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intense relationship between Sri Lanka and Myanmar spans over a period
of 1,000 years beginning with the emergence of Bagan as the cradle of
Burmese culture and civilization in the 11th Century.
ancient capital of Myanmar epitomizes one of the world’s greatest feats
of building construction - greater than all of Europe’s cathedrals, the
construction of which spread over nearly seven centuries whereas Bagan
is home to 4,446 monuments, built within a period of less than two and
a half centuries, mostly within a period of 150 years. Bagan is a
unique city encompassing approximately 40 square km. with a wide
variety of religious buildings, some standing higher than 70 metres.
Century murals depicting scenes from the chronicle Mahavamsa, four
abodes of Sinhala monks and 260 large monuments influenced by Sinhalese
are some of the re-discoveries that I have been able to make during my
study visits to Bagan in the recent years.
to the Myanmar people is what Anuradhapura is to Sri Lankans -
especially Sinhala Buddhists. Sri Lanka’s contribution towards the
consolidation of the Bagan Empire in terms of religion, culture and
civilization is attested to in the Myanmar historical chronicles,
inscriptions, art and architecture, as well as in Sinhalese records.
What Sri Lanka later gained from Myanmar is equally significant.
Myanmar’s religious gifts to Sri Lanka - the Amarapura and the Ramanna
sects contributed a great deal to the religious, cultural and
educational renaissance in the 18th and 19th Centuries, the influence
of which continues to this day.
Lanka being not only the foremost centre of Buddhism, but also the
country that possessed two of the most famous relics of the Buddha, the
sacred Tooth Relic and the Alms Bowl, attracted the rulers of Southeast
Asia. It appears from Myanmar historical chronicles that the highest
ambition of Bagan kings was to possess the sacred Tooth relic of the
Buddha. King Anawrahta sent a mission to Sri Lanka along with a gift of
a white elephant to obtain the sacred Tooth Relic from his friend
Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.C.). (This event is not mentioned in Sri
Anawrahta received only a replica of the Tooth
Relic. The King made a vow for it to replicate and there emerged four
other replicas. He enshrined the first in the Shwezigon Stupa which he
built in 1059 A.C. The other four were enshrined in four other Stupas,
the most famous among them being Lawkananda. Situated on the riverbank,
Lawkananda is an ancient landmark near the old harbour where vessels
from Sri Lanka, Arakan (Rakhine) and the Mon Ramannadesa anchored.
the most interesting sights in Bagan for Sri Lankans is the Mahavamsa
episodes painted in the Myinkaba Kubyauk-gyi Temple in Bagan. This
Temple has pictorial illustrations of a large number of episodes
covering the history of Buddhism in Sri Lanka up to the reign of our
King Vijayabahu, the contemporary of King Anawrahta and Kyanzittha. The
murals relate events from Asoka’s life including his paying homage to
Moggaliputta Tissa Thera. There is also a sequence of panels depicting
the first three Buddhist Councils.
|Sri Lanka Monastery||Elephant
scenes in these pictorial illustrations include: the Buddha’s visits to
Sri Lanka, Emperor Asoka and King Devanampiyatissa, Asoka’s message and
the gifts for Devanampiyatissa’s coronation, Devanampiyatissa’s meeting
with Thera Mahinda and Theri Sanghamitta’s arrival in Sri Lanka
carrying the Bodhi tree. On another wall are the scenes from the life
of the Mahavamsa hero, Dutthagamini, namely: his elephant Kandula, he
being given the name Abhaya (fearless), Abhaya wanting to go out and
fight the enemy, when his father forbids him, he sends his father a
woman’s dress making the father angry, King Elara and the number of
villages he administers and his justice bell which is rung by a cow
when his son drives his chariot over a calf.
