Buddhism beliefs

Religious beliefs in Myanmar (Burma)

Theravada Buddhist temples in the Bagan Archaeological Zone in Myanmar, some of which date back nearly 1,000 years.

Myanmar is a Southeast Asian country bordering the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal. It lies between Bangladesh and Thailand in Asia. The country is often referred to in the Western world as Burma. Myanmar was under military and repressive rule after 1962. However, in 1988, the 1974 socialist constitution was suspended. Myanmar now enjoys freedom of religion. However, there is a limit to which the government tolerates the extreme activities of different faiths, and there have been reports of government persecution of minority religions. Buddhism is the most dominant religion with 89.20%. Christianity and Islam have developed considerably in recent years.


The majority of Burmese practice Theravada Buddhism, which they see as a way forward rather than a faith in the Western sense of religion. The religion started in India around 2,500 years ago when an Indian prince by the name of Siddhartha Gautama left the glamorous life to wander like a poor man. His meditation made him attain a state free from the desires of the world. Religion contains four noble truths which include suffering. Buddhism teaches love and kindness towards one another and advocates avoiding extremes while emphasizing good deeds. Buddhism believes in reincarnation and considers that present actions will affect future life after death. Buddhism influences society to conserve the environment as it regards nature as sacred. A good reason for this belief is that Buddha died under a tree. However, the majority of Buddhists retain their animist beliefs that non-living things also have spirits.


Christianity has held a place in Myanmar since the 18th century. The first Christians in the country were Portuguese soldiers and a few traders. Missionaries played a leading role in establishing the religion in the country. There was significant church consolidation in Lower Burma among minorities between the 1850s and 1880s. Major denominations in Myanmar include Roman Catholicism, Protestantism, and Orthodoxy. Christians reportedly suffered persecution and discrimination which caused them to miss out on leadership positions in the country. However, there has been acceptance of foreign organizations doing humanitarian work in the country. Christianity has influenced education by sponsoring educational institutions and providing theological training. Christianity in the country constitutes 6.2% of the total population.


Burma has had Muslim influences since the 11th century, and the first known Muslim was an Indian sailor named Byat Wi, who arrived in the region around 1050 AD Restrictions on many Muslim practices began in 1559. In the 17th century, it there was a massacre of Indian Muslims in Arakan. There are two groups of Muslims in the country, Burmese and Indian Muslims. There has been evidence of discrimination against Muslims, and there have been instances of rioting as a result. Ethnic groups such as the Rohingya had to flee due to conflicts with Buddhist communities. Despite this, it has led to more followers joining him lately. Islam constitutes 4.3% of the country’s total population.


Hinduism is another ancient religion in Myanmar. The religion believes in the Trinity where there are three deities. There are also other gods and goddesses that people worship for their needs. There are forms of meditation practiced by his follower. Some aspects of Hinduism are unique to the cultural practices of Myanmar, such as the worship of Thagyamin which originates from Indra, a Hindu god. Hinduism constitutes 0.5% of the total population of the country. Apart from these religions, there are other minor and atheistic folk religions which all make up 1.1% of the country’s population.

Religious beliefs in Myanmar (Burma)

Rank belief system Share of population in Myanmar (Burma) at the 2014 census
1 Buddhism 87.9%
2 Christianity 6.2%
3 Islam 4.3%
4 Hinduism 0.5%
Various popular religions, atheism and other beliefs 1.1%