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CHAPTER 1

Roots of the Dictatorship

1. Time versus Man

2. The First Period of Expansion

3. Foreign Relations in King Mindon's Time

4. Looking Forward to a New Age after a Reformation of Burmese


Customs

5. The Kanaung Crown Prince

6. Adhammikasutta-Unrighteousness

7. The matter of the Myingun and Myingondaing princes

8. Plan for the Administration- growth and change by stages

9. A system of supervision

10. Scientist

11. The Social Contract and the Popular Assembly

12. Royalty under Law

13. Fourteen Departments of Government

14. The Native Democracy

15. Roots of the Dictatorship


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16. Fall in number of houses in the villages of Burma

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Sammāsambuddhassa1

1. Time versus Man

Time lays its authority on a man but if the man accepts time's authority
unresistingly, his history has no brilliance: it is a dead thing. A man can rebel
against time, but although in their struggle men wrestle inconclusively, human
history advances -- it gains brilliance2. However, we cannot establish a truth in
history by guessing. We can in fact only meditate upon the events that happened.
Throughout the course of Burmese history the holders of supreme power
had never been other than people of Burma. Generally, however, if we look at
history with open eyes, we will find that the unity of the peoples of Burma has
been broken from time to time and it has sometimes come to seem like a
collection of different sovereign kingdoms. The Burmese people once had to
accept the chaos which was the penalty when the great kingdom of Pagan was
suddenly brought down. They had to accept the penalty of Shan domination. At
Sagaing, Pinya, Ava and Myinsaing the Burmese people had to pay the cost of
their disunion and of their several power centers. In the Mahænipæta of
Jætaka¥¥hakathæ we can see that brothers stage a coup d’état each other because
of slander (Pesuñña) of other person3. Pesuñña means: in this world any person is
malicious speech, in that place announces having hears from this place for
disunion of these and in this place announces having hears from that place for

1
D. II. P. 230
2
Ræjadhamma. P. 24
3
Jæ. VI. A. Pp. 39-40
3

disunion of these. Thus: breaks those who being harmonious, gives out those,
separated, delights in dissociation, enjoys dissociation, strap rejoicing in
dissociation and is speech done of dissociation. This is called Pesuñña (slender).
Further it focuses slander by the two kinds of reasons. They are: desire for dear
things and wish for breaking.4 They frequently waged war upon their own
kindred and neighbours, so that they had to pay the cost of the fear of war also.
Country on anarchy or powerless want to be confiscating by the neighbor is
tradition. That is why Jætaka says ‘ tadæ eko sæmantaræjæ “ kæsiræjæ kira
væra¼asinagarato nikkhamitvæ vonaµ pavisitvæ pavvajito” ti sutvæ “ væra¼asi³
gah¼issæmø” ti nagaræ nikkhamitvæ5 and evaµ aparepi satta ræjæno “ væra¼asi³
gah¼issæmø” ti ægatæ.6

On the other hand, they also made efforts in various ways to avoid these
penalties. It is plain from the Chronicles that such efforts were directed towards
rebuilding an all-embracing kingdom of Burma with its peoples in unity, so that
the name of Burma might not be lost, with the Burmese, the Shams, the Mons
and the Arakanese, it might be said, each in their turn holding the power. Just as
in Europe, by the laws of history, the territories of feudal lords were little by little
brought into union to create a national territory; so the Burmese united their
fortified towns and villages so as to make a kingdom.

Thus the Burmese people, as is the way of peoples of a free country,


advanced noticeably. They developed a class of rulers, and consequently the
customs of the peoples of the various lands to the east merged on equal terms
with those of the Burmese. While in the land of Burma the customs and the
course of history of the peoples of the East were becoming increasingly unified,
in the West, in Europe, it could be seen that the customs and the course of history

4
Nd. I. P.179
5
Jæ. VI. A. P. 36
6
Jæ. VI. A. P. 37
4

were developing similarly. At this period, by a remarkable change in the times,


there came about the 16th century turn to new techniques that is known as the
“Renaissance”7.

