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Abstract
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# Researchers on Myanmar’s history have
found the Ayedawbon treatises to be a
-#ก(#0 1-
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1,21,ก2#&32, ,  #. 452& genre which give a record of historical
events, next in significance to the
1,4,#
 3-
 # 6"% #ก7  #
Myanmar chronicles. The Myanmar term
$ 8ก3กก
ก- ‘Ayedawbon’ is synonymous with the Thai
term, Chotmaihet or Kotmaihet and it
-52# 14,#,6..22
deals with an account or report of
ก
 ก  +    9 . -    # 6  :2  particular events.3 Owing to
circumstances and the time consuming
ก3ก2. ก &32-- nature, never before has anyone attempted
ก;  .2 + $2  &  #, ก ) 6 # 1,$2  : # ก to translate these famous works into the
English language. There are some works
 +&0 ,1,#$25,
5(ก by Myanmar scholars on Ayedawbon
kyans but they do not highlight the section
involving Siam-Myanmar relations. Thus,
1
(   --) This paper is a part of the by studying Ayedawbon treatises, scholars
author’s PhD dissertation entitled “Siam- of Thai studies will acquire new insight,
Myanmar relations from 16th to 19th century reach new interpretations and gain access
through the perspective of the Ayedawbon to richer source materials. The data used
treatises”. in this article relies on a historical
2
(  ) Author of “The Portrayal of
Battle of Ayutthaya in Myanmar Literature”, 3
Aye Kyaw, Dr., ‘Burmese sources for Lan Na
PhD graduate from the Thai Studies Program, Thai History, p. 247.
Faculty of Arts, Chulalongkorn University.
Ayedawbon Treatises

approach and is primarily based on from Thaton. 4 The old Chammadevi


documentary materials. I have surveyed chronicle mentions that when a cholera
seven Ayedawbon treatises which have epidemic broke out, the people of
been handed down from generation to Haripunjaya relocated temporarily to
generation. We have found invaluable Thaton. Relations continued throughout
historical facts which were not mentioned the Mangrai dynasty starting from the time
in Siamese and Myanmar chronicles. In of King Mangrai of Chiang Mai, founder
addition, these treatises refer to Siam- of the Lan Na kingdom. After the
Myanmar warfare in detail. This paper establishment of the Tai kingdoms of Lan
focuses on the significance of the Na, Sukothai and Phayao, the relationship
Ayedawbon treatises and the cryptic between Myanmar and these early
descriptions of seven Ayedawbon treatises. kingdoms of Siam had become manifold.
Cultural exchanges multiplied after 'the
Introduction war of the demise of Queen Suriyothai'
and 'the war of the white elephants' during
the Taungoo period. Dr. Ba Han, the
Owing to rivalry over control of the lower
learned lexicographer, wrote in the journal
part of Myanmar including Tenasserim
of the Burma Research Society: ‘The wind
and the wars of territorial expansion, long
of change in regard to both the matter and
conflicts between Myanmar and Siam
manner of dramatic performance came
ensued for more than four hundred years
from Siam, now Thailand. In the irony of
from the 16th to 19th century. In spite of the
things Siam whose relations with Burma
fact that the history of the two countries'
were punctuated by recurring wars
relationship is so full of conflict,
exercised a paramount influence on the
Myanmar-Thai history is more than just a
growth of the Burmese Drama. Burma
history of warfare.
attacked Ayuthia, the then Siamese capital
no less than six times. Yet the aftermath of
As wars with Siam raged on over centuries,
each war was a cultural gain to Burma to a
the interaction between the two countries
greater or less degree.’5
increased significantly in terms of politics,
economics and culture. Among them, the
In subsequent periods namely Nyaung Yan
cultural aspect is more spectacular, so to
and Konboung, people to people contact
speak. Myanmar and Siam share many
and interactions between the two countries
similarities dating back centuries.
grew to a great extent. The Konboung era
Myanmar has had historical contact with
has been dubbed 'the Golden Age of
Siam since the Dwarawadi period through
Mon in the lower part of Myanmar. 4
Relations between the two countries date Aroonrut Wichienkeeo, ‘Lan Na Relations
back to the reign of Queen Chammadevi with Myanmar,’ Comparative Stuies on
Literature and History of Thailand and
of Haripunjaya (Lamphun) when
Myanmar (Yangon, 1997), p. 56.
Theravada Buddhism was imported into 5
Ba Han, Dr.,’The evolution of Burmese
Haripujaya, first from Lopburi and later dramatic performances and festival occasions,’
JBRS, vol. 49, pt.1 (June 1966) p.8.

45
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Literature' in Myanmar because Enaung when studying Myanmar- Siam relations.


Zat, 6 the first Myanmar court drama, As we are well aware, both Myanmar and
followed by Ramayana which was brought Siamese literature can boast a respectable
by the prisoners of war of 1767 to the antiquity. However, very little is actually
Myanmar court, paved the way for the known by scholars of both countries
blossoming of Myanmar dramatic plays. except for a few professional historians
Moreover, Myanmar adapted Siamese who know of both literatures and this vast
songs and created (35) new classical field has yet to be investigated
verses such as taydat,7 dwaygyo,8 laygyo,9 systematically.
bawle,10 etc.
Myanmar classical literature has several
What's more, the Crown Prince Thado genres written in prose or in poetic form
Minsaw in King Bodawpaya's reign was which provide a historical account of
ordered to form an eight member successive dynasties. Examples of
commission to translate the stories and prominent prose writings in Myanmar
plays that has been brought back from literature are: Yazawin, 11 Αyedawbon
Ayutthaya and Chiang Mai over the treatises, 12 Dhamathat, 13 Royal orders,
previous two decades. Therefore, many Myitarsar, 14 Hlauk Htone, 15 Amaydawphyay
writings and poems reflecting Myanmar- Kyan, 16 Sitan, 17 Minkhandaw Sardan, 18 and
Siam relation are copious in Myanmar Thanyawgadipani,19 as well as others.
literature.
As Myanmar literature grew, poetry
Likewise, Thailand has had many great became the most popular form. The
kings as well as heroes and heroines who flexibility of the Myanmar language,
have risen from past conflicts with because of its monosyllabic and tonal
Myanmar. Heroic struggles between these nature and its lack of many consonantal
people have been portrayed in novels, finals allowed poetry to utilize various
plays, films and in school text books. rhyme schemes. There are over fifty forms
Furthermore, Royal chronicles, literary
classics and historical novels relating to
11
the wars with Myanmar are ever present in chronicle.
12
Thai literature. records of the struggle by the king
13
law books.
14
Thus, in the context of Siam-Myanmar letters of affection, not love letters.
15
a compilation of learned discourses or
relations, Myanmar and Siamese classical
memorable sayings presented to the king by
literature have become a source of history scholars or ministers
16
a compilation of questions and problems
6
Prince Inao play posed by the king, or learned ministers, with
7
type of Myanmar lyric poem. answers given by venerable monks or eminent
8
kind of Myanmar poem consisting of two scholars
17
stanzas. revenue inquest
9 18
kind of four stanza verse. Treatise on Royal Ceremonies
10 19
plaintive song. Treaties on orthography

46
Ayedawbon Treatises

of verse such as Pyo,20 Yadu,21 Mawgun,22 emphasis on the life of a particular king
eigyin, 23 Igyin, 24 angyin, 25 thagyin, 26 but on events in Rakhine region.
Kargyin, 27 tajagyin 28 . Each one of them
has it own rules and composition. They are In his book On Both Sides of the
worth studying as they supply a mass of Tenasserim Range, Sunait Chutintaranond
historical facts and figures. rightly points out that the Mawgun, Eigyin,
Chronicles, and Ayedawbon kyans are all
All researchers accept that out of the texts invaluable sources for the study of
in prose and in poetic form, the Myanmar-Siam warfare, providing details
Ayedawbon treatises are one of the which cannot be found anywhere in Thai
momentous genres in Myanmar literature. documents.30
In fact, they are next in significance to
stone inscriptions and chronicles. They are Most people give full priority only to the
the historical account of the struggle of Chronicles and conveniently forget to pay
one king and his military campaigns both attention to the Ayedawbon treatises. It
at home and abroad. According to Dr. Hla would not be an exaggeration to say that if
Pe, they are a subsidiary source in we neglect this prominent genre of
Myanmar historiography.29 Myanmar literature in studying Myanmar-
Thai relations, we would be like trying to
In spite of the fact that these Ayedawbon catch a moon beam or a blind man looking
treatises are few in number, they are of for a black cat in a dark room that isn't
immense importance and they are one of there. Owing to the reasons above and the
the vital genres in Myanmar literature. It significance of the Ayedawbon treatises in
should also be noted that though most Myanmar literature, I chose to focus on
Ayedawbon treatises focus on individual this genre.
kings, some Ayedawbons such as
Dhanyawadi Ayedawbon does not place Ayedawbon Treatises

