King Narathu / KalarKya Minn 529-533 M.E. / 1167 to 1170 A.D.

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Dhammayangyi_Paya,_Bagan,_Myanmar

NW P AKO Dhamayangyi 2003

The Dhamayangyi pagoda is the largest and the most solid pagodas of Bagan and It looks like a pyramid. Although it is not a stupa and can be called a temple due to internal corridors and rooms, it hardly looks like a temple as the structure is near solid and the internal places are not spacious.The workmanship of the masons is the best in Bagan. It is said that those who are of poor workmanship had their hands cut off. The Dhamayangyi was built by king Narathu and is still unfinished as there was troubled times after the death of king Narathu when Naratheinkha became king (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. The new king failed to deal effectively with rebellions, and appointed his younger brother Narapatisithu as the heir apparent and commander-in-chief of his armies.) There were 2 conentric internal corridors as with the Anandar temple, but the inner one was blocked off completely.

I have been to the Dhamayangyi in all my visits to Bagan (although of course not every time I got to Bagan during the weekly trips the Road to Mandalay made to Bagan) and I believe most pilgrims reach it if they have at least half a day in Bagan. It lies on the west of the Bagan walled city on the same road to the SulaMaNi, another famous temple reached by most pilgrims and tourists, said to be the most beautiful design.

In his old age, king Alaungsithu (Burmese: အလောင်းစည်သူ, pronounced [ʔəláuɴ sìθù]) (c. 1090 – 1167) fell a victim to a court intrigue engineered by three of his sons. One of them, Narathu, murdered his father and seized the throne.[2]

Alaungsithu / Sithu 1, became ill and was moved from his palace to the Shwegugyi temple (also his good deed) nearby, by his son Narathu while he was unconscious. He later regained consciousness but was smothered by Narathu. His elder brother Min Shin Saw was away from Bagan at the time because he was banished by king Alaungsithu due to his misconduct. Min Shin Saw who was staying in HtunTone MuTet east of current Mandalay near AungPinLae marched on to Bagan with his army on hearing about Alaungsithu’s death. Narathu asked the abbot PantThaKu MaHarThei to convey to Min Shin Saw to come to Bagan quickly ahead of his army to be coronated. Min Shin Saw was made king when he arrived and was poisoned the same night. PantThaKu MaHarThei got angry, scolded Narathu and went off to Sri Lanka saying he would not live under such a bad king.

Narathu was very cruel and the royalty and population suffered much under his reign. Many monks were made to leave the monkhood and many monks left and went to Sri Lanka.

Narathu (Burmese: နရသူ, pronounced [nəɹəθù]; Born: c. 1117 Died: 1170) was king of Pagan dynasty of Burma (Myanmar) from 1167 to 1170. Narahthu ascended to the throne by murdering his father King Alaungsithu and his elder brother Min Shin Saw. In atonement for his many cruelties, Narathu built the largest of all the Pagan temples, the Dhammayangyi.[1]

Narathu’s conduct lowered the prestige of the dynasty, and he was widely unpopular. Narathu’s reign came to an abrupt end in 1173 when the king was killed by the mercenaries sent by the chief of Pateikkaya, a tributary kingdom in the west (near or today’s Chin State / (also mentioned in other sources as in current Bangaladesh). The reason was to avenge for Narathu’s murder of the chief’s daughter, whom the chief had sent to Narathu as tribute. Narathu did raise the chief’s daughter as queen but killed her with his own hands in one of his episodes of violence.[2]

In traditional Myanmar chronicles, it was mentioned that the Kalar / Pateikkaya princess who was offered to king AlaungSithu and was taken into Narathu’s harem on his accession, was killed because she avoided Narathu as Narathu did not use water after toilet. When the Pateikkaya king heard of it, he sent 8 Kalarr warriors disguised as soothsayers / Ponnas to Narathu’s court with orders to kill Narathu which was done successfully. Narathu was later known as KalarKya Minn king who fell to Kalars.

After murdering his own king father, Narathu ascended the throne of Bagan and due to that, he built this temple. It is said that Narathu oversaw the construction himself and that masons were excecuted if a needle could be pushed between bricks they had laid. But he never completed the construction because he was assassinated before the completion. It was said that he was displeased by the Hindu rituals and one of them who made those rituals was the Indian princess who was the daughter of Pateikkaya. So he executed her for such reasons. The princess’s father wanted revenge for his innocent daughter and sent 8 officers in the disguise of Brahmans and assassinated Narathu in this very temple.

However, according to Sri Lanka sources, King Narathu was assassinated by the King of Sri Lanka. At the time, Bagan and Sri Lanka did not have good relationships and they were always on attack against one another. Bagan was undertaken by the Sri Lankans for a few days.

