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The Pegu Pagoda.—By Capt. H. A. Brownb, Deputy Commissioner
[Received Nov. 28th, 1866. Bead 5th Dec. 1866.] Every ancient Pagoda in Burmah has its Thamaing or "sacred chronicle," giving an account of the relics or quasi-relics which it was bnilt to enshrine, the names of the kings, rulers or other distinguished personages hy whom it was erected or has since been repaired or embellished, in short its history from its foundation down to a recent time. The commencement of those chronicles is of a more or less mythical character; the founding of each particular pagoda being connected, if possible, by its historian with some event in the life of Gaadama, who is fabled to have visited these regions after he became a Baddha. Some gleams of real history may be detected even in the mythical portions of the narratives, but later on the chronicles are irnthful contributions to the history of the period. To disunite some of these from the obscurity of the Hpoongyee's book-chests, and give •a compendious description of their contents, will not be an uninteresting task, and the results may be useful to the author who will some day write " The History of Burmah," as well as interesting to the general reader.
One of the most ancient and famous among the Pagodas of Burmah
is the graceful structure known as the Shwe Hmawdaw Gj^g^sgcos
at the town called, by Europeans, Pegu, and by Burmans, Pago OC^S
or Paigoo &CQi*, but formerly known as Hanthawadie OOOODOcB,
which, since the decline of Thatoon CX5C^ twelve centuries ago, has been the capital of the Taking nationality.
Hanthawadie is derived from the " Hantha" (Goose or Brahmineo Duck), the national bird of the Takings. Concerning the manner in which this bird came to be selected by the Takings as their emblem,
* The name " Pago" appears to be of Burmese not Talaing derivation. It is
said to bo a corruption of" Paikho" or Boau-thief, from some old legend
connected with the place.
The name of the pagoda "Hmawdaw" is a corruption of the Tnlaing Hpot-daw which ia iutorproted in Burmese as "Bhuorabvan," a "winjjod" or fjiiig Bhoora.
•the following fablo is narrated. When Gaticlama, in the eighth year after he became a Buddha, was on a preaching tour in these parts, he passed by the hill on which Hanthawadie was afterwards built, and there seeing two "Hanthas," which with joined wings paid him obeisance, he foretold that 1116 years after his death, there would be built on that spot a town which would become the capital of a race of monarchs and an important city. As he foretold, so it came to pass. On this site, which is just outside the eastern wall of the present town, the original founders of the Taking kingdom of Pegu, Thamala and Wiemala, built the old city of Hanthawadie, about 573 A. D. The district, which took its name from the capital town, contained at its most floursihing period 32 cities or townships, and included the eastern half of the present district of Rangoon, with parts of Toungoo and Shwegyeen. The following are the names of the thirty-two cities.
1. Dengmai; 2. Zarayboon; 3. Hmawbyo; 4. Lagwonbyeng; 5. Akharaing; 6. Ma-oo; 7. Kamanago; 8. Ramawatie; 9. Hinawbee; 10. Hlaing; 11. Hpoungleng; 12. Htandawgyee; 13. Deedwot; 14. Zeta; 15. Zoungdoo;16. Hpa-aing; 17. Merengzaya 18. Tagnabhoung; 19. Meng-raihla; 20. Kawlieya; 21. Zainganaing.
The whole of these twenty-one townships are within the limits of the present district of Rangoon, and the names may all, with the exception of Nos. 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 8, 13, 14,16,18 and 19, be found in the Map of Pegu. Those which are not now traceable among the existing towns or divisions of the district, were situated as follows: No. 1. Dengmai, on the bank of the Sittang river, south east from Pegu. No. 2. Zarayboon, now known as Zwaiboon, in the same neighbourhood. No. 3. Hmawbyo, doubtful. No. 6. Ma-oo, part of Akharaing. No. 7. Ramanago, the present town of Rangoon. No. 8. Ramawatie, the country round the present town of Rangoon. No. 13, Deedwot, north of Pegu. No. 14, Zeta, north of Pegu. No 16, Hpa-aing, on the bank of the Irrawady, opposite to Danoobyoo. This division existed up to the annexation of Pegu, when the circle of Hpa-aing was amalgamated with that of Tagay. No. 18, Tagnabhoung, between Hmawbee and Hlaing. No. 19, Mengrai-hla, next to Tagnabhoung.
The following are the cities which lie within the limits of the present district of Shwegyeen. No. 22, Koukmaw ; No. 23, Ban-myo; No. 24, Doontsaran; No. 25, Kyeekya; No. 26, Tsittoung (Sittang); No. 27, Atha; No. 28, Ywongzaleng; and the remainder which are in the district of Toungoo, are—No. 29, Toonkhan, No. 30, Kainwari, No. 31, Baingta, No. 32, Wenghpyaing.
