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Pt.7 The Karen prophets and the God Yuah

What Richardson does for one culture's god he does for another. God becomes a god of a thousand hats.

Consider what Richardson claims, “In perhaps a thousand or more Karen villages of Burma, men called Bukhos, a special kind of teacher representing not demons but Y'wa, the true God—yes, the Karen actually esteemed them as prophets of the true God.”

“Karen prophets actually taught their people hymns passed down from generation to generation by verbal communication alone. Like Pachacuti's hymns to Viracocha” (p.77 Eternity in Their Hearts)

That is a lot of modern day prophets in one tribe. Apparently Richardson believes what they say. Israel did not have thousands of prophets, not in the New Testament era either.

Here’s what the Bible has to say on this. Heb.1 says God spoke by the prophets, (those of Israel), not other cultures in far off lands. Heb 1:1 “God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, but now speaks to us by his son.

What does this mean? The fathers were the elders and teachers of Israel (Mic.7:20; Zech 1:2; Jn.6:58; Acts 7:32). For 2,000 years the Lord developed the one true religion from Abraham through Isaac and Jacob (i.e. the 12 tribes of Israel). He sent them prophets to speak for Him to correct the people. There were strange signs and miracles from these prophets as they engaged with God’s people. The prophets spoke what God wanted to communicate and if they were wrong they were considered a false prophet. These prophets words were written in a book (that is not lost) that we can obtain by reading. God did not send others prophets through other cultures to correct them or teach them. It is not the same God. Since the Messiah came, God now speaks to us by His son, the words are written down for all.

You can say to a people you once had a belief in a god and then use the concept to preach Christ to them (as Paul did telling them they do not know God Acts 17), but if you say their god was actually the Father of Christ. That is lying. If their God did not send Jesus to the Israel, if he did not give them the same revelation He gave Israel throughout the centuries, then it is not the same God. Its that simple: Let god be true and every man a liar.

Richardson accepts them as true prophets, which means they also have the true religion. He is purposely finding the lowest common denominator possible for his theory of cultural inclusion, promoting a universal inclusive god who goes by many names and many ways. God of  a thousand hats.

The Bible says “There is salvation in no other name,” Jesus’ name means “God is salvation.” Did the scripture mean the gods of these hundreds of cultures? What does The Book say? Why does he specifically call himself the God of Israel, and no other nation? Why does it say Jesus came to His people? The Bible says Salvation is of the Jews. When you say Jesus is the sent by your god to a tribal people they think of him as the one of their tribe. In all this I read nothing about his Jewish identity as man nor about Israel in the tribal myths. What Jesus is this?

The Father said He sent the Son, He came to His Temple, you cannot apply Jesus to these gods by calling them the Father. For their god had nothing to say in prophecy about the Son (though Richardson claims they had prophets) they certainly had nothing significant to say about the future except a book is coming. Which certainly at this time was common knowledge that traveling missionaries were bringing a book called the Bible to the nations.

Despite Richardsons flawed argument against counterfeits, Satan can quote the word and distort its meaning, we see this numerous times from the Scripture. He can also substitute the word with “other words”, here are prophets that wait for a book? None of this makes sense from the Bible’s point of view. We are to begin with the Bible, not add it to a myth of a tribe.

What did the Karen prophet[s] say?

Richardson on p.78 tells a story of An old prophet of the village . . . saying:

"`O children and grandchildren, formerly Y'wa loved the Karen nation above all others. But they transgressed his commands, and in consequence... we suffer as at present.”

'But Y'wa will again have mercy upon us, and again he will love us above all others.”(p.79)

So is the Bible incorrect in saying Israel is his special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth, the excellence of Jacob whom He loves? This directly challenges the place of Israel among the nations. Richardson calls this a true prophecy as he used it as an example of the Karen prophets.

This prophet’s word directly challenges what God actually said. Does the Bible not mean what it says or is what this tribe states about God equivalent?

This goes against the Scripture, God spoke this only to Israel.

Deut 7:6"For you are a holy people to the LORD your God; the LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.”*repeated in Deut.14:2)

Ps 135:4-5 “For the LORD has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His special treasure. For I know that the LORD is great, and our Lord is above all gods.”

Jer. 31:3 “The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: "Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love.”

