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The Legend of a King, a Princess and a Monk
 
By Khin Maung Saw Berlin, Germany 

 
[July 1993]
                                                                  The Legend of a King, a Princess and a Monk, Saw 1993    Page 1 

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT Herewith I would like to extend many thanks to the Arakanese the world over for their encouragement and support for me to keep on writing on our Fatherland, the Rakhaing Pree. In particular I would like to convey my gratitude to Ko Nyi Nyi Htwe who is responsible for transforming the articles into PDF form and by printing them into Arakanese/Burmese scripts.  Especial thanks to Ko Aung Aung Oo who helped me by writing the poem of Shin Tezawthara into Arakanese/Burmese scripts with computer. I am also thankful for the patience of my wife Thanda Saw in typing and editing the articles, also for her help to make the translation of Shin Tezawthara’s poem and also in transforming it into English Verses.
                                                            The Legend of a King, a Princess and a Monk, Saw 1993 Page 2   

 

1. Introduction: According to Arakanese Chronicles, Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) was an Arakanese town in Bengal which traditionally belonged to the Arakanese Kingdom. When Min 1 Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan) also known as Nara Meikhla regained the Arakanese throne in 1430 AD with the help of the Sultan of Gaur, he asked what he could do for the Sultan as a sign of his gratitude. The Sultan persuaded him to be converted into Islam but he refused. Instead he promised the Sultan that Arakanese kings would bear Pseudonym Muslim Titles in the future, return the twelve towns in Bengal, to the Sultanate of Bengal and annually pay taxes and give presents. Min Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan), the founder of the Mrauk U City with the assumed Muslim Title 'Suleiman Shah' built seven Buddhists temples in Mrauk U. One of them was Laymyetna Phaya (Leemyatna Phara) in Mrauk U (now Mrohaung). Some Arakanese writers like Dhanyawaddy U Ba San wrote that the town which is known nowadays as Murshidabad in West Bengal (India) was Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar). He gave his own explanations. The ten Benga towns according to him are (1) Mauk Thuzar (Murshidabad), (2) Dacca (3) Gumbila , (4) ‘Thilat’ (Shilat) (5) Patikara (6) Gangasara, (7) Chittagong, (8) Gawtawpalon (9) Kansa, (10) Tilinga, (11) Barisal(12) Raunpur. On the other hand, other Arakanese scholars like Sarataw U Sekkeinda claimed that the town Cox Bazaar in Bangladesh used to be Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar). However, till now there is no clear historical evidence found to prove both hypotheses. Therefore, the present author wants to say very clearly that this essay is not a historical research paper but presented only from the point of view of traditional Arakanese (Rakhaing) belief that the name of one of the 12 Banga towns (12 towns in Bengal) was called Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) and some Arakanese kings granted their favourite daughter with the title Princess of Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar).

2. Myths, Legends, Chronicles and History Some scholars argue that most of the chronicles are based on hear-say stories, and therefore they are not reliable. Here I would like to cite the late Prof. Dr. U Htin Aung
                                                            
1

The Burmese pronunciation of the word King or Ruler is Min; however, the Arakanese pronunciation varies between Mang to Mong due to the places in Arakan. It sounds slightly like the French pronunciation of Man. Hence, I took the liberty of transcription as Man in this essay.

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who was the Rector of the University of Rangoon and later became the Burmese Ambassador to the then Ceylon (now Sri Lanka): "It has been the fashion among modern scholars to scoff at Burmese traditions and chronicles, and to demand 'scientific proof' of the statements made in the native histories. A colleague of mine in the University of Rangoon, a lecturer in history, has even described the 'Glass Palace Chronicle' as 'the most glorious fairy tale on record'. It is not denied that the Glass Palace Chronicle dealing with the period before Anawratha does contain much folklore and some folk tales, but it also contains some reliable tradition that was handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth." ---- "I am of the opinion that the person who writes standard history must have some respect for native traditions and chronicles. I do not say that the Glass Palace Chronicle is an immaculate conception and all its statements must be accepted as absolute truth. But I do maintain that the chronicle contains much that is historical fact. Scholars in all countries and at all times are ever the same in that they strive to get at the truth, and the Burmese chroniclers were scholars searching after true facts regarding their country's history, and it is unfair to class them all as merely makers of dreams and fairy tales". 2 We have to consider that sometimes traditional beliefs, myths, legends are found to be true in modern historical research and survey, however, in some cases Myths, Legends and the real history are different. Prior to the birth of writing, people depended on orally transmitted information passed on from generation to generation. With the advent of writing we began recording all information in black and white. Comparatively history is thus more recent. Here I would like to suggest: “Let traditionalists continue with their own faith on oral tradition and let historians write their own facts, theories and hypotheses in their own papers or publications. Let archaeology eventually assist in deciding which will be the truth. The legend of the Beithno City (Vishnu) of the Pyus in Central Burma was proven to be true after the archaeological survey. Actually this is similar to the quandary faced in the case of the Trojan City and that of the existence of Atlantis. Or whether Moses was really able to separate the Red Sea to provide the Jews a route to pass through and escape the wrath of the Pharaoh. The readers should decide themselves.

