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THE SIGNIFICANT ROLE

OF
THE MON LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
IN SOUTHEAST AISA

PART I

By

NAI PAN HLA

INSTITUTE FOR THE STUDY OF LANGUAGES


AND CULTURES OF ASIA AND AFRICA
(ILCAA)
1992

1
THE SIGNIFICANT ROLE
OF
THE MON LANGUAGE AND CULTURE
IN SOUTHEAST AISA

PART I

CONTENTS
Page
Preface 1
Ethnic Name of the Mons 5
Language Family 6
Original Homeland of the Mons 8
Migration of the Mon-Khmers 11
Mon-Khmer Culture in Ban Chiang 16
Mon-Khmer Empire of Fu-nan 18
Mon Kingdom of Dvaravati in Old Siam 25
Mon Kingdom of Haribhuñjaya 40
Remnants of the Dvaravati Old Mon People 43
Rāmaññadesa 54
The Chinese Accounts on Mon 69
Relations of the Mons with the Negritos 71
Mon Legend Written on Stone Inscriptions 77
Restoration of the Shwedagon Pagoda 80
The Shwedagon Legend on Mon Palm-Leaf Manuscripts 83
A Heretic King and a Buddhist Maiden 88
Purification of Buddhism in Rāmaññadesa 90
Narai Cave Mon Inscription 100
Reading Mon Inscriptions and Palm-Leaf MSS 103
Illustrations of the Nyah Kur People 105
References 108

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PREFACE

Just after this ILCAA has published my work on "The Significant Role of the Mon
Version Dharmaśāstra" in 1991, I started compiling my second work on "The Significant
Role of the Mon Language and Culture -in Southeast Asia ". I have had the intention of
writing over 300 pages and I did my best. I worked almost seven days a week. However, as
the fiscal year was going to end, the office of this ILCAA must send my typed script to the
press in time.
Consequently, I have to put this work as Part One. I will continue to compose Part
Two during my remaining period in this ILCAA before the end of this year.
On the other hand, permit me to state that prior to 1991, I held no degrees in my life
and I conceived a feeling of acquiring a doctorate as other scholars are holding.
Subsequently, I applied for admission to the Pacific Western University at Los Angeles in the
first week of July 1991. Very soon, on 24 July 1991, the Academic Committee of the PWU
accepted my application as a student to work for both B. Sc. and Ph.D. degrees in a major of
Cultural Anthropology with emphasis in Mon Language and Culture.
In view of my distinguished academic career for so long, the University Academic
Council of the PWU gave me assignments to submit Resume, Portfolio, Degree Program
Warrant and Demonstration of Professional Expertise without writing a new dissertation.
Besides submitting all of my numerous previously published books in Mon, Myanmar and
English, research papers, articles on various topics and lectures delivered in many universities
and institutions , I sent them also the draft copy of this work as my DPE to the PWU.
After examining , verifying , evaluating and assessing all my documents and materials
including the draft of this work, the Academic Council of the PWU congratulated me and
with pleasure conferred on me B. Sc. (Hons.) on 15 November 1991 and Ph. D. also with
honors on 15 December 1991 . On account of my book on code of law (Dharmaśāstra), the
PWU honored me with an Honorary LL. D. as of 15 February 1992.
Therefore, this book is part of my fulfillment of all the necessary reqirements to be
awarded three degrees by an American university within one year duration .
I sincerely hope that the Mons both in Thailand (Siam) and Myanmar (Burma) as well
as other scholars and students in the international academic circle would appreciate my work
for which I have exerted with strenuous efforts in its compilation.

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In conclusion , I would like to express my grateful thanks and profound gratitude to
Professors Kamioka, Yamaguchi, Umeda, Ikehata (my host lady Professor) and Okudaira for
their generosity of inviting me to come to work in this ILCAA and for the publication of this
book.
Personally my special thanks are due to Mr. Sakuma and Mrs. Kanda who are
responsible for the publication of this book and for their kind help in all matters during my
stay in ILCAA from 1 October 1989 to the end of November 1992.
I thank also Assistant Professors Minegishi and Nemoto for their kindness and help in
seeking a special grant from the Toyota Foundation for me.
Finally I humbly acknowledge my deep appreciation and gratification to the Toyota
Foundation of the International Division for its generous Grant Number 90-1-001 without
which my project could not be accomplished.

February 20, 1992 NAI PAN HLA, B.Sc. (Hons.), Ph. D., LL.D. (PWU, LA, USA)
Tokyo Visiting Professor, ILCAA, Tokyo University of Foreign Studies,
Tokyo, JAPAN

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ETHNIC NAME OF THE MONS
The ethnonym of the Mon people in olden days were different from present name Mon,
written MAN . In the pre-Angkor Khmer inscriptions, the Mons were called RAMAÑ
, RMMAÑ and R A MANYA in 6th-7th centuries A. D. In 1021 A.D. the
Javanese named them as RMẼN and RẼMẼN . The great Myanmar king
Kyansittha referred them as RMEÑ in his Palace Mon inscriptions at Pagan inscribed on
huge stones in the 11th century A. D. when Myanmars were known as MIRMĀ . A few
centuries later, the Mons were known as RMAN as recorded by the great Mon king
Dhammazeti at Pegu in the 15th century A. D. The Mons were even known by the Thais as
RAMAN. However, due to frequent contacts with each other, the Thais began to call them
Mon. I can still recall my first visit to Thailand in 1953 bringing three Mon monks to pay
homage to the Emerald Buddha. We put up at Wat Raman which means Mon monastery.
Then I was so surprised because I did not know old Mon as yet.
On my return to Burma, I began to study old Mon inscriptions and then I knew the
evolution of the name.

Of course, the Myanmars had also referred the Mons as TANLIU Ṅ ( ) in the

15th century A. D. in good sense. But in the 18th century A. D.; the Mons were called by the
Myanmars as TALAING after the great Myanmar king Alaungpaya had captured and
destroyed the last Mon capital city of Hamsavati (Pegu). Alaungpaya had also changed the
name of Dagon city to Yangon (Rangoon) meaning end of enemy. Since then, the Mons
became a people without a country.
Though some Mon governors tried to fight the Myanmar king to get back their
sovereignty, they had always failed in all their attempts. Most of them fled to Thailand.
Whenever, the Mons were called by the nick-name Talaing, they were so angry because they
regard the vulgar term Talaing as a down-trodden insult with the meaning of a bastard. Some
Europeans used the term Peguan on account of their capital Pegu city.
Many of them used the term Talaing without knowing the true fact. After gaining
Independence from Britain in 1948, the Mon Societies began protesting not to use the word
Talaing in referring to Mon people. Ultimately, when the government knew the matter, the
term Talaing was forbidden even for the entry in the official spelling book. To please the
Mon people, the government has created a Mon State comprising mostly the former Thaton
and Moulmein districts where the declining Mon speaking people are inhabiting.

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Regarding the etymology of the Myanmar nick-name Talaing, I am of opinion that it
had derived from an Indian place name Kalinga or Telengana in Madras coast. When this
region was invaded by the Great Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B. C., his troops killed a
hundred thousand people and captured as prisoners of war one hundred and fifty thousaud
people. Due to such a terrible blood-bath war, naturally, a lot of Indians might have fled to
Mon country known as Rāmññadesa in Lower Burma by crossing the Bay of Bangal bringing
with them their culture for the Mons. Of course they were mixed with the Mons.
1

The Myanmar might have referred to such learned Indian people as Tanliun basing on
a Myanmar record found at Preimma composed in Ava period in the 15th century A.D. It was
written in a poetic style saying :
"ussā la myi tanliuṅ pyi ko, ñyi ñyi ñyak ñyak phyak khyi pyi ywe' ya khyeit hta so,
tanliun su kha mein ko le htā i' "
Translation : After destroying Tanliun country also known as Ussā severely, all
the captured Tanliuṅ learned scholars were well placed there …”
In this Myanmar inscription, the name Ussā a derivative of the Indian region Orissa
was referred to the Mon kingdom of Pegu and the term Tanliuṅ was regarded as the Peguans
or Mons . Since the Myanmar had known the fact, they avoided to use the infamous term
both in literary and spoken .

LANGUAGE FAMILY

Mon language is not a tonal language. It is entirely different from both Myanmar and
Thai languages. It is closely related to Khmer and Annamese and numerous hill tribes. James
Logan was the first linguist to use the linguistic term Mon-Annam . However , later linguists
changed the term to Mon-Khmer because Annamese language had deeply penetrated by the
Viet (Chinese) and it is not worth to put Annam on the main. In fact, Vietnamese is still
cognate to Mon and Khmer ; it is still in Mon-Khmer family. Most of the hillman's languages
of Vietnam, living along the long Annamite Chain such as Bahnar, , Stieng and other tribes
are akin to Mon and Khmer.

Note: or the readers to differentiate between the country and-the language, the term
BURMA indicates the country ( Myanmar Naing Ngan ) whereas the word
MYANMAR stands for the language and people.

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Over half-a-century ago, the Nyah Kur people known as Chaobon by the Thai now
numbering just about two thousand who are scattering in some small hamlets in Korat plateau
were regarded as a dialect of Lawa.
Very strikingly, I was delighted to have information in 1980 that the Nyah Kur
language is really the remnant of the oldest Mon of Dvaravatian Mon kingdom which had
flourished in old Siam from 6th to l lth centuries A. D. before the coming of the Thai people.
In Burma, Shwe and Ngwe Palaung, Wa (Lawa), Riang (Yinnet) and Danaw belong to Mon-
Khmer. It is important to note that Mon-Khmer is a linguistic term. Mon in the west and
Khmer in the east with cognate languages and dialects in between them are grouped as Mon-
Khmer family in the field of linguistics .
Moreover, Puman in Yunnan, Khasi in Assam, Munda, Kolarian, Kurku, Savara and
Gadaba languages of central India are grouped in the Mon-Khmer. Very surprisingly, the
Negritos (dwarf Negroes) dwelling in the northern part of Malaysia known as Aslian
languages such as Semang , Sakai , Jakun and also the Nicobarese of Nicobar Islands are
grouped by the linguists in Mon-Khmer family.
Consequently, it is obvious that the area of Mon-Khmer family is wider than the
region between Mon and Khmer. So a learned linguist from Vienna, Wilhem Schmidt (1905)
had done very perfectly in assembling and comparing with a thousand cognate sets of words
among Mon-Khmer and had developed his theories and when he discovered the languages
are basically related to each other, he gave a broader linguistic term of Austric Family
meaning family of the south . He divides it into two sub-divisions . He calls the first division
as Austronesian meaning languages spoken in the southern islands including a certain part of
Malay Peninsula. The next one which concerns us is Austroasiatic meaning languages spoken
mostly on the mainland of south Asia including Nicobar Islands. The area of the first family
extends from Madagascar to Easter Island and from Formosa to New Zealand.
The second family stretches from central India in the west towards the shore of
Vietnam in the east and from Yunnan in the north towards Nicobar Islands in the south. Mon-
Khmer languages belong to Austroasiatic . It is a wider term . In 1906, Schmidt had scholarly
translated a short Mon history entitled "Slapat Rājawaṅ Datow Smiṅ Roṅ " into German
together with transcriptions of the Mon texts and notes . In the following year, Walter
William Skeat and Charles Otto Blagden of SOAS , London had published their elaborate
analysis of the Semang , Sakai and Jakun languages in their works" Pagan Races of the
Malay Peninsula" in two volumes. Volume two reveals the affinities of Aslian languages and
Mon and Khmer by comparing over five thousand cognate vocabularies.

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In the same auspicious year, George Grierson had produced his " Linguistic Survey of
India " in four volumes. In volumes two and four he dealt with Munda languages with
illustration of the perspective of how they are related to Mon and Khmer languages so
closely.
In studying such peoples, it is important to distinguish between race and language .
For instance, Mon, Khmer, Myanmar and Thai or Shan are Mongoloid in race but they speak
different languages. On the other hand, Semang, Sakai, Jakun and Nicobarese are Negroid
but they speak basically Mon-Khmer language due to early contacts with each other. It is
somewhat like black and white in America.
Thus the question of language and race is a complex problem. The Thai and Shan
belong to Sino -Thai or Thai- Chinese. And numerous ethnic groups in Burma belong to
Tibeto-Burman family. The Sino -Thai and Tibeto-Burman families are under Sino-Tibetan
or Tibeto-Chinese . All are different from Mon-Khmer or Austroasiatic family.

ORIGINAL HOMELAND OF THE MONS


During my study tour in China in 1976 as a member of Burma Archaeological
Delegation, I was so eager to see Yangtze Kiang because I believe that its valley was our
original homeland in time immemorial. While flying from Kumming to Peking, I asked the
air-hostess to show me the mother river and when we were over the water course, she pointed
our to me but it was too far. Later, after visiting historical sites and places of interest such as
the Great Wall, Underground Palace, Forbidden City, Summer Palace, National Museum,
Choukoutien cave (where Peking Man fossils Sinanthropus Pekinensis were excavated in
1927) and other places, we traveled from Loyang to Changsha by night train.
At day-break, we crossed the long awaited Yangtze river. Alas! Yangtze Kiang is so
big and so beautiful and so industrious. The bridge is a modern one and well lighted. The
towns and villages along it, the dwellings on its banks, the boats and vessels in it were seen
brilliantly illuminated so lovely. I really felt like getting down from the train and going
upstream and downstream as I love it. Because I believe that Yangtze was the mother river of
the Mon-Khmer people before the coming of the Chinese to that part of the land in the remote
past. In those days, it seems that Mon, Khmer and other akin languages might be only one
people speaking one language.
Of course, Mon-Khmer people were regarded as pioneers in wet-rice cultivation.
Looking out from the train, I saw the Chinese farmers were ploughing their rice fields using

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water buffaloes exactly like in Burma, Thailand and Cambodia. It is the same characteristic
and appearance.
In respect of the original homeland of the Mons, I had one time discussed the fact
with my old teacher G.H. Luce and he told me that once he was present at a discussion at
London School of Oriental and African Studies just after World War II when A.H. Christie
suggested the Tongking Basin as the swarming ground of the Mon-Khmer. The view he said
found general acceptance. However, I was not satisfied on that assumption. I argued that the
region should be further north. But I could not prove my idea as I had no evidence of any
kind at that time.
In 1966, I was so delighted to read a learned article: “Chinese and Indo – Europeans”
by E. G. Pulleyblank in the Journal of Royal Asiatic Society parts 1 and 2. The author was
then a Chinese professor at the Cambridge University. He writes:
“The word for river in Chinese Kiang or Chiang can now be shown to have
pronounced something like kruŋ, or krawŋ in old Chinese. It is no doubt cognate to the Mon-
Khmer word for river, Mon kruŋ Bahnar kroṅ etc. Kiang or Chiang was specially the name of
the Yangtze, in contrast to the northern word for river, ho, which meant primarily the yellow
River. Kiang was also applied to other streams in middle China but never in the north. There
is good historical evidence that the Yangtze Region was non-Chinese in language and was
only drawn into the circle of Chinese culture during the first millennium B.C. The etymology
of this word definitely points to the original non-Chinese language having had Mon-Khmer
affinities. It is likely that as knowledge advances further evidence of this kind will come to
light.” The learned author also expressed his idea thus:
“Linguistics will, I am convinced, ultimately prove one of the most fruitful and
enlightening methods of inquiry. Stones and potsherds are notoriously silent and language is
after all one of the most basic elements in a people’s culture.”
I agree with his view absolutely for I believe that in the absence of written documents
and archaeological evidences, the main reliance must rest on linguistic affinities in studying
history of a people.
Though language is usually changing it persists to its root to some extent. But
customs and material cultures are less stable comparing to language.
Over a decade later, I was delighted again for receiving a copy of a learning liguistic
paper entitled:” The Austroasiatics in Ancient South China : Some Lexical Evidence” by
Professors Jerry Norman and Tsu-Lin Mei. The paper was presented to the 3rd Sino-Tibetan
Conference, 1970 and published in Monumenta Seria Volume XXXII, Germany, 1976.

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The authors stated that ancient South China was almost exclusively populated by non-
Chinese peoples. It is well-known that the Austroasiatics inhabited the shores of the middle
Yangtze and parts of the southeast coast during the first millennium B.C. and that the Chinese
borrowed the name of the Yangtze from them. Other loan words from Mon-Khmer in
Chinese indicate early contact between the two peoples. They also mentioned that:
“The Austroasiatic family of languages includes Munda in northeast India ; Khasi in
Assam; Palaung-Wa in Upper Burma and Yunnan ; Mon-Khmer in Lower Burma and
Cambodia, as well as in parts of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand and Vietnamese-Muong in
Vietnam.” They also stated that:
“As the Chinese came down from their homeland in the Yellow River valleys, it was
natural for them to follow the course of the Han River. The Chinese met the Mon-Khmer in
the middle of Yangtze region between 1000 and 500 B.C. when the Chinese adopted the
Mon-Khmer word krung / krong / kraŋ which had evolved to modern Chinese word kiang or
chiang for river.”
Very well, their statements support fully the assumption of taking the Yangtze Kiang
Valley as the original homeland of the Mon-Khmers. In Mon language, the word krung/kruŋ
means river in ancient literature and old Mon inscriptions but it means for creek or stream in
modern Mon.
Because the Mons had obtained Sanskrit word mahāsamudra for sea or ocean and
subsequently their own word for ocean laḅī had changed to river and their word for river had
gone down to creek or stream.
Besides the word for river, Jerry Norman and Tsu-Lin Mei show 14 more Mon-
Khmer words borrowed by the Chinese. The following are the 15 Chinese words with my
comparison of old and modern Mon words :
1 to die Chinese**tsεt Old Mon Kcit Modern Mon chɔt
2 dog - * siô - - cluiw/c13 - - k1ɜ/k1ɔ
3 river Old Chinese **kraŋ/krong Old Mon krung/krunŋ
4 fly Chinese **riwǝi / iwi / wei Mon rui/ruy
5 tiger Chinese **k’la(g) Mon kla ; Khmer khla ; Khasi khla ; Bahnar kla
6 tooth , tusk , ivory Chinese**nga/ngra/ya Mon ngek/ŋek ; Vietnamese ngà
7 crossbow Chinese **na/nuo/nu Mon tnga/tŋa?; Viet . nà ; Palaung ka ŋa?
8 medium , shaman Chinese tϕyŋ/taŋ Mon dong/toŋ
9 son , child Chinese kian/kiã Mon kon/kɔn ; Khmer koun ; Wa kɔn
10 damp, wet, moist Chinese tam Viteamese đam/đãm

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11 crab Chinese siŋ/tsim Viet. sam ; Mon khatam ; Bahnar koam
12 to know, recognize Chisese paiˀ/bat Vietnamese bi~e t
13 scum, froth, bubbles Chinese pˀiu/pˀeˀ Vietnamese bot
14 duckweed Chinese pˀiu/pˀio Mon bew/pe ; Viet. beo
15 small salted fish Chinese kie/kue Viet . kè; Mon kaˀ kɔh kɔh
Observing the above comparison, I find that the first nine words are quite similar to
Mon-Khmer words but the last six words are not cognate to Mon or Khmer but similar to
only Vietnamese and it is not basically Mon-Khmer. However, the nine words are very
strikingly found to be Mon-Khmer words. These linguistic affinities significantly show that
the Chinese people did meet the Mon-Khmer speaking people in the middle of Yangtze when
they migrated from Yellow River Valleys following along the Han River as maintained by
the authors. The two authors also commented thus:
“Southeast Asia had a highly developed culture in the remote antiquity, quite capable
of serving as the originator and donor of cultural inventions. Leaving aside the question of
relative cultural superiority – which can never be subject to precise scientific proof – it seem
evident that when two peoples are in contact, borrowing is almost always a two-way street.”
Their comments are very attractive. But they did not present any Chinese word which
might have been borrowed by the Mon-Khmer people. In this respect, G.H. Luce (1965)
mentioned that the word for elephant in Mon ciṅ/ciŋ is common to Chinese hsiang and to
Myanmar chaṅ. This word seems to be a Mon-Khmer word because H. L. Shorto (1971)
shows in his Mon Dictionary as follows:
“Among Mon-Khmer, Niak Khmer ji:ŋ; Sue tieŋ; kuoi acaŋ; Palaung saŋ ; Lawa sa:ŋ
Lemet kesaŋ ; Khamuk cheŋ; Mi saŋ.”
Tibeto-Burman Myanmar chaṅ and Shan in Burma belonging to Sino-Thai has saŋ.
Obviously all of them had borrowed the word from Mon-Khmer. Therefore , it is
significant that the original homeland of the Mon-Khmer people was the Yangtze Kiang
Valley.

MIGRATION OF THE MON-KHMERS


Due to the pressure of the Chinese immigrants from the valleys of Yellow River in the
north, the Mon-Khmer speakers had to flee south, southwest and west gradually. My teacher
G.H.Luce with whom I had worked for many years believes in the conception of relying on
the linguistic affinities in studying history of Southeast Asia. He convinced me that the Mons

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and Khmers were pioneers in wet-rice cultivation and their migration has something to do
with rice.
He referred to a book by a Swedish , K.G. Izikowitz (Goteborg , 1951) on Lamet, a
Mon-Khmer tribe of northern Laos numbering about 5000 which says : “Rice possesses a
soul called klpū just as human being. If the soul of rice escapes, famine will follow. No other
plant has a soul. It is reserved only for human beings and rice.”
G.H. Luce told me that it is easy to smile at such curious superstitions but they
deserve our respect. They are the first step of a primitive people on the road to civilization :
the first attempt to take stock of life, and give it a meaning and a purpose. They open the
door to philosophy, religion, literature and art. They are the result of the first growing of rice
or perhaps irrigated rice-one of the great economic discoveries in the history of humanity.
Irrigated rice is the prime product of Southeast Asia. It is the first contribution to civilization.
Then by listening to him, I suddently recalled the words what my mother had told me
when I was a little boy. Actually , my mother was an illiterate cultivator of wet-rice before I
grew up. She had great respect for rice. She said rice is like our God. It is our life. Without
rice we will never be alive. She asked me to have respect for rice and never to tread on rice. I
can still remember that my mother never threw away the left-over cooked rice. She dried
them and kept them in good containers. Sometimes, she heated the dry-rice in a pan which
are very tasty to eat somewhat like pop-corns. That was over half-a-century ago and
comparing with the hill tribe, LAMET, my villagers were not so backward yet. The Lame
tirbe is very close to KHAMUK another Mon-Khmer tribe belonging to the northern group.
Regarding rice cultivatin in mainland china, it is obvious that rice was grown in Chu,
the land of Thorns, on the lower Yangtze, at least in the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. – 8 A. D.).
Millet was then the main cereal of Chinese people in the northern part of Yangtze. At Yang
Shao, the late Neolithic site just south of the Yellow River , J. G. Anderson had discovered
imprints of Oryza Sativa, at the bottom of an old storage-jar. Yang Shao culture is fixed
round about 2000 B. C. and whether rice was then grown as far north as the Yellow river,
may well be doubted. It is thought that the art of wet-rice cultivation might have been
imported from the south.
Mon-Khmer speakers have their own words for a considerable variety of rice : both
for the plant, the husked grain and the cooked. Regarding the planting of rice in Malay
Peninsula, C. O. Blagden (1906) wrote :
“Like many of the ruder Mon-Khmer tribes, some of the wild tribes of Malay
Peninsula have from time immemorial planted rice in their jungle clearings. But they have

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never made the great advance to planting in irrigable swamp-land : that, in Southeast Asia, is
the RUBICON which a barbarous tribe must cross before it can fulfill the conditions
precedent to real civilization, first in the material sense of the word, and ultimately in its
social , moral , intellectual, and other connotations.” (Pagan Races of the Malay Peninsula
Volumes I & II , London, 1906)
One would like to know more about the original of rice. In this respect, I quote the
description written by I.H. Burkill in his book : “Dictionary of the Economic Products of the
Malay Peninsula Volume II”on page 1592 thus :
“The genus is most strongly developed in a wild state in Africa, but it must been in
Asia that the cultivated rice had its remotest origin. Man can have inventeed the wet-field
only after he had long grown rice as a dry-land crop. The parts of the world, therefore, where
it is so grown, taken together with the physiological requirements of the parents, indicate
within what rather wide limits wet-rice cultivation must have arisen. The Asiatic species
which have been pointed out as parents O. fatua and O. minuta–occurs in moist places from
Easten Himalaya to Ceylon and the Southernmost edge of China through Burma and Indo-
China to Java, Borneo and the Philippine Islands ; within these limits that the first wet-rice
cultivation was undertaken.”
G. H. Luve maintained that the Rubicon was first crossed by the Mon-Khmers in
Southeast Asia who were pioneers in wet-rice cultivation. He said the Mon-Khmer people
performed on a large scale wet-rice cultivation in all the wide plains of Vietnam along the
valley of Mekhong river, Cambodia, and the valley of Menam in Siam and in the deltas of
Irawady river in Rāmaññadesa (Lower Burma). G. H. Luce’s theory says that due to the
rapid growth of the population, the Tongking Plain became overcrowded and a great number
of Mon-Khers fell back along the Red River-the shortest and easiest route to the Ganges
Plain in India.
However, I would like to assume that the northern group of Mon-Khmers should have
spread from Yangtze Valley directly along the Red River towards westward and arrived
Yunnan, Shan plateau, Assam and finally reached the Ganges Valley in central India. They
might have migrated at the same period with those who descended to Tongking Basin in the
south. They would not go up to Red River again once they were in the south. It seems G. H.
Luce had overlooked the Mon-Khmer loan words in Chinese. He was apparently influenced
by A. H. Christie in regarding the Tongking Plain as the original homeland of the Mon-
Khmers.

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Except this view which is a bit different from my thinking, G. H. Luce’s hypothesis is
very attractive. He wrote :
“The former French Indochine used to be compared to a long bamboo pole (The
Annamite Chain and the coastral strip) supporting at each end a rice basket-the Tongking
Plain (13,000 square miles), the Cochin-China and Cambodia Plain (40,000 square miles). If
we add to these, the Dvaravati Plain in old Siam (55,000 square miles), and the plain of
Rāmaññadesa (Lower Burma) some (45,000 square miles), we have the four great mainland
Centres of rice-cultivation in Southeast Asia. Overcrowding there, due to the rapid growth of
population, may have led the gradual peopling of all these delta plains with Mon-Khmer
large-scale cultivatiors.
Success and wealth, so rapidly attained, would naturally provoke hostility ; so the
Mon-Khmers would have to defend themselves against envy of less happier lands. And in
this, ultimately except in Cambodia and Monland of old Siam and Burma, they have failed.
Their first disaster, perhaps was in Tongking, where (the only evidence is probability) the
delta of the Clear, Red and Black Rivers was overwhelmed by the Southern Viet, early (let us
say) in the 2nd millennium B. C. It was in vain to flee south to lands already crowded ; so the
Tongking Mon-Khmers, I guess, fell back along the Red River – the shortest and easiest route
to India. Yunnan must have then largely been peopled by the ancestors of the Wa-Palaung-
Riang , a ruder people among Mon-Khmer family, living on the hills cultivation dry-land rice
on terraces. The more advanced delta-folk Mon-Khmers whose whole livelihood depended
on broad stretches of swamp-land where they could grow their rice and multiply, could not
stop until they found them. Possibly they had heard of Ganges Plain in India.
For the moment they were forced to climb on to the plateau of Yunnan – too cold and
rugged for their purpose. Armed with crossbows and pointed bamboo spears, they trekked on
and on, from the source of Red River to Yung-chang and Teng-yuch ; then down the Nam
Tabet to Waing Maw and the Irawady crossing ; across the Upper Chindwin ; then the final
climb to Kohima ; then down at last to the plains of Eastern Assam.
Did the weary ones stop off, and try with their shoulder celts to build a new net-work
of rice-fields, until the Boḍo Mongoloid invaders forced them south into the Khasi Hills,
where they are today? And did the main body plod on to Magdha and the Ganges, and resume
rice-cultivation there, and prosper , until they in turn were driven south by the Aryans onto
the Central Plateau? Perhaps there was not one disaster and invasion, but the whole series of
migrations, peaceful rather than warlike. There is large room for rival conjecture here. It

14
looks as if the Munda people had occupied a considerable portion of Ganges Plain, before the
advance of the Aryans drove most of them south to the Central Plateau.
If the entry of the Aryans into India is placed around 1000 B. C., the coming of the
Mon-Khmers must be fixed not later than 2000 B.C. Munda has gone its own ways since
then, under Aryan and Dravidian influence. Looking from China sea to central India, at the
extraordinary similarity of the basic words – for parts and functions of the body , numberals
up to ten, common animals, pronouns , etc. – one doubts if the separation took place very
long ago. The 2nd millennium B. C. seems roughly the limit of likelihood. In India rice is
never mentioned in the Rigveda. It first occurs in the Atharvaveda. The word is Vrīhi, from
which Greek word Oryza and English RICE were thought to have derived.
The word Vrīhi occurs in a Khmer inscription of 1003 A.D. (George Coedès’s
Inscriptions du Cambodge Vol. II, page 113). The Greek word appears first in Theophrastus,
almost within the time of Alexander the Great (336 – 323 B.C.), whose invasion of India
doubtless brought Rice to the knowledge of the west. Perhaps in north-east India, Mon-
Khmer experience and influence in promoting large-scale rice cultivation, were useful and
important. It can be claimed that the Mon-Khmers were the first people to introduce wet-rice
cultivation to India.”
(G.H. Luce’s Early History of Mon-speaking Peoples – unpublished and Rice & Religion,
JSS Vol. LIII part 2, 1965)
When I searched for a scholar who would give certain support to the above interesting
theory, I have come across “ A History of South India” by K.A. Nilakanta Sastri (1958)
which says on page 59 thus :
“The languages of South India fall into three main groups-the Indo-Aryan
respresented by-Marathi, the Dravidian represented by Tamil, Telugu, Kannada and
Malayalam besides Gondi and other dialects, and the Austro-Asiatic by the Munda languages
including Kharia, Juang, Savara and Gadaba of the Northeastern portions of the Deccan, the
Kurku of northwestern districts of Madhya Pradesh. Though the Indo-Aryan vocabulary
shows traces of Munda influence the number of Dravidian loan-words in it is much larger and
the conclusion seems inevitable that the Dravidian group of languages is more recent than
the Austro-Asiatic which is usually reconginizd as pre-Dravidian. There is nodoubt that at
one time the Munda languages spread over the whole of north India, for they form the basic
of a number of mixed languages along the Himalayan fringe Punjab to Bengal. Hence this
group of languages may have prevailed in the norht-west at the time Indo-Aryan arrived. If

15
this view is correct, throughout the bulk of India, Dravidian speech was preceded by Austro-
Asiatic and followed by Indo-Aryan.”
Observing the above statement, it si obvious that the Mon-Khmer speaking peoples
had reached the Ganges Valley much earlier than the coming of the Aryan people from the
west. Therefore, most probably, the Mon-Khmers might have brought with them the art of
wet-rice cultivation to India.
Though Luce’s theory looks rather imaginative in praising the Mon-Khmer peoples as
pioneers in wet-rice cultivation, I am inclined to imagine that the Mon-Khmers were also
highly skilled in bronze casting technique in view of the report on Ban Chiang Excavation
conducted at the north eastem part of Thailand which was formerly Monland before the
coming of the Thai people to that part of the land.
As a matter of fact, remnats of the oldest Mon people of Dvaravati Mon kingdom
numbering about 2000 are still living in small hamlets scattered around the hills in Korat
Plateau. The Mons had lived in Ban Chiang probably with Khmers.

