Places I want to visit: The 4 remaining ThaRaKhan Buddha images

the Shwe Tant Tit Tharakhan Buddha

I have been to the ShweTannTit pagoda where one of the Tharakhan Buddha images reside, for several times, but still have not visited the remaining 4 Tharakhan Buddha images. I first heard of the Tharakhan Buddha images when the AhNyar ThihaTaw Buddha image made a visit to Yangon around 1990. I did not visit the AhNyar ThihaTaw Buddha image in Yangon and it was only when I worked at the Road to Mandalay that I first heard of the Tharakhan Buddha images (I did not know about them and that the AhNyar ThihaTaw Buddha image was a Tharakhan Buddha image previously.

The Road to Mandalay makes a weekly trip between Bagan and ShweKyetYet for a 4 day upriver and a 3 day down river trips, with night stops on the.way. On down river trips, the night stop is near the ShweTannTit pagoda and I had the opportunity to see the 2 Chinthe / lions guarding the entrance. The peculiarity of the guarding Chinthe / lions is that they differ in size.


the 2 guardian Chinthes at the south entrance of the Shwe Tant Tit pagoda


There was only one Chinthe of 75 ft height at first but when it became damaged, 2 Chinthes of different sizes were built by artesians of 2 different towns in the Myanmar year 1182, 1802 AD. The east Chinthe is 56 ft high and was built by PaKhan artesans and the west Chinthe is 67.5 ft high and was built by Mandalay artesans. It was on such mornings that I heard about the 5 Tharakhan Buddha images.

The history of the Tharakhan Buddha images is related to king AhLaung Sithu and is mythological with reference to the ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn.

The following is the history of the Tharakhan Buddha images from the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin:

While king AhLaung Sithu went around his country, the local rulers paid homage to him. On reaching ThainGo / Thiho / Thiri LinKar / Sri Lanka, the Sri Lankan king offered the Maha Kathapha image that is being worshipped by the Sri Lankan kings, the huge ThitKaNet ship and daughter Princess Sao Oo Htwe.

King AhLaung Sithu continued on his journey to the ZamBu DiPar Kyunn where  ZamBu. ThaPyay Pin / tree grew. Then king AhLaung Sithu decided to continue his journey to the MyinyMo mountain but was dissuaded by the ThaGyarMinn through the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr and also by the ministers and the courtiers.

The Tharakhan Buddha images were sclptured from the Tharakhan incence wood offered to king AhLaung Sithu by the ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn. During his travels, king AhLaung Sithu reached Malayu and there an orgress dropped her child while looking at the  king. The orgress asked the king to rescue her child and king AhLaung Sithu whipped the sea with the cane, saying why the ManiMayKhaLar Nathamee did not rescue! ManiMayKhaLar Nathamee rescued the child and gave to the king AhLaung Sithu who returned it to the orgress. The orgress offered various incense to king AhLaung Sithu. The ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn also offered the MahaBodhi DetKhiNa TharKhar and the Tharakhan incence wood to the king.

On his return to Bagan, king AhLaung Sithu had 5 Buddha statutes made from the Tharakhan incence wood. The Abbot Shin AhRaHan advised to have the images to be distributed so as to be available to all. King AhLaung Sithu went upriver with the 5 Tharakhan Buddha images and the MyatPaung Myitzu Buddha image.  At KunnYwa, there were many birds in the sky and the soothsayers said that it is an auspicious place where the Buddha image want to reside. The king have the Buddha images placed on white elephants to find where they rest in order to find the place for the Buddha images. Thus, the 4 Tharakhan Buddha images were placed in pagodas at KunnYwa, ShinMa Taung, Pakhan, and HsinKyoe.

The remaining Tharakhan Buddha image could not be placed on white elephant and when the king asked about it, the soothsayers replied that once when the king was further up river at AhNyar ThihaTaw, a jungle hen landed on the royal barge and laid egg on  the front end. This is the place where the remaining Tharakhan Buddha image want to reside. King AhLaung Sithu went up the Ayeyarwaddy to the AhNyar ThihaTaw and have a pagoda built on the island in the middle of Ayeyarwaddy and placed the remaining Tharakhan Buddha image there.

