Wednesday, December 23, 2009

"Legendary History of Burma and Arakan"


All Talaing and Burmese chronology depends on the era of
the nirvana of Gaudama. On this point all Buddhist nations are
not agreed, the Tibetan, the Chinese, and the Japanese having each
a date differing from the other and also from that adopted by the
Singhalese, the Burmans, Talaings, Shans, and other nations of

European scholars have been equally divided, but the date
now generally accepted by them is that used by the Buddhists of
Burma, which will place this event in the year 543 before Christ.
This is the year 1 of the sacred Buddhist era, so that the present
year, A.D. 1878, answers to the year 2421 of the Burman sacred

Late researches in India seem, however, to prove that there is
an error of 65 years in this date. Among the ruins at the ancient
famous Buddhist temple of Buddha-Gaya has been discovered an
inscription in the words " in the year 1819 of the emancipation of
" Bhagavata, on Wednesday, the 1st day of the waning moon of
" Kartik." According to the Burman reckoning this date answers
to A.D. 1276. But the day of the week and the day of the moon
being both given, it is by calculation easy to tell whether in any
given year they so coincide. This calculation has been made by a
learned Hindu astronomer, and it is found that the 1st day of the
waning moon of Kartik in A.D. 1276 fell on a Friday, but in AD.
1341 it fell on Wednesday, the 7th October, which would place the
beginning of the Buddhist era, that is, the date of the nirvana of
Gaudama, in the year 478 B. C.

We shall, however, in the following pages use the commonly
received date in order to prevent confusion or mistake.

The countries which by Europeans are often confused and
comprehended under the general name of " Burma " consist of the
three great divisions of Arakan, Pegu, and Burma, which formerly
constituted three distinct empires, even when at times sub-divided
into several petty States.

Arakan comprised what now forms the British division of Ara-
kan, and as far as Cape Negrais. Pegu, or the Talaing Kingdom,
seems in ancient times to have extended from a little below the
city of Prome to the south coast as far as the Martaban Point.
Burma comprehended the country north of Pegu, and eastward from
Arakan, Cathay or Munipur, and Assam to the borders of China
and Northern Siam. Its northern boundaries in early times would
be difficult to define. This description is not of course intended as
an accurate geographical definition of each of these countries.
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