You are on page 1of 8

ARCHAEOLOGICAL EVIDCNCE OF BUDDHIST LINKS

BETWEEN SRI LANKA AND ARAKAN
By
C. Raymond

Arakan

(or Rakhine,

Arakanese language)

the

in

hundred and sixty miles

three

Bengal coast.

Burma

propagation

Indian

Because of

Asia.

600 km) of the northeastern Bay of

(c.

Arakan has served

of

this

occupying

the region

between India (the present-day Bangladesh) and

Situated

proper,

is

culture,

a

as

historically

and religion

art,

conduit for the

throughout

geographic position,

critical

vital

Arakan's

Southeast
has

history

been intertwined with both the fortunes of the Hindu and the Muslim
dynasties of eastern India and those of the

Burmese kings of Pagan, Ava,

Pegu and Amarapura.

The

historic

prowess

military
kings:

boundaries

Arakan have expanded or shrunk with the

of

and administrative

time of greatness,

in

the

of

abilities

Kingdom

the

of Arakan

Arakanese

various

extended even to

Chittagong (well into Bengal), and encompassed about twice the territory
of the present Burmese state of Arakan.

According to the Arakanese chronicles, the region's
were the

Raksha

uncertain origin.)
as

the

Mros

orbilu

The

hilly

and

Saks,

from

the

followed

fifty

by

whom

make much of

Gangetic

Dhanyadi and Vesali

some

negrito

aborigines

Khamis,

Chins,

remain to

this

day

of

tribals

such

Daignets

and

in

the

more

areas of Arakan.

local chronicles

peoples

to

Subsequent waves of immigration included

Chaungthas, the descendants of
isolated,

possibly,

(referring,

inhabitants

earliest

in

the

Plain,

the

coming

and the

foothills

to

Arakan of Indo-Aryan

founding

of

the

cities

of

above the Kaladan River Valley,

miles upriver from the present city of Sittwe (Akyab).

the to to (near new allow an exact likeness of himself to be made and goodness of The Buddha agreed.D. flew through the Pali sermon great a visit his retinue of five Kyautaw on was a great success: were passionately converted subjects Before departing. king of Dhanyawadi (the Buddhism has according these to a. In Sassanavamsa both are the found . In visit however. In the "Vesali and Mahimsaka Chronicle" —one of more than forty traditional ancient history palm-leaf of appears. Many of the Arakanese chronicles emphasize Gautama Buddha's visit to Arakan. to his supervision. some six hundred years after the death of Buddha. Hill the King. understandably. The Buddha's week-long his and court his all arahat). corresponding Lankan Mahavamsa Arakan— to the manuscripts the area still place-name of and the Burmese greater extant relating the "Mahimsakamandala" Arakan. history Arakan: in Chandasurya. was graced by a personal entitle* from Lord Buddha. were extremely envious of the Mahamuni image.10 If Mahamuni legend the Sappadadamapakarana particularly long related as is in the manuscript ancient largely historically accurate. Buddha's finished. until But Sappadadamapakarana. the expressed by the Pegu— intention had mounted periodic forays into of Arakanese carrying being the off Mahamuni the palladium of their kingdom. There are records which state that various kings of the historic Burmese the capitals —Sri Arakan with image. tales. the king prevailed upon the Buddha faith. in hundred rahans from skies The Buddha. statue the a bronze sacred image image was magical powers for ages afterwards. King Chandasurya did not ascend the throne of Arakan 146 A. for themselves. that the After cast much pomp and ceremony on a small hill known as the Mahamuni Buddha became with This of Dhanyadi inhabitants personal installed city. with the (Burmo-Rahkine for the India. was it close the famous for With teachings. passage of time. its the as a continual reminder of the truth site became a major religious centre for Arakanese as well as for pilgrims from neighbouring Buddhist states who. preach to Dhanyawadi). reality. and with considerable help from the under the gods. dating the arrival of Buddhism at Dhanyawadi to the lifetime of the Great Master. Arakanese capital) during first Buddha's lifetime.. considered Pagan and Ksettra.