Nowadays, the AhNyar ThihaTaw Buddha image resides in Mandalay at the Shwe ?? pagoda and only went to the AhNyar ThihaTaw pagoda during its pagoda festival.

The Shin TaungMa (Shin MaTaung) Buddha image now resides at PakhanGyi.

KunnYwa is the current ShweTannTit.

The height of the Tharakhan Buddha images were only about 4 fingers width / Let Lay Thit and with the elephant / HsinKhan throne / Palin the difference in them is the number of elephants sculptured on the elephant throne / HsinKhan Palin.


The following is the history of the Tharakhan Buddha images from the ShweTannTit pagoda history / Phayarr Thamaing by AhShin PyaNyar WunTha:

The ThaGyarMinn, king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn gave the Tharakhan incence which gives out fragrance for the 15 yuzana diameter area to king AhLaung Sithu and told the king that if 5 Gautama Buddha statutes are to be made from it and worshipped, there will be great results from it. When the king handled the Tharakhan wood he remarked how 5 Buddha statutes can be made from it as it is so small, the ThaGyarMinn told the king that he would do it and got it back. Although the ThaGyarMinn could make the Buddha statutes from the Tharakhan wood by his power, he only created small carpentry tools and have the 5 Buddha statutes of 4 finger breadth height sculptured and from the small pieces that result from the sculpturing, have a Buddha image made with Thit Say and gave all 6 Buddha statutes to the king.

King AhLaung Sithu remarked that the thrones are too small and it would be better to have elephant thrones beneath. The ministers and courtiers agreed and royal painters were called in they painted the first Tharakhan Buddha image with 15 elephant throne, the second Tharakhan Buddha image with 14 elephant throne, the third Tharakhan Buddha image with 13 elephant throne, the fourth Tharakhan Buddha image with 12 elephant throne, the fifth Tharakhan Buddha image with 11 elephant throne and the sixth Tharakhan Buddha image with 10 elephant throne and the paintings were shown to the king. The king liked the paintings and ordered the carpenters to sculpture them. The royal carpenters asked with what wood are the elephant thrones to be made but the king did not have any answer and the carpenters went back to their boat.

During the night, the Nats of the island, jungle and hills came to worship the Buddha images and heard the king talking in his sleep about what wood to make the elephant thrones. They took the 6 pieces of wood from the tree that looks like elephant hide that grows in the Himalayas and placed them in front of the Buddha images on the royal boat.

The king found them the next morning, gave them to the carpenters and has the elephant thrones made from them. After they were finished the king was very pleased and gave 10 ticals of gold and a gold bowl as a reward to the carpenters and have the Tharakhan Buddha images placed on the elephant thrones.

King AhLaung Sithu after looking closely at the Tharakhan Buddha images, remarked about the smallness of the Tharakhan Buddha images and the ThaGyarMinn told the king that having the Tharakhan Buddha images placed within the larger Buddha images made from ZamBu. ThaPyay wood would be a good thing. The king liked the idea and as he requested the ThaGyarMinn for it, the ThaGyarMinn told the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr to carry out the task. The wood was not enough for the 6th ZamBu. ThaPyay Buddha image and BawDi wood was used to finish it. When the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr offered the 6 ThaPyay Buddha images to theking, the king noticed that the right arm of the 6th ZamBu. ThaPyay Buddha image is different and remarked so.

King AhLaung Sithu asked the ThaGyarMinn whether to have the Buddha images in Bagan or not and the ThaGyarMinn replied that 3 and a half yuzana north of Bagan is a hill where medicinal plants and Thanatkharr trees are in abundance. Southeast of the hill is the auspicious place for the Buddha images. Once there, the good Nats will  show the places where to have them placed.

Afterwards, the ThaGayarMinn had the Wi.Tha Kyone NatTharr arrange for the Nats and Nathamees to entertain beneath the ZamBu. ThaPyay tree with dances and music.  The music which is similar to the sound of the wind on the ZamBu. ThaPyay branches and leaves and that of the small, large and ripe ZamBu. ThaPyay fruits fall was very much entertaining and king AhLaung Sithu had it copied as Byaw music.