MON – KHMER CULTIURE IN BAN CHIANG


An old historical site in Udon Province at Isan, northeast of Thailand known as BAN
CHING has been confirmed as a center of highly developed pre-historic civilization more
than six thousand years old. Human skeletons, potteries, artifacts and numerous
archaeological objects that had been excavated were sent to the American Universities of
Hawaii and Pennsylvania for scientific analyses.
In the field season of 1974-75, Chester Gorman and Pisit Charoenwongsa had jointly
conducted systematic excavations. After 18 mouths of careful examinations and comparative
studies carried out by the experts concerned, the announcement said that Ban Chiang site was
over a thousand years older than Middle East Region which had long been recognized as the
human’s cradle of civilization.
The reports mentioned that the finds from Ban Chiang provide the earliest bronze
casting technology yet discovered which Radio-Carbon C-14 analysis places them at 3600-
2900 B.C. antedating both the bronze metallurgy of China and the Middle East. The
statement said:
“The first Radio Carbon dates from Mainland China suggest that copper metallurgy in
China could as old as c.2000 B. C. But no earlier, at least on the evidence now available. Yet
the Radio-carbon dates indicate the presence of bronze in northern Thailand some 1500 years
earlier. Perhaps bronze metallurgy actually came from Thailand to China. That is exactly

16
what has now been claimed, but on philological rather than archaeological grounds.” (The
Expedition Volume 18 No. 4, page 26, 1976 , University of Pennsylvaia)
In this respect, Paul Benedict, the well known linguist and author of what is known
as, ‘The Benedict Hypothesis’ has proposed that the basic agricultural and metallurgical
terminology in Chinese actually comes from what he calls the Austro-Thai language family.
He says that the Chinese word for copper t’ung was borrowed from Austro-Thai. For Paul
Benedict, the graves at Ban Chiang and Non Nok Tha represent the very graves of the
ancestral Austro-Thai people or peoples, with evidence of sophisticated bronze casting in the
middle of the third millennium B.C. about a thousand years before the appearance of the
celebrated bronze of ancient China. He writes :
“We come now finally to the one cultural item which is represented, albeit with
semantic shife, in Munda , viz. Austro-Thai *1u [y] aŋ ‘copper/brass’, yeilding Proto-Munda
luaŋ ‘iron’ , the final piece in the puzzle (the “missing” y) being supplied by Mon sluy
‘copper’ (cf . slāk ‘bronze’) from *s/luy [aŋ]. Thus it appears that the “culture word” of
greatest antiquity in all Southeast Asia should designate the metal (copper/bronze) that was
probably first produced in history by the people (Austro-Thai speaking) of this region.
“(Austroasiatic Studies, part I, page 27, 1976 The University Press of Hawaii, Honolulu)
Austro-Thai is a new linguistic term given by Paul Benedict. Among members of
Austroasiatic family, the Mons were the major people who had played a significant role in
bygone days in the soil now known as Siam and Thailand. In fact, it was Monland in olden
days before the coming of the Thai people.
Historically, it is certain that the inhabitants of Ban Chiang and other parts of old
Siam were not Thai people. The Thais has migrate to this part of the load from the north in
the 12th and 13th centuries. In 1292 A.D., the last Mon kingdom of Haribhuñjaya (modem
Lamphun, some 20 miles south of Chieng Mai) was invaded by the Thai king Mangrai, from
Mon king Śrī Yiba. (George Coedès’s The Indianized States of South East Asia, page 208,
1968)
In support of the claim that Thailand was once Monland, a learned Thai scholar Phya
Anuman Rajadhon wrote :
“It is a historical fact that the central part of Thailand, the Menam Basin, a thousand
or more years ago were peopled by a Mon speaking race who later mixed freely, racially and
culturally with the Thai, late comers from the north and beyond. Historians tell us that the
Mons at those times were relatively civilized race as compared to the Thai and neighbouring

17
races. The Mons were the first bearers of Indian civilization to this part of the world.” (JSS,
Volume 53, 1965)
It is obvious that the Mons were not only the oldest people of Thailand but they were
also the most ancient people of Burma. G.H. Luce often stated in his lectures that : “Thailand
was once Monland because the oldest Mon inscription was found not in Burma but in
Thailand. The Mon inscriptions were as old as the Khmer inscriptions found in Cambodia.”
Not only in Thailand, old Mon inscription was discovered also at Ban Thalat near
Vientiane in Laos. It indicates that the Dvaravati Mon Kingdom in old Siam covered up to
Laos in the 9th century.
More recently, some archaeological objects depicting bas-reliefs of old Mon style and
Buddhist votive tablets bearing Mon writings dating to 10th century A. D. have been found at
Udon province near Ban Chiang which reveal the fact that the Mons were still living there at
that time. It is a new evidence for Mon historical perspective.
The oldest Mon inscriptions engraved on stone found at Phra Pathom and a three-line
Mon inscriptions inscribed on the stone wall of the entrance hall of Narai cave at Saraburi
near Lopburi are dated in the 6th century A. D. The octagonal stone pillar Mon inscription
found at Lopburi dates in the 8th century A. D. which is on display at the National Library of
Bangkok. Over half a dozen Mon inscriptions on stone discovered in the last Mon kingdom in
Thailand known as Haribhuñjaya modern Lamphun were ascribed to 12th and 13th centuries.
All of them are in the National Museum of Lamphun.
Most of the Mon inscriptions found in Thailand were edited and translated into
French by G.Coedès and a Scotchman Robert Halliday and published in BEFEO in 1929-30.
Archaeological excavation of Mon historical site of Dvaravati was undertaken by a French
archaeologist Pierre Dupont in 1950. All evidences ultimately proved that Thailand was
centainly once Monland known as Dvaravati which was a vassal state of Fu-Nan Empire.

MON-KHMER EMPIRE OF FU-NAN


Authentic Chinese texts mention that a Mon-Khmer Empire was in existence from Ist
to 5th centuries. A. D. in Indo-China. Fu-nan was a derivative of Ba Phnam, a region nearby
the hill of that name now in South Cambodia. The center of Fu-nan Empire was in the delta
and lower reaches of Mekhong River. As asserted by Quaritch Wales in his book on
DVARAVATI on page 1 , the people of Fu-nan Empire were almost certainly Mon-Khmers.
Paul Pelliot’s “Le Fou-nan, BEFEO,III , 1903” is the most learned contribution on Fu-nan.

18
The capital of Fu-nan was Vyadapura, which means “the city of hunters”. It was some
500 li (200 km) from the sea. This place corresponds to the site of Oc Eo where rings,
earrings, coins, medallions, amulets, bracelets, vessels and various objects of art were found.
It was a sea port which was used as a port of call by the merchants with their ships plying
between Indian and Chinese Empires. It was also reached by the foreign ships from the west
beyond India as evident by the discovery of seals and coins belonging to the Mediterranean
region. Some of the finds were made of gold, silver and tin. Observing the gold and silver
ornaments which were brought to light at Oc Eo, it is obvious that the Mon-Khmer craftsmen
of Fu-nan were highly skilled having admirable artistic abilities.
Of course Fu-nan was an Indianized State. Tradition asserts that a certain Brahman,
Kaundinya by name came from India and married the daughter of the Nāga (serpent) king of
Fu-nan, Soma , Kaundinya became the first king of Fu-nan. After the death of Kaundinya, his
son became king and the Royal line had continued. This mythical story is identical to the
legend of the Pallava kings of Kancipura of southeast India.
In fact, the Mon legend says almost the same story on their first king of Thaton. In
Mon, the legend says that a certain Magician having supernatural power of flying, came to
Thaton hill and met with a dragon lady. (Nāga) and fell in love. In course of time the dragon
lady gave birth to two eggs. By knowing the true nature of his beloved one, the magician left
for Himalayan forest and the dragon lady also went back to her abode. The two hermits who
came form India, picked up the two eggs and under their separate roofs, two boys were
brought up and one of them became the first king of Thaton. The second boy who died at the
age of seven and then reborn in India became a disciple of the Buddha bearing the name of
GAVAMPATI. It is paramount that Mon legend is more recent which has modified to some
extent and even connected with Lord Buddha Gotama.
The Indian myth on Brahman Kaundinya and the Nāga Queen Soma, was written on
stone in Sanskrit at Mi Son in Champa, a neighbour of Fu-nan. The Khmers had also
preserved the legend in their chronicle. It is presumed that the Mon and Khmer were
Indianized at the same period, perhaps when they were together in Fu-nan (During the
period from 1st to 5th centuries A.D., the Khmer kingdom Kambuja and the Mon kingdoms of
Dvaravati in old Siam and Sudhammavati (Thaton) in old Burma were vassal states of Fu-
nan.
The people of Champa kingdom were not Mon-Khmer and it seems due to different in
language, Champa was a rival kingdom to Fu-nan. Being Indianized states, both Fu-nan and
Chapa used Sanskrit.

19
Basing on the discovery of both Hindu and Buddhist stone sculptures in Fu-nan
region, it is thought that Buddhism of Fu-nan was Hinayāna (Theravada- southern school)
using Sanskrit canon. However , Hindusin was much stronger and the worship of Siva’s cult
Liṅga was found to be more popular. The characheristics of potsherds which had come to
light at Fu-nan site with zigzag patterns apparently reveal the fact that the Mon-Khmers of
Fu-nan had certainly maritime intercourse with India and the west.
According to Radio Carbon 14 analysis, the ancient people who knew to make pots,
had lived at Laang Spean cave in Fu-nan region as early as 4200 B. C. as mentioned by C.
Mourer in “The Prehistoric Industry of Laang Spean : Archaeology and Physical
Anthropology of Oceania, Vol. V, No.2, 1970. “Human bones and skulls were also found at
Samrong Sen, indicating that Fu-nan site was inhabited in 1500 B. C. or earlier.
As the finds which came to light show a comparatively sophisticated culture of the
pre-historic period, Fu-nan region is attributed as the first cultivation of wet-rice and the first
bronze casting technique area in Southeast Asia.
Of course, Ban Chiang, lying in the western part of the Fu-nan Empire has been
confirmed as the earliest site of bronze casting technology antedating both the bronze
metallurgy of China and the Middle East as already mentioned above.
By then, the Mon-Khmer people of this region had already domesticated cattle, water
buffaloes, fowls, pigs and dogs. They grew varieties of rice and crops. They lived in fortified
villages and their dwellings were raised above ground to a certain height using ladders to
climb up similar to the houses of the oldest Mon people known as Nyah Kur in Korat Plateau
even nowadays. Fish and vegetables were most essential in their diet and they knew weaving
of their garments. They were popular as sea-faring people who could sail their boats up to
India and Ceylon in those days. Therefore , the Mon-Khmer people got contacts with India
from very early times, Naturally, as a two-way-route, once the Indians came, the Mon-
Khmers, in return , went to India so that they could obtain more of Indian civilization.
By discovery of a bronze Roman lamp at P’ong Tuk in southern Thailand, which was
the western side of Fu-nan Empire, mostly lived by the Mons, it was thought that the Roman
acrobats or the Roman Ambassador and his entourage might have left it in 120 A. D. and 166
A.D. respectively who were supposed to have made use of the famous Three-Pagoda-Pass.
This short-cut overland route was also thought to have used by the traders coming from India
and the west to China since Neolithic period. This Pass was so popular that the Japanese
invaders had even constructed a railway line connecting Thailand and Burma through it

20
during World War II and it is still in use by the present day smugglers who are dealing with
the so called black market business in the border.
The Roman coin of the 3rd century A. D. which came to light at U T’oug which is not
far from the Three-Pagoda-Pass in another indication of western contact with Mon-Khmer
Empire of Fu-nan.
Regarding the existence of Fu-and Empire of the Mon-Khmer, the two Chinese
envoys K’ang Tai and Chu Yin were the first personnel to have written their accounts who
visited the Empire in the 3rd century A. D. According to Chinese history, Hun-t’ien who was
restored as the Brahmin Kaundinya was the first king of Fu-nan. He was succeeded by Hun-
p’an-huang and when he died at the age of 90 years, his second son P’an-P’an became king
who had a great general called Fan Shi-man, King P’an-P’an died after three years.
The people chose Fan Sin-man as king because he was very brave and most capable
to govern the country. Fan Shi-man bore the title of Mahārāja “Great king of Fu-nan” and
organized a strong and powerful army and attacked and subdued the neighbouring kingdoms
and all became his vassal states. He was also known as Fan-man who caused to build
numerous big ships and when they were ready to use, he sailed all over the huge sea and
invaded ten more kingdoms including Chu-tu-kun, Chiu-chih and Tien-sun which are
difficult to idenify which countries they were. Fan Shi-man had thus extended his Fu-nan
Empire to six thousand li. (5 li = 1 mile)
Finally Fan Shi-man tried to invade the kingdom of Chin Lin, meaning frontier of
gold which Pelliot and Luce would like to identify it as Lower Burma known as
Rāmaññadesa and Suvaṇṇabhūmi (Goldenland). At that time Fan Shi-man fell ill and he sent
for his son the heir-apparent Chin-sheng to take his place. The Chinese annals mention that
Fan Shi-man died in the course of an expedition against the Chin-lin or frontier of gold.
Though the Chinese texts say Fan Shi-man invaded ten more kingdoms besides his
nearby vassal states, it is difficult to describe precisely the real extent of the territory which
he had conquered during his life time. A nephew of Fan Shi-man, Fan Chan by name
murdered the legitimate heir Chincheng or Chin-sheng and made himself king. Twenty years
later Fan Chan was again assassinated by a son of Fan Shi-man, named Chang.
Later on, Chang was killed in his turn by his commander Fan Hsun who proclaimed
himself king. These events occurred between 225-250 A. D. During this 25 years period, Fan
Chan was able to have diplomatic relations both with China and India and deputed his
embassies. As to China, he sent some talented Mon-Khmer musicians as his gift of gratitude.

21
He received four best horses of Indo-Scythian breed as present from the Indian king of
Murunda Dynasty centered on the Ganges River.
The usurper General Fan Hsun who assassinated Chang and became king of Fu-nan
received two Chinese envoys K’ang T’ai and Chu Ying somewhere beween 245 A. D. and
250 A. D. when he introduced them to the Indian envoy from Murunda at the Court of Fu-
nan. Beginning from this Chinese mission, Fu-nan could have good diplomatic relations with
China and Fu-nan king Fan Hsun sent a series of embassies to China.
The Chinese envoy K’ang T’ai had recorded his dairy on the Fu-nan country thus :
“There are palaces, dwellings and walled villages. Their nature is simple. They devote on
agriculture. They sow one year and harvest for three. Moreover, they like to engrave on their
ornaments and to chisel. Many of their utensils are made of silver. Taxes are paid in gold,
silver, pearls and perfumes (There are books and depositories of archives and other things.
Their characters for writing resemble those of the Hu (a people of Central Asia using a script
of Indian origin).”
Of course many objects of art that had come to light at Oc Eo, the old capital of Fu-
nan contain writing in Brahmi script.
According to the Chinese dynastic histories of the Chin and the Liang, Fu-and was
ruled by an Indian with the title of Tien Chu Can-t’ an in 357 A. D. The real cause was
unknown. Most probably, such an Indian ruler might be a prince from Murunda or Kushan
Dynasty who was supposed to have driven out and then sought his fortune at Fu-nan.
One of the successors of Chan-t’an was Chiao Chan-ju who was identified as second
Kaundinya. He was a Brahmin from India. Chinese annals say that Kaundinya was chosen
by the people of Fu-nan to be their king. After becoming king, he changed all the laws to
conform to the system of India. This fact as mentioned in the Chinese records can be
maintained that the Indian code of Dharmaśāstra was practiced in Fu-nan.
After the death of Kaundinya, Shi-li-to-pa-mo became king of Fu-nan. George
Coedѐs regarded this king as Śrī Indravarman or Śrethavarman who sent a petition and
valuable presents to the Emperor Wen of the Sung Dynasty between 434 A. D. and 438 A. D.
This king tried to capture the kingdom of Champa which was known as Lin-yi in Chinese.
The Chinese history of the southern Chi, mentioned that Shi-yeh-pa-mo, a descendant of
Kaundinya was king of Fu-nan in 480 A. D. This king was restored by Coedès as
Jayavarman. It is stated that an Indian monk Nagasena reached Canton and came by ship to
Champo and continued overland route to Fu-nan.

22
In 484 A. D. the king of Fu-nan Jayavarman sent nagasena to the Chinese Emperor
with valuable gifts and at the same time requested for help in invading the kingdom of
Champa. However, the Chinese Emperor granted no troops against the Champa kingdom but
thanked Jayavarman for his presents. Jayavarman sent two learned Mon-Khmer monks who
were well versed in Sanskrit to China. This statement made in the Chinese annals reveals the
fact that though Hinduism was dominant in Fu-nan, Buddhism was also practiced side by
side.
The same passage of the History of the Southern Chi describes on the people of Fu-
ann thus : “The people of Fu-nan used to make slaves of the inhabitants of other towns who
do not pay them homage. Their merchants have gold, silver and silk. Rich families cut
brocade to make garments. Their rings and bracelets are made of gold and their plates are of
silver. Their king lives in the pavilion having storeys. The people live in raised dwellings.
The king travels by elephant. Their boats are in the form of a fish with head and tail. For
amusements they have cock fights and pig fights. They have no prisons. In a dispute on any
mater, the two persons are asked to jump into the water and the judge watches who will sink
and who does not. The one who sinks is the guilty person.”
Moreover, the History of the Liang adds : “The people of Fu-nan do not dig wells. A
group of families dig pond for common use of water. Their custom is to worship sky spirits
and they made bronze images of the sky spirits. Some images have two heads with four arms
and some have four heads with eight arms holding auspicious objects including sun and
moon. When the king sits, he raises his right knee and hangs down his left. A piece of cotton
cloth is spread before the king on which vases of gold and incense-burners are laid. They
shave their beard and hair in the morning. They have four ways in disposing for the dead.
Burial in the river, burial in the pit of the earth, burning the corpse into ash and by exposing
the dead in the field for birds.”
This account on the worship of the god with two heads indicates union of Vishṇu and
Ṡiva and the god having four heads points out to Brahmā. All are Hindu gods. Most of them
might be Hindu in religion. The reign of Kaundinya Jayavarman of Fu-nan was so great.
During one of its missions deputed to China, the Imperial Emperor of China issued
his Royal Order thus : “The kings of Fu-nan Kaundinya Jayavarman lives at the limits of the
ocean. From generation to generation he and his people have governed the distant lands of the
south. Their sincerity manifests itself afar ; though their many interpreters they offer present
in homage ; it is fitting to reciprocate and show them favour and acoord the and accord them

23
a glorious title. This is possible with the title of ‘General of the Pacified South, King of Fu-
nan’. “vide George Coedès’s The Indianized States of Southeast Asia page 59)
The great king of Fu-nan Kaundinya Jayavarman died in 514 A.D. His chief queen
was Kulaprabhavati. She had a son named Gunavarman who was murdered by his eldest half-
brother Liu-to-pa-mo known as Rudravarman. His mother was a concubine. After becoming
king of Fu-nan in 514 A. D., Rudravarman deputed various embassies to China from 517
A.D. to 539 A.D. China also sent her embassies to Fu-nan . In 535 A. D. , the Chinese
Emperor sent his ambassador to Fu-nan requesting the Mon-Khmer Emperor to supply
Buddhist texts and Buddhist monks. Rudravarman chose an Indian learned monk Paramartha
for the mission who arrived China in 546 A.D. bringing with him 240 bundles of Buddhist
texts for use in China.
It seems that since Rudravaman, son of a concubine had killed his half-brother
Gunavarman, the heir-apparent, the Chief Queen Kulaprabhavati renounced the world and
dwelled in a hermitage nearby a lake.Due to irregularity of succession of Rudravarman
coming to the throne of Fu-nan, certain political provocation and agitation among the Khmer
might have occurred because their vassal state of Chenla was the nearest to Fu-nan. Mon
Staate of Dvaravati was quite distant from Fu-nan. Subsequently, Bhavavarman and his
cousin Chitrasena of the Khmer state attacked Rudravarman and took over the capital.
Rudravarman fled to the south and made his new capital at Na-fu-na. His last missionsen to
China dates 539 A. D. Finally, in the second half of the 6th century A. D., Bhavavarman of
Cambodia very strongly took all the power of Fu-nan and the fate of Rudravarman was
unknown. After ascending the throne of Fu-nan , Bhavavarman’s capital was declared to be
Bhavapura including Chenla (old Cambodia).
Fu-nan Empire was so great and powerful flourisihing for five centuries from 1st to 6th
centuries A.D. on the mainland Southeast Asia, comprising Chenla (Khmerland of
Cambodia) and Monland of Dvaravati in old Siam. Perhaps the western Monland of
Rāmaññadesa in Lower Burma was also under Fu-nan Empire dominion. However, it is not
clear on Pyu kingdom.
Fu-nan Empire was very strongly influenced by Indian civilization as indicated by the
images of Harihara-that is the union of Hindu gods Vishṇu and Ṡiva in one body ; images of
Sūriya ; statues of Buddha in Gupta style and the statement in the Chinese annals saying that
the people of Fu-nan professed Hinayāna (Therevada) Buddhism using the Sanskrit canon.
Obviously , the Mon-Khmer people of Fu-nan Empire had more faith in Hinduism than
Buddhism. This fact points out that the Mon participation in Fu-nan Empire was much

24
weaker than the Khmer because the Khmer people and more faith in Hindu religion whereas
the Mon had very strong belief in Buddhism.
After the break-up of the Fu-nan Empie in the end of the 6th century A. D., the Mons
and Khmers were separated and they formed their won kingdoms in separate regions. The
eastem region of Fu-nan because Kambuja or Cambodia and the western part of Fu-nan area
had founded as Mon kingdom known as Dvaravati in the soil now known as Thailand when
the Thais were in the far north holding strong power in Yunnan called Nan-Chao.
The Mons of Dvaravati were very devout Buddhists but the Khmers of Kambuja
(Cambodia) were so keen in Hinduism as evident by the archaeological remains and finds
discovered in their respective countries flourished after the fall of Fu-nan Empire of the Mon-
Khmer people. The Court of Fu-nan Empire used Sanskrit indicating that both Mon and
Khmer could not reduce their languages into writing as yet.

MON KINGDOM OF DVARAVATI IN OLD SIAM


Though Fu-nan Empire was so great in power as Rome was in Europe, it fell into the
Khmer king Bhavavarman’s invasion in the 6th century. However, its prestige remained for
long as its traditions especially the cults of the sacred mountain and the dragon princess were
adopted by the invading Khmer monarchs. As for the Mons whose kingdom of Dvaravati in
old Siam became independent after the fall of the Mon-Khmer Empire of Fu-nan, they
appeared to be very strong Buddhists professing the Theravada Buddhism.
The break-up of Fu-nan Empire might be caused on the two faiths of Buddhism and
Hinduism because the Khmers were so extreme in Hinduism whereas the Mons were on
Buddhism. After the split, the two peoples could obtain their freedom of worship in their own
religion.
Regarding the existence of the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati in old Siam, the Chinese
pilgrims Hsuan-Tsang or Chuang and I – Ching who went to India and returned in the 7th
century A.D. as wells as other authentic Chinese texts mention that the kingdom of TO-LO-
PO-TI was in existence in this part of Indo-Chinese Peninsula, between Śrīkṣetra (old Burma)
and Isanapura (old Camboida). Georger Coedès has restored the Chinese TO-LO-PO-TI as
Sanskrit Dvāravatī meaning city with gates.
Reginald Le May stated in his book “The Culture of South-East Asia “on page 68 that
the predominant people of Dvaravati were the Mons who were much influenced by Indian
civilization practising the Buddhist faith. Their sculpture of Buddha images were based on
Gupta models.

