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Saya San (Hsaya San) movement of the 1930s

Nupur Dasgupta


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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