LECTURE No. XII: 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



(e) Anawrahta carried to Bagan religious relics which he found in ruined monuments in Sre Kestra during his return journey.
(f) Co-operation between Shin Arahan and Anawrahta in propagation and promotion of Theravāda Buddhism:
The king gave royal patronage and support and shin Arahan and his missionary monks from Thaton spread Theravāda Buddhism to the four corners of the kingdom.
(g) Monasteries were built to house the missionary monks, food, clothing, shelter and medicine were provided to the monks who managed pariyatti schools and Kamathanas (meditation centers). Tipiakas were copied and sent out to all monasteries. A big library was built at Bagan where all scriptures and religious writings were kept for reference. This library’s structure still survives in Bagan.

1. The happy results of the arrival of written Buddhism in Bagan.
(a) Three immediate results were:
(i) Many learned Bhikkhus from Thaton joined Shin arahan in his missionary works especially in preaching the dhamma.
(ii) Theravāda Buddhism began to gain predominance. Mahayana Buddhism and other pre Buddhist beliefs and faiths waned but not totally died out.
(iii) In religious education Pli languages superceded Sanskrit. Mon alphabet was adopted and Pyu alphabet gradually fell into disuse.
(iv)  For the first time Myanmar language was put to writing. The earliest inscription in Myanmar language was dated A.D. 1058 a year after the conquest of Thaton and arrival to Bagan of written Tipitaka.

2. Bagan grew to become the seat of religious learning and public education.
(a) Many monasteries were built where Pariyatti sāsana was greatly promoted by monk teachers.
(b) Monastic education by monk teachers provided literary education (3R’s --- reading, writing and arithmetic) for the public, free of charge, including free messing and lodging for pupils regardless of their race, creed, gender and social and economic status and conditions. Monks taught male pupils and nun female pupils.
(c) King, court and public were supporters of monastic education.
(d) Novices (samaneras) were trained for monkhood.
(e) Lay pupils received not only literary education but also moral instruction and character training according to the tenets of Buddhism by monk teachers.
(f) There were Pwe-Kyaungs or schools run by some monks who taught and gave training in secular and professional and vocational subjects as well as martial arts. For example : carpentry, masonry, black smithy, sculpture, carving, painting, medicine, astrology, alchemy, fortune telling, divinity, occult sciences.
(g) Myanmar word (kyaung) means both monastery and school or training centers.

References : 1. Myaung Mya Sayadaw U Nyanika <Introduction of Buddhism into Burma> London, 1996.
          2. DR. Khin Maung Nyunt <Hagiography of Shin Arahan> Yangon 1997.
                      Archaeology Department, Yangon.

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