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Saya San (Hsaya San) movement of the 1930s

Nupur Dasgupta


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The Saya San (Hsaya San) movement (1930–2) against British colonial rule in Burma combined rural millenarian insurgency with contemporary goals. Organized by the grassroots leader Saya San, a monk (often denigrated as a quack in British official records), this movement marks the extreme peak of the district-based Wunthanu (protector of national interest) or Home Rule movement initiated in the 1920s. This struggle spread beyond the original urban localities, becoming practically a national uprising from below against the British economy, administration, and the very existence of the colonial regime in Burma. Early twentieth-century Burmese anti-colonial protest was channeled through Buddhist sanghas (associations) that provided ideology and also a venue for growing nationalism, which was woven into a political movement under the General Council of Buddhist Associations (GCBA). Burmese nationalism was focused on economic issues in the post–1923 phase. From May 1924 the GCBA, led by U Chit Hlaing, Tharrawaddy U Pu, and U Tun Aung Kyaw, organized the anti-Capitation Tax movement in the districts of Tavoy, Prome, Thayetmyo, and Tharrawaddy. An old prophecy that British rule would last for a hundred years and then collapse stimulated a sustained popular determination to resistance. And almost every village organized a Home Rule Association or Wunthanu athins , enjoying universal ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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