As mentioned earlier, the Ayedawbon


20
poems based on the Jataka Tales treatise is basically a detailed record of the
21
lyrical ode on the seasons, love struggle by one person. It matters not
22
record of important events whether he was successful in his
23
a royal lullaby endeavour. History has shown that there
24
a kind of folk song
25 were many brave people who struggled for
song sung by royal raft men
26
melodious song about past events their causes and eventually gained
27
martial song possession of the throne but others, such
28
a kind of Myanmar classical song with the
same opening and closing note
29 30
Hla Pe, U. Burma: Literature, Sunait Chutintaranond. and Than Tun. On
Historiography, Scholarship, Language, Life Both Sides of the Tenaserim Range: History of
and Buddhism. Institute of Southeast Asian Siamese Burmese Relations. Chulalongkorn
Studies, Heng Mui Keng Terrace, Pasir University Phyathai, Bangkok 10330, Thailand.
Panjang, Singapore 0511, 1985. P 41. 1995. p 54.

47
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

as Princes Myingon and Myinkhontaing's 1961 by the Ministry of Culture. 32 Still


Ayedawbon, ended up in utter failure. It another version of Alaungpaya
also records military campaigns waged by Ayedawbon was collated and edited by
one king to expand territories or make his Daw Ohn Kyi (a member of Myanmar
influence felt by neighbouring countries historial commission) and has been
and invariably includes a plethora of published in book form under the title
military strategies and tactics to be applied ‘Alaung Mintaya Ayedawbon.’
in war. Apart from these, Ayedawbon
could be the record of the achievements of The remaining two Ayedawbon kyans
great kings such as the building of a new Majjhimadesa Ayedawbon and Hsin Phyu
royal palace or city, construction and Shin Ayedawbon will also be discussed in
repairing of pagodas, propagating the this dissertation. Though these treatises are
Buddha Sasana, etc. not defined as real Ayedawbons, they are
great works of the Myanmar literati of the
There are about seven Ayedawbon kyans Konboung era. These treatises concern
or treatises but Myanmar historians some important events in the reign of King
classify only five as prominent. Bodawpaya.

Dhanyawadi Ayedawbon Meaning of the word 'Ayedawbon'


Rajadirit Ayedawbon
Hanthawadi Hsin Phyu Mya Shin The meaning of the word Ayedawbon must
Ayedawbon first be explained, for its meaning has
Alaung Mintayagyi Ayedawbon changed slightly over the years from its
Nyaung Yan Mintaya Ayedawbon former use.

These five Ayedawbon texts were first The standard Myanmar-English Dictionary
printed as a whole in 1923 with the compiled and published by the Myanmar
collective title: Ayedawbon Nga Saung Language Commission of the Ministry of
Dwe or 'five volumes of Ayedawbon', by Education generates two English meanings
the Thudhamawadi Press of Yangon. 31 of the Myanmar word Ayedawbon
Since then, there have been later editions
of these collective Ayedawbon texts, noun 1. [archaic] historical
enlarged from the original five to six after account of a royal
another version of the Alaung Mintayagyi campaign (as in Rajadirit
Ayedawbon was found in the National Ayedawbon)
Library of Myanmar, and published in

31
Ayedawbon Nga Saung Twe, Yangon: 32
Ayedawbon Chauk Saung Twe. Also
Thudamawadi Press….1961. See also Thaw
Kaung, ‘Aspects of Myanmar history and Alaungpaya Ayedawbon hnit Saung Twe: ed.
culture,’ p. 128. By U Hla Tin (Hla Thamain)….1961.

48
Ayedawbon Treatises

2. social or political In his article ' Burmese Concepts of


uprising; revolution.33 Revolution', a fresh meaning of
Ayedawbon has been given by Dr. Robert
The Judson Burmese-English Dictionary, H. Taylor. He also discusses the original
compiled by Dr. Adoniram Judson, revised meaning:
and enlarged by Robert C. Stevenson and
Rev. F. H. Eveleth does not have an entry "The root of Ayedawbon is ayei,
for Ayedawbon, but has entries for the root meaning a business or affair, to
word Ayedaw and another for Ayebonsa a which is appended taw (daw) the
less common Myanmar word, a variant of suffix denoting royalty, a deity, or
the word Ayedawbon treatises.34 (now) the state – and bon (pun), a
narrative or sequence of events,
Judson gives the following English giving literally 'story of royal or
meanings: state affairs'. Judson, in a
dictionary he prepared in the early
[Ayedawbon]. noun. a representation nineteenth century, noted that
of affairs, account, history.35 ayei-daw, while literally meaning
[Ayedaw], noun. literary. A royal royal affairs, was a term applied
affair; a term applied to wars especially to wars waged by kings,
waged by the king, rebellions, etc. but also rebellions, etc., while
[Ayebonsa], noun. a journal of ayei-bon-sa (meaning paper) was a
military occurrences.36 journal of military occurrences. In
current daily parlance the term is
Dr. Hla Pe, in his article entitled generally taken to mean the style
'Observation on some of the indigenous or nature of a movement or matter
sources for Burmese history down to 1886', concerning royalty or the state; it
also defines Ayedawbon as a ' royal affair: indicates a political movement in a
it generally consists of the struggle for similar but more forceful sense
power, a savouring of Hitler's Mein than the alternative but neutral
kampf.37 term hlok-sha-hmu. An ayei-daw-
bon is also a body of literature,
33 being the five or six historical
Myanmar-English Dictionary, 2nd edition,
accounts of the struggle for power
1993. p 578
34 by Kings Danyawdi, Yazadarit,
Thaw Kaung, U. Ayedawbon kyan, Aspect
Hanthawadi Hsinbyushin, Nyaungyan
of Myanmar history and culture. Loka Ahlinn
publishing house, Yangon, 2010. p. 14. Min, and Alaungpaya."38
35
Judson, Adoniram, 'A Dictionary of the
Burman Language, Unauthorized 1st ed. to 1886', Burma: Literature, historiography,
Calcutta: Baptist Mission Press, 1826, p.28. scholarship, language, life and Buddhism,
36
The Judson Burmese-English Dictionary, 2nd Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian
ed. 1921, p.100. Studies, 1985, p. 42.
37 38
Hla Pe, 'Observations on some of the R H. Taylor, Burmese concepts of
indigenous sources for Burmese history down revolution, in Context meaning and power in

49
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Characteristics of the Ayedawbon Ayedawbon treatises contain a vast


Treatises quantity of facts and figures. Many of the
authors were military commanders, able
The following characteristics will be ministers and competent writers who had
evident in a classic Ayedawbon access to court records. They are
dissertation: accounts of contemporary writings as well as reliable
sources and have the merit of being
(1) how individuals of prowess pursue and extremely informative. It is essential to
overcome seemingly insurmountable explore these treatises so as to be more
obstacles to achieve success (but not efficient in dealing with the histories of
necessarily to obtain the throne), both countries and the relations between
(2) how Myanmar kings deal with various them.
states of affairs in their realm, be it the
crushing of rebellions, gaining of For example, the contemporary, eye-
white elephants or the building of witness account of the campaigns and
pagodas, cities, roads, etc. achievements of King Bayintnaung is an
(3) how wars were waged to amalgamate invaluable record of Myanmar history.
the breakaway small kingdoms and to The author mentions in the colophon that
make the king’s influence felt by the he compiled the Ayedawbon using
neighboring countries, contemporary sources, some inscriptions
(4) Important achievements in a particular and 235 records of notable events that took
king's reign. place during the reign. From these records
he selected 135, of which 100 were
Significance of the Ayedawbon Treatises rejected as not worthy of being recorded in
his Ayedawbon.39
The uniqueness of these Ayedawbon
treatises is that while almost all historical Likewise, Alaungpaya's campaign against
writings from 16th to 19th century were Ayutthaya is an eye-witness account
written in poetic form, they are historical because the author Letwe Nawrahta
texts in prose written by different accompanied the king on the campaign in
Myanmar literati at different times in Ayutthaya. Similarly, Rajadirit Ayedawbon is a
history. Some Ayedawbons like Rajadirit compilation and translation into the
Ayedawbon are good examples of Myanmar language from Mon historical
Myanmar prose of the 16th century and records. It was written nearly 500 years
also examples of early translation into ago.
Myanmar from Mon.

