« Burkitt, William Burma Burmann, Frans »


BURMA: [At present the largest and easternmost province of British India, having been gradually annexed after three wars in 1826, 1852, and 1885. It extends southward from Tibet into the Malay peninsula a distance of 1,250 miles, with a breadth from east to west varying from 30 or 40 to 550 miles. According to the census of 1901 the area is 236,738 square miles, the population 10,490,624 persons, classed by religions as follows: Hindus 457,391; Sikhs 3,147; Buddhists 8,951,649 (85.3 per cent.); Mohammedans 533,973; Christians 248,628; Animists 294,787; other religions 1,049. The native peoples are of Malay-Chinese stock, belonging to many tribes. The capital is Rangun. Buddhism appears at its best in Burma; the prevailing form is of the southern type, most closely approximating the teachings of Gautama, and it has done much to uplift the people, who are better educated (by the Buddhist monks) than the people of India. Temples and shrines are numerous and have been built at much expense. The monasteries are well organized.]

Baptist Missions.

The earliest attempt at Protestant missionary work in Burma was at Rangun, where Messrs. Chater and Mardon, of the Baptist Missionary Society of England, opened a mission in 1807. During a service of four years Chater translated the Gospel of Matthew into Burmese. Felix Carey, son of William Carey, came soon after Chater and Mardon, remaining until 1814, when he entered the service of the Burman Government and removed to Ava. The London Missionary Society sent two missionaries to Rangun in 1808, but within a year one died and the other left.

The first permanent Protestant mission in Burma was that of the American Baptist Missionary Union, which began work at Rangun in 1813. The first 311missionary was Adoniram Judson, who translated the Bible into Burmese. Six years after he landed in Rangun the first convert was baptized, and then the work among the Burmans progressed, although slowly.

The Karens, a hill tribe, early attracted the attention of the missionaries. They had strange traditions that they once had known of the true God, and that foreigners would restore to them the lost knowledge and the book containing it. In 1828 the first Karen convert, a slave redeemed by Dr. Judson, was baptized by Rev. George Dana Boardman. The Karens have been more receptive of the Gospel than any other race in Burma. They are divided into many tribes; the chief dialects are the Sgaw and the Pwo, into which the Bible hen been translated. Self-support has been a marked feature of the Karen churches. They are distinctly missionary in spirit, representatives having gone from them to many other races. A remarkable development in the Karen mission is an independent evangelistic movement inaugurated and directed by a native leader, Ko San Ye. Large buildings have been erected and an institutional work is carried on. In one year over 2,500 converts were baptized in two stations alone as a result of this movement.

Work is conducted also among the Shans, the Chins, the Kachins, the Talains, the immigrants from peninsulas India (mostly Telugus and Tamils), the Chinese, and the Eurasians and other English-speaking peoples. A movement of large proportions is taking place among the Lahu and other hill tribes about Kengtung, in eastern Burma, where over 2,000 were baptized in 1905. They have peculiar traditions similar to those of the Karens.

Educational work has been emphasized, village day-schools, station boarding-schools, and the Rangun Baptist College being conducted in co-operation with the government. The college has over 1,000 students in all departments. There are two theological seminaries at Insein, for Karens and Burmans respectively. The American Baptist Mission Press, at Rangun, has a fine equipment, and prints literature in most of the languages and dialects of the province.

Statistics (1906): Stations, 29; churches, 843; members, 58,642; baptisms, 7,069; missionaries, 192, including 13 physicians; native workers, 1,909; schools, 696, pupils, 24,807; Sunday-schools, 518, pupils, 19,730; college, 1; theological seminaries, 2; high schools, 3; boarding-schools, 31; hospitals, 3, in-patients, 77, out-patients, 23,093; dispensaries, 7; receipts in medical fees, $1,155; total contributions, $91,101 (benevolence, $19,666).

American Methodist Episcopal Missions.

