LECTURE No. XIII: 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


3. Bagan became the seat of learning
(a) Bagan in its heyday was the seat. Its fame as a thriving centre of Theravada Buddhism reached beyond its bounds. Scholars from Lankadipa [Sri Lanka] Luizin [Viengchang or Laos] Kampucha [Cambodia], Yunan, Malayu, and Java came to Bagan to learn Buddhism at monasteries. One prince from Chola Kingdom in South Indiawho arrived Bagan on a diplomatic assignment embraced Buddhism after attending Buddhist monastic school.
(b) Pali became the sacred language and it was the most popular academic subject of specialization at Bagan. The best Pali poems were composed by learned bhikkhus e.g. Shwegugyi stone inscription. Pali scholarship grew written by monk teachers.
(c) Buddhist monks at home and abroad came to Bagan for higher learning at monasteries which were ‘not perhaps inferior to the old universities of Tuxila and Nalanda in Pakistan and India respectively.
(d) The learning of Tipitaka reached its height and religious scholarship in full bloom thanks to Royal patronage and public support.

Achievements of King Anawrahta [A.D. 1004-1077]
(a)   During 33 years of his reign Anawrahta carried out works of religious and secular merit. He was a great patron and promoter of Theravada Buddhism. Under him Bagan became the strongest kingdom in South East Asia.
(b)   He was the builder of pagodas, temples, reservoirs, tanks weirs and canals Shwezigon was built of Stone brick on a sand bank stone bricks were carried through a human chain formed by pious people who lined up along a distance between quarries at Tuyin hill range and the construction site.
(c)   Several votive tablets with prints of the Buddha figure and his name in Pali and Sankrit were found at different places in his Kingdom and beyond proving the wide extent of his rule and the range of Theravada Buddhism.
(d)   His prayer on votive tablets “By me King Anurudha this mould of the Buddha is made. By this merit may I obtain the Path of Nivarna when Metheiyya is revealed.”
(e)   He constructed the irrigation system in Kyaukse are. Kinda, Ngalaingzin, Pyangbya and Kume were four big weirs and canals he built which are still in service.
(f)    By this royal order he banished the debased Buddhist monks [Aries]. Some leaders were disrobed and employed in his armed forces.
(g)   Animism and superstitions were stamped out by force as well as by preaching the Buddha Dhamma to the public by missionary monks.
(h)   Later he tolerated spirit [Nat] worship of common people by allowing spirit houses nears pagodas and achievements in religious matters, irrigation works, administration, social services and foreign relation.
(1) Khin Maung Nyunt (Dr) Pagodas and monuments of Bagan (vol. I and vol. II)
(2) Hagiography of Shin Arahan, Yangon 1997 (Khin Maung Nyunt)

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