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The Shwedagon Pagoda: The Epicentre of Buddhist Culture

of Myanmar

SYNOPSIS SUBMITED TO THE GAUTAM BUDDHA UNIVERSITY IN PARTIAL


FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF DOCTORAL OF
PHILOSOPHY

By:
Dhammasami
(Registration No: 14/PBSC/013)
Under the supervision of:
Dr. PRIYASEN SINGH

School of Buddhist Studies & Civilization


Gautam Buddha University, Greater Noida
Gautam Budh Nagar, Uttar Pradesh-201318
SEPTEMBER 2, 2014

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A SYNOPSIS FOR PH. D. THESIS

The Shwedagon Pagoda: The Epicentre of Buddhist Culture of Myanmar

Justification of the topic:


The Digha Nikaya, long discourses of the Buddha records the following words of the
Buddha, taught to Ananda, his cousin and closest attendant:
As they treat the remains of a King of Kings, so Ananda, should they treat the remains of
the Tathagata. At the four crossroads a cairn should be erected to the Tathagata. And whosoever
shall there place garlands, or perfumes, or paints, or makes salutation there, or become in its
presence calm in heart, that shall be long to them a profit and a joy. Then men, Ananda, worthy
of a cairn, are four in number. Which are the four? A king of Kings is worthy of a cairn. A
Tathagata, an Able Awakened One, is worthy of a cairn. One awakened for himself alone
(Paccekabuddha) is worthy of a cairn, and a true hearer of the Tathagata is worthy of a cairn.
And on account of what circumstance, Ananda, is a Tathagata, an Able Awakened One,
or a Paccekabuddha, or true hearer of the Tathagata worthy of a cairn?
At the thought, Ananda, ‘This is the cairn of that “Able Awakened One,” or ‘This is the cairn of
that Paccekabuddha,’ or This is the cairn of that true hearer of the Tathagata, the hearts of many
shall be made calm and happy, and since they had calmed and satisfied their hearts, they will be
reborn after death, when the body has dissolved, in the happy realms of heaven. It is on account
of this circumstance, Ananda, that a Tathagata, an Able awakened One, or a Paccekabuddha, or
a true hearer of the Tathagata is worthy of a cairn.
After the Parinibbana (final Release, Decease) of the Buddha, his relics were divided
into eight equal parts and enshrined in eight Great Stupas (Sanskrit stupa, Pali thupa- mound,
tumulus, monument erected over sacred relics). Later, Asoka, King of Pataliputta (273-232 BC),
one of the earliest and greatest patrons of Buddhism, recovered one of the eight parts, and,
building 84,000 stupas-equivalent in number to the sections of the Dhamma (the Law or
Teaching of the Buddha)-he distributed the relics among them.
In essence, then, a pagoda is a cairn in which the relics of the Buddha are enshrined and
which serves as a reminder of the Buddha. In Myanmar, the function of the pagoda as a reminder

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of the Buddha is enhanced by linguistic usage-the same word, Phaya, serves to denote both the
Buddha and the pagodas. And as a shrine containing the relics of the Buddha, the Shewdagon
often referred to by the epithet “The pagoda of the Sacred Living Hairs” is pre-eminent in its
sanctity because it enshrines the sacred hairs of the Buddha, obtained, not after the Prinibbana,
but during his lifetime. The prominence of the Shwedagon derives not only from its special
sanctity but also from its physical presence. It located on top of Singuttara hill which was 190
feet (58 metres) high, its great golden mass rises up a further 326 feet (99 metres). From afar it
attracts the eye and the mind to its effusive presence. As Somerset Maugham noted when he
visited the pagoda in the late 1920’s:
The Shwedagon rose superb, glistening with its gold, like a sudden hope in the dark night
of the soul of which the mystics write glistening against the fog and smoke of the thriving city.
But city and pagoda go together and the pagoda takes its name from the city. The city was
renamed Yangon, “The End of Enemies,” in 1756 by Alaunphaya (1752-1760), founder of the
Konbaung dynasty, the last Myanmar dynasty, after he had captured it in the course of unifying
the country. But its original name was Dagon, derived from the Pali Tikumba, meaning “Three
Pots,” and signifying that the city was situated in a locality of three pot-shaped hills. The prefix
“shwe” means “golden” in Myanmar and forms part of the name of such other pagodas as the
Shwezigon in Bagan, the Shwemawdaw in Bago, and the Shesandaw in Pyay.
Gleaming in gold and decorated with diamonds, the huge Shwedagon Pagoda (also Shew
Dagon Pagoda or Shwedagon Phaya) in Yangon is a spectacular work of Burmese temple
architecture and is the holiest Buddhist shrine in Myanmar.

