Saturday, June 13, 2009


SAN SHWE BU (J.B.R.S Vol. 6,Part 3. 1916)

In order to arrive at a clear understanding of the events that led to the first naming of the place “Mrauk-U” which gave its name to the present city it is necessary for us to go back nearly five centuaries from the time Min Saw Mwan built the city in 1430 A.D.. Tsu-la-taing-tsan-dra (951-957 A.D.) the ninth king of Wesali was shipwrecked off cape Negris on his return from Yunan. Before undertaking this dangerous journey he left his ring with his queen Sandadevi with an injunction that if he did not return the country was to be governed by a person on whose finger the ring fitted. When the news of the king's unfortunate death reached Wesali the queen assembled all the ministers of state and informed them of the king's last command in regard to the government of the country. By mean of the ring a systematic search for a suitable person was made. But as nobody could be found to suit the much coveted throne, the minister in their despair had to ransack the outlying districts in the confines of the kingdom which were peopled by the wild hill tribes such as the Chins, Mros, Thets and the Phyus. Eventually they came upon two Mro brothers and a son of the younger brothers searching for fish in the river. When the ring was tried on, to the great surprise of the ministers, it fitted all three of them. So they were all brought into the royal city. The elder brother A-Mya-Thu was then crowned king (957-964 A.D.) and the younger became the crown prince.

Everything went on smoothly for a time until one day, by quite an accident, the king became aware of the love intrigue that existed between the queen and his brother. Being greatly disturbed in mind by the fear of assassination he resolved to murder the Crown Prince. So one favourable night pretending to be first asleep by the side of his consort he suddenly sat up in bed and gave vent to a terrific yell. Sandadevi woke up with a start and on questioning him the reason of his strange conduct she was told that in a dream his household gods, who felt themselves shamefully neglected and outraged by his sudden change of fortune, threatened him with the most horrible death. In fact they actually rehearsed in the dream the fate he was shortly to undergo in real life. He then got up and dressed himself saying that he was determined to perform the usual sacrifices that very night.

He forthwith summoned his brother to whom he related the whole dream, informing him at the same time his resolve to carry out the wish of the gods. So according to the custom of his ancestors he got together a white bull and a white buffalo. He told his younger brother to lead the animals out of the city and that he would follow with all articles necessary for the ceremonial. When they came to a very lonely and unfrequented spot A-Mya-Thu the king treacherously shot his brother with a poisoned arrow killing him on the spot. When day broke he returned to the palace in a profusion of tears telling the astonished courtiers that his brother had met with an unfortunate accident which proved fatal. The monarch was a consummate actor. His grief was so well simulated that it took in everybody except one solitary person, his nephew Pai-Phyu,- the son of the deceased. This shrewd Youngman knew all about his father's illicit passion. Piecing together the various facts of the case he arrived at the true conclusion__ fratricide. Warned by this act of treachery on the part of his uncle who was quite capable of fixing on him as the object of further revenge, he siliently withdrew from the attraction of the court, resolved to lead the life of a hunter in the unknown solitude of some distant forest.

Just about this time the Phyus who lived in the mountainous regions lying to the north east of the kingdom heard of the death of Tsu-la-taing-tsan-dra and of the accession to the throne of a Mro chief who wedded the widowed queen. They thought it was the most opportune moment for an invasion. Headed by a very powerful chief an army of 90,000 soldiers descended the heights, on conquest, bent. When this mighty host reached the eastern bank of the Lemro river (about four or five miles from the present city Myohoung) a general halt was ordered with the object of reconnoitering the country and devising means for crossing the stream. Meanwhile the people of Wesali were quite ignorant of the presence of so dangerous an enemy. There was nothing to disturb the harmony of their simple lives. But prince Pai-Phyu in his new role of hunter while tracking game along the western bank of the stream at which the enemy halted, suddenly saw a great concourse of people on the opposite bank. After a short time he became convinced that they were some enemy. Instead of running away and giving the alarm he boldly decided to remain and to act single-handed. He got hold of a small dug-out and crossing over to the enemy related to their chief of the story of the king's treachery and his own misfortunes. He moreover swore that the sole object of his life was revenge and that as the opportunity for its fulfillment had then arrived he would undertake to convey the whole army across the river and lead them on to the capital (Wesall) and to certain victory. Naturally the Phyus were greatly delighted at this unexpected piece of good fortune. They implicitly believed the young prince and because of his topographical knowledge left everything in his hands.

The work of transporting the army then commenced in real earnest. The boat was small_only four or five at a time could be conveyed across. There were no others available. Each time the precious cargo reached the opposite bank the prince led them to a lonely spot and murdered them, for he was quite a giant in strength and size. These silent murder went on for the space of seven days and seven nights. On the morning of the eighth day the Phyu chief seeing that more than three fourths of his army had crossed over, ascended a high hill to see what his men were doing on the other side. To his great surprise he only saw the corpses piled up in innumerable heaps. For a moment he was paralysed. He did not know what to do at first. When calm reason asserted its sway, he decided to abandon his scheme of conquest and run for dear life. He called together his men and told them everything, representing that it was far wiser to flee to the security of their mountain homes than to face so dangerous and crafty an enemy. Then they ran. Meanwhile prince Pai-Phyu hastily gathered together all the Arakanese who lived in the adjoining districts. The Phyus were chased and captured with all their effects. They were then brought to the place where the present city (Mrauk-U or Myohoung) stands and were all put to the sword. So in commemoration of this event and because it was the spot on which his first great undertaking was crowned with success prince Pai-Phyus named the place “Mrauk-U” (ajrmufOD). “Mrauk” (ajrmuf) means accomplishment and “U”(OD) means first. In Arakan the old pronunciation is still preserved in spite of the corrupted form (ajrmufOD) ( Mrauk-U) that crept in with the Burmese conquest in 1782. To explain this later perversion a very silly story was invented in later times. A female monkey is supposed to have mated with a peacock causing the former to lay an egg on the spot which afterwards on that account came to be known as “Myauk-U” “Myauk”(arsmuf) being a monkey and “U”(OD) an egg,- a version obviously absurd and wholly in keeping with the best traditions of legendary Greece and Rome.



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