LECTURE No. XIV: 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. Achievements of Anawrahta’s successors
(a) Among 14 kings who ruled Bagan after Anawrahta only two were his equal in might and main and statesmanship and religious deeds.The rest were either mediocre or weakling and one [Narathu A.D. 1167 – 1170] was a tyrant.
(b) Two equals of Anawrahta were King Kyanzittha [A.D. 1084 – 1112] and his grandson King Alaung sitthu [A.D.1112 – 1167].

2. King Kyanzittha’s achievements
political, economic, social and religious
(a) Kyanzittha reconsolidated and strengthened Anawrahta’s empire which was weakened by the misrule of anawrahta’s son and successor King Sawlu.
(b) He constructed dams and canals, repaired old ones. He extended agriculture by more land reclamation and encouraged trade and commerce both domestic and foreign.
(c) His religious reforms were suppression of spirit worship, superstitions beliefs and practices and purification of Buddhism with Tipitaka learning and Dhamma teaching.
(d) His social works were building of rest houses, digging water tank and well for the public and promoting monastic education for the masses.
(e) He encouraged Pariyatti schools, meditation centers and built monasteries throughout his kingdom.
(f) He completed building Shwezigon Pagoda which was left unfinished by King Anawrahta.
(g) He built many religious monuments. Ananda, Nugayone, Myinkaba Kubyauk Kyi Temples were prominent structures.

3. Kyazittha was the unifier of Mon and Bama kingdoms and culture
(a) The great Mon bhikkhu Maha Thera shin arahan and his Mon colleague bhikkhus exerted their eligious and cultural influence upon Kyanzittha.
(b) He was crowned king in accordance with the Mon coronation rites in the pressure of Shin Arahan and other Mon monks who chanted Parittas and mantras in Mon Pali to consecrate the occasion.
(c) a new palace was built on the Mon design. In the stone inscription in Mon language recording the rites and ceremonies performed at every stage of the palace building, Mon cultural influence was reflected. A blend of Hindu Brahmanism, Mahayana and Theravada Buddhism was noticed in this stone inscription.
(d) Kyanzittha proved he was a noble and benevolent king observing the tenets of a Buddhist king on the model of Emperor Asoka.
(e) The following excerpt from the Mon inscription at Shwezigon Pagoda which he set up in his lifetime sums up his economic social and religious works for his people not only for the betterment of present life but also of life hereafter.
(f) “With loving kindness … shall King Kyanzittha wipe away the tears of those who are parted from their trusty friends … his people shall be unto him as a child to its mother’s bosom … he shall soften the hearts of those who intend evil … he shall exhort to speak good those who speak evil. With wisdom, which is even as a hand, shall king Kyanzittha draw open the bar of the gate of heaven, which is make of gold and wrought with gems … he shall offer treasures of thrē kinds, with images in gold reliquary like a lamp that glows; so brightly shall it shine.” [Epigraphia Birmanica vol. 1 part 2 p.90]
(g) He preached Buddha’s Dhamma to a chola Prince who was in Bagan on a diplomatic mission. Chola Prince came to understand dhamma and he finally embraced Buddhism.
(h) In the graceful Ananda Templehe dedicated in A.D. 1090 can be seen till today his statue in a worshipping gesture. Opposite to it is the statue of shin Arahan, his mentor and guru also in the gesture of paying homage to the Buddha.
(i) He chose his infant grandson Alaungsitthu to be his immediate successor to the throne because Alaungsitthu was the only male issue in the royal family at that time of selecting successor. But his own son Rajakumar by another queen of his Thumbula came to his court with his mother after alaungsitthu was declared his successor by Kyanzittha’s royal order. The son was raised to be Prince and lord of Rakhine and Seven Hill Tracts and his mother Thambula was raised to be queen U-hsauk Pan.
(j) Kyanzittha built some forty smaller pagodas, each commemorating important events of his life. He sent his envoys with artisans and artists to India to restore and renovate the shrine at Bodhgaya.
(k0 Kyanzittha had diplomatic relations with Buddhist states in Malayu and java and Sumatra, as well as china and Ceylon[Sri Lanka]
(l) He was well known as a devout Buddhist king in neighboring countries. Bagan became a holy city where Buddhist learning reached its height.

  1. Lu Pe Win [U]  Pictorial Guide to Bagan”
  2. G.H Luce, “Old Burma : Early Bagan”, 3 vols
  3. Khin Maung Nyunt [Dr.] “The role of Bagan in the international relations of South East AsiaSophia University, Seminar.
  4. G.E Harvey, “History of Burma
  5. Luce and Pe Maung Tin [trans] “The Glass Palace Chronicle”
  6. Khin Maung Nyunt (Dr.)  “Hagiography of Shin Arahan” Archaeology department.

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