Burma

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Author: Laxman Burdak IFS (R)
Map of Asia

Burma (बर्मा), also known as Myanmar (म्यांमार), is a country in Southeast Asia. Its capital city is Naypyidaw, and its largest city and former capital is Yangon (Rangoon) (रंगून). In 1989, the military government officially changed the English translations of many names dating back to Burma's colonial period or earlier, including that of the country itself: "Burma" became "Myanmar".

Variants of name

Location

Myanmar is bordered by India and Bangladesh to its west, Thailand and Laos to its east and China to its north and northeast. To its south, about one third of Myanmar's total perimeter of 5,876 km forms an uninterrupted coastline of 1,930 km along the Bay of Bengal and the Andaman Sea.

Etymology

Both the names Myanmar and Burma derive from the earlier Burmese Mranma, an ethnonym for the majority Bamar ethnic group, of uncertain etymology.[2]

The terms are also popularly thought to derive from "Brahma Desha" after Brahma.[3]

Myanmar is known with a name deriving from Burma as opposed to Myanmar in Spanish, Italian, Romanian, and GreekBirmania being the local version of Burma in the Spanish language, for example. Myanmar used to be known as "Birmânia" in Portuguese, and as "Birmanie" in French.[4] As in the past, French-language media today consistently use Birmanie.[5][6]

People and Places of interest

Jat clans

History

Early civilisations in Myanmar included the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu city-states in Upper Burma and the Mon kingdoms in Lower Burma. [9] In the 9th century, the Bamar people entered the upper Irrawaddy valley and, following the establishment of the Pagan Kingdom in the 1050s, the Burmese language, culture and Theravada Buddhism slowly became dominant in the country. The Pagan Kingdom fell due to the Mongol invasions and several warring states emerged. In the 16th century, reunified by the Taungoo dynasty, the country was for a brief period the largest empire in the history of Mainland Southeast Asia.[10] The early 19th century Konbaung dynasty ruled over an area that included modern Myanmar and briefly controlled Manipur and Assam as well. The British took over the administration of Myanmar after three Anglo-Burmese Wars in the 19th century and the country became a British colony. Myanmar was granted independence in 1948, as a democratic nation.


Prehistory: Archaeological evidence shows that Homo erectus lived in the region now known as Myanmar as early as 750,000 years ago, with no more erectus finds after 75,000 years ago.[11]The first evidence of Homo sapiens is dated to about 25,000 BP with discoveries of stone tools in central Myanmar.[12] Evidence of Neolithic age domestication of plants and animals and the use of polished stone tools dating to sometime between 10,000 and 6,000 BC has been discovered in the form of cave paintings in Padah-Lin Caves.[13]

The Bronze Age arrived circa 1500 BC when people in the region were turning copper into bronze, growing rice and domesticating poultry and pigs; they were among the first people in the world to do so.[14] Human remains and artefacts from this era were discovered in Monywa District in the Sagaing Division.[15]

The Iron Age began around 500 BC with the emergence of iron-working settlements in an area south of present-day Mandalay.[16] Evidence also shows the presence of rice-growing settlements of large villages and small towns that traded with their surroundings as far as China between 500 BC and 200 AD.[17] Iron Age Burmese cultures also had influences from outside sources such as India and Thailand, as seen in their funerary practices concerning child burials. This indicates some form of communication between groups in Myanmar and other places, possibly through trade.[18]

Early city-states: Around the second century BC the first-known city-states emerged in central Myanmar. The city-states were founded as part of the southward migration by the Tibeto-Burman-speaking Pyu people, the earliest inhabitants of Myanmar of whom records are extant, from present-day Yunnan.[19]

The Pyu culture was heavily influenced by trade with India, importing Buddhism as well as other cultural, architectural and political concepts, which would have an enduring influence on later Burmese culture and political organisation.[20]

By the 9th century, several city-states had sprouted across the land: the Pyu in the central dry zone, Mon along the southern coastline and Arakanese along the western littoral. The balance was upset when the Pyu came under repeated attacks from Nanzhao between the 750s and the 830s. In the mid-to-late 9th century the Bamar people founded a small settlement at Bagan. It was one of several competing city-states until the late 10th century when it grew in authority and grandeur.[21]

अवंती

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[22] ने लेख किया है ...2. अवंती (AS, p.47) बर्मा (ब्रह्मदेश) की प्राचीन नगरी थी जिसे संभवत: उज्जयिनी से ब्रह्मदेश में आकर बस जाने वाले भारतीय औपनिवेशकों ने बसाया था.

