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William H. Gass, Carl P. Wellman, Robert E. Hegel
Date of Award
Restricted Access Dissertation
Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)
The main objective of the paper is to present and analyse Burmese philosophy as it is reflected in the Lokaniti ("The Guide to Life"), a book by a famous fourteenth century Burmese thinker, Caturangabala. Most of the Burmans are Buddhists and certainly their religion plays a dominant role in shaping the way the Burmans look at life in general. But nearly two thousand years of history is sure to leave its mark on the way these people approach life and its problems. In fact, it has resulted in a unique amalgam which is typically Burmese. Thus, even though Buddhism as it is being taught in Burma is more other-worldly than this-worldly, the Burmans still retain their zest for life, at least in the first half of it. This is one of the ideas that clearly comes out from the Lokaniti.
The book gives specific advices to the readers how to live a life of virtue and harmony in the (Burmese) society. It provides them with the criteria to be used in choosing a friend or a wife, the sort of company one should keep and the sort of company one should avoid, etc.. It also gives advice how to conduct oneself in dealing with the ruler. There are altogether (165) stanzas in the book and I have tried to explain the meaning of each of these stanzas, referring quite often to the original Pali, Burmese, and Buddhist texts.
Surely, the philosophy as reflected in the Lokaniti is a very cultural thing and it shows the way the Burmans think concerning life and human relationship. Some of the ideas in the book are very specific to the culture in which they have taken roots. On the other hand, many other things the book advocates are, I think, universally applicable to every culture and every society. We can often find some general principle underlying a specific advice, which has some significance to the major issues in philosophy--such issues, for instance, as those of impermanence, good and virtue, political power, place of women in society, and family as the basic social unit.
Kyi, Khin Win, "Burmese Philosophy as Reflected in Caturangabala's Lokaniti" (1986). Retrospective Theses and Dissertations. 18.