39
Thaw Kaung, Ayedawbon Kyan, an
Important Myanmar Literary Genre Recording
Southeast Asia. (Ithaca, N.Y. Cornell Historical Events, Aspects of Myanmar History
University SEAP, 1986). p 82. and Culture, P.21.

50
Ayedawbon Treatises

Αyedawbon kyans were known in the past, compiled three years after the conquest of
and parts were summarized in well known Rakhine by King Bodawpaya of the
Myanmar chronicles and other documents. Konboung dynasty and was finished in
They may not revolutionize our view of ME 1150 (1788 CE).
the history of the relationship between the
two countries but it is full of fascinating He was one of the missionary monks sent
details as they were written by men who by King Bodawpaya to Rakhine to take
took a leading part in the events that were charge of the clergy in Sandoway
recorded. district. 40 At the conclusion, Dwarawati
Sayadaw clearly states that the work was
Apart from Myanmar-Siam relations and based on the great chronicle of 48 anga41
warfare, these Ayedawbon treatises cover compiled by the learned Rakhine scholar
the histories of the four principal tribes of Maram Amat Myo So Phat Tat Toe We
Myanmar; for example, Dhanyawdi who was well versed in affairs both Loki
Ayedawbon deals with successive (secular affairs) and Lokuttara (affairs not
dynasties of Rakhine kings. Similarly, concerned with worldly desires and
Razadirit Ayedawbon kyan is related to attachments).
Mon Kings Magadu or Wareru and
Rajadirit. And the other treatises involve It covers the period from the reign of King
Myanmar kings, Myanmarised Shan kings Kanraja Gyi (c. 825 CE) to 1784 CE when
and the rulers of petty Shan states. So they Rakhine was incorporated into Myanmar
are a mine of information on the histories by King Bodawpaya.
of these tribes.
From time immemorial, Rakhine has been
The subjects covered in the Ayedawbon called Dhanyawadi, the land of bountiful
treatises, are events during the reigns of rice. There are 5 periods in Rakhine
some of the great kings of Myanmar and history;
are important not only for Myanmar
history but for Thai history as well, Dhanyawadi period (3325 BCE to
especially Rajadirit, Hanthawadi Hsin 327 CE),
Phyu Mya Shin and Alaung Mintayagyi Vesali period (350 to 776 CE),
Ayedawbon treatises. Lemro period (818 to 1250 CE),
Laungret period (1250 to 1420
Historical Periods Covered in Each CE), and
Ayedawbon Kyan
40
Dhanyawadi Ayedawbon UTet Htoot,U. 'The Nature of the Burmese
Chronicles', p. 51
41
The authorship of Dhanyawadi Ayedawbon is (One anga has 12 palm leaves and so
attributed to Dwarawati (Thandwe) Sayadaw twenty-four pages of writing. The old
chronicle must have had 576 palm leaves and
Kavisarabhi Siripavara Agga Maha
double the amount in pages) Tet Htoot, U. The
Dharmma Rajadhi Raja Guru. It was Nature of the Burmese Chronicles, p 57.

51
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Mrauk-U period (1430 to 1785 When King Min Ba ascended the throne in
CE). 1531, he asserted that this debt of gratitude
had to come to an end and these lands had
This Ayedawbon treatise provides short to be returned. Accordingly, he invaded
accounts of the early reigns of the Rakhine Bhanga and re-conquered these lands. His
kings. In the olden days, Rakhine was successors were also warrior kings. From
independent of Myanmar proper and its 1578 to 1629, they established Rakhine as
influence expanded to the Bengal region. the regional power status.
Successive Rakhine kings ruled over
twelve Bhanga cities 42 such as Dhaka, One interesting event took place during
Chittagong and Murshidabad up to 1666 the reign of King Man Raja-kri (1593-
CE. At that time, there existed three 1612). He joined the King of Taungoo in
independent kingdoms namely the an attack on Hanthawadi and sent a fleet
Sultanate of Dhaka, the Sultanate of Delhi under the command of his son, prince Man
and the kingdom of Tipura in the northern Khamaung. Hanthawadi fell to the
and eastern part of India. Early Rakhine combined forces of Rakhine and Taungoo.
history covers the uninterrupted rivalry Shortly after this, the Siamese king
between these three kingdoms. Naresuan invaded Myanmar, went up to
Taungoo to capture Nanda Bayin 43 but
The text also reveals the many homilies failed. He carried off a sizeable number of
and wise counsels given to various kings Siamese and Mon people to Siam. In the
on good governance by sagacious men and land and sea battles, Rakhine naval forces
ministers. cut off the supply lines of the Siamese
forces. While retreating, King Naresuan's
In 1406, King Narramaikhla fled from the army was invested by Sak (Thet) tribes,44
Myanmar invasion and took refuge in allies of Rakhine king. They achieved
Gaur, the capital of the Sultanate of Dhaka. success in capturing the White Prince, the
After spending twelve years in Gaur, he younger brother of King Naresaun and
came back to Rakhine around 1428 CE
and retook the throne with the help of the
Sultan of Dhaka and his brother, the ruler
43
of Sandoway. The king established a new Phayre adopted the name Nanda Bayin for
capital at Mrauk U. As a token of gratitude the son of Bayintnaung. Nanda Bayin is very
for helping him, he gave twelve cities back puzzling to the Burmese as it does not sound
like a Burmese name. Nanda Bayin is known
to the Sultan of Dhaka. Moreover, he and
as Ngazudayaka in Burmese Chronicles. Tet
his descendent kings adopted Muslim titles Htut, 'The Nature of the Burmese Chronicles',
and had their coins minted according to foot note, p.58
the Bhanga model. 44
Thet, one of the nationalities of the Republic
of the Union of Myanmar speaking Thet-
Myanmar and mainly inhabiting the northern
42 part of the Rakhine State,’ from Myanmar-
All these cities are in present day
Bangladesh. English Dictionary, printed by Yarpyi, No.38,
109st, Manglataungnyut Tsp, Yangon, p. 346.

52
Ayedawbon Treatises

sent him to the Rakhine king. He was later When the king reached that place, the
ransomed and returned home.45 sword emerged as the soldiers
inadvertently trod on it. After investigation,
From 1666 CE onwards, Rakhine power frightened bearers revealed the truth. The
gradually declined. The later kings were king said that Banya Dala would not dare
non-entities and these weak kings failed to to make an attempt on his life. Even if he
adjust to a rapidly changing political and did, it would be impossible on a king such
economic environment in the second half as himself. No action was taken against
of the seventeenth century. Banya Dala but all the Mon bearers were
executed.
This treatise ends with the fall of Mrauk U,
the last capital of Rakhine in 1784 CE. It The second attempt on the king's life
ended the long line of Rakhine kings when occurred at the Shwe Maw Daw pagoda. A
Rakhine was permanently incorporated dozen Mons were stationed at the Maha
into Myanmar by King Bodawpaya. Ram arch entrance above the covered
passage. When the king had climbed the
Rajadirit Ayedawbon stairway and arrived at the Archway, the
would-be assassins could not stand and
The history of Thaton-Hanthawadi was fell to the ground because of the
recorded in two volumes in ancient Mon omniscient power of the king. They
literature. Banya Dala, the Mon minister confessed that they had acted on according
and a general of King Bayintnaung, to Banya Dala's plan. The king uttered the
translated the first volume from King same words as on the previous occasion.
Wareru (Magadu) to Rajadirit into Banya Dala was forgiven but all the
Myanmar and named it 'The Struggle of assassins were killed.
Rajadirit'.46
Banya Dala's last attempt on the king's life
For all his brilliance, the author Banya happened during the king's pilgrimage to
Dala was not loyal to the king. He plotted the Dagon Pagoda in the royal raft. Two
many times to assassinate Bayintnaung but Mon swordsmen who were able to
the latter spared him because he was a submerge themselves under the water for
wise man. When King Bayintnaung quite a long time waited under the royal
conquered Hanthawadi, Banya Dala, raft to murder the king when he mounted
having conspired with the Mon bearers of the raft. Because of the traces of the
the king's palanquin, buried a sword at one bubbles on the water, the two Mons were
point of the procession route of the king. discovered. As in the previous two cases,
the king pardoned Banya Dala but the two
culprits were sentenced to death.47
45
Though this information needs verifying, it
is a rare act which is not mentioned in Siamese
47
and Myanmar chronicles. Ba Thaung, Bohmu (Maung Thuta).
46
C.T. Aung, 'The Struggle of Rajadharit, The Sarsodaw-mya athotkepatti…5th ed. rev. by U
Guardian Daily, Yangon, November 19, 1977 Khin Aye. Yangon: Yarpyi Saroke Taik