3. Re-annexation of Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) into the Arakanese Kingdom As mentioned earlier, Min Saw Mun (Man Saw Muan) also known as Nara Meikhla had to return the twelve towns in Bengal, including this town to the Sultanate of Bengal and annually pay taxes and give presents. After his death his younger brother Min Khari (Man Khari) with the pseudonym Nara Nu (1434-1459) entered into a Friendship and Border Treaty with the Burmese king, King Narapatigyi (Narapatigri) of Ava and declared himself as well as his country free from Bengal. Min Khayi (Man Khari), who had an assumed the Muslim Title 'Ali Khan', erected the Nyidaw Zedi (Satee), which can be roughly translated as 'The Pagoda built by the Younger Brother'.
                                                            
2

Myo Min, Old Burma, Forward, Hanthawaddy Press, Rangoon, 1947.

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When his son Ba Saw Phyu (Ba Saw Phru) succeeded the throne of Mrauk U after the death of Min Khayi (Man Khari), he defeated Babek Shah, the Emir of Chittagong and re-occupied the 12 towns, including this town. King Ba Saw Phru alias Kaliman Shah constructed four Buddhists temples including the Maha Bodi Shwegu Pagoda. His son Dan Ugga alias Daluya, who bore the Muslim Title Moguh Shah, was the donor of Thongyaik Tasu Temple (meaning the temple of Thirty One Buddhas).

3.1.

Princess Saw Shwe Kra

It is believed that Princess Saw Shwe Kra was the favourite daughter of King Ba Saw Phru. "Rakhaing Minthami E-gyin" (the classical poem addressed to an Arakanese Princess extolling the glory of ancestors) composed by the Arakanese poet Fadu Man Nyo, who was well known as Adu Min Nyo 3 in Burmese literature, is a classic. This poem is well known in Arakanese Literature as ‘Mauktaw E-gyan’ to honour the Princess Saw Shway Kra, the favourite daughter of King Ba Saw Pru. Just to honour her, the king granted her the title of Princess of Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar). This city was just reoccupied and reincorporated into the Arakanese Kingdom from Bengal during the reign of King Ba Saw Pru.

3.2.

The Monk and the Princess: An Anecdote

King Ba Saw Phru was a very religious man. He then invited the Burmese monk Shin Tezawthara of Ava to come and reside in Mrauk-U. The monk came and stayed there. Having been born and raised in Upper Burma which has very few rains, about two months in a year, he enjoyed the constant heavy rains and high tides of the Arakan City. Aside from that, the Arakanese like to eat hot and pungent dishes of fish and other seafood which is unfamiliar to residents of Upper Burma. Later, however, he grew tired with these and after a period of 2 or 3 years he became homesick. But whenever he requested a leave from the King, the latter always answered him to stay one more Buddhist Lent (Wa) which never ended. One evening while in town he saw the Princess Saw Shwe Kra with the Royal Title Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) borne by her chamber valets. He realized that she was truly a very beautiful princess and understood her father’s love and care for her. He also finally found the solution to his problem. After this eventful evening, he began to compose three verses called “Radu” for the princess. In the first verse he wrote about the magnificence of the City of Arakan
                                                            
3

This Burmese pronunciation was later misused by the Islamists by stating his name was ‘Abdul’ Min Nyo and claimed as if there were Muslim Poets at the Arakanese Court, as in the same way they abused the Pseudonym Muslim Titles of the Arakanese Kings, who were devoted Buddhists.