अरिमर्दनपुर

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[23] ने लेख किया है ... अरिमर्दनपुर (AS, p.38) वर्तमान पगन नगर का प्राचीन भारतीय नाम था। अरिमर्दनपुर की स्थापना 849 ई. में हुई थी। अरिमर्दनपुर नगर ताम्रद्वीप की राजधानी था। अरिमर्दनपुर का सबसे अधिक प्रसिद्ध राजा अनिरुद्ध महान् था जिसने पगन के छोटे-से राज्य को बढ़ाकर एक महान् साम्राज्य में परिवर्तित कर दिया था। अरिमर्दनपुर साम्राज्य में ब्रह्मदेश का अधिकांश भाग सम्मिलित था। अनिरुद्ध कट्टर बौद्ध था और उसने सिंहल नरेश से बुद्ध का एक धातुचिह्न मंगवा कर श्वेजिगोन पेगोडा में संरक्षित किया था। अनिरुद्ध की मृत्यु 1077 ई. में हुई थी।

असितांजन

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[24] ने लेख किया है ...असितांजन (AS, p.53): बर्मा (ब्रह्मदेश) का प्राचीन नगर है। असितांजन पर अति प्राचीन काल से मध्ययुग तक भारतीय औपनिवेशिकों का शासन रहा था। भारतीय संस्कृति का प्रसार भी इस प्रदेश में दूर-दूर तक हुआ। असितांजन बर्मा में प्राचीन भारतीयों का एक प्रमुख स्मारक है।

उत्कल

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[25] ने लेख किया है ...2. उत्कल (AS, p.89): उत्कल ब्रह्मदेश (बर्मा अब म्यांमार) में रंगून (अब यांगून) से लेकर पीगू तक के औपनिवेशिक प्रदेश को उत्कल कहते थे। यहाँ भारत के उत्कल देश के निवासियों ने आकर अनेक बस्तियाँ बसाई थीं। किवदंती है कि तपुस और भल्लूक नामक दो व्यापारी, जिन्होंने भारत जाकर गौतम बुद्ध से भेंट की थी तथा जो उनके शिष्य बनकर तथागत के आठ केशों को लेकर ब्रह्मदेश आए थे, इसी प्रदेश के निवासी थे।

मंदर पर्वत

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[26] ने लेख किया है ...मंदर पर्वत (AS, p.688) वाल्मीकि रामायण किष्किंधा 40,25 में सुग्रीव ने सीता के अन्वेषणार्थ पूर्व दिशा में वानर-सेना को भेजते हुए और वहां के स्थानों का वर्णन करते हुए मंदर नामक पर्वत का उल्लेख इस प्रकार किया है, 'समुद्रमवगाढांश्च पर्वतान्पत्तनानिच, मंदरस्य च ये कोटिं संश्रिता: केचिदालया:' अर्थात जो पर्वत या बंदरगाह समुद्रतट पर स्थित हों अथवा जो स्थान मंदर के शिखर पर हों (वहां भी सीता को ढूंढना). इसी श्लोक के तत्काल पश्चात द्वीप निवासी किरातों संभवत: अंडमान निवासियों का विचित्र वर्णन है. इस स्थिति में मंदर ब्रह्मदेश या बर्मा के पश्चिमी तट की पर्वत श्रेणी के किसी भाग का नाम हो सकता है.

कुसुमपुर

विजयेन्द्र कुमार माथुर[27] ने लेख किया है ... 3. Kusumapura (कुसुमपुर) (AS, p.218) = ब्रह्मदेश (वर्मा) का प्राचीन भारतीय नगर जिसका नाम संभवत: मगध के प्रसिद्ध नगर कुसुमपुर या पाटलिपुत्र के नाम पर ही रखा गया था. ब्रह्मदेश में भारतियों ने अतिप्राचीन काल ही में अनेक औपनिवेशिक बस्तियां बसाई थीं.

Imperial Burma

Pagan Empire circa 1210. Pagan Empire during Sithu II's reign.