The aim of this work:


About choosing the reason why I chose this work entitled “The Shwedagon Pagoda:
The Epicentre of Buddhist Culture of Myanmar” is that there were four Buddha’s relics
enshrined in which that pagoda as Buddhists people in Myanmar believed as tradition and is the
oldest pagoda which is rich in architectural construction, and not only being in the list of heritage
of Yangon City but also of the world.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, officially named Shwedagon Zedi Daw, also known in English
as the Great Dagon Pagoda and the Golden Pagoda, is a 99 metres (326 ft) gilded pagoda and
stupa located in Yangon, the largest pagoda in Myanmar. The pagoda lies to the west of

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Kandawgyi Lake, on Singuttara Hill, thus dominating the skyline of the city. It is the most sacred
Buddhist pagoda for the Burmese with relics of the past four Buddha enshrined within: the staff
of Kakusandha, the water filter of Koṇāgamana, a piece of the robe of Kassapa and eight strands
of hair from Gautama, the historical Buddha. Therefore, it is alternatively called Layzudatpun
Shwedagon also, which mean the Four Elements of Buddha’s relics. On account of this, it is still
controversy and has judgment event from historians.
It is choosing that to know when it was established and enshrined above mentioned the
four Buddha’s relics, who erected that stupa and deposited these, how the people maintained it
over the course of 2500 years its journey with studies of historical background including
geographical contact and the influence of the pagoda and its impact on the former Burmese
Buddhist people as well as at the present, also their life.

Background History:
Legend has it that the Shwedagon Pagoda is 2,600 years old, but archaeologists estimate
that it was first built by the Mon sometime between 6 th - 10th centuries (i.e. during the Bagan
period). The Pagoda emerges from legend into history in 1485, which is the date of an inscription
that tells the story of Shwedagon in three languages (Pali, Mon and Burmese). It was around this
time that the tradition of gilding the stupa began. Queen Shin Saw Bu provided her own weight
in gold, which was made into gold leaf and used to cover the surface of the stupa. The Queen’s
son-in-law, Dhammazedi, offered four times his own weight plus that of his wife’s in gold and
provided the abovementioned 1485 inscription. It has been rebuilt many times since then due to
earthquakes (including eight in the 17th century alone); the current structure dates from the
rebuild under King Hsinbyushin in 1769. After the First Anglo-Burmese War in 1824, British
troops occupied the Shwedagon Pagoda complex, which stands high over the city like a castle.
In 1852, during the second war, the British occupied the pagoda for 77 years and pillaged its
treasures. In 1871, King Mindon Min from Ratanapura which was named Mandalay later, third
capital city now makes and provides a new Hti, umbrella (the decorative top), flustering the
occupying British. As a symbol of national identity, the Shwedagon Pagoda was the scene of
much political activity during the Myanmar independence movement in the 20 th century.
Amazing, the huge earthquake of 1930 (which destroyed the Shwemawdaw in Bago) caused only
minor damage to the Yangon stupa. But the following year, it suffered from a disastrous fire.