2. The First Period of Expansion

In a time which saw the beginning of imperial expansion. The peoples of


Europe- the Spanish, the Portuguese, the Dutch, the Italians, the Germans, the
English and the rest, in the course of their ventures to various parts of the world,
interested themselves in the lands bordering the seas of the easternmost parts of
the world. The Spanish and the Portuguese were the first to cross the Pacific
Ocean and to come into the Indian Ocean. They were followed by the French and
the English. The first exponents of this expansion in Burma were the Portuguese.
We have to know, in fact the real expansion occurred since very early period
when read the Jætaka. In the Mahæuma³ga Jætaka of Mahænipæta a king name of
sþ¹anøbrahamadatta govern in Uttaræpa³cæla city of Kapila kingdom and a
Brahmin who is his domestic chaplain name of Keva¥¥a, admonish for welfare
and nature, and he is clever and keen. They want to be great king and the king’s
great religious adviser in the world. “Great king! We will seize first small
countries having collected and but I will say the king having enter to country by
small gate that ‘you don’t have battle for me, please to be only our king’s own,
your country will be only yours, however if you make war, you will defeat sure
because our soldiers and vehicles are large. If will observe as I say, it must be
confiscated. If not, we must seize other country having fought, lets to go the
dissolution of life and taken two armies, thereupon others and so forth, we will

7
. It is the revival of art and literature under the influence of classical models in the 14th-16th centuries.
5

drank the drink of victorious warrior having taken kingship in the whole world
by this way.8 But wise men not esteem taking of glory having killed others.9

From about the year 1510 on, envoys were sent from the Portuguese to the
kings of Burma with proposals for the establishment of relationships between the
countries upon equal terms. By the middle of the 16th century, there were
Portuguese living in Ayoddaya (Thailand), Pegu, Taungngu, Arakan and other
countries of south Asia making a living as mercenary soldiers in the service of
the kings for their wars within these lands. The Burmese Chronicles tell the well-
known story of how Tabinshweihti (1531-1551)10 grew familiar with his
Portuguese and how this was his undoing11. This is one of the Buddha points out
so many disadvantage of drinking intoxicant.

“Matto ahaµ mahæræja, puttamaµsæni khædayiµ;


tassa sokenahaµ pha¥¥ho, majjapænaµ vivajjayin”ti.12

That is to say: Great king! I having drunk had eaten flesh of my son. I had
refrain drinking to intoxicant because I am touched by grief, eating to the flesh of
my son. Early in the 17th century again, a Portuguese named Filip de Brito
Nicote (called Nga Zingæ by the Burmese) became involved in the affairs of
Burma, to their great annoyance. In 1613 King Anaukphetlun (1605-1628)13 laid
siege to Nga Zinga in Thanlyin14 and eradicated his designs for expansion. From
this time the power of the Portuguese little by little disappeared from Burma.

8
. Jæ. VI. A. P. 236
9
. Jæ. VI. A. P. 311
10
. He is, established second Myanmar first.
11
. The Portuguese introduced him to hard liquor, it is said.
12
Jæ. II. A. P. 177
13
. He is second king of dynasty of Nyaungyam (1600-1606).
14
It is situated in Yangon District.
6

Nevertheless, the advance of empire did not come to a halt. The English,
the Dutch and the French moved in to take the place of the Portuguese. In 1599,
the year of King Nanda's (1581-1599)15 death and of the destruction of the Pegu
kingdom, (In AD 573, it is established by estimate) the English established
themselves in Pegu and the English East India Company set up their factory. In
rivalry, the Dutch East India Company was established in 1602. This company
was set up to keep the English from getting a foothold in Burma, even if at a loss.
The interval gave Burma a time of freedom of action. At this time, the French
East India Company too gained a foothold in the country.

In the mid-18th century the rivalry between the French and the English
companies began to have violent effects in the kingdom of Burma. After the
great Alaunghpayæ (real name is U Aung je ya (years of reign 1752-1760), the
founder of third Myanmar “Konnnbaung Era”) (1714-13 April 1760) had
restored the kingdom, the English and the French carried on their intrigues in
Burma with the Mons. First of all the English, to keep in line with the French,
planted a factory of the East India Company in Thanlyin as a foothold and then,
in 1753, after building a small fort in Thanlyin, opened up their foothold near to
the Maw-tin Point in the Hainggyi island. After King Alaunghpayæ turned the
course of the war in 1756, he destroyed both the factory in Thanlyin in 1756 and,
in 1757-8, its extension in Hainggyi island, so as to leave no trace behind.

