The 2 versions of how Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar was built and the questions and thoughts that come to my mind

There are mythological facts about the establishment of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar the ancient Pyu walled city near Pyay (Pyay means country in Myanmar and the current city of Pyay or the Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar nearby was considered as their former country by those who left Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar after its fall and settled in Yonehlutkyunn which became the first Bagan and the place is still being called as such) as being told traditionally and mentioned in Myanmar Chronicles including the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin. I do not know what the current official version of the event is but this version is still being mentioned in Dr. Thet Tin’s recently published book. However, I also read of another version of the construction of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar from contemporary Pyu writings in the late Dr. Than Tun’s book Khit Haung Myanmar Yarzawin.

The origin of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar is clouded in mystery with mythological events recorded in Myanmar Chronicles and oral traditions, and an entirely different version recorded in Pyu inscription which mentioned about how it was built. I do not know what the current official version of the event is but I heard of the first traditional version while I was young and read about it from the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin and read about the second Pyu version from Dr. Than Tun’s books.

The Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin version

When King Maha ThamBaWa died after 6 years’ reign at Sakya Inn, his younger brother Sula ThamBaWa became king in the year BE 66 / 478 BC and made the former queen Baydaryi who was 3 months pregnant with DutTaBaung his queen. King Sula ThamBaWa died after 35 years of good reign in the year BE 101 / 513 BC and DutTaBaung became king and established Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar.

7 persons including the Gawun Pathe Rathe, ThaGyar Minn, Nagarr, Galon discussed and helped build the city according to Buddha’s prophecy. ThaGyarMinn / king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn stood on the central post of the good and even land and made a circle with the Nagarr / serpent / dragon as a rope and the resulting city of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar was of 1 Yuzanar diameter, 3 Yuzanar circumference with the 7 city features of 32 large gates, 32 small entrances, moat, drains, PyitSin, YinShauk, Tazaung, PyaOe. There were also 3 palaces with PyatThats of 7, 9 and 11 Bon for the Hot, Rainy and Cold 3 seasons built by Nats. The city was built within 7 days and the ThaGyar Minn coronated DutTaBaung with 5 kingly apparels including the Thilawun sword and various apparels of emperors, the AhReinDhamar lance, big bell and drum, the Narlar Giri elephant of 22 ft height and 30 ft length and the WaLar Haka horse that can bear the king, 27 Nat warriors to protect the king, the minister NgaNi Parr, NgaYe Kyarr, Pazin Phyu, Pazin Nyo who are well  versed in diplomacy and intelligence.

King DutTaBaung was a very powerful king and whenever he walked, the earth gave way and the ThaGyar Minn had iron mushrooms placed where he will step. The whole world including the ZamBu DiPar Kyun, AhThuYar country and Nagarr country had to offer tribute and give tax.

Srikestra city map

Although not included in the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin the oral tradition also mentioned that while making a circle to mark the boundry of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar, the Nagarr drew back twice when it met Galon (Nagarr and Galon are natural enemies with the Galon having the upper hand, although the Glass Palace Chronicle / HmanNann Yarzawin mentioned that both the Nagarr and Galon helped the Gawun Pathe Rathe and the ThaGyar Minn in building Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar). Hence the city wall is not circular but uneven at 2 places.

It is difficult to believe that the ThaGyarMinn / king of the TharWaTeinThar Nat Pyay / celestial abode / Moe Nat Minn actually helped king DutTaBaung but I have heard of explanation about the traditional Myanmar oral and chronicle version as follows:

The Kathit pole (ThagyarMinn) is used as centre point to draw the circle using cow (Nagarr) hide string and as there were ponds / Aing (Galon) where the wall cannot be constructed and therefore moved a little to the edge of the ponds and hence the city wall is not circular.

However, on aerial photo view, the city wall is not actually circular and there are no definite deviations at the northeast where the PaukKhaung road leaves the city wall, which is the NagaTunt.

Version from Pyu inscription (Dr. Than Tun’s KhitHaung Yarzawin)

The Pyu king / Dube  HaRi WiKraMa built the city of Sriksetra / ThaRayKhittayar. (According to Dr. Than Tun, DutTaBaung is not the name of a king but a changed version for the Pyu word for king_ Dube)

Pyu inscription found at Hmawzar WutKhaung hill:

The inscription records the facts concerning the sculpturing of the Buddha statute on order of prince ZaYa Sandra Varman.

The first verse records the building of the 2 cities (1 seems to be Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar) on the same day and the preaching by the prince ZaYa Sandra Varman’s abbot GuHa / GuHa DiPa

The younger brother HaRi WiKraMa (seems to be the ruler of 1 of the 2 cities mentioned) also contributes to the good deed / donation.

