Archive for the ‘Myanmar History’ Category


The Author

Tun Shwe Khine was born in Rambyae, Rakhine State in 1949; graduated from Yangon University in 1972 and obtained master degree in Geography in 1976. He has served as a tutor in Yangon Worker’s College; assistant lecturer and registrar (2) in Sittway Degree College. Now he is the Registrar (1) of Sittway Degree College. He has written several research articles and books, and edited some books, magazines and journals.

Some of his works excluding articles are as follows:
(1) Rakhine State Regional Geography (in Myanmar),
(2) Ancient Cities of Rakhine (in Myanmar),
(3) The History of Rakhine Dynasty (in Myanmar),
(4) The Thet Tribe in Northern Rakhine (in Myanmar),
(5) Rakhine Buddhist Art in Vesali Period (in Myanmar),
(6) Rakhine Folk-Tales (in Myanmar),
(7) Earlier Writers in Rakhine (in Myanmar),
(8). 4 Study of Rakhine Minthami Aye-gyin (in Myanmar),
(9)The History of Rakhine Mahamuni (in My anmar and English) and
(10) Historical Sites in Rakhine (in English).

PREFACE

Mrauk-U, a fine last royal capital of Rakhine has scenic beauty and historical remains which are inextricable and remarkable. Innumerable pagodas belonging to all ages can be found throughout the city. Everywhere one looks within Mrauk-U city wall on every mound, every field and every hill are Buddha images, temples, sima(Thein) and pagodas.

It is no wonder that Mrauk-U is popularly known as the ‘Land of Pagodas’ and Europeans remarked Mrauk-U as ‘The
Golden City’. The Rakhine of those days were proud of Mrauk-U. They were entirely satisfied to be the inhabitants of Mrauk- U. The history shows what happened in the city in early times.

Mrauk-U was founded in 1430 A.D. and became the seat of the Rakhine dynasty of that name. It had attained its highest prosperity for 355 years til! 1785 A.D. Before Mrauk-U, several other former royal cities, Dhanyawaddy, Vesali, Sambawet, Pyinsa, Parein, Launggret , Hkirt and Nayyinzaya-taungngoo had flourished from generation to generation for many years (see chapter 2).

Geographically, Mrauk-U lies at the head of a tributary, Kaladan River, about 45 miles from the sea coast, but the largest sea-going ships of that period could reach it through a network of deep creeks by which it was surrounded. Mrauk-U’s unique position in the Bay of Bengal, with both land and sea routes to the east and west, resulted in the development of its commercial and cultural centre which later emerged as a highly flourishing country because of its strategic location between India and South East Asia. It also received Buddhist religion and Indianized civilization from the west.

A visitor, Schouten, a Dutchman who visited the area in 16th century A.D , remarked that the city was comparable in size and wealth to such western cities as Amsterdam and London. He also mentioned that it was the richest city among the ports of Asia. The city was called by the Europeans as ‘Golden City’. That term applies very fittingly to Mrauk-U whose wealth depended mainly on its extensive regions of rice land which surrounded the city. The crops never failed because of an annual 200 inches of rainfall. The export of rice increased from year to year. Moreover, the goods were allowed to enter the city duty-free in order to encourage trade. Thus the city was crowded with a large number of foreign merchants from the neighbouring countries and western countries as well, such as the Netherlands, Portugal and Spain. Various kinds of goods were on sale in the markets of Mrauk-U.

The export of elephants was most popular in the Mrauk- U period. An elephant cost 1300 silver coins in those days. The Portuguese and the Dutch were permitted to build a factory at Aungdat port in Mrauk-U. Since a ship after leaving Bengal on a voyage to Java or any city on the eastern coast, and did not sail straight across the bay had to keep to the coast. Hence, trading ships naturally put. in at Mrauk-U to replenish food, water and other necessities.

In this way Mrauk-U became usual focus for trade on the eastern shore of the Bay of Bengal. Mrauk-U, therefore, was very prosperous during those days. At the beginning of the 16 century the sea-faring- nature of Rakhine was even more accentuated. The King Minbin (1531-1553 A.D.) was able to build a large naval fleet with modern cannon to guard the long coastal territory of about one thousand miles. According to the Magh Raider in Bengal it had ten thousand warboats and their cannon were so numerous that flotilla exceeded the waves of the sea. Now, several types of old cannon can be seen in Mrauk-U ‘Museum.

Mrauk-U was built as a defence city by the kings of those days. Taking advantage of the ridges surrounding the city, the citywalls have been built by joining the higher points of the ridge. The walls were built with local sandstone and earth. Inside the wail some portions of the mountain had to be levelled at the appropriate points to make ramparts. Some secret paths were constructed from top to bottom and stone gates had been erected for going in and out. Above them some bulwarks or forts were provided with modern artillery. A maze-like chain of lakes and moats were also constructed both inside and outside the city walls. These moats and water tanks not only supplied fresh water
for the inhabitants but also provided a measure of defence.

Besides the venerable pagodas, visitors of today can see citywalls, moats, ramparts, watch towers and forts as the most interesting archaeological remains. They were all constructed with well-fitting cemented stones and they remain in good condition up to the present time.

Some Japanese samurai came to Mrauk-U in 1623 A.D and served as domestic guards of Mrauk-U kings. Because of their valiant and incomparable swordsmanship they were selected as royal bodyguards by the kings.

The dynasty of Mrauk-U had successfully defended itself against all foreign invaders for many years. A few wars were fought, which ended in victory for the Rakhine kings. No civil strife had ruined the peasantry of Mrauk-U. Because of Buddhist teaching and an efficient administrative code, law and order had been maintained in the whole of the kingdom.

