Update: 2013-02-11 11:34 AM +0630


Translation of an Inscription in the Pali Character and Burmese Language, on a stone at Buddh Gya, in Behar


From Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal May, 1834
in SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research, Vol. 1, No. 2, Autumn 2003, ISSN 1479-8484 . Revised: 27 March 2004
http://web.soas.ac.uk/burma/1.2%20PDF%20FILES/1.2%2003%20inscription-revised.pdf 080118

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SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research : Editorial note
The translation

UKT notes
City of Inwa {ing:wa.} aka  Ava {a.wa.}
King Bagyidaw {Ba.kri:tau Bu.ra:}
SOAS Bulletin

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SOAS Bulletin of Burma Research
Editorial note:

UKT: See my note on SOAS Bulletin

After the initial posting of this reprint, Dr. Tilman Frasch (Manchester Metropolitan University) sent the following useful and cautionary note on the 19th century translation below: "This is the first of several attempts to read and translate the text of an inscription Burmese monks left at Bodhgaya when visiting the site in 1296-98 AD. [UKT ]

UKT 130210
Burney referred to below was Lieut.-Col. Henry Burney, H. C.'s Resident in Ava {a.wa.} aka {a.wa.n-pr-tau}, however the actual city was Amarapura. See burney.htm: link chk 130210.

Burney had reached Bodhgaya in the company of a Burmese delegation [King Bagyidaw {Ba.kri:tau}] to the Governor-General of India, and presumably he was helped by the Burmese in his translation. [UKT ]

However, neither his [Burney's] nor any (but one) of the later translations is fully reliable, as usually the name Putasin is misread as Pyutasin (l. 11 of the Burmese version reprinted here). Putasin (or Buddhasena) is the name of the local ruler of Bodhgaya; it was mixed with with the epithet Pyu-ta-sin (or "Lord of 100.000 Pyu") which the Rakhaing Minthami Egyin attributed to king Alaungsithu. [UKT ]

The only reliable translation comes from G. H. Luce, Sources of Early Burma History, in Southeast Asian History and Historiography (Festschrift GEH Hall), eds. C.D. Cowan and O. W. Wolters, Ithaca 1976, p. 41-42."

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The translation

Translation of an Inscription in the Pali Character and Burmese Language, on a stone at Buddh Gya, in Behar

From Journal of the Asiatic Society of Bengal May, 1834

UKT note: I have inserted my rendition of some words in Bur-Myan & Romabama for easy reading which can easily be spotted. Other insertions without Romabama are indicated by the usual [...].

When the Burmese ambassador MENGY MAHA CHESU {ming:kri: ma.ha s-u} and his suite were on their way to the Upper Provinces, to visit the Governor General [in India]; they took the opportunity of paying their devotions at the celebrated Buddhist temple near Gya. There, as usual making notes of every occurrence, they took copies of an ancient inscription in the Pali character [Myanmar script, in Burmese speech], discovered by them, in a half-buried situation near the Maha Bodhi gach or sacred papal tree, on the terrace of the temple. A copy of their manuscript having come into RATNA PAULAs hands, he had obliged me by lithographing the text; as a sequel to the more lengthy inscription from Ramree  in the present number.

UKT 130210: in Rakhine State where the Rakhine dialect is spoken. Rakhine dialect belongs to Bur-Myan with a different orthography.

It will be remembered that there is a near coincidence in the names of the kings of Ava {a.wa.} [aka {ing:wa.}], alluded to in the two inscriptions; although an interval of more than 500 years separates the two in date; this can only be cleared up by a better knowledge of the history of the country, than we now possess. In the Burmese chronological table, published in Crawfurds Embassy, SATO-MANG-BYA {a.to: ming: hpya:} (probably the same as Sado-meng) only founded Angwa {ing:wa.} or Ava in the Sakkaraj year 726. [UKT ]

In 667-8 [A.D.], TA-CHI-SHANG-SI-HASU {tic-si:hying i-ha-u} ['lord of one white elephant'. The prefix {tic-si:phying} is also spelled {tic-si:rhing ] reigned in Panya {ping:ya.}; his grand-son founded and reigned in Chit-gaing {sic-keing:}.