King AhLaung Sithu decided to return to Bagan and reached BaLaWar MokeKha and then to the Malayu kyun. (the sequence of this event is different from the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin) There people came to the shore to watch the procession and among them was an orgress who dropped her child into the water while gazing and the Mani MayKhaLar rescued it.

After king AhLaung Sithu reached back to Bagan, he went upriver of the Ayeyarwaddy with the Buddha images. On reaching PaikKun Ywa, there were many birds flying in the sky and asked about the significance and was told by the learned ministers that . the place will be the Maha Nagara Hsainda country in the future and that the Buddha images want to reside there. The king placed the second Tharakhan Buddha image on the back of the Narga ShweGyi white elephant and allow it to roam about. The Narga ShweGyi white elephant stopped at a place pointing at a shrub with its trunk. When the shrub was cleared, a small stupa was found. It was one of the 84000 stupas built by king Asoka. King AhLaung Sithu had the stupa rebuilt.

The place was called Hsin TannTit as the Narga ShweGyi white elephant did not proceed any further. This later becomes ShweTannTit as time passed


Although I have seen the the ShweTannTit pagoda weekly during the down Ayeyarwaddy trips on the Road to Mandalay, my first visit came several months after I joined the ship. One evening on the down river cruise, I heard that Captain Ba Nyan was planning a trip to shore to visit the the ShweTannTit pagoda and I went along with him on the ship’s boat. Although it was late at night, the Sayardaws took out the the ShweTannTit Tharakhan Buddha image from in the chambe for us to see and worship.

The second time I visited the ShweTannTit pagoda was near the end of the season on the last trip from Mandalay to Yangon. On this special trip guests were taken to Pakokku and we all got off from the Road to Mandalay in the morning and first visited the the ShweTannTit pagoda before getting on the buses to Pakokku. However I could not view the ShweTannTit Tharakhan Buddha image this time as it was enclosed in the chamber.

My last visit to the ShweTannTit pagoda was in 2009 May when Pyone and I went to Bagan and Aung Ko Oo joined us from Magway where he was posted. On discussing about where to go on the day before we were to return we discussed whether to visit Popa or more of Bagan. Aung Ko Oo mentioned about the the ShweTannTit pagoda which he have never visited and we went to Pakokku in the morning by boat from Nyaung Oo. We arranged for a tricycle / sidecar to come and take us to the Nyaung Oo jetty in time for the 6 a.m. boat to Pakokku. When we got there a boat was just leaving and we missed it. It was the late boat that came from lower parts and should have reached Nyaung Oo and went upriver the previous evening. We waited for our boat in the teashop which had the most customers and had breakfast. When the time came, we boarded the boat. There were few passengers as the usual ones went along in the earlier late boat. The most conspicuous item on board was a large pile of covered ice for Pakokku. There is no ice factory in Pakokku! It took a long time, nearly 3 hours to get there. Once there, we had only about 2 hours time in order to make it by the return boat to Nyaung Oo which have to take passengers to the Yangon highway bus. When we got up the bank, there were only horse carts and although  the cartman said he could make the trip to the ShweTannTit pagoda and back in time, I was worried and when I saw a tuk tuk after going a while, I stopped the horse cart and talked with the tuk tuk man and then transferred to the tuk tuk after peasing the hosecart man. This way, we got to the ShweTannTit pagoda for the 3rd time.




After the Pakokku bridge is finished, I plan to visit the west bank of the Ayeyarwaddy and Mandalay and the AhNyar Thihataw pagoda to visit the Tharakhan Buddha images that are related to king king AhLaung Sithu and the ThaGyarMinn / king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn, and I will get to the ancient town of YarSaGyo which I have always wanted to visit for a long time but still could not as getting to the west bank is difficult with boat.




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One Response to “Places I want to visit: The 4 remaining ThaRaKhan Buddha images”

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