25
It is thought that the Buddhist art found in the Fu-nan period was brought over there
through the Buddhist kingdon of Dvaravati. Most of the stone as well as laterite (red porous
clay stone) sculptures of Buddhist faith have been discovered at Nakorn Pathom (first city)
where the oldest Pagoda of Phra Pathom (first pagoda) is now in existence. The oldest Mon
inscription was also found in this historical site.
George Coedès who first edited this Mon record considered that it was dated in the 6th
century A. D. Numerous objects of art were found at Nakorn Pathom. Most remarkable
Buddhist sculptures are stone wheel of the law; stone deer ; octagonal stone pillars with fine
carvings ; seated stone Buddha in Gupta style ; bas-relief of stone Buddha seated in European
fashion of Gupta model and his devotees on both right and left sides. The symbol of the
Buddha as well as his mudra or attitude depicting the form of Turning the Wheel of the law
with a deer certainly illustrates the Buddha’s first sermon given at the deer park to the five
Vaggiyas (disciples) on the full moon day of A sāḷha (4th month) in Isipatana.
The sermon contains the fundamental principles of the Buddha’s teaching-the
avoidance of the two extremes of asceticism and luxury and the four Ariyan truths including
the Ariyan Eightfold-Path. There was great rejoicing through out the universe at the
preaching of the first SERMON. It is well known as the Dhammacakkapavattana Sutta. The
fifth Vaggiya monk was well known as Assaji who was responsible for the conversion of
Sāriputta and Moggallāna who became the two famous disciples of Lord Buddha.
The Buddhist stanza which Assaji uttered to convert Sāriputta reads :
“ye dhammā hetuppabhavā tesaṁ hetuṁ Tathāgato āha tesañca yo nirodho evaṁvādī
Mahāsamaṇo”
Which means :
“The things which arise from a cause, of these the Tathāgata (Buddha) has stated the
cause. Of these also there is a means of suppression. Such is the teaching of the Great Ascetic
(Buddha).”
This Buddhist Credo is the essence and keynote of the Buddha’s teaching. Therefore,
the Mon Buddhists were very fond of making terracotta votive tablets with this Buddhist
Creed in offering at the pagodas. Numerous of such terracotta votive tablets have been found
in Dvaravati historical sites bearing this popular stanza.
I saw one of them written on a stone piece in Lopburi National Museum which is very
rare. Another rare thing is this Yedhammā stanza was inscribed on the rock image at the
Hermit’s cave in Rājaburi. The title of the donor of meritorious deeds in this Hermit’s cave at

26
Ngu Hills reads Śrī Samādhigupta. It is not certain whether he was one of the Mon kings of
Dvaravati Dynasty. As the rock Buddha image seated in European fashion in this cave is
quite bit, most probably the donor could be a king. Observing the Sanskrit word PUNYA
meaning merit inscribed in this cave was a bit deformed and to find undeformed RISHI for
hermit, I consider that this Buddha image can be dated in the 7th century A.D.
The name of Nakorn Pathom denoting the first city and the great pagoda Phra
Pathom, the first pagoda, obviously indicate that it was most probably the first capital of the
Mons. This city lies about 30 miles due south-west of Bangkok. It was almost in circular
shape two miles from east to west and nearly 1 ¼ miles from north to south. The pagoda is so
tall and can be seen from far. It is said that it was erected by the Mons in those days, in the
form of a Sinhalese dagoba. It was later transformed by the Khmers into Cambodian tower.
The ruins of this tower were still standing in the 19th century. The Thai king Mongkut
had restored it to be in this shape and built four monasteries surrounding the pagoda. He also
made models of the original monuments inside the enclosure. King Chulalongkorn continued
the meritorious deeds who covered the entire dome with orange colour Chinese glazed tiles
which added so much to its beauty in attracting the awe and admiration of the pilgrims.
According to local tradition, there was an ancient city of Charisiri or Srichai over two
thousand years ago in the site of modern Nakorn Pathom city to which a Buddhist missionary
headed by the two Mahātheras Sona and Uttara was deputed by the Great Asoka of India in
the 3rd century B.C. This tradition is common among Mon people of old Burma known as
Rāmaññadesa as well as Suvaṇṇabhūmi, the goldenland.
Of course, the India immigrants referred the whole of Southeast Asia as land of gold.
Though the Buddhist mission of Sona and Uttara was not found in Asoka’s rock edicts, it was
well written in the 4th century A.D. of the Ceylonese chronicle Dipavaṁsa. It was later
recorded in the 15th century A.D. Mon inscriptions of Kalayani-Sima in Pegu. During the
course of restoration carried out at Phra Pathom in the past half of century, numerous objects
of art have been brought to light. Apparently, this Phra Pathom area has been most valuable
for historians to piece together the archaeological fragments in forming the mosaic of early
civilization of the Mons in old Siam.
Reginald Le May has very well written and illustrated in his works “A Concise
History of Buddhist Art in Siam, 1938 “and The Culture of South-East Asia , 1954”. I 1969,
H. G. Quaritch Wales has produced his work on “Dvaravati, The Earliest Kingdom of Siam”.
However , we could not find any mention of the old Mon kingdom of Dvaravati in a standard

27
work of W.A.R. Wood” A History of Siam, 1926” because historical information on the
formation of Dvaravati was almost unknown before 1926.
Regarding the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati, George Coedès who is an authority on the
history of Southeast Asia, has contributed most among other scholars. In 1928, he wrote”
Excavations in Pong Tuk “in JSS, Vol. XXI ; in the following year, his “Recueil des
Inscriptions du Siam” came out in Bangkok. He published the most important paper on the
oldest Mon inscription on a stone piece of fragment discovered at Phra Pathom in 1952 when
the asserted with certainty that the people of the old region were Mons.
Erik Seidenfaden’s article on “Kanok Nakhon, An Ancient Mon Settlement in North-
East Siam” came out in BEFEO, Vol XLIV, 2, in 1954. Pierre Dupont had conducted
excavation and his work was published in 1959 in Paris “L’Archeologie Mone de Dvaravati”
Robert Halliday’s “Les Inscriptions Mon du Siam” appeared in BEFEO, Vol.XXX in
1930.J.J. Boeles wrote his article on “The King of Śrī Dvarati and his Regalia” in JSS Vol.
LII part 1 in 1964 which can definitely confirm the Chinese name TO-LO-PO-TI as
Dvaravati which has been restored by Coedès previously . In 1966, Coedès contributed a
learned article on “Les Mons de Dvaravati “in” Esays Offered to G.H. Luce Vol . I”.
Thus the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati became well known in the circle of academic
world. In 1927, systematic excavations were undertaken at a village called Pong Tuk about
ten miles along the road to Kanburi from the station of Ban Pong. An old basement of a
temple measuring 80 feet by 47 feet was brought to light. Materials were mostly laterite but
bricks were also used. Some fragments of broken stone pillars and stucco decorations similar
to those found at Phra Pathom were discovered. A Roman lamp made of bronze in the form
of a bird’s with the erected palmette tail and a bronze image of the Buddha in Amaravati style
were found at Pong Tuk. These finds reveal the fact that Pong Tuk site was an old Buddhist
center in the western part of Fu-nan Empire before the kingdom of Dvaravati became
independent in the 6th century A. D.
Unexpectedly, in the year 1943, two small medals of silver were unearthed under an
old stupa at Huay Chorakay (crocodile stream) Tambol Nern Hin, Changvat Nakorn Pathom.
The old medals were found in an earthern jar. The first medal has on one side, the well
known Indian symbol of full brimming water-pot (pūrṇaghata) from which two tender creeprs
(latā) are sprouting. The second medal has on one side, figures of an animal standing on four
legs with two horne who is feeding a smaller one standing symbolize under her. Certainly
they are cow and calf. Both the two motives symbolize Hindu ideology of prosperity and
abundance in creation. On the other side of both the two medals bear the same Sanskrit

28
inscriptions in Pallava script of the sixth century A.D. Of course both Mon and Khmer
obtained their script from Pallava of southeast India .
The writings read: ‘Sri Dvaravati Cavara Punya” meaning “The meritorious deeds of the
king Sri Dvaravti”. Thus the two silver medals definitely approved the real name of the Mon
kingdom of Dvaravati.
U Tong lying about 30 miles east of Meklong river, is an ancient city of Dvaravati Mon
kingdom .U Tong means cradle of gold in Thai and some scholars would like to connect it
with the Chinese term Chin-lin which means frontier of gold . Chin- lin was the kingdom
which the king of Fu-nan had attempted to take over. Some would like to take Suvannabhumi
in lower Burma, the western Mon kingdom . Chin-lin was 2000 li west of Fu- nan according
to Chinese accounts; As Davarati Mon kingdom was a vassal state of Fu-nan Empire , and U
Tong was in Davaravati it is rather difficult to take U Tong as Chin- lin .
Observing the archaeological finds found at U Tong , it is certain that U Tong was in
existence in Fu-nan period . The finds comprise gold ornaments including an ear-ring in the
form of a Kinnari (mythical being half-bird and half-woman musician) ; beads ; seals ;
medals ; tin ear-ring ; amulets; stone mould ; a clay stamp ; potsherds with wavy lines ;
stucco image of Buddha under nāga hoods ; terracotta votive tablets ; a clay figure of Kinnar ;
a terracotta relief with Buddhist disciples carrying their bowls ; a fragment of a terracotta
lamp of Roman pattern and a 3rd century A. D. Roman silver coin.
The Roman coin fund in U Tong ant the Roman bronze lamp discovered at Pong Tuk
were indication of western contacts with the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati. In fact these sites
are so close to the well known Three-pagoda-pass. Some scholars regard U Tong as the
center of distribution of Buddhism to neighbouring regions even during Fu-nan period. The
city plan of U Tong is irregular somewhat like an egg shape measuring some 1850 yards from
north to south and 920 yards at its widest width. A six-line old inscriptions written on copper
plate of 18 by 12 inches in Sanskrit was found at U Tong and this city have been the first
capital of Dvaravati kingdom.
George Coedès has edited and translated into French which Quaritch Wales made the
following English translation :
I. Śrī Harsavarman, grandson of the king , Śrī Isanavarman , who has expanded the
sphere of his glory, has obtained the lion throne by regular succession.
II. He has accorded to the fourtunate Āmratakesvara a litter adorned with jewels,
with a parasol and musical instruments.

29
III. And then he has given to Śrī Isanesvara a kosa (probably ‘treasure’) made up of
poetical compositons, songs, dances, etc. (vide Quaritch Wales “Dvaravati” pages
21-22)
This old inscription in Sanskrit might have been brought to this region from Khmer
kingdom of Kambuja because a Khmer king by the same title written in this record
Isanavarman came to the throne of Khmer kingdom in 615 A. D. and then his kingdom
became known as Isanapura. Most probably this copper plate belonged to Khmer king
because the Sanskrit word Āmratakesvara certainly denotes a form of linga, the popular
symbol of Hindu god Ṡiva whereas U Tong was a strong Buddhist center. Moreover, U Tong
was so close to Nakon Pathom, the first city of the Mons.
Kampeng Sen lying about 12 miles north of Nakon Pathom was an old city but rather
small measuring 857 by 804 yards. A stone wheel of the law with its base containing Pali
writing and some Buddha images of stucco with laterite slabs were found in this old city.
Ku Bua, an old city was also close to Nakorn Pathom. It measures 1/14 miles from
north to south and half-a mile from east to west. It was in rectangular shape. Its moat was
wide about 55 yards. There was a watercourse crossing the city and joined Meklong river. It
is so near to the Three-pagoda-pass. An old pagoda called Wat Klong lies in the center of the
city. This monument measures 50 by 25 yards and similar to Phra Pathom pagoda. An old
votive tablet depicting meditating Buddha with stupa and wheel of the law on his two sides in
stone is a very rare and remarkable Buddhist object found in Ku Bua.
This old city yields highly artistic stucco decorative fragments. Some portray human
figures of musicians, dancers, warriors, deveotees holding auspicious objects: some depict
animals such as elephant, lion, deer, bird and dragon ; some represent mythical beings yakṣa,
garuḍa and gandharva ; all these illustrations may be connected with scenes from the Jataka
tales.
One stucco figure of a deity standing in tribhanga (three-storke) pose with modellings
of the hands, ornaments and sash is very remarkable. Some fragmentary figures of Buddha
and Bodhisattvas were also found here.
George Coedès, in presenting the oldest Mon inscriptions found on two sides of a
stone fragment discovered a Phra Pathom in 1952, has stated that archaeological objects
belonging to Mon kingdom of Dvaravati were found from Phra Pathom in the south to
Supanburi about 100 km north-west of Bangkok and from Rājaburi in the west to Prachin in
the east about 120 km east of Bangkok. He said despite the hypothesis of Paul Pelliot stating

30
in 1904 that the people of Dvaravati were the Mons, the notion was still very vague up to
1909.
By 1925, he had realised all vestiges of the region and became aware that Dvaravati
was situated between Śrīkṣetra (old Prome in Burma) and Isanapura (old Cambodia) as
described by the Chinese pilgrims and he could be able to propose the attribution to the Mon
people as the population of the Dvaravati kingdom.
Pierre Dupont, a member of the French School of the Far East after conducting
systematic excavation at Nakorn Pathom, spoke of “Indo-Mon Archaeology.” The oldest
Mon inscriptions engraved on two sides of a small stone fragment found at Phra Pathom
dated in the 6th century A. D. Except a Pali word Vihāra meaning monastery or assembly hall,
all other 15 words are in old Mon. There are four short lines on the first side and three on the
second . Very clearly, it was recorded on the offerings made to the pagoda called Kyaik
Vihār meaning pagoda of the monastery. Though the writings are incomplete, it is obvious
that they offered to the Pagoda-one hundred certain measures of land ; one row of something
; seventy of something ; two umbrellas ; a certain number of silver vases ; planting of a
number of coconut trees in the enclosure of the Kyaik Vihār Pagoda.
These old Mon inscriptions though not complete, are by far the most ancient texts
known in Mon language at that time. They present the most important linguistic point of view
in the determination of historical facts. They definitely confirmed the old records formulated
as to the nature of the people of Dvaravati in old Siam before the entry of the Thai people
from the north at the time it was known in Chinese accounts as TO-LO-PO-TI which has
been restored as Dvaravati even before the discovery of the two silver medals bearing the
Sanskrit name of the real title.
George Coedès had remarked : “The Mons, whose rule in the history of Burma, I have
recalled, appear more and more clearly as the agent of the cultural extension of India in
Central Indo-China. “In the beginning of his lecture Coedès stated : “The Mon people , at
present occupy the delta of Burma, and that its language is , with Khmer or Cambodian , the
most important speech of the Mon-Khmer family . Historically , the Mons have played a
considerable role in the history of Burma , and it is from them the Burmans borrowed in the
middle of 11th century , their literature ,culture ,their art and Southem Buddhism .”
Somewhat similar to George Coedès , another learned scholar R.C. Majumdar , author
of “Kambuja Inscriptions” stated elsewhere that:
“The Mon settlements in Lower Burma were known collectively as Rāmaññdesa and
they spread their power towards the east as far as the important kingdom of Dvaravati which

31
comprised the lower valley of the Menam river in Siam . Dvaravati was a powerful Mon
kingdom in the 7th century A.D and from this kingdom , the Mons spread their power and
Buddhist influence to the more inaccessible regions in northern Siam and Laos .”
Very certainly , we can find that the Mon had left their language and culture not only
in northern and north-eastern Thailand but their Dvaravati kingdom had covered up to the
central part of Laos .My theory is based on the discovery of an old Mon inscription dating
back to the 9th century A.D at Ban Thalat near Vientiane in 1964. There are 14 lines inscribed
on a stone slab ,preserved at Wat Phra Keo in Vientiane . I have read and translated it and
had published in the Journal of Siam Society Vol.79,pt.1,(JSS) in 1991. Its sense is similar to
other inscriptions. All lines are short . The record was made about the offerings presented to
the pagoda called Kyaik Ko’ Bihar comprising a pair each of cattle and water buffaloes and
some salves including a young female.
Though the Sanskrit word Punya = merit has not deformed, the word Vihara has
corrupted to Bihar and the word for pair Lāngala / Lāngala has deformed to Lāngar. The
name of the donor Trala Wanna= Lord Wanna is in Pali. These old Mon inscriptions found in
Laos reveal the fact that the Mons of Dvaravati were professing strongly the Buddhist faith
in the 9th century A. D. and they had spread Buddhism so far and wide in Southeast Asia
region.
In the northeastern part of Thailand knows as Esan(Isan), a lot of old Mon writing
have been recently found on votive tablets. They are dated in the 10th century A.D. Strangely
enough we can find a Khmer loan word Kamraten,a royal title which Dr. Uraisi Varasarin of
the Silapakorn Univerisity has read it to me while I was studying in Bangkok in 1988. Being
an old disciple of George Coedes, she could very well decipher old Mon inscriptions.
The Korat plateau, lying in the northeast of Thailand is a very pleasant region. It is to
some extent similar to Shan plateau in Buma. It seems the old Mons of Dvaravati had
enjoyed living there in the past. The city plan of Maung Fa Daed found at Korat plateau is
very interesting. It resembles to the plans of Ku Bua and U Tong more or less. The big
ordination hall known as Wat Bodhi Sri Sema lying almost in its center might have been a
most famous chapter house to ordain Budhist monks in those days. Even today, there are not
less than 116 boundary stones, to be found around it. It is now at the village of Ban Ma Gom
and locally called Ban Sema.
Strikingly the fine carving of the sculptures found on the boundary stone pillars of
Maung Fa Daed are very similar to the ones found at Kalayani-Sima ordination hall at
Sudhammavati (modern Thaton) in Burma, the western Mon kingdom. The portray scences

32
from Mahānipata Jataka stories. Piriya Krairiksh has contributed his work on “SEMAS with
Scenes from Mahānipata Jatakas”, at National Museum of Khon Kaen. Erik Seidenfaden
wrote on “Khanok Nakhon, an Ancient Mon Settlement in Northeast Siam” in 1954, BEFEO,
Vol. XLIV and in 1956, Prince M.C. Subhadradis Diskul wrote on “Maung Fa Daed. An
Ancient Town in Northeast Thailand” in Artibus Asiae, Vol. XIX.
In the following year, Quaritch Wales wrote on “An Early Buddhist Civilization in
Eastern Siam” in JSS, Vol. XLV. Thus Korat plateau is now popularly called Nakorn
Rājasima meaning Royal frontier city. It seems that Korat plateau was inhabited not only by
Mons but also by the Khmers. At Muang Sema, two inscriptions were found. One dated back
to 7th century A.D. in Sanskrit recording some gifts donated to the Buddhist community by
the king of Śrī Canasa. The second inscription also in Sanskrit of 9th century A.D.
commemorates the setting up of a Liṅga, emblem of Ṡiva indicating that it was the work of
Saivite Khmers.
Two more ancient inscriptions of the 8th century A.D. have been discovered at Hin
Khon, some 22 miles south of Korat. Probably, it was the site of Canasa city. The first one is
in Sanskrit and the second in Khmer. Both of them refer to Buddhist foundations which
reveal the fact that Buddhims prevailed so strongly at Korat plateau in the 7th-8th centuries
A.D. Then, to the north of Chaiyaphum, at Phu Khiau Kau has been found a Buddhist
inscription in Sanskrit of the 7th or 8th century A.D. mentioning Jayasimhavarman, title of a
king who might be ruler of Canasa city. Another similarly of Sanskrit inscription on SEMA
stone concerning Buddhist is very peculiar.
Consequently, these Buddhist Sanskrit inscriptions plainly show that Mon Buddhists
had still used Sanskrit canon in the 7th-8th centuries A.D. Of course, the remnants of
Davaravati old Mons who are still living in Korat plateau are really Buddhists to which I will
deal with later.
The Mon kingdom of Dvaravati was so big and so wide which had flourished in the
soil now known as Thailand. Lopburi, lying about 80 miles north of Bangkok was the last
capital. It was formerly known as Lavo which the modern Mon called it Ḍuṅ Avo. Lopburi is
a corruption of Lavapura meaning city of the Lawas, a hill tribe belonging to Mon-Khmer
family. It is strange if the Lawas could really have founded the city of Lopburi, before the
Mons took it over. Historically, no other Mon-Khmer tribes had built their own city in
Southeast Asia. It is certain that the Lavas had their city because a silver coin bearing the
inscription Lavapura was found a U Tong.

33
Another old city of Chensen, situated some 20 miles north of Lopburi yielded
numerous objects of art of Fu-nan period indicating that the Mons had lived there. Obviously,
I consider that the Lavas might have occupied it not for long. Basing on the discoveries of
Mon inscriptions dating between 6th and 8th centuries. A.D. in and around Lopburi, it must be
a great city and in fact it was the last capital of the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati. At Narai cave
situated in Saraburi, not far from Lopburi, we could find the oldest Mon record engraved on
the entrance stone wall of the cave dating back to 6th century A.D. contemporary with the
Mon inscription found at Phra Pathom. Narai cava Mon inscription is a complete one
comprising three lines. The inscriptions describe the gathering of the governor of the city of
Anurādhapura and his wife together with all the people of the city crossed the arable land or
stream with singing and dancing. After the people chanted together “God bless our victorios
Lord !” All entered into this cave.
The name of the city Anurādhapura in this inscription is very certain. However,
Anurādhapura was the old capital of Ceylon flourished from the fourth century B. C. founded
by king Pandukabhaya. Therefore, the city of Anurādhapura mentioned in this Mon
inscription could not be the city of Ceylon. I think that it was a duplicate city built by the
Mons in Dvaravati kingdom in the 6th century A.D. The description of the governor and his
wife together with all people of the city came to the cave, apparently concerns the people of a
local city. A city of Anurādhapura of the Mon might be in existence nearby Lopburi in those
days. As a matter of fact, it is a regret that George Coedès who was authority on Mon
epigraphy of Thailand did not live to read this later find Mon inscription . He had edited
most of the Mon records found in Thailand.
An old Mon inscription inscribed on an octagonal stone pillar found in Lopburi was
read and edited by G.Coedès. It contains list of gifts donated to the Buddha dating back to 7th
or 8th century A.D. The stone is now in the National Library of Bangkok. A short old Mon
inscription of a single line written on the base of Wat Khoy Buddha of the 7th century A . D;
a Sanskrit inscription of two lines inscribed on a Buddha image from Wat Mahāthāt at
Lophuri in the 8th century A. D.; a fragment of the stone wheel of the law with the Pali
writing of the 8th century A. D. founding Lopburi similar to the ones discovered in Phra
Pathhom ; some very fine Buddha statues found in Lophuri ; all these Buddhist objects
significantly indicate the Lopburi was the center for producing highly artistic Buddha images
in the 7th-8th ceturies A. D.
Pierre Dupont describes that the Buddha images from Lopburi have cylindrical
ushṇīsha, rows of hair curls, eyebrows joined in a sharp ridge, incurved eyelids in lotus petal

34
form, half-closed eyes, prominant cheeks and broad face, lips bordered and having upturned
corners, the upper lip looks as bracket-shape. Besides stone-works, numerous laterite works
were found in Thailand as found in Burma.
Laterite, a porous red clay stone was commonly used in old Dvaravati period as
discovered in all historical sites. At Lopburi, the Phra Prang San Yot was entirely built of
laterite with pediments and spires beautifully carved. In the center of Lopburi, within the
round about across the railway line, a ruin which looks like a hillock of laterice blocks, have
two stone images of Viṣṇu. Of course, laterite was the first native material commonly
employed for Buddhist and pre-Buddhist art by the Mons both in Thailand and Burma before
burnt brick was introduced from India.
Around the village of Kok Mai Den, due south east of Lopburi, there are some old
stupa mounds or basements. Several objects of art have been found including stucco yakṣa,
two headless figures of dancers or musicians. The most interesting stucco figures are an
elephant and a human, holding a weapon. This illustration can be taken as the actual scene
from Chaddanta Jataka No.514 where the hunter Sonuttara sent by the Queen Subhaddā was
trying to cut off the tusks of the elephant king Chaddanta.
This Jataka tale has been very popular among the Buddhist Mons even in modern
days. The other remarkable figure is a Brahma riding on his vehicle Haṁsa bird (Brahmani
duck). Other objects of art found include two octagonal stone pillars with fine carving
resembling with the pillars of Phra Ptathom ; Buddha heads ; lions ; dancers ; a warrior ; a
pinnacle in the shape of an inverted alms-bowl of laterite covered with stucco ; Kinnari ;
yakṣas ; deities ; Garuḍa ; these stucco decorative figures are placed between plain pilasters
in niches in the base itself.
Muang Bon, having double fortifications and moat is a very strange plan of an old site
in central Thailand. Thap Chumphun, situated north of Nakorn Sawan has also a moat and
rampart though its diameter is only 300 yards. A number of votive terracotta tablets have
been obtained some with the Buddhist ‘yedhammā’ stanza dating 7th or 8th century A .D.
Another historical site in central Thailand is known as Si Tep which has restored as Śrī Deva.
It is in the Nam Sak valley.
An old Sanskrit inscription of the 6th-7th centuries A. D. mentions a well known
Khmer king, Bhavavarman who took over the Mon-Khmer Empire of Fu-nan in the 6th
century A.D. This inscription revelas the fact that the Khmer king Bhavavarman was
interested to come to Nam Sak valley where he set up a Ṡiva image. It is obvious that the
Khmer ruler did occupy this valley for long. Because, we can find a lot of images of Buddha

35
and Bodhisattvas at Thamorat hill, near Se Tep. Observing on the finding of a remarkable
collection of high-relief carvings and Buddhist elements, Thamorat Hill cave might be
regarded as a place of pilgrimage in Nam Sak valley around 9th-10th centuries A. D.
It is a very disappointed matter for we cannot have any information on the names of
the kings and queens of the Dvaravati Mon kingdom. However, we know as Mon queen by
the name of Cammadevi. We do not find this name in the inscriptions. It contains in a Pali
chronicle composed by a monk by the name Bodhiramsi in the early 15th century A. D. either
at Chiengmai or at Lamphun. The other chronicle is called Jinakalamalini (The Garland of
the Time of the Buddha) written by a monk of Chiengmai in 1516 A. D.
According to Cammadevivaṁsa, the Queen Cammadevi was daughter of the king of
Lavo (Lopburi) who went to Rāmaññanagara (Mon kingdom in old Burma) with her people
to escape a severe epidemic of cholera. At first they went to Thaton, as being harassed by the
king of Pagan, they went to Haṁsavati (Pegu) where they were warmly welcomed by their
brethren because they spoke the same language. It is said the time was in the 11th century
A.D. If the story is true, it must be after the fall of Thaton in 1057 A. D. when Thaton was
under the Myanmar king. When Cammadevi left her husband to come back to Lopburi, she
was already pregnant . On arrival at home, Cammadevi gave birth to two sons who became
kings of Lamphun and Lampang respectively. This story of Cammadevivaṁsa also
mentioned that the Queen Cammadevi left Lopburi in the 8th century A. D. to found a new
kingdom of Haribhuñjaya modern Lamphun, some 20 miles south of Chiengmai.
Except these two written chronicles, we have no other records concerning the rise and
fall of the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati. Basing on the archaeological objects and various items
on Buddhism that had been found in Thailand, it is paramount that the duration of the
existence of Dvaravati Mon kingdom in Thailand cannot be more than 500 years. After the
fall of Mon-Khmer Empire of Fu-nan in the 6th century A.D., Dvaravati became independent
and it fell a victim of the Imperial Court of the Saivite Khmer in the first half of 11th century
A.D.
George Coedès stated in his work on “The Making of South East Asia” on pages 99-
100 that the reign of Suriyavarman of Kambuja was important because it marks the
expansion of Khmer power and civilization in the Menam valley, particularly in the former
Mon center of Lopburi, where Khmer inscriptions dating from 1022-25 A.. D. were found.
He mentioned that Suriyavarman died in the year 1050 A. D. Because of his leaning to
Buddhism-though this did not exclude sympathies for other sects-King Suriyavarman was
given the posthumous title of Nirvāṇapāda, meaning the king who had gone to Nirvana.

36
Suriyavarman was a great king of the Khmers. His title denotes as being born of the Sun as
Suriya is the Brahmanic Sun-god possessing the grace of Viṣṇu. He is said to have more or
less faith in Buddhism.
Regarding the Khmer period in Siam, Reginald Le May wrote on page r142 of The
Culture of S. E. Asia thus: “The Khmer period in Siam is generally understood the period of
Khmer dominion over central Siam i. e. the valley of Menam river, with its center at Lopburi
: and Khmer sculpture found in Siamese soil is generally attributed to ‘The School of Lopuri’.
This begins to date roughly speaking, from Nakorn Śrīthammarat in the south, had seized the
throne of Lopburi from the reigning Mon king towards the end of the tenth century A. D. In
A. D. 1002 his son, Suriyavarman proceeded to capture the throne of Cambodia itself at
Angkor, and by this means brought the whole of Central and Southern Siam within the
Khmer dominion.”
However he could not give name or title of the reigning Mon king when father of the
Khmer king Suriyavarman took over the Mon capital of Lopburi. Though no one as yet
knows list of Mon kings who had ruled over Dvaravati, historians know list of Khmer kings
because they were mentioned in both Sanskrit and Khmer inscriptions.
R.C. Majumdar, author of “Inscriptions of Kambuja” has shown more lists of Khmer
kings and historical events basing on inscriptions. In his ‘Introduction’ on page xii, he writes:
“The death of Jaya-varman V (A.D. 1001) was followed by a civil war between three rival
claminants to the throne viz. Udayaditya-varman I (Nos. 117-18), Jayavira-varman (Nos.
121-22, 126-128 A, 131) and Suriya-varman I (Nos. 120, 129, 130, 132-149 A), the last of
whom ultimately succeeded in occupying the whole of the kingdom. He seems to have
conquered the whole of Thailand and even carried his victorious campaign to Lower Burma
(western Mon kingdom).
Evidently as a safeguard against civil war in future, Suriya-varman instituted a system
of oath of fealty to be taken personally by all Royal officials. Ten copies of this text are
known (No. 136). It is interesting to note that an almost identical oath is taken by the officials
of Cambodia even now on the occasion of the Royal Coronation. On the death of Suriya-
varman I in A.D. 1049, Udayaditya-varman II (Nos. 151-152) was crowned Emperor by his
ministers. His regin was full of rebellions and he was succeed by his younger brother Harsa-
varman III (Nos. 158-60). During his rule an independent kingdom was set up in A.D. 1082
by Jaya-varman VI (Nos. 161-162 A). The latter was succeeded by his elder brother
Dharanindra-varman I (Nos. 161-64) who was ousted in A.D. 1113 by his sister’s son Suriya-
varman II (Nos. 166-174). King Suriya-varman II united the Kambuja kingdom under his

37
sceptre and constructed the famous Angkor Vat. According to Chinese annals Suriya-
varman’s kingdom extended from Champa (Annam) to Lower Burma, and included the
northern part of Malay Peninsula up to the Bay of Bandon.”
Now all the above mentioned quotations do not specifically state the year of the
Khmer capture of the last Mon capital of Lopburi. The regin of Suriyavarman is set from
1002 to 1049 or 1050 A.D. Regarding the Khmer capture of the eastern Mon kingdom of
Dvaravati when Lopburi was capital in 11th century A.D. and the Myanmar capture of the
western Mon kingdom of Thaton known as Sudhammavati also in the 11th century A.D. we
know the actual year of the fall of Sudhammavati in 1057 A.D. because it was recorded in the
Pali and Mon inscriptions of Kalayani in Harhsavati, modern Pegu. As for the actual year of
the fall of Dvaravati, it is rather difficult to fix it precisely because we have no inscription
which tells us as in the case of Myanmar conquest of Thaton.
However, there are some historical facts to observe such as the statement of R.C.
Majumdar saying that Suriyavarman I who ruled from 1002 to 1050 A.D. even carried his
victorious campaign to Lower Burma and the statement found in the Kalayani inscriptions at
Pegu describing a Khmer settlement in Rāmaññadesa (Lower Burma) known as Dalanagara
in the province of Lakkhiyapura (modern Twante) some 40 km south west of Dagon
(Rangoon), where there were a great number of kamboja prisoners of war were located.
Because of the Khmer settlement, the market was called Khmer market and the Buddhist
monastery there was also well known as Khmer monastery and the learned monk who rasided
in that monastery was called Kambojapanamahāthera of the Kambojapanavihāra.
And in respect of the Khmer King Suriyavarman’s campaign to Lower Burma as
mentioned by Majumdar, the Myanmar chronicle known as “The Glass Palace Chronicle”
describes that in the 11th century A.D. during the regin of Myanmar king Anawrahta, the
Ussā (Pegu) king sought military help to defend the attack of the Gyun (Khmer) army headed
by the four Generals in four divisions.
The names of the four Khmer Generals are given as Aukbraran, Aukbrare, Aukbrabon
and Aukbrapaik. Accordingly, as requested by the Mon king of Ussā (Pegu), the Myanmar
king Anawrahta, immediately sent a rescue force headed by four Myanmar Generals namely
Kyansittha, Nga Htwe Yu, Nga Lone Letphe and Nyaung-U Hpi. The Mon king of Ussā
(Pegu) and his people were so rejoiced, marveled and praised the Myanmar rescue army in
welcoming them very warmly and extolled them saying: “They are really not ordinary men
but they seem to be nats (devas or spirits). We have never seen such active and so killed
warriors before!”

