Disapramuk Inscreption, A.D. 1285 ( Bagan, Burma )  

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The Historical Important of the Disapramuk Inscreption, A.D. 1285


The Disapramuk stone inscription now stands as one of the collection of stone inscriptions at the Pagan Museum but originally if belongs to the Mingala Zedi of Pagan and a photogravure of its rubbing has been published as Plate 271 in portfolio two of Inscriptions of Burma ( Tin & Luce, London, 1936 ). The historical information that we get from this inscription is new to our knowledge of the Mongol invasion of Burma at the end of the 13th century. It enables us to correct the story given in the Chinese sources on that particular aspect. Therefore we would like to give the story as found in the chronicles on Burma-China relations on the eve of the Mongol invasion that terminated the reign of King Narathihapati (1254-1287) who is now called as Tayoke Pyay Min- the king who fled from the Chinese.


Kala complied the great Chronicle of Burmese Kings from the earliest time to 1714 and the Mhannan Yuzawin was complied by the History Committee appointed by the King in 1829 and both these chronicles give the following story.


In Sakkaraj 634 ( A.D. 1281 ) a Talaing called Wagaru made himself Lord of Martaban by assassinating the ( Burmese Governor ) Alainma. In that same year Tayoke U Ti Bwa sent an Envoy of ten officers and 1,000 horsemen to demand tribute consisting of gold rice pot, gold pot for cooking by steam, silver pot for cooking by steam, gold spoon-like ladle, silver spoon-like ladle, gold cup-like ladle and silver cup-like ladle, as King Anawratha of Pagan had done before. Some records say that they came to ask for a white elephant. When the King granted the Envoys an Audience, they did not do the proper kowtow in his presence. The King ordered them to be executed by saying: “ let not even one of them escape “ . Minister Ananda Picci remonstrated: “ Your Majesty, we should rather report this disrespect of the Envoys to Tayoke U Ti Bwa than execute them which is unusual with the way of Kings “. But the King would not hear of it. “ Their behaviour is intolerable “ he said and that was final. All of them were executed. Not one of them was spared. When Tayoke U Ti Bwa heard of it he was exceedingly angry and he sent an army of 6,000,000 horse and 20,000,000 men. King Narathihapati sent General Anatapicci and Yantapicci with 400,000 men to stop the invaders. They came to Ngasaunggyan ( on the opposite of Bhamo ) and made it strong with wall and moat. Then they tried to stop the enemies who tried to cross ( the Irrawaddy river ) from Bhamo. For three months they killed everyone including attendants employed in feeding elephants and horses who came up their side of the river. Wave after wave of U Ti Bwa’s men came. When 100,000 men were killed, 200,000 men came. When 200,000 men were killed, 400,000 men came and it went on like this. From sheer exhaustion the Burmans could do nothing at last and the enemy finally succeeded in crossing over the river and Ngasaunggyan fell.

The King called a ( war ) council and said: “ Pagan is small. The walls are low. It could not keep a strong force to do the defensive for long. Let us make fortification starting from Badin on the north upstream down to Ywatha. Enough stones and bricks could not be made in time. Pull down pagodas, temples and monasteries for bricks “. In this way 1,000 big temples, 10,000 small temples and 300 brick monasteries were destroyed. Then in one of the big temples the Prophecy of Anonyaza written on a red copper plate was found. It stated that Pagan would be destroyed at the time of king father of Twins. A check was made and one of the concubines did really have twins. The King realized that his effort to put a stand against the Tayoke was futile. He decided to flee down the river. So a fleet was mustered. On 1,000 boats were put the palace treasure; 1,000 cargo boats carried paddy; 1,000 boats of speed travel carried the king’s harem. No more boats were available to carry the servant women. “ Bind their legs and limbs and drown them “ was the Order but through the interception of the Royal Preceptor, these women escaped death. Monks and men were allowed to take their choice of these three hundred women. The King got on board the Golden Barge and went to Bassein of the Talaing Land. General Anantapicci and Yantapicci made another stand at Male by putting up two fortifications on the east of the foot of a range. These two generals possessed some supernatural power of jumping very high and so they jumped into a crowd of enemies to kill and to escape easily. Even then Anatapicci was killed and Yantapicci made an orderly retreat to Pagan where he found that King had fled. He followed the king to Bassein. The invaders came after him as far as Tayoke Hmyaw and finally they gave the chase because of the scarcity of food. So the king earned the name Tayokepyay- He who fled from the Tayokes. ( Mnannan, I, 1967 Reprint, pp351-4 )