UKT, 2008, 130210:
Some Myanmar words from the above paragraphs in alphabetical order:

Ava {a.wa.} aka  Inwa {ing:wa.} .
The capital of importance after the fall of Pagan. See my note on City of Inwa {ing:wa.}

Chit-gaing -- {sic keing:}

Panya -- {ping:ya.}

Sakkaraj year 726 -- {thak~ka.riiz} or BE (Burmese Era)
BE 726 belongs to the present era, which was started by a king during the pre-Pagan period.

SATO-MANG-BYA -- {a.to: ming: hpya:} / {a.to: ming: Bu.ra:}

TA-CHI-SHANG-SI-HASU -- {tic.si:hying i-ha-u}
Probably the king who on finding a dead white elephant floating down the Irrawaddy river, had it propped up and mounted it. He then claimed himself as the "Lord of One" which in Bur-Myan is {tic-si:hying} or {tic-si:rhing} .

The fall of Pagan to the Mongols (Chinese) of Kublai Khan, a Buddhist, is cited to be 1287, and 1296-98 AD corresponds to the end of Pagan period and the beginning of the Pinya period.

Kublai Khan, the grandson of Genghis Khan - was a ferocious fighter who had destroyed the city of Baghdad in the Middle East. In many ways he was comparable to Asoka the grandson of Chandra Gupta Mauriya.

Kublai Khan with the intention of unifying the languages of his empire stretching from the borders Europe to the shores of Pacific, had ordered a Tibetan Buddhist monk to invent a script to be used by many languages. The monk came up with a script which became known as Phagspa script. It was an Abugida just like Myanmar. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/'Phags-pa_script 130123

A remark about Bur-Myan official names: it is the usual practice to refer to the kings and people in high places by their titles and so the Burmese ambassador, and MENGY MAHA CHESU {ming:kri: ma.ha s-u} is the title conferred on the person by royal decree. MENGY or {ming:kri:} means "High Official" referring to the power bestowed on him; MAHA {ma.ha} means "Great"; and SITHU {s-u} is the title bestowed on him by royal decree.

At page 111, Lieut. BURT refers to an unintelligible inscription at Gya, mentioned by Mr. Harington; but that contained only one line, and was in a different locality. The present inscription seems therefore to have escaped attention up to the present moment; it is now recorded as furnishing an authentic note on the construction of the Buddha Gya monument in the year 1305 A.D.; for it may be presumed that the previous Chaityas and Buddhist structures had been long before levelled with the ground, and the inscription states, that previous missions to reconstruct the edifice had been unsuccessful. [UKT ]

UKT 130210: The word "Chaitya" and the Bur-Myan words {s-ti} and {Bu.ra:} may be equated.

As proving that this spot is held in peculiar veneration by the Burmese, it may be remembered that in 1823, a deputation of Buddha priests was sent from Amarapura, by the Burman emperor [King Bagyidaw], to perform the obsequities of his predecessor [King Bodawpaya], recently deceased, at the shrine of Buddha Gya.

This is one of the 84,000 shrines erected by SRI DHARM ASOKA, ruler of the world (Jambodwip), at the end of the 218th year of Buddha annihilation, (B.C. 326) upon the holy spot in which BHAGAVN (Buddha) tasted milk and honey (madhupayasa). [UKT ]

In lapse of time, having fallen into disrepair, it was rebuilt by a priest named NAIKMAHANTA. Again, being ruined, it was restored by Raja SADO-MANO. After a long interval it was once more [{p009end}] demolished, when Raja SEMPYU-SAKHEN-TARA-MENGI appointed his gr  SRI-DHAMMARAJA-GUNA to superintend the building. He proceeded to the spot with his disciple, SRI KSYAPA, but they were unable to complete it, although aided in every way by the Raja. Afterwards VARADASI-NAIK-THERA petitioned the Raja to undertake it, to which he readily assented, commissioning prince PYUTASING to the work, who again deputed the younger PYUSAKHENG and his minister RATHA, to cross over and repair the sacred building. [UKT ]

