LECTURE No. XI: 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. Bagan the Royal city
(a) Under King Anawrahta [A.D 1044-1077] Bagan grew into a peaceful and prosperous city. He was the 42ndKing in the dynasty of 55 kings.
(b) Strong armed forces commanded by brave and loyal paladins [military chiefs] were his might and main.
(c) There was an outer defence of outposts of 43 along the eastern front from where foreign invaders used to come.
(d) Efficient administration to maintain law and order and manage irrigation, taxation and revenue and promotion of trade and commerce.
(e) Anawrahta built four weirs namely Kinda, Ngalaing Zin, Paung Bya and Kume and many canals to supply water to paddy fields.

2. Introduction of Theravada Buddhism
(a) Arrival of Maha Thera Shin Arahan in Bagan in A.D. 1053
(b) His residence in the ravines near Bagan. Forest monk's recluses.
(c) Prevalence of Aries [Arinnawathi or forest monks]
(d) Emergence and widespread influence of debased Buddhism pactised by forest monks.
(e) Debased Buddhism was a mixture of Mahayanan Buddhism, animism and local superstitions.
(f) Laxity in Vinaya of forest monks [Aries]. They owned land, did business, lending money at great interest, trade, performing social and religious rites such as nuptial ceremonies and funeral ceremonies and charging fees for their services.
(g) Some broke the vow of chastity and married and raised family.
(h) Meditation derogated to training to gain supernatural power longevity of life, immunity from all weapons, invincibility from all dangers and gaining favour with the donors.
(i) Practice of occult science [black magic, alchemy performing spiritualism, astrology and vedas]
(j) Worship of Hindu deities such as Vishnu, siva, Brhama, Paramiswa, naga and spirits.
(k) Therefore their Buddhism was debased [not pure] because rather than teaching and practising the way to attain Nivarna and to escape from cravings and sufferings, Ares or debased Buddhist monks promoted mundane life by practice of superstitious rites and application of occult sciences.
3. Religious reforms of King Anawratha
(a) King Anawrahta's awareness of the deplorable conditions of religion in his Kingdom.
(b) He was in search for a true religion and shin Arahan's meeting with Anawrahta through good office of a hunter.
(c) The imparting of Theravada Buddhism by Shin Arahan to Anawrahta at his court. They embraced Buddhism.
(d) At Shin Arahan's advice, Anawrahta despatched his envoys to Thaton [Suvanna bhumi] to ask for a copy of Tipitaka from the king of Thaton manuha who refused Anawrahta matched on to Thaton and returned home with all copies of Tipitaka, monks, the Kings and his family.

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