Ywa’s prophet[s] is a false prophet. “the Karen actually esteemed them as prophets of the true God Karen prophets actually taught their people hymns passed down from generation to generation by verbal communication alone. Like Pachacuti's hymns to Viracocha, Karen hymns to Y'wa reveal how astonishingly clear the concept of the one true God can be in a folk religion!” (p.77)

Apparently Richardson believed that he spoke the truth as he continued to quote them in his book. (Alonzo Bunkers book “The making of the Karen people did not use the name ywa in his book which is quoted by Richardson, but yuah to be accurate.)

One of the main sources of the Karen comes from Francis Mason who writesThere is another class of persons, called Bukhos, who are more directly connected with the worship of God, and who often unite the character of extraordinary religious teacher with that of prophet. These Bukhos usually, if not uniformly, condemn the practice of making offerings to demons; and represent to the people, that God is, in some way or other, about to appear for their salvation.”

“I visited this prophet in the year 1837, and found him, like many others, with whom I have met in my travels, without any settled principles, unless a heterogeneous mixture of old Karen traditions and Boodhism can be called such. His leading object, as with most of his class, seemed to be, to give himself importance, and acquire an influence over the people” (The Karen Apostle: or, Memoir of Ko Thah-byu by Francis Mason)

Mason is whom Richardson quotes from. Finding God in the Karen beliefs presents numerous problems when the details are examined. These people had a certain remnant knowledge but then their myths brought them away from the actual truth, not kept it. Consider he will soon appear for their salvation- According to the Bible that took place over 1.800 years ago. Mason sees the prophets as untrustworthy, self promoting, what we call today a false prophet. So how does any of this support Richardson’s leap into a culture knowing God.

Y’wa, written as Yuah in Alonzo Bunkers book “the making of the Karen people”

What is said in this book basically proves that they had contact previously “Our Father, the Lord Yuah, said to us, ' Eat not the fruit of this tree. If you eat, you will die.'

Calling Yuah the term Lord can only come with Bible exposure.The Catholics, who preceded Protestants in Burmah several decades.” Francis Mason, The Karen Apostle (Boston: Gould and Lincoln, 1861), p. 10.

So if one wants to understand any influence it would certainly be from them.

Biblical similarities

Among the Karen people of Burma, for instance, the creator was known as "Y'wa," and one of the Karen hymns describes the fall of man from Y'wa:

Y'wa formed the world originally.
He appointed food and drink.
He appointed the "fruit of trial."
He gave detailed orders.
Mu-kaw-lee deceived two persons.
He caused them to eat the fruit of the tree of trial.
They obeyed not; they believed not Y'wa. . . .
When they ate the fruit of trial,
They became subject to sickness, aging, and death. . . .

While many are astonished at the similarity of the Biblical record (there are some). We are looking at people finding this of the “Karen” people nearly 1,800 years after Christ, which is a lot of time for exposure to travelers and missionaries stories to circulate or have contact with them. One would almost have to accept the Karen people (and others) are some of the lost tribes without this contact. This is similar to what Daniel Kikawa ( Richardson being his mentor who sits on his board) proposed in his first edition of Perpetuated in Righteousness book of the Hawaiians knowing God before the missionaries came. Is this what Richardson means, like his disciple Kikawa? Apparently yes.

One of the five legends (‘htas’) explains the “fall of man” which is has similarities in the theology of the Bibles account. But was we hear the complete tale it does go far beyond the Bibles account and brings into question where they received this from, their lost book or the Catholic missionaries.

The Temptation, and Fall: "Afterwards Satan came and said, 'Why are you here?' 'Our father, God, put us here,' they replied. 'What do you eat here?' Satan inquired. 'Our father God created food and drink for us; food without end.' Satan said, 'Show me your food.' And they went, with Satan following behind them, to show him. On arriving at the garden, they showed him the fruits, saying, 'This is sweet, this is sour, this is bitter, this is astringent, this is savory, this is fiery; but this tree, we know not whether it is sour or sweet. Our father God said to us, 'Eat not the fruit of this tree; if you eat, you will die. We eat not, and do not know whether it be sour or sweet.' 'Not so, O my children,' Satan replied; 'the heart of your father God is not with you; this is the richest and sweetest, it is richer than the others, sweeter than the others, and not merely richer and sweeter, but if you eat it, you will possess miraculous powers; you will be able to ascend into heaven, and descend into the earth; you will be able to fly. The heart of your God is not with you. This desirable thing he has not given you. My heart is not like the heart of your God. He is not honest. He is envious. I am honest. I am not envious. I love you and tell you the whole. Your father God, does not love you; he did not tell you the whole. If you do not believe me, do not eat it. Let each one eat carefully, a single fruit, then you will know.' The man replied, 'Our father God said to us, 'Eat not the fruit of this tree, and we eat it not.' Thus saying, he rose up and went away. But the woman listened to Satan, and thinking what he said rather proper, remained. Satan deceived her completely, and she said to him, 'If we eat, shall we indeed be able to fly?' 'My son and daughter,' Satan replied, 'I persuade you because I love you.' The woman took one of the fruit and ate. And Satan, laughing, said, 'My daughter, you listen to me well; now go, give the fruit to your husband, and say to him, I have eaten the fruit; it is exceedingly rich. If he does not eat, deceive him, that he may eat.' The woman, doing as Satan told her, went and coaxed her husband, till she won him over to her own mind, and he took the fruit from the hand of his wife and ate. When he had eaten, she went to Satan, and said, 'My husband has eaten the fruit.' On hearing that, he laughed exceedingly, and said, 'Now you have listened to me, very good, my son and daughter.'"

