The Legend of a King, a Princess and a Monk
By Khin Maung Saw
According to Arakanese Chronicles, Mauk Thuzar was an Arakanese town in Bengal which traditionally belonged to the Arakanese Kingdom. It is believed that twelve towns in Bengal belonged to the Arakanese Kingdom until the end of Moghul-Arakanese war in 1666.
Some Arakanese writers like Dhanyawaddy U Ba San wrote that the town which is known nowadays as Murshidabad in West Bengal (India) was Mauk Thuzar. He gave his own explanations. The twelve Benga towns according to him are (1) Mauk Thuzar (Murshidabad), (2) Dacca (3) Gumbila , (4) ‘Thilat’ (Shilat) (5) Patikara (6) Gangasara, (7) Chittagong, (8) Gawtawpalon (9) Kansa, (10) Tilinga, (11) Barisal and (12) Raunpur.
The Burmese pronunciation of the word King or Ruler is Min မင္း, however, the Arakanese pronunciation varies between “Mang” to “Mong” due to the places in Arakan. It sounds slightly similar to the French pronunciation of “Man”. Hence, the present author took the liberty of transliteration as “Man” in this essay.
When King Ba Saw Phyu (Ba Saw Phru) succeeded the throne of Mrauk-U after the death of his father Min Khayi (Man Khari) in1459 A.D., as the third king of Mrauk-U, he defeated Babek Shah, the Emir of Chittagong and re-occupied the 12 towns in Bengal.
After the death of King Ba Saw Phyu (Ba Saw Phru) in 1482, his son succeeded the throne as the fourth king of that dynasty. Maurice Collis and U San Shwe Bu mentioned this king’s name as Dan Uga, however, U Shwe Zan, on the other hand, wrote the king’s name as Dawlyar. Maung Tha Hla gave the king’s name as Daulya in his book “The Rakhaing”. In some Arakanese chronicles his name was given either သုေဒါလွ်ာ Thudawlyar or ေဒါလွ်ာ Dawlyar. Some chronicles stated that King Ba Saw Phru was killed during the palace revolution headed by his own son Dawlyar. According to the Buddhist believe, killing of own parents means committing one of the biggest sinful acts. Hence, when he became the king of Arakan, Dawlyar became a very religious man and tried his best to recover his misdeeds.
It is believed that Princess ေစာနန္းမင္းျဖဴ Saw Nan Min Phyu (Saw Nan Man Phru) was the favourite daughter of King Dawlyar and she was not only beautiful but also religious.
A Monk and a Princess: An Anecdote
As mentioned earlier King Dawlyar became a very religious man. He then invited a Burmese monk calledရွင္ေတေဇာသာရ Shin Tezawthara of Ava to come and reside in Mrauk-U. The monk came and stayed there. Having been born and raised in Upper Burma which has very few rains, about two months in a year, he enjoyed the constant heavy rains and high tides of the Arakan City. Aside from that, the Arakanese like to eat hot and pungent dishes of fish and other seafood which is unfamiliar to residents of Upper Burma. Later, however, he grew tired with these and after a period of 2 or 3 years he became homesick. But whenever he requested a leave from the King, the latter always answered him to stay one more Buddhist Lent ဝါ “Wa” which never ended.
One evening while in town he saw the Princess Saw Nan Min Phyu (Saw Nan Man Pru) came to a temple accompanied by her maids of honour. The princess was with the Royal costumes on a palanquin carried by her valets de chambre but the maids of honour came on foot. The monk realized that she was truly a very beautiful princess and understood her father’s love and care for her. He also finally found the solution to his problem.
After this eventful evening, he began to compose three verses poem called “Radu” for the princess. In the first verse he wrote about the magnificence of the City of Arakan, Mrauk-U. He compared the city to the abode of Devata (gods from nether abodes) and how he saw an incomparable Beauty with a hair knot appeared at sunset. In the second verse he praised the beauty of the princess who was more beautiful than Nathamee (Devis) of the Abode of Thikyarmin (Sanskrit Sakka) or or Indra Deva . In the last verse he declared that he fell in love with the Princess at first sight. But he also wrote that he felt so sad that they could not match in this life because he was a monk and the other person happened to be the King’s daughter.
