Archive for the ‘Arakan History’ Category

The Legend of the Early Aryan Settlement of Arakan
J.B.R.S. Vol. 11, Part 2. 1921

Many centuries before the birth of Buddha there reigned in the country of Uttara Madhura a powerful king whose name was Sagaradeva. At the same time in the country of Asitinjana there ruled a king of the same race whose name was Deva Kamsa. The former had two sons Sagara and Uppa Sagara. The latter had two sons Kamsa, Uppa Kamsa and a daughter named Deva Gamba. When the girl was born the astrologer informed the king that her ten sons who should be born thereafter would some day destroy the whole of their grandfather’s family. Whereupon the relatives of the king advised him that the best course to follow under the circumstances was to kill the girl baby in order to prevent the fulfillment of such a dreadful prognostication.

After careful consideration the king said that it was not necessary to resort to such an extreme measure as their purpose could be quite as easily served if the girl was prevented from marrying. The family conference having unanimously agreed upon this proposal, the king ordered a very lofty palace to be erected. In the topmost room the princess was brought up under the immediate supervision of a trusty nurse named Mandigopa and her husband Anandakagopa. Moreover the palace was well fortified, and down below, surrounding the whole building, a thousand men were kept to guard it carefully day and night. No stranger was allowed to approach the building and the princess was never allowed to leave her room under any pretext.

In course of time the old king died. The elder son whose name was also Kamsa ascended the throne and the younger Uppa Kamsa became the Crown Prince. In the country of Uttara Madhura, king Sagaradeva died. His elder son Sagara became king and the younger Uppa Sagara became the Crown Prince.

Prince Uppa Sagara on account of his many virtues and accomplishments was a popular hero. Day by day his followers increased causing no small amount of uneasiness among the ministers. At last they in a body went to the king and represented to him the danger that was menacing him and urged him to take timely measures. The Crown Prince was summoned before the king and on being told about the matter he swore that there was nothing on the accusation and that the ministers had exaggerated a great deal. The king was satisfied with the explanation. But when the young prince returned home he thought to himself that if the ministers kept on accusing him of conspiracy against the throne he would surely come to great harm in the end. He therefore determined to leave the kingdom while there was yet time.

King Kamsa of Asitinjana country was a great friend of his because they had been class mates in the university of Taxilla. He thought that if he went there his friend was sure to give him the shelter and protection which he sorely needed. Secretly he collected his followers and in a body they went over to king Kamsa and placed themselves under his protection. The king rejoiced very greatly to see his old friend turn up and assigned to him in perpetuity the revenues of a rich district.

One day while prince Uppa Sagara was passing by the palace of the imprisoned princess she happened to be looking out of a window. In a moment their eyes met and love was complete. From that time forward the prince exerted all his might to get a chance of speaking to her. The maidservant Nandigopa being won over to his cause after a great deal of trouble, at length his object was accomplished.

The lovers met in secret every night till eventually the princess Deva Gamba became big with child. When the maid realized the seriousness of the crime to which she was a party she felt greatly alarmed. So in order to mitigate her own offence she informed the king of the real condition of the princess his sister. On being questioned she at first denied having any real knowledge of the affair; but when she was examined under torture she made a complete confession.

That very day the king held a council consisting of himself, the Crown Prince and the four Chief Ministers of State. The majority were in favour of punishing all the culprits in such a way that the dread prophesy might not be fulfilled. But the wise king solemnly rose up to address the council in the following terms. “Oh my brother and ministers! There are twelve kinds of people whom we should honour and who should never be punished. They are mother, father, teacher, uncle, Buddha, Piccaga Buddha, Arahat, Sangha, Rishi, Muni, one who observes the precepts and Brahmins. So far as these persons are concerned we must show our forbearance even though they be guilty of any offence. Then again there are five kinds of people for whose sake we should even risk our lives. They are, bosom friend, one who in fearing to lose his life seeks our protection, one who strives to preserve the purity of his race and family, one who is able to save the lives of other people and one who risks his life in order not to break a solemm promise. In the present case however, Prince Uppa Sagara is not only my bosom friend but he is also a fugitive who seeks our protection. How can we therefore ever think of doing him any harm?”

Then the Crown prince in the midst of profound silence next stood up and said, “Oh king and ministers! The words which we have just heard form the essence of wisdom. Beside, there is no immediate cause for anxiety since the prophesy relates to the birth of male children only. If the princess conceives a female there is no need to be alarmed. So let us wait and see the result.”

The council unanimously agreed to this and moreover it was resolved that since it was too late to interfere the princess Deva Gamba should be wedded to her lover. At the time a careful watch was set as against her approaching accouchement. When the dreaded day arrived a girl baby was born to the relief and joy of everybody. This child was names Omara Devi.

The following year the prince Deva Gamba again became enceinte; but this time her maid Nandigopa was also in the same condition. And in the fullness of time both gave birth on the same day and at the same hour. This time the princess was delivered of a boy and the maid of a girl. Seriously alarmed at the probable fate of the child should her brother hear of it, she caused the babies to be exchanged. When the king learnt that her second child was also a girl he was very pleased and he felt sure that his astrologers were completely wrong in their calculations.

Thus being more or less convinced of the falseness of the prophesy the king and his ministers no longer paid much attention to the princess. From the time of her second confinement she was left practically alone with her own maid. So in course of time she gave birth to ten sons altogether. While her maid also begot ten daughters. But for safety’s sake the boys were brought up by the maid as her own sons. Their names were Vasudeva, Baladeva, Candadeva, Suradeva, Aggideba, Ajjhata, Varunna, Rohaneya, Ghatapandita and Angura. The eldest child Omara Devi died before long. The youngest child was a daughter named Anjana Devi.

When these boys grew up to be young men they became very bold and fearless. They also far excelled the strength of ordinary men. They were very cruel and inconsiderate in their dealings with other people. They looted, they robbed, they murdered, and in short they were guilty of the worst forms of excess. At first the people did not complain because they were the sons of Nandigopa the trusted servant of king Kamsa. But when they persisted in their evil conduct which became intolerable the people went to the king in a body and complained very bitterly. Their supposed mother was sent for and severely taken to task for allowing them to run amok in the country. She replied that they were beyond her control and requested the king to do anything he liked to check their career of crime.

King Kamsa then ordered the arrest of the young men but no attempt to accomplish this object seemed to have been successful: for whenever they were pursued and surrounded by the soldiers they generally became invisible, eluding every effort at capture. This made this king think, suspecting at the same time that the young men were no ordinary mortals. He sent for Anandagopa the husband of the maidservant and questioned him very closely as to the real parentage of the young men. Fearing to lose this life the servant at length made a clean breast of all the circumstances attending their birth and parentage. The maidservant was then sent for and questioned. Seeing that it was useless lying any further she corroborated her husband’s statement.

When the king learnt the real facts he was filled with fear and anger. He sent for the executioners who forthwith let away the guilty couple to the place of execution. On the way they met the Crown Prince Uppa Kamsa who an enquiry found what had happened. He ordered the men not to carry out their work until he came back again. He then went to his brother the king and said, “Oh king, you placed implicit trust in the two unfortunate servants and ordered them to attend on the princess our sister. It is the duty of every servant to obey his or her immediate master. So that in the present case in failing to give you accurate information about her sister’s children they were but carrying out her wishes for which they should not be blamed. The most that they should suffer is to undergo the same punishment as those other guards who were placed to prevent strangers from entering the palace of the princess.”

The king being thoroughly satisfied with the argument cancelled the first order, letting off the culprits with a fairly light punishment. As for the princess Deva Gamba she was filled with grief because her brother the king accused her of want of love for themselves as well as the family to which she belonged; for by her inconsiderate act her sons were destined to destroy them all.

But as parental love is greater than all thing else in this world both she and her husband prince Uppa Sagara

admitted their fault and begged the king to condone all their son’s offences. But the matter was referred to the council which decided that under no circumstances could the young men be left at large for they were a real menace to the existence of the kingdom. So an order was issued for their immediate arrest.

For this purpose the whole military strength of the kingdom was employed. Three times the attempt was made on an elaborate scale but without success for on each occasion the devas of the earth and the sky gave their active support to the ten brothers. At last seeing that force would not do the king decided to resort to stratagem, hoping to accomplish his object by means of sweet words and alluring promises.

Informed of these fresh designs upon their persons the brothers ran away to the Himavamta forest where they met a very learned rishi who provided them with food and shelter. Under the instruction of this rishi they learnt the different kinds of arts and sciences and then returned to their uncle’s kingdom with the object of conquering it. At the time of their entry the king and all his courtiers were assembled at a tournament. They at once got into the ring and killed the most famous of the combatants without having due regards for the formalities.

When the king saw who intruders were he immediately got up from his seat and shouted out to the assembled people to arrest them. Whereupon the eldest brother Vasudeva rushed upon his two uncles king Kamsa and Crown Prince Uppa Kamsa and slew them with his own hands. With the death of these two persons the kingdom passed into their possession. Then after having conquered the neighbouring kingdom of Ayujjhapura they resolved to annex the kingdom of Dwarrawaddi which at the time was under the rule of the king Narinda. And when this was accomplished after a great deal of hard fighting, the ten brothers with their youngest sister Anjanadevi made an equal division of all their acquired territories where each set up as an independent ruling prince. The youngest sister’s portion was Dwarrawaddi in Southern Arakan (modern Sandoway) which amid the new scenes of varied life her followers colonized for the first time.


A Glimpse Of Rakhine

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Arakan History, Articles

A Glimpse Of Rakhine  by Moing Maung      
Because they have valiantly preserved both their national identity and religious traditions-these people are given the proud name of Rakhine.
– Ashin Naginda

Jambu among the islands, Rakhine among the nations – such is known of their fame, moral character, patriotic feelings, enterprising spirit, and great benevolence that they are loved both by men and devas : let the nirvana be granted to their prayer.
– Buddhawang Verses

In the old poems and songs the Rakhine people are portrayed as a great nation, proud of possessing high morale, and are reputed for being pious and just. They are also said to be brave and enterprising. The name Rakhine also stands for The proud Buddhist traditions of benevolence, unity, peace and compassion.

The Greeks attributed the name of Argyre (Land of -Silver) to Rakhine, while the Tibetans called it as Kawky. The Indians and Europeans always referred it as Arakan/Arracan. Indians often call the Rakhine people as the Maghs, since they are alleged to be the descendants of the Sakya clan of Magadha. Maurice Collis fondly called it as The Land of the Great Image’ – or the land of the Mahamuni Buddha Image which was carried off by Bodaw Maung Wain, a Burmese feudal warlord, and which is enshrined at the Arakan Temple in Mandalay.

The Source.

It is popularly believed that Rakhine was established by king Marayu and his queen Rucita Mala while Marayu was a distant descendant of the Magadha kings.

According to tradition Dwarawady city (Sandoway) was established by Ten Brothers including Bala Deva, Vasu Deva, etc. Who are also alleged to be of Indian Aryan descent. The story is almost legendary since no concrete proof of this otherwise mythical city has ever been found. Many think the city to have vanished into the Bay of Bengal. But who, after all, can tell this? The Historians.

1. The earliest Rakhine tribe came from Magadha, through the contiguous south-eastern ranges of the Great Himalayas into the soil of Rakhine so that they are called the Maghs.

2. The early Indo-Aryan group migrated from the Ganges Delta, Magadha, into the southern reaches of Rakhine called Dwaravadi and got settled there with their relatives.
– U San Shwe Bu

3. Marayu who established First Dhanyavati (B.C. 3325-3263) was the son of King Arjuna of Kapilavastu and Queen Indamaryu, the Sakya woman (in the old script the queen is described as Chaik-ma, which can mean as Chaik-daughter or the daughter of a Chak> Chakma> Sakya chief.
– U San Tin, Ramree

4. When the Aryans migrated to the northern parts of India, they racially mixed with the indigenous Dravidians and became Aryo-Dravidians; likewise the Mongolians after intermixing became Monogolian-Dravidians …
– K S Latourette

5. When the Aryans met the Dravidians, they disparagingly named the aboriginals as Rakshasas or demons …
– E B Aavell

All these comments leads us to the conclusion that the Rakhine people are the descendants of the Indo-Aryans, with an admixture of Dravidian and dominantly Mongolian traits.

The Name

Rakhine is a name that signifies a people and also the land they live in. The name actually has a story of gradual evolution. In the old palm-leaf Razwang it is written : ‘Taking shelter in the rain foests and hills, conquering the local cannibals or Rakshasas, they in time attained the name of Rakhine, and preserved the name very fondly.’

‘Defeating the Raksasas’ as recorded in the Razwang probably means ‘overpowering the aboriginal cannibal tribes’ who were no better than ‘demons’ in their way of life. Compared with E B Havell’s observations this statement can help us to come to the conclusion that the Raksasas were actually the ethnic Dravidians.

Again in other writings we find that because of their unbroken tradition of safeguarding their national indentity the name of Arakkha’ or preservation has been conferred upon them. ‘Arakkha’ in time, after natural modifications, changed into Rakkha, Ftakkliaing.

The Land

The name of the land also has an interesting story of evolution. The process was rather like a metamorphosis, changing a shade here and another there.

In the tenth century Ananda Candra pillar Sanskrit inscription the land is mentioned as ‘Araksadesa’. This stone pillar is now preserved at the Shit-thaung temple, Mrauk U. In the early histories Rakkhapura was the name ascribed to it. In some traditional histories the name of ‘ Mahimsaka-taing’ is also given to the land. From these old stone inscriptions and chronicles we can draw an inference that Rakhaing is a
considerably ancient land with a somewhat accurate history.