This was not the end of the plans for expansion. In 1797 the English, in
hopes of a victory in their rivalry with the French, returned to make a treaty with
the Burmese, and in this year the Governor16 of British India sent Captain
Michael Symes as his envoy to King Hsinbyushin (1736-10 July 1776) (second
son of Alaungphayæ) at Ava. From this time on, the rivalry between the English

15
He is crown prince and son of Bayinnaung (AD. 1551-1581)
16
. The word used, bayin-hkan, usually is translated "viceroy", but this would be an anachronism, as the
word only came into for the Governor-general of India after 1857.
7

and the French became deeply entangled in the affairs of Burma, and for the
Burmese there were few spells of relief from their pricking. In 1824 came the
first war between the English and the Burmese.

Up to this time the Burmese had never had to accept the superiority of
other people except to the extent that of the immediate royal family was
accepted. They had never had to accept the superiority of people from another
land who were not of royal race. Now, however, it had to be faced. Therefore,
when it came to dealings with people who could not claim royalty, eastern
customs and rules of intercourse had to change and allow for different customs
used by other peoples. In dealing with the rulers of other lands, the kings of
Burma had dealt directly and on equal terms. Now, however, they had to deal
with an imperialistic power and it was not a matter of dealing directly and on
equal terms between nations, as they had with the Portuguese; they must deal
now with the East India Company, now with the Governor. Successive kings of
Burma never learned to handle such dealings with skill.

When peace was made to end the first Anglo-Burmese War, the Burmese
and the English concluded a treaty at Rantapo17 in 24 February 1826. It was a
treaty in which the Burmese agreed to follow the custom of westerners in
relationships with other lands. In particular, it was a treaty in which the stronger
party imposed his ideas upon the weaker. In clause seven (7) of the treaty it was
provided that an agent of the Governor was permitted to live in the Burmese
capital (Ava)18 with a guard of fifty soldiers. Reciprocally, the Burmese king
might maintain a guard of fifty soldiers for his agent living in the Governor's
capital of Kolkata.

17
. The region is situated 45 miles distance from Mandalay Royal Palace.
18
. Era, from AD-1364 to AD-1554 totally 190 years is called Ava.
8

As for the Burmese, they had few reasons to want to appoint an agent in
Kolkata on a permanent basis. The peoples of the East were accustomed, if any
special point of business arose in connection with their dealings with another
country, to send an envoy specifically for that business and to see it settled. The
English, on the other hand, wished to establish a permanent agency, hoping to
extend its scope beyond commerce. Wishing to give life to clause seven (7) of
the Rantapo treaty, the Governor of British India sent as his agent to Ava Major
Henry Burney (referred to in the Burmese chronicle as “Me-se Bawrani”).
Burney arrived at Ava on the 24th of April 1830. If we study as a whole the times,
as they have been described, we can recognise one particular characteristic. This
is that as their polity came under pressure from a powerful foreign people, the
Burmese were forced to work hard to develop their ability and courage.

After King Alaunghpaya had succeeded in unifying the country, during


the reign of Hsinbyushin Burma came to the peak of its power. Under King
Bodawhpaya (years of reign 1782-1819, third son of Alaungphayæ) there was a
time of peace and prosperity during which Burmese literature and art, customs
and culture were displayed; the customs and cultures of neighbouring countries
were systematically studied and the task of expanding the basis of Burmese unity
was worked on. In 1789, on the orders of the crown prince, a committee was
formed, including the Myawadi minister, U Za, the Pyinsi Prince, Rama-yagan U
Htou and other distinguished people, to translate the legend from Thailand
(Ayuddhaya, Gwyan country) and from Haribuncaya (Yunn country) into
Burmese. Accompaniments for plays and songs in the style of Ayuddaya were
composed. In 1820 there were brought in from India books in Sanskrit,
9

Devanāgarī and English, writings on medicine, science, and astrology, which


were translated into Burmese and studied widely.19

During the reign of Pagan-king (years of reign 1846-1853, ninth dynasty


of Konnbaung) the country's administration had gone to pieces. In the section of
the Konnbaungzet Maharājawin that deals with the reign of Pagan-king, it is said
that this king appointed a Muslim Baing-zet,20 whose name is recorded as
Ngapaingthat, as a Mayor (governor of a town in the monarchical days) and gave
him high promotion. This Ngapaingthat is said to have “habitually raided
people's homes by night, to have robbed them of their money and food, and to
have thrown them into prison and beaten them” and thus the territory was
grievously distressed. These kinds of event are of nature can be in the days of
unrighteous and irresponsible kings. The Buddha explained the meaning of
the sixteen dreams in the Pæ¹i commentaries. If has to show having
extracted them with regard to a king’s favourite, they are: "Men unyoked a
team of strong, sturdy oxen, and replaced them with young steers, too weak
to draw the load. Those young steers refused to pull. They stood stock-still,
so that the wagons didn't move at all. This was my fourth dream. What will
come of it?"

