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Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism

ch07-2333.htm

Maung Htin Aung. Printed and published by U Myint Maung, Deputy Director, Regd: No (02405/02527) at the Religious Affairs Dept. Press. Yegu, Kaba-Aye P.O., Rangoon, BURMA. 1981.

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Remaining Eleven Lords

Author's notes

UKT notes
 

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 contd from p098

07. Thirty-seven Lords, continued
Lords 23 to 33

Remaining Eleven Lords

Of the remaining Eleven Lords, who are included only in the Shwezigone Attendants' lists, the Lord of the White Elephant must have been a king. The Lord of the White Horse must have been an official or a soldier; sometimes he is merged with others, and thus the Royal Cadet and Master Aung Pyi are often identified as the Lord of the White Horse. In any case, the Lord of the White Horse has always been associated with the Burmese army. In the dark days of 1824 when the Burmese army was retreating before the British, regiments often stood firm and fought rear-guard actions, as men said the god on his white horse had been seen fighting against the enemy.

Pagan started as a cluster of nineteen villages, and the Lord of the Four Islands (i.e. island-villages in the Irrawaddy), the Lord of the Five Villages, and the Lord of the Ten Villages were all king's deputies who built up the new kingdom. The Lord of the Nine Towns is the guardian god of the irrigated region around Kyaukse, known as the 'Nine Districts' fn098-01 and he is worshipped in the region even at the present day on his own, and not as one of the Thirty-seven. The Great Physician was probably a king's physician and the Lord of the Ninety-nine Shan States must have been the king's minister for the Shan States who had their own chieftains, or the chief of all the Shan Chieftains. The waters of the country were divided into three kinds by the Burmese, 'Tame Waters' or inland water, 'Salt Waters' or the Deltaic or tidal waters, and 'Open Waters' or the waters of the open sea. Probably, the [{p099}] Lord of the Salt Waters and the Open Ocean, and the Lady of the Tame Waters were officials of the king controlling navigation in the various kinds of 'Waters'. The Lady of the Tame Waters is still worshipped on her own in the districts in the vicinity of the Chindwin River, the large tributary of the Irrawaddy. The Lord of the Salt Waters, with the title of the 'Foremost Great Lord', became so popular in the Deltaic Region that around him a separate cult arose, and thus at the present day in Lower Burma the cult of the 'Foremost Great Lord' is more important than the cult of the Thirty-seven. Anawrahta and Alaungsithu continued the tradition of the Pyu kings in making sea voyages to nearby lands, and merchants and monks of Pagan travelled to Bengal and Ceylon. So, during the period, the Lord of the Open Sea was of great importance, but after the fall of the Pagan the tradition of sea travel died out, and with it the worship of the Lord of the Open Sea.

The Lord of Five Elephants, the first in point of time among the gods of the post-Pagan period, was king of the new kingdom of Pinya which flourished form 1298 to 1364, when the capital shifted to Ava. He was the son of one of the three usurping brothers who murdered Kyawswa, the last king of Pagan. He reigned from 1343-1350., when he died of a sudden fever. Probably he replaced the Lord of the White Elephant of the Shwezigone Attendants' list. The Lord King, Master of Justice, was Tarabya, who was king of Ava in 1401 for seven months only. As he hunted in the forest he had an adventure with an alchemist and a goddess, lost his reason, and was assassinated by an attendant. Maung Po Tu was a merchant from the Pinya region; he was killed and eaten by a tiger at the foot of the Shan Plateau as he was returning from the Shan States with a cart-load of tea. This poor merchant stands alone in the august assembly of kings and officials who constitute the Thirty-seven. It seems that he has been placed in the post-Pagan period because he belonged to Pinya, which [{p100}] became a royal city only after the fall of Pagan. But in point of time he must have belonged to the Pagan period, and he must have come not from the royal city of Pinya, but from the small village which later became Pinya city, because his image riding astride a tiger is among the Nat images at the Shwezigone Pagoda. He is the guardian-god of traders and small merchants. The Queen of the Western Palace was the queen of Minhkaung the First, king of Ava from 1401 to 1422. As she played with her maids-of-honour in a cotton plantation she saw the apparition of the Valiant Lord Kyawswa, and she fainted and died. She merged with an earlier Queen of the Western Palace, probably the mother of Lord Sithu, who was originally included among the Thirty-seven at the Shwezigone Pagoda.