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After a minor earthquake in 1970, the main stupa was fully refurbished.
Myth and Mystery:
According to legend, the Shwedagon Pagoda has existed for more than 2,600 years,
making it the oldest historical pagoda in Burma and the world. According to tradition, two
merchant brothers, Taphussa and Bhallika, from the land of Okkalapa (Ramanyadesa), met the
Lord Gotama Buddha during his lifetime and received eight of the Buddha's hairs in 588 BCE.
The brothers traveled back to their homeland in Burma and, with the help of the local ruler, King
Okkalapa of Burma, found Singuttara Hill, where relics of other Buddhas preceding Gotama
Buddha had been enshrined.
They built the first stupa being 44 meters high and once the relics were safely placed in
the new shrine, a golden slab was laid on the chamber and a golden stupa built over it. Over this
was layered a silver stupa, then a tin stupa, a copper stupa, a lead stupa, a marble stupa and an
iron-brick stupa. After two or three centuries it was disappear, from BC.235 the legend
continues, the Shewdagon Stupa fell into ruin until the Indian emperor Asoka, a Buddhist
convert, came to Burma and searched for it. Finding it only with great difficulty, he then had the
jungle cleared and the stupa was repaired. It is easy to see why the Shewdagon Pagoda is such a
holy for believers. Built on the site of the relics of previous Buddhas, containing the relics of the
most recent Buddha, the site of miracles and of royal patronage, this is an important stupa
indeed.
In this thesis the efforts have been made to fulfill the lacuna of bringing out the entire
historical development of Buddhism. Today it is claimed by the Buddhist world that Burma is
one of the protective pillar of Buddhism and is ready to return Buddhism back to India, what it
has received and reserved long back in respect of Buddhism. The proposed research work is
going to be based on Buddhist texts available in Burmese, Pali and English language. Besides
this, various old documents will be consulted in the following libraries: Museum Library and
Archives at Shewdagon Pagoda, University Libraries of Yangon and Mandalay in Myanmar,
have been consulted extensively for this research. Similarly a detail source material has been
consulted from the Burmese language at the Burmese National Archives in Yangon, Mandalay
and Bagan Museum in Bagan. The stone inscriptions written in Pali found at Sirikhettara now at
Hmawza in Prome district in central Burma and Dammazedi’s inscriptions on Shwedadon
Pagoda’s platform is also consulted as primary source to trace out the introduction of

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Shewdagon Pagoda.
Apart from this source material, primary and standard secondary sources, various
religious seminars, debates and report from India and Burma will also be consulted to make it a
very useful work for future further research on it. A detailed account from the newspapers,
journals has been studied. Secondary sources such as standard books written by various scholars
also have been consulted extensively to formulate the idea in this thesis.

Objective and Sphere of the proposed research work:


The objective of this study is thematic and not a periodisation. This approach will help us
to focus on the Buddhist teaching and its ideals. One feels that diagnostic type of understanding
of the subject is required for such approach on the historical background of Shwedagon Pagoda
memorial. The major object of this study is to examine the religious impact of Buddhism from
beginning enshrined the lord Buddha’s relics into its Stupa to the present of activities of Burmese
people and patronage of the ruler and its successors in Myanmar. In this research, it will make an
attempt to point to how the Buddhist people in Myanmar, had maintained their religious
activities as their belief, taking into account the entire spectrum of historical events from early
Buddha’s time to the day presently.

The Hypothesis:
The hypothesis means future plan and the basis of future understanding. It is necessary to
examine the reason why Buddhism great influence over Myanmar, and described religious daily
affair. The social cultural life in Burma has a different dimension between each race as the
diversity in the religion always attracted the other outsiders. Why Buddhism was the main
attraction for the Burmese, why Buddhism was the most important for them and why Buddhism
was impressed by the people in Myanmar around their daily life is the main hypothesis in this
research. Regarding this, it will state how Buddhism makes influence on people not only in
social, economical but also religious activities as described in the early Buddhist scriptures and
in the book written by other scholars.

Theoretical Framework:
This topic theoretically proposed to look into the various institutions which continuously

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protecting and carrying out the teaching of the Buddha in Burma. How these institutions
emerged, and were protected by the respective society in Myanmar societies is one of the basic
aspects of this research. Finally this aspect will be clear with activities performed.

Research Design and methodology:


In the modern age research has acquired a special place. Last 20 years, methodology
awareness is increasing day by day. The traditional and modern method is always used to find
out issues and analyze them on the basis of available standard primary and secondary sources,
documents, literature books, articles and newspapers. All chapters will be referred with the
standard source material. This research will be based on historical line and often inter linked with
the interdisciplinary analytical methods.

