Young Men's Buddhist Association


Young Men's Buddhist Association
   (YMBA)
   A national movement that emerged during the first decade of the 20th century to defend Buddhism from the corrosive effects of British colonial rule. In the context of the "separation of religion and state" under the British, it was not a political organization, although many of the issues it raised had political ramifications. As early as 1897, a Buddha Sasana Noggaha Association had been established in Mandalay to revitalize the religion; in 1902, laypeople established the Ashoka Society in Bassein (Pathein) to promote a modernistic Buddhism. Inspired both by the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA) movement and developments among Buddhists in Sri Lanka, educated laymen established the first YMBA branch in Arakan (Rakhine) in 1902; by 1906, there was a branch in Rangoon (Yangon), followed by the establishment of some 50 more branches in cities and towns nationwide. YMBAmembers were mostly urban and well educated. The association maintained student hostels, encouraged laypeople to observe Buddhist precepts, and sponsored seminars and discussions on religious topics. In 1916, it called on the government to legally prohibit footwear in pagoda precincts, which had become an intensely controversial issue because many Europeans refused to doff their shoes and stockings during visits to the Shwe Dagon Pagoda and other holy sites. The General Council of Buddhist Associations served as the YMBA's national association and held annual conventions; this became the General Council of Burmese Associations in 1920, the most important political organization in the country before the Saya San (Hsaya San) Rebellion of 1930-1932.
   See also "Shoe Question"

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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