"Here again the dream will not come to pass until the future, in the
days of wicked kings. In days to come, unjust and parsimonious kings will
show no honor to wise leaders, skilled in diplomacy. They will not appoint
experienced, learned judges to the courts. On the contrary, they will honor
the very young and foolish, and will appoint the most inexperienced and
unprincipled to the courts. Naturally, these appointees, because of their

19
Ræjadhamma. Pp. 25-6-7
20
. Meaning uncertain: Perhaps "of mixed ancestry", or just possibly, "a filing clerk".
10

ignorance of statecraft and the law, will not be able to bear the burden of
their responsibilities. Because of their incompetence they will have to
throw off the yoke of public office. When that happens, the aged and wise
lords will remember being passed over, and, even though they are able to
cope with all difficulties, they will refuse to help, saying: 'It is no business
of ours since we have become outsiders.' They will remain aloof, and the
government will fall to ruins. It is just like when the young steers, not
strong enough for the burden, were yoked instead of the team of sturdy
oxen.21

"I saw an incredible horse with a mouth on each side of its head
being fed fodder on both sides. That dreadful horse ate voraciously with
both its mouths. This was my fifth dream. What will come of it?"

"This dream will also come true only in the future, in the days of
unrighteous and irresponsible kings, who will appoint covetous men to be
judges. These despicable magistrates, blind to virtue and honesty, will take
bribes from both sides as they sit in the seat of judgment. They will be
doubly corrupt, just like the horse that ate fodder with two mouths at
once.22

"At a palace gate there stood a big pitcher full to the brim. Around it
stood many empty pitchers. From all directions there came a steady stream
of people carrying pots of water which they poured into the already full
pitcher. The water from that full pitcher kept overflowing and wastefully
soaking into the sand. Still the people came and poured more and more
21
. Jæ. I. A. Pp. 356-7. A³. III. Tø. P. 65
22
. Jæ. I. A. P. 357. A³. III. Tø. P. 65
11

water into the overflowing vessel. Not a single person even glanced at the
empty pitchers. This was my eighth dream. What shall come of it?"

"This dream too will not come to pass until the future when the
world is in decline. The kingdom will grow weak, and its kings will be
poorer and more demanding. These kings in their poverty and selfishness
will make the whole country work exclusively for them. They will force
citizens to neglect their own work and to labor only for the throne. For the
kings' sake they will plant sugar cane, make sugar-mills, and boil down
molasses. For the kings' sake they will plant flower gardens and orchards
and gather fruits. They will harvest all the crops and fill the royal
storerooms and warehouses to overflowing, but they will be unable even to
glance at their own empty barns at home. It will be like filling and
overfilling the full pitcher, heedless of the needy, empty ones.23

"I saw a deep pool with sloping banks overgrown with lotuses. From
all directions, a wide variety of animals came to drink water from that pool.
Strangely, the deep water in the middle was terribly muddy, but the water
at the edges, where all those thirsty creatures had descended into the pool,
was unaccountably clear and sparkling. This was my ninth dream. What
does it mean?"

"I saw a deep pool with sloping banks overgrown with lotuses. From
all directions, a wide variety of animals came to drink water from that pool.
Strangely, the deep water in the middle was terribly muddy, but the water
at the edges, where all those thirsty creatures had descended into the pool,

23
. Jæ. I. A. Pp. 358-9. A³. III. Tø. P. 66
12

was unaccountably clear and sparkling. This was my ninth dream. What
does it mean?"

"This dream too will not come to pass until the future, when kings
grow increasingly corrupt. Ruling according to their own whim and
pleasure, they will never make judgments according to what is right. Being
greedy, they will grow fat on lucrative bribes. Never showing mercy or
compassion to their subjects, they will be fierce and cruel. These kings will
amass wealth by crushing their subjects like stalks of sugar cane in a mill
and by taxing them to the last penny. Unable to pay the oppressive taxes,
the citizens will abandon their villages, towns, and cities, and will flee like
refugees to the borders. The heart of the country will be a wilderness, while
the remote areas along the borders will teem with people. The country will
be just like the pool, muddy in the middle and clear at the edges.24

"I saw goats chasing wolves and eating them. At the sight of goats in
the distance, the wolves fled terror-stricken, quaking with fear to hide in
thickets. Such was my sixteenth dream. What will come of it?"