Significance of the Study:


The significance is to put the Buddha’s teachings in areas related to social welfare. That
is why this study focuses on social, political and economic dimensions mentioned in Theravada
Buddhist scriptures in accordance with the thesis title. Moreover, it mentions in some ways the
tradition and practice of the people in Theravada Buddhist countries like Burma, Sri Lanka, and
Thailand and its dominant religious influence of Buddhism over the modern day lives of the
people. The study is significant because it deals with the comparison of two different
constructions design unlike with others prevailed in Burma. How the teaching of the Buddha
influenced on the Burmese people. This study will sharpen the reality and understanding of
Buddhism in Burma. A brief account of the proposed thesis is presented below:

Chapterization:
This thesis has been designed to understand the Buddhist ideology and how it has been
accepted by the society in Burma and to discover the spreading into Burma geographically.
Although Buddhism came from India, there are having different culture i.e. social status, position
of woman and men in society and their way of life. Yet the teaching of the Buddha is having
deepest impact on the society. Taking this aspect as a hypothesis it is proposed here in this thesis
that culture life in Burma also been looked in this thesis. The study is also important from
another angle that the teaching of the Buddha is having great impact on the social and cultural

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life of Myanmar community.
Another aim of this thesis is to relate and develop the brotherhood and co-operation in
India and Burma especially to traces Buddha’s sacred hair relics, bring from India and deposited
in Shwedagon Pagoda and enshrined in Myanmar. In the forth coming chapter these issues have
been kept alive in throughout the thesis. For the clear understanding the entire thesis has been
divided into six chapters supported by various appendix and standard bibliography. The tentative
structure of the proposed research work would as follows:

Introduction:
In this section, we will try to give the detailed information about the Shwedagon Pagoda,
its Geographical location and its importance in present day Myanmar’s lay people and Buddhist
followers and also its impact on world Buddhism.

Chapter (1): Dissemination of Buddhism into Myanmar

This chapter is actually introduction to Theravada Buddhism and has been designed to
know any history, geography should be identified. Because of this geography, we are able to
trace out the historical events that took place long ago. The present chapter traces out the India’s
geographical place in Asia. India is the seventh largest country in the world. It is seen that India
occupies great advantage geographically. It has luxurious variety of flora and fauna. India is
blessed by the great mountain Himalaya, the plain of Ganga and amay mountain hills like
Aravalli, Vindhya, Satpura, Mikala and Ajanta.
The river system also helped people to develop their socio-cultural life i.e. Himalayan
rivers, Peninsular Rivers, Coastal Rivers and rivers of the inland drainage basin. Ganga,
Ghaggra, Papati, Gandak, Brahamaputra, Sutlej are the important rivers which helped people to
develop the first culture in northern India. Himalaya lies southeastwards nearly 1,500 miles. In
fact India and Burma joined in the northeastern side. Arkan Yoma is familiar name. Similarly
Hukawng Valley and Tuzu gap route and Irrawaddy delta are the places where Indian and
Burmese culture mixed. India’s social system is based on division of society (birth and caste).
With this diversity ruling class, Merchant class, artisans and servants are managing the society.
Ethnicity and language also show the differences. Eighty percent populations follow the Hindu

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religion, ten percent Muslims and less than one percent follows Buddhism. Culturally people
have been divided their religion belief. There are major religions: Hindu, Buddhism and Jainism,
which have been discussed in detail. At the beginning of before the time of Buddha, the people
from Ramanyadesa, Burma follow Hindu, taking from India by Indian, later they changed to
Buddhism after bringing hairs relics of lord of Buddha by the two merchants who are from
Burma now know as Myanmar. The chapter also gives an idea about how the old culture faded
away and the new culture created. It takes into account the old culture by the new culture, which
came in the format of Buddhism. This chapter shows on the history of Buddhism how Buddhism
spread outside of India to countries like Sri Lanka, Burma and Thailand together with
geographical background. In this chapter, firstly when the teachings of the Buddha had been
spread into Myanmar as bring eight strands hair relics from Lord of Buddha by the two
merchants named Taphussa and Bhallika from Okkalapa, Ramanyadesa of Barma, how they
were maintained it until today will be explored from various of scholars books, and describes the
connection geographically between Buddha Gaya of Majjimadesa and Ramanyadasa called it
before by the time of lord of Buddha alive, Buddhism speared into Myanmar, then when Asoka
King send the missionary work out, secondly, when Buddhism was emerged again, these will be
clearly shown in this chapter.
When we mention the history of Buddhism, it is impossible to ignore the accomplishment
of the King Asoka on whom Buddhist thought had influenced so much with regard to social
welfare. I have presented in details the life of King Asoka with regard to how he had got
involved Buddhist thoughts in the area of social services in accordance with the Buddha’s
teachings. Later, when region of King Dhammazeti who is sun-in-law of Queen Shin Saw Bu
(1453-1472) in Hantharwadi reconstructed and enlarged the pagoda the current ground. In the
Later part, I have cited with brief history the Theravada Buddhist countries as relevant to this
research as much as the Theravada Buddhism is concerned. By taking this aspect we have tried
the entire theme of the thesis to relate it in the next chapter.