The 2 brothers and the people of the 2 cities became friendlier due to the abbot.

The 5th stanza mentioned that the future citizens of the 2 cities would also be friendly with each other.

The last verse prayed for the friendship of the 2 cities till the end of the world and for the successors of the younger brother.

Dikshit’s (who read the inscription) comments:

Although HaRi WiKraMa is mentioned as younger brother, it should not be taken as they are blood brothers but as the younger of the 2 kings

There was a feud between the 2 which was mediated by the abbot GuHa DiPa

The facts that ZaYa Sandra Varman had to contribute the Buddha statute and the well being of HaRi WiKraMa was wished for indicates that HaRi WiKraMa has the upper hand and ZaYa Sandra Varman is in subordinate alliance

Of the 2 kings, the younger HaRi WiKraMa is stronger and would likely to be the one who build the big city of Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar in the 4th century AD. If 1 of the 2 cities is Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar, which is the other one? It cannot be Beikthanoe which is muh older than Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar.

If HaRi WiKraMa established Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar, the WiKraMa dynasty would have ruled it. This is borne out by the finding of names of 3 kings ending with WiKraMa in the rock funeral urns: HaRi WiKraMa, TiHa WiKraMa and Thuriya WiKraMa.

Wikrama dynasty of Sriksetra cremation urn inscriptions

The mention of prince ZaYa Sandra Varman in the Pyu inscription and also the fact that there was a feud between HaRi WiKraMa and ZaYa Sandra Varman is very interesting.

A 5th century AD Pyu inscription on the silver Bhodi throne found at Khin Ba hill mentioned the names of the 2 donors Sri Pra Bu WarMa and Sri Pra Bu Devi. The Varman / WarMa at the end of the king’s name is interesting.

the kings and queens mentioned in Pyu inscriptions

There are kings whose names ends with Varman in southern India but in Myanmar Chronicles, there is no Varman among the names of the Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar kings. [Sein Maung Oo, ThaRay Khittayar Myo Haung, Shay Haung Myanmar Myo Taw Myarr]

However, there are several Cambodian kings with names that end with Varman.

Jayavarman (r. c. 478 – d. 514) ascends the throne of Funan. (According to the Chinese dynastic histories, Jayavarman of the Kaundinya dynasty is reigning in 478 until his death in 514, therefore, it seems Jayavarman ascends the throne before 478.)
Jayavarman II (ca. 802-50) Jayavarman II had been held hostage at the Java court in his youth. He returned to his country to liberate it from invaders and assumed kingship in 790.

Cambodia 12th century King Jayavarman VII

Suryavarman I (1002-50).

Suryavarman’s son, Udayadityavarman II (1050-66),

Suryavarman II (1113-50)

The Khmers had extensive territory that included current day Thailand and their armies reached Bago and Thaton and had trade that extends from Oc Eo a coastal town in current Vietnam to Dhanyawaddy near the Rakhine coast, as evidenced by the presence of Khmer coins along the trade route.

Maritime trade also played an extremely important role in the development of Funan. The remains of what is believed to have been the kingdom’s main port, Oc Eo (now part of Vietnam), contain Roman as well as Persian, Indian, and Greek artifacts.

The capital city, Oc-eo is currently found about 6 miles (10 km) inland from Rach Gia. It was an important port at the height of the ancient Kingdom of Funan from the 1st – 6th centuries AD. It lay submerged for centuries until it was rediscovered in the 1940s

The Indianized kingdoms developed all throughout SE Asia during the 1st millinium AD and even prior to that time: in Myanmar (Suvvanabhumi, Pyu), Thailand (early Mon cities of Haripunchai, Dwarawady), Cambodia (Funan, Chenla) before the local dynasties took over and they had extensive trade between them.

Fan Shih-Man (205-225) rules Funan according to Chinese dynastic history – The Liang-shu – relates that Fan Shih-Man “attacked and conquered the neighbouring kingdoms.

By the 3d cent. the Funanese, under the leadership of Fan Shih-man (reigned 205-25), had conquered their neighbors and extended their sway to the lower Mekong River.

The Funanese Empire reached its furthest extent under the rule of Fan Shih-man in the early third century C.E., extending as far south as Malaysia and as far west as Burma.

Fan Shih-Man

The name of the Khmer king, Fan Shih-Man is from Chinese sources and it is possible that there might be error by the Chinese scholars writing in Chinese calligraphy, as different to the SE Asian countries using Sanscrit or Pali. Even words like Sri is pronounced Thiri in Myanmar. It is interesting that Shih-Man and Varman are quite close.