It seems to me the Biblical story that they heard was reinterpreted into their tribal view. Again we have the man with Eve conversing with Satan who offers them abilities as he tells them he loves them


Some other points that one must contend with. Just as there are similarities there are mythical renditions. “They say that the earth was round; it started out the size of a nut but with the help of the termite and blackbird, it increased in size (Vinton & Thanbyah, 1924; Hoveymr, 1989, p. 66).

Let’s examine what is being said. In a general sense it has similarities to Genesis, but then it also has definitive Christian influences that could only have come from hearing a missionaries story. First: a fruit of trial would be something taught as a topic from the Scripture, not something written. There are also differences. Death is spoken of as what would happen from eating the fruit, not sickness and aging which is often further explained by Bible teachers. There were not two persons deceived but one, Eve. He did not cause them both to eat the fruit, only one. Adam chose to eat the fruit by his own will.

One has to concede that within these many details it proves it was either passed on, (names, places etc.), something integrated during their existence that they picked up from travelers stories.

Richardson also says one of their hymns stated:

 The sons of Y'wa, the white foreigners, obtained the words of Y'wa.

The white foreigners, the children of Y'wa,

obtained the words of Y'wa anciently.'

Here is a hint to what I’m saying, “white men,” obtained the words, but nowhere do we find the mention of Israel. The fact is that the majority of travelers/ traders, missionaries that they came in contact with were European. But Richardson is putting this as pre - Christ. Of course being exposed to missionary stories does challenge having ancient pristine traditions before Moses or Abraham.

Richardson comments, “But the Karen live 4,000 miles from Jerusalem. Granted, their name for God Y'wa—suggests influence from the Jewish Yahweh, but no equivalents for Abraham and Moses, the second and third most important figures in Judaism, have been reported by compilers of Karen tradition. Surely Jewish influence would have emphasized Abraham and Moses.(p.84 eternity in their Hearts)

“…if Karen traditions trace back to, for example, Nestorian Christian influence of the eighth century, or to later Roman Catholic missionary contacts of the sixteenth, seventeenth or eighteenth centuries, one would expect some mention of an incarnation or a Redeemer dying for man's sin and rising from the dead.

Again, I have found no such concepts reported by students of Karen tradition

Could it be that Karen beliefs about Y'wa predate both Judaism and Christianity? Did such beliefs spring from that ancient root of monotheism which characterized the age of the early patriarchs? The answer is almost certainly—yes!” (p.85 ibid)

We should not be so quick to jump to this conclusion as Richardson did. There are other researchers that see what I’m seeing and explain it with objectivity.

“In daily ritual practice among traditionalist Karen, Ywa15 is a distant figure which occasionally appears in prayer but is never the object of ritual activity. However, in the course of Karen history both in Burma and Thailand in the past century and a half, there are frequent cases where Ywa became the centre of worship in a newly adopted cult. 15Marshall refers to Ywa as the creator deity of the Karen (The Karen People of Burma, p. 211). While the above legend does attribute such characteristics to Ywa, the extent to which it has been subject to Christian influences is impossible to determine. The status of Ywa among the traditionalist Karen is ambiguous.” (P.340 Karen Tradition According to Christ or Buddha: The Implications of Multiple Reinterpretations for a Minority Ethnic Group in Thailand YOKO HAYAMI) underline mine.

“Stern notes that this general characterization of Ywa is no doubt the product of a Christian reading of the Ywa traditions. It is interesting to note that the Baptists projected the idea of Ywa as Yahweh or Jehovah while the Catholic Plaisant introduced a reflection of the Virgin Mary into the frame by giving Ywa a wife and subsequently a son. It is the son who takes on the character of the Saviour who dies and comes back to life” (Judaising Movements: Studies in the Margins of Judaism in Modern Times edited by Tudor Parfitt, Emanuela Semi, p. 25) Bold mine.