53
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

He was disgraced by King Bayintnaung with the death of King Rajadirit in 1423.
only when he committed a blunder in his In the history of Myanmar, King
military campaigns in Siam. As a result, he Anawrahta crushed Mon power and
was banished from the court to a malarious throughout the Bagan period, Myanmar
place called Zanet in Siam and died in the dominated Thaton, then the seat of power
province of Kamphaengphet. of the Mons until the fall of Bagan to the
Mongols in the thirteenth century.
When this Ayedawbon was first published
in 1923, the Thudhamawadi editors About that time, young Magadu, who had
erroneously attributed the authorship to eloped with the daughter of Phra Ruang,
Sithu Gamani Thingyan. But U Yan, the king of Sukhothai, rose to power and
Royal Librarian of King Mindon and King exercised his authority over Mottama and
Thibaw in the Konboung period, states Hathawadi. Later, the Sukhothai king
that Sithu Gamani Thingyan wrote only conferred him the title 'Wareru' (in Thai,
two historical works, namely the Zimme Fa rua) and sent a white elephant to
Yazawin (the Myanmar chronicle of Mottama as a royal gift. This king is well
Chiangmai) and the Rakhine Yazawin. known in Myanmar for his achievement in
the compilation of law books called
U Yan and later U Pe Maung Tin stated 'Wareru Dhamathat'; actually a digest of
that this Ayedawbon was by Banya Dala, the laws of Manu.
and this is supported by U Maung Maung Gyi
and Dr. Yi Yi. So, there is no controversy in Rajadirt succeeded his father, King Banya
connection with the authorship of this U in 1383 CE. This king was well versed
Ayedawbon. in the art of war. After suppressing all the
Mon rebels, he waged war with the
There is another palm-leaf manuscript Myanmar king of Innwa. The
entitled Magadu Ayedawbon in the British Mon/Myanmar war lasted 40 years
Library, Oriental and India Office without victory to either side. To learn old
Collections (Burmese manuscript no. Myanmar military strategies and tactics, a
3449). Further examination of the text this Mon Chronicle which perhaps is a source
has revealed the first portions of the of the Rajadirit Ayedawbon Treatise was
Rajadirit Ayedawbon. So it cannot be translated into Siamese during the reign of
designated as a separate one.48 King Rama I. There are several versions of
this Ayedawbon but the most influential
The text begins with Magadu also known one was to the order of King Rama I.
as King Wareru (CE 1284-1296) and ends Another version was translated by Chao
Phraya Phra Khlang. Later, this classic
(distributor); Lawka Sarpay (publisher), 2002. piece of literature found its way into Thai
p. 97. school texts, plays and television series
48
Thaw Kaung, Ayedawbon Kyan, an under the name ‘Rachathirat’.
Important Myanmar Literary Genre Recording
Historical Events, Aspects of Myanmar History
and Culture, P.29

54
Ayedawbon Treatises

Banya Dala's writing has been praised as a This Ayedawbon can be divided into two
model of good Myanmar prose of the early parts.
Toungoo period and the text was
prescribed for Myanmar literature students The first part concerns the conquest of
at one time.49 King Bayintnaung over various tribes and
small kingdoms in Myanmar. The king
Although the text focuses on King first reunified the country and later
Rajadirit's wars against King Min Gaung founded the largest empire in mainland
in the First Innwa period, there is mention Southeast Asia. He conquered Hanthawadi
of many interactions between Myanmar in 1551, Innwa in 1555, and Mongmit,
and the early kingdoms of Siam in this Hsipaw, Mohnyin, Mogaung, Mongnai,
Ayedawbon. Yawnghwe in 1557.

Hanthawadi Sinphyumyashin The second part deals with his foreign


Ayedawbon wars. He fought wars with Manipur,
Chiang Mai, Ayutthaya, Lin Zin,
This treatise describes the life and the Sipsaungpana53 and northern Vietnam. He
military campaigns of King Bayintnaung also sent five shiploads of soldiers to help
(1551-1581). The main reference source the Sri Lankan king fight against his
for Myanmar classical literature, viz, the enemies.
Pitakat-taw Thamaing50 by U Yan says
that it was written by a Saya51 whose name Myanmar literary works abound in
is not known. Different scholars at descriptions of great marches by his
different times have attributed authorship armies and the beautiful scenery of
to Letwe Nawrahta and to U Tun Nyo52. Chiangmai and Ayutthaya. Interestingly, a
However, thanks to the efforts of controversial and legendary figure,
Myanmar historians, we can now solve Princess Supankalyar, elder sister of the
this problem. The authorship has been Black and White Princes, was said to have
attributed to Yazataman (Oke-tha-raw), lived at that time.
the commander of a cavalry troop division
and later minister at the court of This energetic king was variously named
Hanthawadi, and the date of compilation is as 'a king without a kingdom,' 'the
ME 926 ( 1564 CE). conqueror of ten directions,' etc. He spent
most of his reign on military campaigns.
His forces were about to invaded Rakhine
49
when he died at the age of 66.
'Zaw Gyi, pen-name of famous Myanmar
author U Thein Han, 'Mon Wungyi hnint
Myanmar zagapye,' reprinted in Rajadirit
Ayedawbon 3rd ed. Yangon: Zwe sarpay Yeik
Myon, 1974. p. nsa to pna.
50
bibliography
51 53
teacher presentday Xishuangbanna Dai Αutonomous
52
Twin-thin Taik Wun Maha Sithu Prefecture, Yunnan

55
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Nyaung Yan Mintaya Ayedawbon King Anaukphetlon completed the task left
unfinished by his father. He defeated the
The Nyaung Yan Mintaya Ayedawbon Portugese at Cyrim (Thanlynn) in 1613;
covers the reigns of two kings, Nyaung recovered the upper Tenasserim coast to
Yan and his son, Anaukphetlun. This Tavoy and Lan Na from the Siamese by
Ayedawbon has some problems: it is not 1614; and the trans-Salween Shan states in
listed by U Yan and the author's name is 1622-1626.
also not given in the text.
Both these kings tried to rebuild the
After careful scrutiny of the text, Dr. Yi Myanmar Empire to its former glory. Lan
Yi, a famous historian, stated that it is a Na was then split into two regions; Chiang
composite work with the text having been Saen and Chiang Mai.
either directly copied or adapted from U
Kala's Maha Yazawin- gyi, (Great Although this Ayedawbon does not reveal
Chronicle), vols. 3 to 17 and 18 and from much about Myanmar-Siam relations, we
Min Ye Dibba Eigyin, written around can deduce them from other sources since
1608 CE by Shin Than Kho (1518- a great deal of interaction between the
1638).54 countries took place during that period.