"This dream too will not have its fulfillment until the reign of
immoral kings. The low-born will be raised to important posts and will
become royal favorites. True nobles will sink into obscurity and distress.
Gaining power in the law courts because of the king's favors, the parvenu
will claim the ancestral estates of the impoverished old nobility, demanding
their titles and all their property. When the real nobles plead their rights in
court, the king's minions will have them beaten and tortured, then taken by

24
.Jæ. I. A. P. 359. A³. III. Tø. P. 66
13

the throat and thrown out with words of scorn. 'That will teach you to know
your place, fools!' they will shout. 'How dare you dispute with us? The king
shall hear of your insolence, and we will have your hands and feet chopped
off!' At this, the terrified nobles will agree that black is white and that their
own estates belong to the lowly upstarts. They will then hurry home and
cower in an agony of fear. Likewise, at that time, evil monks will harass
good, worthy monks until the worthy ones flee from the monasteries to the
jungle. This oppression of true nobles by the low-born and of good monks
by the evil monks will be like the intimidation of wolves by goats.
However, you have nothing to fear from this. This dream refers to the
future only."25

When this came to the ears of Pagan-king, he terminated the appointment


of the Mayor, Ngapaingthat, of the town clerk, Ngapein26 and the rest of the gang
on the 7th waning day of Nadaw, 1213 (December 1851).

Even so, because of the mischief of Ngapaingthat, both the king, as lord of
the country, and the people were no longer united in purpose. This provided an
opportunity for encroachers. So the Master admonishing (his) relations said:
Emperors! Dispute between relatives mutually is, surely not becoming; even
some animals which had conquered their enemies at the time of concord,
when quarrelling, suffered great destruction, dispute is the root of
destruction.27

“Sammodamænæ gacchanti, jælamædæya pakkhino;

yadæ te vivadissanti, tadæ ehinti me vasan”ti.


25
. Jæ. I. A. Pp. 362-3. A³. III. Tø. P. 69
26
.He established a bridge name of U Pein, to be very famous view in the world nowadays.
27
. Jæ. I. A. P. 224
14

That is to say: While agreeing the birds go away carrying off the net, but when
they quarrel they will then fall into my power.28

The Burmese histories tell how Commodore Lambert, the captain of a


warship from India, under British rule, claimed that people living under the
protection of the British flag had been wronged by the Hanthawadi (date of
establishment-7 November 1566) Mayor and, in pursuit of his claim, one night
surrounded a ship belonging to the King with two steam tugs and hauled it away.
From this arose the second Anglo-Burmese War. On the 8th waning day of Tagu,
1213 (1851), the English army (after the Burmese New Year) penetrated the
Rangoon River with their warships and opened an attack upon the signal station
and the forts. They captured Pegu in the 20th December, 1852.

While the English were thus for the second time annexing a part of the
Burmese territory, in Amarapūra (date of establishment-10, October 1781) the
situation of the administration grew worse and worse. Cases of banditry and such
crimes became common. It seemed that in the city and in the palace everything
had been left in the hands of those people who could only make mischief.
Because of such mischief-making, the Mindon prince (1853-1878, tenth dynasty
of Konnbaung) and his brother the Kanaung Prince found themselves rumoured
to have taken part in some of the dacoities around the capital.

For this reason the Mindon Prince and his brother the Kanaung Prince in
the evening of the eighth waxing day of Pyætho 1214 (1852) left the city by the
“four island gate” at the extreme northern end of its east side. At Mattayæ they
influenced the people and, with the intention of raising a rebellion against their
brother, Pagan-king, set off for the city of Yadanætheinga (Shwebo)29.

28
. Jæ. I. A. P. 225. Gæthæ No. 33
29
. It was established as a palace in 1753-54 by U Aung Je Ya, founder of third Myanmar.
15

Prince Mindon, thus making Yadanætheinga (Shwebo) his base camp,


advanced to attack Amarapþra, which he captured on the 11th waxing day of
Tabaung, 1214 (11 July,1853). On this day King Pagan was deposed and King
Mindon began his reign.

As soon as King Mindon was installed upon the throne, he had to begin
negotiations to end the Anglo-Burmese War and to make peace. On the 14th
waning day of Hnaung-tagþ the Burmese negotiators met the British at Pyi and
held discussions. The English demanded a money indemnity, as they had done
previously in the Rantapo treaty30. In addition, they had annexed Pegu. On this
account the Burmese who had come to the discussions could not sign a peace
treaty at Pyi.

