Sunday, February 2, 2014

Thu-Wunna-Bhumi Thaton(Sathorn in Siam) Pyi or Suvarnabhumi

In Burmese history the lower Burma Mon city is always referred to Thu-wunna-Bhumi Thatone Pyi. It is traslitereatd from Sanskrit word Suvarnabhumi. In the Indian and Ceylonese Texts Mon Kingdom was mentioned as Suvarnabhumi. The modern lower Burma of Mon so-called Ramannadesa is very closely interrelated with Orissa. It has land and naval route communication and trading with Orissa and other parts of India. But the communications and interaction with Orissa was rather significant. The people of ancient Mon Kingdom, Suvarnabhumi were either the same parental stock with that of Orissa or associated tribes or races of India such as Kiratas, Munda, Sentali, Gond, Bhils and etc.
    One of the reasons the Eastern Yoma or Bagu Yoma or Sham Yoma region was not inhabited or habitable there was very thick and heavy rain forest infested by various wild animals and diseases such as malaria. Then the ancient people had no knowledge of such disease and the cause of it, mosquitos which cause malaria and other viral infection. Therefore they might have thought of the evils or deities who caused people make sick, sufferings and deaths. Therefore the plains around the river delta, valleys and surrounding areas are only populated except some hunters and food gatherers living in the forested areas.


     It has been very long time since we are in primary started learning humanities, geography and history Mon kingdom is called Suvarnabumi or Thu-Wunna-bhumi -  Thaton Pyi ( Pyi=country in Burmese language). For that context, firstly we can refer to the Ceylonese Chronicle mahavamsa which describes the missionary activities of Thera Uttara and Thera Sona in Suvarnabhumi.  The Mahakarma-Vibhanga attributes the conversion of Suvarnabhumi to Gavampati. The voyage of Gavampati to Suvarnabhumi is also related in the Sasanavamsa. We learn from Tibetan sources that Dharmapala (7th cent. AD) and Dipankara Atisa (11th century AD) Visited Suvarnadvipa. . {Majumdar R C (1937 );pp39 }[1]
  Secondly we can refer to the Kalyani Inscription of Mon King Dhammaceti. According to the Kalyani inscriptions (1476 AD), Ramannadesa was also called Suvarnabhumi, which would then comprise the maritime region between Cape Negaris and the mouth of the Salwin. {Majumdar R C (1937 );pp39 }[1]
   Dhammaceti, or Ramadhipati, King of Pegu, who erected these inscriptions in 1476 c AD was an ex-priest, who, in emulation of Asoka, Sirisanhabodhi-Parakkamabahu, and other Buddhist
kings of old, made the purity of Buddhism one of the objects of his earnest solicitude. The main object in founding the Kalyani-sima appears  to be to afford to the Priesthood  of Ramannadesa a
duly consecrated place for the purpose of performing upostha,  upasampada , and other ecclesiastical ceremonies and indirectly to   secure continuity in their succession from Mahinda, the Buddhist Apostle to Ceylon. It was regarded that the succession from Sona and Uttara, the missionaries to Suvannabhumi, had been interrupted in Burma because of the violent political convulsions to which the country had been subjected. In the 11th century AD, the Talaing
Kingdom of Thaton was conquered by Anuruddha or Anawratazaw, King of Pagan;{Taw Sein Ko(1892);pp vi} [2]  

         Except there is slight difference in spelling of the name, it is solid evidence that Mon Kingdom of lower Burma was called “Suvarnabhumi”. There are definite evidences that a portion or the whole of Burma was known in later ages as Suvarnabhumi. Then Pegu was called Hamsavatipura. It means that not only Thaton but also Hamsavati-Pagu was also Suvarnabhumi.  The evidences available are more than sufficient to confirm there was a Mon kingdom in Ramannadesa of modern lower Burma.
      In addition to above mentioned evidences, there is an inscription which evidently stating that the upper Burma is also called Suvarnabhumi.

      According to Po-U-Daung Inscription (1774 AD), ‘Suvannaparanta, a designation usually syncopated into Sunaparanta or Sonnaparanta, included the country between the Lower Iravati and Chindwin and the Arakan Yoma. Now, Aparanta means ‘western end or extremity’, and hence the region denoted as Suvannaparanta may be taken to denote the western end or extremity of Suvarnabhumi. Thus these two place-names would authorize us to apply the name Suvarnabhumi to a large portion of Burma, both maritime and inland, and this would also suit the location of Ptolemy’s Chryse Chora. {Majumdar R C (1937 );pp47}[1]
     There is no doubt about Suvarnabhumi -Thaton King Manohar or (Manuha), his reign and supporter or preceptor of the Therawada Buddhism. There are documents informing us Suvarnabhumi is also referring to upper Burma. And then the Pagan Kings are also ruling, the lower Burma and also preceptors of the Buddhism. Burma was called  Brahmadesa and lower Burma (i.e. Mon Kingdom) Ramannadesa and upper Burma was Marramadesa.Refer Kalayani inscription translated by Taw Sein Ko [2] . As Burmese Kings to name few of them Anuruddha, Saw Lu and Kyansitta ruled over the whole Burma proper as well as; sometime; also extended the Burmese sovereignty to neighbouring  feudatory polities such as Assam, Manipur  and Zimmai.Refer the followings.
       During the reign of Manohari, who was also known by his princely name of Suriyakumara, the power of the kingdom became very weak. This happened in the 1600th year that had elapsed since the attainment of Parinivana by the Fully Enlightened One.{Taw Sein Ko(1892); pp49}