Earlier, in 1920, the editors of the five Alaung Mintayagyi Ayedawbon


volumes of Ayedawbon treatises had
attributed authorship to Maha Αtula This Ayedawbon (which exists in three
Dammika Yazar, the Judge who was the different texts) covers Alaungpaya's
eater of Myin-khon-taing town in the struggle for the reunification of the
introduction of the Thudhamawadi edition. country after crushing the Mons.
According to U Yan, there are two
The text says that the interregnum that versions. One is by Letwe Nawrahta which
followed the fall of First Taungoo was is a contemporary record written during
short-lived. One of Bayintnaung's sons, the King Alaungpaya's reign. The other
ruler of Naungyan province, immediately version is by Twin-thin Taik Wun Mingyi
began the reunification effort, restoring Maha Sithu, i.e. U Tun Nyo, a native of
central authority over Upper Myanmar and Maung Htaung village of Alon Myo. U Yan
Shan states in 1606. However, he died does not give any further details.
before he could subjugate the smaller
kingdoms in the lower part of Myanmar. Myanmar historians later attributed the
authorship of two different texts to Letwe
54
Yi Yi, Dr. 'Ayedawbon kyan mya pyat- Nawrahta and the other to Twin Thin Taik
thana,' [The problems of Ayedawbon kyan], in Wun Mahasithu. Both of them were
Kantha Sein Lei sardanmya. Yangon: Minhla ministers at the court of the early
Sarpay, 1969. p. 30-62. See also Thaw Kaung,
Konboung kings.
‘Aspects of Myanmar History and Culture, p.
22.

56
Ayedawbon Treatises

Αlaungpaya was king of Myanmar from Sandoway (Than Dwe) town. There were
1752 to 1760, and the founder of the four administrative regions in Rakhine
Konboung Dynasty. By his death in the during King Bodawpaya's reign:
1760, this former chief of a small village Dhanyawadi (Myrauk U), Ramawadi
had unified Myanmar, crushed the Mon's (Ramree Island), Dwarawadi (Than Dwe),
authority, subdued Manipur, and and Mawghawadi (Man Aung Island).
recovered Lan Na. He also changed the According to Myanmar historian U Thaw
name of Dagon city to Yangon which Kaung, a manuscript form of this
means the end of enemy in 1755. He was a Ayedawbon was discovered in the 1950's
charismatic military leader of the first in the British Library in London and at the
quality; lavish in praising and rewarding Universities Central Library in Yangon.
his subjects – and merciless to them in
failure. 'Majjhima' is a Pali word for the middle
place including the sixteen countries of
In 1758, Αlaungpaya dispatched an India, famous in Buddhist history. 'Desa' is
expedition to the northern Shan states region so it's meaning implies 'middle
including Xishuagbanna in Yunan which country' in central India. It gives accounts
had been annexed by the Qing Dynasty of of rebellions against Myanmar rule in the
China in the mid-1730s. By early 1759, Rakhine region from 1794 to 1811 and one
Myanmar had successfully reestablished Myanmar mission led by the author Zaya
its authority. (The Chinese attempt to re- Kyaw Htin to India during the reign of
conquer the region would lead to the Sino– King Bodawpaya. The problem with this
Myanmar War (1765-1769). Ayedawbon is that the author does not call
it an Ayedawbon but only a Sadan or
He is considered one of the three greatest Treatise. Dr. Yi Yi, who specialized in
kings of Myanmar, alongside Anawrahta problems of Ayedawbon treatises, rejected
and Bayintnaung, for unifying the country it from the Ayedawbon list.
for the third time in Myanmar history. He
had reigned only eight years, and was a The text can be divided into three parts:
few months short of reaching 46 when he
died. Then again, G.E. Harvey writes that Part.1 covers the period of rebellion
'men are remembered by the years they use, against Myanmar rule by Nga Pawlon,
not by the years they last'. Nga Khywe Pauk and Khywe Ta Koung
Naing (crusher of one buffalo) from
This Ayedawbon ends with Alaungpaya's about CE 1794 to 1795.
death on his return journey after the failed
campaign against Ayutthaya in 1760. The Rakhine people expected that the
Myanmar conquest of Rakhine by King
Majjhimadesa Ayedawbon Bodawpaya in 1785 would bring peace to
their country. The people exulted at the
Majjhimadesa Ayedawbon is written by prospect of relief from the utterly chaotic
Nay Myo Zaya Kyaw Htin, Governor of situation in the country and frequent civil

57
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

wars; but their hopes were soon dissipated In 1794, the Myanmar general,
by the king's severe treatment, and they Nandakyoazo along with the author Nay
began to revolt. Myo Zaya Kyaw Htin, with a force of five
thousand men crossed the Naff River near
From 1784 to 1816 CE, King Bodawpaya its mouth, to demand the surrender of the
waged 6 major foreign wars to conquer three rebels, who were charged with
neighbouring countries. Just one year after insurgence, robbery, and murder. He
the occupation of Rakhine, the king established his force in British territory
launched a massive attack on Bangkok. He and was confronted by a detachment of
marched against Zinme' in the same year. troops under Major-General Erskine which
In 1797, he invaded Zinme' for the second was sent from Calcutta to oppose this
time. The king dispatched his army to aggression. Negotiations ensued and the
occupy Manipur in 1806. In 1813, he Myanmar general consented to withdraw,
marched again on Manipur. The king on the assurance that an inquiry would be
fought a war with Assam and occupied the made into the charges brought.
town in 1816. Many people of Rakhine
were conscripted to take part in these wars. The result was that the three insurrectionists
They had to shoulder a heavy burden by were delivered up as fugitive criminals. On the
paying a large amount of tax and way to Amarapura, Khywe Ta Koung Naing
supplying provisions. Another cause of managed to escape at Hsin Phyu Island but the
discontent was that thousands of Rakhine other two freedom fighters were executed. In
people were forced to labour on the 'works the hope of preventing a recurrence of any
of merit' undertaken by Bodawpaya to such aggression, and of improving the
repair the Maithtila tank and build the trade existing between the two countries,
Mingun stupa and bell. Captain Symes was deputed by the
Governor-general of India, to be envoy to
The perpetrators of the insurrection Nga Bodawpaya in 1795.
Pawlon, Nga Khywe Pauk and Khywe Ta
Koung Naing 55 , maintained a guerilla Part. 2 is on Nga Chin Byan's rebellion
resistance for some years. Owing to from about 1798 to 1814 CE.
suppression and heavy taxes, thousands of
people abandoned their country, and took In 1798, events similar to those of 1794
refuge in British territory, where they were again occurred on the frontier of Rakhine.
permitted to settle on unoccupied land. The combined forces of four governors of
The three instigators, after having Rakhine suppressed the rebellion and as a
maintained the struggle for independence, result, thousands of Rakhine people
were compelled to cross the border. emigrated into the district of Chittagong.
Once more a Myanmar military force
crossed into British territory to compel the
rebels to return. Negotiation took place
and the Myanmar army withdrew.
55
crusher of one buffalo.

58
Ayedawbon Treatises

This time, the name of the rebel leader was As Nga Chin Byan had again taken refuge
Nga Chin Byan. He was so named because in British territory, the governor of
by the time he had been born, his father Rakhine marched with an army to the
Nge Thandwe had arrived back from his frontier and required the surrender of the
tour to the Chin Hills. Nga Chin Byan's rebels, threatening penalties if the
father was none other than the one who demands were not complied with. This
went to Amarapura beseeching aid to triggered another series of negotiations
restore law and order in Rakhine due to between the governor and the British
the upheaval from 1782 to 1784. After the magistrate of Chittagong, which ended in
occupation of Rakhine, King Bodawpaya the Myanmar troops being withdrawn
appointed him governor of Dhanyawadi from the frontier.
but later he and his son revolted against
the Myanmar rule. Na Chin Byan continued raids intermittently on
the frontier of Rakhine. Finally, in 1814, the
Nga Chin Byan also fled into the district British government allowed Myanmar
of Chittagong. There he gathered a number troops to cross the British territory to
of his followers and, entering Rakhine, attack the chief in his stronghold.
attacked Myanmar detachments and Eventually, the chief rebel Nga Chin Byan
outposts. In 1811, he crossed the Naff died of illness and his rebellion was
River and overran the city of Maungtaw. suppressed. The English administrator
From there, he managed to liberate the cum writer Arthur Phayre criticized the
large territories of Rakhine. The four British authorities:
governors of Rakhine could not resist the
offensive launched by Nga Chin Byan and 'their real crime was that they had
in the battle of 'Moe Thee Nat Taw' in led their fellow country men in
Myepon township, Nga Khe', governor of resistance to the Burmese
Ramawadi and Thar Yan Paing, governor conqueror, and in their wild
of Mawghawadi gave up the ghost. warfare had probably been as
Governor Mingyi Kyaw Htin of unscrupulous as their oppressors
Dwarawadi had to fortify the city by with the lives of their foes. The
closing the main gate and defending from surrender of these patriots must be
within the city wall. condemned as an act unworthy of
a civilized power, having an
Nga Chin Byan established the Zayawadi armed force at command.'56
town, west of the Kissipanadi river and
crowned himself King of Rakhine. Part. 3 is on the Myanmar missions sent
Meanwhile, King Bodawpaya formed a by King Bodawpaya to India to collect
huge army under General Min Hla Sithu. manuscripts, and also to carry out intelligence
The army marched on Rakhine and work on the British expansion into India.
successfully quelled the rebellion.
56
Eastern Frontier, p 148

