U Kelatha

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In Burma the following cases may be considered as significant. In 1897, twelve years after the annexation of Upper Burma by the British, a Buddhist monk, U Kelatha, fell in love with a princess of the dethroned dynasty who promised to marry him if he became king of Burma. There followed the usual dreams or visions which revealed to him that in a former life he had been a Burmese prince and, moreover, that he would be king the moment he sat on the throne of the palace in Mandalay. With eighteen followers, all armed with swords only, he rushed through the city gates and tried to reach the royal palace, at that time seat of the English club. A few English officers armed with hunting rifles made an end to his attempt. The incident proves the extreme vividness of cosmo-magic ideas at the close of the 19th century. As we have seen, whoever held the palace, the Mount Meru of the Burmese empire, thereby became the representative of Indra and the king. It is completely in accord with the cosmo-magic way of thinking that U Kelatha and his followers believed the mere occupation of the throne would make him automatically lord of the whole empire. [...] It can be easily predicted that whatever government will exist in Burma after the war, will have to reckon with those ideas and with the possibility of similar outbreaks as described above, perhaps even on a larger scale owing to the emotions stirred up by the present turmoil.
Robert Heine-Geldern, Conceptions of State and Kingship in Southeast Asia

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