11 references Buddhist mission to Mahimsakamandala dispatched by the to Emperor Asoka and led by the Venerable Maharevata.. city capital Shitthaung of Arakan until Vesali until at least A.597. the larger of the two Remains of stone formerly leading to a pier tide steps cities.D. did an estimate based on this kingly genealogy. covered an area of 2. to We not to Lanka).7 square Vesali. the The of use in affiliation.18th epigraphically dated to the early 8th century A.D. and "the "the as pillar Vesali end of the second or the beginning of the third century A. followed by inner officials moated resided. the archaeological remains of the an the strongly earlier date: According to our method of chronologically de-coding the pillar.D. Buddhist royal two surrounding cities a reveal an outer city wall and palace Commoners occupied and site where cultivated rice and royalty within the confines of the outer city.D. if have other such also on the Vesali inscription of Mrauk-U. and centuries (15th. on the northwestern side of the trading port: according to the the city. enumerates the all —Dhanyawadi. seen at low was once a notable many as a thousand . in Vesali— who were believed list these suggests two epithets particular a which case Buddhism would have certainly been prevalent Arakan by the believed to have A. of the Vesali King Niti Candra (520- The later copper-plate inscriptions 575 AD "the perpetual deeds of merit the king ??) recording solemn in towards devotion and charity done by Buddha" the further constitute evidence of a comparatively early Buddhist presence in Arakan (relative Burma. Vesali chronicles "as may be miles. 2nd century come Arakan to Buddhism However. kings as well as Ananda Candra of ruled over the area prior to King If to of have Vesali. In both cases. the reign of to —inscribed on the Shitthaung benevolent" — can be placed somewhere near King Candradaya of good". the last now pillar preserved of Arakan capital Sanskrit the indicators: the at "Ananda Candra" Shitthaung temple AD). rather arbitrarily we lending each ruler an average tenure of twenty years. at a considerably is would seem it about 370 that Dhanyawadi was AD.

Viharas were they deserted.C. 4 During this popularly of disturbances the country was ravaged by a famine. Mahaculika Mahatissa (B. thousands of Buddhist monks and lay-people doubtless perished.D. by Vattagamini Abhaya's son. that existed from Department Hinduism and side by side excavations of and Pala in being Archaeology at although no significant finds have thus far been Vesali. The country was physically and abandoned Many monks spiritually to left the jungle and the the island for India. Mahavihara 3rd century 1 during Devanampya Tissa's rule. By the close of the century B.788-957). there was a surfeit of important first events in Anuradhapura: the from 43 the Buddhist In 29 B..D. The Anuradhapura Vattagamini by Abbaya Abhayagiri Vihara. carried out Although cruder than Vesali. 13 Mahaculika was ruled by city Mahatissa five Hindu Tamil kings King Vattagamini went was succeeded into hiding.C. and to B.^ . Vesali was annually". great Buddhist missionary Buddhism order. a second major centre of the monastic Buddhist learning in Anuradhapura. reported..C. Mahathupa even the Mahavihara was lay in complete neglect. Better It Mahayana the evidence and planned Dhanyadi and evident.C. Coranga was hostile to Buddhism and destroyed eighteen viharas. In the middle of B.12 Under the founding Candra Dynasty (A. have been recovered in the vicinity of fifth Dhanyawadi and Gupta influences are clearly Buddhism (possibly of ancient Arakan. have been found silver coins coins there around the Vesali in an undecipherable Nagari inscription. starving people were compelled to committ such atrocities as killing —and then eating— those same Buddhist monks whom had previously venerated. Coranaga. where he had been denied shelter earlier when he was staging a rebellion against his cousin.. era known as the Brahmana Tissa famine or Brahminityiasya: according to the myths. by would appear lineage) should Burma's Indian arise work. the Thera Mahinda arrived gained the Buddhist centre status was (29-17 built state well-established the close of the 3rd century B. a prosperous Hindu-style Bengali kingdom. dating as far back as the century A. 2 B. Numerous Brahmanical city On some site. With or without cannibalism.C.C..17-3).C. devastated.) 3 of A century in Lanka: religion at later. in short there. is Stone statues from both the Hindu and Buddhist pantheon.