3. Foreign Relations in King Mindon's Time

After the end of fighting in the second Anglo-Burmese war late in 12,
April 1852-53, the English and the Burmese held discussions about making
peace. During these consultations the wrangles of Anglo-French rivalry
continued as before. In these circumstances King Mindon, skilled in statecraft,
set about establishing a situation from which advantage might be derived for the
Burmese, even in their powerless state31. With almost half its territory in the
hands of the foreigner, Burma was a small state between the two great states of
England and France. There had to be a model of conducting foreign relations
which would preserve its independence and dignity.

30
. In first Anglo-Burmese war, it has to treat is Burmese having defeated at the place, 45 miles distance
from Mandalay palace in twenty-fourth February 1826.
31
. Trying to use the English and French ambitious in the area against each other was a dangerous game.
Unskillfully played by King Thøbaw, it led to the loss of the kingdom.
16

From this expansion of the work of foreign affairs there was a mixture of
gains and losses. If we look at the gains, we can see that the connection with the
peoples of Western Europe opened eyes to knowledge. However, these same
peoples of Western Europe, because of the pressures of imperialism, did not have
the same ends in view as the Burmese and the balance was destroyed. Finally, it
involved a huge loss when the entire kingdom fell into the hands of others.
However, if there is good to be found amid the misfortune, it is that the Burmese,
in a desire to distance themselves from the ways of Western Europe, acquired a
greater disposition to try to establish the cultures of their own country and
peoples. Their pride of race and xenophobia increased. Alongside their
xenophobia, in a desire to challenge and do better than the foreigners, they began
to try to take advantage of the sciences of the West as opportunity offered.32

4. Looking Forward to a New Age after a Reformation of Burmese


Customs

In 1191(1829) , Burmese scholars edited the ‘Glass Palace Chronicle’33 in


five parts and thirty eight sections, from the Chronicle that was written by Maung
Kalæ, the son of the Sagaing wealthy person. This “Glass Palace Chronicle”
aroused King Mindon's patriotism: he gave great importance to the chronicles of
Burma and there is much significance to be found in the presentation of the
arguments that he put to the various English missions.

32
. Ræjadhamma. Pp. 40-1
33
. During the time of Sagaing King, seventh dynasty of Konnbaung a chronicle which written by
Burmese scholars having discussed is called ‘Glass Palace Chronicle’ because it is written in the cabin
top of the Glass Palace.
17

The year 1218 (1871) was marked as the coming 2500th year of the
Religion (sāsanā)34 and was designated for the holding of the Fifth Sa³gāyanā.35
Looking at the mere surface of this work we can say very definitely that King
Mindon hoped to be regarded and honoured as the supporter of the Religion in a
quite special way, beyond all other kings. If we look at the essentials, we will see
that the rule was that there was a basic disposition to preserve the culture of
Burma and the traditions of its peoples. King Mindon was a patriot and was well
versed in the history of Burma and his plans were always to establish firmly the
Buddhist religion, as being the basis of Burmese culture.

From the strength of the interest that he always took in the processes of
history, King Mindon could compare the rules for the government of Burma
(Dhammena samena rajjaµ kæreti)36 that he had before him in the Chronicles
with the actualities that had changed with the times; he wished to review the
principles and to match them with this different time. We can easily find an
example: in 1219 (1872) King Mindon made his plans for taxation with the
intention of following the rule of not more than ten percent in accordance with
this text of Athakathæ ‘tattha nipphannasassato dasamabhægaggaha¼aµ
sassamedhaµ næma’37 “the basic rule of taxation is that it must not be obscure or
uncertain; it must be collected on a definite basis.”

In a similar way, changes were to be brought by stages into the methods of


government. One point of the new vision is conspicuous. The economy of

34
. The word sāsanā "a message" refers to the Buddha's teaching. In general use it refers rather to the
institutions of religion, while Dhamma is the eternal truth behind them.
35
. 1) Sææsanææ-2415 year 2) Place –Mandalay Royal Palace in Myanmar 3) Leader- Jæghara Thera 4)
Number of Sa³ ³ga- totally ordinary monks 2400 5) King- Mindon 6) Time- reciting five-month and three
days 7) sculpting of alphabet on the stone- seven-years, six-month and fourteen-days. Till nowadays
become very famous in the world by name of ‘The World Biggest Book’ into the Lokamærajin pagoda of
Mandalay as the boundary-pillar of honour of Myanmar.
36
. Jæ.III. A. 8
37
. Iti. A. P. 89
18

Burma, both in agriculture and trade, was based upon barter. As soon as
intercourse with Europe began, it was seen that the outdated basis of the Burmese
economy could increase production by the use of machinery and of a currency.
Mints were established at Sagaing and at Shwetachaung; also weaving mills,
rice mills, an arms factory, saw mills, sugar mills, indigo dying plants and others
were set up to the number of more than fifty; we can call this the start of an
industrial revolution for Burma.