Aungpinle or 'the Sea of Victory' was an ancient natural lake near Ava which had served as a reservoir for irrigation purposes since primitive times. The Lord of Aungpinle was an ancient god who was included in the original Thirty-seven. He was replaced by Ava Thihathu, the son of Minhkaung the First. Ava Thihathu became king in 1422. He neglected his erstwhile favourite queen and in 1426, at the queen's instigation, he was shot with an arrow and killed by one of his Shan Chiefs as he was superintending the construction of a canal at Aungpinle on elephant-back. As he was killed at Aungpinle while on an elephant he came to be known as 'Lord of Aungpinle, Master of the White Elephant.' Lady Bent, one of the concubines of the Lord of Aungpinle, died of grief, and she became merged with the Lady Bent who was of the two sisters of the Royal Tutor executed along with the Brothers Inferior Gold.

Golden Nawratha was a grandson of Minhkaung the Second (1481-1502) and as he had plotted against the new king, his uncle Shwenankyawshin, he was executed by drowning in 1502. The Valiant Lord Aung Din was a son of King Anaukpetlun (1605-1628). He was very fond of opium and toddy [{p101}] wine and died of an overdose of both. The Young Lord White was the son of an unidentified king of Ava, and he also died of an overdose of opium and wine. The Royal Novice was the son of an unidentified king of Ava and, like  the earlier god the Young Lord of the Swing, he was spending a period of time in a monastery after the usual initiation ceremonies of a Burmese boy. The monastery was the Nget-pyit-taung Monastery (the monastery on the Bird-Shot Hill), which was famous throughout the Ava period. Here, the young novice died of snakebite while playing in the monastery compound.

Tabinshwehti (1531-1550) was one of the hero-kings of Burman, and he united Burma into one kingdom again, as in the days of Pagan. Coming to the throne of the small kingdom of Toungoo at the early age of fifteen, he soon showed his ability as commander and king. But success came too early for him and, without fresh fields to conquer, he took to drink, and was assassinated by one of his bodyguards at the age of thirty-four. The Lady from the North was the wife of Tabinshwehti's tutor, and as the time for the birth of her child approached she journeyed back to her village to be with her mother, but she gave birth to a child prematurely while on the way and died. She merged with an earlier Lady of the North belonging to the Pagan period. Her child survived and later became the Lord Minhkaung of Toungoo and was given the rank of king, although in actual fact he was the Governor of Toungoo, which had ceased to be the capital after Tabinshwehti made Pegu the capital of a united Burma. Lord Minhkaung was stricken with dysentery, and to restore his health he left the city for the countryside; but while travelling across an onion field he was overcome by the smell of onions and died suddenly. The King's Secretary was secretary to the Lord Minhkafung of Toungoo; according to one version he was sent by his lord to the forest to gather rare flowers and died of malaria; according to another version he was sent by his lord to pick some flowers from the palace-garden at night [{p102}] and was fatally bitten by a snake. He merged with an earlier King's Secretary of the Pagan period.

The King of Chiengmai was brought to Pegu as a prisoner of war by Bayinnaung (1551-1581), the great king who followed his brother-in-law Tabinshwehti on the throne. Although a prisoner, he was treated with consideration and courtesy, but he died of dysentery soon after. He was the last to be added to the pantheon of the Thirty-seven.

UKT: The following is my additions based on U Po Kya Thirty-seven Kings (in Burmese). U Po Kya had listed the following based on the list of Minister Myawaddi.

