LECTURE No. X: BUDDHA SASANA IN BAGAN - Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature


Buddhism, Philosophy, and Khmer Literature

The teachings of the Buddha are aimed solely at liberating sentient beings from suffering. The Basic Teachings of Buddha which are core to Buddhism are: The Three Universal Truths; The Four Noble Truths; and The Noble Eightfold Path.

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Monday, June 17, 2019


(1)   Geographical setting
(a)   Bagan covers an area of over 25 square miles in the heart of Dry Zone [arid region] in central Myanmar
(b)   Less rainfall which does not exceed 40 inches annually. The place is arid, sandy and there are no economic resources, no fertile soil to grow paddy and no minerals to mine and no teak forest to extract
(c)   Shrubs cactus, palms and thorny and hardy trees grow. You find pebbles, fossils, ravines and dry streams
(d)   Bagan was called in those days "Tatta-desa" meaning perched land and "Tampadipa" meaning the place where the earth looks like copper.
(e)   Mt Popa at a distance of about 30 miles south east of Bagan is 5000 feet high. There is an outcrop nearby on which are spirit shrines.
(f)    Tu-yin hill range of the 1000 feet high lies about 7 miles to the South of Bagan.
(g)   The river Ayeyarwaddy flows on the west of Bagan
(h)   Shan plateau [high lands] to the east and a vast plain between Bagan and Shan Plateau
(i)     On the whole Bagan area is inhospitable for human settlement

(2)   Historical background
(a)   In spite of unfavourable geopolitical and climatic conditions, Bagan commands strategic position economically and administratively.
(b)   It lies at the centre of the kingdom. It could reach out to far-flung areas by natural communications by land and water.
(c)   It lies within 150 miles of irrigated paddy fields in Kyaukse
(d)   Bagan stone inscriptions and archeological evidences prove that there are eleven economic zones in Kyaukse which provided food and revenue to Bagan. They are (1) Pinle (2) muitmana (3) Myit-tha (4) Myingondaing (5) Yamon (6) Pa-nan (7) Mekhaya (8) Ta-pyet-tha 99) Thin-daung (10) Ta-moke-so and Khan-lu
(e)   These eleven economic zones were referred to as "Lei-dwin" meaning "granaries'. They produce paddy and 76 varieties of crop, fruits and vegetable. Research scholars opened that Bagan's irrigation works are one of the best and oldest in South East Asia.

(3) Political growth of Bagan
(a)   When Pyu city kingdom declined, people left their places and migrated to north.
(b)   They formed 19 villages at Yone Hlut Kyun not far from Bagan. These villages at Yone Hlut Kyun not far from Bagan. These villages were collectively called Pyu-gama [Pyu villages]. Later Pyu-gama corrupted to Pyugam, Phugam and Bagan. Cambodian stone inscription mentions it as Hpu-gam.
(c)   19 villages grew into a city kingdom which again developed into an empire, the First Myanmar Union lasting over three centuries.
(d)   A dynasty of 55 kings ruled Bagan. (1) Kharium (2) Taik and (3) naing-gan are the three states of political and administrative development.
G.E. Harvey history of Burma 1925
Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt "Historical and cultural development of Bagan', Nanyang University Singapore.

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