38
The Mon king was extremely delighted and offered various valuable gifts to the four
Myanmar Generals and all the soldiers. Now, when the time came, the invading Khmer army
marched up with a great host of horses and elephants, to capture the Mon capital. Then the
Myanmar rescue forces headed by the four Myanmar Generals with their host of horses and
elephants combined with the local Mon troops, forcefully charged into the midst of the
entering Khmer forces and victoriously split them up into 4 divisions and ultimately captured
the four Khmer Generals alive.
And then all Khmer soldiers accordingly dropped their weapons and surrendered.
The captured Khmer Generals were presented to the Mon king of Ussā (Pegu) by the
Myanmar Generals who were greatly rewarded by the Mon king. On their return, the Mon
king of Ussā (Pegu) sent Main Candā, one of his beautiful daughters and the most valuable
sarcred relic of the Buddha previously worshipped by a line of Mon kings, well kept in a
golden casket, as gifts of grartitude to the Myanmar king Anawrahtaminsaw of
Arimaddanapura now known as Pagan. The Khmer prisoners of war were kept at Dala
(Twante) some 80 miles south west of Pegu near the sea.
The above historical events might have taken place in the 11th century A. D. but no
specific data was mentioned. So far, we have known definitely the year of the Myanmar
capture of the Mon kingdom Thaton in 1057 A. D, as written in the Kalayani inscriptions. It
is generally known that the Khmer king Suriyavarman I, who ruled from 1002 to 1050 A. D.
invaded the eastern Mon kingdom of Dvaravati and then made several raids to invade the
western Mon kingdom after that. Significantly, the Khmer attacked the western Mon
kingdom after that. Significantly, the Khmer attacked the western Mon kingdom before the
Myanmar conquest of the Mon kingdom of Thaton in 1057 A. D. Consequently, the take over
of Lopburi by Suriyavarman I must be before 1057 A. D.
Observing the discovery of Khmer inscriptions dating from 1022-1025 A.D. at
Lopburi, the fall of the eastern Mon capital of Lopburi must occur in that duration. At that
time Surivavarman I was so strong in expanding his domain in all directions. Basing on
Khmer inscription of 1022 A.D. found at Lopubri, I am inclined to consider that
Suriyavarman captured Lopburi from the ruling Mon king, most probably in 1022 A .D. After
that he might have sent troops to invade the western Mon kingdom of Sudhammavati but his
troops were captured as prisoners of war by the Myanmar rescue forces and the Mon king
allotted them a place to settle at Dalanagara, modern Twante.
At Lopburi, all Khmer objects of art are found to be dated in the early 11th century A.
D. The two popular Khmer temples known as Wat Mahā Thāt and Pra Prang Sam Yot are in

39
good state of preservation. The latter temple has three pavilions providing for the three Hindu
Trinity, Brahmā, Viṣṇu and Ṡiva. Its three towers on the three pavilions ranged alongside on
another. Its design is not a Buddhist monument but clearly seems Brahmanist construction.
No Buddhist art is found among the outer part decorations of the three towers except bearded
figures belonging to the Brahmanic gods.
It seems apparent that when the Thai people came down to Lopburi in the 13th
century A.D.these Khmer Hindu temples were used as Buddhist temples and added images of
Buddha for worship since then. Therefore, numerous Buddha images of sandstone were
found in the temples in modern times. The Khmer rule over the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati
lasted from the early part of 11th towards the end of 13th centuries A.D. when they were
driven out by the Thai kingdom of Sukhothai from the north.

MON KINGDOM OF HARIBHUÑJAYA


Before coming down to the south to expel all the Saivite Khmer people from old
Siam, the Thai had invaded a northern Mon kingdom of Haribhuñjaya, modern Lamphun
some 20 miles south of Chiengmai. The name of this kingdom was found in a Mon
inscription of Wat Sen Khao Ho in Lamphun as Haribhuñjaya of Wat Don, the title of the
Mon king was mentioned as Sabbadhisiddhi who built the Jetavana monastery when he was
26 years old. When he reached 31 years, he built a big rest house and his two queens and his
two sons namely Mahãnãm and Kaccãy erected three pagodas in front of the great Jetavana
monastery .
The king donated male and female salves, land and cattle to the Three Precious Jewels
and prayed for all the creatures to be freed from suffering and to reach Paradise. When the
king was 32 years , his Rãjaguru , the Abbot ,superior venerable Mahãthera was 82 years.
There were 80 senior monks and 120 novices residing in the king’s Jetavana
Monastery. These Mon inscriptions were engraved in 1213 A.D and 1219 A.D respectively.
There have been found 7 stone inscriptions in Mon language of the early 13th century A. D. A
rather smaller stone inscription in Mon has been later discovered at Wieng Mano. It is not far
from Lamphun. Wieng Mano Mon inscription is much earlier than other Mon inscriptions of
Lamphun. Observing its spelling with comparative study with earlier and later Mon
inscriptions, I hold that it was inscribed in the later part of 12th century A. D.
So far Lamphun yields no inscriptions earlier than 12th century A. D. The
Cammadevivaṁsa chronicle asserts that Cammadevi, the Mon Queen who was a daughter of
the Mon king of Lavapura (Lopburi) left Lopburi in the 7th century A. D. to found the city of

40
Haribhuñjaya, modern Lamphun. As already mentioned earlier, Cammadevi married the king
of Rāmaññadesa and came back to Lamphun with pregnancy and later gave birth to twin sons
who became kings of Lamphun and Lampung respectively. In one place, the story says that
the Mon people of Lamphun fled en masse from the city to escape a severe epidemic of
cholera. They went first to Thaton but being harassed by the Myanmar king of Pagan, they
went to Haṁsavati, modern Pegu where they were warmly welcomed as they spoke the same
language. This fact contradicts in the dates.
The Myanmar king Anawratha captured the Mon kingdom of Thaton in 1057 A. D.
So Thaton was under the ruler of Pagan kingdom of the Myanmar people in the 11th century
A. D. The Mon people of Camphun came to Thaton and Pegu certainly in the 11th century
A.D. And the year 7th or 8th century A. D. mentioned for the Queen Cammadevi to have left
her husband, king of Rāmaññadesa is too early. The Cammadevivaṁsa mentioned that the
Queen built five Buddhist monasteries in Lamphun. One of them was called Mahāyāna which
was situated in the west of the city. There is still a temple of that name near the west gate of
Lamphun, where there is a stone Mon inscription.Cammadevi is also credited with the
foundation of another city at Alambanganapura (Lampang Laung) ten miles southwest of
Lampang where she built a temple. Queen Cammadevi ultimately retired when her second
son became king of Lampang. She went back to Haribhuñjaya before she passed away.
The memory of Queen Cammadevi is still preserved at Lamphun and Lampang
Luang. In the latter, especially in connection with a well which gave forth water at the
queen’s entreaty. Though we do not find the name of Cammadevi in any Mon inscriptions in
Lamphun, Queen Cammadevi has been popular among the people of Lamphun. There is a
temple named by Cammadevi up to now. The queen died in Haribhuñjaya but no one knows
in what year precisely.
According to Jinakalamalini chronide, Trabaka, a Mon king of Haribhuñjaya made an
attack at Lopburi when it was under the Khmer king Ucchitta-Cakkavati which George
Coedès places towards the end of tenth century A. D. but I am inclined to put it in the early
part of 11th century because Khmer invaded Lopburi from Mon not before 1022 A.D. as the
earliest Khmer inscription was dated in that year. At the time of the attack by Trabaka from
Lamphun at Lopburi, another king from Siridhammanagara (Ligor in Malay Peninsula) also
came up to invade Lopburi. However, the Khmer king was so strong and could very well
defend the two attacks and both the two invaders fled.
The chronicle furthers states that after this event, the Khmer king of Lopburi came up
to invade Haribhuñjaya but was heavily repulsed. There is no reason to doubt the accuracy of

41
this record and it is perhaps the most conclusive evidence of the identity of the settlers in the
northern Siam with the Mons. The Cammadevivaṁsa chronicle, indeed in recounting the
fights that took place between Haribhuñjaya and lopburi always refers to the people of
Haribhuñjaya as Rāmañña, an old ethnic name of the Mon people. The western Mon kingdom
in Burma was called Rāmaññadesa.
Reginald Le May considers that during the flight of the Mon people of Haribhuñjaya
to Thaton and they were harassed by the king of Pagan is no other than king Anawrahta who
captured Manuha, the Mon king of Thaton and carried off to Pagan in 1057 A.D. all the Mon
Royal family, all the skilled craftsmen, noblemen and the sacred scriptures to Pagan. He adds
that in the 11th century A .D. during Anawrahta’s time , the center of culture was still at
Haribhuñjaya and he states that Pongsawadan Yonaka (Bradley 1863) records that when the
Mon people of Haribhuñjaya came back from Pegu after the epidemic of cholera had run its
course, many of their Mon brethren from Pegu followed them and introduced the art of Mon
writing.
Le May also states that the modern Laos form of script is very similar to Mon and
Myanmar and the Mon inscriptions of the early 13th century A. D. found at Lamphun are
almost identical with the Mon inscriptions discovered in the western Mon kingdom of
Rāmaññadesa He futher suggests that the Mons of Haribhuñjaya had brought over the art of
lacquer-work to Pegu and thence introduced it to Pagan when the Mon craftsmen were
carried off to Pagan in 1057 A. D. as mentioned above.
Traditon asserts that Dittarāja, a Mon king of Haribhuñjaya erected a square brick
monument with five storeys rising from a plinth and surmounted by a terraced pinnacle. Le
May describes that there is a leaning stups beside it. On each side of the main stupa are
fifteen niches in five rows of three, with a standing Buddha image is each, making 60 images
in all. He said that it is similar to the Sat Mahal Prasada in Ceylon which dates from the end
of the 12th century A. D. The Mon king of Haribhunjaya who follow Dittarāja was Adittarāja
who was famous as the builder of the great temples in Haribhuñjaya during 1150-75 A.D. as
stated by Reginald Le May in his work “The Culture of South-East Asia” page 161.
The present stupa is not the original one. The original stupa is said to have been
connected with a miraculous appearance of a golden casket of Asoka’s regin containing a
relic of the Buddha. The relic issued six different rays and having due worshipped, the six
rays emitted so brilliantly had suddently disappeared.
The Mon king Adittarāja immediately began building a pagoda on the site to mark the
celebrated occasion. Le May dates it in 1163 A. D. He consider that during 11th and 12th

42
centuries A.D., Haribhuñjaya had several wars with the Khmer kings of Lavo because the
Khmers would like to expand their Empire in the northern part of old Siam. However , the
Khmer could not invade the Mon kingdom of Haribhuñjaya.
Now it had so happened that the Nan-Chao kingdom in Yunnan was conquered by the
powerful Kublai Khan in 1253 A. D. and gradually, the Thai people migrated south to Shan
plateau in Burma and to old Siam in great number. Ultimaty the Thai managed to form their
kingdom at Sukhothai, Chiengsen and then at Chiengrai. After a series of campaigns against
the Mon kingdom of Haribuñjaya, the Thai king Meng Rai captured the Mon king Yiba in
1292 A. D.
After the fall of Haribhuñjaya, the Mons were assimilated by the Thai and all became
Thai. Then only Mon inscriptios and Mon art and culture can be studied. The monuments in
Haribhuñjaya and their outer decorations are much resembling those of old Mon art at Pagan
where Mon inscriptions, Mon type of sculpture and architecture are found.

REMNANTS OF THE DVARAVATI OLD MON PEOPLE


A small number of people numbering about two thousand, dwelling in the provinces
of Korat, Chaiyaphum and Petchaphun is some 25 hamlets scattered in the Korat plateau,
known by the Thai as Chaobon who called themselves as Nyah Kur, are certainly the
remnants of the Dvaravati old Mon people. Nyah Kur or Chaobon means hill people. Nyah
Kur in modern Mon means highland plantation people. Nyah denotes people and Kur stands
for plantation. Strangely enough the Nyah Kur or Chaobon do not know the ethnic name Mon
or Rman or Ramañña or Rmeñ as the Mons were known in the olden days. Really, they are a
lost nation rediscovered by scientific linguistic studies in recent years.
Regarding this discovery of the remanants of the Dvaravati old Mon people, no one
had ever thought in such a way-since the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati fell a victim of the
Imperial Court of the Saivite Khmer in the early part of 11th century, most probably in 1022
A.D. when Khmer king Suriyavarman (1002-1049 A.D.) was so powerful in expanding his
territory in all directions.
R.C. Majumdar, author of “Inscriptions of Kambuja” (1953) considers that the Khmer
king Suriyavarman I, had ultimately succeeded in occupying the whole of Kambuja and
conquered the Mon kingdom of Dvaravati and even sent his troops to attack the western Mon
kingdom of Rāmaññadesa in Lower Burma at Thaton and Pegu. The discovery of the
remnants of the Dvaravati old Mon people is somewhat incredible for some people, but it is

43
true. Believe it or not. The Dvaravati old Mons are still surviving in the remote jungle of the
isolated hill areas in the Korat plateau.
It was on the 13th December 1980, I was excited, delighted as Gerard Diffloth came to
me in Burma, bringing me a very astonishing and amazing news that a number of Dvaravati
old Mon people have been discovered so certainly. He said they are known as Chaobon by
the Thai and they call themselves as Nyah Kur. He gave me a copy of the whole collection of
the Nyah Kur words which are almost identical to old Mon glosses found in the old Mon
inscriptions. The information was extremely striking for me. After going through all the
enormous collection in comparison with old Mon words as well as modern Mon words, I
agreed absolutely with him in confirming the Nyah Kur as Remants of the Dvaravati Old
Mon People.
As a matter of fact, the Nyah Kur was regarded as a dialect of Lawa since over 50
years ago. Erik Seidenfaden was the first scholar who published his papers “Some Notes
about the Chabon: A Disppearing Tribe in Korat Province “in Vol. 12 of JSS, 1918 and”
Futher Notes about Chaobon” in Vol.13 of the same journal in 1919. The second scholar was
Phra Petchabunburi whose article” The Lawa or Chaobon in Changvad Petchabun” appeared
in the same journal in Vol.14, in 1921. Both the scholars regarded the Nyah Kur as Lawa. In
1935, Credner placed the Nyah Kur language as representative of the Kui-a Mon-Khmer
dialect. (vide Ethic Groups of Mainland Southeast Asia by 12 authors, New Haven 1964).
In 1958, Chintana published a book with vocabulary of the Nyah Kur and put them as
Lawa Chaobon. In 1979, Payau Memanas submitted her M.A.Tesis on “A Description of
Chaobon (ɲahkur) : An Austroasiatic Language in Thailand” to the Mahidol University in
Bangkok.
In those days, I think , the linguists had not enough reference books on Mon
dictionary and therefore they could not ascertain the truth of the Nyah Kur language. Even
H.L. Shorto, Professor of Mon-Khmer Studies at SOAS, London University was silent on
Nyah Kur language. However in 1970, Professors David Thomas and Robert Headley were
able to place Nyah Kur together with Mon calling it Monic branch when a general
classification of the whole family was proposed (vide More on Mon-Khmer Sub-Grouping, in
Lingua 25, 4 : 398-418).
The notion was well accepted by Franklin E. Huffman, a professor of linguistics at
Cornel University in 1977 and finally confirmed by Gerard Diffloth in 1980 (Reconstructing
Dvāravatī Old Mon by G. Diffloth, 1982 Bangkok). In 1980, Diffloth was a professor of
linguistics in Chicago University specialising on Lawa. He has more interest in Mon-Khmer

44
languages and supposing that Nyah Kur is a dialect of Lawa, he made a plan to go to
Thailand to tackle the language. A Thai linguist at Chulalongkorn University Dr. Theraphan
Thongkum also studied the Nyah Kur language. In 1984, Diffloth’s work, “The Dvaravati
Old Mon Language and Nya Kur” and Thongkum’s book “Nyah Kur-Thai-English
Disctionary” were published in Bangokok. By reading and studying the two books, I felt a
very strong desire to meet the Nyah Kur people personally.
Very soon I was invited by Kagoshima University and Silpakom University to come
as a visiting professor. Unfortunately, I was NOT allowed by my department. As a rule in
Burma, a government servant is not to be invited by name. Therefore, I decided to retire in
the following year. Most luckily, without any expectation, Professor Yoneo Ishii, Director of
the Center for Southeast Asian Studies in Kyoto University paid a visit to Burma and
extended his invitation to me to work with him for a year. With great difficulty-through thick
and thin, I could obtain my passport to come out to Japan. Then I made a plan to stay in
Thailand for six weeks before joining Kyoto University. During my stopover in Thailand, I
visited various historical sites and eventually on the 21st July 1988, I was driven to Korat by
Professor Dr. Su-ed Gajaseni of the department of medicine in Siriraj Hospital. Dr. Su-ed
Gajaseni is a distinguished and respected Mon elder in Thailand. He is a descendant of the
most famous Mon Military Commander, well known as Bañyā Cing-meaning lord of
elephants. Bañyā Cing escaped death during the Myanmar invasion in 1757 A. D. of the last
Mon kingdom of Haṁsavati (Pegu).
Dr. Su-ed’s surname Gajaseni is the counter part name of Bañyā Cing. Dr. Su-ed has
been promoting Mon literature and culture in Thailand for many years and as I have been
performing the same activities like him in Burma, he was very generous to drive me out to all
places of my interest.
With the help and accompaniment of Mr. Preecha of the Local Informant Center for
Development at Korat Teachers Training College, we sped up straight away to Phra Bung
village, some 50 km south of Korat. It is about 4 km off the sub-main road. Upon arrival at
that poor settlement with less than 70 houses, I felt as if I were back again in my own birth
place called Kaw’bein which is about 100 km west of the Thai-Burma border town Mae Sot.
Phra Bung village is very much like my native village. The simple houses on high
wooden posts are typically the same as in my own village. The floor is about eight feet above
the ground with a stairway that is somewhat like a ladder that people use to climb trees. The
houses generally face north which is a common custom of Mon people in my village. Like us

45
they keep chicken and pigs under the house. Granaries are built nearby the house where they
store paddy after harvesting.
Young girls weave their garments under the house where people use to stay in hot
summer days. In winter, they make fire under or beside the house to keep warm and children
bake rice-balls and sweet potatoes as they have no handy modern shops to buy cakes. They
have a spirit-house outside the village where they offer food and alcohol to the unseen spirits.
If a person falls from the ladder of the house, the house owner must pour some water over
that person and say words of apology to the house-spirit. The women wear blouses with V-
neck and special skirts at weddings and other ceremonies. At Sangkran (New Year) festival,
they throw water at each other and use to visit each other’s houses and hold parties to drink
home made rice wine.
A very popular game which they play among boys and girls especially at night during
new year festival is what they cal wiɲlεεˀ which we call woiɲ hǝnεˀ. Their word wiɲ meaning
to play is exactly as in old Mon wiɲ. This game is played in groups where the Entada round
seeds about 3 inches in circumference are set upright in a long row at which each boy and girl
from a distance of about ten to twenty feet would throw with the same seed that each of them
holds in hand to knock down the seeds set on the row. It is similar to European children
playing marbles. It is a traditional form of courtship at which the boys and girls could easily
get acquainted with each other.
A special song that they use to sing between boys and girls in courting is known as
“Paˀ ree-ree”; we call it “Sma kwὲk”. All that I have found there are exactly the same
characteristics as in my native village. Therefore, on reaching the Nyah Kur village, I
suddently recalled my childhood days and nostalgically walked across the small hamlet under
many houses looking at the people. I enjoyed seeing their way of life just as if I were back in
my simple youth.
Mr. Preecha told us that he has visited about 20 Nyah Kur villages and showed us a
number of photo slides of the Nyah Kur people from other village. At last we sat under a
house where old and young Nyah Kur people joined us to entertain us. Though we play the
same game we do not utter the same sound and so we cannot communicate with each other
because they speak old Mon and we are modern Mon having very different pronunciations in
conversation.
Anyhow, we could talk through the Thai interpreters. As a special case, I purposely
asked them to pronounce for me the words for head, water, sweet and numeral two. I did this
because I wanted to hear with my own ears whether or not they would pronounce these words

46
with pre-glottalized sounds of ɗ and ɓ like us as I have had doubts about these words ever
since I received the two books by Diffloth and Thongkum. Both the atuthors maintained that
the Nyah Kur have no pre-glottalized ɗ and ɓ. However, Diffloth shows these two pre-
glottalized ɗ and ɓ in his reconstruction of Dvāravatī Old Mon words. In fact, Dr. Franklin
Huffman has stated Nyah Kur and 14 other Mon-Khmer languages have pre-glottalized ɗ and
ɓ. (vide The Register Problem in 15 Mon-Khmer languages, Austroasiatic Studies pt. 1,
p.577, The Univ . Press of Hawaii, 1976)
Since the Nyah Kur could retain almost all the final consonantal sounds as found in
Mon inscriptios which we have lost most of them, I was strongly doubtful on this point. To
my surprise they did indeed pronounce the special four words with pre-glottalized ɗ and ɓ
like us. For future reference we recorded these four pre-glottalizsed sounds in a tape-recorder.
I was satisfied and delighted for this linguistic discovery.
Professor Diffloth who has reconstructed the lost language of Dvāravatī Old Mon
thought that the game of Entada seeds was played since Dvāravatī period and he wrote:
“Whatever discoveries await us in the future, we can sum up the linguistic evidence
so far : we have a Dvārvatī Kingdom in the Central Plain of Thailand in the first millennium,
we have old Mon inscriptions found in that area at that time, and we now have, on the fringe
of this region, a language which is an off-shoot of Old Mon. Fringe areas being notorious for
preserving archaic cultural features, the simplest explanation is one which sees the Nyah Kur
people as direct linguistic descendants of Dvārvatī society … The comparison of Mon and
Nyah Kur gives us not only more information (two Monic language instead of one), but also
information of a totally different kind : it allows us to reconstruct, in part, a third language
which has disappeared for ever, and to suggest the course of events which led from this
reconstructed language to the ones which are still spoken today : Mon and Nyah Kur.
This third language will be called Proto Monic, following normal linguistic practice :
and the aim of the present work is to show that this language was actually the one spoken in
Central Thailand in Dvārvatī period, i. e. that Proto Monic is indeed Dvārvatī Old Mon….
And yet, the Dvārvatī Old Mon reconstructions proposed here are not abstract formulas ; they
are meant to be real words of a real language which was actually, spoken 1,400 years ago.”
(G. Diffloth’s The Dvārvatī Old Mon Language and Nyah Kur, pp . 29-32)
In 1962 Professor Shorto who compiled “A Dictionary of Modern Spoken Mon”
stated in his introduction on pages 9-10 that “The original Dvaravatians ……… have by now
been absorbed …… into the body of Thai speakers …….”. At that time the scholars in
linguistics did not seem to know the truth of the Nyah Kur Language.

47
The following comparisons for numerals up to ten would plainly show that the Nyah
Kur is not a dialect of Lawa as regarded by old scholars but they are the real remnants of the
Dvāravatians (Dvārvatī Old Mons) – who were supposed to have lost but now rediscovered
without expectation.

COMPARISON OF NUMERALS UP TO TEN


Lawa Nyah Kur Old Mon Moden Mon
1. tiˀ mṳey muoa moa
2 laˀa ɓaaar ɓaar ɓa
3 laˀoi piiˀ piiˀ pai/pɔeˀ paiˀ/pɔeˀ
4 paŋ pan pan pɔn Pɔn
5 phoan suun mǝṣuun pǝsun
6 lɛh tǝraw tǝrow tǝroa
7 ˀalɛh tǝmpɔh tǝmpoh tapɔh
8 sataiˀ kǝɲcaam tǝɲcaam tǝcam
9 sataiɲ kǝɲciit tǝciit tǝcit
10 koa cas cas cɔh cɔh

COMPARISON OF SOME WORDS FO NYAH KUR AND MON


Meaning Nyah Kur Old Mon Modern Mon
Buddha/object khyaak kyaik/kyɔt caik/cyɔt
of worship
father paaˀ ampaaˀ/mbaaˀ mɛˀ
mother mɛɛˀ amobooˀ/mboˀ miˀ
younger sibling kǝmciiˀ kumcilˀ tɛˀ (new word, we have
lost the old word)
lord/owner tǝlaaˀ Trǝlaaˀ/tǝlaaˀ tǝlaaˀ
slave ɗiik ɗiik ɗik/ɗoit
ghost/spirit kǝntɔɔk kantɔ̀ k/kintɔ̀ k kǝlook/ǝlok
child kuan kuon kon
virgin lǝhuut lǝwuut lǝwut
girl of tender age khǝɲom kǝɲoom kon lǝwut
wife kǝnthar kɛntàr imaaŋ
husband maaŋ immaaŋ imaaŋ

48
parent-in-law kǝmsiir kuḿsiir khamis/khamse
male/man truus truus traoh/kraoh
bachelor phlaay plaay plai
female/woman phraw prὸw prѐa
nephew/niece khǝmuun kǝmun kǝmɛn
son-in-law khǝmaan kǝman kǝman
daughter-in-law ˀuas kǝoh kǝoh/hǝoh
widow khǝmaai kǝmaai kǝmai
grand child caw cow cao
great grand child cah caḥ caḥ
people ɲah ɲah ɲah
house shŋiiˀ sŋiiˀ sŋatˀ/hɔeˀ
village/city ɗooŋ ɗoŋ/ɗuŋ ɗuŋ
cooked rice pooŋ pooŋ puŋ/pɜŋ
woman skirt khǝnṳun khuun kǝnin
earth tiiˀ tiiˀ taiˀ/tɔeˀ
stone tǝuɔɔˀ tǝmɔɔˀ tǝmɔˀ
water ɗaak ɗaak/ɗaik ɗaik/ɗat
mud lǝhuk lhuk lha+k
ridge in paddy field phnaŋ panaŋ panaŋ
river krooŋ krooŋ krɜŋ

Noet: Old Chinese word kraŋ or krawŋ in a loan from this Mon word for river. Mod Chinese
is chiang; kiang.
(The meaning changed to stream/ creek in Mod.Mon due to Skt. Loan word for oceam /sea
and Mon word lḅī for sea became river)

fire kǝmat pǝmat pǝmɔt


night pǝtam pǝtam pǝtɔm
year chnaam cenaam sǝnam
day tǝŋay tǝŋey tǝŋoa
gold thar thar thɔ
wind khyaal kyaal kya/cya
rain phray prѐy prόa

49
iron pǝsey pǝsey pǝsoa
left side chǝwiiˀ chǝwiiˀ chǝwiiˀ
right side cǝtoom stoom stum
over/upon kǝntuul antuul ǝtao/lǝtao
before/infront of kǝntaaˀ kɔntaaˀ/kintaaˀ kǝtaˀ
behind/at the back ŋkraw kraaw krao
inside pǝɗey pǝɗey pǝɗoa
I, my, mine ˀey ey oa
You/thou peh pѐh pὲh
He/she ɗεh ɗεh ɗεh
Each other/company cekɔɔˀ sk ɔɔˀ skɔˀ
that tεεˀ/kɔh tεεˀ/kɔɔh teˀ/kɔh
this nɔɔˀ ǝnɔˀ ǝnɔˀ
what mooˀ mooˀ muˀ
to get kooˀ kὸoˀ koˀ
to eat caaˀ caaˀ cieˀ/clˀ
food cernaaˀ cernaaˀ cǝnaˀ
to do paaˀ paaˀ paˀ
dream ǝmpɔɔˀ ǝmpɔɔˀ ǝpɔˀ
to make noise phrṳˀ prùuˀ prùˀ
long duration lɔɔˀ lɔɔˀ lɔˀ
to cross cǝlooˀ cǝlooˀ/klooˀ klpˀ
to be defeated khyaaˀ kyaaˀ kyaˀ
to sell chǝyooˀ sǝyooˀ sɔˀ
to open pɔk pok pɔk
to follow pak pàk pàk
to put on clothes shǝluk sluk sla+k
to pound rice yak yeek yaik
to lift yuk yuk ya+k
to burn cɔŋ coŋ cɔŋ
to sew ciiŋ cīiŋ cὸiŋ
to wait maŋ maŋ maŋ
to live, to remain thǝmɔŋ.. tǝ̀ moŋ tǝ̀mɔŋ
to be many khlǝŋ
.. klὸŋ klà+ŋ

50
to drink sṳuŋ suuŋ sɜŋ/suŋ
to be sweet sɗaac ɗat ɗat
to carve puuc puuc put
to be afraid phiic phiic phɔik/phÞt
to shoot pεɲ paɲ pɔn
to ask, question shmaaɲ smaaɲ sman
to buy raaɲ raaɲ ran
to fall luat loot lot
to extinguish phlǝt pliit pǝlÞt
to climb tun tin tln
to enter lɔɔp loop lup

COMPARISON OF SOME INDIAN LOAN WORDS


WITH NYAH AND MON
Meaning Sanskrit/Pail Nyah Kur Old Mon Modern Mon
Sky ākāśa kàas ǝkaas ǝkaah
Earth/country bhūmi phum phùm phùm
Season ritu/utu ndùuˀ utuuˀ utaoˀ
human being manuṣya mǝnīh mǝnus mǝnih
origin/family jāta chàat chàat chàat
patron/lord nāyaka nàai naayaˀ nai
cave guhā kùh kùh kùh
letter/writing lekha chelàak lekh loik
new-year day saṁkrānta choŋkrán saŋkran saŋkran
scholar paṇḍita ˀǝthit panɗit pɔnɗit
alms-food piṇḍapātra báat pinɗapat pinǝpat
/paiˀǝpat
age āyu/āyuka ǝyùˀ ǝyuk ǝyuk
merit puṇya bún pun pÞn
ancient purāṇa/paurāṇa buráan poraan paoraan
wild rice śāli chǝlii salii Sali
chariot/vehicle ratha rὸt ratha rɔt
pride/brave māna manaˀ mān mǝneˀ

51
sin pāpa bàap pāpa pap
measurement
from elbow to hasta/hattha hat hasta hɔt
finger tip
palmyra tree tāla taan tāl ta
cotton tūla tùel tuul tow
jasmine flower mallikā mǝli mali mǝlɜ
oleander flower campaka mpáa camkaa ϲͻmpaa
silk/thread sūtra chúut sut sut

Apparently, the above comparisons of Nyah Kur and Mon words such as numerals
one to ten, 86 basic words and 24 Indian loan words indicate that the Nyah Kur language is
definitely not a dialect of Lawa as formerly thought by some scholars some over fifty years
ago. The comparisons could very certainly prove that the Nyah Kur people are really the
descendants of the civilized Davaravati old Mons.
Though they live in Korat plateau, they are entirely not a hill tribe like Lawa and
other ruder Mon-Khmer tribes. Indian loan words found in their speech significantly indicate
that they had contacts with the Indians during Dvaravati Mon Dynasty. Their faith in
Buddhism is also a very authentic fact that they are actually the remnants of Dvaravatians.
Though they are Buddhists, they are illiterate because they were left behind in the remote
places since the destruction of their kingdom of Dvaravati by the Saivite Khmers, most
probably in 1022 A.D. As their villages were and are so far away from the cities, they had no
contacts with the outside world. Therefore, they had not been assimilated by both the Khmer
and Thai languages.
But within last fifty years, the Nyah Kur people have been absorbed by the Thai
language to some extent. Over half-a-century ago, their population was about 4000 but now it
is about 2000 only. As Thailand is developing so rapidly and gradually implementing certain
projects for the prosperity of the rural villagers in Korat plateau, the Nyah Kur people who
are dwelling in the remote areas would have contacts with the outside world sooner or later.
At that time, the Nyah Kur children will have the opportunity of going to public schools, and
study Thai and very soon pick up Thai language and ultimately drop off their mother tongue.
In this way, all of the younger generation of the Nyah Kur people would be assimilated by the
Thai language.