inspired set of paintings are found in the Sakyamuni Temple where
scenes from Sanghamitta’s arrival in Sri Lanka are depicted. Sakyamuni
Temple, also built in the 12th Century has scenes of Theri Sanghamitta
bringing the Bo sapling to Sri Lanka and the Bo plant becoming one
thousand times bigger after pouring of water on it.
stories are known to every child in Sri Lanka. It seems to be the same
in Myanmar too. The late historian Dr. Godakumbura mentions that on a
visit to Myanmar in the 1960s, he found to his amazement that the
Myanmar people considered Sri Lanka history to be their history and
Dutthagamini, the national of Sri Lanka, specially of Sinhala Buddhists
as their national hero. The Bhikkuni Suwimalee who as child stayed in
Myanmar in the 1950s as her father was the Sri Lanka ambassador to then
Myanmar confirms this. She remembers that the maid who looked after her
in Yangon used to say that Dutu Gamunu was their hero. A somewhat
similar view is held in the whole of South-East Asia. (I have seen
during several years’ stay in Cambodia similar recollections among the
Cambodian people of Sri Lanka history, especially the Dutu Gemunu
episode.) One of the explanations given by Western historians of the
mural depictions of wars in that region as occurring between kings
fighting on elephants is that the original model was the Dutu
Gemunu-Elara battle on elephants It should be remembered that Myanmar
historical writings themselves began under the guidance of Sinhala
Bhikkhus. The Myanmar chronicles such as the Mahasammatavamsa,
Rajavamsa and Sasanavamsa were directly modeled after the Mahavamsa.
the general prestige of Sinhalese monks, a Myanmar inscription dated
1268 A.C, claimed that the deeds of merit by the donor were witnessed
by all the Sri Lankan monks. An inscription near the Sinhalese style
Stupa (No. 1113) in the vicinity of the Tamani complex of monasteries
dated 1271 A.C recorded by Tissa Maha Thera is indicative. It describes
the mission undertaken by a Bagan monk to Sri Lanka carrying a message
from the King of Bagan to the Sri Lankan King requesting for more Sri
Lankan monk teachers to go to Myanmar to propagate the Buddha’s message.
the reign of King Narapatisithu and the period immediately thereafter,
several large monastery complexes that were built in Bagan were
dedicated to Sinhalese monks. Inscriptions and ruins of several
monasteries belonging to this period demonstrate that a large number of
influential Sri Lankan monks taught Myanmar monks and Samaneras.
monasteries where the Sri Lankan monks resided are located South of the
old city. The monks from Sri Lanka came to be known also as the Tamani
group or sect and the monasteries that they resided in were known as
Tamani monasteries. The largest monastery complex identified as Tamani
comprises three large monasteries, located near each other. I have
visited them a few times and let me give a brief description.
|Sanghamitta carrying Bo Sapling||King Elara’s Bell and Cow|
large monastery has two floors while a broken Buddha image still lies
among the ruins of the monastery which accommodated around 100 monks.
inscription dated 1277 A.C. inside this monastery refers to Venerable
Tamalin (a Sinhalese monk), the head of a large monastery who was
supported by Queen Summula’s daughter Princess Acau and her uncle
Singasu. Tamalin was one of the most popular monks during the reign of
King Tarukpliy of the 13th Century, also known as Narathihapate.
One of the three monasteries was specially allocated to the Samaneras.
were the Stupas built according to the Sinhalese bell-shaped style.
There were at least 260 such Sri Lankan style Stupas. The inflow of
Sinhala Buddhist culture was facilitated by Myanmar monks going to Sri
Lanka and Sri Lankan monks coming to Bagan.
Stupa built by Chapata who received Upasampada and studied in Sri Lanka
for ten years is one of these Stupas built according to the Sri Lanka
have been also marriage alliances between our two countries. According
to Myanmar historical chronicles, King Alaungsithu of the 12th Century,
King of Myanmar (who was a contemporary of Parakramabahu the Great)
visited Sri Lanka.