Udayadityavarman II (1050-66), fought an inconclusive war with the Burmese, who thought the Khmers were getting too close to Thaton.

At its height the Khmer Empire extended from the border of modern-day Burma in the west to the South China Sea in the east and to Laos in the north

The Khmers are called Gyun by Myanmars and the fact that their army attacked Bago during king Anawratha’s time is recorded in Myanmar chronicles and the Gyuns are recorded in Myanmar inscriptions of the Pinya era. The Khmers might have invaded till Sriksetra along the trade route at the time of establishing Sriksetra although failed to win as in later times.

From where did king HaRi WiKraMa come from?

Why is his name and also of the other WiKraMa kings not included in Myanmar chronicles (although the presence of these 3 WiKraMa kings is indeed a fact)?

The fact that prince ZaYa Sandra Varman (possibly also a king) had a feud with the stronger but younger king HaRi WiKraMa who built Sriksetra is also interesting and what was the city he built the same day also need to be looked into.

Was the prince / king ZaYa Sandra Varman a Pyu, south Indian or Khmer? Was he the king Jayavarman (r. c. 478 – d. 514) of Funan? (Jayavarman II (ca. 802-50) era is too late for him to be present at the time of establishment of Sriksetra)

Similarly, is the Sri Pra Bu WarMa / WarMan / Varman of Sri Pra Bu WarMa and Sri Pra Bu Devi mentioned on the 5th century AD Pyu inscription on the silver Bhodi throne found at Khin Ba hill the Khmer king Suryavarman I (1002-50) or Suryavarman II (1113-50)?

Here are data I have downloaded from internet for more reading:

During the period between 250 BC and 250 AD, a maritime sea route existed between Alexandra in Northern Africa and China. As trade took place along this route, a number of kingdoms rose to power, flush with finances from trade. These kingdoms all came into being around the same time, and all waned around the same time.

In Vietnam, the Funan Kingdom was active during the time that the Ancient Trade Route was operating.

Funan (1st to 6th centuries)

Cambodia, situated at the lower Mekong River on great trade routes and controlled access to China. The kingdom of the Funan, one of the first to be known in Southeast Asia, adopted religious ideas, political institutions and technical expertise from India.

Its capital, Vyadhapura, probably was located near the present-day town of Phumi Banam in Prey Veng Province. The Funanese economy depended on rice surpluses produced by an extensive inland irrigation system. There is evidence that Funan had once been a strong maritime state, actively involving in sea trades.

Indian religion, political thought, literature, mythology, and artistic motifs gradually became integral elements.

Legend has it that during the first century AD, Kaundinya, and Indian Brahman priest, following a dream came to Cambodia’s Great Lake to find fortune. He met and married a local princess, Soma, daughter of the Naga King, and founded Funan, introducing Hindu customs, legal traditions and the Sanskrit language.

Legend

In very ancient times, mythical serpents called Naga were the first inhabitants of the Khmer territory. Cambodia was then called Kok Thlok (the land with a tree), because only a holy mountain with a tree on top was visible above the water.

Once upon a time a Hindu prince called Preah Tong was chased away by his father. The prince soon reached Kok Thlok island, where he fell in love with Soma, a female serpent from the lunar dynasty. Her father, the king of the Naga, approved the wedding. He drank the water surrounding the holy mountain and offered the couple the newly-born territory. So was founded the Kingdom of Cambodia.

The Funan empire was established in what is now Cambodia in the 1st cent. AD

Funan, the earliest of the Indianized states, generally is considered by Cambodians to have been the first Khmer kingdom in the area. Founded in the first century A.D., Funan was located on the lower reaches of the Mekong River in the delta area. Its capital, Vyadhapura, probably was located near the present-day town of Phumi Banam in Prey Veng Province.

It is thought by some that the kingdom of Funan was founded early in the first century A.D. In Cambodia (Siam), i the kingdom of Funan was established in the Mekong delta, which today is Vietnamese territory. The founders of this kingdom were most likely Indian merchants. In subsequent centuries, Funan developed into a seafaring merchant power, but it did not become a formal state with a large land area. It was strategically located to become a trading power ships travelled almost exclusively close to the coastline. The Mekong delta was also an important stop over on the sea route between China and the Malay Peninsula.

The earliest historical reference to Funan is a Chinese description of a mission that visited the country in the third century A.D. The name Funan derives from the Chinese rendition of the old Khmer word bnam (meaning mountain). What the Funanese called themselves, however, is not known.