On the similarities of the Karen legends and Jewish Scriptures “These similarities were not evident to the first Christian missionaries active in Burma. This was perhaps because the Catholics who were the first to arrive paid little or no attention to the Karen….Francis Mason This shows how deficient the men were in dealing with the tribes myths of the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society arrived in Burma in 1814 and in time became convinced that the Karen were part of the Lost Tribes” ( p.24 ibid.)

The missionaries were unequipped were in dealing with these tribes myths but some used them to their advantage.

Richardson writes: “All unknown to Judson, Karen people were passing daily by his home.27 Often they were singing, as their custom was, hymns to Y'wa—the true God. (p.93 Eternity in their Hearts)

“Furthermore, today among Karen in Thailand, Ywa is the centre of worship in Christian and Buddhist practices and discourses, respectively as the Christian God or the Buddha. The adoption of external practices in the name of Ywa has especially been notable when conflict with the outside has jeopardized the autonomy of the Karen community….. Legends of Ywa told in nineteenth-century Burma, unlike the more recently collected versions of Ywa and Tho Mae Pa legends presented above, conclude with an expectation 14 (Nicholas Tapp, "The Impact of Missionary Christianity upon Marginalized Ethnic Minorities)

Karen in the study area often recounted another legend that outlines the relationship between Ywa and the family spirit Mw Xa, and explains the origin of the family ritual which is a central feature in traditional a Iw a la.

One day Ywa decided to leave the Karen. Before leaving, Ywa looked for somebody to take care of the Karen. Dau S'Kha [a giant] and Mw Xa offered themselves. Ywa tested them and chose Mw Xa. Dau S'Kha was greedy and asked for the sacrifice of one human being annually. Ywa said that was impossible. Mw Xa asked for a hog and a chicken annually in exchange for taking care of the Karen. Ywa consented and asked Mw Xa to look after the Karen. Since then Karen hold family rituals for Mw Xa.24 For traditionalists this legend explains their a Iw a la as something given to them by Ywa” (p.342 Karen Tradition According to Christ or Buddha: The Implications of Multiple Reinterpretations for a Minority Ethnic Group in Thailand. Author(s): Yoko Hayami Source: Journal of Southeast Asian Studies, Vol. 27, No. 2 (Sep., 1996)

The lost book of the Karen tribe

The Karen prophets spoke of book returning but could not tell them of a single scripture in it!

“During the 1830s, a Karen named Sau-qua-la gave an address before the English governor-general of Burma. He said that Europeans, the "white foreigners," were originally younger brothers of the Karen people! The Karen, as older brothers (rascals that they were), negligently lost their copy of Y'wa's book. The white brothers, on the other hand, carefully preserved their copy. As a result white people became "righteous" and are known as "guides to God." They also learned to sail in ships with "white wings," crossing oceans.'(p.85 Eternity in their Hearts)

Here Richardson says the white foreigners (Europeans?) were the younger, that they both had a copy of the Bible but the Karen lost theirs. Lets go to other researchers to see what they have to say on this topic.

In another tale of their book:

Our book of gold that Y’wa gave,
Our book of silver that he gave,
The elders did not obey.
Lost, it wandered to the foreigner.

 (Marshall, Harry Ignatius.The Karen People of Burma: a Study in Anthropology and Ethnology. Columbus: Ohio State Univ. P, 1922. 280.)

Much of this sounds similar to the golden plates of Mormonism and certain can be used by Mormonism to certify their own stories of Joseph Smith.

“Karen life, both in their own mythology and historical reality, is pervaded with persecution. Their folk history speaks of them as orphans who lost their writing system after God handed it down to them, but will have it returned one day by visitors from a far away land. Apparently, when they first came into contact with Christian missionaries, many Karen thought this promise of their history had finally been fulfilled. Marshall (see References and Further Reading), who was among the first missionaries to study the Karen in great depth, says that over two hundred folk stories had been preserved through oral history. Despite that preservation of their history, though, it is still debated as to where and when they originated. Although most writers now claim Burma to be their ancestral home, many have pointed to some of their oral history suggesting that their true origin is China.” http://www.peoplesoftheworld.org/text?people=Karen

In this story they lost a writing system, not the bible. Their are varying stories which are not exactly like what Richardson portrays them as. Again he expresses a myth as accurate. Others have done far more in depth research and come up with something very different.