Pagan gradually grew to absorb its surrounding states until the 1050s–1060s when Anawrahta founded the Pagan Kingdom, the first ever unification of the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery. In the 12th and 13th centuries, the Pagan Empire and the Khmer Empire were two main powers in mainland Southeast Asia.[28] The Burmese language and culture gradually became dominant in the upper Irrawaddy valley, eclipsing the Pyu, Mon and Pali norms by the late 12th century.[29]

Theravada Buddhism slowly began to spread to the village level, although Tantric, Mahayana, Hinduism, and folk religion remained heavily entrenched. Pagan's rulers and wealthy built over 10,000 Buddhist temples in the Pagan capital zone alone. Repeated Mongol invasions (1277–1301) toppled the four-century-old kingdom in 1287.[30]

Pagan's collapse was followed by 250 years of political fragmentation that lasted well into the 16th century. Like the Burmans four centuries earlier, Shan migrants who arrived with the Mongol invasions stayed behind. Several competing Shan States came to dominate the entire northwestern to eastern arc surrounding the Irrawaddy valley. The valley too was beset with petty states until the late 14th century when two sizeable powers, Ava Kingdom and Hanthawaddy Kingdom, emerged. In the west, a politically fragmented Arakan was under competing influences of its stronger neighbours until the Kingdom of Mrauk U unified the Arakan coastline for the first time in 1437. The kingdom was a protectorate of the Bengal Sultanate at different time periods.[31]

Early on, Ava fought wars of unification (1385–1424) but could never quite reassemble the lost empire. Having held off Ava, the Mon-speaking Hanthawaddy entered its golden age, and Arakan went on to become a power in its own right for the next 350 years. In contrast, constant warfare left Ava greatly weakened, and it slowly disintegrated from 1481 onward. In 1527, the Confederation of Shan States conquered Ava itself, and ruled Upper Myanmar until 1555.

Like the Pagan Empire, Ava, Hanthawaddy and the Shan states were all multi-ethnic polities. Despite the wars, cultural synchronisation continued. This period is considered a golden age for Burmese culture. Burmese literature "grew more confident, popular, and stylistically diverse", and the second generation of Burmese law codes as well as the earliest pan-Burma chronicles emerged.[32] Hanthawaddy monarchs introduced religious reforms that later spread to the rest of the country.[33] Many splendid temples of Mrauk U were built during this period.

Taungoo and colonialism: Political unification returned in the mid-16th century, due to the efforts of Taungoo, a former vassal state of Ava. Taungoo's young, ambitious king Tabinshwehti defeated the more powerful Hanthawaddy in the Toungoo–Hanthawaddy War (1534–41). His successor Bayinnaung went on to conquer a vast swath of mainland Southeast Asia including the Shan states, Lan Na, Manipur, Mong Mao, the Ayutthaya Kingdom, Lan Xang and southern Arakan. However, the largest empire in the history of Southeast Asia unravelled soon after Bayinnaung's death in 1581, completely collapsing by 1599. Ayutthaya seized Tenasserim and Lan Na, and Portuguese mercenaries established Portuguese rule at Thanlyin (Syriam).

The dynasty regrouped and defeated the Portuguese in 1613 and Siam in 1614. It restored a smaller, more manageable kingdom, encompassing Lower Myanmar, Upper Myanmar, Shan states, Lan Na and upper Tenasserim. The Restored Toungoo kings created a legal and political framework whose basic features would continue well into the 19th century. The crown completely replaced the hereditary chieftainships with appointed governorships in the entire Irrawaddy valley, and greatly reduced the hereditary rights of Shan chiefs. Its trade and secular administrative reforms built a prosperous economy for more than 80 years. From the 1720s onward, the kingdom was beset with repeated Meithei raids into Upper Myanmar and a nagging rebellion in Lan Na. In 1740, the Mon of Lower Myanmar founded the Restored Hanthawaddy Kingdom. Hanthawaddy forces sacked Ava in 1752, ending the 266-year-old Toungoo Dynasty.

After the fall of Ava, the Konbaung–Hanthawaddy War involved one resistance group under Alaungpaya defeating the Restored Hanthawaddy, and by 1759, he had reunited all of Myanmar and Manipur, and driven out the French and the British, who had provided arms to Hanthawaddy. By 1770, Alaungpaya's heirs had subdued much of Laos (1765) and fought and won the Burmese–Siamese War (1765–67) against Ayutthaya and the Sino-Burmese War (1765–69) against Qing China (1765–1769).[34]