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Mrauk-U. He compared the city to the abode of Thikyarmin or Lord Indra 4 . In the second verse he praised the beauty of the princess who was more beautiful than Nathamee (Devis) of the Abode of Indra. In the last verse he declared that he fell in love with the Princess at first sight. But he also wrote that he felt so sad being a monk because the other person happened to be the King’s daughter. They could not match in this life. As soon as the King read the poem, he noticed that the monk was eyeing his daughter. To avoid this problem, he decided to send the monk back to Ava. He then politely told the monk that a Royal Friendship Mission was scheduled to go to Ava within a week. Since the monk longed to return to his birthplace, he could accompany the mission if he desires. The monk immediately agreed. So finally he was able to leave Arakan. Here too, some scholars of Burmese literature argued that the story was true; however it was not during the reign of King Ba Saw Phru but later. The Princess was not Saw Shwe Kra but another Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) because some Arakanese Kings named their beloved daughters Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) which can be roughly translated as “Princess Royale”, too. Their argument was based on the fact that the reign of King Ba Saw Pru was from A.D. 1459 to 1482, so this myth happened more than 500 years ago. Most Burmese Literature Scholars believed that Shin Tezawthara was a contemporary to the famous Shin Mara Rahtathara, but slightly younger than latter. The 500th Anniversary of Shin Mahara Rahtathara was celebrated at the Burmese Department of the University of Rangoon in the 70’s. On that basis they concluded that the presence of Shin Tawzawthara in the court of Arakan was most probably in the early 16th century, about 20 to 30 years after the death of King Ba Saw Phru. However, Shin Mara Rahtathara’s birth date was recorded based on the Burmese Calendar. So, some varying factors by changing from one calendar to another, as well as the different versions of one chronicle to another must also be considered. Hence, it is very difficult to say in which year Shin Tayzawthara was in the court of Arakan.

3.3.

The Classical Poem composed by Shin Tayzawthara

Below are the verses composed by Shin Tezawthara:

                                                            
4

Thikyarmin is the king of the two lowest abodes of the Devatas or Nether Gods. In fact, Thikyarmin is the Hindu God Indra adapted into Buddhist Mythology, however, he is not an Immortal as in Hinduism, but after a very long life he too has to die and go through the Samara, like all beings except Ararat’s.

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Dream Bride from Arakan otherwise known as: Like the Golden Statue 5 Gold shining everywhere matching this Golden City, so wonderfully built, this city of Arakan Out of nowhere, an incomparable Beauty with a hair knot appeared at sunset. Is she the Belle of Arakan? Amongst the many beautiful ladies in this Magnificent City, matchless was her beauty! Still in her youth, her face so charming, so innocent, she appeared to be of noble family. In the beautiful sundown, she with the coiling hair knot wore a marble-like white shawl, Looking like a Golden Statue aboard a carriage, borne by chamber valets! Her beauty was far beyond that of the Chief Queen of Thikyarmin 6 , Thuzar Devi 7 will surely faint for being surprised and upset! Shining as the full moon surrounded by stars in a moonlit night, her beauty was so enchanting That my Buddhist Lent in Arakan, kept on being extended and never ending Regrettably, you, Lady of incomparable beauty, pretty as the shining moon, Belle with the coiling hair knot, could not be my destiny, You can only be a dream bride or a shining Nathamee. 8

4. Conclusion: The main point of this essay is: ‘In Arakanese National Belief’ and according to the Arakanese Chronicles there was a town called Mauk Thuzar which was among the Banga 12 towns, pendulum between the Sultanate of Bengal and Arakanese Kingdom’. Some Arakanese kings gave the title of Mauk Thuzar to their favorite daughter. The name Mauk Thuzar (Mauk Thazar) most probably used until 1666 now belongs only to Arakanese ‘Oral History’ and literature. What a pity! I have written this historical essay in the spirit of the genuine “cetana” meaning "good will or good intention" for the sake of all Rakhaings who want to promote their national
                                                            
5

The Professor of Burmese U E Maung selected some poems from Burmese literature entitled ‘Selection of Fine Burmese Literature’. In that book, he named this poem ‘Like a Golden Statue’. That book was a prescribed text book for Burmese Language for the first year university students until 1961. 6 Lord Indra 7 Thuzar Devi or Thuzita is the Chief Queen among four wives of Thikyarmin. 8 Devi or Nether Goddess from heaven

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spirit and maintain their traditional beliefs. As mentioned in the ‘Introduction’, all traditional beliefs, myths, legends and history are similar and different. We must not forget that prior to the development of any writing system; much of history is thus based on orally transmitted information passed on from generation to generation. Let us therefore not brush aside oral information. Historians can continue to write their own facts, theories and hypotheses in their own papers or publications. The readers should decide themselves.

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