52
Some day, they would say, they were descendants of Nyah Kur but they could no
longer speak Nyah Kur language any more. Both in Thailand and Burma, numerous Mon
descendants say the same thing nowadays. It is natural. The majority will absorb the
minority. It is extremely difficult to preserve or maintain a dying language in this world. I
think, the Nyah Kur language can remain longer because they live so far away from the cities.
As for the Mon people who are living in Bangkok and nearby places, they are
dropping their mother tongue more quickly as I have in observed within 4 decades. The same
thing is happening in Burma though they have organized their Mon Associations or Mon
Societies for promoting Mon language and culture. Because, Mon language is not taught in
public schools but only the monks taugh in Buddhist monasteries in the villages far away
from the towns. Very few poor boys go to stay in such monasteries.
I did go to stay in the Buddhist monastery in my village when I was under 10 years
old. But my father, Headman of the village asked the Abbot monk to teach me only Myanmar
and English languages. My father said: “Mon is no use”. He knew only Mon and he was very
difficult to deal with the official matters. When I grew up, I studied Mon by my own will. I
have found that the Mon parents in modern society, ask their children to study Myanmar and
English like my father because they want their offspring to become officers. It is a great
problem to prevent the younger generation of the Mon people not to drop off their mother
tongue.
The Nyah Kur people are quite safe because they live in remote places and they even
look rather like a hill tribe, that is why they were previously regarded by some scholars as a
dialect of Lawa. The Nyah Kur village called Phrabüng near Korat city where I have visited
in 1988 do not look like a tribe such as Lawa or Palaung. They look really like the Mon
people of my native village over 60 years ago. Due to fires which occurred many times
within 60 years, all the houses in my village became new houses like modern houses in the
towns. However, the Nyah Kur houses at Phrabüng village are still in the primitive pattern
the same as those old houses in my native village of Kaw’bein some 100 km south west of
the border towns of Myawaddy and Mae Sot which are still in my vision.
The Nyah Kur people seem they had gone back almost to their primitive stages at the
time they migrated to the south and southwest from the valley of Yangtze Kiang rive in time
immemorial. They know rice cultivation both in highland and lowland and other crops. They
know weaving for their clothing. They know fishing, hunting and domesticating animals;
they keep fowls and pigs under the houses; they use cattle and water buffaloes in cultivation.
They have clan spirits belong to each family and children belonging to the same clan are

53
forbidden to marry. They believe in spirit of the house, the spirit of the village, spirit of the
forest, spirit of the river and spirit of earth or goddess of mother earth. They buried the deads
placing the heads towards north because they regard north as their original place. But they
never sleep placing their heads towards north at home.

R A MAÑÑADESA
Rāmaññadesa means country of the Ramans because the Mons were called Ramans in
the olden days. The name may be connected with Sanskrit word Rāmaṇīya and Pali
Rāmaneyyaka meaning pleasant and lovely. Of course the landscape is very pleasant and
lovely. It was in lower Burma comprising very fertile deltas of the three mother rivers such as
Irrawaddy, Sittaung and Salween. The old Indians and Ceylonese had referred to it as
Suvaṇṇabh u umi, meaning goldenland.
Perhaps this reference was made for the whole region of Southeast Asia because this
region was Indianized in the very remote past. And the Mon settlements were not only in
Burma but also in old Siam. Actually, Rāmaññadesa or Lower Burma was the western Mon
kingdom and the old Siam known as Dvaravati was the eastern Mon kingdom. Both the two
terms Rāmaññadesa and Suvaṇṇabhūumi were alternately used in the old Indian literatures
and the two oldest chronicles of Ceylon popularly known as Dipavamsa and Mahavamsa
composed in the 4th and 6th centuries A.D. respectively.
The well known Pegu Kalayani inscriptions engraved in the 15th century A.D by a
Mon king Dhammazeti (Rāmādhipati) in Pali and Mon repeated these terms as country of the
Mons. The capital of the Mon country was known as Sudhammavati, meaning city of the
good law. Historians had regarded it as the cradle or the first region of Buddhism in old
Burma.
Indian Jataka tales such as Mahājanaka and Sussondī (No. 360) both mentioned
voyages to Suvaṇṇabhūumi across the sea where the ships were wrecked. Fa Hsien’s return-
voyage in 411-414 A.D. from Tampralipti via Ceylon to China was a very good evidence of
the old voyages between China and India. Malalasekera describes in his Dictionary of Pali
Proper Names that Bharukaccha mentioned in the Jataka is the modern Broach in Kathiawar,
a sea port in India where merchants used to go to Suvaṇṇabhūumi for trades.
The dictionary defines that Suvaṇṇabhūumi is generally identified with Lower Burma
whose chief city was Sudhammavati (modern Thaton) at the moment of Sittaung river. The
distance between Ceylon and Suvaṇṇabhūumi was seven hundred leagues and could be

54
covered in seven days and nights with a favourable wind. Historians do not take modern
Thaton as the real city of Sudhammavati since it is quite far from Sittaung river. G.H. Luce is
of opinion that Sudhammavati might be situated at the foot of Mt. Kelasa some 30 miles
north of modern Thaton.
However, observing the finds from archaeological excavations conducted within the
decade, I am of opinion that Kyaikkatha which is very close to Sittaung river might be more
probably regarded as the old site of Sudhammavati. The remains of the old city walls and
moat are biggest among other old Mon cities in Rāmaññadesa. Terracotta votive tablets
bearing Mon inscriptions dating back to 6th century A.D. as well as over a thousand symbolic
silver coins were dug up from this old city. The Indian motifs found on the silver coins, the
features of the Buddha images on the votive tablets and the script used in inscribing the Mon
inscriptions though rather short and fragment reveal the fact that this city as in existence in
the 6th century A.D. perhaps earlier. Possibly, it was a sea port in those days where Indian
merchants came for trades.
Milindapañha, a well known Pali work on the questions by a Greek king Menanda
and answers by a Buddhist monk Nagasena, makes a reference to Suvaṇṇabhūumi across the
high seas along with Takola and China. The Buddhist monk Nagasena went to the Mon-
Khmer kingdom of Fu-nan on his mission and he was also deputed to China. The
Mahākarama vibhanga and Mahāniddesa in giving a long list of countries and islands along
the southeastern seas, cite Suvaṇṇabhūumi. The Arab writer Alberuni also describes the gold
country of Suvaṇṇabhūumi thus: “You obtain much gold as deposit if you wash only a little
of the earth of that country.”
Chinese accounts mention many countries in Southeast Asia including Chin-lin or
Chin-chen meaning frontier of gold which some scholars had identified with Suvaṇṇabhūumi.
The Chinese accounts say it was 2000 li towards west of Fu-nan (modern South Vietnam).
Two thousand li inland beyond it, in a wide dry plain, was the kingdom of Ling-yang with an
ardent Buddhist population of over a myriad families including several thousand monks. Two
thousand li beyond Ling-yang was Nu-hou, kingdom of “the descendants of slaves”, over
20,000 families conterminous with Yung-chang. (vide G.H. Luce’s Countries Neighbouring
Burma, JBRS, XIV and XXIX)
Ling-yang was generally identified with the Pyu city of Śrīkṣetra, old Prome at
modern Hmawza. The accounts of a Greek geographer, Ptolemy mentioned in the 2nd century
A.D. that the inhabitants of the east side of the gulf of Besynga were the cannibals.
Neighbour to Besynga, inland, was the country of Chryse Chora, meaning golden land.

55
R.C. Majumdar states in his book “Suvaṇṇadipa” that Ptolemy’s Chryse Chersonesus
points to the Malay peninsula and his Chryse Chora, a region, towards north, that is
Suvaṇṇabhūumi, which is exactly the Sanskrit or Pali counterpart of the Greek word.
Greek, Indian and Chinese sources agree in showing that before the first century A.D.,
by land and by sea, there were trade contacts or trade routes between India, Southeast Asia
and China. Takola or Takola was generally taken as a port of call somewhere near the
Isthmus of Kra. The Greek geographer Ptolemy’s accounts saying that he found cannibals at
the gulf of Martaban obviously could lead to a very interesting historical theory. Because
there is a big island just in this gulf known as island of the demons-Bilu in Myanmar and
Semang in Mon. Two stone inscriptions in old Mon of 11th century A.D. mention that the city
was named demon city, Raksapura in the ancient times.
Moreover, the Ceylonese chronicles of the 4th and 6th centuries A.D. as well as the
15th century A.D. Pegu Kalayani inscriptions describe that the Buddhist Mission headed by
Mahātheras Sona and Uttara despatched by the Great Asoka in the 3rd century B.C., probably
in 253 B.C. to Suvaṇṇabhūmi coincided with the attack of the sea demons who happened to
devour the new born babies from the king’s palace. Regarding this legend, the hagiography of
Ceylon, the 6th century, Mahavamsa says in part:
“At this time, whenever a baby was born in the king’s palace, a fearsome female
demon who came out from the sea, was accustomed to devour the child and vanish into the
sea again. And at that very moment, a prince was born in the palace. Meanwhile, the people
saw the monks and thought ‘These are the companions of the demons’ and they came with
arms to kill them. And the monks asked ‘What does this mean? We are pious ascetics, in no
wise companions of the demons’.
Then the demons came up from the sea with her followers and the people raised a
great outcry. Suddently, the monks created twice as many terrifying such demons and thereby
surrounded the sea demons on all sides. Then the female sea demon thought ‘This country
has come into possession of these people’ and panic stricken, all of them fled rapidly into the
sea.
After that the monks made a bulwark round the country and pronounced in the
assembly the Brahmajāla Suttanta Buddhist scriptures, numerous people who attended
remained in three refuges and precepts of duty, sixty thousand people were converted to the
true faith.”
Regarding this Buddhist Mission, Kalayani inscriptions engraved in 1476 A.D.
describe further as follows:” When Sonathera and Uttarathera arrived, King Sirimāsoka was

56
ruling the country of Suvaṇṇabhūumi. His city was situated to the northwest of the pagoda of
Mt. Kelasa. The Eastern half was on the hill and the western half was built on the plain. This
city is called to this day Goḷamattikanagara because it contains many mud-and-wattle houses
resembling those of the Goḷa people. The Mons who came there after, called it Taikgala. This
city was built on the sea shore.”
Goḷa people were south Indians. It seems the site was originally inhabited by the
south Indians who had migrated from India due perhaps to Kalinga war which occurred in the
3rd century B.C. In this connection there are three popular Mon nursery songs written on
palm-leaf manuscripts. These nursery rhymes plainly express the fact that three main groups
of Indian immigrants had come to the Mon country because of the Asoka-attack at Kalinga,
modern Madras coast.
One group arrived at Trikumbha modern Dagon or Yangon. The second group came
to Donwun, the laterite city near Mt. Kelasa who left the shore of Kalinga. The first group
says they left the banks of mother Ganges. The third group says they left the shores of
Godavari and Coromandel coast, in Madras areas and arrived at the island of Semang and at
the foot of Jarā city, modern Mudon some 20 miles south of Martaban. The three petty clans
mentioned in the three songs are Mon Daung, Mon Da and Mon Nya respectively. Of course,
there are three Mon dialects which are very slightly different in pronounciations which we
Mon people can make out very easily by hearing their distinctive utterances of words.
In Mon literatures, the authors always mention such as: “We three Mon languages….”
And stated that they live in three provinces in Rāmaññadesa such Bassein, Haṁsavati (Pegu)
and Martaban. Now no more Mon speaking people are found in such cities. All of them
became Myanmar as they speak only Myanmar language. However, remnants of Bassein
Mon are to be found at Kamawet and Kalawthot villages just south of Mudon. The Martaban
Mon are living in Semang island called Bilugyun in Myanmar and around Mawlamyine city
in Mon and Karen States.
The small number of the Haṁsavati (Pegu) Mon are located at Zingyaik and
Kaw’bein villages and nearby places. I belong to this dialect. I can also speak Martaban
dialect very well but Bassein Mon dialect is rather difficult for me. But by hearing their
utterances, I can detect so easily the distinction of the mode of their characteristics.
The three Mon nursery songs are so valuable evidences as a historical fact revealing
the events that occurred at Madras coast in the third century B.C. resulting the flight of the
Indians across the sea to the shores of the Mon country of Rāmaññadesa. It was certainly one
of the causes of the Indianization of the Mon people.

57
The place names found in the songs, the metre or rhyme scheme in which the songs
were composed, and the very rare words used in the composition indicate that the songs were
based on the ideology of the Indian immigrants who were taken as Mon immigrants.
Translation of the three Mon nursery songs are as follows:
1 Hi-le-yo-le! (utterance in rowing boat) From the banks of mother river Ganges, land
and country of the Mons;
We, Mon Daung, for our part, crossed over the sea and reached Dagon, the
city of Trikumbha.
Due to our deeds done in the former lives and in accordance with our fate, we
have been separated from our parents.
In what year, what time, shall we return to our original place of abode! Oh!
My beloved son!
2 Hah! Beloved Mon country of Teliṅgana!
The king being poor in meritorious deeds and defeated, fled hastily towards the
eastern direction!
And reached the ancient laterite landmark city of Donwun belonging to the
babarious people of Milikkha!
Suddha, the yong bachelor had led the way and we have come over here. Oh!
My beloved son!
3 Hi-le-yo-le! From the mouth of river Godavari, land of the Mon country, from our
land, the sea coast of Coromandel which is our original homeland, due to the results
of our land, the sea coast of Coromandel which is our original homeland, due to the
results of our previous acts, we are without a king, we have to be parted and reached
the island of Semang and the region at the foot of Jarā city.
Oh! My beloved son!
The above three Mon nursery songs clearly point out the fact that early Indian settlers
had come to live side by side with the Mons who migrated from the valley of Yangtze Kiang.
As in Khmer legend in relation with the Indians, the Mon legend says that in ancient
times, two princes, sons of the king of Kaliṅga, modern Madras coast, renounced the world
and came to dwell on the hills near the city of Sudhammavati, modern Thaton. At the same
time, a Zawgyi, having supernatural power used to visit the forest in the same hill. One day,
the Zawgyi met with a Nāga (dragon) lady who assumed the form of a human being in the
forest and they fell in love with each other. In course of time, the Nāga lady gave birth to two

58
eggs as she was a Nāga. Very soon the magician Zawgyi left her after knowing the true
nature of his beloved lover.
Then the Nāga lady was so ashamed and left for her abode. The two princes who were
then hermits, found out the two eggs and kept in their separate roofs. Two boys were born.
One of them became king of Sudhammavati and the other boy who died at the age of seven
was reborn in India as Gavampati, a famous disciple of Lord Buddha Gotama.
The Mon chronicle gives a list of 57 kings beginning from Siharājā and ending with
Manuhā. The Mon chronicle mentions that Gavampati paid a visit to the Mon capital of
Sudhammavati and at the request of his former brother king Siharājā, Gavampati came again
to the Mon city together with Lord Buddha. Lord Buddha preached for seven days and gave 6
hair relics to the six hermits for worship. When the king begged for a relic, the Buddha said
his disciple Gavampati would bring him a tooth relic which should be increased to 33 after
his attaining Parinibānna.
Therefore, the Mons believed that the pagodas in their country contain either hair or
tooth relic. The Mon chronicle also states that when Lord Buddha and his disciples came to
Martaban, the demons threw stones at them at first before the demons were softened and
offered fruits to Lord Buddha.
The demons stated in this legend might be assumed to be the cannibals of Ptolemy
and the Rakṣas of the Mon inscriptions as well as the sea demons who were said to come out
from the sea to devour the new born princes from the king’s palace.
Another Mon legend says that at Zokthok which has derived from the Mon word juk
sok, meaning rope of hair, situated near Mt. Kelasa, we find numerous objects of art, Buddha
images and various laterite works. There are many laterite fortifications facing the sea shores.
Tradition asserts that the demons of that location turned Buddhists and offered their
hair as rope to the octagonal pagoda built of laterite blocks.
Laterite blocks were finely carved in constructing this old pagoda. All other laterite
works found in this area are remarkably artistic. Obviously, the laterite, a variegated red iron
clay stone was the first native building material of the Mons. Laterite works are found both in
Rāmaññadesa or Lower Burma and in the eastern Mon kingdom of Dvaravati or old Siam.
Perhaps before burnt brick was introduced from India.
A huge ten-spoke wheel of the law and numerous Buddha images and other objects of
art at Phra Pathom were made of laterite. In the same way, in the western mon kingdom of
Sudhammavati numerous laterite works are found. At Syriam, near Yangon, a colossal seated
Buddha called Htamalon is made of laterite with 18 feet in height. Out of many laterite stupas

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found around Mt. Kelasa, Zokthok pagoda in octagonal shape is the biggest. In this pagoda,
umbrellas with octagonal posts, altars with double lotus mouldings, round pillars with table-
tops, corner-posts with niches for candles, miniature four-face stupas with four Buddhas,
pinnacles or spires with four shrines for four seated Buddhas are to be found in laterite clay
stone so skillfully carved.
Besides objects of Buddhist art, laterite was used in making buildings, roads, drains,
square wells, platforms and city-walls. A lot of animal sculptures and fortifications with
lions, tigers, elephants and horses and some sculptures depicting half-lion-half-human are
also found in laterite. Even at present time, laterite blocks are still used in Mon villages in
building houses and roads. Laterite blocks can be obtained by digging and they became
harder and harder by exposing in the open air.
Surprisingly, laterite culture is unknown in Myanmar kingdom of Pagan.
Strangely enough, the Mons in those days who built their stupas using huge beams of
laterite blocks over four feet square in size did not apply any sort of cement. Very similar to
the Khmers who built their huge Angkor Vat using sand stone blocks without cement. Next to
Zokthok pagoda, Zokkali pagoda lying on the sea shore near the mouth of Sittaung river is
well known. It is built with laterite blocks. Zokkali in Mon means rope of cane-bamboo.
Tradition says that two Mon princes called samala and Wimala came to this place and
made their rafts with cane-bamboo to cross the sea in their flight from Sudhammavati
(Thaton) to found the new city of Haṁsavati (Pegu). The legendary Mon chronicle asserts
that the two princes were offspring of the king of Sudhammavati. They were misunderstood
by the king as their mother was said to be descendant of a Nāga (serpent).
Another laterite pagoda discovered at the foot of Mt. Kelasa near Wingka village is
quite remarkable having fine carvings of laterite blocks. At modern Thaton, there is a square
temple called Thangyapaya having terraces made of laterite blocks. The niches around the
terraces were originally adorned with laterite reliefs depicting the ten great Jataka stories. The
boundary stones around the Kalayani-sima (ordination hall) situated just across the road
towards east of this laterite square pagoda, however, found to be ornamented with stone
reliefs portraying the same ten great Jataka tales. Suprisingly, the boundary stone pillars of an
old chapter house or ordination hall known as SEMAS at Mueng Fa Daed, an ancient city of
Dvaravati in northeast Thailand contain sculptures illustrating scenes from Mahānipata
Jatakas which are almost identical with the laterite and stone reliefs on the same theme found
at Thaton, the western Mon capital in Rāmaññadesa, lower Burma. Piriya Krairiksh has

60
published his work on SEMAS with Scenes from Mahānipeta Jatakas, National Museum at
Khon Kaen.
This modern Thaton was not the old capital of Rāmaññadesa known as Sudhammavati
(city of the good law) which was near Mt. Kelasa and the mouth of Sittaung river. Modern
Thaton was the last capital of the Mons which was taken over in 1057 A.D. by the Myanmar
king Aniruddha of Pagan which was then known as Arimaddanapura. This modern Thaton
city was situated on the foot of the hill. Its remains of moat and walls are partly still extant.
The site of the old palace is also visible in the center.
Some fortifications are easily seen outside the city walls, one in the north and two in
the south. Two main pagodas and the Kalayani Chapter House are in the city. Two stone
inscriptions in old Mon engraved before its fall in 1057 A.D. are most valuable and
interesting. Mon inscriptions by later Myanmar and Mon kings are also to be found at Thaton
Shwezayan pagoda compound. The title of the Mon king who inscribed the two old Mon
inscriptions is the longest title in Southeast Asia so far discovered.
As a shortest name we call him Makuṭa (crown of kings). His full title reads:
Makuṭarājānāma Rājādhirāja Paramesvara Isvararāja Abheyamahārāja Devātideva
Bahuñānasā garagambhīra Śrī Nityadharmmadhara Dhanesvara Sakalatāmbāviseya
Trelokavarmma Tambadipa.
My teacher G.H. Luce translates this long title as : The king of kings named king
Makuṭa, the highest lord, lord of kings, the fearless monarch, god of gods, deep ocean of vast
knolwdge, fortunate possessor of the principle of permanence, lord of wealth, armour of the
three worlds, (of men, devas and brahmas), all the regions of copper.
The long title is in Sanskrit very slightly mixed with Pali. It contains also titles of
Khmer kings such as Isvararāja, Paramesvara and Trelokavarmma. The last word varmma is
from varman usually appears at the end of ancient Indian king’s title as found in the names of
the Khmer monarchs. It means armour or coat of mail. (Old Burma – Early Pagan p.24)
Both the two old Mon inscriptions engraved on stone slabs begin with Pali/Sanskrit
words for three lines and mention name of the city as Rakṣapura in the ancient times. Then
comes the long title of the king. The first stone contains the word Trāp meaning lord and the
second has Paṇḍit, scholar and consequently they are known as Trāp and Paṇḍit. The Trāp
stone contains at its top part, a fine relief illustrating the First Sermon at Samath and the Twin
Miracle at Savatthi.
This stone has three distinct ethnic names of Khmer as Krom, Javanese as Ja’ba and
Lava or Lawa as Lwa’. This obviously indicates that the Mon of Rāmaññadesa in lower

61
Burma had relations with these peoples in those days. Of course the peoples of Kambuja and
Java were great but I wonder why Lava tribe is found together with them. Lopburi was the
famous Mon capital of Dvaravati in old Siam and a seal found there has the word Lavapura is
very strange. And we have in early Mon literature, a reference to a prince of Wa, apparently
Lava. As the people of Lopburi were Mons, I am inclined to consider that, some outstanding
Lava people had mixed with the Mon Royal family and one time became king of the Mons at
Lopburi. Therefore, the city was called Lavapura and Lopburi as its derivative.
The second old Mon stone inscription known as Paṇḍit is more valuable. As in the
first stone called Trāp, this Paṇḍit stone begins by stating that in olden days at the beginning,
the city was named as Rakṣapura, city of the demons and comes the long title of the king. It
gives the ten great Jataka names starting from Temiya to Vessantara number 547, the last life
of Gotama before he became Buddha. These are the first records found both in the eastern
and western Mon kingdoms.
Moreover, this Paṇḍit Mon records mention the 28 names of the Buddha who had
previously blossomed in the past. Extraordinarily, the writings are found to be in Pali verse,
which G.H. Luce deciphers:
namosabbabudhānaṃ taṇhaṅkaro mahā viro medhaṅkaro mahāyaso saranaṅkaro
lokahito dīpaṅkaro jutindharo koṇḍaño jinapāmokkho maṅgalo purisāsabho sumano
sumanadhiro revato rativaddhano sobhito gunasampanno anomadassī januttamo padumo
lokapajjoto nārado dhammasārathi padumuttaro sattasāro sumedho aggapuggalo sujāto
sabbalokaggo piyadassī nārasabhoo aṭhadassī kāruniko dhammadassī tamonudo siddhattho
asamo loke tisso cavaradadaṃvaro phusso cavarado buddho vipassī ca anūpamo sikhī
sabbahito satthā vesabhū sukhadāyako kakusandho satthavāho koṇāgamano ranañjaho
kassapo sirisampanno gotamo sākyapuṅgavo etesañeva sambuddhā aneksasattako (The
Advent of Buddhism to Burma, p. 133)
After the above Pali verse, it continues in old Mon. This high level Pali verse and the
remarkable Sanskrit-phrase ādikāle rakṣanāmapure… found in the beginning, certainly show
that the Mon writers of the period were very well versed in Indian languages.
G.H. Luce regards the region around Mt. Kelasa, 1100 feet high as the first home of
Buddhism where the Buddhist mission headed by the two monks Sonathera and Uttarathera
landed in the 3rd century B.C. He calls it as Burma’s Gibralta lying on the seashore near the
mouth of Sittaung river. Of course Kyaikkatha was more probably the old city of
Sudhammavati basing on the remains of city walls and moat, and old archaeological objects.
Over a thousand symbolic silver coins and terracotta votive tablets bearing old Mon

62
inscriptions dating back to 6th century A.D. are very valuable evidences in support of a new
historical perspective.
It is a regard for G.H. Luce who did not live to see the excavation of Kyaikkatha.
Kunzeik, an old site yields a stone inscription on Vinaya Mahāvagga, the well known
Paticca-smuppāda the Chain of Causation written in old Mon script of the 6th century A.D.
Kunzeik village lies on the east bank of Sittaung river about 30 miles north of Kyaikkatha old
city.
Another old site on the west side of Sittaung river mouth at present known as Kyontu
just about two miles east of Wawmyo seems to be an ancient Mon city. The two large laterite
lions are remarkable. The fine laterite foundation with the brick retaining walls contain series
of terracotta plaques set at intervals. Each plaque measures 18 feet square and 4 inches thick.
The plaques portray different scenes. Some depict dancing and merry-making, boxing,
bullfighting, lion and tiger hunting, fighting on horse-backs and on elephants. Each plaque
holds a round medallion in very low relief with beads all around. The human figures are
vividly embossed in illustrating their broad faces, who are jolly, lively and artistic but look
rather short or dwarf. Some plaques are inscribed with numeral signs and characters of the
south Indian type dating back to 6th century A.D.
At Martaban, the second capital of Rāmaññadesa, founded by a commoner Mon king
known as Magadu, we could find only some terracotta votive tablets bearing Buddhist credo
in Nagari script of the early 11th century A.D. Basement of an old brick temple having
radiating arches have been found in this old city. The old brick temple with radiating arches
is obviously connected with those at Pagan, the Myanmar kingdom. Of course this Martaban
city was founded almost at the time of the fall of Pagan in the end of 13th century A.D.
Magadu who built Martaban city to found his dynasty of Martaban in the 13th century
was a native of Donwun, the laterite city near Thaton. As a young man, he went to Siam
taking 30 peddlers. After doing his trade business, he stayed over there and approached the
Royal elephant keeper and rendered volunteer service. One day the Siamese king of
Sukhothai came to inspect his elephant stable and the king was so impressed on Magadu’s
energetic activities and appointed him as Captain of the Royal Guard at his palace.
Very soon Magadu had contact with the Thai princess and later fell in love with her.
Finally, in the absence of the king, Magadu eloped with the princess and fled to his native
place near Martaban. This account is mentioned in the Mon chronicle. William Wood stated
in his book: “A History of Siam” on page 54 “While king Ramkhamheang was absent on a

63
campaign against Cambodia, Mogado eloped with one of his daughters and escaped to
Martaban.”
At that time the Mons were under the dominion of the Myanmar king Narapatisithu
(1173-1210 A.D). As soon as Magadu came back to Martaban, he organized his strong army
comprising Thai and Mon followers and eventually invaded the Myanmar governor Aleinmar
of Martaban and continued capturing another Myanmar governor Tarabya of Pegu. Then
Magadu declared himself king of Martaban and sent tribute to his father-in-law at Sukhothai.
His father-in-law, king of Sukhothai conferred on him the title of Werirow which means the
king who has come down from the sky. In this connection, Niyaphan Pholwaddhana writes in
her Ph.D. Dissertation on page 49 thus:
“Makatho served the king (Ramkhamheang) for some years and later became his son-
in-law. In 1281, the king sent Makatho back to the Mon country to establish Hongsawady
(Pegu) as a satellite of the Royal Thai Empire. Makatho was crowned as King Fa Rua of the
Mon Empire.”
Some historians regard Martaban as a vassal state of the Thai kingdom of Sukhothai
because Magadu and most of his successors sent tributes to the Thai king of Sukhothai. It is
significant that the Mons and Thais had been living so intimately and also as real relatives
and had never fought with each other.
According to Mon chronicle, there were eight kings who ruled at Martaban. Banya U
was the eighth king. After 16 years, he shifted the capital from Martaban to Haṁsavati
(Pegu). That was the second time for Pegu to become capital of Rāmaññadesa. Banya U’s son
and successor, Banya New’ was the most famous Mon king of Haṁsavati (Pegu) who waged
war with the Myanmar king for 40 years. As king of Haṁsavati, he bore two titles as Siharāja
Rājādhirit and Sutasoma Rājādhirāj. His daughter Banyā Thāo (Shin Saw Pu) became Queen
of Rāmaññadesa in later period.
Now at modern Pegu which was formerly known as Haṁsavati (city of the Brahamani
duck), we can find two ancient remains of two walled-cities on the east and west of the
Haṁsa hill. Both sides abound with early elements of Indian civilization. Pegu has an Indian
name Ussā which has derived from Orissa in the east coast of India with which the Mons had
very early contacts. The oldest remains of the city walls were lying in the eastern side not so
far from the mouth of Sittaung river. Apparently, it was a sea port in olden days.
Pegu jars were famous in those days among traders from the west. The fame of
Martaban and Pegu jars obviously shows that the Mons were skilled in pottery industry. Dala,
modern Twantemyo is still well known as producer of potteries. In 1913-14 a trial-excavation

64
was conducted by J.A. Stewart at Pegu. Among other finds, a stone sculpture portraying
Trimurti, Hindu Triad and a vaulted shrine were regarded as the oldest objects of art
discovered at Pegu and the excavator has ascribed them in the 6th century A.D. and connected
with a heretic king of Pegu, known as Tissarājā. He was said to be a Hindu who persecuted
Buddhism at Pegu.
It seems the Brahmanists and the Buddhists had a great struggle during the regin of
this king. In this respect the Mon legend of Asahkumar which is known in Myanmar as
Athamintha says that during the regin of Wimala, the second king of Haṁsavati (Pegu), the
Hindu Indians came in seven ships with an army of 3500 men headed by Bawha and Ajanga.
Bawha was said to be seven cubits in height. The Indian invaders agreed with the Mon king
Wimala to fight a single combat and fixed the date.
The Mon hero was Prince Ashkumar who was brought up among the buffaloes in the
forest. Prince Asah was son of king Samala and queen Suvaṇṇa. His uncle Wimala killed his
father and made his mother the chief queen who was pregnant. When the prince was born, his
uncle ordered the queen to put away the child. Queen Suvaṇṇa took the baby out into the
forest and hid him there. A female buffalo Nang Glaung pitied the child and performed as
foster-mother of the prince. As Prince Asahkumar was brought up among the buffaloes, he
was strong and clever in riding and playing on the buffaloes. When Prince Asahkumar was 16
years old, he was discovered by a hunter and coincidently the Mon king was searching for a
Mon hero to fight against the Indian’s challenge. A Mon poem on the story of Asahkumar is
very romantic.
When the time came they fought a single combat on horse-back. The time of the fight
was at the 3rd quarter of the day when the sea breeze was blowing. As the wind blew, the
waves at the beach gave loud sound. The clouds gathered, lightning flashed across the dark
sky and thunder sounded making woods and hills produced echoes. The Mon audience were
on the north and the Indians in the south. The Indian hero Bawha and the Mon hero
Asahkumar both came out on horse-back to the center of the battle ground. The combatant
was well-matched. Onlookers on both sides were thrilling in their sensation in seeing the
good fight.
Ultimately, Asahkumar made a swift thrust with his spear at the right armpit of the tall
Indian hero Bawha who suddently fell. Thus the Indian invaders were defeated and according
to the agreement, the seven ships were seized and 3500 Indians became captives who were
placed at the foot of Mt. Kelsa. The place was at first called Tai Gala, meaning Indian hut and
later known as Taikgala-Indian quarter.