The present area of Rakhine is about 14,200 square miles, and population is a little over four million. The indigenous races living there are the Rakhine (Arakanese). Chin, Khami, Thet, Daingnak, and Barua (Maramagri). Chittagonian dialect speaking Bangalee Muslims also live there.
Besides such agricultural produces as rice, cotton, black pepper, varieties of citrus fruit, areca nut, Rakhine also possesses a wealth of forest produce like teak, timber, bambooo and rattan. The flora and fauna of Rakhine consist of a caleidosopic collection. Along the coastline of the Bay the vast expanse of blue sea teams with countless kinds of sea-life. The state with its rugged hills and mountains mav be a source of untapped natural resources, including gas and minerals.

The Area

Back in the history Rakhine was a flourishing kingdom with its sway felt at Ganges delta of Bengal in the west, at Assam and Manipur in the north, at Hanthawadi (Burma) in the east. (From Udina Langa verse)

Most of the time the boundary encompassed Chittagong in the west, Western Irrawaddy in the east, Assam and the Chindwin in the north, and a string of islands including Koko in the south.

To rule over such a large territory the Rakhine kings appointed viceroys, governors, mayors, and local chieftains or headmen to run the administration smoothly. The Golden periods of Mrauk-U extended between the reign of Thiri Candra (595-667) and Canda Thudhamma (1652-1674). When the Twelve Towns of Bengal fell to the invading Mughals in the Battle of Chittagong in 1966, Rakhine lost the greater part of its territory. Yet the fall did not come all of a sudden. Palace coups, usurpations by the Western Viceroys at Chittagong (though the post was always appointed to the King’s closest kith and kins), revolts by the Muslims merceneries (Afghans, etc), natural calamities like earthquakes, famines and outbreak of cholera and smallpox, declining foreign relations especially with the Portuguese, in the last seventy years contributed much to the Fall of Chittagong.

After the Fall, the House of Mrauk-U faced heavily trying days. Usurpations of every sort, such as the one by a leader of robbers or Tanta-boh, the Portuguese mercenaries’ change of allegiance to the Moghuls, and dissatisfaction among the Palace Guards followed one after another. They all were interspersed by repeated Burmese aggression and great palace fires. All these factors put the military muscle of Mrauk-U on the wane. Meanwhile a number of kings were assassinated.

With every assassination attempt, whether successful or not, political instability took the country one step closer to the fall. Yet the turn of fate held out for a little more than a century. A small number of Rakhine royalty, realizing the deterioration of economy and administration, decided that all the misrule should stop. As the Rakhines kept a mutual trust with the Burmans, the group in good faith invited the Burmese king to help bring a peaceful end to the long-lasting strife at the Golden House of Mrauk-U.

After a number of futile campaigns against MIrauk-U, the crafty Burmans found the occassion most opportune. In December 1784 Bodaw Mating Waing was secretly invited and led by the dissident Rakhine royalty into the House of Mrauk-U. Many specialists believe that, without being thus led, the Burmans could have never made it through the crisscross maze of defence fortifications. The beleaguered city – reputed as the invincible Mrauk-U possessed bulwarks, moats with gigantic sluice gates, water canals, and bastions strategically controlled by heavily manned garrisons and watch towers (for signaling). Even today the remnants of the formidable defence work runs about 19 miles long city walls, .many miles of moats and their ruins.

The Fall

As soon as the Burmans overpowered the remaining defence, they took to killing the royalty and the nobility first. Then they resorted to the genocide.

Besides, they burnt once the most famous palace in south East Asia down. The best craftsmen, noblemen and intellectuals were deported to Burma. In chain-gangs they were forced to walk all the way to Burma. Anybody going to Mrauk-U can see for himself the bone pieces of those killed at Gaung-bung-prang or Skull-heap-field. Two centuries and many generations of rice cultivations after, the ground is still full of the broken chips of the skull heaps of the killed. The mere size of the field is sure to make a casual onlooker awe-struck.

Soon after the Burmese treachery, the Mahamuni Image was carried off to Mandalay where it is now enshrined in the Arakan Temple.
Throughout the way back home while carrying off the Great Image, the treacherous Burmans resorted to the scorched earth policy. At one sweep the whole countryside was devastated. A great famine followed and the people had not other alternative than suffer all the oppressions of the feudal, Bodawpaya.

This was all done simply to wipe out the name of Rakhine from the face of the earth. So it is now. The Slore fascists have appointed Burman teachers in the schools of Arakan and forced the children to speak Burmese and to stop speaking Rakhine, their mother tongue. To wipe out the identity of Rakhine the Burman soldiers have been encouraged to keep Rakhine girls as ‘pleasure women’ or kepts. Rakhine rarely practice intermarriage. But now intermarriage is forced upon in many instances and rewarded only to assimilate the Rakhines into Burmese as Ne Win did with the Mons. In 1826 the British colonists took possession of Arakan. Japan took over in 1942. In a manner of supporting the racial identity issue, Arakan was declared as a State in 1944. The British considered the Rahine as descendants or relatives of the Burmese racially. The same colonial attitude was practised by successive Burmese governments. Their excuse, by any way lame, springs from the notion that Rakhine is an archaic form of Burmese language.

Again during the AFPFL (U Nu) rule, Paletwa township – long considered as the Arakan Hill Tracts-was chopped off and included into Chin State, against the public opinion.

Today Rakhine is not independent. Neither its fourteen thousand or so square miles of area is progressive. It is the most neglected state within the Union of Burma – a union which is peculiar in the world for its oppression of ethnic minorities including the Rakhines.

It is a sad coincidence that the last Arakanese king should possess the name of the first king of the legend-Maha Thamada. Arakan is now far from what it once enjoyed as a thriving military and trading power in the Bay of Bengal. Its lost glory is sung only in poems and a couple of foreign travellers’ memoirs. Massive stone temples like Shit-thaung, Doke-kan-thein, and the deserted tumbled down palace grounds in sad silence now testify to the proud heritage quickly vanishing. Thousands of ruined pagodas and temples still lay scattered all about Mrauk-U in utter neglect.

At nightfall screech owls flap their capricious wings breaking the eerie silence of the vast ruins. At far end of a distant Mrauk-u hill, in a rickety bamoo hut, a child wakes up crying, frightened by a nightmare.

How long should Rakhine writhe under oppression?

Sources: Rakhapura

Mahamuni Tradition is not an afterthought. It is genuinely old and implicitly believed in by successive generations that came after it. According to the Rakhaing history, kings of Rakhaing, even after they had moved their capitals to various other sites, always recognized that it was a scared duty for them to visit it from time to time and generally made it the occasion for great religious feasts of charity. In such cases they invariably left some votive offering, may be a small shrine or an image, as a memento of their distinguished visit.

Manrique, a western traveler in 1630 AD, described the pomp ceremony involved in a royal pilgrimage to the shrine; the King Thiri Thudhamma Raza himself traveled on a raft, which was a replica of his Mrauk-U palace.

The King worshipped the image by offering flowers, food, incense, light and prayers and used to keep Sabbath taking nine or ten precepts. After keeping long Sabbath, the animals, especially birds, were let escape by the king.

Do Wai, a historian in Maha Razawan, recounts that as part of coronation ritual of Rakhaing Kings, 50 coins struck to commemorate the new reign, together with 50 coins struck in the previous reign were deposited by the new king in the hole dedicated to Wathoun-darei, the Goddess of Earth, at the front of the Mahamuni Image.

The other outstanding customs were as follows: prisoners of war, especially royal family, were donated by the Kings as pagoda-slaves at the Mahamuni shrine. This tradition is very popular among the Rakhaing monarchy and may be a kind of amnesty for their lives according to Buddha’s teachings.

Public Religious Functions

During the harvest time, new crops and first fruits are offered to Mahamuni image by the people. Villagers cook fresh rice and make various sizes of pagodas on their plates and go together to the shrine with joyfulness.

During the fine season, the lay people have noviciation ceremonies for boys who spend some time, usually a week or more, in a monastery under the guidance of a revered abbot to have the experience of the life of a monk. This ceremony is called Shonpru-Mongala.
During the period of Wasoe, people would keep Sabbath taking eight silas or precepts.
In the month of Tanzaungbone, the weaving festival is held in the Mahamuni shrine Girls from the villages sit under the full moon engaging in weaving competitions as they make new robes for the monks.

Ancient Rakhaing Coins

The sun and the moon are always inscribed in ancient Rakhaing coins. They are the auspicious symbols of the Rakhaing nationals. The symbols of the sun and the moon have some relations with the Mahamuni tradition. King Sanda Suria was the donor of the Mahamuni shrine. Sanda means “the moon” and Suria means “the sun”. It is widely believed in Rakhaing that the reason for expressing the symbols of the sun and the moon on the ancient coins is that King Sanda Suria was regarded as the donor of the Mahamuni shrine and as a hero who introduced Buddhism into Rakhaing. The sun carries the meaning of loyalty, power, and bravery and the moon refers to peace and prosperity. Even at present these symbols are still used officially in the state flag and the state seal of Rakhaing, as a state of the union of Myanmar.

Ancient Bronze Bells

After the scared Mahamuni Image was finished the shrine became the religious center of the kingdom and people of Rakhaing became Buddhists. It fame spread far and wide. Ever since the introduction of Buddhism, Rakhaing professed Buddhism without break up to the present. According to the Theravada Buddhism bells are hung under the Hti of caitya and hung at the terrace of pagodas and monasteries with the hope that they would have a sweet voice and oral power whether in this existing life or in the future existences. In addition, Buddhists strike the bells in order to achieve nirvana after their meritorious deeds. Fortunately two inscribed ancient bells were found in the vicinity of Mahamuni shrine. One of the bells seems to be a caitya bell and the other a monastery bell. The caitya bell is about 11.5 cm high and it weights over 2 lbs. The other monastery bell is 9.8 cm high and weights half as heavy as the first one. Both of these bells are of the cup form and made of bronze. Generally these shapes resemble the top of a stupa. The shape is still used for bells in Myanmar today. Thus, it is said that modern bells are derived from these bells. Two lines of writing were inscribed around the center of both bells. Palaeographically their casting time can be dated in the first quarter of the 6th century AD. The language is a mixture of ancient Rakhaing and Sanskrit. The inscriptions present the dedication by the donors for the benefit of their spiritual preceptors and their parents. These are pious offerings of the Theravada Buddhists. Such are the beliefs and practices of the present day Buddhists of Rakhaing State. This may be related to the Mahamuni Tradition. Both of these inscribed bells are kept in Sittwe at present. Visitors can see and study them in Buddhist Museums.

Five Characteristics of Mahamuni Image

(1) Crowned Buddha

Mahamuni Image is dressed up with all the attributes of King. It shows that Buddha had been regarded as a Devatideva, god of gods or king of kings. Anyway, Buddha is also a Great being, a deity and the glory of the three kinds of being, where he appears in monastic robes or in royal robes.

(2) Facing East

Mahamuni Image always faces east. It is the representation of Enlightenment, one of the Great events of the master’s life. It carries the ideas of priority, success, good foundation, originally and auspiciousness.

(3) Bhumisparas Musra

Mahamuni Image performs Bhumisparsa mudra and sits on a decorated throne. In this mudra, the left hand rests on the lap with the palm upward and the right palm down resting on the right knee and touching the ground below. The representation of the Enlightenment and the incidents has a relation with the above-mentioned mudra and with the favourite themes of the Buddhist artists of all schools. According to the well-known events of Buddha, he, by touching the earth, gave notice to the Earth-Goddess Wathoun-darei to come and be the witness of his accomplishments. This mudra indicates the movement when ceased to be a Bodhisattva and became Buddha. The Blessed One did this because Mara, the evil one, came to attack with his numerous followers. This posture Bhumisparsa mudra can be interpreted as the victory over evils or enemies as well as the strength, stability, steadfastness and solidarity.

(4) Virasana Sitting Posture

The legs are folded and overlapped with the feet brought to rest on the thighs and the soles of the feet turned upwards with the right leg on the left leg. This is called Virasana. Right leg means fairness and left leg means evil. This sitting posture virasana stands for the assurance of fearlessness, tranquility, auspiciousness, and protection given by the Mahamuni Image. It is believed to be a sign of success.

(5) Compassionate Smile

Mahamuni Image has a remarkable face. Just by seeing the outstanding face of Mahamuni Image, one can feel how fine the art of sculpture is. Wide forehead, prominent nose, finely etched eyebrows, almost meeting at the center; downcast eyes, full lips and slight smile denote the compassionate heart of Mahamuni. It is highly venerated. Hundreds of copies in temples and pagodas in Rakhaing and beyond are reputed to be replicas of the original copy of the Blessed One. But it is impossible for anyone to copy the exact facial expression of the Mahamuni Image.

The Land aof Rice

“Then the Blessed One addressed his disciples thus: “O Rahans, my beloved son! In the island of Jambudipa and among the 16 countries of Majjhimadesa, the food offered to the priesthood consists of a mixture of maize, corn and millet and beans. But in this country, the food offered consists of various kinds of barely and rice: such food is eaten by the priest with relish; my preceding elder brothers (Kakusan, Gotamana and Kassapa, i.e. the three Buddhas who preceded Gotama) have called this country Dhanyawaddy and as the inhabitants have never suffered from famine, this region shall in all times continuously be called Dhanyawaddy (i.e. the grain blessed)”.

Since then the land has retained that name. This term applies very fittingly to Rakhaing; whose wealth depended principally on the extensive regions of its Riceland, with a rainfall of over two hundred inches a year and the crop has never failed. There are plenty of grains in the fields seasonally.


After the Lord Buddha had preached the people of Dhanyawaddy, they became Buddhists throughout the centuries, ever since the introduction of Buddhism up to the present time, Rakhaing professed Buddhism without any break. The Mahamuni Image formed the center of religious worship. Pagodas were built on the top of the hills by the kings and the public donors throughout the generations. Thus, innumerable pagodas belonging to all ages can be found in the historical sites of Rakhaing.

