More foreigners study Abhidhamma Buddhism in Myanmar

Xinhua News, March 9, 2010

YANGON, Myanmar -- More foreigners are studying Abhidhamma Buddhism at the International Institute of Abhidhamma ( IIA) in Myanmar after the religion-related English language course was introduced, sources with the institution said on Tuesday.

Nearly three dozens of trainees from Vietnam, Thailand, India, Cambodia, Laos, Bangaladesh, the United States, France and Denmark are attending the IIA, up from last year, the sources said.

The IIA, established in June 2007, was admitted as an associate member of the Association of Theravada Buddhist Universities in March last year.

Myanmar is a country with a majority of its population (about 80 percent) believing in Buddhism. It is estimated that there are over 420,000 monks and over 60,000 nuns within nine sects in Myanmar which have been unified at different levels under the leadership of the government's religious committee.

For nearly 1,000 years, the country has kept Theravada (Little vehicle) Buddhism pure and intact. Buddhist scripture learning centers and other monastic education schools were set up here long ago.

There are five Theravada Buddhist universities and institutes in Myanmar.