The name ‘Fu Nan‘ was the name given to the kingdom by the Chinese, derived from the Cambodian word phnom or mountain.

According to reports by two Chinese envoys, K’ang T’ai and Chu Ying, the state was established by an Indian Brahimin named Kaundinya, who in the first century C.E. was given instruction in a dream to take a magic bow from a temple and defeat a Khmer queen, Soma. Soma, the daughter of the king of the Nagas, married Kaundinya and their lineage became the royal dynasty of Funan. The myth had the advantage of providing the legitimacy of both an Indian Brahmin and the divinity of the cobras, who at that time were held in religious regard by the inhabitants of the region.

The name ‘Fu Nan’ was the name given to the kingdom by the Chinese, derived from the Cambodian word phnom or mountain.

Fan Shih-Man (205-225) rules Funan according to Chinese dynastic history – The Liang-shu – relates that Fan Shih-Man “attacked and conquered the neighbouring kingdoms.

By the 3d cent. the Funanese, under the leadership of Fan Shih-man (reigned 205-25), had conquered their neighbors and extended their sway to the lower Mekong River.

The Funanese Empire reached its furthest extent under the rule of Fan Shih-man in the early third century C.E., extending as far south as Malaysia and as far west as Burma.

Fan Shih-Man

Fan Chin-Sheng

Fan Chan Fan Hsun

The Funanese established a strong system of mercantilism and commercial monopolies that would become a pattern for empires in the region. Fan Shih-man expanded the fleet and improved the Funanese bureaucracy, creating a quasi-feudal pattern that left local customs and identities largely intact, particularly in the empire’s farther reaches.

The area was a natural region for the development of an economy based on fishing and rice cultivation. There is considerable evidence that the Funanese economy depended on rice surpluses produced by an extensive inland irrigation system. Maritime trade also played an extremely important role in the development of Funan. The remains of what is believed to have been the kingdom’s main port, Oc Eo (now part of Vietnam), contain Roman as well as Persian, Indian, and Greek artifacts.

The capital city, Oc-eo is currently found about 6 miles (10 km) inland from Rach Gia. It was an important port at the height of the ancient Kingdom of Funan from the 1st – 6th centuries AD. It lay submerged for centuries until it was rediscovered in the 1940s

“Oc Eo (Viet Nam)”

Oc Eo is a very large Funan culture site in the Mekong Valley of Vietnam, occupied about 250 AD. Excavated by Louis Malleret, Oc Eo covers some 1100 acres, has an extensive canal system and brick foundations. Trade goods at Oc Eo are known to have come from Rome, India and China. Most interestingly, documents in mainland China written by agents of the Wu emperor about AD 250 appear to have described Oc Eo as a sophisticated country (Funan) ruled by a king in a walled palace, complete with a taxation system.

In the 4th cent., according to Chinese records, an Indian Brahmin extended his rule over Funan, introducing Hindu customs, the Indian legal code, and the alphabet of central India.

The kingdom is said to have been heavily influenced by Indian culture, and to have employed Indians for state administration purposes. Sanskrit was the language at the court, and the Funanese advocated Hindu and, after the fifth century, Buddhist religious doctrines. Records show that taxes were paid in silver, gold, pearls, and perfumed wood. K’ang T’ai reported that the Funanese practiced slavery and that justice was rendered through trial by ordeal, including such methods as carrying a red-hot iron chain and retrieving gold rings and eggs from boiling water.

K’ang T’ai’s report was unflattering to Funanese civilization, though Chinese court records show that a group of Funanese musicians visited China in 263 C.E. The Chinese Emperor was so impressed that he ordered the establishment of an institute for Funanese music near Nanking. The Funanese were reported also to have extensive book collections and archives throughout their country, demonstrating a high level of scholarly achievement.

Funan’s political history is little known apart from its relations with China. A brief conflict is recorded to have happened in the 270s when Funan and its neighbor Champa joined forces to attack the Chinese province of Tongking. In 357, Funan became a vassal of China, and would continue as such until its disintegration in the sixth century.

By the fifth century A.D., the state exercised control over the lower Mekong River area and the lands around the Tonle Sap. It also commanded tribute from smaller states in the area now comprising northern Cambodia, southern Laos, southern Thailand, and the northern portion of the Malay Peninsula.

Funan reached its zenith in the fifth century A.D.. Beginning in the early sixth century, civil wars and dynastic strife undermined Funan’s stability, making it relatively easy prey to incursions by hostile neighbors. By the end of the seventh century, a northern neighbor, the kingdom of Chenla, had reduced Funan to a vassal state.