Later. the to had then till began to show up dissension monks missionaries. The conquest of Thaton as a landmark in Burmese history. "9 According the to Arakanese Chronicles. Lanka and Arakan Sri A.DJ Lanka Sri religious During the reign of King Arakanese twelve Mahatera were sent to Nanasiridhipati of influence the Mahayana-oriented. Jetavana Vihara the group) which vihara.Hazra flourishing 1057 says. the far-sighted mahatheras —under Matale patronage of the the the (in assembled south of the island). of Arakan same period.) K. — chief local to Aluvihara at at time in Lankan first writing the whole of the Tripitaka. in order that the True Doctrine might endure. & In the A. comprised twenty-seven of headed by the Venerable Atulavijaya Mahathera. and for the the commited history.D.1139). preserve safely to the Teachings of Lord Buddha in a time of chaos. along with with the full commentaries.D.L. According with to the valuable seeking Culavamsa. this Buddhism Theravada was Lower Burma. the separated from eventually became According been under united Dhammaruci Mahavihara and founded 201-221).D. the in Abhayagiri (the sect Arakanese Chronicles. But Arakanese chronicles note the sending of religious envoys to Arakan by the King of Sri Lanka. (No indication of Anirudda's assistance. 10 * The monks. as by led after a period of Hindu ascendance there.D. "during condition in Pagan marks by time. 1 1123. Kingdom the conducted religious exchanges with Sri Lanka during although Sri Lankan sources are silent on this this matter. in in a A. exchanges began from the second century Suriyasiri Sangha. 1065-1120) sent envoys (A. since the continuation of the oral tradition of conveying the Tripitaka from teacher and tragic to murderous appeared no longer possible in such a pupil Attempting period. which had century.D. I Ramanyadesa of (Pagan). has been found. delegation during sent by the reign Datharaja of Datharaja was (A. . Vijayabahu gifts assistance to Anirudda. 8 (A. and Pagan eventually evolved into a famous Buddhist centre in South-East Asia. against the king Cola invaders. first Mahavihara. if any.13 monks perceived Sinhalese Elder Buddhism of future the that was endangered.

from Arumana can be one of the names for Arakan. sent a religious delegation manuscript. In the reign of Mon-raza-Gri. capital consideredas be K. led by Ven. and monks under Lanka.) (According King Nga-ra-man (who who had established his 1 1 86). in Buddhist monks. "the Glass Palace Chronicle". 1476 15 and in return. 1137- (A. ola leaf Lanka. nor Sinhalese sources like thcCulavamsa mention any The Parein) at But the period between Vijayabahu ^ Arakanese the to 1156. restore the 1592-1604) when Sri Lankf Buddhist Sangha. ^ Lanka and chronicles.Uttara 1 with the help of Sangha I. to Lanka led by Kaladora Grant 1 6 found the intercourse between Lanka and sixteenth century Culavamsa. delegates Later. and Lanka. Sangha (Upasampada) at In the reign of Vimaladhamma Surya was in sent a sent twenty arrived at Buddhists Candravilasa Mahathero to Sri and conducted a reformation the Ordination Udaku-khepa sima. in Sri Suchinformation the is An Siddharta. Age Golden beginning of cooperation indicates I of religious Mrauk-u.2 14 The 1 Polonnaruva 157) 1 of inscription Velaikkaras the reign of Vijayabahu the Arumana.D. or can I According to history.D. the king specifically inviting the Arakanese . need of learned monks mission king gifts November 1563. from was century.L. On campaign return. in leadership the there arrival of the in Lankan envoy bearing Arakanese of the Ven.D.Hazra. A. succeeded his father Min-zu-thein. mentions a purification campaign conducted within three sects Lanka during Sri in stone the also fifteenth high a to of evidence then ties the point Considerable and religious Sri existing between these two countries: King Ba Saw Phru (1459-1482) received the Tripitakas from Sri Lanka in A.D. Mrauk-u. Sri cultural between contact political extending seventeenth the the (1153- and Parakramabahu Burmese neither I . I (A. the Arakan) during the ( corroborated Narendra by Caritavaloka the Pradi Pikava. sources such the as betweeen close Arakan political. a "during Sassanavamsa and dark chapter this period Dhamma. they staged Buddhist the a to to Rakhangapura. 36 of delegation a Parakramabahu to Lankan Sri in sent Burma". refers to religious Rakkhangapura^ Sulupujavaliya and the Ven.