23. Lord of Five Elephants -- {nga:si:rhing} U Po Kya p.46
   Son of king {thi-ha.thu} of Pinya, who himself became king  Died of fever in the ninth year of his reign (704-712 BE)

24. The Lord King, Master of Justice -- {min:ta.ra: nat} U Po Kya p.46
   Elder brother of king {ming:hkaung} of Ava. Became king {hsing-hpu-rhing ta.ra.hpya:} (762-763 BE) Died of fever.

25. Maung Po Tu  --  {maung-po:tu} U Po Kya p.46
   Native of Pinya and tea-trader. Lived in the reign of king {ming:hkaung} the first of Ava. Went on a trading trip to Momeik and Thibaw in northern Shan State, and was killed by a tiger on his return trip.

26. Queen of the Western Palace -- {a.nauk-mi.hpu.ra:} U Po Kya p.47
   Western queen of the king {ming:hkaung) the first of Ava. Went on a pleasure trip with her attendants and met {ming:kyau-swa} nat on  horseback. Probably frightened of the incident and died on return of gynecological disease.

27. Lord of Aungpinl, Master of White Elephants -- {aung-ping-l hsing-hpru-rhing} U Po Kya p.47
   Son of the king {ming:hkaung) the first of Ava. Became king {thi-ha.thu} of Ava (783-787 BE). Assassinated by {oung:baung sau-bwa:} -- died mounted on the head of elephant.

28. Lady Bent or Lady Hunchback -- {rhing-koan:} U Po Kya p.48
   Concubine of king {thi-ha.thu} of Ava. Died on return from a trip to {aung-ping-l} fields.

29. Golden Nawrahta --  {rhw-nau-ra.hta} U Po Kya p.48
   Grandson of king {ming:hkaung) the second of Ava. Executed by drowning by king {rhw-nan:kyau.rhin (863-888 BE) because of revolt by a henchman of {rhw-nau-ra.hta}.

30. Valiant Lord Aung Din --  {ming:r-aung-ting} U Po Kya p.48
   Son-in-law of king {tha-lun} (900-1000 BE). Died of excessive use of alcohol and opium.

31. Young Lord White --  {maung-ming:hpru} U Po Kya p.49
   A son of one of the kings of Ava. Died of excessive use of alcohol and opium.

32. Lord Novice --  {rhin-tau nat} U Po Kya p.49
   A young Buddhist novice of Ava. Died of snake bite.

33. Tabinshwehti --  {ta.ping-rhw-hti:} U Po Kya p.49
   King of Taungoo (892-912 BE). Tabinshwehti the Burmese king after annexation of the Mon kingdom of Pegu, tried to bring about reconciliation of the two linguistic groups. Employed and trusted both the Burmese and Mon retainers. Assassinated by decapitation by his own Mon retainer the Left-Swordman.

34. Lady of the North --  {mrauk-Bak shin-ma} U Po Kya p.49
   Native of {ka.tu:} village. Nurse of King Tabinshwehti of Taungoo. The second wife of {ming:r-thain-hka.thu}. On the return trip to her village, she was temporarily housed in a large hut west of Sagaing because of the birth of her child. Died during childbirth. 

35. Lord Minhkaung of Toungoo --  {taung-ngu-rhing ming:hkaung} U Po Kya p.50
   King {ming:hkaung} of Taungoo (904-946 BE)

36. Royal Secretary -- {thn-tau-hkn} U Po Kya p.50
   Secretary of King {ming:hkaung} of Taungoo. Name: {r:hpya:}. Died of malaria on a flower-gathering trip to areas around {mr-tu: mro.}. In another version, he died of snake-bite while gathering night-flowering {mrat-l:} in the palace garden on the order of his king.

37. King of Chiengmai --  {ywun: Bu.ring} U Po Kya p.50
   King {bra.than} of Chiengmai. Took captive in 921 BE. of King Bayinnaung of Hanthawaddy, but treated well. Died of severe dysentery with purging blood.

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Author's notes

fn098-01 See Chapter 2 fn098-01b

 

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UKT notes

 

 

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End of TIL file