The Kaladen River

Visitors can go to Mahamuni by this river route named Kaladan, the main river of Rakhaing. The river has been very useful and most popular throughout the Rakhaing history. Kings and inhabitants of Rakhaing used this river to pay their devotions. According to the Manrique’s description in 1630 AD, Thirithudhamma Raza, a king of Mrauk-U dynasty made his devotion to Mahamuni with the tremendous water celebration along the Kaladan River.

It is suggested that this name, Kaladan was derived from Kular-Tant. According to local chronicles, which can be summarized as follows:

At one time, when the upper Kaladan River was flooded by heavy rains, a prince who came from Kapilavastu and his princess, the daughter of a local tribal chief, were swept away and finally landed on the bank near Salagiri hill. The river was therefore named Kulartant (kular-swim), (tant-stop). Later on it changed to kular-tan>>kulardan and kaladan, etc. The ancient name of the Kaladan River is Gicchabhanady. The term originates from Pali word, meaning “Tortoise shell River”. Because there are many stones which look like tortoise-shell in the upper river. In winter, one can see many Siberian geese in the river. Sometimes the great crocodiles are also found in tidal creeks of Kaladan River.

Urite-Taung Pagoda

An hour later along the river route, one can see a pagoda on the left bank of the Kaladan River. This is Urite Taung Pagoda, situated on the top of a small hill lock, 188 feet high, at a distance of 16 miles to the north of Sittwe.

The pagoda is 153 feet high, and the view from the pagoda’s terrace is spectacular. The Kaladan river sparkle like diamonds in the sunshine and runs down finely. If the sky is clear, you can see the distant land in all directions. In Mrauk-U King’s period there had been a Rakhaing naval base in Kaladan River at the foot of Urite-Taung Pagoda. The history of Urite Taung Pagoda was very interesting and related to the Mahamuni tradition. Buddha held a discourse with his disciples and then addressed Anada thus:

“Further to the south and near the Gicchabhanady there is a steep rocky hill known as the Salapabbada; there I lived during one of my former existences. I was born as a Brahman versed in Vedas; my skull, measuring two palms (about 18 inches) in circumference, still remains there and will be enshrined in a pagoda to be named Urite-Taung Zarti”.

According to the Buddha’s prophecy the Urite Taung Pagoda was built by King Mong Phalaung in 1574 AD.
Sources: Rakhapura

The Speech delivered by Nimal Samarasundera, Secretary of Ministry o Buddha Sasana ( Sri Lanka ) 
Nimal Samarasundera
Friday, 03 June 2011 09:43
Most Venerable Chief Sangha Nayaka of Myanmar,
Venerable Members of Maha Sangha,
Rector, Venerable Sri,
Your Excellencies,
Distinguished guests,
Dear students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

I consider it a privilege to be here to attend this historic occasion of inaugurating the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University. This is the Red Letter Day in the history of Buddhist world when the Government of Myanmar is establishing a University which is the first and only one of its kind in the entire Theravada Buddhist world and which is a fulfillment of a long-felt need in the region. I wish the new university every success.

Let me thank sincerely organizers for giving Sri Lanka this opportunity to share the joy of being a partner to this important event and express the very best wishes for the project of Her Excellency Chandrika Bandaranaike Kumaratunga, President of the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, HoaLakshman Jayakody, Minister of Buddha Sasana, Cultural and Religious Affairs and the people of Sri Lanka of whom the majority are Buddhists. As the Secretary to the Ministry of Buddha Sasana I give you the assurance of extending Sri Lanka’s cooperation to this endeavour in whatever way the university seeks.

The cordial relationship particularly based on Buddhism, between Mvanmar and Sri Lanka is at least 500 years old. Accordating to the Kalayani Inscription higher ordination of Sangha was sought for and brought into Myanmar from Sri Lanka during the 15th Century.

Subsequently during the reign of King Wimaladharmasooriya I, higher ordination of Sangha was taken to Sri Lanka from Myanmar as which was then known as Arakan or Rekkhanga Desa (Rakhaing). Similarly, monks from Sri Lanka came to Myanmar and secured higher ordination from venerable monks of Myanmar. The two Myanmar Sects of sangha now we have in Sri Lanka have had their roots in Myanmar for which we are indebted to this great Buddhist country. The world respects Myanmar as a country, which has preserved Theravada Buddhism.

Buddhism will be the only doctrine that can face the challenges of the new millennium. It is necessary to produce a group of Dhammadutas who can take the timeless message of Buddha across the world.

We must appreciate the fact that now the enlightened academic and education communities all over the world, and especially in the West, have evinced a renewed interest in Buddhism and that their approach is primarily intellectual and incisive. Buddhism has never encouraged blind faith as we all are well aware of what the Tathagata said in the Kalama Sutra “Accept not because I say it or because your traditional teachers have said Analyse well and bring to bear your sense of criticism on anything you are taught and accept that alone which is consonance with reason and wisdom”.

Today’s world is not prepared to accept dogma. They seek the aid of reason and logic to test the validity of any proposition. And I boldly say that Buddhism can stand any such incise examination and scrutiny. Our Sutras are replete with such discussions that took place while the Enlightened One was living. So, I would humbly submit that the type of Dhammaduta that we should send especially to the West, is the accomplished Dhammadhari who will be in a position to field the many questions raised by a typical Western audience after a discourse. They are yearning to learn, to be enlightened.

So, I pray and hope that this Missionary University being the first of its kind will be a successful harbinger of the new approach to the dissemination of the Dhamma. I thank you.

May all beings be happy!

`Sabbe Satta Bhavantu Sukhitatta’

Source: The Light of Majjhimadesa – Volume (1) published by U Chandramani Foundation. 2001

The Rakhaing-6

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Arakan History, Articles

The Rakhaing-6  
               by Dr. Tha Hla

The history of Rakhaing abounds ups and downs. The centuries-long sovereignty over portions of Bengal heightened the Rakhaing power to a climax it had never before or ever since attained. However, the ancient Rakhaing conquerors might not have foreseen that centuries later the flood of Bengali Muslims would swamp the Rakhaing proper and endanger the very existence of their own people and culture. If the eminent Rakhaing monarchs were to return to life today, they would certainly be amazed by the changes which has taken place since the time of their reign. They would hardly discern the land being the same kingdom they had bequeathed to their people. They would particularly be astonished by the demographic transposition in that the Bengali Muslims after having dislodged the Buddhist Rakhaings from the former colonies infiltrated into and squatted on the Rakhaing soil itself. They would not believe their own eyes that in certain remote corners of the land the local Buddhist monasteries and pagodas had been replaced by the Muslim mosques let alone the latter stood side by side emulating the former elsewhere across the land, which emitted piercingly amplified prayer calls of the muezzins five times a day, everyday resounding throughout the neighbourhoods. Exasperated by the demographic transformation they might lament that the historical legacy had collapsed; the countries-old taboo had been broken; Islam had made its headway into the Rakhaing and far beyond. Their sweet memories of the good old time would be eclipsed by the deepening anxiety for the misty future of the Buddhist culture. Would the adherents of the faith be able to withstand the swiftly prolific Muslim population and dynamic sweep of Islam?

The persistent Muslim penetration combined with the rigorous Islamic politicking would exacerbate their anguish and put the ancient rulers into a state of pensiveness that it might not be a question of if but a matter of when the land of pagodas as known to the West would be absorbed into the Islamic fold.

The persistent Muslim penetration combined with the rigorous Islamic politicking would exacerbate their anguish and put the ancient rulers into a state of pensiveness that it might not be a question of if but a matter of when the land of pagodas as known to the West would be absorbed into the Islamic fold. Reminiscing their role as the patrons of antiquities at Mrohaung (Mrauk Oo) which stood test of time. Scanning the horizon above the high mountain ranges on the east they might wonder what would happen to innumerable edifices at Pugan, which survived destruction inflicted by the invading troops of Kublai Khan? Perhaps they might recall the city of Nalanda where the Buddhist institutions were desecrated by Aurangzeb, a Muslim fanatic who was one of the rulers of the Mogul empire in India. Bewildered and confused they might ponder what would become of the great Maha Muni in Mandalay? At the same time they might experience an eerie sensation at the thought of Quwwat-ul-Islam mosque at Delhi which was grafted on to a tenth-century Chauhan temple, or the disputed mosque at Avodya which was allegedly erected on top of a Hindu temple or as was to be the case with many other temples. Vitualizing in their mind the silhouette of the magnificent golden Shwedagon spiring against the red amber predawn sky, their memories might flash back to what had happened to Hagia Sophia, the Byzantine church in Constantinople. Four slender minarets were added and the church was converted into a Muslim mosque after the Turkish conquest of Byzantium in 1453, which remained as the mosque of Hagia Sophia in the European side of Istanbul for centuries before it was transformed into a museum in 1932. Their apprehension might presage what the future holds for the Buddhist culture in Burma. Islam made itself visible through construction of mosques in the conquered lands and the adopted countries. Who would have thought that the Sule pagoda, in the heart of the nation’s capital city of Rangoon, which was built in the third century B.C. laying the cornerstone of Buddhist culture in lower Burma, is now dwarfed and overshadowed by half a dozen Muslim mosques1 within the sight of one another, located at the vintage points in the proximity of the historic pagoda as close as a few feet from the pedestal. The mosques were erected in the British colonial era. The country has regained its sovereignty but the luster of the Sule pagoda will never be recovered. The colonial Burma was subject to the British imperialism as well as the Islamic expansionism. Throughout the country the British had left permanent reminders of their colonialism. A piece of history remains frozen in time.

What was precognition is now comprehension. Never has there been a mind boggling question which the Burmese Buddhists hardly can bear to answer. It is too painful and unsettling. Is Islam a threat to Burma, leading to disappearance of the Buddhist culture? The answer lies in the question of the Islamic doctrine and the historical contexts. Conceptually Islam ascribes the utmost importance to conversion. There being no distinction between religion and politics in the faith of Islam, the believers used religion to legitimate aggression and warfare and transformed the lives of others. Persecution and ferocity earned some Muslim conquerors notoriety for anti-infidel activities such as iconoclasm, notably in India. The Muslims are bound by a fundamental tenet that they are to live in “Dar-ul-Islam,” a land of peace ruled by Muslims; if they reside in a non-Muslim country, “Dar-ul-Harb”, a land of war, they are obliged to wage Jihad, Holy war against the infidels as occasion calls for. A Muslim’s first duty is loyalty to Islam and to his race, no matter who and what he is or whether he lives in Burma, Thailand, India, China, Europe or the United States of America. The conscious of faith supersedes the national sentiment. To a Muslim nothing assures him a place in paradise as most readily as to die fighting for his faith. Antipathy between Islam and other religions ignited regional wars in different parts of the world at different tines, and communal virulences in many countries as often as the domestic squabbles in a family. Tension mounted and skirmishes erupted between the Muslims and other religion communities in the Muslim domains as well as in the lands they settled. Historically Islamic fundamentalism had been as issue of international concern in the past centuries. In their bid for sweeping conquest the Muslims turned themselves to dreadful invaders. Their reputation proceeded them for rapacity and ruthlessness. The Muslim radicalism constituted one of the major issues in the twentieth century. The religious and racial persecution in the magnitude of genocide took place for the first time in the modern history eighty years ago in the land of Armenians who were annihilated by the Turkish Muslims just because they were Christians and racially different. The ethnic cleansing claimed the lives of over one million Armenians who went through the atrocities only to be paralleled by the Nazi holocaust during the Second World War in which millions of Jews were exterminated. Burma had every reason to fear he bigoted Muslims, particularly for what was going on in adjoining Bangladesh where genocidal killings and Islamization of he tribal people have been rampant in the Chittagong Hill Tracts. The minorities were mostly Buddhists and of Mongoloid origin, whose lives had been peaceful and undisturbed until the birth of the Muslim state. For a glimpse of the heinous crimes, excerpts are reproduced hereunder from “Survival International Annual Review, No.43:-

“After massacres: In December 1980 the home Minister, Mustafizur Rahman, the same man heading the parliamentary inquiry into the Kaokhali massacre, introduced the Disturbed Area Bill. The bill, which became law in early 1981, gave police and the army unrestricted powers to shoot anyone suspected of anyone or make an arrest without warrant in any defined politically disturbed areas. The bill was greeted by massive opposition for it was a further step in the militarization of Bangladesh generally. Upendra Lal Chakma stated: the government is looking for a genocidal solution to the problems of ethnic minorities up there.”

“The genocidal solution had been heralded on 26 May 1979 when Brigadier Hannan and lieutenant-Colonel Salam, in an unguarded moment, declared at a public meeting in Panchari that “we want the soil and not the people of the Chittagong Hill Tracts”.

“The Bangladesh military junta has made a secret plan to force the tribal people to become Muslims. With this end in view, it has established an Islamic Preaching Center at Rangamati, the capital of the CHT. Saudi Arabia is financing the construction of a big Mosque and also an Islamic Cultural Centre at Rangamati. The Bangladesh Government has built hundreds of Mosques throughout the CHT as part of its plan to Islamise the tribal homeland. Recently the Martial Law Government secretly circulated a letter to all army officers now stationed in the CHT, encouraging them to marry tribal girls with a view to assimilating the tribal people.”

“The following article, written by a Chakma tribal who prefers to retain anonymity, effectively summarises the extensive documentation that exists on what is one of the most serious predicaments for tribal people anywhere in the world.”