ေရႊၿပည္ကဲ ့သို ့၊
ရခိုင္ၿမိဳ ့ကို ၊
ေခ်ာစရာလ ်ွင္ ၊
ခ ်ဳပ္ညရည္တြင္ ၊
ရုပ္သြင္ပ ်ိဳ ေခ်ာ၊
ပ ်ိဳ နုလတ္လတ္၊
ၿမင္လ ်ွင္လြန္ႀကဴ း၊
အံ ့မိန္ းမူးမည္၊
ၿမင္လ ်ွင္လြန္ႀကဴ း၊
သည္လ ်ာမခ ်ြတ္၊
Dream Bride from Arakan otherwise known as: Like the Golden Statue
Gold shining everywhere matching this Golden City,
so wonderfully built, this city of Arakan,
as if it were the abode of devata.
Out of nowhere, an incomparable Beauty with a hair knot appeared at sunset.
Is she the Belle of Arakan?
Amongst the many beautiful ladies in this Magnificent City, matchless was her beauty!
Still in her youth, her face so charming, so innocent, she appeared to be of noble family.
In the beautiful sundown, she with the coiling hair knot wore a marble-like white shawl,
Looking like a Golden Statue aboard a palanquin, borne by valets de chambre!
Her beauty was far beyond that of the Beauty Queen of the Abode of Indra Deva, Thuzar Devi will surely faint for being surprised and upset!
Shining as the full moon surrounded by stars in a moonlit night, her beauty was so enchanting,
That my Buddhist Lent in Arakan, kept on being extended and never ending,
Regrettably, you, Lady of incomparable beauty, pretty as the shining moon, Belle with the coiling hair knot, could not be my destiny,
You can only be a dream bride as an image of a shining Nathamee.
As soon as the King read the poem, he believed that the monk was eyeing his daughter. To avoid this problem, he decided to send the monk back to Ava. He then politely invited the monk, offered a lunch and told the monk that a Royal Friendship Mission was scheduled to go to Ava within a week. Since the monk longed to return to his birthplace, he could accompany the mission if he desires.
The monk immediately agreed. So finally he was able to leave Arakan through his wits.
- Thikyarmin (Sanskrit Sakka) or Indra Deva is the king of the two lowest abodes among the six abodes of the Devata or Nether Gods. In fact, Thikyarmin is the Hindu God Indra adapted into Buddhist Scriptures, however, he is not an immortal as in Hinduism, but after a very long life he too has to die and go through the Samara, like all beings except Arahats. The main difference is: In Hinduism, Indra is the name of an immortal God but in Buddhism, Indra Deva is the king of the two lowest abodes of Devas and he is mortal.
- The Professor of Burmese U E Maung selected some poems from Burmese literature entitled ‘Selection of Fine Burmese Literature’. In that book, he named this poem ‘Like a Golden Statue’. That book was a prescribed text book for Burmese Language for the first year university students until 1961.
- Thuzar Devi or Thuzita, a Devi or a Nathamee well kown for her beauty, was the wife of a Thikyarmin or Indra Deva called Maga who later became Gautama Buddha.
- Devi or Goddess from the abode of Devatas or nether gods.
- Maung Tha Hla, The Rakhaing, Buddhist Rakhaing Cultural Association, New York, 2004.
- Collis, Maurice in collaboration with San Shwe Bu, “Arakan’s Place in the Civilization of the Bay “in Journal of Burma Research Society, Vol. XXIII.
- U Aung Tha Oo, A Short History of Arakan (in Burmese), Mya Yadana Press, Rangoon, 1954.
- U Po Hla Aung, A New History of Rakhaing (Arakan), (in Burmese), 1991.
- U Shwe Zan, The Golden Mrauk-U, Yangon, 2004.
- Professor U E Maung, “Selected Poems of Fine Burmese Literature’ အႏုစာေပေကာက္ႏႈတ္ခ်က္မ်ား Rangoon,1954.
- Rakhine Tazaung Magazine,Yangon, January 2015.