BURMA BEFORE 1044 A.D.
The History of Burma before 1044 A.D. can be classified into three periods beginning from 231 B.C. Earlier than this nothing is known so far. It is probable that Burma began to be inhabited only from 231 B.C. and that before this the country remained entirely in darkness and hardly populated.
1. 231 B.C TO 500 A.D
It was closer to 231 B.C. That Mongolians from the north entered Burma and began to move along the Irrawaddy and the Chindwin Valleys. They came in
tribal groups. Amongst these the powerful tribes were the Pyus, Karans and the Shans. It is believed that the Shans moved east towards the Shan Plateau and settled in small groups, while the Karans moved along the Sittang Valley and made themselves comfortable along the banks of the river. Some of them probably moved towards the western ranges, now called the Chin Hills, and settled in the mountain valleys. But the Pyus came down the Irrawaddy River and settled along the banks of that river. All these tribes must have possessed a crude type of civilisation even though they had no hard and fast rules regarding their daily habits or mode of living.
While these invasions were taking place in Burma some events of greater significance took place in India. Buddhism began to spread throughout that country and slowly found its way into the other Asian countries. The South-eastern parts of India was then called the Telinga Coast. The people of this area were called Telingas. They also adopted the Buddhist religion. Closer to 500 these Telingas were able to establish certain crude type of trade relations with the Pyus who now had their homes along the delta of the Irrawaddy. Quite often the Telinga traders would make temporary settlements along the delta creeks in order to finsh their trade work. Thus, during the first period Burma was fairly populated with Mongolian tribes, and the Pyus had established friendly and commercial contacts with the Telingas of South-East India.
2. 500 A.D TO 800 A.D
Slowly the Pyus began to make a strong fort at Prome. Their settlements also increased in number and gradually they came to possess a Chief. Their trade with the Telingas began to flourish. During this period the Telingas made settlements along the coastal areas in Lower Burma around Thahton, and gradually made Thahton one of the strong forts of their newly settled country. They brought with them Indian culture and religion. Early records indicate that Indian names were given to certain places along the cost, e.g. Pegu was earlier known as Ussa. Gradually the whole of Tenasserim came to be inhabited by the Telingas. They began to intermix with the Mongolian tribes around the Sittang and the Salween and slowly a new race called the TALAINGS came into being. Closer to 800 A-D- followers of Buddhism were being persecuted by the Hiadus, and many larger groups of Telingas had to flee from their homes in order to seek shelter and safety in the
coastal areas of Burma. As a result of the persecution the whole of the delta below and also Lower Burma around Thaht on were entirely populated by the Telingas who later adopted the name of TALA1NG. Another body of followers of the Buddhist religion entered north-western Burma via Assam. They moved across the Chindwin and made fresh settlements. In their hands the Buddhist religion was corrupted in many ways, for the monks in North-western Burma introduced a number of magical beliefs and practices; this type of religion came to be known as the Ari Religion.
The areas of North-western Burma were therefore called Ari Settlements. Thus, closer to the end of 800 A .D. Burma came to possess the Ari homes in the North and the Talaing Settlements in the Delta and Lower Burma. So far neither the Pyus nor the Talaings revealed any war-like characters. They kept quiet and peaceful relations.
3. 800 A.D TO 1044 A.D
This period marks many changes in the relations between the various settlements in Burma, The Pyus and the Talaings now had frequent quarrels, and in 849 A.D. The former had to leave their fort of Prome. The Pyu Chief, called Pyinbya, was killed in this battle. Prome now became a Talaing possession. The Pyus retreated towards the interior up the banks of the Irrawaddy, and within a few years succeeded in having another big fort at Pagan. The system of having a chief continued. Closer to 960 A.D. The Pyus had another important Chief called Nyaung-u-Sawrahan. He invited the Ari monks from the north-west, and the Pyus adopted the Ari religion. This Chief was murdered by one of his beetle-page called Kunhsaw Kyaungpyu. The latter then ascended the throne. He however, allowed the two sons of Nyaung-u-Sawrahan to continue to live at the palace. When they grew up they became monks and built a monastery. They then invited the usurper to bless the erection of the temple, and when the latter came he was forced to become a monk.
The two sons of Nyaung-u-Sawrahan then captured the throne. After a few years one of them died, and only Sokke-Te remained. In 1044 A.D. Sokke-Te had to face another danger. Anawrahta the son of the usurper now desired to revenge his father's imprisonment. He attacked Sokke-Te, and the latter was killed. Anawrahta then ascended the throne. It is said that he offered the throne to his father who was still a monk at the temple but his father refused as he had grown very old. Thus, began the reign of Anawrahtain 1044 A.D.
QUESTIONS ON CHAPTER I.
|a.||Write explanatory notes on the following : |
The Pyus, the Talaings, Prome, Pagan, the Ari Settlements.
|b.||How can you account for the coming of Buddhism into Burma.|
Explain the two Buddhist Settlements in Burma before 1044 A.D.
|c.||Explain the events which brought the Pyus to Pagan, or how was Pagan established ?|