Introduction : An extraordinary state of affairs is prevailing in the Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT). The Bangladesh Government has been carrying out a programme of systematic extermination of the indigenous nationalities of he CHT because they are ethnically, religiously and culturally different from the Muslim Bengalis. As a result, all human rights and civil liberties have been violate; tens of thousands of innocent tribal men, women and children have been murdered; 12-15 thousand tribal people have been detained without trial, tortured and some of them killed; thousands of tribal women have been kidnapped, raped and many of them forcibly converted into Islam; tens of thousands of tribal farmers have been herded into concentration camps and their farm lands have been distributed among the outsider Muslim Bengali settlers; about 85 per cent of the tribal houses have been burned; Buddhist temples have desecrated and destroyed; Buddhist monks have been detained without trial, tortured and some of them slaughtered and hundreds of thousands of outsider Muslim Bengalis have been rehabilitated by displacing the tribal farmers. In 1947, the tribal population and Muslim Bengalis formed 98 per cent and less than 2 per cent of the total population of the CHT respectively. By 1982, the Muslim Bengali population accounted for more than 50 per cent of the total population in the CHT. All development works have created job opportunities exclusively for the Muslim Bengalis, whereas the tribal people are not even allowed to do business. During the British period the people of the CHT enjoyed an important degree of autonomy, the rule of law and justice, police and official protection, full employment and prosperity. However, under the Muslim Bengali rule, they have been deprived of all human rights and forced to become landless, homeless, jobless refugees. They are facing the prospect of total extinction.”

While there exists discrepancy between the radical fundamentalists and the moderate Muslim leaders who were critical of the religio-political movements carried out by the extremists who manipulated and distorted true teaching of Islam, the recent developments in Bosnia and Kosovo in former Yugoslavia, and Chechnya and Dagestan in Russia tended to illustrate the Islamic revisionism and secessionism as much as the Muslim hotbeds in Asia, Africa and the West tempted the non-Muslim nations to view Islam through the prism of religious fanaticism and terrorism. With the fundamental concept of bringing the world under the umbrella of Islam, the extent of the global movement is reflected in the spiritual allegiance of the populations, irrespective of the race and ethnic divisions, which stretches from Morocco to Indonesia. The genesis and geographical expansion of Islam dates back to the seventh century fueled by passion of faith as well as the economic and social interests. Through conquest and conversion the Islamic community, a religious polity of global dimension, which originated at a place called Medina in Saudi Arabia has grown to a mammoth brotherhood society that represents one fifth of the world population extending from Arabia to North Africa, the heart of the old Soviet Union, western China and east and southeast Asia. Included in the expansion were the former territories of the Byzentine and the Sassanian civilizations. Besides being confederated into a 54- nation Organization of Islamic Conference2 the Muslim world continued to grow in India, China, Burma, Thailand, the Philippines, Europe and the United States of America.

The Muslim invasions of India brought about vast and shattering historical changes over many centuries, which at long last led to partition of the deeply troubled nation into two republics in 1947 ending the British rule; one republic for the Hindu majority and the other for the Muslim minority, Pakistan which later fell apart on the ground of racial and cultural dichotomy. The Bengali speaking East Wing broke away from the Urdu-speaking Punjabi West in 1971 and the state of Bangladesh came into being. Islam is the dominant religion in Pakistan and Bangladesh and the second largest in India. The Indian subcontinent where more than one fifth of the world Muslims live was one the hub of Buddhism during the reign of Asoka, the greatest ruler of the Mauryan dynasty whose rule extended from Afghanistan to Deccan. Asoka established Buddhism throughout the empire in the third century B.C. and sent Buddhist missions to the Mediterranean regions, Ceylon, Burma and other southeast Asian nations. The development of the Art of Gandhara, the north Indian kingdom what is now northwest Pakistan and northeast Afghanistan, illuminates the cultural influence of Buddhism which had been the dominant religion there before Islam was established. Buddhism spread north of Hindu Kush Mountains into Central Asia where it flourished, especially eastern Turkistan until the ninth century when the Muslims conquered the region and replaced it with Islam. Excavation and ancient monuments bear witness to the golden age of the Buddhist religion in the area located on the legendary silk routes. Buddhism became a world religion during his time. However, following the revival of Hinduism, Islamic expansion reached India wave after wave of invasions beginning from the eighth century A.D. Islam won many Hindu convert; conversion by the sword as well as by political influence. The vast majority of the ruling Muslim community in India were Hindu converts with only 1 or 2 per cent of the Arabic, Persian, Afghan, Turkish and Mogul invaders. A great number of conversion came from the Hindu ranks, with a few from upper class whose preference was either out of conviction or in the hope of reward. Some were forcibly converted in times of crisis and distress. In Eastern Bengal the accession was wholesome. The entire region where a corrupt form of Buddhism had flourished, turned to Islam in order to escape the Brahmin domination following the flight to Tibet of the Buddhist monks when the Muslim invaders conquered the area in the twelfth century. Animists might well have embraced Islam. Hindu outcasts changed to Muslims for the relative freedom of Islam. It was the factor that pockets of Muslim minority scattered all over India among the Hindu majority, except in Sind and Punjab.

In China the Muslim community which started from a few thousand merchants who settled in some coastal cities in the eighth century grew their numbers through massive immigration via land routes of Central Asia in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. The Muslim ranks swelled as they married Chinese women and bought out Chinese children whom they raised as Muslims. Many Chinese converted to Muslims. Spreading all over the country the Muslims now constitute the majority in the Autonomous Region of Ninghsia and sizable minority in Kensu, Shensi and Yunnan. In the nineteenth century an Islamic revivalist movement swept across the land impelled by the Islamic inspiration, more intensely in the northwestern and southwestern China. In 1950s the Muslims again proclaimed their sentimental identification with the Arabic culture. Demand for the Islamic identity continued which means that aspiration for secession still persisted. Islam spread to much of southeast Asia which extended in a bend, from southern Thailand through Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia and the southern Philippines. While Islam represents only 4 per sent in Thailand, 5 per cent in the Philippines and ranks after Buddhism and Taoism in Singapore, it is the state religion in Malaysia and Indonesia where Hinduism Buddhism had been prevalent before Islam became the dominant religion in the sixteenth century. The Borobudur shrine in Java stands testimony to the blossoming of Buddhism in the region. Much of the Hindu culture still survives in the island of Bali. Islam reached the Asian archipelago in the beginning of the twelfth century and Malacca on the southern coast of Malaysia became the first major Muslim port in southeast Asia where the Muslim merchants traded and married the local women. Attracted by the Islamic doctrine and Sufi mysticism, the rulers in the area converted to Islam and their subjects followed suit. The same sequence was repeated in Sumatra. Java and Borneo in Indonesia and the Sulu island in the Philippines. Together Indonesia and Malaysia form a population of some 250 millions, the majority of them are Muslims.

In Europe the Muslims occupied Spain from the eighth to the eleventh centuries, and penetrated into southern France only to be halted by the battle of Tours, one hundred miles southwest of Paris. The Muslims even invaded the city of Rome and sacked St. Peter’s Church. Advancing to the east they conquered and Islamized the territories which are now known as Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhastan, Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. In the fifteenth century the Ottoman Turks overran the Balkan peninsula which includes Bulgaria and Serbia, and the local population were turned into Muslims who may be found today in Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo and other territories. In the present time many western European nations are faced with the grim reality of the problem of Muslim immigrants and the Islamic fundamentalist threat. The same predicament has been in the center stage of the United States of America so far as the national security is concerned, the world’s most powerful nation where freedom was compromised with the threat of terrorism. The exquisitely embellished landmarks of the national pride and power such as the White House, the Capitol Building and the like in the nation’s capital city of Washington, D.C, have been barricaded and defaced by the concrete fortification in fear of the terrorists who had tried with incredible ineptitude to blow up New York City. The inroad into the American politics by several million Muslims both immigrants and African Muslims drew much attention in the political and social arenas as a force to be heard and seen. The American Muslim Alliance, among other Muslim organizations in the United States of America, through its seventy regional chapters in twenty six states, has been actively involved in the local and congressional elections across the nation, organizing and encouraging the growing Muslim community to participate in the American politics. In 1998 twenty Muslim candidates entered the local elections. A Muslim immigrant from Bangladesh sought election in the senatorial race in the Queens district of New York, who had earlier been elected to the local Board of Education.

The Muslim domination of India might have been brought to an end by the conquest of the British; However, whose occupation of Burma had an adverse effect because it contributed the cause of Islamization. The colonial-born generation of Muslims in Burma began with flow of the Indian immigrants during the British rule. India being the keystone of the British empire, the citizens of the Indian subcontinent were exported to East Africa, Caribbean, Fiji, Malay and Burma as part of massive transmigration that accompanied the British colonial expansion. Aimed at shattering the burning spirit if the nationalist Burmese the British incorporated Burma into the Indian empire as a province and flooded it with spades of the Indian immigrants, the vast numbers of them were the Hindus mostly the Tamils of south India, and the rest being the Muslims. They were mainly engaged in trade and commerce with the exception of a few in the civil service. They clustered in the urban trade centers where capital and goods accumulated. At the outbreak of the Second World War 500,0003 Indians fled Burma making their long journey back to India. Most of them perished who fell victim to disease, famine and the Burmese who preyed on them. After the war some returned to Burma only to leave the country for good in the aftermath of indigenization and whereby foreign investments and access were confiscated. The Hindus immigrants were as proud of their nationality as they were happy to be back home in India. Unlike the Hindus, the Muslims had their own agenda to accomplish. They were not just the ordinary economic pollutants but the social polemicists as well, who were deeply involved in the Burmese politics and exerted Islamic influence in the Burmese Buddhist society. Moreover, opening of the Suez Canal facilitated the rice export and the British expanded their commercial interest by promoting rice cultivation in the Irrawaddy delta as well as in the alluvial plains of the Rakhaing land. Thousands of migrate Bengalis were engaged in the British rice industry in Rakhaing. They were largely seasonal workers who joined their families in Bengal after the harvest, while some households moved in and settled in the peripheral areas of the rice industry. The Muslim settlers among the predominant Buddhist Rakhaings have ever since been outlandish, the language and culture of their mother land intact. Separated by linguistic and cultural differences, an unbridgeable chasm existed between the native Buddhist Rakhaings and the alien Bengali Muslims. The ethnic cronyism and Islamic politics made the relations all the more difficult to improve. They never integrated into the mainstream Rakhaing society. On the other hand, the descendants of the mogul refugees were entirely different from the Bengali immigrants. Though Muslims by faith, they adopted the local customs and picked up the native tongue since the time their rebellious ancestors were suppressed and deported to Ramree island by Sanda Wizaya at the outset of the eighteenth century. Many of the older generation received education in the Buddhist monasteries and some excelled in the Burmese language and literature. Rather than joining the Muslim separatist movement they proudly distanced themselves from the Bengali Muslims who were foreigners to them as much as the Pathans of Pakistan were aliens to the Bengalis of the Dravidian strain.

The Muslims in India and for that matter in Malaysia, Indonesia and China being the indigenous converts they were essentially the natives of the respective land. In Burma the Muslim community which comprises 4 per cent of the total population was not the local converts recruited through persuasion but was made up of the immigrants and their offsprings. Therefore, the Muslims in Burma remained an alien entity in the exclusively nationalist Buddhist society who vigorously preserved the pristine faith of Buddhism which starkly contrasts to Islam wherein every issue in life is judged from the sectarian point of view; consequently the two communities became separate and conflicting social groups. A Muslim might be in good standing but socially he was regarded not being one of the same mould with the Buddhist on the basis of ethnic affinities and cultural backgrounds; hence less being commingled and few interracial marriages between the two communities. United on the strength of the religious faith, the Muslims in Burma though small in numbers perpetuated their power in the communal politics and their assertion was fostered by various concessions that the A.F.P.F.L government was forced to make including legalization of the illegal Muslim immigrants in the Rakhaing land. The trouble was the manner in which the unscrupulous Burmese politicians fanned the flame of animosity. Out of rancour, the legacy of generations, they turned against the Rakhaings in every way and by any means while placated the Bengali Muslims by favour and rewards which whetted the political appetites of the Muslims for more power. Added to the political advantages the Muslims were given access to the national radio networks, a privilege not accorded to the indigenous Buddhist Rakhaings at the time. The above measures together with the continued influx of the illegal Muslims well served the political expediency of the shortsighted Burmese politicians in their effort to counterpoise the intensely nationalistic Rakhaings who regarded the impetuous ossification as a betrayal which still rankled in their mind long after the politicians were gone. The esteem had turned to disdain because of the politicians. The perverted politicians were too naïve to realize that national security would eventually by threatened by the growing population of Muslims whose sole interest being to conquer the land. The Muslims lived off the Burmese hospitality but they did not unite with the Burmese. Their political loyalty was too often on sale to the highest bidder. What drove the point home was the shifting alliance of the Muslim parliament members, who switched sides back and forth bargaining for the most available numbers of cabinet posts, between the two factions of the ruling party, each trying to outmaneuver the other in the self-destructive inner party struggle. Since the party adherents including the native minorities were divided and with the opposition party allied to one faction the gang of six Muslims became crucial to both sides for successful outcome in the no-confidence motion against the government of U Nu, which finally brought down the whole house of cards, paving the way for the military dictatorship to replace the constitution regime.

