Arakan

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.

Religious and Scholarly Exchanges between the Singhalese Sangha and the Arakanese and Burmese Theravadin Communities: Historical Documentation and Physical Evidence"
by Catherine Raymod

Presently a component state within the Union of Burma, Arakan was — for at least a full millennium preceding its extinction in 1 784 — an independent kingdom with a well-documented and illustrious history. Buddhism apparendy came to Arakan comparatively early, and in t±ie legends and traditions of the Arakanese, an exemplary, uncorrupted strain of Theravada was maintained there over the centuries, even until today. 

Numerous references are made in the classical chronicles of the Singhalese on one side of the Bay of Bengal, and of the Arakanese and the Burmese on the other, to monastic and scholarly exchanges of paramount importance towards re-animating their respective sanghas after periods of decline. (In some cases, military or economic assistance was also sought, especially where non-Buddhist invaders threatened established Buddhist primacy.) Yet very little physical evidence has so far been identified, dated or catalogued corroborating the tradition of significant Buddhist links between Ceylon and Burma (including Arakan). The unexpected recent discovery in Arakan of a collection of bronze Buddha images in the Singhalese style, and evidendy of Ceylonese origin, is at the centre of the research presented here. 

My objective is to show the role played by the court and sangha of the former kingdom of Arakan in the preservation of Theravada Buddhism in Ceylon, particularly during the sixteenth and seven- teenth centuries. To this end, I have examined local chronicles, epigraphical documents, Singhalese manuscripts, and foreign (usually Western) sources. This is in addition to material archaeological evidence including items of statuary and certain religious structures erected during the Mrauk-u l period, i.e. 1430 through 1784 AD.

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Ancient Arakan Gold and Sliver Coins

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