Below is a table shewing the names of the kings by whom these towns were founded and the dates assigned to the reigns of the kings. Name of City. Name of King. Date of Reign.
B. E. A. D. Mengraihla. Ditto.
Kawlicya. Razadhicrit. 743 1381
Wenghpyaing. Queen Beenya daw San 850 1488
i- Shang tsaw-boo.
Gwon-zaleng. Dhammatsedee. 864 1502
Zainganaing. Thoo-sheng-taga Riwot pie 901 1539*
The dates in the above table are those given in the "Thamaing" of the Shwe Hmawdaw, but it is clear that in this particular, t. e. as regards dates, the chronicle is altogether wrong. Tho year 1116 of the religious era, in which year Pegu is said to have been founded, corresponds with the year 493 of king Thamoondarie's Era (573 A. D.) but the chronicle gives the year 514 of the present secular era as the date of this occurrence A. D. 1152. This makes a difference of 579 years in the date of Thamala's Teign.
The Shwe-Hmawdaw, like many other pagodas, is said to have been built in order to enshrine two of Gaudama's hairs. The legend relates that in the sixth year after Gaudama had obtained omniscience
* There are five different eras known in Burmese Chronology. They are as follows:—
1st.—The Kawza era which, after lasting 8650 years, was abolished by Bhedaw Eenteana, grandfather of Gaudama, in B. C. 691.
2nd.—Bhedaw Eentsana's era, which lasted 148 years only, until Gaudama's death, B. C. 543.
3rd.—King Ayatathat's or the Religious era. This lasted 624 years, until
A. D.. 82.
4th—King Thamoondario's era. In 82 A. D. Thamoondarie, king of Promo, superseded the Religious era, as far as secular purposes wore concerned, by hia own era which he established from the 622nd year of the Religious ■ era, A. D. 80. This era lasted 562 years, until 643 A. D.
5th.—Pagantsaw Itahan's or Pooppatsaw Rahan's era. In 642 A. D. this king of Pegu abolished the Protne era and established his own, making it commence from the year 560 of the former era. This era has now reached its 1228th year.
Another era, but little used, known as Gnyoung Manglnra's era, which lastod 198 years, was synchronous with a portion of the present era.
According to Burmese computation, therefore, the following number of years have elapsed since the death of Gaudama :—
Ayatathat's Era, years 622
Theomocmdarie'B Era, 560
Pooppatsaw Rahan's Era, 1227
Which fixes the date of that occurrence, viz. the death of Gaudama, in 543
(about 582 B. C.) whilst he was tarrying in the Makkoola Hill near the source of the Thalwon (Gwon-zaleng) river, he was visited by two pilgrims from Zoungiloo* named Mahathala and Tsoolathala, the sous of Pientaka, a wealthy merchant of that town. The brothers mado many offerings. Gaudama, being desirous of requiting them, and at the same time of establishing his religion in their countiy, shook his head, and presented to the brothers two hairs which adhered to his hands, directing them to enshrine the same on the ThoodathanaMyeng-theeta Hill which lay to the west of the Hanthawadie Hill. The two brothers being ignorant of the locality of these hills, Gaudama described them as surrounded by the sea, from which they had but lately emerged, and promised that they should be pointed out by the Nats and Brahmas. Gaudama then prophesied that in the 1116th year of his religion, and the year 514 of the secular era, two brothers, named Thamala and Wiemala, would found the city of Hanthawadie to the east of the Thoodathana-Myeng-theeta Hill, and that his religion would flourish there.
The two brothers, Mahathala and Tsoolathala, then took ship and conveyed the sacred relics, enclosed in a casket provided for the purpose by the Thagya king of their native town, where they were received with great rejoicing. After holding high festival for seven months and seven days, they proceeded to obey the instructions they had received, by enshrining the relics on the Thoodathana Hill. Guided by the miraculous power of the Nats and Brahmas, they speedily arrived at the spot, and then they prayed that an omen might be given if that was indeed the very place. In answer to their prayers, tho great earth shook. This not only supplied the desired information, but called down a host of Nats and Brahmas from the upper regions to take part in tho enshrinement of tho relics. By them the shriue was thus prepared. At the bottom of a pit ten cubits square was laid a slab of pearly white marble, set with diamonds. A similar slab, set with emeralds, was prepared to cover the mouth of tho pit. In the centre of the bottom slab the Thagya king placed a golden cradle, round which were ranged images of the chief disciples of Gaudama, each holding a golden bouquet. These disciples were Thaieapootra, Mawgalan, Theercc Maha Maya, Theeree Thoodaw* A place which still oxistd upon tho Pegu river, about 20 miles above Pogu.