Have you ever seen such a happy group of Buddhist monks? Have you ever seen a group of Buddhist monks? Their emotions were related in their big smiles as they were happy to be at the Shwedagon Pagoda in Rangoon, Burma (aka Yangon, Myanmar). It is the most sacred Buddhist pagoda in Myanmar, as it is believed to contain relics previous Buddhas. Buddhists from around the world make pilgrimages here and light candles, burn incense and leave offerings at one of the eight shrines of the gilded pagoda. Most Burmese people are Theravada Buddhists. Theravada , the “Doctrine of the Elders,” is the school of Buddhism that draws its scriptural inspiration from the Tipitaka, or Pali canon, which scholars generally agree contains the earliest surviving record of the Buddha’s teachings. For many centuries, Theravada has been the predominant religion of continental Southeast Asia (Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, Cambodia and Laos) and Sri Lanka. Today Theravada Buddhists number well over 100 million worldwide. In recent decades Theravada has begun to take root in the West.