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Due to the victory, King Wimala made his nephew Asahkumar as his successor.
Asahkumar was then known as Smoin Asah as the 3rd king of Pegu.
Smoin Asah founded a pagoda on the eastern side of the mouth of Sittaung river
which later called Kyaikkatha in Myanmar and Kyaik Asah in Mon. This Kyaikkatha site
yields numerous silver coins and votive tablets dating to 6th century A.D. as already
mentioned.
Out of three main provinces of Rāmaññadesa such as Bassein in the west, Haṁasavati
(Pegu) in the middle and Martaban in the east, Bassein has almost nothing in respect of
archaeological finds antedating the 12th century A.D. Though Martaban also has not much of
such objects of art, a cave known as Kawgun, lying some 30 miles north of Martaban on the
west side of Salween river yields remarkable antiquities.
A three-line old record inscribed on the stone wall of the audience hall of the cave in
Sanskrit mixed with Mon begins with the Hindu god Śrī Paramesvara. Palaeographically, this
unedited inscription is ascribed in the 6th century A.D. Apparently, it might have been written
by the Indians. As discovered in Thaton, a stone sculpture illustrating the Hind Trinity where
the Hindu god Nārāyaṇa, three stalks of lotus are sprouting and on each of the lotus flower
are bone Brahmā (creator), Viṣṇu (preserver) and Ṡiva (destroyer).
This Hindu Trimurti stone relief contains Mon writing which says “This is Viṣṇu”.
The same stone relief of this kind found at Thaton is much bigger but unfortunately it was
broken by bomb during the second World War as it was kept in Rangoon. At Kawgun cave,
there are two old stone sculptures of Buddha containing old Mon inscriptions on the hems of
the robes. Most of the inscriptions are damaged and not readable. But we can read some lines
on the hem of the headless Buddha image. It says that the stone carver was Queen Muḥ Tah
who resided in the city of Duwop. She and her follwers were skilled in stone carving. It
concludes by praying for the new stone carvers to appear. This old Mon record dates in the
early part of 11th century A.D.
Kawgun cave is most important archaeological spot in Rāmaññadesa in comparison to
other caves. Many historians and orientalists had taken keen interest in it. John Crawfurd, a
British envoy had visited it in 1827. There is a big elephant statue standing in the center of
the cave. Tradition says that it would turn alive when a future Mon king rides on its back. The
whole inner walls and ceilings are fully decorated with numerous terracotta votive tablets
stuck with some kind of cement and arranged symmetrically in the form of terraces and
spires. Most of the tablets are painted dark red. This cave is found to be at the eastern
basement of a huge rocky hill about a thousand feet high.

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Its entrance hall runs from south to north under an over-hanging ledge of rock and
two tunnels run deeply into the main center of the rock. There is an extraordinary hexagonal
stupa. It is an ornamented stalagmite covered with painted terracotta votive tablets. There are
six standing Buddhas on its top part facing different directions on each side. The
corresponding stalactites are profusely decorated with small Buddha images in various
attitudes of sitting, standing and reclining. As the peculiar position of the entrance hall of this
cave is being under the over-hanging ledge of the rock, it has a very good protection from
rain. Obviously this natural shelter could very well maintain the whole ornamentation on all
the inner walls of the cave. The over-hanging roof of its entrance hall is about fifty feet and
as it faces the east it gets morning sun rays which keep the cave constantly in warm and dry
condition. It is not wet like other caves.
Observing on the discovery of a three-line Sanskrit mixed with Mon dating back to 6th
century A.D. : the stone relief of the Hindu Triad with Mon writing and stone Buddha images
bearing old Mon inscriptions of the early part of 11th century A.D.; the Hindu Indians might
have lived side by side with the Mons of Rāmaññadesa for a very long period.
Therefore, the Mons were Indianized by obtaining the south Indian script, Sanskrit
vowels and consonants, Indian myths, literature, Hinduism and Buddhism. Even in modern
times, a lot of poor Mon people have converted to Muslim by marrying the Indians. Very few
became Christians among the Mons. Because the Mons were and still are very devout and
pious Buddhists.
The two stone Buddhas found in this cave are Jambupati Buddhas. The Mon tradition
asserts that Jambupati, lord of the universe was very proud of his dress and power. With the
intention of convincing Jambupati of the valueless of his power, Lord Buddha assumed the
form of Jambupati having crown and kingly ornaments, challenged the Jambupati making
him to acknowledge of the Buddha’s superiority. Thereby, Jambupati became a devoted
disciple of the Buddha. Thus Buddha images in the Jambupati form have for centuries been
popular in Rāmaññadesa, the Mon country.
The name of the city given in the old Mon inscriptions engraved on the inner hem of
the Jambupati Buddha found in Kawgun cave is entirely unknown. We cannot trace the name
of a city called Duwop in any Mon chronicle. The nearest city name known as Campānagara
is located about five miles north of Martaban and some 25 miles south of Kawgun cave.
Translation of the Mon inscriptions stated above reads: “This image of Lord Buddha,
it was I, queen Muḥ Taḥ, residing in the city of Duwop who carved and made this Holy
Buddha. Stone and clay Buddhas situated either in this city or outside the kingdom were

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made by me together with my followers who were skilled in carving stone images. May other
teachers and craftsmen appear to carve Buddhas of stone!”
There are quite a number of natural caves like Kawgun cave mostly in the Martaban
province of Rāmaññadesa. Chaddangu is the biggest cave. It is some six miles northeast of
Kawgun on the eastern side of Salween river. It is said to be one mile long. During my short
visit to it over three decades ago, I have seen a primitive painting in red ochre of a sea
monster but very faintly. This cave attracts numerous Buddhist pilgrims annually during
water festival because the Mons believe that it was the dwelling abode of the white elephant
king Chaddanta who was a Bodhisatta (Buddha to be). This Chaddanta Jataka is very popular
among the Mons.
The story was related in reference to a nun of Sāvatthi while one day listening to the
sermon of the Buddha, admired the extreme beauty of the form of the Buddha and she
wondered if she had ever been his wife in the previous lives. Immediately, she remembered
that she was his younger wife when he was the elephant king, and she laughed for joy but on
further recollecting the next life when she was a queen of the king of Banares who caused for
the elephant king’s death, she wept loudly. However, the Chaddanta cave yields no Mon
inscriptions as in the Kawgun cave.
At Kawbein Kyauktaung cave, we find a lot of wooden Buddha images all in
Jambupati form wearing long crowns. This cave is situated about six miles south of Gyine
river bank. Dhammasat cave lying just on the bank of Gyine river is very beautiful. Old
terractotta votive tablets bearing Mon letters have been discovered. Khayongu cave lying
between Gyine and Attaran rivers is very big and most pleasant for people to go for picnic
during water festival annually. It was surprised to obtain numerous wooden boxes containing
palm-leaf manuscripts on various titles in Mon literature and also wooden Buddha images in
Jambupati form from Kyaikmaraw cave just outside Kyaikmaraw town. All stone and
wooden Buddhas found in these caves belong to 15th century A.D. Kyauktalone cave near
Mudon town is very beautiful but it is the smallest cave and yields nothing except a few
modern Buddhas.
The cave which contains pre-history archaeological objects and the primitive wall
painting in red ochre depicting the figures of a bright sun, fish, deer, bull, bison and elephant
is called Padalingu. It is in the Panlaung forest, Ywangan township in the northern Shan
plateau. It is in a very remote place so far away from the outside world. Therefore, these
paintings drawn by the cave dwellers can still be seen at present, much more than at
Chaddangu in Karen State.

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Since the Mon-Khmer people had migrated down from the long valley of Yangtze
Kiang, they were already pioneers in wet-rice cultivation and so they were not cave dwellers
who had dwelt in the caves. Consequently, it is impossible to ascertain who had lived in the
caves found in the Mon country of Rāmaññadesa.
Though Rāmaññadesa has been regarded as Lower Burma from the 15th century A.D.,
it covered both Upper and Lower Burma in the remote past. Because, the Myanmar people
came down and could establish their first kingdom of Pagan only in the 9th century A.D.
Although, the Pyu could found their first city at Taungdwingyi in central Burma which was
known as Viṣṇu city, the Pyu population was rather small.

THE CHINESE ACCOUNTS ON MON

G.H. Luce who studies Chinese accounts so much says that Mi-chen was a Mon city
and Kun-lun as great Mon people and Kun-lang as little Mons. He writes: “The Hsin-tang-
shu (section on P’iao/Pyu) tells us something of a series of Kun-lun (Mon) states near the
Gulf of Martaban. The Man-shu (ch. 10) tells us more, but (I suspect) less accurately. The
chief (Mon) city was Mi-chen (*myie-zien)-which might perhaps be modern Kyon-tu near
Waw, some twenty miles north-east of Pegu, near the old mouth of Pegu river. After Mi-chen
one reaches Kun-lang, where there is the little Kun-lun (Mon) people. The king is called
Meng-hsi-yueh (*mang-siet-ywut). The customs are the same as those of Mi-chen. After
Kun-lang, one reaches Lu-yu (*luk-yiu), where there is the kingdom of the great Kun-lun
(Mon) king. The king’s name is Śrī Bhavanantasena (?). The river-plain is larger than at Mi-
chen.
From the residence of the little king of Kun-lun, a half-day’s journey brings one to
Mo-ti-po (*mua-di-buet) stockade-from which one sailed to Fo-tai (Śrī Vijaya, Palembang)
and She-p’o (Java). The yearly rainfall in these parts is over 200 inches; and during the past
millennium the land has gained greatly on the sea. Old ports such as Thaton, are now ten
miles or more inland. Even allowing for mistakes, it is not easy to relate the above itinerary to
the coastline today. Perhaps it ran roughly from Kyon-tu south of Martaban.”
G.H. Luce continues: “Fan Cho, author of Man-shu (863 A.D.), never visited Burma
and had to depend on frontier-informants under his command. He thought the Chindwin
flowed into the sea; and so he confuses Mi-chen with a (Chin?) capital in the Chindwin
region. If one eliminates and confusion, his account is (briefly) as follows : Mi-chen borders
the sea. The people have short black faces. They are naturally polite and respectful. The king

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lives in a wooden stockade on the margin of the sea. The four feet of the house (posts)
consists of stone lions, covered with planks of scented wood. The common people live in
lofts (raised-dwellings). They wear smocks of silkcotton. Both men and women are fond of
music. At each end of their houses, they set drums. After drinking liquor, they beat the
drums. The men join hands with the women and up in their dwellings they posture and stamp
to the music. They are 60 stages south-west of Yung-chang. In 835 A.D. Nan-chao destroyed
their kingdom of Mi-chen and looted their gold and silver. They captured two or three
thousand of the Mon people of Mi-chen and banished them to wash the gold of Li Shui
(Irrawaddy river).” (vide The Advert of Buddhism to Burma, In Honour of I. B. Horner,
Reide Pub. Co., Holland 1974)
G. H. Luce inclines to take Kyon-tu as Mi-chen city but I consider that the remains at
Kyon-tu show very few signs to be a city though we find laterite sculptures of big lions,
terracotta plaques illustrating old scenes of dancing, fighting by jolly short people as already
mentioned. It is rather difficult to ascertain the actual site of the old Mon city of Mi-chen
which was destroyed by the Nan-chao in the early 9th century A.D. and in the same way we
cannot make out the real site of an old Mon city of Duwop, the residence of a Mon queen
called Muḥ Taḥ as written in the Mon inscription of Kawgun cave as stated above.
Even the actual site of old Sudhammavati, the first Mon city of Rāmaññadesa is in
dispute.
The Man-shu mentions another kingdom of Mi-no together with the Mon kingdom of
Mi-chen which both were near the sea. Perhaps Mi-no was one of the old Mon cities
bordering the sea. Man-shu says Kun-lun (Mon) city is 81-day stages from the Man
(Nanchao) borders. Products of the land are the blue-green-wood perfume, sandalwood
perfume, purple or dark red sandalwood perfume, areca-nut trees, glazed wares, rock-crystals,
bottle-gourds, unburnt bricks, various herbs, precious stones, rhinoceros etc.
Once, the Nanchao army marched down to capture their city. The Kun-lun (Mon)
people used a trick in openning the road for the Nancho cavalry to advance south. Then the
Kun-lun forces suddently cut off the road behind the Nanchao army and connected the place
with river and let the water cover the battle ground. Then the Nanchao army personnel were
helpless either to advance or to retreat. They were blocked and had no way out. Numerous of
them died and the rest were punished and driven out to their land.
Wang Pu, the Tang-hui-yao (961 A.D.) says : “The Mon music and dancing are the
same as those of the Pyu (Tibeto-Burman family) who were extinct since 11th century A.D.
They were talented in music and dancing. Li Fang in Tai-ping-yu-lan describes that the big

70
bellied areca-palm with several hundred nuts on each of its fronds spread from Mi-chen
(Mon) city to Nanchao kingdom. The Mon kingdom of Mi-chen sent in 805 A.D. an
independent embassy to the Court of China where the Chinese Emperor recognized its
hereditary king.”
G.H. Luce would like to connect the Mon city which trapped the Nanchao army with
Haribhuñjaya in Thailand. But I think it is not possible because Haribhuñjaya flourished only
after 11th century A.D. It must be remembered that the Mon city of Lopburi fell a victim of
the Saivite Khmer in the early part of 11th century A.D. The Mon cities which were destroyed
by the Nanchao in the early part of 9th century A.D. should have been in existence around that
period.
The Nanchao had destroyed the Pyu city in 832 A.D. and took away to Yunnan over
3000 Pyu prisoners. After that the Nanchao came down to destroy the Mon city or cities.
They could have destroyed Mi-chen in 835 A.D. and had taken over 3000 Mon prisoners to
use as forced labourers in washing gold in the river. The other Mon city which the Nanchao
failed to capture might be in Rāmaññadesa in Lower Burma near the seashore so that the
Mons could trap them by blocking the road with flood from the river and the sea if the
Chinese accounts were true. I wonder why the Chinese accounts do not mention any thing
about the sea demon or cannibals when they say the Mon or Kun-lun cities border the sea.

RELATIONS OF THE MONS WITH THE NEGRITOS


In 1953, I was so surprised to learn from G.H. Luce that the Negritos known as
Semang, Sakai, Jakun and Nicobarese belong to Mon-Khmer family. At that time, I was so
doubtful and reluctant to believe it. Because, the Mons and the Khmers are Mongoloid and
the Negritos are Negroid and so they are entirely different in race. I wondered how could it
happen like this. They had not migrated from Yangtze Kiang valley like other members of
Mon-Khmer family or Austroasiatic. The Negritos seem to have dwelling along the coastal
regions of Southeast Asia long before the coming of the Austroasiatic or Mon-Khmers into
these places.
In the early centuries of Christian era, Mon, Khmer, Annamese (Vietnamese) and
their allied tribes were the dominant languages of Southeast Asia long before the arrival of
the Tibeto-Burman and Thai languages from the north. It is a strange fact to find a people
called Chams of the Champanagara living very closely with Mon-Khmer but who are not
Mon-Khmer. It is thought that the Cham language is a mixture of the Austroasiatic and
Austronesian.

71
Annamese of Tongking basin is the most far east member of Mon-Khmer. The
Chinese began expanding their Empire towards south and west from the 6th century B.C. and
they continued adding into their domain the provinces of Kwangtung, Kwangsi and Tongking
in B.C. 221. Since then the Annamese language had been penetrated so deeply by the
Chinese. They fell completely under Chinese influence and used Chinese literature. However,
Annamese or Vietnamese language is still belonging to Mon-Khmer family.
The question now is how the Mon-Khmer speaking peoples got contact with the
Negritos and when and how long, so that the Negritos became members of Mon-Khmer
family or Austroasiatic. Regarding this point Skeat and Blagen assert :
“In Indo-China there has been a great shifting of populations to the southward. It
would seem that some two or three thousand years ago the southern coast-line was occupied
by Malayan tribes and the interior by tribes speaking Mon-Khmer languages. To the north of
these, in the southern China and the ajoining regions, dwelt the ancestors of the Thai and
Tibeto-Burman peoples, which within the fifteen centuries or so have flooded Indo-China
with successive swarms of conquering immigrants, who after receiving through Mon and
Khmer channels a varnish of Indian civilization, broke up the political organization of the
older peoples, and isolated their various fragments from one another.” (vide The Pagan Races
of the Malay Peninsula, Vol. II, pp. 444-5 by W.W. Skeat and C.O. Blagden, 1906, Reprint
1966) I agree with them in assuming the Malayan tribes who are the Negritos such as
Semang, Sakai, Jakun and Nicobarese had apparently lived along the coastal strip of Burma
and old Siam including the Malay Peninsula. At that time the Malays were living in Sumatra.
They had migrated to the Peninsula some nine hundred or one thousand years ago. The
Malays do not speak Mon-Khmer language. And why we can find the linguistic affinities
between Mon-Khmer and the Negrito languages now called Aslian languages.
Basing on linguistic cognation between Mon and the Negrito languages, C.O. Blagden
considers that the Mon-Khmers had occupied the Malay Peninsula long before the coming of
the Malay as colonists of the Peninsula. He says the precise date cannot be determined.
I think this might be in a very early date. For instance, the Annamese fell under the
sphere of the Chinese influence sine 221 B.C. but they are still not becoming Chinese but
remaining in Mon-Khmer family. Therefore, the contacts of Mon-Khmer with the Negritos
might be much earlier. It must be not only contacts but assimilation and integration should
have occurred, so that the Negritos who are entirely different in race with Mon-Khmer to
speak Mon-Khmer speech. It seems the Negritos had lived side by side with the Mons in
Rāmaññadesa for a long time even before the Mons got contacts with India.

72
Though the Nicobarese speak Mon-Khmer language, the Andamanese do not belong
to Mon-Khmer even the Andaman Islands are nearer to Rāmaññadesa. This obviously
indicates that the Nicobarese might have lived in the Malay Peninsula before they spread to
their islands.
C.O. Blagden writes: “Apart from the special interest attached to them as having been
the earliest indigenous vehicles of literary culture in Indo-China, the Mon-Khmer languages
are of unique importance in connection with the past history of South-eastern Asia. They are
related in various ways to Nicobarese, Khasi and the Munda (or Kolarians) dialects of India
on one hand; they present curious analogies with the Malayo-Polynesian family on the other;
and yet more strangely they have a certain number of points of contact with the northern
languages of the great Indo-Chinese conglomeration which includes the Tibeto-Burman,
Karen, Chinese and Thai families.
How much of all this is genuine original relationship, how much is due to mere
historic contact or borrowings from some common source, it is, however, as yet impossible to
say. So far as the connection with Nicobarese and Khasi is concerned, it would seem that the
relationship is vital, entering as it does into the very structure of the languages. In the case of
Munda dialects, this has not been proved; and their structure (especially their syntax) presents
many marked differences from the Mon-Khmer. Nevertheless it is certain that a considerable
common element runs through Munda, Khasi and Nicobarese, and this common element is
identical with the main constituents of the Mon-Khmer family.
The connection of the Mon-Khmer languages with the Malayo-Polynesion family is
most mysterious,as there appears to be a considerable resemblance in structure,
accompanied(despite a certain number of common words), by a very distinct diversity in the
actual materials .Their relation to the northern Indo-Chinese languages including Chinese
would seem to point to long contact and considerable borrowing, but not to community
origin.”(ibit.pp.441-4)
James Logan, who was the first linguist to notice the presence of Mon-Khmer words
in the Negrito dialects of Malay Peninsula, propounded a theory that the civilized Mon-
Khmer people had colonized the Malays immigration from Sumatra had begun, and that
during the Mon-Khmer era that people occupied towards the aboriginal tribes the same
position which the Malays now occupy.
He says: “The language of the Mons and Kambojans, would become the lingua franca
of the districts round their colonies and of the rivers on both sides of the Peninsula which

73
their praus (ships) frequented for barter with the natives, and it would ultimately, in alarge
measure, displace the older dialects of the latter.” (J. I.A.,Vol.IV,p.431)
James Longan’s view was again advanced by C.O Blagden’s paper on mainly verbal
and analogies between Mon-Khmer and the Negrito dialects of Malay Penisula. Finally,
W.Schmidt has devoted a much more through investigation to the question and has arrived at
the conclusion that the Semang and sakai dialects and the Mon-Khmer languages are
essentially members of one family of speech by presenting his findings on the close
correspondence in phonology, structure, syntax and a considerable percentage of the
vocabulary between them. (J. R. A. S., S. B., No. 7, pp. 85-87)
Though the Semang, Sakai and Jakun dialects of Malay Paninsula are classified as
members of Mon-Khmer family , they were certainly not originally belong to the same family
before they met and lived side by side with each other.
In this respect C.O. Blagden asserts: “It is certain that the Semang dialects were not
originally members of the Mon-Khmer family. They still embody a number of words, of
distinct type, which have not been, and I believe never will be, traced to a Mon-Khmer or
Malayan source. Among such words are many quite common ones, relating to matters of
everyday life. The chief point about these words is that their use, so far as is known at
present, is confined to tribes of the Negrito type. These words are therefore presumably
remnants of the old original dialects of the Malay Peninsula Negritos, such as they were
before they became modified and transformed by foreign influences.” (Pagan Races, II, pp.
462-3)
Significantly, the Negritos did not speak Mon-Khmer dialects before they met and
mixed with Mons and Khmers and the duration of their contact must be long, so that they
could become members of Mon-Khmer family as regarded by the learned linguists. It is
incredible for ordinary people. I was really surprised to learn this theory of the Negroid
people speak the language of Mongoloid race. It is so complicated. The people belonging to
Mongoloid race speak numerous different languages. But it is a very rare case to find some
Negroid people of Malay Peninsula speak Mon-Khmer dialects.
It is not really the same case with the Negroid in the United States of America
speaking English as their mother tongue. The Negritos of Malay Peninsula speak only basic
words of the Mon-Khmer language. Because they were originally not Mon-Khmers. I would
like to consider that such Mon-Khmer basic words spoken by the Negritos of Malay
Peninsula were loan words. I may be wrong. As for me the question of the relation between
race and language in Southeast Asia is a very complex problem.

74
Consequently, I would like to call for the modern day linguists to investigate all these
linguistic matters between Negrito dialects of Malay Peninsual and the Mon-Khmer
languages in more detailed to reveal the truth and whether to approve or reject the old
conception in placing the Semang, Sakai, Jakun and Nicobarese as members of Mon-Khmer
family or Austroasiatic.
At any rate, the Negritos had really met and mixed with the Mons and Khmers in the
remote period. It is not clear how this language phenomenon had occurred than. It seem in
the first stage, the people were hunters and fruit-gatherers before they became cultivators of
rice and other plants. By then they were accustomed to domesticating cattle and other
animals. Thus the Negritos were met with the new comers of the Mon-Khmer peoples and
due to their close contacts they gradually adopted the Mon-Khmer words from time to time.
In Rāmaññadesa, we have many facts indicating the relationship with the Negritos in
the past. However, the Mon chronicles, the Ceylonese chronicles, the Mon inscriptions regard
them as sea demons. The Greek geographer had regarded them as cannibals. Of course, the
Negritos wre most probably, cannibals. They were dwarf with thick lips, curly hair, bit and
round nose and black skin. They were extremely swift in swimming and diving in the sea.
Therefore, the Mons thought that they were sea-demons who used to come up form the sea to
steal new born babies. This legendary story was composed in 4th century A.D. of Dipavamsa
of Ceylonese chronicle and also the 6th century A.D. of Mahavamsa of he same country. It
was repeated in the 15th century A.D.of Kalayani inscriptions at Pegu engraved by a Mon
king known as Dhammazeti (Rāmādhipati)
In the early 11th century Mon stone inscriptions called Trāp and Pandit at Thaton, we
can read that the Mon city was said to be city of the demons in the ancient times. The Mons
used Sanskrit words Raksapura meaning country of the demons. Mon tradition says that at
Zokthok, near Mt. Kelasa, the demons turned Buddhists and donated their hair as ropes to the
Pagoda which was built of laterite blocks of four feet square in size. It is on the sea-shore and
along the sea-shore, we can still find fortifications made of laterite blocks having numerous
figures of lions tigers and elephants.
Tradition asserts that these long laterite fortifications were made to protect the attacks
of the sea-demons.
Observing the sea-raiders or sea-demons mentioned in the Ceylonese chronicles in
describing the Buddhist mission who came to the Mon country and had to struggle with the
sea-demons; the account of the Greek geographer Ptolemy written in the 2nd century A.D.
that he found cannibals at the gulf of Martaban; the statement in the 11th century Mon

75
inscriptions found at the old capital city of Thaton saying that in the ancient times the city
was named Raksapura which denotes city of the demons and the Mon legend saying the sea-
demons who became Buddhists offered their hair as ropes to the laterite Pagoda and the
fortifications found along the coastal places of the Mon country of Rāmaññadesa from
Twante in the west towards Martaban in the eat; I consider that the so called sea-demons and
the cannibals were no other than the Semang and other Negritos who are now inhabiting the
Malay Peninsula and Nicobar Islands. At first they were enemies and fought with each other
when the Negritos came up to raid the Mons on the land.
Regarding this matter, G.H. Luce is of opinion that the coastal of Lower Burma and
Siam, though reached by Buddhism at an early date, took several centuries to flower into full
civilization. It seems, he says, that in the early centuries before Christ and for many centuries
afterwards a life and death struggle was in progress between sea-invaders (Negritos) coming
up from the southern islands and the Mon-Khmer peoples descending down from the north
and north-east.
Probably the combatants were well-matched and the struggle had lasted long. Those
on the landward side were normally more numerous and the sea-raiders seem incomparable
in numbers. Though constantly exposed to the coastal raids as mentioned in the chronicles,
the Mon-Khmers could ultimately succeed in driving the sea-raiders (Negritos) south beyond
Burma and Siam. He continues saying that this theoretical perspective is, in part, confirmed
by the existence of line of citadels strongly fortified and moated, lining the coast of Burma
from Twante in the west towards Martaban in the east.
Muthin viallage, near the mouth of Bilin river, a few miles southeast of Mt.Kelasa, is
a typical example with its three high concentric walls, all moated, steeps as the roof of a
house. There are numerous in other places along the coast. The laterite citadel at Twante,
some fifty miles south west of Yangon (Rangoon) may be the oldest one. Professor Luce
came to Burma in 1912 and went back in 1965 for U.K.
I think for centuries later, the Negritos were tired of fighting with the Mon-Khmers
and a great number of them became acquaintances of the Mon-Khmer peoples and lives side
by side and ultimately mixed and were gradually assimilated by the Mon-Khmers. Because of
their close and long contacts with each other, the Negritos, adopted numerous basic Mon-
Khmer words as discovered by the linguists.
Of course, the Salons, the Mawken Sea-gypsies of the Mergui Archipelago, in the
southern islands of Burma seem to be the mixture of Mongoloid and Negroid, they remain in
the intermediate stage who also speak basically Mon-Khmer dialects. They are still savages

76
but much more civilized than the Negritos of Malay Peninsula and the Nicobar Islands. It
seems the Salons are the hybrid of the two races.
Among the Negritos, the Semangs are now living nearest to the Mon country of
Rāmaññadesa as well as the eastern Mon country of Dvaravati in old Siam. G. H. Luce had
once pointed out to me that the huge island lying just south of Martaban, opposite
Mawlamyine was the island of the Negritos . Because he said that it is called Bilugyun in
Myanmar which means demon island. I agree with him absolutely as I have found in old Mon
literature that the island was known as Tako’ Samaɨŋ denoting island of the Samaɨŋ . Since
the Mon world has changed from Samaɨŋ to Khamaɨŋ and even corrupted to Hamaɨŋ in
spoken Mon of today , on one could explain why the old Mon word had been interpreted as
island of the demon to the Myanmar when they first met.
Obviously the old Mon word Samaɨŋ means demon in those days. Therefore , it was
interpreted to the Myanmars as Bilugyun at that time. Observing the linguistic affinities
between Mon and Semang Negritos of Malay Peninsula, I am inclined to consider that the
Mon word Samaɨŋ is certainly the name of the Negrito now dwelling in the northen part of
Malay Peninsula called Semang. This place name Samaɨŋ might
have been in use among the Mons since time immemorial. In fact the real meaning of the
island is unknown among the Mon elders.
A Mon legend ascribes that the people of this Samaɨŋ island were naked people and
were very poor. So far as I am aware there are no characteristics of the Negrito elements
among the Mon people of this island or the Mon people living in southern part of the country.
Of course, the people of this Samaɨŋ island are very fair having very good complexion
especially the women are more beautiful than other women in other Mon regions of
Rāmaññadesa, in Lower Burma.

