Saturday, June 13, 2009


(J.B.R.S Vol. IX, Part 1. 1919)

Nat worship prevailed in Arakan from the earliest times. Abundant references are made to it in all our literature. But for some mysterious reason, no particular mention is made of the name of either a god or a goddess. They were, however, divided into two classes. One looked after the household and family, and the other presided over the affairs of the kingdom. Thus, in all personal matters, household deities were consulted. Kings received their guidance from the other kind on the eve of any important political movement. No journey could be undertaken nor an army raised without the previous approval and sanction of the special deities.

The earliest mention we have of the name of one of this latter class is that of Wanti, whose worship first began with King Pai Pyu of Wesali in the tenth century. It is recorded that, with her assistance, this king succeeded in driving out the Shans who poured into the country from the northeast. So to commemorate the event, he called the place of operation Myauk-U and set up and dedicated a temple to her worship.

From this time, her name disappears from history, though her worship must still have continued. Several centuries later, in the days of Mrauk-U Kings, she once more occupied conspicuous place. But this time she was no longer at the above named city, but near a village on the left bank of the Yochaung, a considerable stream that feeds the Kaladan on the right. Until quite recently, there was a dolmen there will remembered by a number of people of the locality. Regarding the special rites and ceremonies attached to her worship, nothing is definitely known; but there is a very quaint tradition concerning one of her exploits in the cause of King and country.

During the prosperous reign of Min Pha Laung in Arakan, Bureng Naung, the ruler of Pegu, harbored the ambitious design of invading Arakan. With that end in view, he sent ambassadors to the Court of Akbar, who had just then conquered Bengal. The main object of this mission seems of conquest. Min Pha Laung being aware of this, and, in order to make the requisite preparations to defend his country, consulted the goddess Wunti regarding the coming struggle.

She replied that it was unnecessary for a powerful King like himself to go to all the trouble and expense of raising an army, but that, when nations were at war, the opposing deities, like the Homeric gods, first engaged themselves in conflict and decided the fate of the contending armies beforehand. She told the King that she had a brother, who guarded the palace of the Burmese King, and that she would go over there to see what she could do to serve him (the King of Arakan).

With her numerous followers, she arrived at the palace of Bureng Naung at about midnight. She not only found the whole palace wrapped in slumber, but also came across her brother keeping guard at the principal entrance to the building. After an exchange of greetings and an artful display of simulated affection, she requested her brother's permission for a glimpse of the sleeping King, whose military exploits, had been the wonder and admiration of the age. The necessary consent being obtained she entered the Royal Chamber, and standing at the head of the bed for a moment, she raised her five fingers above the recumbent King. She then returned to Arakan with all her followers rejoicing.

On the following morning, five large carbuncles appeared round the neck of the Burmese King, from the effects of which he subsequently died. Thus, through her timely intervention, Arakan was saved from all the attendant horrors of a foreign invasion which even if it proved unsuccessful, would have brought considerable ruin and misery to the country.



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