My Favourite Burmese Proverbs #1

Proverbs are one of my favourite things about the Burmese language. They are so beautifully articulated and sung in a way that motivates you to seek goodness in life. One can truly feel the essence of Buddhism and Burmese philosophy when reading and hearing these proverbs.

ကျားကြီးတော့ ခြေရာကြီး

“The bigger the tiger, the larger the footprint”

My favourite saying, and my personal motto.

What does it mean to be important? What power do we have on those around us? Essentially, the more noticeable and powerful you are as a person, the more influence you will be able to exert. Whether that power comes from being a respected figure, or having a lot of money, you have the power to influence.

The true meaning of this proverb, is to guide those who are influencers, to always be cautious about their actions. If you are a teacher for example, your actions should reflect your teachings, so that your students will grow positively. This proverb reminds me to always practice what I preach and to encourage those who look up to me to always do good.

ကောင်းမှုတစ်ခု နေစဉ်ပြု

“Perform a good deed everyday”

Through good deeds comes good karma. A life of negativity is something we should all avoid. One can strip away their negative thoughts through positive actions.

ကြိုးစားက ဘုရားဖြစ်

“Strive! And become Buddha!”

This quote strikes one’s ears with heavenly might. In life, we sometimes feel that a task is too hard, or that our goals and dreams are unreachable. People with broken dreams tend to lead unsatisfactory lives and suffer from regret in the future. If one strives, with patience, diligence and cunningness, one can achieve their dreams. If you truly focus and work on yourself, your life will become better. You should not give up on aiming for that university degree, that dream career, losing weight, learning a language or whatever it is you are trying to achieve. Strive, and become the perfect representation of who you are.

တစ်ခါသေဖူး ပျဉ်ဖိုးနားလည်

“Once there is death, one understands the cost of the coffin.”

There is a universal truth to be learned from this proverb – actions have consequences.

In life, we make mistakes. Whether or not we chose to learn from those mistakes is our choice, and our choice alone.

တစ်ခါသေဖူး ပျဉ်ဖိုးနားလည်

“Don’t assume others are rude with pride”

Reflection, and realisation of one’s past actions will guide you towards wiser decisions. Letting go of your pride over past mistakes and admitting that you were wrong, is perhaps one of the hardest things to do in life. I know.

I hope you enjoyed reading these proverbs! Stay tuned for my next list of Burmese proverbs.



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