With Burma preoccupied by the Chinese threat, Ayutthaya recovered its territories by 1770, and went on to capture Lan Na by 1776. Burma and Siam went to war until 1855, but all resulted in a stalemate, exchanging Tenasserim (to Burma) and Lan Na (to Ayutthaya). Faced with a powerful China and a resurgent Ayutthaya in the east, King Bodawpaya turned west, acquiring Arakan (1785), Manipur (1814) and Assam (1817). It was the second-largest empire in Burmese history but also one with a long ill-defined border with British India.[35]

The breadth of this empire was short lived. Burma lost Arakan, Manipur, Assam and Tenasserim to the British in the First Anglo-Burmese War (1824–1826). In 1852, the British easily seized Lower Burma in the Second Anglo-Burmese War. King Mindon Min tried to modernise the kingdom, and in 1875 narrowly avoided annexation by ceding the Karenni States. The British, alarmed by the consolidation of French Indochina, annexed the remainder of the country in the Third Anglo-Burmese War in 1885.

Konbaung kings extended Restored Toungoo's administrative reforms, and achieved unprecedented levels of internal control and external expansion. For the first time in history, the Burmese language and culture came to predominate the entire Irrawaddy valley. The evolution and growth of Burmese literature and theatre continued, aided by an extremely high adult male literacy rate for the era (half of all males and 5% of females).[36] Nonetheless, the extent and pace of reforms were uneven and ultimately proved insufficient to stem the advance of British colonialism.

Jat History

Hukum Singh Panwar (Pauria)[37] writes .... When the Saka people moved still further in the far eastern countries, they founded a city named Vaisali[38] in Burma, which became the capital of Arakan, ruled over by the Hindu dynasty of


The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations: End of p.196


Dhanyawati from 8th century AD. to 11th century A.D., and which is now identified with Vaithali village, surrounded by monuments ancient Vaisali. It is further interesting to note that the ancient Kambuja[39] (modern Cambodia and Cochin-China, or Kampuchia Kambojia, Thailand-Dahiland?) and Ayuthya = Ayodhya, which was made capital by a chief of Utong, who assumed the title of Ramadhipat in 1350 A.D. in Siam (Thailand or Dahiland) are unmistakably reminicent of the migrations and settlements of the Sakas, Kambojas and probably Manvas (Manns) [40] also in those countries in olden times[41] (For ancient Indian Literature in Java and Bali islands, see Weber, 1914; 189 195, 208,229, 271, 280). Jitra or Jatra, a place name in the plains of Malaya, may well be attributed to the old Saka Jats (Mall or Malli from ancient Malloi) in that peninsula, probably known as Malaya after them.

Trade with India

The ancient Pali literature says that merchants from the nations of Uttarapatha were engaged in international trade following the well-known Kamboja-Dvaravati Caravan Route. Merchants from Kamboja, Gandhara, Sovira, Sindhu and other places used to sail from ports of Bharukaccha (modern Bharoch) and Supparaka Pattana (modern Nalla-Sopara, near Mumbai) for trade with Southern India, Sri Lanka and nations of Southeast Asia. Huge trade ships sailed from there directly to south Myanmar. This trade had been going on for hundreds of years before the Buddha. Some merchants from northern India had settled in Myanmar, in the ports and towns located at the mouths of Irrawaddy, Citranga (Sittang) and Salavana (Salween) rivers. The case in point is of two merchant brothers Tapassu and Bhalluka or Bhalluka from Pokkharavati (=Pushkalavati, present Charasadda) in Gandhara-Kamboja region who also had their trade settlement in Myanmar.[42] The name Irrawaddy for the chief river of Burma (Myanmar) was copied from river Irrawati (Ravi) of north Panjab. There is also a tradition in Ceylon (recorded in the Pūjāvaliya) that Tapassu and Bhalluka visited the east coast of Ceylon and built a Cetiya, there. An inscription also makes a similar record.[43]