and a monk Nandicakka. After receiving another envoy sent by the Lankan King Surya II seeking religious assistance. famine. with the country then divided into a host of was depopulated by small states. The Culavamsa and religious of records the Sassanavamsa each intercourse King Vimaladhamma Surya II's contain important evidential between Arakan and Sri Both chronicles refer reign. that his period was (This figure so well-known characterized by Burma under Nanda set-back serious a Buddhism to in Bayin. Shortly Min-bar selected the Ven. Abbot of Sattatthana monastery. Pegu. Tejosara. Lanka during to the arrival 19 and the restoration of the Sri of the Sinhalese envoy in Rakhangapura Lankan Buddhist Sangha by Arakanese monks. 1696. war and internal conflict. His group and the Ven. Min-bar as He Arakan. Thus Lankan Buddhist Sangha was repeatedly restored by Arakanese . as leader of a mission to Sri Of the two. the Ven. The Kings of Lanka warmly received both the Nandicakka and Sri Tejosara missions. once a great centre of Theravada.) ruled in Governor of Sandoway.^0 Nandicakka was a leading Mahathera whose name must have been well-known Sri to the Lankans as a close connections to Arakan. (1621-1631) 1 Min-khaung-raza King thereafter. Arakanese the Vimaladhamma king Maruppya (1606-97) selected the Ven. to be sent on a religious mission to Lanka.8 15 of the leading theras. Prince appointed his son. many in in result of Sri Lanka's was received with great honours was conducted under the auspices of the udakkhepasima A. Indamanju. 21 Several (ordination members of hall) at the royal other nobles received lay ordination at that time. Lanka in 1696. one fame even reached Lanka. from Mrauk-u. upasampada Nandicakka ordination himself Getambe near Peradanya family and the Sri monks.D.

ii. 1977. 22 Journal of the Ceylon Branch of /MS. xxxiii. 1931. xciv. Phritsaing & 11 akhaing-prene Rakhaing Magazine. 89. Mahavamsa 7 8 . i. 132. iv.cit.iv. South-East Asia.45. 124. however. p. p. 15. 133. does not speak of Candavilasa.L. Sri Lanka. 20 Rakhaing 21 Magazine. 1966.i.52. p. Lanka. mentions Candivilasa and Nandicakka. 16 Journal of the Ceylon Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society. 12 Epigraphia Ashin Buddhism vol. The Culavamsa. p. op. 18. p. .85 5 Vibhanga 6 Atthagatha. Dipavamsa . 52. Phritsaing Atthakarathd. 157. in the 16th and 17th centuries.L. p.. p. 23 Culavamsa. Dipavamsa 2 critical vol. p. p.ii.1931. 347. History of Buddhism in Ceylon.16 Another ola leaf manuscript 22 Arakan and recording Lanka was discovered Sri religious at intercourse Kadedora Vihara in between Gannave Korale. 1982. Rakhaing-prene 314-318. vol. 15. 1952. 120.xx.& Mahavamsa vol. cit. p. p. Culavamsa. xviii. 18 and.ii. 1952. p. p. 1984. 1984. 15-16 & vol. Thamaing Hmd. Candamalalikara. Thus. p.100-101 Rakhaing Magazine. vol.Hazra. p. History of Theravada 10 Nikdya 1977. vol. p. 3 The Sulu-paja-valiya states the names of both Mahatheras. the relationship between Sri Lanka and Arakan Buddhism had been in ceremonies 1 3 W.p. Mahavamsa xxxiii. xciv. 120. 39-54. p.v.31. i. 195. op. vol. Sassanavamsa. Thamaing Hmd. p. 82. Udahevahata. but refers only 2 to Nandicakka. Rakhaing Razawon Thee Kyan. 4 W. vol.vii. vol. Indica. p. p. 27.cit. 17 Rakkhangapura means 1 Q 8 19 Rakhaing-prene Culavamsa. Sri to the re-establishment and restoration of specifically in the performance of religious and higher ordinations. 14 K. in Thamaing Hmd. 132. 9 K.vol.vol. p.. 15 Ashin Candamalalikara. p.Rahula. 1925. "Arakan" Phritsaing xciv. 1984. op. 1977. Rahula.133.i. p. p.iv.& Annguttara p.Hazra.