Narapatisithu


Narapatisithu
Narapatisithu
နရပတိစည်သူ
Sithu II
Gawdawpalin Temple, Bagan
King of Burma
Reign 1173–1210
Predecessor Naratheinkha
Successor Htilominlo
Chief Minister Ananda Thuriya
Consort Taung Pyinthe
Weluwaddy
U Sauk Pan
Saw Sanay
Pan Yin
Saw Mya Kan
Issue
Zeya Thura
Yaza Thura
Ginga Thura
Pyanchi
Zeya Theinkha[1]
House Pagan
Father Narathu
Mother Myauk Pyinthe
Born c. June 1137
Tuesday born
Pagan
Died 1 September 1210 (aged 73)
11th waxing of Tawthalin 572 ME[2]
Pagan
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Narapatisithu (Burmese: နရပတိ စည်သူ, pronounced [nəɹa̰pətḭ sìθù]; also Narapati Sithu, Sithu II or Cansu II; c. 1137–1210) was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1173 to 1210. He is considered the last important king of Pagan. His peaceful and prosperous reign gave rise to Burmese culture which finally emerged out of the shadows of Mon and Pyu cultures.[3] The Burman (Bamar) leadership of the kingdom was now unquestioned. The Pagan Empire reached its peak during his reign, and would decline gradually after his death.[4]

The reign saw many firsts in Burmese history. For the first time, the term Mranma (the Burman people) was openly used in Burmese language inscriptions. The Burmese script became the primary script of the kingdom, replacing Mon and Pyu scripts. The first Burmese customary law based on his grandfather Alaungsithu's judgments was compiled, and used as the common system of law for the entire kingdom.[4] He founded the Royal Palace Guards, which later evolved to become the nucleus of the Burmese army in war time.[5]

He encouraged further reforms of the Burmese Buddhism. By the efforts of his primate Shin Uttarajiva, the majority of the Burmese Buddhist monks realigned themselves with the Mahavihara school of Ceylon away from the less orthodox Conjeveram-Thaton school.

Contents

Early life

The future king was born to Prince Narathu and his wife (later known as Myauk Pyinthe, or Queen of the Northern Palace) in Pagan (Bagan) in 1137. In 1170, his elder brother Naratheinkha succeeded the throne, the new king was greeted with multiple rebellions by the Kudus in the Tagaung region in the north and the Mons of Tenasserim coast in the south. Naratheinkha appointed his younger brother Narapatisithu as the heir apparent and commander-in-chief to deal with the rebellions. In 1173, Naratheinkha seized Narapati's chief wife Weluwaddy (Veluvati) after he sent Narapati on a mission. Narapati retaliated by sending a group of 80 led by Aungzwa to assassinate his brother. He ascended the throne as Sithu II in honor of his grandfather Alaungsithu.[4]

Reign

One of the first acts of Sithu II was to found the Royal Palace Guards, whose sole duty was to guard the palace and the king. (The Palace Guards later evolved to become the nucleus round which the Burmese army assembled in war time.)[5] He then had to pacify the kingdom, which had seen much instability since the death of Alaungsithu in 1167, and had grown increasingly restless. He successfully persuaded the great-grandson of the Mon king Manuha not to start a rebellion. The rest of the reign was free of rebellions.[4]

Economy

By all accounts, his reign was peaceful and prosperous. Following Anawratha's footsteps, Narapatisithu worked on increasing Upper Burma's economic and manpower advantages over the Irrawaddy valley. He continued to develop the Kyaukse region by building the Kyaukse weir, and expanded the irrigable areas by starting the Mu canals in the present-day Shwebo District. His attempts to expand irrigation southwards into Minbu District by building a canal system repeatedly failed, and had to be abandoned. Through his efforts, the kingdom grew even more prosperous.[5]

The prosperity of the kingdom is reflected in the superb the Gawdawpalin and Sulamani temples in Pagan he built. The king also built the Minmalaung, Dhammayazika and Chaukpala nearby. His lesser pagodas, such as the Zetawun in Myeik District, the Shwe-Indein Pagaoda in Nyaungshwe (Shan State) shows the reach of his kingdom.[5]

Rise of Burmese culture

His reign also saw the rise of Burmese culture which finally emerged out of the shadows of Mon and Pyu cultures.[3] The Burmans, who had entered the Irrawaddy valley en masse only in the 9th and 10th centuries, had led the Pagan Kingdom under the name of the Pyu. But now, the Burman leadership of the kingdom was now unquestioned. For the first time, the term Mranma (the Burman people) was openly used in Burmese language inscriptions. (The earliest use of Mranma was found in a Mon inscription dedicated to Kyansittha dated 1102.) The Burmese script became the primary script of the kingdom, replacing Mon and Pyu scripts.[4]

Administration

Narapatisithu appointed Nadaungmya, great-grandson of Nyaung-U Hpi (one of the great Paladins during Anawrahta's reign), chief justice. His chief minister was Ananda Thuriya, reportedly a man of valor who continually hunted down robbers and presented them alive to the king.[5] He had the first Burmese customary law based on his grandfather Alaungsithu's judgments compiled, and used as the common system of law for the entire kingdom.[4]

Religious reforms

He encouraged further reforms of the Burmese Buddhism. By the efforts of his primate Shin Uttarajiva, the majority of the Burmese Buddhist monks realigned themselves with the Mahavihara school of Ceylon away from the less orthodox Conjeveram-Thaton school.[6]

Sinhalese raids

According to the Sinhalese Mahavamsa Chronicles, the King of Ceylon dispatched an expedition in 1180 to settle a trade dispute. It suffered from storms and several ships were wrecked. But one ship reached the Crow Island near Mawlamyaing and five reached Pathein, killing a governor, burning villages, massacring the inhabitants, and carrying off a number into slavery.[5] As the Burmese chronicles do not mention these events, there is no check on the Sinhalese version. Historian G.E. Harvey writes:Mahavamsa does not explain how a few little medieval ships could transport enough men to ravage half Burma and fight many fierce battles. The invasion of course was a raid, and probably over before news of it reached Pagan.[7]

Nevertheless, the friendly relations were soon resumed. The historical cultural exchanges between the countries continued. The reformation of Burmese Buddhism through the Sinhalese Mahavihara school continued.[5]

Death

Sithu II died in the 37th year of his reign and 74th year (aged 73) of his life. On his deathbed, he placed the hands of his five sons on his chest and enjoined them to rule with mercy and justice, and to live together in brotherly love.

References

  1. ^ "Pagan Dynasty" (in Burmese). Hmannan Yazawin. 1 (2003 ed.). Yangon: Ministry of Information, Burma. 1829. p. 328. 
  2. ^ Hmannan, p. 330
  3. ^ a b Nicholas Tarling. The Cambridge History of Southeast Asia (1993 ed.). Cambridge University Press. pp. 166–167. ISBN 0521355052, 9780521355056. 
  4. ^ a b c d e f Maung Htin Aung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 50–54. 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g GE Harvey (1925). History of Burma. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd.. pp. 57–58. 
  6. ^ Harvey, p. 56
  7. ^ Harvey, p. 328
Narapatisithu
Pagan Dynasty
Born: c. June 1137 Died: 1 September 1210
Regnal titles
Preceded by
Naratheinkha
King of Burma
1173–1210
Succeeded by
Htilominlo
Royal titles
Preceded by
Naratheinkha
Heir to the Burmese Throne
1170–1173
Succeeded by
Htilominlo

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