It was thus constructed a fourth time, and finished on Friday the 10th day of Pyadola, in the Sakkaraj year 667 (A.D. 1305). On Sunday, the 8th of Tachaon-mungla, 668 (A.D. 1306), it was consecrated with splendid ceremonies and offerings of food, perfumes, banners, and lamps, and pja of the famous ornamented tree called calpa-vriksha; and the poor (two?) were treated with charity, as the Rajas own children? Thus was completed this meritorious act, which will produce eternal reward and virtuous fruits. May the founders endure in fame, enjoy the tranquility of Nirbhan, and become Arahanta on the advent of Arya Maitri (the future Buddha).


UKT 130210:
The whole inscription can be easily read by any modern Bur-Myan. For example:

{hsing-hpru a.hking ming-ta-ra-kri} 'master of white elephant - the king'. You will note that {wic~sa.pauk} for emphatic is missing in some places which may be attributed to the influence of Mon-Myan.

{hsa.ra  i.ri.Dm~ma.ra-za.ku.na.} 'preceptor Sri Dhammar Raja Kuna'

The date on the inscription is "the eighth day of waxing of the moon of {tn-hsaung-moan:} Sunday, 668 BE.


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UKT notes

City of Inwa aka Ava

-- UKT 130210
It is not sufficient just to know the dates, we must know the geography of the places of importance to get to root of the story. Though directly not involved, we should know something of Inwa {ing:wa.} aka Ava {a.wa.}. The Bur-Myan word implies an 'opening' or the 'mouth of stream' and to be specific it is imperative to insert the suffix {mro.} 'city' giving us the full name {a.wa.mro.}. When a king was living in it, it would be known as {a.wa.n-pr-tau}.  

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Inwa 130210

Inwa or Ava {a.wa.mro.} also spelled Innwa), located in Mandalay Region, Burma (Myanmar), is an ancient imperial capital of successive Burmese kingdoms from the 14th to 19th centuries. Throughout history, it was sacked and rebuilt numerous times. The capital city was finally abandoned after it was completely destroyed by a series of major earthquakes in March 1839. Though only a few traces of its former grandeur remain today, the former capital is a popular day-trip tourist destination from Mandalay.

Inwa was the capital of Burma for nearly 360 years, on five separate occasions, from 1365 to 1842. So identified as the seat of power in Burma that Inwa (as the Kingdom of Ava, or the Court of Ava) was the name by which Burma was known to Europeans down to the 19th century.

Strategically located on the confluence of Irrawaddy, and Myitnge rivers, and in the main rice-growing Kyaukse District of Upper Burma, the location of Ava had been scouted as a possible capital site as early as 1310 by King Thihathu {i-ha.u}. Though Thihathu eventually built his new capital at Pinya {ing:ya.} a few miles east inland in 1313, Thihathu's great-grandson Thadominbya, who unified the Sagaing {sic-keing:} and {ing:ya.} Pinya kingdoms in September 1364, chose the site of Inwa as his new capital.

Inwa was officially founded on 26 February 1365 (6th waxing of Tabaung 726 ME) [3] on a man-made island created by connecting the Irrawaddy on the north and the Myitnge on the east with a canal on the south and the west. The construction of the artificial island also involved filling in the swamplands and lakes (or Ins): [1]

1. Shwekyabin In {rhw-kra-ping ing:} 
2. Zani In {za-ni ing:} 
3. Nyaungzauk In {aung-sauk ing:}
4. Wetchi In {wak-hky: ing:} 
5. Ohnne In{oan:nh: ing:}
6. Inma In {ing:ma. ing:} 
7. Linsan In {ling:sn ing:}
8. Bayme In {B:m. ing:}
9. Wunbe In {wum:B: ing:}