59
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

The author of this Ayedawbon, Zeya the English company nor their
Kyaw Htin, led the official mission of nation observe the ancient laws
1812 to Majjhima desa. Around that time, strictly. They ought not to have
the East India Company accused King levied revenues, tributes, from
Bodawpaya of designing a plot to drive the their provinces, nor have disposed
English out of the Bengal region by of such funds at their direction.
making alliances with the Maharajas of The Governor-General, representing
Preshwar, Lahore, Nepal, Maratha, etc. the English company, should
The Myanmar source also stated that after surrender these dominions, and
the conquest of Manipur and Assam, King pay the collections realized there
Bodawpaya had become conceited and from to our sovereign. If this is
entertained thoughts of encroaching on 12 refused, I shall present it to his
Bhanga cities (which in the past were the Majesty and the General, with
territories of Rakhine kings) such as powerful forces, will be
Chittagaung, Panwar, Decca, Murshidabad, dispatched, both by sea and land,
etc. He dispatched many spies to India and I shall myself come for the
under the cover of searching for and purpose of storming, capturing,
copying ancient manuscrips and and destroying all of the English
treatises.57 possessions, which I shall
afterwards offer to my sovereign.
Moreover, he demanded that the Bhanga However, I send this letter, in the
region be given to Myanmar. The first instance, to make the demand
following is the translation of a letter from from the Governor-General.'58
the Governor of Ramawadi to the
Governor General of India sent on 8th June, Thus, it could be assumed that the purpose
1818: of The Myanmar missions sent to India to
collect manuscripts was also to carry out
'Our sovereign is an admirer of intelligence work on the British expansion
justice, and a strict observer of the into India. The following is a list of
laws and usages, as they existed in Myanmar missions sent to Bhanga, India
ancient times, and strongly and Nepal during the reign of King
disapproves of everything unjust Bodawpaya:
and unreasonable. Ramoo,
Chittagong, Moorshedabad, and - (1784 CE) Thiri Sanagup, Thiri
Dacca are terrotories which do not Jaya and Jaya Dhama Guru,
belong to the English; they were - (1797 CE) Thar Nga The'
originally subject to the (warden of a royal chamber),
government of Arracan, and now - (1805 CE) Min Kyaw Tamut,
belong to our Sovereign. Neither - (1806 CE) Nga Hlay,

57
The administration of Myanmar kings,
58
volume 111, p 62. Wilson's Documents, pp 5-6.

60
Ayedawbon Treatises

- (1806 CE) Shwe Taung unpublished. The Ayedawbon covers the


Thargathu (Governor of first five years of Bodawpaya's reign to
Ramawadi), 1786 CE. for, as it so happens, the author
- (1810 CE) Nga Pe Tu and Nga himself died in 1791 though the king ruled
Khwe, from 1782 to 1816.
- (1812 CE) Ye Htin Gyi and
Nawa Dipa, It includes Bodawpaya's campaigns crushing
- (1813 CE) Jaya Kyaw Htin the rebellions by Phaungasa Maung Maung and
(revenue officer), Nga Phone, the records of the Rakhine
- (1815 CE) Thiri Pyanchi Narah campaign under the Crown Prince and the
Jaya Kyaw (in charge of the accounts of how the gargantuan Maha Muni
glebe lands) and Pyanchi Jaya image was brought to Amarapura.
Nawrahta (tax officer),
- (1817 CE) Naymyo Min Hla Although the author himself call it an
Kyaw (Governor of Mergui), and Ayedawbon, the palm-leaf manuscript has
- (1817 CE) Min Kyaw Tamut, as the main heading Min Khan Daw
Thuwun Thabya, Pyinsa Oksu, Sardan60.
learned Bhramin Paya Kyi mu
and Pyinyar Htarwakar.59 The eminent Myanmar historian, Daw
Kyan, writes that though Bodawpaya, or
Near the end of the text are some Royal King Badon, is not popularly known as
Orders of the Myanmar king in connection Hsinbyu shin 61 , he did possess several
with the mission, including records about white elephants including the female white
an Indian Princess and her retinue sent to elephant found in the Maha Hlega Forest
King Bodawpaya in 1814-18 and a Royal named Thiri Marlar Maha Thubattar and
Order to repair and widen the 'Royal Road' also Nibbarna Pyitsaya Naga Yazar, male
between Dwarawadi (Than Dwe) on the white elephant, together with other white
sea coast across the Rakhine Yoma and red royal fully grown elephants,
mountains to the Ayarwady River near altogether 120 in number.62
Prome.
Dr. Than Tun also states that from 1784 to
Hsin Phyu Shin Ayedawbon 1806 Bodawpaya conducted several
celebrations to receive new white
The Hsin Phyu Shin Ayedawbon is written elephants and great names were invented
by court minister Letwe Nawrahta. It is for them, such as Upopron mwan,
still in manuscript form and remains Ratanapronmwan, Nagawara, Ratanakumud,
Upothwat khon, Warasetagiri, Bhattawati,

59 60
Political situation during the reign of King Treatise on Royal Ceremonies
61
Badon, p. 154. See also Than Tun, The Royal possessor of the white elephant
62
Orders of Burma, VII, Kyoto, the Centre for Daw Kyan, 'Maung Laut, Maung Ywa,
Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University, Maung Waing do a-kyaung', Padauk New, no.6
1988, p. 365 (June 2006), p. 24

61
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Siri mallamahasubhatta and Nibbana The eldest son, King Naungdawgyi


paccaya nagaraja. Furthermore, the succeeded to the throne and had one son
English scholar and administrator Arthur named Maung Maung. The king ruled the
Phayre mentions in his 'History of Burma' country for only 3 years and died suddenly
that Bodawpaya probably considered the in 1763. Maung Maung was a child at the
possession of a perfect white male time of his father's death. Myaydu min
elephant the greatest glory of his reign. (Hshin Phyu Shin), the second son of King
This animal, caught in the forests of Pegu, Alaungpaya, ascended the throne. This
was received at court with honours worthy king did not follow the rule of succession
of an object of worship.63 laid down by his father and gave the
throne to his son, Singu min. When Maung
After gaining possession of the throne, Maung came of age, he ventured to gain
King Bodawpaya assumed various titles the possession of the palace, one night and
especially that of Hsin Phyu Shin. Considering dethroned Singu min
these facts, it is no wonder that the author Letwe
Nawrahta gave his treatise the title Hsin Phyu When Maung Maung restricted the
Shin Ayedawbon. movement of his uncles, Badon prince64 ,
the fifth son of King Alaungpaya, seized
There is a note at the end of the manuscript the throne with his twelve trusted servants
stating that it was compiled by Letwe Nawrahta, and put Maung Maung to death (after six
and that it covers the years Myanmar Era 1143 days' reign). King Bodawpaya also
(1781/1782) to M.E. 1148 (1787). The text executed the fun loving Singu min and put
gives, in some detail, the following important all of his followers, including his queens
historical records compiled by a contemporary to death.
minister, Letwe Nawrahta:
About that time, plots began to be hatched
Crushing of rebellions at the beginning against him. One, said to have been
of the king's reign supported by General Maha Thihathura,
had for its objective to place prince Sitha
The great founder of the Konboung on the throne. The old general, who had
dynasty King Alaungpaya, on his deathbed, long led the Myanmar armies to victory,
enjoined all of his six sons by the chief was executed.
queen to succeed to the throne in the order
of their seniority. This declaration later Another conspiracy was headed by Nga
engendered succession problems and Shon, a native of Maung Khaing town in
instability in the country. However, we Shan state. He named himself Min Ye
have not found any evidence as yet. Myat Phone and pretended to be the son of
the last king of Innwa, who had been
carried away as prisoner to Hanthawadi by
63
Arthur Purves Phayre, 'History of Burma,'
64
Orchid Press, Bangkok, Thailand, p. 230. king Bodawpaya

