discourse.suttacentral.net/t/determined-to-do-it-the-story-of-an-early-theravada-bhikkhuni/19035