References

  1. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.650
  2. Hall, DGE (1960). "Pre-Pagan Burma". Burma (3 ed.). p. 13.
  3. Houtman, Gustaaf (1999). Mental Culture in Burmese Crisis Politics: Aung San Suu Kyi and the National League for Democracy. ILCAA. p. 352. ISBN 9784872977486.
  4. "'Birmanie ou Myanmar ? Le vrai faux débat francophone' – La France en Birmanie". Ambafrance-mm.org.
  5. "Birmanie: 87.000 Rohingyas réfugiés au Bangladesh en dix jours, selon l'ONU". L'Obs. 4 September 2017.
  6. nouvelobs.com/tag/birmanie,5.10.2018
  7. http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/b/bhallika.htm
  8. Mahendra Singh Arya et al.: Ādhunik Jat Itihas, Agra 1998, p. 266
  9. O'Reilly, Dougald JW (2007). Early civilizations of Southeast Asia. United Kingdom: Altamira Press. ISBN 978-0-7591-0279-8.
  10. Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7. p. 152
  11. Win Naing Tun (24 July 2015). "Prehistory to Protohistory of Myanmar: A Perspective of Historical Geography" (PDF). Myanmar Environment Institute. p. 1. Retrieved 22 November 2016. "Homo erectus had lived in Myanmar 750,000 years ago" Bowman, John Stewart Bowman (2013). Columbia Chronologies of Asian History and Culture. Columbia University Press. p. 476. ISBN 978-0-231-50004-3.
  12. Schaarschmidt, Maria; Fu, Xiao; Li, Bo; Marwick, Ben; Khaing, Kyaw; Douka, Katerina; Roberts, Richard G. (January 2018). "pIRIR and IR-RF dating of archaeological deposits at Badahlin and Gu Myaung Caves – First luminescence ages for Myanmar". Quaternary Geochronology. doi:10.1016/j.quageo.2018.01.001.
  13. Cooler, Richard M. (2002). "The Art and Culture of Bur
  14. Myint-U, Thant (2006). The River of Lost Footsteps—Histories of Burma. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. ISBN 978-0-374-16342-6.,p.7
  15. Yee Yee Aung. "Skeletal Remains of Nyaunggan, Budalin Township, Monywa District, Sagaing Division". Perspective July 2002.
  16. Myint-U, p. 45
  17. Hudson, Bob (March 2005). "A Pyu Homeland in the Samon Valley: a new theory of the origins of Myanmar's early urban system" (PDF). Myanmar Historical Commission Golden Jubilee International Conference: 1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 26 November 2013.
  18. Coupey, A. S. (2008). Infant and child burials in the Samon valley, Myanmar. In Archaeology in Southeast Asia, from Homo Erectus to the living traditions: choice of papers from the 11th International Conference of the European Association of Southeast Asian Archaeologists, 25–29 September 2006, Bougon, France
  19. Hall, D.G.E. (1960). Burma (3rd ed.). Hutchinson University Library. pp. 8–10. ISBN 978-1-4067-3503-1. Moore, Elizabeth H. (2007). Early Landscapes of Myanmar. Bangkok: River Books. p. 236. ISBN 978-974-9863-31-2.
  20. Myint-U, pp. 51–52
  21. [Lieberman, Victor B. (2003). Strange Parallels: Southeast Asia in Global Context, c. 800–1830, volume 1, Integration on the Mainland. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 978-0-521-80496-7. pp. 90–91]
  22. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.47
  23. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.38-39
  24. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.53
  25. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.89
  26. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.688
  27. Aitihasik Sthanavali by Vijayendra Kumar Mathur, p.218
  28. Lieberman, p. 24
  29. Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 63–65.
  30. Htin Aung, Maung (1967). A History of Burma. New York and London: Cambridge University Press. pp. 63–65.
  31. Maung Maung Tin, Vol. 2, p. 25
  32. Lieberman, p. 134
  33. Myint-U, pp. 64–65
  34. Lieberman, pp. 184–187
  35. Myint-U, p. 109
  36. Lieberman, pp. 202–206
  37. The Jats:Their Origin, Antiquity and Migrations/The Scythic origin of the Jats, p.196-197
  38. Mathur op.cit., p. 883. Radha Kumud Mukerji, Anc.Ind. Allahabad, 1966, pp. 489f
  39. Radha Kumud Mukerji, op.cit., p. 492.
  40. Ibid. Mathur, op.cit., p. 37. Takakusu, A record of the Buddhist Religion as practised in Ind. and the Malay Archipelago, Delhi, 1966, p. 41. Chaturvedi, Vimalkant: Bankok City of Buddha Temples. in 'The Suman Sauram' (Hind i), Jhandewala Estate, Rani Jhansi Marg, New Delhi, May 1988, p. 49. The city was destroyed by the Burmese army.
  41. Ency. America, No, 28, p.107. about 100,000 Indians [of Jat tribes of Dahiya (Dahae) and Mann?) migrated to Vietnam in prehistoric time. (within brackets mine).
  42. Vipassana Newsletter Vol. 7, No. 10 Dec 97.
  43. http://www.palikanon.com/english/pali_names/b/bhallika.htm

References