62
Ayedawbon Treatises

the Talaing king. He found a few - the breadth and length of the moat,
followers of Maung Maung and a band of - the 12 main city gates,
Shans ready to support him. They boldly - the 34 letters inscribed on the
scaled the wall of the palace in the dead of Mawgun post at the gate,
night. The palace guards were panic- - the style of writing of these
stricken by the suddenness of the attack. Mawguns, etc.
The conspirators gained possession of the
guns and powder in the palace-yard and Accounts of the two beiktheik
opened fire at the palace. King Badon coronation ceremonies of 1783 and 1784,
defended from within the palace and as which Letwe Nawrahta had to plan
soon as daylight came, they were seized
and organize according to traditional
and put to death. Nga Phone for the time
being escaped, but was speedily taken.
practice.
Hundreds of people, who had been privy
Letwe Nawrahta organized the Raja
to the conspiracy, were executed.
bhiseka coronation ceremony and recorded
all the details of the ceremony. First, a
Detailed account of the first founding of mandarin couple prepared the offerings on
the new capital, Amarapura, the a Manaw tray for the king to donate at the
'Immortal City'. pagoda. After that, the king entered the
raja-bhiseka hall of the palace and was
Saddened by the scene of slaughter within welcome by the Brahmins. On entering the
the palace and the bloodshed caused by hall, the king had to lift his right foot first
Nga Phone's rebellion, the king planned to and walk. While the Brahmins were
move his capital from Innwa to chanting the Zaya Mingalar gahta, the king
Amarapura (immortal city). Letwe recited the Buddha's eight glorious
Nawrahta had to search for a site and victories gahta and ascended the water fig
managed to establish a new city. All the plank gilded with gold. Brahmins then
following details are described by the open the umbrella and offered five pieces
author in his Ayedawbon: of regalia to the king. Finally, Bhiseka
water was poured on the king's head.
- indicating the propitious time for
establishing a city, On the 2nd full-moon day of Nayon month
- finding brick and wood, in ME 1145 (1783), the king took the
- driving in a stake to mark off the Muddha bhiseka. In fact, King Bodawpaya
ground plan, undertook the Muddha bhiseka twice,
- reciting Sutta to ward off evil, firstly in ME 1145 (1783) and secondly
- burying stone box inside of which ME 1146 (1784). The reason for
was a cabalistic diagram together undertaking the second Muddha bhiseka
with 4 big earthen pots full of oil, was that the year 1146 which coincided
- using 30,000,000 bricks, with the Gautama kein (number or
- demarcating the boundary of the predestined event) came to pass once in a
city, thousand year. After the second bhiseka,

63
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

the work of merit performed by the king assume titles and acquire the term 'Maha
was to build 1000 hollow stupas each Raja'. His power and glory will surely be
enshrining relics. dwindled. Only if he had undertaken it, he
could take care of the religion, consecrate
There were fourteen different bhiseka or ground for an ordination hall and attend
abhiseka65 and that the Muddha beiktheik Hluttaw to make judgments. And the
is the most important of all. There is a country will prosper.
general belief that if a king did not attempt
it, he should not be named as king, nor Letwe Nawrahta made active preparations
for the coronation of the king. At the
conclusion of all these elaborate
65
"Myanmar had more than one kind of preparations, the king and queen, clad in
bhiseka. For instance there were the the splendid robes of celestial beings,
proceeded on a jeweled palanquin towards
a) muddha-bhiseka
the Mingalar pandal. On arriving, the
anointing of the head
b) mahesi-bhiseka Primate and twelve pundits brought the
the coronation of the Chief pitakat preached by the lord Buddha while
Queen 108 venerable monks recited sutta to ward
c) uparaja-bhiseka off evil. The king bathed himself and sat
the installation of the Crown on the water fig plank gilded with gold.
Prince Eight princesses, Brahmins and wealthy
d) jeyya-bhiseka people each poured from the clockwise
in order to win victories circulating conch studded with nine gems
e) mangala bhiseka the 5 kinds of water including one from
held to celebrate the possession
the Ganges River over his head. Thus, it
of white elephants
f) siriya-bhiseka was named the Muddha Bhiseka.
to renew one's glory
g) ayudigha-bhiseka The princesses then administered the oath:
consecration to gain long life 'Oh king, in order to guard and protect all
h) maha-bhiseka the people in accord once with the Raja
celebrated to increase prosperity Dhama rule, this bhiseka water is poured.
i) sakala-bhiseka May you keep the ten virtues of the king
held to ensure peace in the well. Treat the people as if they were your
Empire own sons and may the karuna flower
blossom. Love and defend all the people in
Of these, the raja-bhiseka, which may be
synonymous with muddha-bhiseka, was to be accord once with the rules of
held 5 years after accession, maha-bhiseka 7 Yaikarwarana, Guti, etc. By virtue of the
years after accession, jeyya-bhiseka 9 years water pouring ceremony, which we have
after accession, sakala-bhiseka 12 years after just performed, may the power and glory
accession, while siriya-bhiseka and ayudigha- of the king be increased and may he enjoy
bhiseka were to be celebrated from time to a long and happy life.
time." Sunait Chutintaranond, 'Cakravartin,
p.207.

64
Ayedawbon Treatises

Likewise, Brahmins and wealthy people sexual science were studied and translated
took turn administering the oaths in the into Myanmar.
same manner. Afterwards, the king took
hold of the gold beaker studded with nine Because King Bodawpaya was not
jewels and made this vow: satisfied with only worshipping the three
gems (pitakats), he wished to learn various
'Owing to the innumerable accumulated Loki kyans (treatises on secular affairs).
merits equivalent to 24000 layers of earth, So, he ordered Letwe Nawrahta to ask the
I happen to be a great king dwelling in the Maung Htaung abbot. The venerable abbot
golden palace which is equally marvelous said; 'the treatises on secular affairs do not
as the palatial mansion of celestial beings. exist in Myanmar these days. If desired,
I shall observe raja-wimala, the ten virtues suitable Brahmins should be sent to
of a king. I shall protect the property and Bengal, Calcutta and Naga Dipa for the
possessions of my subjects. May I myself purpose of copying these treatises. Only
be rich and enjoy a long life. May then, will the king's wish be fulfilled.'
aggressors from all ten directions be
defeated. May many different princesses On the 3rd waxing day of the Wah Gaung
and white elephants arrive and may the month in ME 1146 (1784), learned
king's power, glory and grace be greatly Brahmins were dispatched to the Bengal
enhanced day by day.' region to copy Loki kyans (treatises on
secular affairs) written in Sanskrit. Letwe
There are also detailed accounts of royal Nawrahta supervised matters relating to
appurtenances which were displayed which treatises should be copied, who
according to custom both to the left and to should be selected and who should be sent
the right of the main throne, and about the as scholars. It was the first Myanmar
court dress, crowns and so on. mission abroad sponsored by the State in
the Konboung era. The mission arrived
Despatching of scholars (including Hindu back in the month of Nayon in ME 1147
Brahmin Ponna, court astrologers) to (1785). The treatises brought back by the
India and other countries to search for mission were on grammar, Pali verses
secular texts on medicine, law, astrology (Hsan kyan), astronomy and medicine.
These treatises were translated into
and so on. (Many were later translated
Myanmar by Maung Htaung abbot and
into Myanmar.) they have been widely used up to the
present day.
King Bodawpaya's reign saw a great increase in
secular knowledge with the acquisition of
Sanskrit works from India and widespread
Collecting data and compiling a list
contacts with neighbouring countries. Siamese of various officials, artisans, merchants,
romances, Pali Jatakas, Chinese histories, etc., and their descendants.
Siamese and Cambodian chronicles, a
history of Portugal and a Sanskrit work on On the 3rd waxing day of Pyatho month in
ME 1145 (1783), the process of registering