The anatomy of the Islamic strategy was through a combination of military and political measures. Despite the relentless efforts in the previous centuries the Muslims failed to achieve their objective but the ambitions did not die. As noted earlier the scheme of the Bengali Muslims in the Rakhaing land was to exploit monopoly and establish their claim to the territory. With this end in view all methods of craft were employed but none of them has yet met with success. As wily as they were, what crossed in their mind was another effete verisimilitude. Intent on concealing their true identity and thus forging an ethnic minority the Muslims in Rakhaing, who after having shed the emblem of the Burmese Muslims chose to claim themselves the Rakhaing Muslims. Nonetheless, the signature of Rakhaing being Mongoloid by ethnicity and Buddhist by faith, the credibility of their claim was bitterly challenged by the Rakhaings. Unable to surmount the gruff diatribe the Bengali Muslims decided not to cling to their claim. Desperately needed to rebuild the image they vainly tried to fake a thin camouflage by assuming a new name “Rohingya” which they hoped might change the general perception about their origin and hostile activities, since the Mujahids were closely identified with the Mujahadins who were associated with terrorism. The term Rohingya being sternly controverted, what would it be next? Perhaps “Rohingya” an Afghan clan who moved to India en masse and settled in Uttar Pradesh after they had been uprooted from the homeland by the Persians in the eighteenth century. Whichever brand the change might bring it is the same old wine in the new bottle, the same old militant Bengali secessionists in one more disguise, who were lying low, yet keeping ready to spring to action once time is ripe. While sizing up the situation they ostensibly moved the bases to the Thai-Burma border area. The new location was worth all the efforts in purporting noninvolvement of Bangladesh in the separatist movement as well as to join forces with the Muslim secessionists of Thailand. No matter whatever measure was taken to extricate Bangladesh from the intrigue it is the open secret that the Muslim secessionist movement was conceived in and generated by the Muslim nation next door which continued to incite its fellow Bengali Muslims inside Burma to conduct campaigns of terror and intimidation. It exploited the ethnic divisions within Burma with the object of bringing them to the point of popular uprising, seeking a pretext for outside intervention.

No sooner than independence was won Burma experienced multi-colour insurgency and subversions; however nothing was so distinguished than the Muslim separatist movement in that it was organized, financed and directed by foreign nations using religion power to rally support of the Islamic world and…

In international transactions all relations contain characteristics of conflict but the record of the neighbouring Muslim nation was in remarkable contrast to the generally accepted principle embodied in the Charter of the United Nations which prohibits member states from interfering in each other’s domestic problems. No sooner than independence was won Burma experienced multi-colour insurgency and subversions; however nothing was so distinguished than the Muslim separatist movement in that it was organized, financed and directed by foreign nations using religion power to rally support of the Islamic world and the international public at large by means of squandering lobbyists, public relations firms and an avalanche of propaganda of which sought through vitriolic language and gross exaggeration to crate impression that the Muslims were the subject of systematic persecution in Burma. The Muslims agitators who continued to provoke and manufacture incidents accomplished their objective by fomenting panic among the local Muslims; hence exodus into Bangladesh which led the world to believe that the minority Muslims were being pushed out from the land. What was seen was not all that appeared to be. A lie repeated over and over again became indistinguishable from the truth.4 The unsettled situation in Burma was dramatized by two domestic events in 1978 and 1992 involving the Bengali Muslim refugees. Burma was under the international pressure to take in more refugees than the number of Muslims who crossed the border into Bangladesh which found convenient to label any unwanted persons as the refugee from Burma while there remained 400,000 Bihari Muslims stranded in Bangladesh, whose repatriation Pakistan refused to accept. The basic issue of illegal immigration was diverted to the instigated refugee crisis and the secessionist movement was juggled into religious persecution. It seems too querulous and anomalous on the part of the critics to perverse the real aspect of religious freedom in Burma, particularly the peevish Muslims who contemn and trammel the non-believers much less to allow other religions establish or being practised on their soil while they themselves reached the deep pockets to insensately impose Islam on the non-Muslim nations and the peaceful peoples. It raises serious questions as to the essence of morality.

Poised between the ambitions of China, the world’s most populous nation and Bangladesh, the world’s most densely populated country per square mile, Burma has relatively few effective means of preventing infiltration from outside since its lengthy frontiers pass through high mountain ranges, thick forests and shallow rivers. To safeguard the sovereignty and protect the interest of the nation is the paramount duty of any government, the democratic or otherwise. Neither the national security nor the illegal immigrant issue is to be kept in bay. However, in Burma because of the military regime whatever events or however routine the administrative measures might have been, they were painted in much different pictures with the sinister intent to conjure up in the minds of the general public, especially in the West vision of the military dictatorship who in no time dealt with any threat to their authority. The Burmese people who did not recognize the legitimacy of the military rule, nevertheless accepted the general principle of primary loyalty to their own nation. They felt strongly that, with good reasons, the international community took no notice of the legitimate rights of the indigenous Buddhist majority of the host country while they sympathized with the alien Muslim immigrants. Are the Muslim victims, who sought to create a situation to enable them to take over the country they had emigrated? Are the Burmese aggressors, who struggled to defend their own nation? The Muslim agitation and subversions were constant irritants for the Burmese people who have unfairly been relegated to the role of Muslim haters, notwithstanding the fact that Burma, in good neighbourliness and on humanitarianism, extended hospitality to the Bengali refugees and safe transit to the West Pakistani military brass led by General Khan, nicknamed Tiger Khan during the 1971 civil war in then East Pakistan.

The irony is that the Muslim activists who hijacked democracy were now crying for democracy to advance their political legitimacy in order to achieve their objective. Some political analysts concluded democracy and Islam were incompatible. The Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization equated Islam and Communism while former Vice President Dan Quayle in his address to the 1990 graduating class of Annapolis linked Nazism, Communism and radical Islamic fundamentalism. The radical Muslims could hardly contain their aspiration. Their quest for global dominance is never ending. They eyed the world with growing ardour. Islam knows no boundary. Geographical isolation is no longer a hindrance. No Muslim armies would come marching on the camel backs like in the medieval age nor blatant military intervention world be a choice; instead subversion and interference would continue to be the case. The Muslims are social parasitic elements like lichens in the sense that they grew on the doomed host and claimed it for themselves; and also are carcinomatous in that just like the malignant tumors they ensconced and spread inside the lymphatic segments of the non-Muslim society leading to its ultimate fatality. The situation in Burma might be different from the condition in the West, but no country is immune from the Islamic virus; every country in susceptible, big or small, developed or underdeveloped, wealthy or needy. There is no telling which country will be the next victim. The Muslims are communal hunters who gang up on others in pack. With the increasing trend in the export of Islamic fundamentalism, the global spread of Islamic threat is in the offing. In the face of the growing Muslim population the fear of demographic threat sounds the tocsin of alarm in the mind of the citizenry of the non-Muslim world.


(1) Sunni mosque in Sule Pagoda road; Surathi mosque in Shwebontha Street; Sunni mosque in Maungtawlay Street; Sunni mosque in Shwebontha Street; Shia mosque in the 30th Street; and Khoja mosque in Shwebontha Street.

(2) Members of Organization of the Islamic Conference, established in 1971:

Afghanistan, Albania, Algeria, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Benin, Brunei, Burkina, Fasco, Cameroon, Chad, The Comoros, Djibouti, Egypt, Gabon, The Gambia, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia, Iran, Jordan, Kazakastan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Lybia, Malaysia, Mauritania, Morocco, Mozambique, Niger, Oman, Pakistan, PLO, Qatar, Saudi Arbia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, United Arab Emirates and Yeman.

Observers: Uzbekistan and Turkish Federated State of Cyprus

(3) D.G.E. Hall, Burma, page 182

4. The culture of not being truthful was referred to the area Muslims in the book “The Raiders of Arakan”, by C.E. Lucas Phillips; which appears at page 9:” Masters of intrigue and deception, the Chittagonians made extremely good Intelligence agents behind the enemy lines but, when it come to a clash of interests among themselves, they quarrelled violently and were awful liars.
Last Updated on Friday, 03 June 2011 09:28
Sources: Rakhapuara

The Rakhaing-3

Posted: November 4, 2011 in Arakan History, Articles

The Rakhaing-3
                      by Dr. Tha Hla

The last chapter of the time-honoured Rakhaing realm had come to a close and there lay ahead the valley of ill fortune to pass through. Gone was the sovereignty and so was the dignity. The kingdom was demeaned to a provincial state and a Burmese viceroy was installed to administer it . Years before the calamity struck the Rakhaings who were torn asunder by internal strifes had resigned to accept the inevitability of the Burmese conquest but they did not contemplate the contumely they had to endure under the domineering Burmese. If the vicissitudes of life symbolized bitterness none was more acrid than loss of freedom. Equally distressing was the lose of national treasure, the Maha Muni Image. The Burmese were grossly misguided by arrogance. Once in control they hardly concealed their aversion. They regarded themselves superior in fiber to the Rakhaings who were thus treated with contempt and insolence. This social fabric strained the relation between the ruler and the ruled. The antagonistic polarization widened rapidly with the increase of rapacity on the part of the Burmese officials. The ill feeling built up to tension which in turned led to repression and ultimately to resistance. No sooner was the country conquered than revolt after revolt flared up through out the country. The resentment against the imposing attitude was aggravated by the odious measures of depopulation. Instead of ameliorating the disorders the Burmese resorted to the ruthless strategy of deportation. The situation in the country was appalling. Driven by oppression and weary of conscription streams of Rakhaings fled over the border into the hilly regions of Chittagong which promised a new life. The forested tracts which were still to be effectively controlled became havens for the displaced Rakhaing refugees.

The consequences of occupation were far more deadly and far-reaching than trumpery victors might have reckoned. Their trouble was just the tip of iceberg. By the time the Burmese embarked on the euphoria of triumph the European intervention in the India subcontinent was in the full swing. The Anglo-French rivalry had spread across India from Europeand North America. The British had established themselves the supreme power on the ruins of the Mogul Empire whose territory extended right to the doorstep of the Rakhaing land. The ecstasy soon turned to the agony of victory as the rump of the country unfolded its drama. Skirmishes erupted between the local residents and the over bearing Burmese. The life of the population was worse than it had been in the preconquest time and they grew more and more resolved to challenge the Burmese authority. The more suppressive the Burmese became the harder the will grew. The Burmese had misread the Rakhaings. They were totally of their own. In the time of foreign invasion they repressed their differences: the cleavage among the various regions was redressed and rose to their defence. In their life long combat with the stranger Burmese they were defiant to the end. The Burmese might have conquered the land but they did not win over the people. The defeat might have temporarily robbed the Rakhaings morale but their spirit had never been dimmed. They were devoted to liberate the nation and regain independence. No amount of cruelty could induce them to part with the cherished goal of liberation. To the Rakhaings resistance was vindication of their freedom. And their attempts to reconquer the country from bases behind the British line provoked the Burmese who in their pursuit of the fleeing inside British territory entangled in disputes with the British. These border incidents formed the main cause of the first Anglo-Burmese war. The acquisition of Rakhaing by the Burmese was as a matter of fact the beginning of the end of the Burmese era. They had stepped upon a perilous road which led them their defeat to the British. The conqueror had become the conquered, so to speak.

The Burmese conquest resulted in a complete destruction of the country and suffering of its people. High handedness of the Burmese became so unbearable that a large-scale rebellion broke out in 1794 with the backing of the Rakhaings settled across the border. It was a trial of determination rather than a physical contest. The Burmese mounted their troops in greater numbers. Unequalled in strength the uprising collapsed. In fear of their lives waves of Rakhaings poured into the British territory. The Burmese forces chased the Rakhaings into the British side of the border and remained there encamped until three Rakhaing resistance leaders were handed over to them by the British authorities who were misled by the Burmese contrivance; and no responsible British officials would have dwelt without a sense of guilt upon their cooperation with the Burmese. Four years later another sizable revolt sparked up and once again by the absolute majority of man power the upheaval was quelled and exodus of refugees ensued. The condition of the refugees was extremely serious. Dire need of food and shelter was compounded with the outbreak of disease in epidemic proportion. The magnitude of the problem was such that the British authorities organized relief measures in 1799. Consequently a dispute boiled up over the escaping Rakhaings. The Burmese who did not take kindly the desperate plight of the refugees demanded expulsion of the all Rakhaings from the British territory, now estimated fifty thousands. In the subsequent discussion of the issue, notwithstanding the threat of war by the Burmese viceroy, the British refused to cape in to the Burmese proposition and pressed on the point that the frontier was being well guarded that it had been before and the Rakhaings were not allowed to cross the border one direction or the other. The Burmese finally dropped their demand. The British stood firm by their position because partly they were sympathetic to the Rakhaings, and in part they anticipated that the Rakhaings might conspire to discomfit and help defeat the Burmese, yet their decision to uphold the British prestige should not be ruled out. Upon each collapse followed by extortion of exorbitant taxes. The drastic action which was meant to stamp out rebellion adversely strengthened the will of the surviving Rakhaings to execute the very thing the Burmese intended to prevent it from happening.

A seemingly impossible event, serious in nature, took place in 1911. An ingenious leader, known as Chun Byan, nom de guerre, diligently assembled thousands of men to his banner in the British territory. The phalanx of improvised militia sustained by the spirit of motherland and armed with whatever weapons they could lay hands on crossed the border unimpaired. They boldly marched to Mrohaung and captured it in brief and brilliant campaign. With the prestige of commendable victory behind Chun Byan wasted no time to communicate with the British authorities in Bengal in an effort to seek recognition and help, and offered to become a British protectorate. The British did not accede to the request. Apparently the government of Chun Byan was a government within a government, which though a formidable force was no match for the Burmese who were bound to prevail. Compliance with the request would entail a military confrontation with the Burmese which the British were not prepared to commit at the moment when the east India Compamy was engaged in a with the Marathas in India, and England with the French under Napoleon. The British decided that their interest would be better served by not rushing to the aid of the Rakhaings. They would prefer to dissipate the strength of the Burmese through a third party, the Rakhaings who were accordingly wooed by deals and favours. In exchange for their allegiance the expatriate Rakhaing nobility and gentry were dispensed with fiefdoms of land which stretched from Ramu to the Naaf River.