Alaungsithu, married a daughter of the
Sinhalese king and returned with an image of Maha Kassapa Thera who was
highly venerated at the time in Sri Lanka. (It was Maha Kassapa Thera
who helped reform our Sasana under Parakramabahu). Although not
mentioned in Sri Lankan records, there is evidence from Myanmar
inscriptions that confirms the strong Sinhalese connection with the
Myanmar royalty during that time. The premier historian of Myanmar,
Gordon Luce and local historians have given evidence to show that there
was a strong Sinhalese influence in the Bagan Royal Court during the
reigns of Alaungsithu and Narapatisithu. Wife of King Narapatisithu,
Queen Uchokpan was a Sinhalese princess, possibly the daughter of
had come to Bagan with her brother who was appointed as a Minister of
the King. She was made the favoured, though not the chief Queen of
Narapatisithu, as evident from the title she had. Queen Uchokpan’s two
sons, Rajasura and Gangasura, though precluded from succession,
remained for a long time influential figures at the Court, loyal to
Narapatisithu and his successors.
Queen Uchokpan’s nephew was a strong supporter of Sri Lankan monks who established the ‘Sihala Sangha’ there.
the political relations were sometimes antagonistic. The Culavamsa
records that the Myanmar King caught sight of a letter addressed to the
King of Cambodia in the hands of the Sinhalese envoys and suspecting
that they were envoys sent to Cambodia (there was also a Sinhalese
princess among them, possibly sent as a bride to a Cambodian prince),
seized them and punished them.
He also immediately stopped Sri
Lanka’s lucrative elephant trade with foreign countries and captured
the elephants, money and vessels of Sinhalese envoys. Later the
conflict was resolved and warm relations were re-established with the
intervention of monks of the two countries.
relationship has been mutually beneficial for both countries on many
fronts. It is a good foundation to strengthen the friendship between
the two countries.
With the rise of Asia as the centre of
economic, political and cultural focus in the world, we can together
make Buddhism again the unifying force in Asia as well as across the
new globalised world at a time when Buddhism is being widely spread in
the Western world.
there was an old man who lived at the top of a very high and dangerous
precipice. Every morning he would sit at the edge of the cliff and view
the surrounding mountains and forest. One day, after he set himself
down for his usual meditation, he noticed something shiny at the very
bottom of the precipice.
Now even though it was very far below
him, the old man had keen eyes and could just barely make out what it
was. It looked like a rather large, black chest with gold trimmings -
just sitting there atop a rock. “Where did it come from? What could be
inside it?” the old man thought to himself…
our attention quite like a good story. Long before there was
television, movies, radio, and even books, people told stories as a way
to entertain and educate. Storytelling was as important to prehistoric
cave-dwellers eating antelope around a fire as it is to corporate
executives doing lunch. It’s in our human blood. We love the
development of plot and character, the climax, the resolution, the
vicarious thrill of living and learning through tales of others
sufferings and triumphs.
of literature and media is but an extension of the more basic urge to
tell a good story. The advantage of storytelling, though, is that you
do it in person - right there, right in front of people, so you get to
see, hear, and feel their reactions. Unlike books and television,
storytelling is much more interactive and personal. You don’t do it
alone, unless you’re quite psychotic…. but that’s another story.
are used to hear Zen and Taoist tales. Why am I suggesting that you
tell these stories to your neighbors? Is it because these are among the
oldest stories in human history and have withstood the test of time? Is
it because Zen and Taoism are ancient religions offering profound
insights into human nature, the cosmos, and spirituality?… Maybe. Or
maybe it’s just because they are fun to tell. Without a doubt, these
stories capture all sorts of truths about life and death. But they are
also witty, entertaining, humorous, and at times puzzling, even
they are not just the secret lessons of monks sequestered away in
mountain monasteries. The ancient teachers intended these stories to be
used by everyone, everywhere. On the train to work, during dinner at a
restaurant, leaning over the backyard fence as you talk to your
neighbor - all of these situations and more lend themselves to these
stories. Once you read and learn a few of them, you will see
opportunities to tell them popping up everywhere with your family,
friends, and coworkers.