MON LEGEND WRITTEN ON STONE INSCRIPTIONS


Mon legend are found not only in palm-leaf manuscripts but also in the stone
inscriptions. Such Mon inscriptions were inscribed by a famous Mon king known as
Dhammazeti whose title is Rāmādhipati. He was king of Haṁsavati (Pegu) from 1472-92
A.D. He was not of Royal blood but a commoner. During the reign of Shinsawpu, the Mon
Queen of Haṁsavati (1453-72 A. D.) , Dhammazeti was a learned monk, well versed in
various languages. He was also skillful both in arts and sciences including grammar,

77
prosody, logic, astrology, arithmetics and medicine. He studied not only in Pegu but also at
Ava and Pagan in the Myanmar kingdoms in Upper Burma.
It so happened that once, the Mon Queen Shinsawpu became a queen of the Myanmar
king Thihathu and during the reign of Mohninthado, the Mon Queen managed to escape Ava.
She fled to Pegu with the help of the two Mon monks Dhammazeti and Dhammapāla.
Shinsawpu became Queen of Pegu again.
After some years, Shinsawpu persuaded Dhammazeti to leave monkhood and to take
her daughter in marriage. Queeen Shinsawpu retired and made her son-in-law Dhammazeti
king of Pegu. At first the ministers raised objection to the Queen’s choice but the wise Queen
in reconciliation with her lords, took a piece of wood from the floor of a bridge and carved it
into an image of Lord Buddha. By seeing such an example and owing to the extremely high
character of Dhammazeti, the ministers were fully reconciled and approved.
After becoming king of Haṁsavati, Dhammazeti put strenuous efforts in religious
works. He encouraged Mon literature and persuaded the senior monk Buddhaghosa to
translate the code of law called Magadu Dhammasāt into Myanmar language for the
Myanmar people. He himself was a wise judge an dpresided over numerous appeal cases. His
rulings are known as Dhammazeti Phya-htone. Dhammazeti sent Buddhist missions both to
India and Ceylon. His Buddhist mission to India was headed by Yogarat, governor of Pegu to
make careful plans and measurements of the Great Asoka’s pious works of the original Holy
Land of Buddhism at Bodhgaya in particular the Seven Stations, where the Buddha spent in
the first seven weeks after the Enlightenment. On return of Yogarat’s mission from India,
king Dhammazeti chose a wide area, a few miles south-west of his capital to reconstruct an
exact model of the Buddhist Holy Land of India, so that his Mon people could visit it easily
and frequently and to live in imagination of those solemn moments of the great events on the
Life of Lord Buddha.
In the center of Holy Land, Dhammazeti built the Mahābodhi temple now called
Shwegugyi, making the actual scene of the Enlightenment, with the Holy Banyan Tree. The
enclosing walls were systematically set with the beautiful colourful glazed plaques,
illustrating the attack and retreat of Māra’s motly army. Some plaques depict the temptation
by the three daughters of Māra whose names are Tanhā, Aratī and Rāga. They assume
various different forms and varying of age and charm.
Each plaque bears a Mon legend describing the form of the woman such as virgin,
elder wife, lesser wife, keeping wife, mother of one, mother of two and barren. The plaques
of the Māra’s army portray different dreadful forms. Some are found to be half-man and half-

78
animal. Most of the plaques are lost due to wars, and lately due to vandalism and smugglers
of objects of art. This great temple is completely damaged and only the central mass is to be
seen. Fragments of the plaques are still scattered around the enclosure as jungle grows.
A hundred yards to the east of Shwegugyi temple, Dhammazeti built the Ajapāla
pagoda. Its walls of the enclosure were lined with colourful glazed plaques showing the
temptation scenes of Māra’s daughters.
Nearby, according to the plan brought by his mission, kind Dhammazeti caused to dig
up the river of Nerañjarā, where the Bodhisat bathed before partaking the milk-rice and then
walked up and down. King Dhammazeit ordered his governors of Sreṅ (Syriam) and Dala
(Twante) to build the Suppattittha and Bhumicaṅkamana pagoda respectively in the Holy
Land of Pegu. Dhammazeti assigned his son to erect Animisa (unwinking) and Ratana
Caṅkram (jewelled–walk) pagodas nearby, recalling the sites where the Buddha gazed
unwinking on his seat of Victory and then paced up and down. To the north-west of the main
temple of Shwegugyi, Dhammazeti built the Ratanaghara (jewelled-chamber) in memory of
the hall where the Buddha sat meditating.
About two furlongs towards south, the king set up the Rājāyatana pagoda,
commemorating the Rājāyatana tree (Linlun in Myanmar; Bapon in Mon; Buchanania
Latifolia) under which Lord Buddha was enjoying his glory without nourishment, after
staying in seven places in seven weeks. At this very place, the legend said Lord Buddha
accepted the offering of honey-rice-cakes, presented by the two Mon merchants known as
Tapussa and Bhallika who were no their journey of trades in 500 bullock – carts.
Therefore, the Mons claim that they were the first people to meet and worship Lord
Buddha on the very day of his attainment to Buddhahood. South of the Ajapāla (goatherd)
pagoda, the king erected the famous Mucalinda (patuk in Mon ; kyeepin in Myanmar ;
Barringtonia acutangula) pagoda, modelled on the one built by the great Asoka of India at the
site where the Nāga (serpent) king Mucalinda offered shelter to the Buddha from a great
rainstorm by coiling gin the form of a throne. This legend made the Buddhist to make buddha
images under the shelter of the Nāgahood up to now.
About eight furlongs north-east of the Mahābodhi (Shwegugyi) temple, the king built
the Upakasamāgama (hermitage of the ascetic Upaka) recalling the departure of Lord Buddha
from these sites on his way to preach the first Sermon at Benares, where the Buddha met the
old ascetic Upaka. At that time Upaka did not realise the Enlightenment of Lord Buddha and
went to a different way and got married. After having a son, Upaka came to Buddha and
became one of the Buddha’s disciples.

79
King Dhammazeti built the Shwe-Khwet-Hmyaw (throwing the gold tray) pagoda in
the neighbourhood, commemorating the conversion of the three Kassapa brothers in the
Uruvela forest.
King Dhammazeti set up a huge pagoda called Kyaikpon (four-Buddha) pagoda in his
Holy Land of Pegu. The colossal four Buddha statues represent the four Buddhas who had
blossomed in this universe. The pagoda is still in good state of preservation but most of the
small Buddha images set within the great hall were lost.
King Dharmmazeti was really one of the greatest kings not only among Mon kings
but also among Myanmar kings of the past in Burma. As he was so learned in the Tripitakas
(three baskets of Buddhist scriptures), he was called Tipitakadhara and Dhammazeti. He did
not want to enjoy the splendour of residing in the old big place in which the former kings had
lived. He set up a stockade and erected smaller palace structures with elephant sheds and
stables and stayed there in carrying out his kingly duties.
Besides building the Holy Land of Pegu as mentioned above, Dhammazeti also
constructed the biggest Buddhist monastery which was known as Bhā Twī Klaṁ (in Mon
meaning hundred surrounding monasteries) and it is Mahārāmavihāra (great monastry in
Pali). It is also called Yathemyo (hermit city) monastery in Myanmar.
This great monastery was built in 1457-62 A. D. to house 18, 000monks. There were
numerous living rooms, class rooms and preaching halls with so many smaller pagodas and
temple with numberless Buddha images. It was actually a Buddhist university of the Mon
country of Rāmaññadesa. King Dhammazeti had also repaired and restored old pagodas and
temples at Pegu including the works of his Royal mother-in-law Shinsawpu and the old
works of Talahtaw (queen Bhadra) who converted the heretic king Tissa as told in the Mon
chronicle.
At all these pagodas and temples and monastery, Dhammazeti always engraved Mon
inscriptions describing the matters and related accounts of the meritorious deeds. As for his
work on the Ordination Hall (Chapter House) known as Kalayani-Sima, I will deal with it in
the coming pages. That part of his work concerns the purification of Buddhism.

RESTORATION OF THE SHWEDAGON PAGODA


The Mon king Dhammazeti bearing the title of Rāmādhipati was regarded as a great
and the best king in Rāmaññadesa – best in the Buddhist sense of the term. In 1476 A.D.
together with his Royal mother-in-law Shinsawpu, Dhammazeti came to Dagon (modem
Yangon , a new name by a Myanmar king Alaungpaya-meaning end of enemy) to pay respect

80
to the hair-relics of great pagoda now known is Shwedagon in Myanmar which Alaungpaya
failed to change it as Shweyangon.
However, the Mon word Dagon is still widely used in Burma, such as Ussā-Dagon
bus route. Dagon Quarter and Dagon Myothit. The Mon term for Shwedagon is Kyaik
Dagon. The Shwedagon pagoda is really the biggest of its kind in the world. It is so
magnificient, so huge, so lofty, so grandeur, so adorable, so awe and inspiration, so glittering
and so brilliant as a real solid golden shrine. Of occurse it is gold-plated on the upper part and
gilt in lower basement.
There are numerous small stupas, temples, preaching halls, rest houses and museums
around its wide platform. There are four big starirways at each direction which are full of
shops selling flowers, Buddha images, books and various antiques. The Shwedagon Pagoda
Trustees comprise most trusted personnel with a number of office staff somewhat like office
of a ministry. The donations both in kind and cash are always pouring like permanent
rainfall. The land belonging to the pagoda around the hill of the pagoda is so wide and
annually the pagoda festivals are held in a very wide scale with shows, exhibitions and
various amusements to which numberless Buddhists as well as onlookers and foreigners
came to pay homage and offer donations.
During each annual pagoda festival, people from far and near would diligently come
by road or water to pay homage to the exalted hair-relics Shwedagon shrine because the Mon
chronicle asserts:
“Whosoever, worships it, and offers to the great exalted hair-relics pagoda, shall be
free from the four hells and shall attain the six devalokas (Heavens) . From the time of the
Mon king Ukkalapa erected the Kyaik Dagon pagoda, 32 generatiosn of kings of Trikumbha
(> Tikumbha > Tikum > Takum > Dagon) had served and worshipped and maintained it at all
times. When the season of its festival comes all the people from far and near must diligently
set out by road or by boat to the Majestic Glittering Golden Shrine in Which the exalted relics
of the four previous Buddhas were enshrined.”
King Dhammazeti had inscribed inscriptions on three big stones in three languages
such as Pali, Mon and Myanmar. These stones were found on the eastern slope of the pagoda
in 1880 A. D. and more recently they were shifted to the upper platform at the north – east
corner for convenience of the interested people to read and study from time to time. They are
set up in a very good shed in accordance with their original positions at the time of discovery.
According to Mon tradition, the stones face north and I think it is due to the Mon
conception of regarding the north direction as their original homeland. All the three versions

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on three huge stones are of the same matter telling the history of Buddhism and the story of
the two Mon brothers who met Lord Buddha and obtained eight hair-relics which were
brought back to Dagon to enshrine than together with all the three relics of the former
Buddhas on the Trikumbha hill.
The last part of the inscription relates that: “Proper repaires and restorations of the
exalted Kyaik Dagon had been undertaken by Mon Kings beginning from His Majesty
Dhammatrailokyanātha Rajādhirāj (Baña U) and his son King Sutasoam Rajādhirāj
(Siharājā and also popularly known as just Rajādhirāj) and up to the latter’s daughter Her
Majesty Queen Śrī Tribhuvanādityapavara Dhammatriailokyanātha Mahā dhamma
Rājādhirājadevi (Shinsawpu) and her son-in-law Dhammazeti bearing the title Rāmādhipati
Śrī Parama Mahādhamma Rajādhirāj.
The last two sovereigns, mother and son made camps to stay at the foot of the hair-
relics shrine and caused all the repairs and restorations undertaken in their presence. At the
lower level of the platform, numerous rest-houses were built. King Dhammazeti brought over
with him all the forces of his army as labour to fill up the deep hollows of the ground with
laterite blocks; the high mounds were dug out to make level; the plinth supporting the stupa
was paved throughout with flat stones; standing lanterns made of stone were arrange
systematically around the main stupa; for the pilgrims to walk around the shrine, flat stones
were laid throughout the platform and made them to be smooth; at the lowest level, a high
wall was built throughout and within the wall, forty coconut palm trees were planted. Outside
the wall, the ground all around were levelled throughout. Thus king Dhammazeti and his
Royal mother-in-law Shinsawpu together with all the Mon people had earnestly resorted the
great Shwedagon pagoda.
The Introductory part of the Shwedagon inscriptions engraved by king Dhammazeti
describes how hermit Sumeda offered his body as a bridge for the Buddha Dīpaṅkarā in a
former life and the Dīpaṅkarā Buddha gave a prophecy that in future, Sumeda would become
Gotama Buddha. After fulfilling his Pāramī (perfections) for countless lives in countless
worlds, he became Gotama Buddha. How Gotama accepted milk-rice from lady Sujata who
thought he was a god of the Banyan tree. How Gotama stayed in seven weeks in seven places
without taking any food and on the forty-ninth day, two Mon merchants namely Tapussa and
Bhallika approached Gotama Buddha as instructed by the tree spirit who was their mother in
a previous life.
Tapussa and Bhallika presented honey-rice-cakes to Gotama Buddha and after thanks-
giving, the two Mon brothers begged for some relics from the Buddha for worship in their

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hometown. Lord Buddha gave them eight hair relics which were brought back to Dagon and
enshrined by king Ukkalapa in the relic-chamber of Shwedagon pagoda.
The second part of the inscriptions says that some 236 years had elapsed after Lord
Gotama Buddha went to Nibbāna, two great monks from India called Uttara and Sona came
to Suvaṇṇabhūmi, country of the Mons and as requested by king Sirimāsoka, the two monks
showed him the site of the hair relics pagoda on the hill of Tamagutta which became forest
and concealed. Then king Sirimāsoka caused the forest clearing and had the relics of hair
pagoda to be built for worship again. Since from that time the Mon people of Rāmaññadesa
could worship the hair-relic Kyaik Dagon again.

THE SHWEDAGON STORY ON MON PALM-LEAF MANUSCRIPTS


The inscriptions on stones are very faint due to weathering for long and we cannot
decipher all the writings. We can read in more detail in the palm-leaf manuscripts of “Slapt
Waṅ Dhāt Kyaik Dagon”. A brief account says that the Bodhisattva (Buddha-to-be) came
down from Tusitaheaven and conceived in the womb of Mahāmāyā, queen of Suddhodana,
king of the country of Kapilavatthu. His mother gave birth in the Lumbini grove in a standing
position and was received in a golden net by the four Mahābrahmas. The baby was named
Siddhattha. For twenty-nine years he enjoyed household life of a very great luxury and
excessive ease with all imaginative comforts in three palaces for three seasons. His chief wife
was Yasodharā. After viewing the four signs of old age, sickness, a cropse and a monk, the
prince felt to renounce the world.
On that very day, his wife gave birth to a baby boy and named Rāhulā. The prince
fled the city that night after taking a last look at his wife and son who were asleep. Prince
Siddhattha rode on his horse Kanthaka with his attendant Channa clinging to its tail and
crossed Anomā river in one leap. On the other side of the river, he cut his hair with his sword
and gave back all his ornaments along with Channa. The Brahma Ghaṭikāra offered the
prince the eight requisites of a monk.
For six years the Bodhisat practiced all manners of seven austerities which no other
one had ever undertaken. Virtually, the Bodhisat came to the Sāl forest and was meditating
under the Ajapāla banyan tree. There, Sujata, the daughter of a wealthy man thought and
taking the Bodhisat as god of the tree, brough and offered him forty-nine portions of milk-
rice in a golden tray.
Bodhisat accepted the milk-rice and partook it after bathing in the river Nerañjarā. He
made a vow and threw the golden tray in the river to see it went upstream until the tray sank

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down to the abode of the serpent king Kāla Nāga. The Bodhisat spent the rest of the day in
this Sāl forest (Shorea robusta) and in the evening he went to the foot of the Bodhi Banyan
tree where the grass cutter Sothiya offered him eight handful of Duppa grass which the
Bodhisat spread under the tree and a Bodhi-Throne suddently appeared. Bodhisat seated
cross-legged meditating with a vow that he would not rise without attending full
Enlightenment of Buddhahood.
Gradually, the sun went down and at night fall, Māra, god of Evil seeing the Bodhisat
seated cross-legged on the Bodhi-Throne with a firm resolve of becoming a Buddha, with the
intention of preventing his attainment, summoned all his hosts to attack the Bodhisat with all
strength. Māra himself rode on his elephant Girimekhalā. Māra’s followers assumed various
fearful shapes and were armed with dreadful weapons. At Māra’s approach, all the devas,
Brahmas and Sakra who were gathered around the Bodhisat praising him, suddently
disappered in headlong flight. The Bodhisat was left alone reflecting his Pāramī (perfections).
When Māra hurled his last weapon called Cakkavudha at the Bodhisat, it became a
canopy of flowers. Still undaunted, Māra challenged the Bodhisat to show witness that the
seat on which he sat was his by right. Māra’s forces shouted their evidence that the seat was
Māra’s. The Bodhisat, having no other witness asked the Earth to bear testimony on his
behalf and the Earth roared in response. The goddess of Earth shouted “I am the witness!”
and squeezed out her hair making a great flood. Māra’s vast army were drowned and Māra
fled in utter rout. Now, all the divinities who had disappeared at the Māra’s approach
returned to the Buddhist to celebrate his Victory.
It was on Tuesday, the 14th waxing of the month of Visākha in the year 103, after the
flight of the Māra’s army, the Bodhisat continued meditating and in the first watch he gained
Pubbenivasañāna (divine wisdom knowing all of his and other’s previous existences). In the
second watch he obtained Dippacakkhuñāna (divine-eye seeing all events occurring in the
whole universe). In the third watch he continued on Samāpatti and in the fourth watch when
day was dawning as half of the disc of the moon was setting and half of the disc of the sun
was rising, the Bodhisat completely achieved Sammāsambodhiñāna (The insight of the
highest state of Enlightenment of Buddhahood.)
It was the full-moon day of Visākha. Lord Buddha remained meditating under the
Bodhi-tree, on Paticcasamuppāda (The Chain of Causation) and as the mastered this doctrine,
the earth trembled approving him the supreme Buddha. In the second week, Lord Buddha sat
under the Ajapālanigrodha (goatherd banyan tree) where Māra’s three daughters namely

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Tanhā (desire), Aratī (passion) and Rāga (pleasure) came and tempted the Buddha with all
their wiles in various forms as their last attempt to shake Lord Buddha.
When the Buddha told them that he was beyond temptation by the pleasure of the
senses all of them turned ugly old women and went back to their father. Lord Buddha spent
seven places in seven weeks. Then Lord Buddha went to meditate under the Rajayatana tree
(Buchanania Latifolia). It was on the 49th day after becoming Buddha on which the two Mon
merchant brothers Tapu and Tapaw came and offered honey-rice-cakes.
The Mon story says that from the Weklong village in the district of Dagon city, two
Mon brothers names Tapu and Tapaw, sons of Nai Sdau Poin and Mi Htaw La of the wealthy
class, built a ship of 100 cubits.
After building the big ship, they loaded their goods and sailed across the sea for 24
days and reached the shore of Ajita in India. There, they unloaded their goods from the ship
and loaded them on 500 ox-carts. Their goods were rice, honey, molasses and cakes. They
continued their overland journey bound for Panduva. After wandering about for a number of
days in the forest, they took rest under a huge banyan tree.
It so happened that the spirit was mother of the two merchant brothers in one of the
pervious existences. On seeing her former two sons, the tree fairy suddently asked: “Oh! Dear
young man. Where are you going? “The two Mon brothers replied:” We are going to sell our
goods at Panduva city.”
Then the tree spirit said. “My dear young men, I am very pleased to tell you that Lord
Buddha Gotama has just attained Enlightenment. He has partaken of any food. I want you to
postpone you journey for a while. It is indeed a very rare opportunity to pay homage to the
Buddha before any one else and one else and to make the fist offering of food to him. A
hundred-fold, a thousand-fold profit in trade is a small thing. Your small offering of food to
the Buddha is the most highest profit for you. It is the merchandise to Nirvāna and it is the
most noble meritorious deed for both of you. Please go to meet Lord Buddha now.”
The two Mon brothers were so delighted and overwhelmed with joy to hear the good
news and immediately approached Lord Buddha who was seated under the Rājāyantana tree
and presented honey-rice-cakes put on a golden tray. When the Buddha was about to receive
the food from the two Mon merchants, he reflected: “If I accept the food in my open hands,
my sons, the monks in future, will also have to receive food in the same way!”
At the very moment, the four Regents of the four quarters, brought four stone-alams-
bowls which became only one with four rims with which Lord Buddha accepted the food
offering.

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After observing the five precepts and the three refuges, the two Mon merchants
begged for a mermorial relic from Lord Buddha for worship in their hometown. Lord Buddha
renamed the two brothers as Tapussa and Ballike and granted them with eight hair-relics to
enshrine them on Singuttara hill at Dagon together with the relics of the three previous
Buddhas. The two brothers placed the hair relics in an emerald casket.
After selling out their goods, the two merchants returned home. In the middle of their
overland journey, the king of Ajettha city seized two of the eight hair relics. While crossing
the sea, the hair relics issued rays which glowed down to the Nāga world and the serpent king
came up and stole away tow more hair relics.
On their arrival at Dagon, they handed over the emerald casket to king Ukkalapa. The
king made a vow and opened up the casket and the four stolen hair relics returned. At the
moment the relics produced admirable brilliant light, the clouds rained down sever kinds of
jems for seven days. King Ukkalapa, the two brothers and the people of Dagon tried to search
for the relics of the three former Buddhas to enshrine together. But they could not find the
site after searching for three years and all of them were greatly perplexed.
At that time the seat of Indra was shaken and he reflected and knew the matter and
came down with Brahma and other gods. King Indra showed the site of the three previous
Buddhas to king Ukkalapa and all of them were discovered. The relics are staff (walking
stick) and sitting-mat of Kakkusanda Buddha; water filter and shoes of Konāgamana Buddha;
bathrobe and whetstone of Kassapa Buddha. Indra , king of gods and all gods and men alike
were so pleased at heart to obtain these relics and made numerous valuable offerings to the
Buddha relics. Suddently , a blooming lotus plant sprang up on the dry hill of Singuttara and
offered itself to the Buddha relics.
Now, Indra grasping his diamond shovel and other gods holding their diggers of gold
and silver dug up and cleared the relic chamber. Indra brought over six huge slabs of gold
measuring four cubits thick, eighty cubits long and forty cubits broad. He placed them against
the four walls of the chamber. With one slab he laid the bottom as flooring and he made the
last slab of gold as cover of the relic chamber.
From the bottom of the relic chamber of gold, Indra created seven networks of gold,
silver, ruby, pearls, crystals, topaz and sandalwood. Above these networks, Indra placed
seven jars full of seven kinds of gems. Over these seven jars, he put seven couches of gold,
silver, ruby, pearls, crystals, topaz and sandalwood. On these couches, seven divans full of
same seven kinds of materials were systematically placed. Over the seven divans, he cast
pure gold figures of Tapussa and Ballika in the form of bearing a pole carrying a ruby cradle;

86
bending and twisting they faced towards the cradle. On the cradle, he placed a ruby altar
with a ruby casket in which he laid the eight hair relics.
Indra assigned six-worrior gods to keep watch permanently over the hair relics. He
created a big drum with two gods holding drum-sticks for striking the durm whenever
offerings were made. A separate god was placed on duty to blow a conch shell after beating
the drum.
Indra also created gold statues of king Ukkalapa and other 32 kings of Dagon; king
Sirisuddhodana ; queens Sirimāyā, , Pajāpatigotamī ; king Bimbisāra ; Rāhulā ; Anandā and
eighty other disciples of Gotama Buddha.
All of them were made to be in the adoration attitude to Lord Buddha as if he were
preaching them at the Jetavana monastery. Indra created six cakkas (wheels) around the relics
to turn constantly all day and night. Indra made a vow for all his creations should remain
intact, the whole duration of the religion of Gotama Buddha for five thousand years. All those
flowers of jasmine, lotus and lilies should never get withered. The sweet fragrance of them
and the scent of sandalwood should not go out. The candle-light should always burning.
It was in the year 106 Mahāsakarāja, on Wednesday, the full moon of Phalguna
(Tabaung) when Libra was Lagna, the Titthi and Asterism being propitious, the eight hair
relics and all the other relics of the former three Buddhas were enshrined in the golden relic
chamber on the Singuttara hill of Dagon city.
Thus having enshrined the relics, Ukkalapa, king of Dagon built a pagoda over the
relic-chamber. Brahma acted as architect and Indra did as mason using mortar of pounded
pearls, bricks of gold, silver, bronze, copper, iron, stone and burnt clay. All these bricks were
set in seven layers. All gods and men were of one mind in construction of the pagoda. The
height of the original gold stupa was only seven cubits. It was just about the size of a modern
numbrella. With the seven outer layers of gold and other bricks, the enlarged pagoda was
twenty eight standard cubits high. Since then later kings of Dagon and other kings rebuilt and
enlarged it from time to time.
According to the conception of the Mon people saying : “Whosoever worships at, and
makes offering to, the hair relics pagoda of the Kyaik Dagon (Shwe Dagon) , shall be free
from the four hells and will attain the six heavens. “Therefore, when the season of the
pagoda festival comes, all the Mons from far and near, would diligently set out by road or
by boat to pay homage to the hair-relic great at all times.
This Mon legendary story of the Shwedagon pagoda obviously reveals the fact that
they have great faith in king Indra. They regard Indra as second to Lord Buddha. They though

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Indra had built their capital of Harnsavati (Pegu) for them and still having high faith in him.
Some of them still believe that some day, Indra would create for them a real Independent
State. The Mons have no faith in Hindu principal gods except Brahma, in whom they have
very little faith compared to Indra. They do not know that Brahma is the creator and one of
the main gods in the Hindu Trinity. They regard Brahma as god from Brahma worlds
numbering twenty.

A HERETIC KING AND A BUDDHIST MAIDEN


The Mon chronicle asserts that fater Lord Buddha attained Nirvāna one thousand one
hundred and sixteen year, in the year 574? , on Monday the first waning of the month of
Māgha, king Indra came down and built the city of Haṁsavati for the two Mon princes
bearing the names Samala and Wimala who fled from Thaton kingdom. All the kings were
Buddhists. However, the seventeenth king, the last of the first dynasty of Haṁasavati
kingdom was a heretic, known as king Tissa. He did not revere the Buddha and the Buddhist
monks. He worshipped the heretical teachers. He issued order to throw down all the Buddha
images into the water. Numerous Buddha images ant statues were thrown out into the moat
according to the king’s order.
It so happened that there was a wealthy man who had a daughter called Subhaddā.
She was a very devout Buddhist. She had very deep faith in Buddha.
This charming maiden Subhaddā having been accustomed to go out to heart the
preaching of the Buddha’s doctrine form Buddhist monks in the monasteries, since she was
ten years of age, took great delight in the three gems-Buddha, Dhamma and Saṅgha. She kept
all the three refuges every day and had great faith in Buddhism. She was also known as
Thalahtaw.
One day, Subhaddā and some of her maid servants set out to bathe in a pool. While
bathing, Subhaddā picked up a Baddha statue. She asked her old maid servant as to why the
people threw down Buddha images like that. She was told that it was by order of the ruling
morarch who was a heretic. If any one did not obey his order, such person will be put to
death. Then the maiden said: “If it is so, I offer my life to the three gems. Let the heretic king
put me to death. Let us now collect all the Buddha statues form this pool and carry them out
to the preaching hall !”
The news spread and the king ordered to arrest the maiden Subhaddā. The king said in
his anger. “Let her be taken away to the elephants, to be trodden to death !”