In order to improve the sluggish relations the British who were suspected of being in connivance with the Rakahaings took pains to explain to the Burmese government at Ava that they did not bear a hand with the Rakhaing expedition and assured them Chun Byan would be prevent from taking refuge in the British side of the border if he were defeated. As skeptical as they had been the Burmese were hardly convinced much less to place faith in the British undertaking. Meanwhile the Burmese swarmed in with predicable vengeance. Unable to waistband the military might deployed by the enemy Chun Byan retreated into the Chittagong hill tracts as unhampered and swiftly as he had appeared at Mrohaung. This development left the Burmese with more questions than answers about the British innocence in the affairs. Under the circumstances British had no option but allowed the Burmese cross the frontier and search for Chun Byan but of no avail. In the following years after he had been driven off Chun Byan mobilized his men into guerrilla warfare and made frequent raids into Rakhaing from the hideouts in the Chittagong jungles. Regardless of the repeated efforts neither the Burmese nor the British who lent a helping hand to the Burmese could trace the elusive freedom fighters let alone to apprehend them. The implacable guerillas continued to intrude upon Rakhaing for several years only to be called off by the sudden death of the leader of an illness in 1815.

With the death of Chun Byan Rakhaing frontier crisis moved from the center stage, yet the Anglo-Burmese relations remained stagnant. The British while making time to free their hands in India made an attempt at negotiating a treaty for diplomatic representative at Ava and Calcutta, the seat of governor-general; Bodawpaya on the other hand was increasingly anxious to annex Eastern Bengal which bordered also on Assam and Manipur other than Rakhaing. The already damaged relations further eroded when Bodawpaya occupied Assam and his successor Bagidaw invaded Manipur which brought about border incidents as the refugees entered the British territory and the Burmese crossed the borders. The turning point came when a clash erupted in 1823 on the Rakhaing frontier over the question of boundary demarcation along the Naaf River between Rakhaing and Eastern Bengal. The discord intensified; the conflict escalated. The Burmese forces seized the island of Shapuri on the British side of the estuary which in turn was reclaimed by the British. To make the matters worse Bandola, the ambitious and heavy handed general who was made governor of Assam earlier was appointed as the commander-in- chief in Rakhaing. In preparation for war across the Naaf River he hastily built up troops at Maungdaw, a military hamlet strategically located on the Rakhaing bank of the Naaf River, and began operations in Eastern Bengal.

Hoping to wriggle free of the Burmese rule the dauntless partisans cooperated with the British and rose against the Burmese garrisons. Ruthless as he was brutal Bandola unleashed his army on the Rakhaings. Thousands were put to the sword, both combatants and noncombatants whoever they came upon or stumbled them in the hiding places the old, the young, the women down to the offsprings of the offsprings. Civilian carnage was enormous. Plunder was wholesale. The rampaging intruders torched the houses after having them stripped off possessions. Smoke plumes rose from towns and villages in the distance. The waves of destruction swept across the country. They took pleasure in killing in order to instill terror in the populace. Fear was palpable everywhere. Mere warnings Bandola’s approach sent the frightened Rakhaings running for shelter in the thickest possible thorny undergrowth, the unlikely spots for hiding, regardless of the bodily torment. Some dashed into the neck-deep water in the insect infected mangrove forests. Some were forced to choose between their own life and that of the sobbing or the wandering child so as to save the rest community from being heard or located. The unfortunate youngsters ended up being thrown alive into the burning house or tossed into the air only to become easy target for the awaiting sword much to delight of the dreaded invaders. The name Bandola had become the obnoxious abracadabra to restrain the crying children who could not be pacified. Not single day passed without the fateful events in one part of the country or another in those turbulent years.

As the tumult went on the parents would feed the children prior to adults being served so that they would not go hungry in case of emergency. The leftover rice was laid in the sun and saved it in the earthen jars along with the drinking water as ration on location since the marauds often lasted for several days. The fire would be put out in no time after the cooking had been done not just that it would be left unattended during their absence hiding away from the home but also to mislead the Burmese that the occupants of the house had not been around lately. Night time went by without the luxury of burning oil and people kept vigilant guard through the night until the wee hours when the sky lighted up on the horizon. Because wives, daughters and sisters were ravished for pleasure by the sword-wielding Burmese soldiers that young women were discouraged from being seen in public. Over the years the rituals which had overwhelmed the daily living were amalgamated as integrated parts in the mainstream culture. The Burmese savagery had bitten deep into the hearts of the Rakhaings so much so that the accounts of butchery were narrated from one generation to another in voices tinted with apoplectic anger as if it had happened the previous day. The Burmese annihilation strangled the population growth for centuries. The Rakhaings were nearly wiped out from the land of their ancestors.

While Bandola was engaged in Bengal the British made their advance by way of sea and invaded lower Burma and captured Rangoon. The tide of war now turned in favour of the British. The Burmese suffered a stinging defeat. In 1825 the British occupied Rakhaing. At the end of the first Anglo-Burmese war Rakhaing along with Tenasserim, another maritime state was ceded to British East India Company under the provisions of the Treaty of Yandabo ratified in February 1826. In the aftermath of the war the British gained the power, the Burmese crumpled in indelible shame and the Rakhaings embraced the scourge. The Burmese sowed the seed of their own decline. They were too conceited to come to terms with the grim reality. Ignorant of the potentiality the Burmese underestimated the strength of the British. Their judgement and conducts ought to be held accountable for their downfall. As it is often the case the Burmese made the Rakhaings the scapegoat. Inspite of expiation for intentional piracy and shocking atrocities they had perpetrated the Burmese nursed grievances against the Rakhaings. Their anger was channeled into the Rakhaing-hating sentiment which was manifest in the obloquy “Death unto the Rakhaing over the lethal viper”. Another Rakhaing bashing was illuminated in the lampoon “The Kala (the British) being undefeated, so beat the Rakhaing instead”. Such racial motivated characterization, which still vigorous today, outrageously convulsed the survivors of the Burmese wrath and continued to agitate repercussions among the younger generations.

It is the general notion that an invitation is an act of aggression, and that intervention and occupation of a country by another is strictly contrary to international law. Nevertheless the Burmese historians who are mainly concerned with eminence of the Burmese kings have made a vain endeavor to extenuate Bodawpaya’s action that it was not aggressive policy but the deteriorate condition in Rakhaing which necessitated his intervention less the country should be taken over by either the British or the French. Surprisingly enough it was the same line of the contention proffered by the British scholars that in order to prevent Burma from being dominated by the French that it had to be incorporated into the British East India Company. What the learned Burmese historians blinded themselves from the fact is that the Burmese rulers were infatuated by the spell of hegemony which any of them scarcely attained. Bodawpaya was ardently consumed with fanaticism which prompted him to be believe that he was destined to rule the world. Soon after Rakhaing was vanquished the launched a disastrous campaign against Siam wherein he narrowly escape capture. The prolonged tussles from which he finally retracted in great remorse wreaked immense devastation on the Mons and Shans living along the border between Burma and Siam. He did not even enjoy the fealty of his heavily taxed Burmese subjects not to mention about the Rakhaings who bore the brunt of the war expenditures and were constantly requisitioned for his unsuccessful expeditions. Besides he also proclaimed himself the coming Buddha with the resulting obsession that hordes of Rakhaings by the thousands were herded out of their homeland and put them through the construction of the Mingun pagoda and it bell; the pagoda never finished and the bell barely tolled.

It might seem fair to the judgement Burmese historians to extol the Burmese aggressors no matter how extensive they had run amok, and to glorify their acts of aggression in expatiated panegyrics whereas to denigrate those who defended their own country as fugitives and label them rebels and renegades, and to deprecate the heroic deeds ventured forth by the victims of aggression whose life had been ripped apart and never recovered from the wounds of dissolution. The manner in which the Burmese historians depict the Rakhaings to prejudice the opinions of the general public raised serious questions as to the conscience and morality. Perhaps, it could be the forthright consequence of their upbringing. There exists a vast collection of lesser known Rakhaing chronicles which sheds a different light on the Rakhaings and their protracted struggle to ward off the torrent of Burmese intrusion. Being opposed to the oppressors is neither an offence nor an act of treason to be scorned; by all definitions it is patriotism, and by far patriotism is not the monopoly of a race or nationalism belongs to one nation alone. The Rakhaings had the inalienable rights and were entitled to every viable means to repel the invaders who occupied their ancestral land either on their own, in alliance with or by the support of any enemy of their enemy. What the Rakhaings did was the legitimate task they were obliged to undertake in quest of national independence. It was in conformity with international norms and for which noble act of nationalism the Rakhaings stood tall and will do so in pride, dignity and honour.
Sources: Rakhapura

 An Outline of the Arakanese Rule in Southeast Bengal During 16th and 17th Century AD
U Bodhinyana

Arakan had been an independent kingdom for over four millennium and its relations with Bengal was very intimate, specially Chittagong, the southeastern part of Bangladesh, which derived its name in consequence of the victory over local chieftain by King Chula Taing Chandra of Arakan in 953 AD1. The subordination of Chittagong to Arakan is corresponded to the absence of supremacy of other royal claimants over the region. The statement of the Arakanese chroniclers may, however, be taken as a proof of the Arakanese lordship over southeast Bengal.

Arakan, “in fact, a continuation of the Chittagong plain,”2 was neither purely a Burmese (Myanmar) nor an Indian territory till the 18th century AD the land that has been called Arakan by the foreigners is known to its own people Rakhaing-pray and call themselves Rakhaing-tha. The word rakkha means guardian, pray means land and tha meaning son. Hence, Rakhaing-pray and Rakhaing-tha means ‘land of the guardian’ and ‘son of the guardian’. The Bengali on the other hand refer them as Magh, the word adopted in the 17th century, to mean it with degrading appellation. Neither the Arakanese nor any other Mongoloid brethren ever speak or write of themselves as “Magh” as it has been alien to them. The European travelers and chroniclers refer them as ‘Recon, Rakan, Arracan, Aracao, Orrakan, Arrakan, Arakan’. In colloquial Chittagong dialect, the country is called ‘Rohang and Roshang’. All these various forms are closely related to the original one ‘Rakhaing’ (or Rakhine)3.

Mung Saw Mwan alias Narameikhla, King of Arakan when expelled by the Burmans from his Kingdom, Laungrat, found shelter in the court of Gaur for 22 years and was reinstalled on his throne in 1430 AD. He thereupon built himself a new capital named Mrauk-U in 1433 AD, which for the next four centuries known as Mrauk-U dynasty, the last in the series of dynastic rule. His successor Mung Khari alias Ali Khan (1434-1459 AD), established peace with the eastern neighbour, the Burmese king, repossessed Penwa (Ramu, in Cox’s Bazar district). Like his predecessor he and his successors continued to use Persian (Mohammedan) titles, no long as a sign of vassaldom but as a token of their sovereignty over Chittagong4. Benefiting from trade with Bengal and Malacca, Arakan became so prosperous and powerful that, his successor Ba Saw Pru alias Kalim Shah (1459-1482 AD) occupied Chittagong in 1459 AD5.

This important port remained under Arakanese control with irregular incursion from Tripura and Sultan of Bengal. However, from about 1580 AD till its subjugation by Shaista Khan, in 1666 AD for nearly a century, Chittagong almost uninterruptedly was under Arakanese rule, which is undoubtedly an important period marked by momentous events. During this period, a company of eight sovereigns successively ruled Arakan along with southeast Bengal (comprising the present districts of Chittagong, Cox’s Bazar, Bandarban, Rangamati, Khagrachari, Feni and Noakhali) with full despotic power.

In the mid 16th century the European ships made their appearance, as raiders, and the Portuguese freebooters (feringhe) began to settle at Chittagong6. Unlike the other races of Burma (Myanmar), the Arakanese maintained sea-going craft and Chittagong bred a race of competent seamen. The union with the Portuguese marked the high watermark in Arakanese history. The thriving port of Chittagong was always held either by a second son or a brother or a faithful clansman of the king, with an Arakanese garrison. Every year the king sent a hundred boats full of troop, powder and ball, and then the garrison and boat sent in the previous years returned home to (Mrauk-U capital of) Arakan7.

During the Arakanese rule Chittagong was divided into three divisions Diang, Chakrashala and Penwa. Diang was the commercial centre with port and a strong naval base. The fort, according to Talish’s narration8, connected all the hills, high or low encircling the Laldighi tank. The residence of the Arakanese viceroy of Chittagong was situated within the fort. The principal Buddhist temple was situated on the Rangmahal hill from where a large image of Lord Buddha has recently been dug out9.

The paper tries to sketch out a brief account of Arakan focusing on its rule on southeast Bengal from 1580 to 1666 AD.
Mung Phaloung or Sikander Shah (r.1571-1593 AD) was the 17th king of the Mrauk U dynasty and youngest son of King Mung Ba Gree or Zabuk Shah (r.1531-1553 AD) the 13th king of the line. Ralph Fitch, the British traveler who was at Chittagong in 1585 mentions Chittagong along with Ramu as subject of Arakan10. The significant event during Mung Phaloung’s reign is that in 1586 Arakanese army attacked Udoypur, capital of Tripura, from which they could never regain power to challenge the supremacy over Chittagong. The king of Arakan himself led an army to Dhaka and stationed two battalions at Jugdia and Alamdia11. During the initial years of his occupation of Chittagong, Mung Phaloung appointed two Uzirs–one Jalal Khan in the northern Chittagong and the other Adam Shah in the south. In Arakanese, the Chittagong governor is called Saitagong-za and Saitagong-mung.

Ashun Sandamala Lankara12 confirms appointment of Chittagong Uzir to one Jalil in Arakanese era (AE) 936 (i.e.1574 AD) but did not mention about the governor. The reverend author further reveals that as the western territory expanded the king created some new posts as Anouk-barang, Murshidabad governor and Dhaka governor where he appointed Thadoe Mung Saw Hla – king’s second son, Uttama Kyaw Khoung and Koung Nyet Thu respectively13. Some historians mentioned Anouk-barang as Anaporan or Anik Farank while referring to the Chittagong Governor. Anouk means west, barang means king so Anouk-barang means ‘western king’ or ‘king of the western theatre’. Ashun Sandamala Lankara clearly says that this post was created to enforce administration of tasay-hna-banga (twelve Bengals) including Chittagong. Later, on the other hand, he used it as a title saying Anouk-barang Thadoe Mung Saw Hla was made Saitagong-mro-za means Chittagong Town Governor14.