5. The Kanaung Crown Prince

However, during the time of King Mindon, the leader in action, the sower
of the seed, was the Heir Apparent, the Kanaung Crown Prince. The Crown
Prince was a keen and skillful operator. U Bo Hlaing on the other hand had the
ideas. Under the combined leadership of these two the sections of the economy
that at this point were advancing had reason to expect that the kingdom of Burma
would advance to become a modern state.

The Kanaung Crown Prince was the younger full brother of King Mindon.
He was born in 1181(1819) to King Sāyawadī and his Queen, the Kyaukmaw
Mayor. When King Mindon reached the summit of power, the Crown Prince
became his heir-apparent. It was at this time that English expansion brought
about the second annexation of Burmese territory. For protection against the
threat of further expansion, the Prince nursed the desire to see the kingdom
established as an industrialised and well-armed nation. To establish it in this way,
he gave great importance to acquiring the resources and technology of the West.
For this purpose he planned, with the agreement of King Mindon, to send state
students to foreign countries and he organised young Burmans for this. It is said
19

that during King Mindon's reign ninety such state students were sent under this
scheme to France, Italy and England.

We should like to demonstrate so far as we know it the foresight of the


leaders of Burma in the matter of the Crown Prince's scheme for state scholars.
We mentioned the book on “Compass Work” and its author Maung Shwe Bin.
He, when he had finished his studies in the West, and returned to his country on
the orders of the Crown Prince, translated into Burmese the subjects that he had
learned. The state scholars therefore produced their “Study Books” and these are
listed below.

1. A book on geology -- the science of the earth;

2. A book of mineralogy-- describing all kinds of rocks, ores of gold,


silver, iron, and lead, rock sulphur and limestone, diamond- and jewel-
bearing rocks;

3. A book of botany-- describing the plants that grows in the different


soils of various places;

4. A book of zoology-- describing the animals and fishes of the land and
sea;

5. A book of anatomy-- describing the arrangement of the thirty-two


cavities of the body and so on;

6. A book of physiology-- describing how energy is produced and


exchanged in living creatures -- men, animals and plants;

7. A book of chemistry-- describing the preparation and compounding of


herbal medicines, the usage of all kinds of porcelain and earthenware, glasses
and mirrors, all varieties of colours -- gold and silver pigments, reds, greens,
20

yellows and blues – the distillation of sulphur, saltpeter, alcohol and other
liquids, the different sorts of sand, the various flavours of things that are good to
eat or drink, the different kinds of leathers, wirings for electric motors, methods
of making photographic prints, different sorts of mercury-filled glass tubes for
forecasting thunder, wind, rain, fog, fire and so on; coal-mining methods and the
production of coal gas for lighting; and the production of various types of iron;

8. A book of physic-- describing treatments of various diseases; (In


western medical practice, when the power of a drug is to be introduced into the veins or
the breathing system of a patient, use is made of alcohol, the spirit that can be distilled
from some types of liquor. “Vehicle” means the medium which can convey people,
animals, or any kind of material from one place to another. Similarly, alcohol can carry
the power of a medicine and to disperse it through the body. So that Burmese doctors
might be able to know and understand this principle and put it to use, it described the
properties of the various liquors that western medicine uses. “The liquors that there are,
are hot…They can enter into small apertures of the body... And disperse rapidly through
the whole body and, if the blood is made to rise up, can cause drunkenness. They can
relax the muscles.” In this, its intention must have been to increase Burmese medical
knowledge with some science.)38
9. A book of history-- including various peoples, with Natural History,
Moral History accounting for the rise and fall of rulers, and Geography,
describing the large and small land masses that make up continents and
countries, their forests and mountains, rivers, seas and oceans;

