Burmese Nats as God-Spirits

Luis Bienvenido Foronda
2 min readJun 27, 2021

This was published in OnlyFacts on May 14, 2021

Time for one last SEA article, uwu!

The worship and veneration of votive images of the divine are evidently spread throughout Southeast Asian societies.

Ghods, for instance, are a combination of god and spirit. All the same in Myanmar, Burmese nats are curious phenomena.

In Mahayana Buddhism, the worship of bodhisattvas as reincarnations of the Buddha are mainstream. This is not so much the case for personal enlightenment in Theravada Buddhism but has indeed something to do with their folk deities and traditions.

Nats are spirits that accompany human beings everywhere. They are intimately linked with supernatural powers and abilities that they may affect their patron’s life for better or for worse. No Burmese would start anything in their life without paying homage or consulting the nats. Nats are also known to inhabit different levels of heavens. Higher nats (ahk nats) occupy Trāyastriṃśa (also called Tavatimsa), a world of Dewas (spirits) in Buddhist cosmology. Lower nats (ahtet nats) are believed to be people who passed away in violent and tragic accidents. Nats are found in small shrines in Burmese homes and villages. More importantly, they are worshipped in annual festivities to invoke special favors.

#WhatTheFact

Sources:

National Museum Volunteers. (1996). Writing From Asia: Treasure, Myths and Traditions (1st ed.). National Museum Volunteers.

Htwe, N. E. (2019, September 27). Top 10: Nat Spirits. The Myanmar Times. https://www.mmtimes.com/news/top-10-nat-spirits.html

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