“In 1852 an American Baptist missionary named Adnirom Judson began converting Animist Karen to Christianity after years of fruitless attempts to convert Burmese and Karen Buddhists. Some Animist Karen had a “creation story” which told of two brothers: a Karen brother and a “white” brother. The Karen deity, Y’wah, gave the Karen brother a holy book. The Karen brother did not take care of the holy book and the white brother took it and left on a journey. The story foretold that one day the white brother would return with the holy book. Judson received a predictably enthusiastic response from these Karen” (P 31 The Karen people: culture, faith and history Published by the Karen Buddhist Dhamma Dhutta Foundation http://www.karen.org.au/docs/Karen_people_booklet.pdf

Consider that this is a creation story, which makes this impossible to be accurate, as the different races did not occur until 150 years after the flood (which is 1,550 years after creation of Adam). This makes this near 4,500 years ago, but there was no book given then. Richardson did not give the “other” details of this story because it would interfere with the presentation of his theory. Only the details that coincided with what he was gathering together to make his theory believable. For those who so easily accept this as proper and the way to evangelize tribal people, they need to reassess it. Once one has “all” the variations in the many stories it falls apart and does not fit into any Biblical record and should be rejected.

There are so many variations of the story of a book.

“Ywa is the subject of this legend which was told with variations in detail depending on the narrator and the context of narration. Here is one version of the legend of Ywa's departure: Long ago, when Ywa was still with us, Ywa called all the children. Among them were the Karen, Burman, Thai, Chinese and the white brothers. The Karen was the eldest and the white brother the youngest. Ywa gave the Karen brother a Golden Book of wisdom. The Karen took it to his field, and left it on a tree stump. When he burned the field, the book was burned to ashes. Chickens came and walked over and pecked at the ashes. Another book of knowledge was given to the youngest white brother and that is why the white foreigners are so developed today. The other brothers picked the remains of the ashes and therefore today they have chicken-scratch letters of their own. Ywa departed and the Karen have nothing for themselves except the bones of those chickens to consult. Another often told story, which is about a legendary ancestor figure called Tho Mae Pa (Father Boar Tusk), shares common themes with the Ywa legend: Long ago there were two brothers. The older was Karen and the younger, a white man. They lived near a river in Burma with their Tho Mae Pa (Father Boar Tusk). Tho Mae Pa had a comb made from a boar's tusk which brought eternal life to its user. Tho Mae Pa and his children therefore enjoyed eternal life and increased in numbers. Their land was getting too crowded, and one day, Tho Mae Pa brought his children to this river to seek new land. The two brothers were hungry. The elder Karen brother cooked mud snails, and the younger white brother, crabs. The hard shells of the mud snails wouldn't soften, and while the elder Karen waited endlessly, the younger finished cooking the crab and ate, and went on ahead with Tho Mae Pa. He and the comb had gone forever, while the Karen was left to himself on this side of the river. Identical stories have been documented in other areas of both Burma and Thailand by many scholars over almost a century,9 and variants of both were told voluntarily to me by several villagers. My presence as a non-Karen outsider must certainly have triggered the frequent telling of these tales, and some villagers included a Japanese brother in their versions. The two legends present a common image the Karen hold of themselves in relation to other peoples. The Karen brother was the eldest and would have received knowledge or eternal life had it not been for his own carelessness. A parental figure, Ywa or Tho Mae Pa, has left the Karen by himself to live by his own means. (Peter Hinton, "The Karen, Millennialism and the Politics of Accommodation", p. 86; Peter Kunstadter, "Ethnic Group", p. 163; Harry I. Marshall, The Karen People of Burma: A Study in Anthropology and Ethnology (Columbus: Ohio State University, 1922), pp. 279-80; and Stern, "Anya and the Golden Book", p. 303.)underline mine

For those who are wanting to be biblical in their worldview, we do not use myths to preach the truth, or to explain truth.