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The Buddhist maiden conveyed with deep feeling, all her loving kindness (mettā)
towards the elephant and the mahouts could not drive the elephant to trample the lady.
Instead of approaching to attack the maiden, the elephant ran away. The lady Subhaddā
constantly kept reciting:
“Buddhaṁ saranaṁ gacchāmi !’
They brought other elephants but no one dared to attack her. The soldiers informed
the matter to the king and the king angrily said:” If that is so, place her on the pile of straw
and set on fire !”
The soldiers did their best according to the king’s order but they could not light the
fire. The king ordered to bring the maiden to his hall of audience. When the maiden arrived
and paid respect to him, the king said :
“Hai, maiden, if your Buddha images have power, let them fly up in the air. If they
can float on the air, I will set you free. If they cannot fly over the sky, I will cut you into
seven pieces !”
After that the soldiers took the maiden out towards the moat and asked her to pick up
the Buddha images. The maiden picked up eight Buddha statues out of the water and properly
washed them. She set them up on a high place and made a vow and prayed:
“Oh, statues of the lord of merit ! I believe the words of the Buddha. I yield my life to
the three gems. Now I have taken up the statues of the Buddha. The Buddha is most exalted.
The Dhamma is most exalted. The Monkhood is most exalted. If the Buddha, the DhaMMA
and the Saṅgha are most exalted, let these eight Buddha statues fly up in the air and pass over
the audience hall of the king for his view !”
Thus the maiden prayed and paid her homage to the statues and at the very moment,
the eight Buddha statues flew up and passed out through the king’s audience hall. When the
king and all the people saw such a miracle, they were struck with Wonder. The maiden came
to the king’s audience and made a petition:
“Oh Great King, the real Buddha is no more. He has gone to Nirvāna. Even his
images have power to fly in the air as seen by Your Majesty. Now, Your Majesty’s teachers
are alive. I want to see if they can fly like the Buddha images!”
So the king requested his teachers to show their power by floating up in the air. When
the heretic teachers could not fly as done by the Buddha images, the king lost faith in them
and immediately ordered his soldiers to drive them out.
Then the king began to have esteem admiration and deep love and fondness fosr the
Buddhist maiden Subhaddā and held a grand ceremony in raising the maiden to be his chief

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queen and conferred upon her the title of Bhadradevī. The king became a Buddhist and as
advised by the new queen, the king repaired and restored all old pagodas and built new
pagodas in his kingdom of Haṁsavati.
There is a 15th century A.D. Mon inscription on stone found at Pegu descrivbing the
restoration of the seven pagodas of Queen Bhadradevī.
Observing this romantic story between the heretic king Tissa and the Buddhist
maiden Bhadradevi found in the Mon chronicle, I am inclined to conjecture that, in those
days, there might be a struggle between Buddhist and non-Buddhists in Pegu which was also
known as Ussā, an Indian place name called Orissa. Most probably, the struggle was
between Indian immigrants and the native Mon people.
At Kyaikhto town, there is pagoda called Kyaikpaw, meaning pagoda flies and a huge
pagoda known as Kyaik Klambo (a hundred-fathom pagoda) at Pegu are ascribed to King
Tissa and Bhadradevī. Perhaps, the Mon people of that period had not obtained the art of
writing from India as yet as no inscriptions has been found around Pegu inscribed by them.
Most of the Mon inscriptions discovered in Pegu were engraved by King Dhammazeti in the
15th century A.D. who did most in propagating Buddhism in Haṁsavati kingdom.

PURIFICATION OF BUDDHISM IN R A MA ÑÑADESA


King Dhammazeti’s reign 1472-92 A. D. was a wonderful oasis in a barren desert of
wars. Historically, He Mons and the Myanmars waged wars for over forty years between
Rājādhirāj and Bayinmingaung before the time of Dhammazeti. Mon and Myanmar also had
wars in later period. After the fall of Thaton, the first Mon kingdom, as captured by the
Myanmar king Aniruddhadeva in 1057 A. D. and carried off king Manuhā and al his Royal
family, all noblemen and all skilled craftsmen to Pagan, Mon language became a language of
Pagan culture because the Myanmar kings of early part of Pagan period used Mon as court
language. I will write on the high standard Mon literature discovered at Pagan which were
inscribed by the Myanmar kings in a separate chapter later.
Since the later part of Pagan and after its fall in the end of 13th century A. D., Mon
language was silent for about three centuries. Now in the reign of Dhammazeti known in the
inscriptions as Rāmādhipati, Mon language recaptured the brilliant spirit of Pagan and it
remained a thing of beauty and of value in civilization, the way of life of Theravada
Buddhism, the southern school or southern canon, also called Hinayāna.

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Among numerous meritorious deeds doen by king Dhammazeti, his crowning
achievement was the effective purification and reformation of Buddhist religion as recorded
in his long inscription popular as Kalayani-sima inscriptions in Pali and Mon languages.
Three huge stones in Pail and seven stones in Mon. All the stones were broken due to Mon-
Myanmar war at Pegu. They were restored by the archaeologists in the 19th century and
displayed in the enclosure of Kalayani-sima ordination hall.
The original Kalyani-sima was on Kalayani river near Colombo in Ceylon. After the
decline of Buddhism in India in the 14th century A. D., the island of Ceylon became a center
of the orthodox Theravada Buddhism popular as Mahāvihāra fraternity at the city of
Anurādapura. Kalayani, a Pali word means beautiful. It is name of a river in Ceylon,
Kalayani-sima (Kalayani Ordination Hall) derived its name from the fact that it was
conserated by the priests who had received afresh their Upasampadā (Ordination) at the
hands of the orthodox monks belonging to Mahāvihāra sect, the spiritual successors of
Mahindathera, on the Kalayani river. Mahindathera was head of a Buddhist mission deputed
to Ceylon by his father, Emperor Asoka in the 3rd century B. C. in the same way as a
Buddhist mission led by the two monks Sonathera and Uttarthera who came to Rāmaññadesa,
the Mon country.
Kalayani inscriptions are among the longest and most important documents for the
study of history of Burma. They tell us the precise date of the fall of Thaton and other
authentic historical facts both on history and history of Buddhism and particularly the king’s
exertion on the purification of the Buddhist religion in Rāmaññadesa in the 15th century A. D.
King Dhammazeti engraved his Kalayani-sima inscriptions at Pegu in 1476 A. D. on huge
sandstones.
According to Mon custom all the ten stones face north and so all the obverse faces are
in the north side and the reverse faces in the south. Their average dimensions were seven feet
high, four feet broad and fifteen inches thick. They contain inscriptions on both sides. Each
face has seventy lines and three letters to an inch. This is very approximate statement. The
three stones in Pali had been restored to a better state but the seven stones in Mon were so
badly broken into many fragments and still cannot be restored. There are thirty three
fragments of the Mon stones to be found in the shed today.
Taw Sein ko, a Pali professor at Rangoon University and also the Archaeologist of
Burma had edited and translated the Pali stones with the help of palm-leaf manuscripts and
published it in 1893 in the Indian Antiquary Volume XXII.

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As no one could do for the Mon stones, all rubbings were sent to London University
where C. O. Blagden, then Dean of School of Oriental and African Studies, admirably and
wonderfully did it basing on Taw Sein Ko’s work and with the assistances from Robert
Halliday, author of Mon-English Dictionary and a Mon learned monk Aggamahāpandita
Silawaṁsa who had a Mon palm-leaf manuscript of the Kalayani-sima inscriptions. I found
also a Myanmar version palm-leaf manuscript of the same. They are very helpful in tackling
the damaged Kalyani-sima inscriptions.
The Mon version engraved on seven stones describes more than the three stones in
Pali. The Mon version gives also detailed list of the simas, the ordination halls or chapter
houses built all over the Mon region of Rāmaññadesa with names and locations. It tells how
king Dhammazeti built a pagoda called Kalayanicetiya near the Kalayani-sima for the clergy
to pay homage and how the king planted a Bodhi tree brought over form Ceylon close to the
sima.
The Mon version describes how the king held the ceremonies in the ordination of 601
novices. Six princes were assigned to take charge of novices put on 601 elephants in setting
out from the city of Pegu to come to the Kalayani-sima in procession followed by the
noblemen, minister, commanders and other officials together with the people carrying all the
eight monastic requisites and other offerings. A grand festival was held with music, dancing,
sporting and competitions of various ways. There were also Indian lady- dancers besides Mon
girls.
Kalayani-sima inscsriptions belong to the medieval period Mon records and the
spelling of many words are found to be different from the older Mon inscriptions found at
Thaton, Pagan, Haribhuñjaya and Dvaravati old kingdoms of the Mons.
In the Palace Mon inscriptions at Pagan, inscribed by a Myanmar king known as
Kyansittha, the ethnic names of the Mon and the Myanmar were written as RMEÑ and
MIRMĀ respectively. In the Kalayani-sima Mon records, Mon was called RMAN and the
Myanmar as MARAMMĀ and the country of the Myanmar people was Marammādesa and
the Mon as Rāmaññadesa.
Without studying Kyansitta’s Palace Mon inscsriptiosn of 11th century A. D. and
Dhammazeti’s 15th century A. D. Kalayani-sima inscription, such knowledge on the
evolutions of the Mon and Myanmar ethnonym could not be ascertained. Most of the people
stick on the meaning of the modern terms both on the two names. I wonder how they might
be known again in another five centuries.

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It seems king Dhammazeti engraved these Kalayani-sima inscriptions in two
languages after the construction of the Ordination Hall, for the future generations to know
what he had performed with great efforts and strong devotion in the reformation and
purification of Buddhist religion in his kingdom of Rāmaññades.
Obviously, Dhammazeti as a great Buddhist king of the law, felt a strong desire to
follow foot-steps of the great Emperor Asoka of India who had great faith in Buddhism and
promoted it with all efforts and removed the impurity, heresy and corruption that had arisen
in it and dismissed all the sixty thousand sinful and heretical monks and directed them to
leave the Order.
Moreover, Dhammazeti also had esteem appreciation on the activities done by the
Ceylonese kings such as Sisrisanghabodhi-Parakamabāhu, Vijayabahu and Parakkama who
expelled numerous sinful monks who held heretical doctrines and caused the complete
purification and reformation of the Buddhist religion by sparing only the orthodox sect,
whose members were the spiritual successors of Mahindathera of the Mahāvihāra monastery
in Laṅkādipa (Sri Lanka/Ceylon).
King Dhammazeti’s Kalayani-sima inscriptions both in Mon and Pali are most unique
and most important documents in respect of history of the Buddhist religion in India, Ceylon,
Myanmar kingdom of Arimaddanapura (Pagan) and the Mon country of Rāmaññadesa with
two capitals of Sudhammavati (Thaton) and Haṁsavati (Pegu).
As usual the inscriptions begin by paying homage to Lord Buddha Gotama in these
words in Pali:
“Reverence to the Blessed One, the Holy Onethe Fully Enlightened One. May the
Excellent Religion of the Conqueror flourish and prosper, and may reverence be paid to
Buddha !”
The inscriptions continues in Mon by saying the purification of the Buddhist Religion
was effected by Rāmādhipati (Dhammazeti) king of Rāmaññadesa which also called
Suvannabhūmi, country of the Rman (Mon) people. During the reign Rāmādhipati, the
Buddhist Religion became completely purified.
Then the records relate that, in India, the venerable senior monk Mahākassapathera
selected five hundred orthodox monks and convened the First Buddhist Council which lasted
for seven months. Later on the venerable senior monk Mahāyasathera selected seven hundred
orthodox monks and held the Second Buddhist Council which sat for eight months.
For the third time the most learned senior monk Moggalipttamahāthera chose one
thousand orthodox monks in whom all passions were extinct and who had attained to the

93
possession of the six Abhiññāna and the four Patisambhidā and convened the Third Buddhist
Council which lasted for nine months.
At the conclusion of this important council, Moggalipttamahāthera foresaw that in the
future, the Buddhist Religion would be established in foreign countries and at his advice,
King Asokadhammarāja deputed Buddhist Missions to various regions. A mission led by
Mahindathera was sent to the Island of Tambapanni (Ceylon) to establish the Buddhist
Religion.
Sonathersa and Uttarathera were sent to Rāmaññadesa which was also known as
Suvannahūmi to establish the Buddhist Religion. At that time, a king called Sirimāsoka was
ruling over the country of Rāmaññadesa. His capital was situated to the north-west of the
pagoda of Kelāsabhapabbata. The eastern half of the city was situated on an upland plateau,
while the western half was built on a plain. The city was called Golamattikanagara, because it
had many mud and wattle houses resembling those of the Gola people of South India. The
city was built on the sea shore.
It so happened that on the very night of the arrival of the Buddhist Mission led by
Sonathera and Uttarathera at that city, the chief queen of the king gave birth to a child. The
Rakkhasī (female sea demon) knowing that a prince had been born in the palace, as usual,
came up from the sea and headed toward the king’s palace with her five hundred followers
with the aim of devouring the child. When the people sighted the sea demons, they were
terribly stricken with terror and raised a great outcry. The the Buddhist Missionary headed by
Sonathrea and Uttarathera perceiving the matter, came forward to the rescue and immediately
created by means of their supernatural power, fearful similar monsters twice the number of
the sea demons each with a human head having two bodies of a lion. As the created
exceedingly frightful manusīha chased them the sea demons were extremely frightened and
panic stricken, suddenly fled towards the sea and disappeared.
To prevent the return of the sea demons, the monks put guards all around the city in
the form of cotton thread after reciting the Pali verses of Brahmajālasuttanta in the assembly
hall. Sixty thousand people attained to the comprehension of the Truth. Three thousand and
five hundred men and one thousand five hundred women joined monkhood. Since then the
Buddhist Religion had flourished for a long time in Rāmaññadesa.
Regarding the fall of the first Mon kingdom Suddhammavati (Thaton), the Kalayani-
sima inscriptions describe thus:
“In course of time, however, the power of the Mon kingdom had declined, because
civil dissensions arose and the extensive country was broken up into separate divisons and

94
because the people suffered from famine and pestilence, and because , to the damage and loss
of the faith in the Buddhist Religion, the Mon country of Rāmaññadesa was attacked by the
seven kings. Due to these calamities, the Buddhist monks residing in Rāmaññadesa were
unable to devote themselves in peace and comfort to the acquisition of the Buddhist scripture
or to the observance of the precepts. Therefore, the Buddhist Religions in Rāmaññadesa had
gradually declined.
During the reign of Manoharī who was also called Suriyakumāra, the power of the
Mon kingdom became very weak. This was in the 1600th year of the religion (1056 A. D.). In
the following year, 419 Sakkarāj, king Aniruddha, the Lord of Arimaddanapura, the
Myanmar kingdom took a community of Buddhist monks together with the Mon king and
his royal family and the Buddhist scriptures of Tripitaka from Rāmaññadesa and established
the Buddhist Religion in Arimaddanapura also called Pugāma (Pagan).
This historical event on the capture of the first Mon kingdom of Thaton in 1057 A. D.
by the Myanmar king Aniruddhadeva (Anawrahta) can be read in more detail in the Myanmar
chronicle known as the Glass Palace Chronicle.
The Kalayani-sima inscriptiosn mention that in 1164 A. D. the king of Ceylon bearing
the title of Sirisanghabodhi – Parakkamabāhu purified the Buddhist religion in his country.
The inscriptions also describe how the kings of Myanmar dynasty of Arimaddanapura
(Pagan) worshipped the many learned Mon monks such as Uttarajiva, Ariyavaṁsa,
Mahākāla, Parañdassī, Chappada, Dhammavilāsa etc. The inscriptions tell a long story about
the visits of Mon monks to Ceylon and how they came back to the Myanmar kingdom of
Pagan and established the Buddhist religion there.
The learned Mon monk Chappada after studying the Tripitaka in Ceylon for ten years
returned to Pagoan bringing together with him four other learned monks : two Indian monks
Sivali, Anandāthera ; one Ceylonese monk Rāhulāthera and one Khmer monk
Tamalindathera who was son of he king of Kambuja. All of them promoted Buddhism at
Pagan kingdom.
At than time the Myanmar king who ruled there was Narapatisithu (1173-1210 A. D.).
This king conceived a feeling of great esteem and reverence for the five learned monks also
purified the Buddhist religion at Pagan.
On one occasion, king Narapatisithu held a great festival in offering specially made to
these learned monks at Pagan and it so happened that the most learned Ceylonese monk
Rāhulāthera saw a beautiful and attractive dancing girl and longed to become a layman.

95
The four other monks did their best to persuade Rāhulāthera not to loose his delight
in monk-hood but when they failed, they advided him to go to Malayadipa through
Rāmnññadesa. Rāhulāthera departed Pagan and when he advised Malayadipa, being so
learned in Tripitaka, the king of Malayadipa worshipped him and presented him various kinds
of gem. Rāhulāthera accepted the valuable gifts and virtually left asceticism and married to a
young girl there.
The long inscriptions also tell the story of a Mon novice called Sāriputta from
Dalanagara (now Twante) who went to study Tripitaka under the Indian learned monk
Anandāthera and became so learned and compiled the code of law known as Dhammasāt and
king Narapatisithu conferred upon him the title of Dhammavilāsa and his code of law had
been wellknown as Dhammavilāsa Dhammathat in Myanmar. This Kalayani-sima
inscriptions describe at length all event on the Buddhism at the Myanmar kingdom of Pagan
and also on certain sects among the monks.
Finally, the Kalayani-sima inscriptions emphasize on how the Mon king of
Haṁasavati (Pegu) put strenuous efforts on purification of Buddhism in his country of
Rāmaññadesa. One day king Dhammazeti (Rāmādhipati) said to himself.
“The excellent compilers of atthakathā (commentaries) have declared that the religion
of the Buddha will last for 5000 years ; but alas! Only 2047 years have now passed away
since the Englihtened One attained Buddhahood and the religion has become impure, tainted
with heresy and corruption and the upasampadā ordination has also become invalid. This
being the case, how can the religion last till the end of 5000 years?”
King Dhammazeti again reflected thus :
“Being aware of the impurity, heresy and corruption that have arisen in the religion, I
think that, in order to ensure the continuence of the religion to the end of the period of 5000
years, it is essential that it should be purified by resuscitation the pure form of the
upasampadā ordination. However, if I do not exert myself and remain indifferent, I shall be
guilty of not having intense love for, or faith in, the Blessed Fully Enlightened One, and of
being devoid of respect and reverence for Him.
It is therefore, I think, expedient that the purification of the Religion should be
effected by me. How shall I call into existence the pure form of the upasampadā ordination,
and establish it in this country of Rāmaññadesa? There are men having faith, belonging to
good families, and desirous of receiving such upasampadā ordination. If at may instance, they
receive it, the Buddhist Religion will become purified through the existence of a pure form of
the upasampadā ordination.”

96
King Dhammazeti then invited numerous senior monks and after thoroughly
consulted with them, selected 22 monks and 22 novices to dispatch to Ceylon to reordain at
the orthodx monks of the Mahāvihāra monastery, at the Ordination Hall consecrated on the
Kalayani river, where Lord Buddha had enjoyed a bath.
King Dhammazeti sent two ships namely Rāmadūta and Cirtardūta. The first ship was
headed by Moggalaāna with ten monks and eleven novices and the second ship was headed
by Mahāsivali with the same number. King Dhammazeti wrote a letter on gold plate to the
Ceylonese king Bhuvanekabāhu and sent various valuable gifts.
The two ships arrived Ceylon safely and the Ceylonese king welcomed them
wholeheartedly and held grand ceremonies. Special arrangements were made for the Mon
monks to visit several shrines and held ceremony for them to reordain at the Chapter House
on the Kalayani river. The Ceylonese king conferred upon them after the ordination with new
titles and returned numerous valuable gifts to the Mon king. The first ship Rāmadūta came
back safely but unfortunately the second ship Ciradūta had wrecked and ten monks died and
the rest came back by overland route with great difficulty.
The inscriptions next explain the details of Dhammazeti’s grand receptions given to
the home-coming monks. The king formed a chapter of fourteen senior monks who had
ordained in Ceylon to consecrate the proposed Kalayani-sima (Ordination Hall) in Pegu.
Suvannasobhanathera, the most senior monk was appointed as Upajjāya (spiritual teacher) in
performing the Ceylonese form of ordination.
In conclusion, the inscriptions particularly state how king Dhammazeti issued
declaration to the clergy regarding the admission into the Order and expulsion of pseudo-
priests and how he made offerings and presented gifts to the qualified monks so generously.
The most remarkable and interesting parts of this long records are the king’s
proclamations concerning the qualifications and disciplines of the monks and his drastic
actions taken against the sinful monks all over his kingdom.
The king despatched the following message to all the clergy throughout the county:
“Reverend Sirs, what is past, let it be done with ! But in future, let all the clergy who
ordain them hereafter see that the candidates for ordination are satisfactory and them ordain
them. There may be men branded as criminals or notorious as thieves or robbers or offenders
against the government or escaped prisoners or old and decrepit or stricken with sere illness
or deficient in the parts of the body or humpbacked or dwarfs or lame or having crooked
limbs or whose presence vitiates. If people see such a person, they would laugh and mock at
but not revere him. Do not permit such persons to ordain !

97
Whatever your relatives or disciples desire to receive the ordination do not confer it
privily. First inform us so that the case can be examined. If the candidates are qualified we
will approve and generously offer the monastic requisites and will give support for
ordination. If you do not act thus and confer the ordination privately without our sanction, all
those involved will be punished with Royal penalties. If the monks who are your disciples
that have been making a living by tending people’s deseases and practicing medicine, instruct
them not to do so !
There are some monks who are practicing astrology, reading horoscope or omens or
dreams and obtain their means of livelihood. There are some monks who devote their time in
manufacturing various articles and procure their material wealth. There are some monks who
trade in many ways. There are some monks who visit the fields and preach the Dhamma with
long and loud intonation and trade in the grains which they receive as offerings. There are
some monks who, contrary to the rules of the Order, associate with gamesters, dissolute
youths, drunkards, robbers or servants of the king. Such monks are sinful. Do not allow them
to dwell among you. Drastic actions will be taken against them.
However, there are orthodox monks who are replete with faith, who observe the
Vinaya (rules of conduct for monks) whose conducts are good and who devote to study the
Tripitaka with the commentaries, do permit them to take permanent residence under your
protection. When lay people come to you willing to become monks, cause them to learn to
read and write until they are qualified to be ordained.
Novices who have attained the age of twenty and desirous of receiving ordination,
they shud be taught thoroughly in the principles of the four Parisuddhisīla precepts which the
monks must be observed. They should be instructed both in the scripture and spirit of
Bhikkhupātimokkha and they should further be instructed to learn by heart Khuddakasikkhā
(disciplines of the monks) including the ritual confession-the discourse of eclesiastical
offences and the Paccavekkhana – concerning use of the four requisites.
When such novices have become qualified in all such learning , our lords should
inform us and we will happily support their ordination. May all clergy on their part carry on
a course of conduct conformable to the Vinaya and Sikkhāpāda-disciplines of the Exalted
Buddha and pleasing to Him !
Reverend Sirs, in the past , in this country of Rāmaññadesa , all the clergy, by reason
of the existence of various sects, were in a state of confusion together with impurity and
corruption as aforesaid. From now onward all the clergy having received the proper
ordination of the Ceylonese form are professing the true faith. Therefore, in conformity with

98
the practice of the clergy of the island of Ceylon, in wearing yellow robes and shaving the
hair, let my Lords follow them in those matters also !
Let there be a single sect ! Let not divers sects arise !”
After distributed the above mentioned message, His Majesty Dhammazeti sent
investigators all over the country to search for the monks who owned gold, silver, goods of
various kinds, any other treasures, paddy, rice, corn , elephants, horses, cattle, buffaloes, male
and female slaves.
To such monks, His Majesty Dhammazeti communicated with the following
intimation:
“My Lords, you will endeavour to give up your goods and all the properties if you are
really imbued with faith and observe the Vinaya all the rules of a monk. If my Lords fail to
do so, then with all your properties, leave the Order according to your inclination to follow
the life of laymen !”
Some monks being imbued with faith, gave up all the goods and all possessions and
observed all the rules of conduct. Those who did not surrender their possessions, the king
directed them to leave the Order and live in lay state. In the case of those monks who had
committed Pārājika-grave offences (having sexual intercourse with women), the king issued
orders to defrock them immediately. Even those monks having such reputation of being
committed such grave offences but could not prove, the king expelled them to become
laymen. Because their censurable and reproachable conducts of such offences were difficult
to clear up or cover up or put away. They were doubtful among people.
Thus the great work of purification of the Buddhist Religion in the Mon country of
Rāmaññadesa having been accomplished completely, His Majesty Dhammazeti was
extremely delighted and overwhelmed with joy and expressed a wish :
“Now that the Buddhist Religion in my country has been freed from impurity and
corruption and freed from doubt, may the Religion of the Exalted Buddha Gotama, be able to
endure for five thousand years ! In future, in this country , may all the kings who shall arise
into being hereafter, on seeing the impurity and corruption of the religion that may occur,
also diligently exert themselves so as to effect the purification of the Religion ! Formerly, our
great Lord Reverend Moggaliputtamahāthera had exerted himself in the cause of the
advancement of the Buddhist Religion . Inasmuch as that is so, may our Lords of my country,
all the virtuous monks who shall come into being in future to this land of gold, may they also
put strenuous efforts in the purification of the Religion and in the promotion and propagation
for the advancement of the Religion of the Exalted Buddha Gotama !”

99
NARAI CAVE MON INSCRIPTION
THREE FUL LINES OLDEST MON INSCRIPTIONS ENGRAVED ON THE
STONE WALL AT THE ENTRANCE HALL OF NARAI CAVE, SARABURI, NEAR
LOPBURI THAILAND

TEXT
1 klan anurādhapura klo’ ku…kandar jan jih
2 ran leh komñah doṅ pa’ ut nā ya si nādha
3 hāngah toy lop dey wo’

TRANSLATION
1 The Governor of Anurādhapura crossed … with his wife singing,
2 dancing together with all the people of the city. After chanting
3 together “God bless our victorious lord!” all entered into this (cave).
Note:
The subscript la with the first consonant ka is rather peculiar. The subscript la at klo’
on line one of this inscription and at the word klam in Nakorn Pathom fragment are very
small symbols. The two la consonants used in this record for leh in the second line and lop in
the third line are identical to the word laṁ in Nakom Pathom face B fragment. There is a gap
between the word ku (with) and kandar (wife). The space seems damaged. It is not certain

100
what they crossed. Did they cross a stream or a cultivable land? I prefer to mean the
corrupted Sanskrit and Pali words “nāya si nādha” as in my translation to make a good sense.
The words komñah and hāngah are very strange and new in putting the consonant ña under
the final consonant ma and in the same way the consonant ga under the final na. They are
rather difficult for those who are not acquainted with Mon language.

GOLSSARY
Anurādhapura name of a city ; perhaps a duplicate city of Ceylon.
Kandar wife ; Modern Mon kalaw
ku with
kom together ; group ; assemble ; Mod. Mon koṁku
klan high ranking officer ; minister ; governor
kloo’ to cross ; Pagan Mon clo’ ; Mod. Mon klo’
gah to say ; to chant
jan jih to sing ; Pagan Mon jin jeh ; Mod. Mon dayeh
ñah people ; Mod . Mon he or she referring to elder people
dey in ; into ; at ; Mod . Mon dai ; pdai ; Pagan Mon dey
doṅ city ; town ; country ; Pagan and Mod . Mon duṅ
toy after ; finish ; Pagan and Mod . Mon tuy ; tuai
nādha (Skt.) refuge ; seeking help ; begging ; asking
nāya (Pali nāyaka) patron ; senior ; lord
pa’ ut all ; Mod . Mon pha’ uit
ran leh to dance ; Pagan Mon rin leh ; Mod . Mon leh
lop to enter ; Pagan and Mod . Mon lup
wo’ this ; Spoken Mon ina’
si (Skt./Pali) Pali sirī; Skt ; srī ; prosperity ; majesty ; glory ; success
hān together ; Mod . Mon mwail hān koṁ ku ; in this old
usage hāngan = saying together ; chanting together

101
BUBBING OF THE OLDEST MON INSCRIPTION
AT NARAL CAVE, SARABURI , THAILAND
6th CENTURY A.D

102
READING MON INSCRIPTIONS AND PALM-LEAN MSS

The author and Dr. Christian Bauer are reading the oldest Mon inscriptions in Narai
cave, Saraburi, Lopburi, on July 2 , 1988.

103
The author is reading Mon inscriptions at Lamphun National Museum in 1988.

The author is searching for Mon code of law out of numerous Mon plam-leaf
manuscripts in a Mon monastery , near Nakorn Pathom in 1988.

104
ILLUTRATIONS OF THE NYAH KUR PEOPLE
(Remnants of oldest Mons of Dvaravati Kingdom)

Typicla Nyah Kur houses

A spirit house of the Nyah Kur people

105
The author and friends are talking to an old Nyah kur lady of 80 years under her
house in Prabüng village in 1988.

The Nyah Kur ladies

106
The Nyah Kur men at Phrabüng village, their granary is at the background.

The Nyah Kur young girls with their babies who cannot speak Nyah Kur language
anymore at Phrabüng village.

107
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