65
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

the kingdom (later known as Bodaw sittan hundred elephants, was assembled at and
or revenue inquest), showing the number near Amarapura. It was composed of four
of families in each territory, with their divisions, three of which were to march on
respective boundaries, started. It is similar Rakhine by land. The fourth would
to collecting census. The process begins proceed by sea.
with Depeyin Township. The data was
recorded on a bud of toddy palm-leaf and The three divisions which formed the land
parabaik (folding book). Regional offices columns were under the command of the
were constructed to keep these records king's three sons, the crown prince, who
safe. was also commander in chief, Thado
Mengzoa and Kama Min. The flotilla of
'Tain' in Myanmar means territory. In armed vessels was placed under Nemyo
other words, Tain is the unit of Kyohteng and Tarabya, a Talaing officer.
measurement for distance (one thousand
Tar or approximately two miles.) It The army first advanced to Taungup and
includes the population dwelling in any then marched on to Sandoway. After
particular territory, a number of occupying these two towns, it proceeded
households in a certain village or town, against Ramri Island where it encountered
pristine forests and uninhabited lands. the enemy led by a son of the Rakhine
Data was collected in more than 5000 Tain. king. In the battle, the Rakhine army was
totally routed. At Laungkrek, the Rakhine
The campaign to successfully to fleet was also defeated and there being no
conquer Rakhine, giving the military adequate means for the defence of the
routes, battles and so on. capital, the king fled to a place called 'Kon
Chaung Kyun Thar Yar', south of Mrauk
Towards the end of the dynasty, Rakhine U. The Myanmar army entered the city
was in turmoil. The state of that kingdom and the Rakhine king was brought in a
was so terrible that even foreign prisoner a month afterwards.
interference was accepted as a promise of
relief from a greater evil. Discontented Records of the conveying of the much
nobles from Rakhine had flocked to Innwa, venerated Maha Muni Buddha Image
beseeching aid to restore order. As Singu from the Rakhine capital to Amarapura,
min had no desire to send warlike giving in detail the dates, the different
expeditions anywhere, he simply ignored stages66 and the veneration ceremonies
these applications. at the capital and many more
informative details.
Also, in Bodawpaya's reign, the king was
invited to occupy the Rakhine throne. The Myanmar army advanced on Rakhine
Thus, in 1784, Bodawpaya made ample on the 4th waxing day of Tazaungmon, ME
preparations for the conquest of Rakhine. 1146 (1784). Before the march, the king
An army of twenty thousand men, two
thousand five hundred horses and over two 66
halting places

66
Ayedawbon Treatises

asked whether the king's sons should lead the difficult journey transporting the huge
the army to invaded Rakhine. When the image through passes of known and
Brahmins and pundits counseled that they unknown mountain ranges.
should not be sent to Rakhine, the king The stations along the water and land
grew furious and ordered them to be routes when in transporting the huge
punished but later, they were pardoned. image of Maha Muni from Dhanyawadi by
forest minister Thiri Dewa Kyaw Thu,
The king issued a royal edict to the army commander Nga Po Gyi, Set-mi- kyaw
that any buffalo, cow, pig or chicken from group 1000 guns, Kala blacksmith Nga
towns and villages along the route to Tan Pu, White ship captain, Attwinwun
Rakhine should not be taken without Naymyo Zayathu and Bo Mu Taung
consent from the people - not even a single Talonesar were thus:
fruit or vegetable.
On the 13th waxing day of Tapotwe month
The author, Letwe Nawrahta, accompanied in ME 1146 (1784), the image was taken
Crown Prince Thado Minsaw on the out from the cave and placed on a cart. It
campaign in Rakhine. On his return was then carried by boat. On the 15th day
journey in 1785, he undertook the onerous of that month, they reached the army
task of bringing the Maha Muni Buddha stationed at the confluence of rivers. On
image to Amarapura. It is said that this the 6th day of the same month, they arrived
image was cast in Rakhine in the exact at Taungup. From Taungup to Paung
likeness of Lord Buddha during King Taung, they crossed the passes of 138
Canda Thuriya's rule in 554 BCE. mountains and a lot of unknown mountain
ranges. On the 5th waxing day of Kason
According to San Shwe Bu, there are month in ME 1147 (1785), they reached
supposed to be five Munis altogether. the royal raft jetty in Amarapura.
They are: Sakya-Muni, Canda-Muni,
Cula-Muni67, Maha-Muni and Dussa-Muni. In the Bagan period, an attempt by King
The first is to be found at Kapilavastu, Anawrahta to bring this ponderous image
now in Nepalese Tarai. The second is at to Myanmar proper met with failure. The
Kosala, modern Oudh. The third is in the great national image of Rakhine was sent
Tavatimsa region. The fourth is in across the mountains through the Taungup
Rakhine 68 . The fifth is in the Brahma pass, was received by the king with great
region honour and was set up in a 3 tiered
building specially erected for it to the
When carrying the sacred image of Maha north of the city.
Muni, a team of 5000 men advanced first
to clear the path followed by the main Crushing of rebellion by Nga Sat and
labour force. The author vividly described Nga Kwe in Yangon

On the 8th waxing day of Wah Gaung


67
Sulamuni month in ME 1145 (1783), Nga Sat and
68
now in Myanmar

67
MANUSYA: Journal of Humanities Regular 18.2, 2015

Nga Kwe revolted in Yangon and the army new one. 69 He consulted Hammnan
marched on that city. The rebels with a Yazawindawgyi (Glass Palace Chronicle)
strength of over 200 followers and 50 before writing his influential book ‘Thai
boats raided the town and killed the Rop Phama’ or ‘Our war with the
governor Maha Kyaw Htin. Panic-stricken Burmese’. Phra Phraison Salaruk (U Aung
people ran amok and concealed Thein) also translated some parts
themselves, so it took some time for the involving Myanmar-Siam warfare in this
army to suppress the rebellion. This event, chronicles. This version was published in
however, is not mentioned in Konboungset the Journal of Siam Society (1908-1919).70
Maha Yazawindawgyi. Unfortunately, these pioneers did not work
on Ayedawbon treatises.
Conclusion
Besides Ayedawbon, there are a variety of
Ayedawbon treatises are the work of genres in Myanmar literature such as
Myanmar literati who weaved the intricate Eigyin, Mawgun, Pyo, etc. They have
but vivid events of their times into literary been little studied and there is no one who
works which reflect the shared history of has tried to use these materials for wide-
Siam and Myanmar, especially warfare ranging research on Myanmar-Siam
between the two countries. Thus, to work relations. Research work on these existing
out a detailed study on Ayedawbon materials should yield valuable results.
treatises which provide contemporary Finally, one may question why Myanmar
accounts helpful in understanding the literature is spoken of in a subject
context of Siam-Myanmar relations from explicitly called ‘Thai Studies’. The
the mid-16th to the mid-19th century reason for this incongruity firstly that
would be of use to Thai studies. Myanmar history is a part of Thai history
and literature and history being sister arts,
Previously, Ayedawbon was little known therein make Myanmar literature a
to outside scholars. In studying Siam- constituent of Thai Studies.
Myanmar relations, most scholars have
paid much attention to chronicles and they
have overlooked Ayedawbons. Some do
not even notice that Ayedawbon treatises
are a mine of information for scholars of
Myanmar and Thai studies. In constructing
Thai history, Prince Damrong, the much
respected historian, took various sources
69
into consideration and set up a hypotheses. Charnvit Kasetsiri, ‘Thai Historiography’, in
He veered away from Phonsawadan Perceptions of the Past in Southeast Asia,
tradition. He is said to be the person who Asian Studies Association of Australia, p. 165.
70
bridged the old Thai world view to the Sunait Chutintaranond and Than Tun, ‘On
both sides of the Tenasserim Range: History of
Siamese-Burmese Relations’, Asian Studies
Monographs No. 050, p. 34.

68
Ayedawbon Treatises

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