The Chinese version summed up from various Chinese sources by late Professor G.H. Luce (see Luce; “ The Early Syam in Burmese History “ JSS., XLVI, ii, November 1958, pp. 123-172 ) is as follows:

It was not difficult for the Pai-I to induce the Yunnan government, 1271, to send an envoy to the Pagan court demanding submission. ( Another envoy was sent ) in 1273, with an imperial letter threatening invasion. ( They never returned to Yunnan ). In 1276, Yunnan reports; “ We have sent persons to discover news of the ambassadors, but the P’u rebels blocked the way. Now the P’u have mostly submitted and the road is already open. The person we sent has found out those ambassadors all reached Mien Safely. ( In 1277 the Burmese came to attack A-ho but after two days fighting they were repulsed). What is chiefly striking about the raid is attempting it. They should have known what a terrible enemy they were bound to provoke. The Mongols were not slow to react. In ( Nov-Dec ) 1277 Yunnan province sent Nasir ed-Din, Comforter and Commander in Chief of the various Roads of Yunnan, at the head of over 3,840 men, consisting of Mongols, Ts’uan, P’o and Mo-so, to invade Mien. ( He ) obtained the submission of over 300 stockades and (36,200 households ). On account of the hot weather the army was withdrawn… Nasir re-Din (perhaps reached Ngasaunggyan). It does not seem likely that he took it… For his army Nasir ed-Din had to rely mostly on Yunnanese levies. Bu both he and the Emperor realized that more troops were needed to effect the conquest of Burma. They were not available till the autumn of 1283. On September 22nd of that year the army, the size of which we do not know, marched from Yunnan Fu.. On November 7th it reached Nan-tien. Here it divided into three parts. T’ai-pu proceed at once by the longer route via lo-pi itaties ( Mong Hum). On November 22nd

, Yagan-tigin left the A-his (Nam Ti) and A-ho ( Ta-p’ing ) route, through Chen-his (Kan-yai) with orders to build 200 boats so as to command the river at Chiang-t’ou. The Commander in Chief, Prince Sangqudar, followed the p’iao-tien route north of the Ta-p’ing. On December 3rd, proceeding by different routes, they fought ( I imagine it is not mentioned in the Chinese 0 the fatal battle of ( Ngasaunggyan). On December 9th they captured Chiang-t’ou city, killing over 1,000 men in the fighting.” They “took prisoner 10,000 of its keenest soldiers. “ The first report sent with a map to the Emperor, arrived on February 5th 1284. it says that they had sent envoys to deliver a summons to the king of Mien, but there was no reply………The Pagan Burmans called their invaders Taruk, presumably because (apart from local levies ) Turkic tribes formed the majority in the Mongol armies. The Pagan Burmans did not yield easily. On May 10th 1284, we read: “ Quduq Tamar’s army for the invasion of Mien encountered the rebels and was routed. “ Reinforcements had to be sent. On August 26th 1285, Yunnan report; “ This year we have not yet had time to invade Mien” … In this year 1285, King ( Narathihapati ) decided to submit, in orer to avert a new invasion.