of these tales as conversation pieces, as handy tools that you can lift
out of your pocket to help you and others talk, think, and laugh about
the wondrous and mysterious details of this thing we call Life.
your storytelling, you need background homework. You need others’
homework. These people may include students from varying walks of life,
your friends and relatives. As you will see, people interpret each
story in very different ways. That’s what makes them so interesting.
may have heard some of the tales before and believe you know what they
‘mean’. But if you read these people’s reactions - or tell the stories
to your neighbors and hear their reactions - I think you’ll be amazed
at how these tales strike a different chord in everyone. The stories
have many meanings.Talking about those meanings with your friends and
family can be a truly educational experience.
So read on. Pick out the stories that
sound interesting. Read Zen story books from ‘cover’ to ‘cover’, or at
random, or use the links at the bottom of each story to connect to
other stories with similar themes. There’s no right or wrong way to do
this. Pick the method that works best for you. And perhaps, like the
old man at the top of the precipice, you will see something surprising.
(WE ARE ONE )
The BSP relied more on extensive ground level mobilisation of voters by the cadre through the
booth level committees. Besides, Maya introduced reservation for
SC/STs in allotment of government contracts and in private technical
The moves have shown results, with BSP winning 12 out of 15 seats in
the two bypolls since August. BSP while retaining Lalitpur and Rari,
snatched seven assembly seats from the rival parties. Meanwhile,
sources said that all those leaders who worked hard in the bypolls are
likely to be awarded with ministerial posts. They will include BSP
state president Swami Prasad Maurya, who had to quit state cabinet
after losing two successive elections. But now, he has won from
Barthana seat was vacated by SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav after being
elected to the Parliament. BSP’s Shiv Prasad Yadav had lost to Mulayam
in Barthana in 2007 assembly polls but in bypolls he defeated SP. Maya
had fielded SP turncoats — Mahendra Singh, Dasrath Prasad and Chandra
Bhadra Singh — Etawah, Hainsar Bazaar and Issauli respectively. The
three had won from the same seats in 2007 as SP candidates but had
crossed over to the BSP during the Lok Sabha polls.
In Lalitpur, BSP’s Suman Devi has won. She is widow of Nathu Ram who
was elected in 2007 from the same seat. BSP’s Kailash Sahu won in
Jhansi with a razor thin margin of nine votes defeating independent
candidate Dam Dam Maharaj. Rajdev Singh, father of
mafia-turned- politician and BSP MP from Jaunpur, Dhananjay Singh, won
in Rari. Dhananjay has been MLA from Rari twice before he was elected
Regarding defeat in Lucknow West and Kolasala, Mayawati said that BSP
got good vote share at both the places but lost because opposition
parties joined hands to defeat her candidates. On Congress victory in
Firozabad Lok Sabha byelection, Maya said it was an outcome of
people’s anger against Mulayam’s parivar vaad.
Karnataka BSP stages Dharna near Mysore Bank condemning the Rowdy Layers who
manhandled the Chief Justice of Karnataka and other judges on 12-11-2009.
Karnataka BSP President Marasandra Muniappa, Gopinath, Chikkanna, Koramangala Muniappa,
R.Muniappa, Kamalnabhan, condemned Putte Gowda, Nesaragi, Jagdish Reddy of Advocates
Association who took law in their own hands. They manhandled CJI of Karnataka, Judges Gopala Gowda
and a woman judge were locked insihe Karnataka High Court and pushed a journalist who covered
the news from the second floor of High Court Building. The leaders wanted the Rowdy advocates
to be booked under goondas act and debar them from the bar council. The wanted the Karnataka government
to close down the Advocates association who were dictating terms to the Judges and functioned
above law.They submitted a memorandum in this connection
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