“The Karen cosmogonic myth tells of Y'wa, a divine power who created nature, including the first man and woman, and of Mü Kaw li, the basically feminine deity, who in serpent form teaches them their culture, including rice production, the identity of the ancestral spirit ( bgha; ther myng khwae in Pwo), rites of propitiation of various spirits, and methods for securing k'la. Y'wa gives the Karen a book, the gift of literacy, which they lose; they await its future return in the hands of younger white brothers. The American Baptist missionaries interpreted the myth as referring to the biblical Garden of Eden. They saw Y'wa as the Hebrew Yahweh and Mii Kaw li as Satan, and offered the Christian Bible as the lost book. Bgha, associated mainly with a particular matrilineal ancestor cult, is perhaps the most important supernatural power. The other significant supernatural power, called the "Lord of Land and Water" or "Spirit of the Area" (Thi Kho Chae Kang Kho Chae), protects the well-being of the people in the village with which he is associated. There are also local deities associated with elements of nature such as trees and rivers, or with agriculture (e.g., the rice goddess). : http://www.everyculture.com/East-Southeast-Asia/Karen-Religion-and-Expressive-Culture.html#ixzz32VaLGAkb

This recontextualization, cross cultural evangelism was not a biblical way to reach them. Certainly points could be used to explain the Bible, but once they offered God, Jesus, the Bible as their own cultures history truth was compromised. Richardson's points are not only weak but filled with assumptions that others who have done extensive research disagree with.

p.341 “of the return of the white brother and the Golden Book, Ywa, or Tho Mae Pa .ls As various studies of Karen society have noted, during the period of worsening relations with the Burmans the notion of the coming saviour Buddha among the surrounding Buddhist peoples had much influence on the Karen.19 Such millenarian beliefs may well have inspired Karen to build upon their traditional conception of the once departed Ywa and their self-image as destitute orphans. The image of the future Buddha (Boddhisatva) and that of the returning Ywa or white brother with the book became fused in the expectant atmosphere that gave rise to various cults and movements which were religious and in many cases explicitly political.20 Missionary reports refer to a number of cults led by self-proclaimed prophets and saviours. The groups characteristically focused on Ywa (or the coming Buddhist saviour), the book of wisdom, and/or a millenarian expectation of a Karen kingdom which would raise them from their degraded status. These concepts contributed to the fruitfulness of missionary activities in the early stages, when the Christian God was received in the name of Ywa.21 Christian Karen in Thailand today, too, consider Ywa their God whom they worship and pray to daily, and are therefore referred to as "ba-Ywa" (Ywa-worshippers).

Traditionalist/Buddhist villagers, on the other hand, claim that they are the true Ywa worshippers and that Christians, although called ''Ywa-worshippers", are actually "Christ worshippers". In the Buddhist context, Ywa is the Buddha image in the temple or in their own houses, even though Karen Buddhists acknowledge that these were brought to them by Thai monks or Northern Thai peddlers. According to a leading elder involved in the activities of the Buddhist temple, a man who is also a traditionalist: It is all right that the Buddha image is not Karen in origin. It is Ywa all the same. As Karen we have our customs [a Iw a la], but we don't have our own worship [ta bu ta ba, literally, "merit making and worship", translated by Karen into Thai as saasanaa, meaning "religion"]. So we take it from the Thai. 18 (H.I. Marshall, "The Karen People", p. 297; Stern, "Ariya and the Golden Book", p. 303. 19 Hinton, "The Karen"; F.K. Lehman,"Who Are the Karen"; and Stern, "Ariya and the Golden Book")

Francis Mason in an article published in the Baptist Missionary Magazine (1856, cited in Gravers, 2007a, p. 234) that the Karen were divided in their expectations of who Y’wa was – God as an omnipotent, omniscient and omnipresent creator and ruler of the world, or a reincarnation of the Buddha who would come back to rescue them from their moral and social decline. Mason translated the word Y’wa to help in his evangelistic effort. The early missionaries’ interpretation of the Karen oral legends continue to be used in support of their evangelism. Today the Karen have heard the gospel, whether it had anything to do with their past is still a debatable topic.

There is still diverse views by the Karen people on the oral legend of the lost book given by Y’wa if it actually refers to the Gautama (Buddha) and not Yahweh (God) as spoken by the early missionaries. The early missionaries found no distinct worship of Y’wa; “the Karen were forbidden to use the actual word with an alternate word “Pu Ke Re” used to refer to Y’wa. At the time, many Pwo Karen had joined Buddhist charismatic leaders awaiting the return of the Gautama who would revive the Buddhist doctrine with resultant benefits of prosperity, knowledge, morality and peace” (Gravers, 2007a, pp. 233-234; South, 2008, pp. 14-15).

Since Christianity in various forms has already come to them, lets pray that missionaries can be sent who are grounded and well acquainted with their culture to help them separate what has become an intrinsic problem that they can grow in a Biblical faith, so they can be the people God wants them to be.


pt.8 The conclusion of Myths


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