The peace mission sent by the Burmese King is recorded in the Disapramuk inscription. But before we go on with this peace mission, I would like to quote here what an inscription we find at Minnanthu ( P1.227 of Inscriptions of Burma ) says:

In the year 1278, the great minister called Aindapitsaya made preparations to construct a monastery for the thera because the thera of the Most Reverend Mahakassapa’s establishment had no monastery ( of his won ). Before the monastery was built, the enclosure wall was put up. Even this enclosure wall was not completed. Aindapitsaya ( was sent ) to the ( Fort ) of Ngassaunggyan ( where ) he lived ( until ) the destruction of ( that recently ) established pran`- province, occurred.


It seem that from the time of King Alaungsithu (Can`su II, 1160-1211) Ngasaunggyan was the northern limit of the Empire and Kyaungsin was the administrative centre of northern Burma. Aindapitsaya must have been a worthy officer to get the command of this important fort. Perhaps he survived the battle though he retired from active service thereafter Mongols took Ngasaunggyan on 3 December 1283. Kaungsin fell on 9 December 1283. The Mongols penetrated as far south as Tagung which was captured in January 1284. Hence the northern Burma became a Chinese province of Cheng-Mien.


When the Burmese sent a peace mission headed by a monk called Shin Dithapamauk ( Dispramuk ), it succeeded in persuading the Mongol Emperor to call off the invading army. The Disapramuk inscription records this episode like this :

Honour to him, the Blessed, the Saint, the fully Enlightened In Sakaraj 638 ( A.D. 1285 ) Mrigasira year, the King was staying at Lhan`kla, west Pran`. He sent Anatapcican` and Maha`puiw saying: “ Find out the Taruk movements.” Anantapican` and Maha`puiw said: “This task is a very hard one. There is no go between to send. And there is no one who could write the Gold Address (from our King to the Mongol Emperor). If only we have Syan Disapramuk with us, we should be able to undertake this task”. Thus they petitioned. So the King sent for me and entrusted this task to me.

At Sacchim and Hanlan we made no stay. Having made the Gold Address, we sent it to the Taruk King. The Taruk King said: “ This Gold Address is not from the King nor this learned man his (ambassador ). Anyway call him”. So they called me as being a learned man.

As for the Mha`ra`ja of Pagan, he made the Gold Address saying: “ Kings should not imprison ambassadors. He is to act as our ambassador”. Thereupon they released me. We reached the Taruk Kingdom. As for the Taruk King, with an intention to attack and capture Pangan, he had sent Price Susuttaki (with) 20,000 soldiers and (with the intention to do a Buddhist missionary work he had also sent) the Maha`thera Pun`n`adhammika, the Sanghathera Sri Dhammika and ( monks from ) seventy monasteries who were stopping at the city of Santhway (because) the Monsoon was heavy at that time.

In due course we arrived at ( Santhway). Thereupon the monks who were stopping there gave me a few gifts and said:

The ( Mongol Emperor ) would welcome you. He is a good Buddhist. Please tell him that we could not preach the Religion at Pagan (because nobody is there). As for me, having passed the place of these (monks), I reached Yachan` where I stopped for the (Buddhist Lent). In Tachonmahum (November) I went up to Taytu. In Plasuiwe (December) I arrived there.


The Taruk King was well pleased and we exchanged questions though nothing was said about state affairs. But at the end we talked about state affairs. He said; “ Pundit, I have these 20,000 soldiers and Maha`thera, Sanghathera and monks to propagate the Religion”. I replied: “Mha`ra`ja, all these soldiers and monks could work (what they had been assigned for) only when there is paddy (to eat). Is not paddy essential for the prosperity of a Kingdom? (At present there is an only toddy palm) and if they have to eat nothing but minced toddy palms, will they not all die of pains in the stomach? The monks would not have the courage to enter the capital yet. They are bound to perish if they have to stay in the jungle long. O King, if things remain like this, how you could expect to have had your mission completed. A man who works in a garden pours water and makes the trees grow. He never pinches the tips. He would wait till the trees bear fruits. First pour water on the Kingdom of Tanpratik. It is a small land but the Religion thrives there well. O King, you pray for the Buddhahood. Grant that the Religion of Father Kotama be not destroyed. The Kingdoms that you have conquered are very many and very great. The land of Tanpratik is small. Yet you want it because you want to establish the Religion there. (Then) let not the soldiers go there first. Allow me (to go back there first) to plant rice and beans. When the rice and beans are full grown, then enter”