Chapter (2) The Shwedagon Pagoda: Historical Background and its Importance as
Heritage Site

This chapter entitled “Shwedagon Pagoda: Historical background and its Importance as

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Heritage Site” has been selected specifically to justify the main theme of this thesis. In fact, this
is the main backbone chapter of this thesis, which deals with the following points.
To understand clearly about the Shwedagon Pagoda which enshrined hairs strands of
Gotama Buddha when he was alive as we have traced out the entire historical and geographical
background. In this chapter, it has described that the two brothers who are very important main
role players named Tapussa and Bhallika, the ruler of Okkalapa and spirit Sakka, King of Devas,
recorded in books which are written by standard scholars. Therefore, in this chapter, it has been
attempt to explore the Heritage of Lord of Buddha which has deposited in Shwedagon Pagoda
by the time of Gotama Buddha alive, taking matter of records from Vinaya Pitaka Pali and its
commentaries, and also has discussed the critical case of relics which were mentioned by the
various of scholars accordingly and development later period. Myanmar Buddhist people believe
that the Shwedagon Pagoda has enshrined the Gotama Buddha’s eight strands hairs relics
together with the previous of three Lord of Buddha’s sacred relics which are the water filter of
Kakusandha, the robe of Konagamana, and the staff of Kassapa. It also will be clear in this
chapter, taking evidence from Tipitaka of Buddha scriptures. The story of Tapussa and Bhallika
occurs in a number of Buddhist texts, such as the Mahavagga section of the Vinaya Pitaka and
Anguttara Nikaya but the identification of Asitanjana - the city where the sacred hairs were
brought and enshrined - with Dagon (Yangon) was made later in King Dhammazedi’s inscription
of 1485.
In this chapter, especially have been discussed the trace of Geographical evidence dealing
with antique stupa which has been built representative of Shwedagon Pagoda. On May 3, 4,
2008, tropical cyclone Nargis made landfall in Myanmar, causing the worst natural disaster in
the country’s recorded history. After have been flooded and devastated the lower Myanmar’s
southern delta the archeologists have discovered the trace which is solid evidence of the route
where were returning the ship in which bringing the Lord of Buddha’s relics by the merchants
brothers who traded to to Majjimadesa, meeting with Lord of Buddha, receiving eight strands of
hairs relics, return to their place in which Pekkharavati and then enshrined in Shwedagon
Pagoda, all of them will be identified in this chapter.
The Shwedagon Pagoda, one of the principal architects of revolution, is different
structure with others stupas like Great stupa, Sanchi in India, Thuparama Pagoda,
Anuradhapura in Sri Lanka and in Myanmar the Shwezigon Pagoda at Bagan. There are various

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kinds of buildings with different named pagoda on the Shwedagon Pagoda’s platform, showing
their feature, figure as each devotees donated individually as their faith and spiritual goal.
Therefore, it will be mentioned what buildings say it itself in the following chapter.
The Shwedagon Pagoda is a place of Buddhist pilgrimage, therefore, In this chapter will
explain about the entire Shwedagon Pagoda by the way of guiding like supervisor, to take the
pilgrims and visitors who are from different place, arriving on the Shwedagon Pagoda’s
platform. Surrounding the main stupa, there are figure of Nat, Devas, Thagya, the King of Devas,
Sakka in Pali, Bilu, ogres/ ogress, Brahma, Manussiha, Ajjagona, Vijja and Zawgyi, Me Lamu
and their connection etc. and others famous memorial pagoda and image which is most people
usually used to come and worship to fulfill their wish what they want with any kinds of purpose.
There are very old and large great Bells with the pavilion but also it was a symbolic of Burmese
when they were trying to regain their motherland which was under colonial rule by British and
attempt to independence all part of country for their nations. There are many kinds of beautiful
wood carving decorated Hall on the Shwedagon Pagoda’s platform. Among theme Dr. U Nyo’s
hall, built in 1983, is the most wonderful wooden carving art architecture. The Flagstaff of the
Hamsa is one of several flagstaffs erected on the platform as an act merits, a Bodhi Tree (Tree of
Wisdom) in the southeast corner of the platform and another Bodhi Tree located also in the
south-east corner of the Elder Brother Pagoda will be described with historical background and
why it is called Elder Brother Pagoda (Naungdawgyi Pagoda), when and where these Bodhi
were brought it will be examined in this chapter.
This chapter gives a rich experience of a traditional Myanmar art, wood carving serves to
complement wooden architecture and some of the halls are decorated in their walls, pillars and
ceilings by Glass Mosaic. There are also a great number of Buddha images on the platform. The
principal images are the four images placed in niches in the Devotional Halls (Aryongan
Tazaungs) of the four cardinal points- Kakusandha in the east, Konagamana in the south,
Kassapa in the west, and Gotama in the north. We have learnt about that of a slightly different
version deity Vasundhari in where plinth of stupa, who wrung from her hair the water which had
been poured on her each time of the Buddha, made an offering in his previous existence. The
figure of Vasundhari, wringing water from her hair, often appears independently in Myanmar
iconography. Mostly there are Crowned Buddha images which became popular in Bengal about
the 10th century under the influence of Vijrayana Buddhism, can be seen on the platform. In

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Myanmar the crowned Buddha image in the Ananda at Bagan provides an early and prominent
example. It is represented the Buddha as a Universal Ruler (Cakravartin), Cakkavatti in Pali.
Concerning crowned Buddha image called “Jambupati images” by traditionally in Myanmar it
will vividly be explored, taking from most learned scholars of books.
This chapter finally, will explain about Planet Posts which is the most important for the
Myanmar people daily life dealing with their individual, members, families, group etc, and
economic, education, health, and religious activities all field. There are 12 planet posts on the
platform near the plinth, two similar posts each at the four cardinal points on either side of the
Devotional Halls, and one each at the four intermediate points.

Chapter (3) The Shwedagon Pagoda and its impact on Myanmar society

This chapter entitled “The Shwedagon Pagoda and its impact on Myanmar society” has
been selected to show the impact of Buddhism on Myanmar society after had been flourished in
Myanmar so that understand how Myanmar Buddhist people believe it, what are their spiritual
final goal, how they live with in daily life, etc. the Shwedagon Pagoda which is the main theme
of this these also has been an effect of Buddhism. In fact in this chapter it is tried to present these
following points:
To understand the society we have traced the entire geographical background of Burma
now know as Myanmar. This country became independence on 4 th January 1948, having sixty
million populations today. Agriculturally it is a rich country. The country is also known as the
Land of golden Pagodas. It is also naturally blessed by the Mountains, Rivers and Plains.
Climatically it is a tropical country and gets enough rain for its agriculture. It is divided into
seven states and seven divisions where seven main racial groups; Chins, Kachins, Karens,
Kayahs, Mons, Arakanes and Shans are staying. Yangon is the important port and the capital city
till 2010, recently Napyidaw is the capital city where are government office of Burma.
Economically it is a rich state having abundant forest and minerals.
Historically the country is having long history. Pyus, Kanyans, Thets, and Mons ruled
over the country. Indians called the country as Brahma desh. Burma is connected with India land
and Sea routes. Burma’s civilization is related with India. It is said that the Buddha was a
member of Tibeto-Burman origin.

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Burmese people are simple and followed the Theravada Buddhism. Burmese speak over
one hundred dialects. Apart from three main racial groups i.e. Mon-Khamers, Tibeto-Burmans
and Thai-Shans, there are seven major ethnic groups; Chins, Kachins, Karens, Kayahs, Mons,
Arkanes and Shans have been discussed detail in this chapter. Religiously Burma has 85%
Buddhist population. Theravada Buddhism dominated major Burmese culture. Burma’s Arts and
Architecture, Language and literature have great influence of Theravada Buddhism. They believe
in self-reliance and self-isolation.
Also the chapter gives an idea about Burmese festivals, family life and marriage system.
The chapter also deals with the British education and its impact. Finally the chapter deals with
cultural link with India, introduction of Buddhism in Burma, the response of the Pagan dynasty
towards Buddhism (11th century A.D.). Toungoo dynasty and the second unification of Burma,
the role played by king Tabinshwethi, king Byayinnaung who played an important role in
purification of Buddhism in Shan state. The chapter also gives an account of Konbaung dynasty
and third unification of Burma (1752-1760). Finally, the three Anglo-Burmese wars and loosing
independence of Burma on 30, November, 1885, the rule of British and how Buddhism declined
during this period has been discussed in this chapter. The final analysis in this chapter justifies
the research hypothesis and the title. The rule of first Prime Minister U Nu and the sixth
Buddhist Council has also been discussed (1954-56). Further the new Burmese society and
Buddhist education especially monastic education has been given more important. Also it has
been discussed the rules and regulation of monastic order and civilian society. The Upasampada
ceremony, life of monks who are preachers of Buddhism also discussed under the influence of
Buddhism, finally the responsibility of Bhikkhu Sangha towards the society has been principles,
noble ideas of the Buddha became the unified factor in Burmese society.
Here the impact of Buddhism after independence of Burma has been discussed in detail.
Finally the role of Shwedagon Pagoda for Buddhist people in Myanmar that how they are
impressed has been presented, as to connect next chapter.

Chapter (4) The Shwedagon Pagoda and its Political Influence: An Overview

This chapter deal with about the Shwedagon Pagoda that what happened around its life
and that Shwedagon Pagoda, itself took place as a part of a place where people were meeting to

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perform their social, economical, political events and religious activities particularly.
Tabinshwethi, the King of Taungnyoo came to the Shwedagon Pagoda where is in Dagon City
named at this time and said prayer him so that fulfill his wish that can conquer mighty enemies
of country. The British landed on May 11, 1824 during the First Anglo-Burmese War. They
immediately seized and occupied the Shwedagon Pagoda and used it as a fortress until they left
two year later. The Second Anglo-Burmese War saw the British re-occupation of the Shwedagon
in April 1852, only this time the stupa was to remain under their military control for 77 years,
until 1929, although the people were given access to the Phaya, Pagoda. During that time, I will
explore that Burmese were trying to regain their independence of motherland under control of
British law, colonialism in his chapter.
At the edge of the platform in the southeast corner is the University Boycotters’
Memorial. This commemorates in four languages – Myanmar, French, English and Russian – the
11 student leaders of the University Boycott which was started on December 1920 in protest
against the restrictive provisions of the Act which established the University of Yangon. Apart
from being a place of worship and devotion, the Shwedagon also provided a safe haven for
movements of dissent and protest and it was here, under the shade of the Budhi Tree nearby that
the 11 student leaders secretly deliberated and made their plans for the first students’ strike in
Myanmar.
During the second university students strike in history of 1936, the terraces of the
Shwedagon were again where the students camped out. In 1938, oilfield workers on strike hiked
all the way from the oilfields of Chauk and Yenangyang in central Burma to Yangoon (Yangon)
to establish a strike camp at the Shewdagon Pagoda. This strike, supported by the public as well
as students and came to be known as the ‘1300 Revolution’ after the Burmese calendar year, was
broken up by the police who, in their boots whereas Burmese would remove their shoes in
pagoda precincts, raided the strike camps on the pagoda. In January 1946, General Aung San
addressed a mass meeting at the stupa, demanding “independence now” from the British with a
thinly veiled threat of a general strike and uprising. Forty-two years later, on August 26, 1988,
his daughter, Aung San Suu Kyi addressed another mass meeting of 500,000 people at the stupa,
demanding democracy from the military regime and calling the 8888 Uprising the second
struggle for independence. In September 2007, during nationwide demonstrations against the
military regime and its recently enacted price increases, protesting monks were denied access to

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the pagoda for several days before the government finally relented and permitted them in. On
September 24, 2007, twenty thousand monks and nuns (the largest protest in 20 years) marched
at the golden Shwedagon Pagoda, Yangon.

Chapter (5) The Shwedagon Pagoda: Role and Contribution through Religious Activities

In this chapter of the last one, it tries to describe the religious activities on the
Shwedagon Pagoda’s platform. The shwedagon is more than its structures, more than a display
of the art and architecture of Myanmar, wonderful as these are. The Shwedagon is also a place
where people congregate and where people perform acts and ceremonies of religious devotion.
The congregation of people is due to the great veneration in which the Shwedagon is held – the
veneration for the sacred hair relics enshrined in the pagoda – as well as to the glory which has
been enhanced by the benefaction of kings.
The greatest concourse of the people is on festival days: the Tabaung Festival in
February-March, which is also the Festival of the Shwedagon Pagoda because it was on the Full
Moon Day of Tabaung that the King of Okkalapa and the two brothers Tapussa and Bhallika
enshrined the sacred hair relics in the Shwedagon; the Thingyan Festival in April, ushering in the
Myanmar New Year; the Kason Festival in April-May, when water is poured on the Bodhi Tree
in the southeast corner with great ceremony; the Waso Festival in June-July, when Waso robes,
Waso flowers, lights and incense are offered; the Thadingyt Festival in September-October, when
special alms are offered, as well as flowers, lights and water, sutras are chanted for the warding
evil; the Tazaungmon Festival in October-November, when the all-night competitive weaving of
robes takes place near the Hall of Great Prosperity and the robes are offered to the images of the
Buddha with great ceremony the next day. All those festivals mentioned above will be explored
in this chapter in detail by the way of interviewing, the survey method with helping of several
kinds of book recorded by trustees of the Pagoda and its office.
Although it is during the festival that the stairways and the platform of the Shwedagon
become extremely crowded, there are always a good number of people at the pagoda at other
time too. On the platform there are all sorts of devotees; some who come alone and sit long
hours, telling beads and meditating, their minds fixed on the Buddha and his Teaching; some
come on a family excursion, father and mother and their young children dressed in their best

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clothes, kneeling down all together in the act of worship; the large groups, pilgrims who have
come from afar, with a respected monk as their leader and guide, performing their devotions with
the utmost reverence; also those who come with a set purpose, doing what they have to do
without much tarrying-performing the Yadaya, the act of propitiation prescribed by the
astrologer. In the season of novitiation there are colourful processions. The soon-to-be novitiates,
dressed in their princely finery, with parents, friends and relatives in attendance, make a ritual
circuit of the pagoda, and then go their way to the monastery.
There are a numberless festivals on the pagoda’s platform the whole years if makes a list
of calculation including annual festivals such Water Festival on Kasun (May), Buddha Puzaniya
on Tabaung etc. In Myanmar, there are 12 months of a year officially each of these has
significance festival among society, to the only for ritual Buddhists people there are various
kinds of festival monthly on the platform of around stupa and image the whole Myanmar. I will
state abovementioned religious activities in detail in this chapter by the way of interview and
survey.

Conclusion
The great Shwedagon Pagoda stands on a platform covering over 5 hectares on a hill
58m above sea level. It can be seen from virtually anywhere in the city, and the citizens of
Yangon literally live out their everyday lives in its shadow. It was built since 2500 years ago. It
was happened in several kinds of field together with mass of country. They were looking after in
turn when each one of them was under in trouble and in 1768 it was hit by the strong earthquake
which caused much destruction according to the records. The ruins were repaired by king
Hsinbyushin (1763-1776) and the pagoda gained the height and appearance of the present day. It
was because of the great respect and generosity of the king and Myanmar people. The
Shwedagon pagoda had passed a long period of time and it could not go against the natural
disasters as well as impermanence. It was ruined many times by natural disasters. It was a
deserted place with bushes in time of diminishing Sasana. It had to face with wars off and on.
But the great power of the Shwedagon pagoda would be shining and brightening as the moon
and the sun as long as the Buddha Sasana exists. The authentic reason is that the Shwedagon
pagoda was constructed by the celestial beings as well as by human beings in turns by turn with
powerful and incomparable loving-kindness and the strong faith and generosity.

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