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Apart from Buddhism and in strictness discountenanced by it is the prevalent practice of nat worship. Nats are of two kinds, (1) the inhabitants of the six inferior heavens, the a dewahsa of Hindu mythology; (2) spirits of nature, the house, the air, the water, the forest1. It is nats of the second class who must be propitiated by offerings and observances.
Burmans are as much addicted to crime as most people. They are sudden and quick in quarrel and the use of knives is deplorably common. Murders and crimes of violence, dacoity, robbery, and cattle theft are prevalent; and dacoits and robbers often treat their victims with revolting barbarity. The standard of veracity and of commercial morality is not so high as could be wished.
Nor are the public services yet free from the taint of corruption, a heritage of Burmese rule. In the past,
Burmans have been flighty and unstable, impatient of discipline and restraint.
Hence they have not been good soldiers or even good policemen. During the Great War, renewed attempts were made to foster a military spirit. Regiments of Burmans were raised and for the first time Burmans were enlisted in the military police. The Burmese regiments served with credit. But it is too soon to estimate the success of the experiment.
Owing to the custom of sending every boy for a time to a monastery, elementary education is more widely spread in Burma than in any country where it is not compulsory.
1 The Burman.
Fig. 51. Jungle boy.