10. A book of mathematics-- covering methods of calculation such as the


gold and silver rules, fractions, decimal fractions, rule of three, square roots, cube
roots in arithmetic; books of geometry dealing with compound and simple curves
as well as straight lines, circumferences of circles, figures of three sides and three
angles, of four and five sides and angles, variously sided figures; an elementary
38
. Ræjadhamma. P.132
21

book of plane geometry covering figures of various boundaries, degrees of


angles, the use of squared paper, comparison and calculation of areas, an
elementary book of solid geometry, dealing with solid figures of three
apices[sic], of four and five apices and the basic nature of a solid mass; a book of
spherical geometry dealing with spherical triangles and quadrilaterals, as though
drawn on the sphere of the heavens; a book of algebra describing methods of
making various calculations set out with the use of letters;

11. A book on mensuration-- describing methods of measuring circles,


figures of three and four sides and angles. Of solid figures, the surfaces of
spheres and cones, their conversions, areas of cylinders, matrices, of four and
five sided prisms – measuring length, breadth and height to obtain a surface area
in square inches, hands, cubits, or else to obtain the volume;

12. A book on architecture-- which is called the architects science,


showing construction methods for buildings, ships, boats and dinghies, of tunnels
and bridges and so forth, using iron, timber, bricks or stone;

13. A book of Plane trigonometry, which provides the basic principles of


accurately determining surface areas of buildings and forested hills, or distances
and dimensions of sea areas;

14. A book of spherical trigonometry-- which shows how to calculate


lengths, breadths and angles, distance and height relationships of figures on a
curved surface at a height, such as the sky

15. A book of astronomy-- which might be called a handbook of


astrology, describing the movements of the heavenly bodies, sun, moon, planets
with the stars and comets -- and how their risings are calculated;
22

16. A book on navigation-- describing how seamen by taking


measurements of the sun, moon, planets, and stars, are able to direct their ships to
the port that they want over the oceans where there are no signposts;

17. A book on military affairs-- describing how bombs, artillery,


musketry, and rockets go off; and other man oeuvres that belong in warfare;

18. A book on machinery-- on the mechanisms of large and small clocks;


on the setting up and use of mechanical looms; on steamship and railway engines
and so on; as well as various other devices used on the land and the sea.

Books of technology became available by such means. From looking at


these lists of subjects we, who come later, can assess the order of priority in
which Burmans of the past, of the time of the Crown Prince, made their first
efforts to grasp the light of western knowledge.39

6. The matter of the Myingun and Myingondaing princes

While this effort at introducing western technology and making a new age
for the Burmese kingdom was going on, in 02, August, 1866 the Kanaung Crown
Prince was murdered in the course of the plot hatched by the Myingun and
Myingondaing Princes sons of King Mindon. With this, all the plans and projects
of its leaders for renewal and reformation, for the building of an industrial
country, for the arming of its defence and for the other various enterprises in
hand, all melted away like water into sand.

In particular, the goals of a proper defence of the country and the proper
relationships with other lands little by little were lost. The hope and expectations
for the modernisation of the kingdom all went to waste.
39
.Ræjadhamma. Pp.43,45
23

In 1228 (1866) , on the fourth waning day of Kason, in the evening,


towards the west “a bank of clouds all at once appeared, red as blood and in the
evening of the next day the whole sky seemed to be bursting with congealed
blood. After this there was a heavy rain and lightning. In the golden city of
Mandalay the whole people, from the princes down, were much disturbed.”

It was in this situation that, on the seventh waning day of Second Wāzo,
the Mayors of Myingun and Myingondaing, both sons of King Mindon, revolted.
The brothers entered the city from the south side with around fifty followers, all
with fire- arms. In this project, the Kanaung Prince, the Heir, was the prime
target and he was killed at once. King Mindon had a great store of religious
merit to rely upon and escaped, since Nga Paik Kyi, one of the conspirators
carried him away upon his back out of danger to a place of safety. In the palace
itself those fated to fall, fell; those destined to punishment, were punished; those
due to get away, got away -- all quite at random. The Myingun and
Myingondaing Princes avoided capture and got away from where the King was,
because all the princes, ministers and army generals who kept their loyalty to the
King were engaged in collecting their people to preserve their position and put up
a resistance. That is why the Buddha, want to shows that there is involvement
human and weather preached Adhammika Sutta of A³guttaranikāya40 as
following.

7. Adhammikasutta Unrighteousness

Monks, at a time the kings are not righteous, the royal princes too
are not righteous. When the royal princes are not righteous the Brahmin
householders are not righteous. When the Brahmin householders are not

40
. A³. I. