The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called Rakhaing-pray by its own people, Rakhaing-thar (Arakanese) who were titled this name in honour of preservation on their national heritage and ethics or morality.

An Old City of Dhanyawaddy

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Monday, March 30, 2015 0 comments

 By Tun Shwe Khine (M.A.)

 Buddha preaching king Sanda/CandaSuriya while visit Rakhine with 500 disciples: 554 B.C.

Some twenty one miles north of Mrauk-U and about six miles east of Kyauktaw is an old city of Dhanyawaddy. The earliest city in Rakhine, Dhanyawaddy is situated west of the ridge lying between the Kaladan and Lemro rivers, occupying the well-drained foothill area and backed by the ridge. Remains of the walls and moats of this city can still be seen on many sites. The remains of brick fortifications arc still seen along the ridge which protrudes into the city itself.

The old city was of fairly large size, almost circular in shape, with the eastern wall made of brick at the base of the ridge. On the western side only a small portion of the outer wall remains because of the ravages of the Thare creek, a tributary of the Kaladan. The creek might once have formed the moat on the west side, while on the other three sides the moats had existed although they are now silted over and occupied by paddy fields.

Dhanyawaddy was made up of an outer and inner cities. Looking at the outer city, we find that the east- west diameter is 1.3 miles and north-south diameter is 1.55 miles, so that the shape is that of an irregular circle. It has a perimeter of about 6 miles and encloses an area of about 1.7 square miles.

Within the city, a similar wall and the moat enclose the palace-site which has an area of 64 acres. This inner city, palace-site, is rectangular in shape. The east-west length is about 2,000 feet while the north-south length is about 1,700 feet. The 200-feet-wide moat, circling the inner city, is now covered with paddy fields.

The inner-city was a special site for the royal family. People lived within the outer city which also enclosed the fields they cultivated. The area of the inner city was only 64 acres. In those days of insecurity, when the country was often subjected to raids by various hill tribes, the people felt safer within the walls. By enclosing the paddy fields, the people would have an assured food supply, even under siege, thus permitting them to withstand the siege. Normally, the city, Dhanyawaddy, would have controlled the valley and the lower ridges supporting a mixed wet rice and taungya cultivation, with local chiefs paying allegiance to the king.

At the north-eastern corner of the palace- site is the Mahamuni Shrine, on a small hillock, Sirigupta, once the centre of the royal worship which had played a central role throughout the history of Rakhine. This position, in which the shrine sits at NE site of the palace, is the characteristic position found in many other major shrines of urban Buddhist centres in South-East Asia, such as Thailand and Sri Lanka. This tradition may be related to the early royal ancestors. It can be seen in the aerial photographs that this system has been closely followed by the present shrines.

Although Dhanyawaddy is located about 60 miles from the sea at present, the city might have been a sea port at one time. Small sailing ships could have come right up the Thare creek to the city. In any case Indian culture and influence had penetrated the city by sea as well as by land. Perhaps it was the earliest city built in Indian style, a civilized urban type.

According to Rakhine chronicles, this Dhanyawaddy is the third Dhanyawaddy (B.C. 580 to
325 A.D.). The city was founded by the King Sandasuriya. Nevertheless, after deciphering Anandacandra inscription of Shitthaung Pagoda, Dr. E.H Johnston dated the founding of Vesali as 350 A.D. Dr. Sircar of Indian Archaeological Survey also agrees with him. He is not in agreement with the local chronicles, but he has suggested the date of the founding of Vesali to be about 370 A.D.

If Johnston and Sircar's dates concerning the founding of Vesali are accepted, Dhanyawaddy must have been the capital of Rakhine only up to 330 or 370 A D.

Traditionally, the city is called Dhanyawaddy (grain-blessed). The term applies very fittingly to Dhanyawaddy, which depended principally on the extensive regions of rice land surrounding it. With a rainfall of over 200 inches a year, the corp never failed. Moreover, there were other things that helped maintain itself successfully.

The problem of fresh water supply was acute on the Kaladan plain because of the tidal creek.  For water supply, Dhanyawaddy had to rely upon a lot of reservoirs that stored rain water.

The palace-site, at the centre of the city, was the focal point of an irrigation system which can be discerned in aerial photograph. Water collected in the wet season had been stored in four main reservoirs in city proper, situated on all four sides of the palace site. The reservoirs on the north, east and west are still in use today, the southern one has recently been silted over. The larger one on the east, situated along the inner moat, also appeared to have supplied water to the palace complex.

Dhanya palace entrance with the Mahamuni pagoda in the background

The introduction of wet-rice agriculture and subsequent urbanization is reflected in the chronicled traditions regarding the naming of the city. During Gotama Buddha's stay in Rakhine, He was said to have declared to his disciples:

"In Jambudipa, among the sixteen countries of Majjhimadesa the food offered to the monks consists of a mixture of maize, beans, corn, and millet. But in this country, the food offered consists of various kinds of barley and rice; my preceding elder brother Buddhas ( Kakusan, Gonagamana and Kassapa) had called this country (or this city) Dhanyawaddy and as the inhabitants have never suffered from famine, this region shall in all times continue to be called Dhanyawaddy (i.e. grain-blessed) "

Note: This article, "An Old City of Dhanyawaddy" from the book named "A Guide To Mahamuni: The Highly Venerated Golden Image Of Buddha With Wuthentic Long History" By Tun Shwe Khine ( M. A)


This thesis provides a consonantal comparison of the Burmese, Rakhine and Marma languages of Myanmar and Bangladesh with primary focus on initial and medial consonants Its main purposes are to provide new data from the Rakhine and Marma languages of Bangladesh and to make some initial observations about the historical relationship between the three languages based on compiled consonant correspondences.

Although much literature is available on the Burmese language as the primary representative of the Southern Burmish language, little information is available on Rakhine and Marma. This theis thus extends previous work on the family tree to these two close relatives. It compares new Rakhine and Marma wordlist data from Bangladesh to previously-collected Burmese and Rakhine data from Myanmar. It identifies cognate forms and regular sound correspondences, as well as exceptions, with reference to previsiously documented Burmese sound changes.

Marma is more conservative than Burmese or Rakhine in retaining pronunciation indicated by Written Burmese orthography; in some cases, this is a direct reflex of reconstructed Proto-Tibeto-Burman. Burmese and Rakhine share two innovations that are not found in Marma ([ʧ]

To Download Thesis >>>>Consonant Correspondences of Burmese, Rakhine an d Marma with Initial Implications for Historical Relationships

Arakanese Buddhist Monks and the Therevada Buddhism in Nepal
By Ashin Siri Okkantha
The beginning of the 20th century was the black period in the religious history in Nepal. Hinduism and Mahayana Buddhism prevailed in Nepal. There was no place for Theravada Buddhism in the early 20th century. According to the law of Nepal, the religious conversion was prohibited by the Royal Nepal Government. During the reign of Chandra Shumsher Jung Bahadur Rana (c. A.D 1901 – 29), the Prime Minister of Nepal, expelled the new Buddhist monks. They fled to India and came to see Theravda Buddhist monk in their lives. At that time, Venerable U Chandramuni (an Arakanese Buddhist monk) lived in Kushinagar, he provided and gave shelter to the Nepalese Buddhist in his monastery. And then he preached and taught Theravada Buddhism to them. Venerable Mahapragya was ordained at Kushinagar by Venerable U Chandramuni in 1928.

Venerable Mahapragya was the first Napalese Theravada Buddhist monk (later on disrobed). Another one was Ven, Dhammloka who founded Ananda Kuti Vihara, the first Theravada Buddhist monastery at Katmandu of Nepal. The next most remarkable monk was Ven. Pragnananda Mahasthanbir who was ordained by Ven. U Chandramuni at Kushinagar in 1930. In A Concise Biography, Ven, Pragnananda Mahasthanbir is mentioned that “ Under the advice and inspiration of the Most Venerable Chandramuni Mahathera he was converted from the sect of Lamaisms to Theravada school of Buddhism in the year 1930 A.D. or 2473 B.E.”. At present, he is the Sanghanayaka of All Nepal Bhikkhu Mahasangha in Nepal. Among them was Dr. Ven. Amritananda Thera, a famous Buddhist scholar in Nepal. In 1936, he got his ordination at the holy place of Kushinagar, at 18 years of his age and his Upajjhaya was Ven. U Chandramuni Mahathera.

In 1944, the Ven Pragyananda Mahathera tried to ordain a lady as a Buddhist nun, when he had a chance to live in Nepal. It was unfortunate for Buddhist monks. As soon as the message was received by Prime Minister J.S.J.B Rama, all the eight Theravada Buddhist monks living in Kathmandu were told not to preach the Dhamma. But they could not take care and would not agree to it. On 30th July, 1944, the Prime Minister ordered them to leave the kingdom within three days.

All monks from Nepal arrived in Kushinagar again. They were saved and given suitable shelter in Kushnagar and Sarnath. Then they formed a Buddhist Society of Nepal called ‘Dharmodaya Sabha’ under the chairmanship of the Most Venerable U Chandramuni Mahathera on 30th November, 1944 and Ven. Amritananda was selected as a Secretary at the same time. He visited the Buddhist Societies in India and appealed to them to protect to the Nepalese Government’s policy (the expulsion of the Buddhist monks). They sent letters to influential people in Theravada Buddhist countries for their support to the campaign. Dr. Ven. Aritananda could get the entry permit from the Nepalese government, and then he published various subjects in Buddhism and printed many books in Newari, Nepalese and English. In 1952, he founded the Anandakuti Vidyapith (A Buddhist Boarding High School) in Kathmandu. He led the Nepalese delegation to the foreign countries. Now he is a President of Nepalese Buddhist Sangha in Nepal. In 1968, the late king Mahendra of Nepal honoured him with the title of “Gorkha Dakkshinabahu”. In 1979, Nalanda Pali Post Graduate and Research Institute conferred the Degree of “D.Litt”.

Taking into account the spread of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal Ven. Chandramuni can rightly be called a founder father of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal. Ven. Chandramuni passed away in May, 1972. The noble work initiated by him, has been continued by his disciples, Ven. Gyaneshwar in Kushinagar, Ven. U Kittama (d. 1987) in Sakyamuni Vihar of Varanasi, Ven. U Teikkheindriya (d. 1987) and Ven. Vannadhaja in Sarnath. They are all Arakanese Monks carrying on the noble work from their preceptor Ven. Chandramuni.

Note: This Article is  from "History of Buddhism in Arakan" by Ashin Siri Okkantha (Ph.D Thesis, University of Calcutta, 1990,  Unpublished) P.198, 199, 200

The Funeral of Buddhist Monk

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa 0 comments

The Funeral of Buddhist Monk by Ashin Siri Okkantha

When a monk dies in the village, the villagers in the neighbourhood come to help and take part in the funeral ceremony. The dead body is not cremated on the same day. It is preserved with medicines first in a wood-made coffin, especially built for the purpose, for some months of about a year, keeping it visible to the public in a glass coffin where the dead body is shifted for cremation.
 Singing the cradle-song (Photo: က်ိန္းရိပ္ သဇင္)

 Before the ceremony is held, two or three pandals and more pandals built and then decorated with colourful flowers near the local monastery. The ceremony is generally held for three or seven days. The eldest monk or the eldest of his disciples start the ceremony by citing Metta Sutta and Asubha Bhavana. The dead body is replaced, as noted earlier, from a wooden coffin to a glass coffin before the ceremony. The young girls and boys give theirs teacher their homage, and then they put the body in a cradle decorated with colourful flowers and jewels, and swing it by singing a cradle-song according to the tradition. After the cradle-song, young boys replace the coffin on a bier built as a temporary made of bamboo and colourful paper and play with the cradle gaily, pray for the teacher as their last homage. 

 The Villagers seeing off  the teacher's dead body as their last chance (Photo: က်ိန္းရိပ္ သဇင္)

A wooden chariot is also built where the body is placed. On this occasion, a large gathering is held. People from around participate in it and draw the chariot to earn some merit. There are so many Tala (the temporary temples) due to senior. Kastala: (the temporary temple of bier), San Kyaung: (a temporary temple for swinging and singing the cradle-song), and Laung-teik: (the biggest temporary monastery) and locally made rockets are fired at a distance to the Laung-teik where the dead body is kept on sandal woods. At last the Mangaladone (the biggest rocket) is shot out to the biggest temporary temple, where the body is kept on sandal-wood, burns. Thus the body is cremated in a ceremonious way.

 Locally made-rockets that are fired at a distance to the Laung-teik where the dead body is kept on sandal woods (Photo from : Facebook)

Locally made-rockets that are fired at a distance to the Laung-teik where the dead body is kept on sandal woods (Photo from : Facebook)

At the time of the cremation, the people, in multitude from all villages, collect together and present offerings of flowers and incense sticks. When this is finished, the glass coffin is lifted on the pile over which oil of sweet basil is poured, and then a light is applied. While the fire is blazing, every one, with reverent heart, pulls of his/her upper garment, and throws it on the fire and with his/her feather-fan and umbrella, from a distance into the midst of the flames, to assist the burning. When the ceremony is over, they collect and preserve the bones and ash, and proceeded to erect the memory stupa. 


(Photo: က်ိန္းရိပ္ သဇင္)
The Following Video Clips are called Rakhaing Roe Rar Ta Lar A ka (ရခိုင္႐ိုးရာ တလားအက) or Rakhaing Roe Rar Thaing A Ka (ရခိုင္ရိုးရာသိုင္းအက) (it can be translated the dance into English as Rakhaing Traditional Buddhist Monks-Coffin Dance)
Rakhaing Roe Rar Ta Lar A ka (ရခိုင္႐ိုးရာ တလားအက)

Ta Lar Dance Part 2 (တလားအက -၂)

This Article is  from "History of Buddhism in Arakan" by Ashin Siri Okkantha (Ph.D Thesis, University of Calcutta, 1990,  Unpublished), P. 150, 151. 

The article is about how Arakanese/ Rakhaing/ Rakhine celebrate "The Funeral of Buddhist Monk" in their traditional way. 

4,000 Fishermen Stranded On Indonesian Islands

Posted by Arakan Indobhasa Saturday, March 28, 2015 0 comments

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — The number of foreign fishermen stranded on several remote eastern Indonesian islands has spiraled to 4,000, including some revealed in an Associated Press investigation to have been enslaved.

Many are migrant workers abandoned by their boat captains after the government passed a moratorium on foreign fishing five months ago, according to the International Organization for Migration, which released the figure Friday. However, others have been trapped on the islands for years, after being dumped by fishing boats or escaping into the jungle.

"This is the worst moment in our life right now," one former slave told the AP, which is not releasing the names of the men for their safety. "It is even worse than being in hell. We have to work every day to survive. ... There is no hope for us anymore."

The AP reported earlier this week that slaves — some of them beaten and locked in cages — are forced to fish, and their catch ends up in the supply chains of American supermarkets and restaurants. The migration agency said Friday that the report follows several years of close work with Indonesian authorities to rescue hundreds of fisherman identified as victims of trafficking.

Many of the stranded are men from Myanmar who went to neighboring Thailand in search of work. They were taken by boat to Indonesia, which has some of the world's richest fishing grounds. Others left behind on the islands are Cambodian and a few from the poorer parts of Thailand.