Mung Phaloung after taking full control of Chittagong minted two ‘Chittagong type’ silver trade coins with both sides in Arabic language with his Arabic regnal name “Sikandar Shah” with Hijri date (AH) 983 (i.e.1574 AD) and 992 AH (i.e.1583 AD). These coins appear to have been struck exclusively for trade in Chittagong as he had his ‘Arakanese type’ trilingual coin, Arabic and Bengali on the obverse while Arakanese on the reverse side with Arabic name “Sikandar Shah” having Arakanese date 933 (i.e. 1571 AD)15. A silver coin has been surfaced with the title Anouk-barang of 953 AE (i.e. 1591 AD) the date taken as the first single Arakanese administrator of Bengal with the appointment of Thadoe Mung Saw Hla as Anouk-barang. This trilingual coin is with Kalima on the top and Sri Sri Ana/kaphara in Bengali on the obverse and Mung-tara-gree-thadoe Anouk-barang with 953 AE on the reverse16.

Mung Raza Gree or Salim Shah (r.1593-1612 AD) succeeded his father’s throne in 1593 AD. In the early years of his reign, the governorship of Chittagong was vested on Maha Pinya Kyaw a great scholar with a religious tune of mind17. It is said that Maha Pinya Kyaw is not a real name but a title meaning ‘great scholar’. No coin of his is known so far. In 1599 AD the Arakanese king joined the prince and viceroy of Toungoo in the latter’s attack against his first cousin Nandabayin, king of Pegu. In this expedition the king of Arakan employed a flotilla from Chittagong and Ganges delta. The Arakanese deported 3000 households – Burmans, Talaing and Siamese of the wretched Pegu flok and returned with a white elephant and a daughter of the fallen king. The event has been written by Michael W. Charney in his ‘The 1598-99 Siege and the Expansion of Arakanese Imperial Power into Lower Burma’18. The king of Arakan married the princess while the prisoners brought from the expedition were settled at Urai-toung, Thandway and along the river of Ngasaraing-choung.

On the return voyage the wise governor of Chittagong died and was buried, after cremation, near the Hmawdun pagoda at Negrais. Minister Pinyawantha son of the deceased was soon appointed the governor of Chittagong. Mung Raza Gree after his return from Pegu had issued a trilingual (Arakanese, Arabic and Devanagari) coin with dotted border and dated 963 AE (i.e.1601 AD). Before this he had issued a coin in 955 AE and in 959 AE, 960 AE and 973 AE his successive governors had issued coins19.

For a short duration the reign of Mung Raza Gree extended from Dacca (Dhaka) and the Sundarbans to Moulmein, a coast strip of a thousand miles in length and varying 150 to 20 miles in depth20. Fr.Fernandes in his letter written from Dianga on 22nd December 1599 calls Dianga a town (ville) in the Port of Chittagong. It was at about this time that it began to acquire some importance. Besides Dianga could not be a City of Bengala as it really formed a part of the Kingdom of Arakan. As the Portuguese who had establishes themselves in Chittagong extended their activities to Dianga towards the end of the sixteenth century. The King of Arakan owed these ports at this time and in the letters-patent granted to the Portuguese Fathers he styled himself “the highest and the most powerful King of Arakan, of Tippera, of Chacomas and of Bengala; Lord of the Kingdoms of Pegu etc.” Father Du Jarric without referring any name mentioned that the Governor of Chittagong was uncle of the King of Arakan21.

The friendly relation between the Arakanese and the Portuguese later turned to a hostile one and Kedar Rai, ruler of Sripur, was helpful while the king of Bakla assisted Portuguese. In 1607 AD the king offered to let the Dutch trade and build fortifications in return for help driving out the Portuguese. In 1610 AD (Mung) Razagree had appointed his younger son, Mung Man Gree or Min Mangri, as Viceroy of Chittagong. A son or a brother of the Arakanese kings was usually posted to that charge and there was nothing usual in (Mung) Razagree’s choice except that Min Mangri was not on good terms with the heir to the throne Min Khamoung his elder brother22.Mung Man Gree was referred by Portuguese source as ‘Alamanja’ or ‘Alemao’.

The governor of Chittagong soon broke out into rebellion against his father and entered into an alliance with Gonsalves Tibau, Portuguese pirate-king of Sandwip, who, thought, would save him from his brother and to put him in his brother’s place. The governor who had a sister was baptised by Father Rafael and led her to Sandwip where amid great rejoicings married to Tibau’s son. Mung Raza Gree got furious and immediately sent an army against his rebellious son under the Crown Prince Mung Khamoung who kept besieged Chittagong for four months. As negotiations failed the Crown Prince made violent assault, the rebels surrendered at the death of their leader. As long as Mung Man Gree was Viceroy, the pirate-king (Gonsalves Tibau) was assured of a dominating position at the head of the Bay. With his death and the appointment of a new Viceroy strictly under the control of the King of Arakan, his (Gonsalves) position was threatened23.

According to Ashun Sandamala Lankara, soon after his accession, Mung Raza Gree appointed his younger brother Thadoe Mung Saw Hla as the governor of Chittagong in 955 AE (i.e.1593 AD) in addition to the job of Anauk-barang and posted at Chittagong. In 975 AE Thadoe Mung Saw Hla as revolted against his brother, the King marched towards Chittagiong and subdued it. The King then deputed the wise minister Maha Pinya Kyaw to the post of the Lord of Chittagong, Thadaw Mung Digha to the post of Anauk-barang and stationed him at Mauthuza (i.e.Murshidabad) to administer the twelve Bengals. Later Anauk-barang Mung Digha was replaced by Mung Nyo while Kyee Nyo (son of Maha Pinya Kyaw) posted as governor of Rangpru24. At the tragic death of Maha Pinya Kyaw the king appointed Mung Man Gree who was later replaced by Chakkawaday as governor of Chittagong.

Soon after Mung Khamoung or Hussain Shah (r.1612-1622 AD) ascended his father’s throne he started resolving the Portuguese affairs. Through the help given by the Dutch ships harbour at Mrauk-U the Arakanese king gave a deathly blow to the already declining Portuguese power in this region. After which the Portuguese ceased to be king’s rivals and became his servents25.

In the western side the Mughals were getting stronger under the rule of Jahangir (r.1605-1627) and thereby claimed the right of rule over Chittagong, which, in fact, was being ruled by the Arakanese26. During Islam Khan’s governorship (1608-1612) the capital of Bengal was transferred from Rajmahal to Dhaka. In the beginning of Qasim Khan’s governorship (1613-1617) the Arakanese raid on the Mughal territory was intensified. Qasim’s campaign to take possession of Chittagong ended in a complete failure.

There was another attempt of the Mughals under Ibrahim Khan (1617-1624), brother of Empress Nur Jahan, to conquer Chittagong. But their strategies and low morale compelled them to give up their hope for victory. The Mughuls got an exaggerated idea that Arakanese was an impregnable country, its fleet was invincible, and its forces could not be overwhelmed27. Mung Khamoung, emboldened by success, extended his territory in Bengal by occupying a part of what is now the district of Bakergong (present Barisal division), and for a time the city of Dacca (Dkaha)28. The king led an army to his vassaldom, Udoypur, the capital of Tippera in 1615 AD and subdued the rebel leader Chakyamuni thereby propitiatory tribute assured29. Mung Khamoung proved to be the greatest and most successful king and his name is still remembered with pride and affection by the Arakanese people.

According to Harvey30, Meng Soe Pyu (1614-1629), would be brother or half-brother of Princess Khin Ma Hnoung of Pegu was made governor of Chittagong. But most of the historians are silent about the governor by this name. Nor one could trace in any of the Arakanese and Burmese chronicles. However the Portuguese source depict different story, with different name, about the so-called brother of the Pegu princes. No coins been surfaced during this period. The controversy thus created needs further in-depth research and studies.

Thiri Thudhamma or Salim Shah (r.1622 – 1638 AD) was only twenty years old when he ascended his father’s thorn in 1622. His younger brother holds the governorship of Chittagong and he took strict means in dealing with the Portuguese freebooters31. They became so alarmed that they sent Sebastio Manrique, an Augustinian friar of Oporto, to Mraunk-U, capital of Arakan and intercede with the king that ‘the Portuguese are loyal to you’ 32. During his stay of six months in Arakanese capital, Manrique was shown the belongings received from the Pegu expedition in 1599 and was greatly impressed by the white elephant. Nanda Bayin’s daughter (Khin Ma Hnoung alias Thazoung Me-phara), who had been carried off (from Pegu, capital of Henthawadi) to Mrohaung (Mrauk-U) and married to King Razagri, received him and related the story of her sufferings with deep emotions33.

Manrique visited Mraunk-U for the second time in 1633. He stayed there for two years and his books34 tell of further adventures while at the capital of Arakan. He gave a strange account of the king’s coronation in 1635, who deferred twelve years, because of a prophecy that he would die within a year of it. Twelve vassal chiefs were crowned at the same time35. Thiri Thudhamma enforced payment of tribute from Dhaka and in the eastern frontier raided Moulmein and Pegu.

Arakan remain on the Dutch programme from 1623 as their ships were going there to buy the Bengali slaves captured by the marauding feringhi (Portuguese), and the surplus rice that the country produced as a result of the abundant slave labour available for cultivating the fields36. But in 1631 the Dutch chief factor, reported that trade had been brought to a standstill by a terrible famine and pestilence. The famine lasted till 1634 and during that period Chittagong was also affected.

The 1000 AE (i.e. 1638 AD) is a crucial year in the history of Arakan as also for Chittagong. Three years after king’s coronation the prophecy came true lately. The chief queen, Nat Shun May, had a paramour, Kuthala, lord of Laung-gret who was expert in the deadliest forms of black magic, joined in the murder of the king in 1638. A bilingual coin of Chittagong governor has been surfaced with Hizri date 1038 (i.e. 1629 AD), ‘Sultan Chitagon’ in Arabic on the obverse and ‘Saitagong-mung’ in Arakanese on the reverse. The date coincide with the installation of Mung Re i.e. 1629 AD37

Thri Thudhamma’s legitimate heir Mung Sani or Thadoe Mung Hla (1638 AD) ascended his father’s throne at his tender age of eighteen. But on the 20th day of his accession he died. Most historians are of the opinion that the dowager queen, Nat Shun May, mother of Mung Sani desiring to have her paramour, her future king had the magic spell, caused with small-pox, upon the new king ultimately died on the 20th day of his installation38.

Kuthala was 56 years old when he occupied the throne and took the title of Narapatigree (r.1638 – 1645 AD). He was one of the great grandson of king Thazata, 11th king of Mrauk-U dynasty. He soon enforce massacre of the kinsmen, nobles and artisans to control the affairs unchallenged. He did not take the widow queen to the palace-citadel rather rehabilitated her at a safe distance.

O’ Malley39 referring to the Arakanese Chronicle, “During the troubled times, the son of Sri Sudhama, Nga Tun Khin, made his escape from the town and lived in the wilderness; and certain members of the royal family and nobles left for Kantha40, a place in Chittagong and settled down there. Of the 1,00,000 guards who were stationed in Myohaung, 50,000 deserted the king and left the capital, taking with them Nga Lut Roon, who was the priest, and settled down in Kantha under Nga Tun Khin”41.

The governor of Chittagong during that period was one Mangat Rai or Mung Re, the identity of whom has been in dispute among the scholars, was displeased over the change of his master. Chittagong District Gazetteers42 says, “Mangat Rai or Mukut Rai ………his father Gaureswa Rai ………the ancestor lived at Tippera district. His family and supporters with 14 elephants and nearly 9000 men (both Arakanese and Talaing) fled to Jahangirnagar. Descendents of Mukut Rai live in village Kadurkhil.” According to Arthur P.Phayre, “Makat Rai is apparently a corruption of Meng Re, signifying – Bold Chief – a title held by the Arakanese governor of Chittagong”43. But according to Dr. S.B.Qanungo, “Manek Rai or Mangat Rai, the murdered Raja’s paternal uncle ………. did not recognise the usurper a king and declared independence in his territory, …………. however, defeated (by the king) and was forced to flee to Dhaka”44.

According to Harvey45, Mung Re was the son of Meng Soa Pyu, who became governor around 1629 AD, which was during the reign of Thiri Thudhamma. While settling down in Dhaka he as a rebel king of Chittagong issued a trilingual coins on the obverse in Arabic ‘Muzaffar wasf (?) Amir’ and ‘Sri Sri Muz(affar)’ in Bengali and on the reverse ‘Saitagong Mung Re Kyaw Htan’ in Arakanese without any date46. The force of the new king, Narapatigree, crushed the uprising of Mung Re in 1638 AD. In the same year, the king appointed new governor of Chittagong who issued a trilingual silver coin. On the obverse it bears the title ‘Firoz Shah’ in Arabic and ‘Sri Chatigram Raj Piroj Shah’ in Bengali and on the reverse it bears the date 1000 AE (i.e.1638 AD) with the title ‘Saitagong Mung Siri Jaya Nawratha’ in Arakanese47. The appointment of the governors of Chittagong to which Harvey48 had hypothesised as being a hereditary in nature, may flatly be refuted by adding the statement of Vasant Chowdhury,“It is stated that Meng Re Prue was succeeded by his son Meng Hari Prue but it is unlikely that Meng Re or Mangat Rai during his flight to the Mughal territory had left his son behind49. It is to be regretted that such a historian like Harvey marred the value of his later works by hasty and prejudiced judgement.