The Taruk King said: “In these words my profit is also include. Pundit, call the monks who were running hither and thither at the time of your coming and plant rice and beans. When they are full grown, and then send them onto me”. When he had said thus, I was allowed to leave him. But there was some delay in my final return (to Pagan).

Out of gratitude to me for this service, the King (of Pagan) gave me 400 pay (1,100 acre; 445.5 hectares) of land at Hanlan and 400 pay (1,100 acre; 445.5 hectares) of land at Kramu, including both wet and dry cultivation plots and slaves and cattle. All these I dedicate to the Three Gems at the Ceti` to Panpwat Rap- the Turner’s Quarter.

From the evidence that we get from this Disapramuk inscription, we can both add and correct the information that we have gathered from the Burmese chronicles and the Chinese sources. Firstly it is not correct to say that the Pagan King had put to death the Chinese envoys of 1273 although they had never returned to Yunan. In all probability they perished in the fighting with the frontier revels of that time. Secondly the Pagan King took refuge not at Pathein but at a place called Hlan`kla on the west of Pran` which is either Pagan or Pyay. Thirdly the Pagan King sent an envoy in the person of a learned monk called Disa`pramuk who succeeded in getting a truce from the Mongol Emperor and therefore the King gave land and slaves to the monk and a contemporary stone inscription by that monks still stands to bear testimony that the statements in the chronologies are more or less wrong.


REFERENCES AND NOTES

  1. Inscription of Burma Portfolio II, London, Oxford University Press 1936.

  2. Luce, G.H., “The Early Syam in Burmese History”, JSS, XLVI, ii, December 1978.

  3. Mhannan Mahayazawin I, Complied by a Committee of learned Men appointed by the King in 1829, Rangoon, Pyigyi Mandaing Press, 1976 Reprint.

  4. Than Tun., “History of Buddhism in Burma, A.D.1000-1300. JBRS., LXII, ii, December 1978.


Discussion

B.R Gopal: On page 8 there is a quotation “Sakaraj 548(=1285)”. But on page 2, you mention “ Sakkaraj 634(= A.D. 1281). Are they correct ?

Than Tun : They are only 4 years apart each other in Christian era, but father apart in Burmese era. May be “Sakaraj 548” (page 8) in the quotation is the typing mistake. It should be around 638.

K.V.Remesh: What is the language of the inscription?

Than Tun: Old Burmese.

A.V. Narasimha Murthy: How faw would those religious inscriptions be useful to study the Mongol invasion?

Than Tun: I rely on Chinese records and Burmese chronicles as well. But those religious inscriptions are more important since they are contemporary, and again they can provide social and economic information about the donors.

G.Lubeigt(Paris): Where were “Badin” and “ Ywath mentioned on page 3 situated?

Than Tun: “ Badin” is somewhere on the north of Pagan And “Ywatha” is much farther south of Pagan, according to the story of the chronicles. But is very hard to tell about these places in details.

G.Lugeigt: In such case why do you give, 1,100 acres for 400 pay on page II? Multiplying 1.75 acres by 400 makes 700 acres, kinds of pay. One is the ordinary pay, 1.75 acres, and other is the between Lubeigt and Than Tun on the characteristics of the boat used in those days)

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2 comments

how come they don't teach students this kind of histories in the schools! this is really amazing i've been wanted to learn this things. its like the whole history is disappearing

February 22, 2011 at 1:34 PM

http://lnfaw.blogspot.com/

March 19, 2011 at 10:53 AM

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