American Methodists entered Burma in 1879, when a church was organized by Bishop Thoburn. The mission has now grown to nine stations, where work is conducted for English-speaking peoples, Burmese, Tamils, Telugus, and Chinese. Emphasis is placed upon schools, colportage, and street preaching. The European high school in Rangun, for boys and girls, is the only one for non-conformists in the city and has a well-earned reputation for thoroughness and moral training. Anglo-vernacular schools are conducted in several stations. A number of strong schools are now being equipped with new and larger buildings. A training institute is held during the summer months. At Thandaung a successful orphanage is conducted. A monthly paper for Telugus is published.

Statistics (1905): Missionaries, 17; native helpers, 44; members, 561; probationers, 370; baptized adults, 46, children, 28; high schools, 4; day-schools, 10; pupils, 943; Sunday-schools, 26; Sunday-school pupils, 986; churches and chapels, 3; contributions on field, 44,319 rupees [= $21,494].

Society for the Propagation of the Gospel.

This society conducts work among English-speaking peoples, Burmese, Karens, Tamils, Telugus, and Chins. Educational work is vigorously pushed, the leading institution being St. John's College, at Rangun, whose graduates take high rank. A printing-press at Toungoo provides Bibles, prayer-books, and other literature. There are 35 missionaries, 13 being European.

Statistics (1905): Outstations, 196; churches, 15; boarding-schools, 75; teachers, 125 (14 non-Christian); boarders, 549; pupils in all schools, 3,366; catechists, 139; readers, 4; baptisms, adult 722, children 753; baptized persons, 10,403; communicants, 4,047; catechumens, 3,531; confirmed during year, 273; native contributions, 11,759 rupees, 12 annas [= $5,703].

Wesleyan Methodist Missions.

English Wesleyans began work in 1889 and have now four stations, with seven missionaries. Special features are the work among soldiers, evangelistic-educational work, and a lepers' home, at Mandalay, which has 140 in its wards.

Statistics (1903): Chapels and other preaching places, 26; catechists, 5; local preachers, 19; teachers (day-school), 62; members, 270; on trial, 61; Sunday-schools, 19; pupils in Sunday-schools, 1,065; day-schools, 25; pupils in day-schools, 1,181; raised locally, £3,450 17s. 3d. The average attendance at public worship is 1,550.

Roman Catholic Missions.

Roman Catholic missionaries have been on the ground for several centuries, and are about equally divided between French and Italian. Their work is in various parts of Burma. The statistics for the French Foreign Missionary Society, including those for Laos, are as follows (1906): Missionaries, 70; native workers, 3; charities, 65; total Roman Catholic population, 56,600.


Besides the organizations mentioned, the Young Men's Christian Association and the Young Women's Christian Association have work at Rangun. The Mission to Lepers, the Missionary Pence Association, and the Leipsic Missionary Society also have work in Burma. The China Inland Mission has one missionary in Bhamo.

Stacy Reuben Warburton.

Bibliography: The Life of Adoniram Judson, by F. Wayland, Boston, 1853, and by E. Judson, Philadelphia, 1898; Mrs. M. Wylie, Story of the Gospel in Burmah, New York, 1860; Mrs. Mason, Civilizing Mountain Men . . . Mission Work among the Karens, ib. 1862; C. J. S. F. F. Forbes, British Burmah and its People, . . . Manners, Customs and Religion, London, 1878; J. H. Titcomb, British Burmah and its Mission Work, ib. 1880; Mrs. I. B. Bishop, Golden Chersonese, ib. 1883; C. H. Carpenter, Self Support in Bassein, Boston, 1884; A. R. Colquhoun, Amongst the Shans, London, 1885; L. P. Brockett, Story of the Karen Mission in Bassein, Philadelphia, 1891; W. N. Wythe, Missionary Memorials, Ann H. Judson, Sara B. Judson, Emily C. Judson, 3 vols., New York, 1892; E. D. Cuming, With the Jungle Folk, London, 1897; 312A. Bunker, Soo Thah, . . . Making of the Karen Nation, New York, 1902; Julius Smith, Ten Years in Burmah, Cincinnati, 1902; W. C. Griggs, Odds and Ends from Pagoda Land, Philadelphia, 1906.

« Burkitt, William Burma Burmann, Frans »
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