Funan was usurped mid-6th century by Khmers who inhabited the vassal state Tchen-la which ended up in turmoil and division in the 8th century.

In the 6th cent. Khmers from the rival Chen-la state to the north overran Funan. With the rise of the Khmer Empire , Cambodia became dominant in SE Asia

 

C. 550 Chenla, a vassal state of Funan, acquired her independence from the latter. In the further course of the 6th century, Chenla conquered Funan in present-day Cambodia. By conquest, Chenla extended over all of modern Cambodia, the Mekong Delta, southern Thailand and parts of Laos.

Chenla

A brake-away kingdom around the middle Mekong which assumed most of Funan in a short period of time covered large areas of Cambodia, Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.

In 613 the capital was established at ISANAPURA. The religion was HINDUISM.
In 706 Chenla split in two – Land Chenla (Upper Chenla, centered on CHAMPASSAK (modern Laos)) and Water Chenla (Lower Chenla).

In the 7th century it broke into two parts in : Land Chenla and Water Chenla.

In 715, both Chenla states were further broken up into several smaller states.

In 715 and following, both kingdoms split up further. Water Chenla, the latter, subject to Malay pirate raids, became a vassal of the Javanese Salandra Dynasty.

In the eighth century Water Chenla was subjected to attacks by pirates from Java, Sumatra, and the Malay Peninsula.

In the beginning of the ninth century, it had become a vassal of the Sailendra dynasty of Java. The last of the Water Chenla kings was killed around 790 by a Javanese monarch whom he had offended.

In 802, the king of Water Chenla was killed; the kingdom disintegrated; a former vassal established the KHMER EMPIRE on the ruins of Water Chenla.

What followed was that the ruler of a small Khmer state in north of the Mekong Delta assumed the throne. His assumption of the throne as Jayavarman II (ca. 802-50) marked the liberation of the Khmer people from Javanese and the beginning of a unified Khmer nation.

A Khmer King named Jayavarman II returned from a region called Java to unite the Khmer people under his leadership around the year 800. Establishing his capital in what is now northwest Cambodia, north of the Great Lake, Jayavarman II was crowned as king of Kambuja and adopted the Hindu religion.

Jayavarman II had been held hostage at the Java court in his youth. He returned to his country to liberate it from invaders and assumed kingship in 790.

He proclaimed himself to be a universal monarch of Khmer in a ritual ceremony borrowed from Hinduism as a “god-king” or deva-raja. In the ritual, he worshipped god Shiva who was known by the Khmer for a long time as a god of protector. As a god-king, King Jayavarman II had psychologically asserted his divine kingship over the Khmer of his absolute authority and sovereignty. At the same time, it was a declaration of Independence from Java.

After the establishment of Angkor kingdom, Jayavarman II expanded his territory throughout Cambodia. He built a temple devoted to god Shiva at Phnom Kulen about 40 km northwest of Tonle Sap

A long succession of strong leaders enabled the Khmer empire to flourish until the 15th century, with the zenith of its influence, might and architectural splendor reached in the 12th century.

At its height the Khmer Empire extended from the border of modern-day Burma in the west to the South China Sea in the east and to Laos in the north.

Besieged by an expanding Siamese kingdom in the west, the Khmer King Ponhea Yat abandoned Angkor in 1434. The seat of power was successively transferred to the sites of Lovek, Oudong and finally in what is the nation’s present day Capital–Phnom Penh.

After the fall of the empire (15th cent.), however, Cambodia was the prey of stronger neighbors. To pressure from Siam on the western frontier was added in the 17th cent. pressure from Annam on the east; the kings of Siam and the lords of Hue alike asserted overlordship and claims to tribute. In the 18th cent. Cambodia lost three western provinces to Siam and the region of Cochin China to the Annamese.

From the 17th century, Cambodia was under the influence of the Siamese kingdom. The country was fought over by the expansionist Siamese and Vietnamese through the 17th and 18th centuries.

Land Chenla submitted peacefully to Angkor’s rule, and it appears that the states in Thailand and Malaya did the same, during the reign of Suryavarman I (1002-50). Suryavarman’s son, Udayadityavarman II (1050-66), fought an inconclusive war with the Burmese, who thought the Khmers were getting too close to Thaton. Suryavarman II (1113-50) conquered Champa and campaigned against the Vietnamese; at one point there was a Khmer army in Thanh Hoa, just 80 miles south of Hanoi.

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2 Responses to “The 2 versions of how Sriksetra / ThaRay Khittayar was built and the questions and thoughts that come to my mind”

  1. winn sein Says:

    I am wishing to see next

  2. winn sein Says:

    Same as previous

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