Parākramabāhu

(Parākramabāhu the Great);[1][2] 1123–1186) was king of Sri Lanka from 1153 to 1186

Parākramabāhu’s reign is memorable for two major campaigns—in the south of India as part of a Pandyan war of succession, and a punitive strike against the kings of Ramanna (Myanmar) for various perceived insults to Sri Lanka. He also had to suppress revolts against him in Ruhuna on several occasions.

War with Bagan, 1164–1165

The kingdom of Bagan (Arimaddhanapura) in what is now Myanmar, and Sri Lanka had been enjoyed a cordial relationship based on trade and a common faith (Theravada Buddhism) for a long time. Bagan has emerged as a power in the 9th century and by the 11th century its capital city, Arimaddhanapura, was a centre of Buddhist learning.

However with the accession of Narathu (1160–1165), the ???grandson [son] of Alaung Sithu, to the throne, the situation changed dramatically. Initially he deprived the envoys of the King of Sri Lanka the maintenance they were previously granted.[74] He also issued an order prohibiting the sale of elephants to foreign countries and did away with the age old custom of presenting an elephant to every foreign vessel which brought him gifts. He later had the Sri Lankan envoys imprisoned and tortured, and had all their possessions, including their money, their elephants and their vessels confiscated. He later summoned them and declared,

“Henceforth no vessel from the Sinhala country shall be sent to my kingdom. Give us now in writing the declaration that if [messengers] from there are again sent to us, in case we should slay the envoys who have come here, no blame of any kind will attach to us. If ye give not the declaration ye shall not have permission to return home.”[74]

It is not certain whether this was part of a particular moved against Sri Lankan merchants, or a general closing down of Baganese borders. Whatever the reason, Parākramabāhu was incensed. Assembling a fleet at Pallavavanka, he dispatched to Bagan a formidable force. The size of the army is not known, but it is recorded as containing a year’s supply of grains, specially modified arrows, and Sri Lanka’s fearsome war elephants. Despite setbacks en route, including the sinking of one ship and the loss of a few others, the army arrived at the city of Kusumiya (modern Pathein) on the banks of the ??? Bago river, and captured it.[8][75] Thereafter, the armies captured several other cities, including Arimaddhanapura, killed Narathu, and restored relations between the two countries to normal.

The account of the campaign in Bagan is possibly exaggerated, particularly as Burmese chronicles do not contain any information on a massive invasion from Lanka. Nevertheless there is evidence to indicate that there was some form of campaign undertaken, and that it was a successful one. The story of a Sri Lankan invasion that dethroned Narathu is ???known in Myanmar.[76] Furthermore, contemporary inscriptions from Devanagala mentions the awarding of land to the general Kitti Nagaragiri for his leadership in a campaign to ‘Ramanna’, naming the king of Bagan as ‘Bhuvanaditta‘, a possible Lankanization of ‘Narathu’.[77]

Comments on:King Narathu / KalarKya Minn 529-533 M.E. / 1167 to 1170 A.D.

Maung Nyo Dear Dr Nyi Win, TQ for the accounts and photos. I’m not sure Narathu was killed by the agents of Sri Lankese king. Dr Htin Aung denied it and the Sri lankese DG of history concurred with him. There is an inscription in Sri Lanka describing the despatch of Sri klankese forces to Ramanna and conquering it, but not Pagan. Prof. Luce denied the existence of a king between Narathu and Narapatisithu.Is it right? I don’t know, just curious!

Nyi Win

yes, Sayargyi, it was only recorded that the Sri Lanka forces were sent to Ramana and the interpretation about it being Pathein, Bagan and Narathu is by later historians
more significantly, it was only mentioned in Myanmar chronicles that th…e warriors sent by the Pateikkayar king killed Narathu

I read from Dr. Than Tun that the kings mentioned in Myanmar chronicles is incorrect (he would be quoting Luce) and that one king mentioned (maybe Naratheinkha) is non-existent
Dr. Than Tun only accepted facts in contemporary inscriptions so although his facts are correct, they might be incomplete
I do not have Dr. Than Tun’s book with me now to refer to
but I have data I got from the internet that shows both versions:

Narathu 1160 – 1165
Narapati Sithu 1165 – 1211

and in Wikipedia
Narathu 1167–1170
Naratheinkha 1170–1173 Succeeded by Narapatisithu

Maung Nyo Dear Dr NW,Thank you. Dr Than Tun admitted that he was wrong to rely only on the stone inscriptions as to the existence of Burmese kings as the Pagan Stone Inscriptions are mainly concerned with the alms giving and pagoda building etc.It’s good you are studying burmese history as a hobby.

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