Other records also include Kyaukmaw In {kyauk-mhau ing:}, Ngagyi In {nga.kr: ing:}, and Inbu In {ing:Bu: ing:}

The brick fortifications of Inwa do not follow the conventions of the earlier rectilinear city plans. Instead, the zigzagged outer walls are popularly thought to outline the figure of a seated lion. The inner enclosure or citadel was laid out according to traditional cosmological principles and provided the requisite twelve gates. (The inner city was reconstructed on at least three occasions in 1597, 1763, and 1832.) [4]

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article.

Go back Inwa-note-b

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King Bagyidaw

UKT 130210:

The names of two kings you will come across reading Burmese history are:

King Bodawpaya {Bo:tau} 'great grandfather'
King Bagyidaw {Ba.kri:tau} 'elder uncle'

They are not real names. They showed the genetic relationships to King Mindon {ming:toan:ming:}. In Bur-Myan, the suffix {Bu.ra:} must be added: {Bo:tau Bu.ra:}, and {Ba.kri:tau Bu.ra:}.

Bur-Myan names are a mine-field to the foreigners. You cannot join up two words unless you know the meanings. Thus, if you would like to add the suffix {Bu.ra:} to {ming:toan:}, you must insert the word {ming:} in the middle, otherwise the hearer will think that you are referring to a pagoda. The complete word now reads {ming:toan:ming:Bu.ra:}, but then the suffix {Bu.ra:} becomes redundant. The word {ming:toan:ming:} is the correct word.

The two words {Bo:tau} and {Bu.ra:} are used in another sense: a mahatma or an adapt in esoteric science, and a pagoda. Thus, {rhw-ti.gon} gives two combinations:

Shwdagon Pagoda {rhw-ti.gon Bu.ra:} -- the pagoda
Shwdagon Bodaw {rhw-ti.gon Bo:tau} -- the mahatma (now a Nat)
See Cult of Magus in Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism by Dr. HtinAung
- ch05-magus.htm (link chk 130210)

Now, let's go into history:

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bagyidaw 130210

Bagyidaw {Ba.kri:tau-Bu.ra:} aka Sagaing Min {sic-keing:ming:} (23 July 1784 15 October 1846) was the seventh king of Konbaung dynasty of Burma from 1819 until his abdication in 1837 [after losing the war with the British]. Prince of Sagaing, as he was commonly known in his day, was selected as crown prince by his grandfather King Bodawpaya {Bo:tau-Bu.ra:} in 1808, and became king in 1819 after Bodawpaya's death. Bagyidaw moved the capital from Amarapura back to Ava in 1823.[1]

UKT: More in the Wikipedia article

UKT, 130123:
Since Badon Min -- dubbed Bodawpaya (1745-1819 AD) was followed by King Bagyidaw: the Burmese emperor mentioned above must be King Bagyidaw. Burney's trip to India must be just before the outbreak of the war.

It was reported that King Bagyidaw finally had to use {Bw.hpru lak-nak} to end the First Anglo-Burmese War, which was a term used to misled the population --  the huge sum in silver (and gold) levied by the British as war indemnity. When I heard the story during WWII, I was still a child -- a time when the newly independent Burma was fighting the much hated British-American alliance. Our general was no other than Bogyoke Aung San at the head of BDA (Burma Defence Army) with two of my uncles serving in it. I can't recall who was telling me the story. At that my father who was also listening burst out laughing. Later when I asked him why, he told me that it was silver!

In reading these texts keep in mind the War of 1812 in North America ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War-of-1812 130123), during which time the British were busy fighting the Americans and had to set aside the idea of invading Burma. The British only started the First Anglo-Burmese war in 1824, after transferring the senior officers from Canada to India. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_Anglo-Burmese_War

Go back Bagyidaw-note-b

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SOAS Bulletin

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