     In 1601, Anno Buddhae, and 419, Sakkaraj, King Anuruddha, the Lord of Arimaddanapura, brought  community of priests together with the Tipitaka (from Ramannadesa), and established the Religion in Arimaddanapura, otherwise called Pugama. .{Taw Sein Ko(1892); pp49}
    However, our teacher, Uttarajivamahathera, who was a native of Ramnnadesa, was
formerly the sole Head of the Church; but now, the priests of Marammadesa have become Lords of the Church; and we are not disposed to associate with them in the performance of ecclesiastical ceremonies." Thus, through pride, Chapatamahathera declined to associate with the
priests of Pugama in the performance of ecclesiastical ceremonies, and he performed such functions separately. .{Taw Sein Ko(1892); pp52}

In addition to it Burmese King’s Royal Military reached its territory till the Peninsula South-East Asia. This can be verified with Moore’s and Burmese Archeological researcher’s  valuable works. The followings are some of it but there are many more.
     On the east coast of the Malay peninsula, a number of early historic centres are found, such as Chaiya, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Yarang, identified with Panpan, Tambralinga and Langkasuka, respectively. Although somewhat after the period under consideration here, the significance of this whole southern
area to the kings of Bagan is clear. For example, a signed votive tablet of Anawratha was recovered in Myeik, and in the 1lth C AD, Saw Lu, son of Anawratha, erected an inscription near Maunglaw, some ten miles southeast of Myeik (Luce 1969:26-7). Two tablets from Shin Mokti at Dawei are inscribed by governors of  Kyanzittha's reign (1084-113AD). {Elizabeth Moore(2004)} [4]

        In our opinion the Mon-Khmer and Burman are the descendants of the same parent stock of the ancient tribes who established Pyu or Tritsu kingdoms both upper and lower Burma and Arakandesa or Arakan country. Collectively all these parts of south-east Asia was called by the ancient Hindu people as “Brahmadesa or the Country of Brahmanas.” Though the building and structure like Tagaung, Sri Ksetra and Vishnu cannot be found in coastal areas due to  the integrity of the soil on which heavy structure and building could not be built at that time. Refer E Moore’s report . In fact some parts of southern Siam(modern Thailand) were part of Mon Kingdom of which  Suvarnabhumi-Thaton(Sathon in Siam Language) was a capital city. We know that the Siam people still give the road and hotel name after this ancient capital such as Sathorn Road,Sathorn district, Sathorn Hotel and so on and so forth. Refer the research work of  titled Encyclopaedia of North-East India, Volume 1” by Col Ved Prakash as under.

       Again there is evidence of an Indian King, Samudra, reigning in Upper Burma as early as 105 AD. It is also a known fact that a prince of Cambod (Kamboja) [32] from north-west of India, set up a Kingdom in Siam. It is therefore within the realm of possibility that other adventurous Indian princes also found their way in an earlier period to North Bengal, Assam, and even beyond to ‘Further India’. It is accepted by historians like Suniti K. Chatterjee that Sanskritisation, Hinduisation of the Brahmapura valley was fairly extensive by 12th century, “because the Bramins had started entering Assam from Bengal and Madya Desa from 5th century onwards”.
{Prakash, Col Ved, (2007)pp83}[5]


1.       [1] Majumdar R C (1937) “Suvarnadvipa” ANCIENT INDIAN COLONIES IN THE EAST
3.      [3]  Taw Sein Ko:1913: “BURMESE SKETCHES”
4.      [4] Elizabeth Moore(2004) : “Interpreting Pyu material culture: Royal chronologies and finger-marked bricks” Myanmar Historical Research Journal, No(13) June 2004, pp.1-57
5.      [5]Prakash, Col Ved, (2007)Encyclopaedia of North-East India, Volume 1”
      In fact Kyansittha was not the King of upper Burma, Marramadesa, but the emperor of the whole Brahmadesa, modern Burma. There are many evidences to verify it. And the people of Burma have high respect and regard to this King Kyansittha who is also called Hti-hlaing Min. Now Let us watch the movie “King Kyansittha” tribute to the great King.


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