Wisara, U


Wisara, U
   (1888-1929)
   One of the most prominent "political pongyis," U Wisara was born near Monywa in what is now Sagaing Division and decided to devote his life to the Buddhist religion around the age of 20. When monastic superiors chastised him for becoming involved in politics, he and like-minded young monks established their own monastic community in Pakkoku, now in Magwe (Magway) Division. In 1923, he went to Rangoon (Yangon), associated with U Ottama, and under his sponsorship spent two years in India. Upon returning home, U Wisara made political speeches and was repeatedly imprisoned by the colonial authorities. His hunger strikes while in jail to be allowed to observe the vinaya rules (especially wearing saffron robes rather than a convict's outfit), as well as abuses inflicted by his jailors, ruined his health. He was arrested and jailed one last time in April 1929. He died on September 19, 1929, after a 166-day hunger strike, undertaken to persuade the authorities to respect the rights of jailed monks. He became a martyr of the independence movement, and in 1940 a statue of him was erected near the Shwe Dagon Pagoda, where it stands today.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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