The sacred cat of Burma is not, as some might suppose, the Burmese, but is a breed known in the west as the Birman. A charming legend accompanies the Birman cat.
Many years ago, in a temple built on the side of the mountain of Lugh, there lived in prayer the very venerable Kittah Mun Ha, the great Lama precious amongst the precious, whose golden beard had been plaited by the god Song Hio himself. There was not one minute, not one look, not one thought of his existence that was not consecrated to the adoration, the contemplation, the pious service of Tsun Kyankze, the goddess with the eyes of sapphire. She presided over the transmigration of souls, which allows a Kittah to relive the span of his animal existence in the body of a sacred animal before he takes up a body haloed in the total perfection and holiness of the great priests.
Sitting in meditation beside Mun Ha was Sinh, his beloved oracle, a cat quite white with eyes of yellow, a yellow that reflected the golden beard of his master and the golden body of the goddess whose eyes were the color of the sky . . . Sinh, the counselor, whose ears, tail, nose and paws were the color of soil, a sign of the taint and impurity in everything that touches or can touch the earth.
Now, one evening, while a malevolent moon was permitting the enemy from Siam to approach the sacred place, the great priest Mun Ha entered softly into the state of death, with his divine cat at his side and under the despairing eyes of his overwhelmed Kittahs. it was then that the miracle took place . . . the unique miracle of the immediate transmigration.
With one bound, Sinh was on the golden throne, perched on the head of his departed master. He arched himself up on this head which, for the first time, no longer contemplated the goddess. And Sinh also became spellbound before the eternal statue, and the bristling hairs on his white spine suddenly become the yellow of gold. And his golden eyes became blue, huge and profound like the eyes of the goddess.
And as he turned his head gently towards the South door, his four paws, touching the venerable skull, became a blinding white. And as his eyes stared at the Southern door, the Kittahs obeyed the expression in the eyes that were charged with hardness and with light. They threw themselves against the heavy bronze doors and against the first of the invaders.
The temple was saved from profanation and pillage. Sinh, however, had not left the throne. He did not move for seven days, but on the seventh day, steadily facing the goddess and with his eyes on her eyes, he died, hieratic and mysterious, carrying towards Tsun Kiankze the soul of Mun Ha, from then on too perfect for this earth. And when, seven days later, the priests gathered before the statue to consult among themselves on the succession to Mun Ha, all the cats of the temple came running – and all were clothed in gold and gloved in white, and the yellow of all those eyes had been changed to a deep sapphire blue. In silence they all surrounded the youngest of the Kittahs, who was designated in this way by the will of the goddess.
‘From that day, if a sacred cat should die in the temple of Lao-Tsun, it is the soul of a Kittah that takes its place for ever in the paradise of Song Hio, and the golden god.
Found at: Moggycats Cat Pages
Here is a true story of a cat, reputed to be the reincarnation of General Sir Thomas Edward Gordon, 1906. British Officer.
For twenty-five years an oral addition to the written standing orders of the native guard at Government House near Poona had been communicated regularly from one guard to another on relief, to the effect that any cat passing out of the front door after dark was to be regarded as His Excellency, the Governor, and to be saluted accordingly. The meaning of this was that Sir Robert Grant, Governor of Bombay, had died there in 1838 and on the evening of the day of his death a cat was seen to leave the house by the front door and walk up and down a particular path, as it had been the Governor’s habit to do after sunset.
A Hindu sentry had observed this, and he mentioned it to others of his faith, who made it a subject of superstitious conjecture, the result being that one of the priestly class explained the mystery of the dogma of the transmigration of the soul from one body to another, and interpreted the circumstance to mean that the spirit of the deceased Governor had entered into one of the house pets.
It was difficult to fix on a particular one, and it was therefore decided that every cat passing out of the main entrance after dark was to be treated with due respect and the proper honours. The decision was accepted without question by all the native attendants and others belonging to Government House. The whole guard, from sepoy to sibadar, fully acquiesced to it, and an oral addition was made to the standing orders that the sentry at the front door “present arms to any cat passing out there after dark.”
Found at: Moggycats Cat Pages