Steve Hamilton, IOM's deputy chief of mission in Indonesia, said for every man they've already rescued, many more now need help. With the fishing ban, boats have docked or fled, ditching their crews.

"It is reasonable to expect many are victims of trafficking, if not outright slavery," he said.

"But for the first time in possibly several years, their feet are touching dry land and there is a real possibility for them to go home, once we and the authorities locate and process them," he said.

About a quarter of the men are in Benjina, a town that straddles two islands in the Maluku chain, according to an Indonesian official who recently visited the area. These men, some abandoned five, 10, even 20 years ago, load and unload fish off boats for food and pocket money, or cut and sell logs in the forest of surrounding areas.

When the AP showed up, asking the men to share their stories, only a few emerged at first out of fear. Then, more and more filtered in, until a group of around 30 formed. Most squatted or sat on the ground, others stood around them as they recounted the horrors they had witnessed at sea. Then one after another, they expressed their desperate desire to go home, saying they were sure their families thought they were dead..

"Our body is here but our mind is at home," one dockworker said. "If it was possible to walk back home, we would do it right away."

Another wiped tears as he spoke, his voice quivering.

"Our lives have no more value than a dog," he said, adding no one cared if they lived or died. The AP is not using the men's names for their safety.

The moratorium was declared by Indonesia's new Fisheries Minister Susi Pudjiastuti to determine which ships are not properly licensed and crack down on illegal foreign boats. Poaching drains billions of dollars from the country, and Pudjiastuti said Friday that stamping it out is key to addressing labor abuses. She added she was horrified knowing fishermen are being enslaved in her country.

"We are not letting this happen," she said. "In the past, it's been a normal practice. Not now. I'm not allowing it."

The Indonesian government has pledged to take legal measures to address what is happening in Benjina and other islands. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha also acknowledged the AP story and said his government was stepping up efforts to prosecute those responsible.

"If they still continue to exploit their fellow human beings, they should not be given any licenses to operate businesses in Thailand, and they must receive the punishment they deserve," Prayuth said in a written response to questions submitted by the Bangkok Post.

However, earlier this week, Prayuth urged journalists not to report on human trafficking without considering how the news would affect the country's seafood industry and reputation abroad.

The U.S. State Department last year blacklisted Thailand for its handling of labor abuses, putting it on par with countries including North Korea and Iran. The Thai government says it is cleaning up the problem and has laid out a plan, including new laws that mandate wages, sick leave and shifts of no more than 14 hours. On Thursday, Thai lawmakers voted unanimously to create tougher penalties for violating the country's anti-human trafficking law, including the death penalty.

On Friday, 21 Thai fishermen who had been stranded in Indonesia returned home to their families, and the government is working to repatriate more.

Major leaders in the U.S. seafood and retail industries sent a letter to the ambassadors of Thailand and Indonesia this week, demanding to know what will be done to free slaves in the seafood industry. Phil Robertson, deputy director of Human Rights Watch's Asia division, also urged Thai authorities to tackle the scourge.

"The Thailand government has made repeated verbal commitments to get tough with traffickers but every time real follow-up has been lacking," Robertson said in an email. "The question now is whether the revelations in AP's article will finally be enough to push Thailand to take long overdue action against fishing vessels that are systematically using slave labor to catch the seafood ending up in America's kitchens."

In the meantime, Ngwe Thein, 42, is one of the thousands of men who are waiting. Thein has been living on an island near Benjina for three years, after being forced to work long hours on a fishing trawler with inadequate food and little or no pay.

He said he left Myanmar, otherwise known as Burma, eight years ago when his country was still under military rule. He did not know about the political and economic changes that began sweeping his country in 2011 or that the oppressive and brutal junta was gone. He asked if Nobel prize-winning opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest.

Hours after the AP talked to him, he got a haircut and changed into a crisp shirt, saying he had hope for the first time that he might get to go home.

"I don't know whether our country is good or bad now," he said. "There is just always a problem for us to survive wherever we are."


Ancient Arakan Gold and Sliver Coins

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