Sixth Buddhist Council in Burma (1954 CE)
The Sixth Buddhist Council (Pali: Chaṭṭha Saṅgāyana) was a general council of
Theravada Buddhism, held in a specially built cave and pagoda complex at Kaba
Aye Pagoda in Yangon, Burma. The Sixth Council was sponsored by the Burmese
Government led by Prime Minister U Nu. He authorized the construction of the
Kaba Aye Pagoda and the Mahapasana Guha or "Great Cave" in which the work of
the council took place. This venue was designed to be like the cave in which
the First Buddhist council was held.
The Council was convened on 17 May 1954, 83 years after the Burmese Fifth
Buddhist council was held in Mandalay. The council was attended by 2500
monastics from eight Theravada Buddhist countries. The 2500 participating
Theravadan Elders came from eight different countries: Burma, Thailand,
Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, India, and Nepal. A temple in Japan also
sent delegates. The only Western monks to participate were German-born,
Sri-Lanka-residing Nyanaponika Thera.
The late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw was appointed the noble task of asking the
required questions about the Dhamma of the Venerable Bhadanta
Vicittasarabhivamsa who answered all of them learnedly and satisfactorily. By
the time this council met all the participating countries had had the Pali
Tipitaka rendered into their native scripts, with the exception of India.
The Council commenced proceedings on Vesak, 17 May 1954, in order to allow
sufficient time to conclude its work on Vesak, 24 May 1956, the day marking the
2500-year celebration of Gautama Buddha's Parinibbāna according to traditional
In the tradition of past Buddhist councils, a major purpose of the Sixth Council
was to preserve the Buddha's teachings and practices as understood in the
Over the two-year period, monks (sangīti-kāraka) from different countries
recited from their existing redaction of the Pali Canon and the associated
post-canonical literature. As a result, the Council synthesized a new redaction
of the Pali texts ultimately transcribed into several native scripts.
The traditional recitation of the Buddhist Scriptures took two years and the
Tipitaka and its allied literature in all the scripts were painstakingly
examined and their differences noted down and the necessary corrections made
and all the versions were then collated. Happily, it was found that there was
not much difference in the content of any of the texts. Finally, after the
Council had officially approved them, all of the books of the Tipitaka and
their Commentaries were prepared for printing on modern presses and published
in the Myanmar (Burmese) script. This notable achievement was made possible
through the dedicated efforts of the two thousand five hundred monks and
numerous lay people. Their work came to an end in May, 1956, two and a half
millennia after the Lord Buddha's Parinibbana.
This council's work was the unique achievement of representatives from the
entire Buddhist world. The version of the Tipitaka which it undertook to
produce has been recognized as being true to the pristine teachings of the
Buddha Gotama and the most authoritative rendering of them to date.