At the initial period of Narapatigree’s rule Dutch business got on extremely well. But in 1643 the king’s health broke and he lost control over affairs. Then an incident occurred which caused the Dutch to close the factory once more. A frigate belonging to a Dutch free burgher, bound for Chittagong with a valuable cargo of piece-goods, was decoyed into Mrohaung harbour, its cargo confiscated and its captain and crew imprisoned. For eight years the factory was empty, and the Dutch subjected Arakanese shipping to severe reprisals50.

Narapatigree’s son, Thadoe Mung Tara (r.1645–1652 AD) who succeeded him tried his best to consolidate the kingdom. He even marched to the twelve Bengal to affirm its sovereignty and territorial integrity51. His dependence on the Portuguese for the defense of Chittagong turned the port town virtually to a haunt of the Portuguese freebooters52. During the reign of Thadoe Mung Tara, the governor of Chittagong minted silver coins with the Arabic title ‘Nizam Shah’ in Bengali on the obverse and ‘Mung Ray Thiha Thu’ in Arakanese on the reverse53.

Thadoe Mung Tara succeeded by his son, Sanda Thudhamma Raza (r.1652–1674 AD) and during his reign the governor who was appointed to Chittagong was his cousin who issued coins with Hijri era 1062 (i.e. 1653 AD) with inscription ‘Sultan/Chatagong/Mubaraz Shah’ in Arabic and ‘Mung Ray Than Khaya’ in Arakanese. He is believed to be the last governor of Chittagong under Arakanese rule in Chittagong54. The Dutch factory reopened in 1653 carried on successfully until 1665 due to their internal political crisisis.

During this period, Chittagong became a place of refuge for two royal exiles. One Govinda Manikya, the Tippera king and the other was Prince Shah Shuja who was defeated in his struggle for the Mughal throne, had to flee in 1660.

Maung San Shwe Bu55 in his Report of the Honorary Archaeological Officer – for the year ended 31st March 1921, narrated that the Bernier’s approaches nearest the truth citing Bernier’s Travels in the Moghul Empire, “The author was actually present in India at the time at which these stirring events happened. In spite of the peculiar facilities he had of obtaining first-hand information on the subject he tells us that he is not at all sure of his facts since he heard three of four totally different accounts of the fate of the Prince, from those even who were on the spot. However, after carefully sifting all the available information he arrived at the correct conclusion that the Prince, with his family and retainers went to Arakan where they were very handsomely, received by King Sanda Thudhamma-raza. His eldest daughter Chand Bibi, as the Arakanese called her, was given in marriage to the king. There after a time, being involved in an unsuccessful rebellion Shujah fled to the hills. But he was quickly captured and put to death. His two sons were decapitated and the female members of his family were shut in a room and left to die of hunger. Such is substantially Bernier’s account; but at the same time he is cautious enough to add that in respect of certain particulars he had heard a thousand different tales.”

The Dagh-Register of 1661 contains three lengthy letters from Gerrit van Voorburg, the chief Dutch factor at Mrohaung, detailing all the news of Shah Shuja, which he could glean. His story was that Shah Shuja brought from Bengali to Diang, a port on the river opposite to Chittagong on (board) the King of Arakan’s armada (fleet). He arrived there on 3rd June 1660. From thence he arrived to the capital on the 26th August (1660)56. D.G.E.Hall summarised the sad event to thus, “on 7 February 1661 Shah Shuja’s residence was attacked and there was another massacre. Shah Shuja was never seen again57. Who, according to Gerrit van Voorburg, “intended to escape from the King’s palace and conquer the kingdom of Arakan for himself”58.

The following description carries a concise and vivid accounts of the war of succession fought among the sons of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan after he fell ill in September 1657. Aurangzeb in his quest for the throne, first defeated the Emperor’s troop in the battle of Dharmat (near Ujjain) on April 15, 1658 and Dara Shukor’s (eldest brother) at Samugarh (near Agra) on May 27, 1658, captured Agra on June 8, 1658 and arrested his father, crushed opposition by Murad (youngest brother) subsequently had him executed, captured Delhi and Crowned himself Emperor on July 21, 1658. Later, on January 5, 1659, he defeated Shuja (second elder brother) at Khajwah (near Allahabad) after which Shuja ran away to Arakan (where he is presumed to be died). Later, Aurangzeb had his eldest brother, and other relatives opposed him, executed and made secure the throne for himself. Shah Jahan died on January 22, 166659.

Aurangzeb himself would have executed Shuja but did not like outsiders doing it, ordered Shaista Khan, viceroy of Bengal, to invade Arakan, who mounted his fleet took Sandwip by November 1665 from Dilawar Khan an eighty-year-old ruler of the island. Dilwar and his son Sharif were wounded and captured where Dilawar breath his last in Jahangirnagar. The captured of the island paved the way for the Mughal invasion of Chittagong-Arakan.

Crossing the Feni river at Jagdia on 14th January 1666 AD, the Mughals entered the Arakanese territory60. At the crucial moment the Portuguese stationed of Diang broke off from the Arakanese, and changed sides with the Mughals, which gave the invaders an upper hand to attack fleet at Kathalia channel and Karnafully river. On the 24th January the fort of Chittagong was besieged and capitulated on 26th January 1666 as Arakanese abandoned the city and endeavoured to escape. Munawwar Khan (grandson of Isa Khan) in search of plunder burnt down most of the homes in the town by reckless fire61. About two thousand were made prisoners and sold as slaves62. According to Alamgirnamah, “The governor of Chittagong, who was the son of the Arracan king’s uncle, was taken prisoner with one son and some other relatives and nearly 350 men of the tribe”63. It as a decisive blow to the prosperity of the Arakanese, and with it their century of greatness came to an end. Since that time the Arakanese have never held any of the country north of Rumu64.

Chittagong was renamed Islamabad and Buzurg Ummed Khan was appointed the first Mughal faujdar. They were required to defend the frontier and if possible to extend it southward at the cost of the Arakanese held territory. As the effectively administered Mughal territory extended southward up to modern Satkania U.Z(upa-zila i.e sub-district) so almost all the tarafs are situated within this limit. Tarafs are most numerous in Patiya, Raozan, Rangunia, Hathazari, Satkania, Nizampur, Bhatiyari, Kumira, Kotwali and Phatikchari U.Zs65. No tarafs are located in Teknak, Ukhia, Ramu, Moheshkhali, Kutubdia and Chakaria U.Zs as they remained almost wholly beyond the pale of Mughal dominion66.

The tradition of literary activities in Chittagong was strengthened during the Arakanese rulers as Bangali literature attained further development67. The noteworthy Bangali poets work under the aegis of the Arakanese rulers were Qazi Daulat, court-poet Alaol, Kabi Madan, Quorish Magan, Abdul Karim, Shamsher Ali, Abul Hossain and others whose work kept the Bengali literature alive through encouraging support by the enlightened rulers of Arakan and their influential courtiers. It is interesting to note that the history of Bengali literature which was cultivated by the Hindu poets under the patronisation of the Muslim rulers in its sixteenth century was in the succeeding century the Muslim poets came to the forefront in the development of Bengali literature under the patronisation of the non-Bengali and non-Muslim rulers in an alien country.

Notes and references:

1 Banerjee, A.C. 1964. The Eastern Frontiers of British India. A.Mukherjee & Co.Pvt. Ltd. Calcutta. . 38 p.
2 Hamilton, W. 1971. A Geographical, Statistical and Historical Description of Hindustan. Oriental. 800 p.
3 Qanungo, S.B. 1988. A History of Chittagong. Vol: 1, Signet Library, Chittagong, Bangladesh. 232 p.
4 Hall, D.G.E. 1985. A History of South East Asia. Macmillan Education Ltd. 4th Ed. Hong Kong. 413 p.
5 Banerjee, A.C. op. cit. 38 p.
6 Hall, D.G.E. op.cit. 413 p.
7 Harvey, G.E. 1964. History of Burma-from the earliest times to 10 March 1824. Frank Cass & Co. 141 p.
8 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 636 p. Also see: Shihabuddin Ahmed Talish-Fathya-i-ibbriya. A portion translated by J.N.Sarker in the Studies in Aurangzib’s Reign.
9 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 636 p.
10 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 233 p. Also See Bangladesh District Gazetteers-Chittagong. 1975. 69 p.
11 Bangladesh District Gazetteers-Chittagong. (BDG – Ctg) Ed. S.N.H.Rizvi. 1975. 70 p.
12 Sandamala-lankara, Ashun. 1997.Rakhaing Razawon tai kyan. Vol:ii, 2nd Reprint. Rakhaing-tha-gree Sa-pay. Yangon. 86 p. (Arakanese)
13 Sandamala-lankara, Ashun. op.cit. 90 p, 117 p, 118 p & 132p.
14 Sandamala-lankara, Ashun. op.cit. 143 p & 144 p.
15 Deyell, John. The Trade Coinage of Chittagong Region in the Mid-sixteenth Century. Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bangladesh (JASB) Vol:40. No:2. Dec 1995. 220-222 p.
16 Chowdhury, Vasant. The Arakani Governors of Chittagong and their Coins. JASB Vol:42. No:2.Dec 1997. 146 p
17 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 239 p.
18 Charney, Michael W. The 1598-99 Siege and the Expansion of Arakanese Imperial Power into Lower Burma. Journal of Asian History. Vol:14/1. 1994.41-57p.
19 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 151 p.
20 Collis, M.S. in collaboration with San Shwe Bu. Arakan’s place in the civilization of the Bay. Journal of the Burma Research Society (JBRS) Vol:15. Part:1. 1915. 43 p.
21 Campos, J.J.A. 1919 History of the Portuguese in Bengal. Butterworth & Co(India) Lid. Calcutta. 77 & 78 p.
22 Collis, M.S. in colabration with San Shwe Bu. Don Martin 1606-1643. The first Burman to visit Europe. JBRS. Vol: 16. Part:1. 1926. 12 p.
23 Collis, M.S. op cit. 17 p.
24 Sandamala-lankara, Ashun. op.cit. 143 & 144 p.
25 Harvey, G.E. op.cit. 142 p.
26 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 255 p.
27 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 264 p.
28 Phayre, A.P. op.cit. 177 p.
29 Sandamala-lankara, Ashun. op.cit. 167 p.
30 Harvey, G.E. Bayinnaung’s Living Descendant:The Magh Bohmong. JBRS Vol:XLIV. June 1961.36 p.
31 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 265 p.
32 BDG – Ctg. op.cit. 80 p.
33 Hall, D.G.E. 418 p.
34 Manrique, Fray Sebastin. 1926-27 The Travels of Fray Sebastin Manrique. Trs:C.F.Luard & H.Hosten,
Hakluyt Society. London. And also see: Collis, M.S. 1924. The Land of the Great Image. London.
35 Harvey, G.E. op.cit. 145 p.
36 Hall, D.G.E. op.cit. 417 p.
37 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 147 & 151 p.
38 Aung, San Tha. 1979. Rakhaing Dangah Myah. Rangoon (Arakanese). 49p & 50 p.
39 O’Malley, L.S.S. 1908. Eastern Bengal and Assam District Gazetteers – Chittagong. 67 p.
40 Kantha: Arakanese call Karnafuly river as Kantha river. Some old Arakanese people of Chandraghuna while narrating their bye gone days state that the present Karnafuly Paper Mill was the old site of Kantha town.
41 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 295 p & 196 p.
42 BDG – Ctg. op.cit. 81 p.
43 Phayre, A.P. op.cit. 178 p.
44 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 272 p.
45 Harvey, G.E. JBRS op.cit. 38 p.
46 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 147 p.
47 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 147 p.
48 Harvey, G.E. JBRS op.cit. 38 p.
49 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 153 p.
50 Hall, D.G.E. op.cit. 420 p & 421 p.
51 Aung, San Tha. op.cit. 49 p.
52 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 272 p.
53 Zan, Aung. Some Interesting Coins of Anauk Barung and Sitetagaung Mong. Rakhine Magazine..
54 Chowdhury, Vasant. op.cit. 148 p.
55 Bu, San Shwe. Report of the Honorary Archaeological Officer for the year ended 31st March 1921. JBRS. Also see Bernier,Francois.1914 Travels in the Mogul Empire 1656-66. Oxford University Press.
56 Hall, D.G.E. Studies in Dutch Relations with Arakan. Part iii, Shah Shuja and the Dutch Withdrawal in 1665. JBRS, 5th Anniversary Publication. No2. Vol:xxvi. 1960. Rangoon. 23 & 24 p. Also see: Qanungo, S.B. op.cit 302 p.
57 Hall, D.G.E. 1985. A History of South East Asia. 422 p.
58 Hall, D.G.E. JBRS. Vol:xxvi. op.cit 90 p.
59 Rao, General K.V.Krishna. 1991. Prepare or Perish – a study of national security. Lancer Publication.
New Delhi. 11 p.
60 BDG – Ctg. op.cit. 84 p.
61 BDG – Ctg. op.cit. 85 p.
62 Phayre, A.P. op.cit. 180 p.
63 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 286 p. Also see: Kazim, Muhammad. Alamgirnamah. Trns: J.N.Sarkar.
in the Studies in Aurangzib’s Reign.
64 Phayre, A.P. op.cit. 180 p.
65 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 421 p. Also see: Hunter, W.W. 1973. A Statistical Account of Bengal.
D.K.Publication. (reprint). 176 p & 177 p.
66 Qanungo, S.B. op.cit. 421 p.
67 Karim, Abdul (Sahitya Visharad) and Haq, Dr. Enamul. 1935. Arakan Rajsabhay Bangla Sahitya.
Gurudas Chatterji & Sons. Calcutta. (Bengali).
Sources: Rakhapura