The kingdom of Rakhine was divided into twelve prov- inces, each administered by a governor who pledged allegiance to the king.

It was the traditional obligation of the time for the governor of the provinces to build pagodas in the royal city of Mrauk-U.The people of Mrauk-U also offered very lavishly to religious causes. A pagoda, 400 feet to the east of Shitthaung Pagoda, was said to have been donated by a woman who sold fish-jelly, (Rakhine term Ngapithama). This pagoda has been known as Ngapithama Pagoda.

Monuments seem to overwhelm the landscape of the city of Mrauk-U. The whole city has numerous lakes, pagodas, traces of buildings and other vestiges indicating that it was the site of a once-important city. These monuments are of different sizes and of various types. They are in varying stages of preservation and disrepair.

Some of these have been repaired and restored by public donors. Most of them were demolished not by unruly people but by the tropical monsoon climate.

Nevertheless, these mounds of bricks here and there remind us of the site of the ancient Mrauk-U, once a splendid capital of Rakhine.

Read MORE <>>A GUIDE TO     MRAUK – U     An Ancient City of Rakhine, Myanmar by Tun Shwe Khine

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Author

U Shwe Zan is a native of Rakhine Slate Myanmar Naingngan. He passed B.Sc. from University of Yangon in 1952. Joined Burma (Myanmar) Civil Service (Sr.Br.) in 1954. Served as a Senior Branch Officer, Selection Grade Officer and Senior Administrative Officer in different posts at different places in the Union of Myanmar for 24 years.

Elected as a member of Rakhine State Peoples’ Council in 1978 and served as Secretary of State Council for two successive terms and Chairman of the State Judges Committee for the third term.

During tenure of his Slate Committee Service he look the responsibility of editorship and publisher of the Rakhine Stale Magazine issued in commemoration of the lOlh an-niversary of the Rakhine Stale and served as Chairman of the Publishing Committee of Mrauk-U Lan Hnyun(n guide to Mrauk-U) in 1988. Acted also as Chairman of the Compilation Committee of Rakiiine State Gazetteer comprising (5) volumes (unpublished).

THE GOLDEN MRAUK-U , An Ancient Capital of Rakhine

U Shwe Zan

Second Edition
1997

Mrauk-U is an ornament of the Rakbine culture. Its name suggests the fulfilment of endeavours. Between 1430 AD and 1785 AD it was the last capital of the powerful Rakhine kings where Rakhine culture had
its full bloom.

The golden days of Mrauk-U city, those of 16th and 17th centuries, were contemporary to the days of Tudor kings, the Moghuls, the Ayuthiya kings and Inwa, Taungoo and Hanthawaddy kings of Myanmar.

Mrauk-U was cosmopolitan city, fortified by a 30-kilometer long fortification and an intricate net of moats, and canals. At the centre of the city was the Royal Palace, looming high over the surrounding area like an Asian Acropolis. Waterways formed by canals and creeks earned the fame of distinct resemblance to Venice.

Mrauk-U offers some of the richest archaeological sites in South-East Asia. While Bagan is considered as the city ofpagodas,Mrauk-U, the last stronghold of the Mrauk.-U kings could be truly considered as the fortress city in Myanmar.

Mrauk-U’s rich heritage is evidenced by many magnificent monuments and pagodas as the massive Sbitethaung that houses a rich array of Lord Buddha’s previous lives and also the figurines of Rakhine culture of that period. The colossal Htukkant Thein, an ordination hall with several images exhibiting clothing popular in the 16th century, richly decorated central pillar of Anndaw Thein, auspicious Lemyathna Pagoda, coloured plaque Laung-bwannbrauk Pagoda, conical structures of victory pagodas

Mrauk-U is an ornament of the Rakbine culture. Its name suggests the fulfilment of endeavours. Between 1430 AD and 1785 AD it was the last capital of the powerful Rakhine kings where Rakhine culture had its full bloom.

The golden days of Mrauk-U city, those of 16th and 17th centuries, were contemporary to the days of Tudor kings, the Moghuls, the Ayuthiya kings and Inwa, Taungoo and Hanthawaddy kings of Myanmar.

Mrauk-U was cosmopolitan city, fortified by a 30-kilometer long fortification and an intricate net of moats, and canals. At the centre of the city was the Royal Palace, looming high over the surrounding area like an Asian Acropolis. Waterways formed by canals and creeks earned the fame of distinct resemblance to Venice.

Mrauk-U offers some of the richest archaeological sites in South-East Asia. While Bagan is considered as the city of pagodas,Mrauk-U, the last stronghold of the Mrauk.-U kings could be truly considered as the fortress city in Myanmar.

Mrauk-U’s rich heritage is evidenced by many magnificent monuments and pagodas as the massive Sbitethaung that houses a rich array of Lord Buddha’s previous lives and also the figurines of Rakhine culture of that period. The colossal Htukkant Thein, an ordination hall with several images exhibiting clothing popular in the 16th century, richly decorated central pillar of Anndaw Thein, auspicious Lemyathna Pagoda, coloured plaque Laung-bwannbrauk
Pagoda, conical structures of victory pagodas

Inscribe this cultural and historical book to my late parents-U Tha Zan Oo (Retired District and Sessions Judge) and Daw Ma Bu, and to my late elder brother Professor U San Tha Aung (former Director-General of Higher Education Department) in token of personal regard and of my sincere admiration for his learning and his works.

Read MORE <>> THE GOLDEN MRAUK-U , An Ancient Capital of Rakhine by U Shwe Zan


by: Hpone Thant
Photos: Sonny Nyein
The lonely sentinel, Youngest Brother Tree
To the east of Myanmar there is a beautiful valley between the high misty mountains of the Shan Plateau and the Mekong and the Thanlwin (Salween) Rivers. Called the Kyaing Tong Valley this is an area steeped in history for it is the homeland of the Gon Shan, the Akhas, the Lisu, the Wa and the White and Black Lahu. Sandwiched between the Chinese region of Xishanungbanna, Laos and Thailand this area also boast of spectacular scenery and diverse ethnicity.

Kyaing Tong( previously called Keng Tung) is the capital of this land. It was known in history by many names: Sandra Kun, Khemarat, Tongapuri but in modern times it is known only as Kyaing Tong.
It was said that from1243 A.D (605 Myanmr Era) to the last sawbwa’s reign there were altogether 45 sawbaws who ruled here. The sawbwas’ Cemetery, where the old rulers were buried is still kept intact in the town.

Although there are many different ethnic cousins living in the area, with different religious beliefs such as Buddhists, Christians and a sprinkling of animists, the majority areBuddhists. The Gon Shans believe that Buddhism reached their land more than 2000 years ago. It was said that Lord Buddha, in his 12th year after achieving Enlightenment, traveled to Kyaing Tong accompanied by more than 50 monks. At that time the area which was to become Kyaing Tong was submerged under a big lake with only a few scattered villages on the surrounding mountain peaks. There he met a simple woodcutter named Aik Aum to whom He gave 8 Holy Hairs. Four were buried inside the Dat San Lwe Pagoda also called Kaba Aye Pagoda, located near the present day airport. Aik Aun gave the other four to his brother and which were buried inside the Dat Hwe Lon Pagoda.


Silver Palaungs i n their native dresses. Note the belts on the lady in the green blouse Silver Palaungs i n their native dresses. Note the belts on the lady in the green blouse he Black Lahu  people of Kyaing Tong
150 years after this episode, the story continues that 4 hermit brothers came to the same place and one of them found a stone slab engraved with Buddha’s message under the ground. One of the hermits, Tong Gara Si, made a breach in the lake and all the waters flowed out and the town of Kyaing Tong was founded on that spot. Nong Tong Lake in the middle of the city is said to be the remnant of the lake that was drained. By this tradition during the sawbwas’ time the new sawbwa who is to ascend the throne has to symbolically give the city back to the monks before assuming power.

Kyaing Tong is reputed to be a very powerful city during its time. It was said to be walled and even now Palin Gate still stands as witness to its greatness many centuries ago.
There are many legend and tales connected with the city. One is the belief among the sawbwas when they ruled Kyaing Tong that they cannot go to the Dat San Lwe Pagoda because there is a curse on them.

Akha ladies in their finery they wear every single dayOne prominent landmark of Kyaing Tong is the “Lone Tree Hill”. This is a Kanyin byu (Dipterocarpus alatus) tree growing on top of the Soon Mun Hill on the outskirt of the city. The locals believed that this tree was planted in 1386 A.D (730 M.E). It stands alone on this hill and consequently the hill earned the name of “Lone Tree Hill”. The story goes that this is one of the three trees that three brothers planted to cement their mutual trust and assistance in time of war or emergencies. One brother, who ruled over the territory now known as Xishaungbanna, planted a tree at Wan Pun and it was known as Aik Hong or Elder Brother Tree. Another brother who ruled over Mong Lem planted another tree called Yi Lem or Middle Brother Tree at Mei Sarita Hill and the third who ruled over Kyaing Tong planted this third tree called San Hkun or Youngest Brother Tree on the Soon Mun Hill. Now only this tree at Soon Mun Hill at Kyaing Tong is left. The others two trees are said to be no more.

On the high peaks surrounding Kyaing Tong are many ethnic groups: Gon Shan, Ahku, Akha, Lahu, Eng and the Wa people. Living in picturesque villages that cling on high slopes these tribes still retains their distinctive dresses, their own customs and traditions. The Akha people are particularly conspicuous with their glittering silver headdresses. There are also many different Lahu sub-clans such as the White Lahu and the Black Lahu, distinguished by the colour of their dresses.

The Palaung women also have a story behind their dresses. According to their beliefs they are descended from the mythical Keinnari or half-human, half-bird creatures. While the seven female Keinnaries were splashing and bathing on a lake a prince came along and caught the youngest with his magic lasso. The present day dresses of the Palaung women reflect this capture: all wear 3 belts, first a cloth belt, then a silver belt and lastly a cane-strip belt, symbolizing the lasso. The sarong is wrapped around her chest with a blouse on top. Because the original Keinarri, that was captured had to dress quickly there was no time to button her blouse so she fastened it with a thorn. Even nowadays the Palaung women’s blouses have no buttons but the safety pins had replaced the thorns. They say that if all three belts are taken off they would surely fly away to their native land of Ngwe Taung or Silver Mountain Land.

A  shy White Lahu girl  New Year festivities of the Gon Shan people
The Eng are another interesting people. They live on high mountain slopes with running water brought down from springs via bamboo conduits. Their teeth are stained black for they say only animals have white teeth. They also believe it is better to be clean and pure inside than outside, meaning the heart should be pure: a very interesting philosophy for sophisticated town people. Their granaries are built away from the home to prevent them from being burnt down as there is no way to douse the fire with water on a mountain. If you see a man with flowers in his left ear lobe it means he is looking for a wife and any interested girl could apply!
 Palin gate, legacy of the past Nong Tong Lake, remnant of the large body of  water that once covered the whole area Akha ladies in their finery they wear every single day

The Gon Shans also celebrate Thingyan or the New Year like their cousins on the plains. But there is something unique in the rituals. The Mingalar Si or the “Drum of Auspiciousness” is beaten for 24 hours before the Thingyan Celebrations are ushered in. On the last day of Thingyan a papier mache doll of Sakra the King of Celestial Beings is carried to the banks of a nearby river and married to the statue of a clay frog princess. Age old customs dictate that the drum must be beaten only by the members of a particular clan and the person who plays the role Sakra must be a member of a particular clan also. But that’s another long story!

Warm smiles welcome you to Kyaing TongKyaing Tong also has a lacquer industry known as Kyaing Tong lacquer ware. It is different from the Bagan style. The finely executed gold filigree is embossed on black lacquer making a distinctive contrast.
Hpone Thant is a regular contributor to Enchanting Myanmar travel magazine and other local and international publications. He writes mostly on nature, culture and traditions of Myanmar and can be reached at: harry@swiftwinds.com.mm.
  


Magic Monastery

Posted: September 25, 2011 in Articles, Myanmar History

By Yin Wyn
Photo: Sonny Nyein

 stack of old parabeik folding books with the Buddhist text written in the Gon Shan language
 monk writing out texts  in a parabeik folding bok in Gon Shan language

There are so many hidden treasures in Myanmar that even in this modern age you come across monuments that few people apart from the surrounding villagers have seen it. New roads that connect the bigger towns pass not far from places that before one might have to trek for days to see. One of them is charming, magical monastery hidden half an hour’s walk away from the road between Kyaing Tong and Maing Lar. About two thirds of the way out of Kyaing Tong, which would be about 37 miles, a trek leads off into the wild bush to the village of Wa Nyut. The Lwe La race lives there in long houses, of the Wa-Palaung sub-group, which includes Wa, Lawa, Lwe La and Sanhton races.
 

  he monastery of Wa Nyut Village, looking like a pavilion out of a fairy tale Wall paintings inside the small brick pavilion The vast hall pillared with red and gold

The pride of the village is a wooden monastery over a hundred years old, carved in places and with a double super-imposed roof. The elaborately decorated ceiling is lifted by huge red-lacquered poles. In the hall is a Shan-style Buddha image of excellent workmanship, cared for by three monks of Gon Shan race. A little brick pavilion at the back that is very likely the Ordination Hall has colourful paintings on the doors and on the interior walls, showing the scenes from the Jataka stories. The style is vastly different from the central Myanmar religious art.
The villagers gladly use their earnings to maintain their beautiful monastery while they live in longhouses, one to each family. Their costume is black and even the turbans are of this colour. The men wear tattoos from their waist to the thighs in designs that are wider-spaced then those found on other races. They are farmers and their diet is mostly grain and vegetables, with meat reserved for special occasions. Their grain is stored in individually owned thatch and bamboo graneries kept outside of the village. These silos are not locked and they are surprised that in towns people lock up their possessions. Here, nobody steals even if the silos are kept away from the village. If there is a fire in the village, they say, this way their food is safe.
What they use they make for themselves such as the cloth woven on strapped looms called Jut Khote. This most primitive form of weaving found all over the world is part of their traditions, one of the many that they keep alive.

 he Abbot of the monastery Decoration above the main entrance The pride of the village is a wooden monastery over a hundred years old, carved in places and with a double super-imposed roof
……

http://www.myanmar-image.com/enchantingmyanmar/enchantingmyanmar4-3/magicmonastery.htm


TIPITAKA TITLES

  1. Tipitakadhara=Bearer of the Tipitaka (‘recitation or oral’),
  2. Tipitakadhara Tipitakakawida =Bearer of the Tipitaka (‘oral’ and ‘written’),
  3. Maha Tipitakakawida=Passing the ‘oral’ and ‘written’ with distinction,
  4. Dhammabhandagarika=Keeper of the Dhamma Treasure.

         The above Titles are being awarded to the successful Buddhist monks out of over 400,000 members of the Sangha in the Union of Myanmar (Burma) if the candidates can recite Pali Texts of (8026) pages of Tipitaka canons (more than 2.4 million words in Myanmar Pali) and the written portion of over (200) books of Pali Texts, Athakatha (Commentaries) and Tika (Sub-Commentaries) of Tipitaka Canons respectively
          Other yearly examinations being held regularly in Myanmar (Burma) with a view to promoting and flourishing the Pariyatti Sasana (Learning the Buddha’s teachings) mainly contributing to the purification, perpetuation and propagation of the Buddha Sasana throughout the world are : — (2) Dhammacariya Examination (3) Pathamagyi Examination (4) Pathamalat Examination (5) Pathamange Examination (6) Abhidhamma/Visudhimagga Examination (only for Laymen and Nuns) and (7) Five Nikaya Examination.
          The Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination is the most extensive, most difficult and profound and highest, and so it has been separately held since 1949 (1310 ME). Buddhist monks who wish to sit for this Sacred Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination must have passed at least the Pathamagyi Examination. In fact, the Sacred Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination is quite different from other religious Examinations because the candidates who will sit for this examination must have to take (33) days. They have to meet both oral and written portions as prescribed.
          Only candidates who have got through both oral and written portions of the Sacred Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination will be presented the Title of Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida and candidates who have got through the oral portion will be presented the Title of Tipitakadhara. It is further learnt that only (11) Sasana Azanis (Religious Heroes) distinctively emerged during (56) years of the Sacred Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination from 1949 to 2004 (1310 to 1366 ME). In fact, over ten-thousand Buddhist monks appeared for this sacred Examination during the period of (56) years. Out of them, only (11) distinctively got through the oral and the written portion of Pali Canons and other Pali Texts during the period of (56) years.
         Tipitakadhara Selection Examination is the most extensive, most difficult and profound and highest. No one passed any of the categories in 1948 when it was first held in Rangoon (now Yangon) just after the country gained Independence from British Rule. The aim of the examination was to promote the emergence of the outstanding personalities who can memorize and recite the whole of the Tipitaka.
          It is the longest examination in the world and the entire examination is spread over five years.
         In the first and second year, the candidates are examined in Vinaya Pitaka (2260 Pages) lasting a total of 20 days.( 3 days each for 5 volumes plus 5 days for the written part covering the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries.
          In the third year the candidates are examined in 3 volumes of the Sutta Pitaka (779 pages ). In the fourth and the fifth years, the examination on the first five (1390 pages) and the last two (3597 pages) of seven volumes of the Abhidhamma Pitaka is arranged. The total length of the examination used to be four years before.
          The first successful candidate was Venerable U Vicittasarabhivamsa, who was later known as the ‘Mingun Sayadaw‘. He passed the Vinaya part in the 1950 Examination. In 1953 he completed the final part at that time of the Pathika Vagga of the Sutta Pitaka and became the first ever ‘Tipitakadhara’ in Myanmar (Burma) at the age of 42 and his achievement was recorded in the Guinness Book of Records. Since then, more and more outstanding monks have been awarded full titles for their fabulous memory.
The latest examination was the 56th Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination of 2004, held at Vizayadhamma Hall on Kaba Aye Hillock, Yangon from 28 December 2003 to 29 January 2004, and it took 33 days. It is learnt that altogether (184) Buddhist monk candidates appeared for the 56th Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Selection Examination and out of them, only two candidates distinctively got through both the oral portion of Pali Texts of (8026) pages and written portion of Pali Texts of over (200) books, and one through the oral portion and (79) through respective portions of Pali Texts as prescribed.
The amazing list of these great monks is as follows.

Title Holders
Titles* Year Age
(First Title)
Ven. Vicittasarabhivamsa 1,3,4 1953 42
Ven. Nemainda 1,2,4 1959 32
Ven. Kosala 1,2,4 1963 36
Ven. Sumingalalankara 1,2 1973 27
Ven. Sirinandabhivamsa 1,2 1984 42
Ven. Vayameindabhivamsa 1,2 1995 39
Ven. Kondanna 1 1997 55
Ven. Silakhandabhivamsa 1,2 1998, 2000 34
Ven. Vamsapalalankara 1,2 1998, 2000 32
Ven. Eindapala
Tipitaka Nikaya Monastery, Dagon, Yangon
1,2 1362, 1365 ME 43
Ashin Sundhara
Sunlungu Vipassana Monastery, Thingangyun, Yangon.
1,2 1362, 1365 ME 48
Ven. Indhacariya
Tipitaka Nikaya Monastery, Dagon, Yangon
1 1365 ME
(1362 – 1363 ME=Year 2001)

*
1=Tipitakadhara
2=Tipitakakawida
3=Maha Tipitakakawida
4=Dhammabhandagarika


Total Numbers of Successful Candidates (1948-1998)
         Whole of Tipitaka (Tipitakadhara) 9
         Two and a Half out of 3 disciplines 9
         Two out of 3 disciplines 21
         One out of 3 disciplines 71
TIPITAKADHARA & TIPITAKAKAWIDA SAYADAWS

Ven. Vicittasarabhivamsa
Visittha Tipitakadhara Mahatipitakakovida Dhammabhandagarika
Mingun Sayadaw (1953)
Ven. Nemainda
Visittha Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Dhammabhandagarika
Pakokku Sayadaw(1959)

Ven. Kosala,
Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida Dhammabhandagarika
Pyay Sayadaw (1963)

Ven. Sumingalalankara, Ph.D,
Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida,
Dhamma Bhandagarika
Tipitaka Mahaghandayon Sayadaw (1973)
Ven. Sirinandabhivamsa
Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida
Yaw Sayadaw (1984)

Ven. Vayameindabhivamsa,
Tipitakadhara Tipitakakovida
Yesagyo Sayadaw (1995)
   
Ven. Silakhandabhivamsa (2000) Ven. Vamsapalalankara (2000)
TIPITAKADHARA SAYADAW
Ven. Kondanna
(1997)
Ven. Indapala
(2004)
Ven. Sundhara
(2004)
Ven. Indhacariya (2004)

         One may question the wisdom of arranging this highly stressful examinations now that we can put the Tipitaka texts on the CD-Roms and there is no question of the Tipitaka texts disappearing from this world. But the actual rewards of the whole examination is reflected in the emergence of thousands of monks who has got all or some of the texts by heart and are able to help lay worshippers with their instant sermons and discourses, faster than the CD-Rom texts to appear on the Computer screen. In addition, personal human touch in the form of one two one explanation is possible if our monks know the Pali Canon and are able to transmit their knowledge with authority. So the ultimate aim of the Tipitaka Examination is to promote propagation of the Buddhist Teaching which is the noblest of all the gifts, the Gift of the Dhamma in its purest form. 

http://www.thisismyanmar.com/nibbana/tipitaka/tpdkdhra.htm


By Neil Sowards, D.D.
To most people Burma is on the other side of the world. It is sandwiched between India-Bangladesh, China, and Thailand. I have gone there seventeen times for my church. Since I collect foreign coins, I look for Burmese coins when I have time.
    There are no dealers with shops like we have here and in Europe. In the tourist market there are stalls or booths about eight feet wide and twenty feet deep. None deal exclusively in coins but there are two which have a good selection of Burmese antiques and some coins. One of these, owned by Shwe Kyaw [not his real name], has only genuine antiques, while the other has a mixture, but will tell you which is really old and which are recently made for tourists.
    Other stalls might have a few coins in a dish along with stamps and notes. Since it is technically illegal for tourists to buy old coins, they are out of sight but they will show them to you if you ask. All speak enough English to do business. There are also some antique shops with coins at two other locations in Yangon (Rangoon) but their selection is rather pitiful. Most say Shwe Kyaw has purchased all their good coins, as he regularly makes the rounds to these shops. So I end up buying most of my coins from him.
    He is about retirement age and knows Burmese coins well. He has a display of Burmese coins that is rather extensive and maddening, because they are not for sale. He only sells his duplicates. He knows what is scarce and his prices are not steals but are fair for the rarity. I have purchased two coins from him listed as “rare” with no value given. I got to know him fairly well over the years. I asked him how many serious numismatists there were in Burma, a country of 45 million people. He thought a while, mentally counting them, and said four or five others.
    He invited me to his home for dinner and had his son pick me. I thought he had lots of coins at home he wanted to sell me but I soon found out he just wanted to show me some of his prized pieces plus some very rare Burmese antiques. I got the feeling he really enjoyed talking with someone who appreciated what he had and does not press them to buy them. The Burmese meal was delicious.
    The Japanese forced the Burmese to accept their paper occupation money during WWII which was issued in huge quantity and seems to be in every antique shop.
    While usually I see the same old tired British India and smattering of very common world coins over and over again, there are times when interesting hoards show up.
    One time they were demolishing a hundred year old buildings in the downtown area and a hoard of George V 10 Rupee notes was found under the roof. Apparently the hoard had been secreted at the start of World War II but the owner never returned for them. Most were water damaged and discolored. I bought a few. I still see them on every trip so they must not sell well.
    One time I found about a dozen 1917 British India Uncirculated 2 anna coins at a reasonable price. They are the only uncirculated silver British India coins I have ever seen in Burma. This last time I found some uncirculated ¼ anna George V bronze coins in a tray with pure junk. They were beautiful but not cheap.
    Another time I stumbled upon a street market which apparently only operated on Saturday nights. Small dealers would spread out a cloth and display their old stuff on it. I thought they were really optimistic that someone would buy any of their junk. But I did find several counterfeit ¼ anna bronze coins from British India. When they were made, a rupee was 33 cents and there were 12 annas to a rupee so these had a face value of ½ cent. It hardly seems worth the effort to counterfeit a ½ cent coin! Since it was illegal for them to be selling without a license, they could quickly grab the corners of their display cloth and gather up their merchandise and flee when the police came wanting bribes to leave them alone.
    The most common foreign coin in Burma and Thailand is the counterfeit 1804 U.S. silver dollar in nickel. They seem to be everywhere and always with a good story. Most do not believe me when I tell them they are worthless.
    Another time I found in a shop a very large lead coin 73 mm across and weighing 14 ounces. At that time I hadn’t seen M. Robinson’s book, The Lead Coins of Pegu and Tenasserim, so I didn’t know if it was a coin or a weight. I bought it on speculation and it turned out to be a good buy.
    Another time I viewed some coins at a shop but they were overpriced. After I left, a man followed me and invited me to his apartment of view his coins. I followed him up a narrow, dark stair shaft wondering if I had made a big mistake. It did turn out he had a big lot of revenue stamped paper which I bought and a CMA medal from WWII. This medal was issued in error when a message from the marauders with CMA in it was interpreted as meaning Citation for Military Assistance when it really meant comma! One hundred were issued and they are quite scarce. He wanted $200 for it without its ribbon. I regretfully declined.
    Outside of Rangoon coins can sometimes be found at the stalls at pagodas. Pegu, now called Bago, which in ancient days was Pyu, has stalls that have lead coins from 500 AD to about 1,000 AD. It is a matter of luck if you find any coins in Taunggyi, Inle Lake, Mandalay, or Bagan. I have purchased less than a dozen from these locations in seventeen visits because they mostly have worn out British India and 1948-90 Burmese coins which they value at a much higher price than they are worth.
    While one will never get rich buying coins in Burma, it is an interesting place where one can turn up unlisted early coins. The people are wonderful and friendly.
Photo caption:
Top left: Kingdom of Pyu lead coin 500-800 AD, bird left.
Top right Kingdom of Funan, silver 190-550 AD, rising sun.
Center: Srekshetra silver 1/100 unit 750-832 AD unknown symbol
Bottom Right: Sanda Thudhamma Silver 1652 AD Burmese writing.
U. S. Dime is reference as to size.
Second photo: Lead Coin or Weight from Tenasserim.

MAHA MYAT MUNI BUDDHA IMAGE: THE ARAKAN PAGODA
By
Khin Myo Chit
A Wonderland of Burmese Legends
The Tamarind Press
The center of activity in Mandalay is the shrine of Maha Myat Muni Buddha image, or Mahamyatmuni Image as it is usually called, which had been carried from Arakan as a war trophy in 1784. One of the most fervent whishes of a Burmese Buddhist is to have seen the Buddha in person and offered devotions and gifts to Him. It is at the shrine of Mahamyatmuni Buddha Image that such pious aspiration is – if in a manner – fulfilled, as the legend testifies.   
Once in the land called Dinnyavati, now known as Arakan or Rakhine, a horde of ogres came up from the sea and fed themselves on the people. The devastation was such that it looked as if the human race would be wiped out. It was then that a tribe of Sakkya clansmen from Northern India came, after long years of wandering and searching for new lands. By then Dinnyavati was a scene of death and destruction.   
True to Sakkya tradition of gallantry and wisdom, the clansmen reorganized the natives to defend their lands against the ogres. Under their leadership the ogres were driven away and they set about developing the land and founded a kingdom, Dinnyavati, which soon became a thriving center of trade, a rendezvous for seamen, overland caravans and merchants. The dynasty of Sakkya was soon established.
The Great News: The Advent of the Buddha
It was during the reign of a king named Canda Suriya that the news spread of how Prince Siddattha, of the warrior clan Sakkya, became the Enlightened Buddha. (We should forget, for the moment, that historically King Canda Suriya died around 600 A.D.)   
The news, of course, came in fragments, and at long intervals, often disconnected and and incoherent. To many people, it was an interesting conversation piece, something sensational — a young handsome prince leaving the kingdom and family to take to the woods; his life as an ascetic wearing sack cloth and begging for his daily foods; the beautiful wife and son he left behind; later the report of his death through too arduous striving; this last piece was hotly debated; then the news of his being up and about again leading a normal life; this again was also controversial, for how could this prince attain Supreme Light by “taking things easy” when he could not by arduous striving?   
People talked of nothing else. They waited for caravans and seamen for the latest development. Each bit of news was passed round and discussed with enthusiasm. The news of Prince Siddattha’s attainment of supreme Light and his Sermon at the Deer Park was the climax. People began to wonder what was in the teaching of Siddattha Gotama Buddha, what made kings and powerful clansmen bow down at his feet. What made young men, noble of lineage, leave their life of luxury and pleasure and follow him to lead a life of poverty and austerity? Why was it that the Buddha’s teaching withstood the challenge of the senior teachers of the time?
King Canda Suriya’s Enthusiasm
  
Ever since the first news of Gotama Buddha came, King Canda Suriya had been filled with an exultant thrill of awe and wonder. The words, Sakkya Prince, Kappilavatthu City, Migadaya Deer Park, Lumbini Woodlands — all these struck a chord in his heart;  for he had   heard these names and places mentioned by his parents and grand-parents when they told the story of their ancestor’s wanderings before they came to Dinnyavati.   
To think that his own kinsman had become the All Enlightened One and was now teaching the Dhamma, the Law which had never been known or heard in the memory of man, and which could not be challenged by any sage or teacher! As the news of the Buddha developed, the king became more and more excited. He felt that he must have the Buddha come and teach him and his people the Dhamma.
  However, when the king spoke of his wish to his ministers, they were appalled. After all, the whole thing was a rumor that had been passed round and perhaps, the story had improved with each telling, so there was hardly any point in chasing moonshine
The king was disappointed when he saw that his ministers could not or would not share his enthusiasm. Rarely had he felt more lonely, though he was in the midst of all the pleasure and luxury that life could give.
Ministers fell from favor as they could not come up with any helpful suggestion and they dwelt in fear of their life and limb, not daring to say a word; even their silence became an offence. The king became so obsessed with his desire to see the Buddha that he became a sick man losing appetite and sleep. Things came to such a pass that there was a pall of despair in the once pleasurable royal court.   
One day the king spoke to his favorite consort Omma Devi, who had so long remained silent. He reproved her for being callous and indifferent. Omma Devi, in fact, had been contemplating the matter; she was just bidding her time. Now with the king’s reproof, she knew the opportune moment had come. She suggested that the king should summon all the sages and wise men of the land and hear what they had to say. Surely someone with come up with a solution.
The Wise Minister’s Advice
  
The king immediately proclaimed that all the wise men should assemble at his court. On the day of the assembly, an old minister, who had served the king’s father and grandfather and now who had retired from active life, stood up and spoke:
“Your Majesty, I have grown old and infirm in the service of your grandfather and your father, and there were affairs of the state, to which but a few had access, and I had the honor of sharing many of the state secrets, one of which was the advent of your birth
 “One day, your majesty was barely conceived in the lotus chamber of your mother’s womb, when she had a strange dream. She dreamed that her desire to hold the sun and the moon in her hands was fulfilled when your father plucked them out of the heavens and put them in her hands
 “Asked to read the dream, I answered that the queen, your mother, would have a son whose wisdom, like the sun, would illuminate the land and whose loving kindness would, like the moon, give happiness and peace to the people. Such was the auspicious event that heralded your coming.”      
“Later when the time ripened, you came forth, like a precious jewel out of a golden casket; that moment a huge satellite came flying from the west and encircled the palace spire and flew westward again. It meant that a great teacher, All Enlightened One would grace this land with his visit.”   
The old minister’s words were like balm to the king’s sad heart. He heaped honors and awards on the minister and asked what he should do so that the Buddha would come.   
Acting on the old minister’s advice, the king, his queen and courtiers, took a solemn vow to keep themselves pure in thought, word and deed. Then as each day dawned they assembled in the palace courtyard where offerings of flowers, fruits and candles were arranged, and they recited incantations inviting the Buddha to come and favor them with a visit so that they would be saved from all the evils of suffering. they showered sweet smelling flowers, and gold leaf confetti and grains of multicolored jewels to welcome the Buddha’s coming.
The Buddha received the message
All these acts manifested themselves on the mirror of the Buddha’s wisdom. The Enlightened One foresaw how his visit to Dinnyavati would lay a foundation for the propagation of his teaching and how it would benefit multitudes of sentient beings for centuries to come. So the Buddha and his disciples journeyed forth to Dinnyavati. The Buddha stood on the hill, and pointing towards Dinnyavati predicted the great future that awaited the territory around the east of the hill. There would arise a prosperous kingdom ruled by the descendants of the Sakkya clans and there his teaching would flourish.   
Even as the Buddha spoke the words of prophecy, the skies abounded with flying stars, and multitudinous seas arose and swelled in colossal waves. In the city of Dinnyavati the wise men told the king that the Buddha was on the way
So elated by the news were the king and his court that they could no longer stay and wait; they left the city to meet the Buddha on the way.
The King’s Welcome Journey
The hardships of travelling through the untamed forests and hills, the king hardly felt, so suffused he was with ecstasy. He turned away from appetizing foods his attendants had prepared for him and contented himself with the simple fare of cooked rice and salt.   
The king’s men feared that their royal master might grow weak and sick; but the king was thriving on his spiritual joy and sense of wonder. He was in good health and full of spirits, ever ready to comfort those who were sick or tired or down-hearted. His infectious cheeriness sustained his men throughout the journey.   
Days later they came upon a plateau. There a great dust storm arose and the king and his men lost their bearings. Frightened by the pall of the darkness surrounding them, they set their hearts on the infinite compassion of the Buddha and prayed for guidance.
That moment the iridescent rays of the Buddha’s aura in indescribably beautiful colors fell in cascades over the king and his men.   
Refreshed and overjoyed they soon came upon the Buddha who stretched his hand to welcome them; they all prostrated themselves at the Great One’s feet, where they heaped the offerings to express their devotion. All the way back to the city of Dinnyavati the king and men served the Buddha and his disciples like retainers.
The Buddha at Dinnyavati City
  
The people of Dinnyavati city gave a rousing welcome to the Buddha and his disciples who entered the city attended by the king and courtiers. The Buddha and his disciples were housed in the monastery which had been built for the purpose. Their needs and comforts were adequately attended to by the king and his men.   
The Buddha taught the king the basics principles of managing the kingdom’s affairs with compassion, generosity and tolerance. The officials and commoners alike were given guidance as to how to conduct themselves, so that they could promote happiness and well-beings not only in this life but also in the lives to come. The time drew near for the Buddha to end his visit and this was something the king could not face. He simply would not hear of it. His queens and courtiers feared that the Buddha’s departure would be the end of the king himself. Something had to be done and done very quickly.
A Compromise
  
By using subtle hints and suggestions, the queens and courtiers finally succeeded in making the making come to terms with the inevitable departure of the Buddha, and he decided to be content with a life-like replica of  the Buddha. He begged the Buddha to leave him a likeness so that he and the other devotees could have a replica of the Great One to honor and worship  the Buddha foresaw the infinite good that would result from conceding to such a request, and so he gave his word to comply with the king’s wish
The king in his great joy heaped gold and precious stones at the Buddha’s feet so that the statue could be cast. It was then that Thagyarmin, king of the celestials, came and at the Buddha’s command, transported the treasures to the top of the Siri Makuta Hill on the southwest of the city.
The Casting of the Image
There on the top of the hill Thagyarmin and his retinue saw to the creation of the image, the likeness of the Buddha, to the utmost perfection. The finished image was then enthroned on a bejeweled seat
 When the people came to look at the image, they bowed down in deep reverence thinking that it was the Buddha in person. When the Buddha himself came in, they were struck with wonder as if they were seeing two suns arise in the heavens
Even as they gazed in awe, the statue seemed to come to life and a smile lighted on the face as if to greet the great original. Then the Buddha embraced the statue seven times, imparting to it the breath of life. The Buddha exhorted the statue to represent him and his teaching so that multitudes of posterity would benefit. And the rejoicing of the men and gods rose to tumultuous heights. When the Buddha and his disciples left the people of Dinnyavati and their king were well established in the teaching of the Buddha, and life-like image was there to reinforce their faith and ardor.
How the Image was brought to Mandalay
That was how the Mahamuni Buddha image came into being. How it was brought to Mandalay from Arakan by King Bodawphaya’s troops after their campaign in 1784 belongs to history— authentic and factual
However, the tedium of historical facts is mercifully enlivened by colorful patches of gossip, rumor and fable. It was the Crown Prince, son and heir of King Bodawphaya, who led the campaign to Arakan and brought back the image to Mandalay
With so little technical know-how and sophisticated tools and equipment, transporting the image across the Arakan Yoma mountain ranges and later up the river Irrawaddy was indeed no small task. There would be plenty of room for sensational events that could be passed around with more embellishments
People of Arakan still insist that the Buddha image at Mandalay is not the genuine one, not the one the Buddha himself had embraced seven times and breathed life into. Their story of what happened is as followed
After the conquest of Arakan the Crown Prince sent one of his generals to go and get the Mahamuni Buddha Image. the general went to the shrine and after offering flowers, candles and fruits and showering confetti to show reverence, requested the image to allow him to carry it to Mandalay.   
That moment the great image throbbed as if alive and beads of perspiration fell down in rivulets. The general received the drops in a solid gold goblet and presented it to his master the Crown Prince as an exhibit to support his startling story
The Crown Prince, however, was determined to get the image. At long last the prince and his men managed to transport the image to the bank of one of those unpredictable, treacherous creeks that meandered through the formidable ranges of Arakan Yoma. the image was then put on the raft which was made for purpose, but it immediately broke to pieces and the image sank down to the bottom
The men dived and searched but all their efforts were in vain. The image might as well have been melted and lost forever. So there was only one thing to do — to cast a replica of the image and carry it to Mandalay. And it was done.   
To the Burmese, however, the image now enshrined at Mandalay is the one and only Mahamuni that they know of. To go to Mandalay and pay respects to the Mahamuni Buddha Image means to the Burmese Buddhists, the next best thing to seeing the Buddha himself in person.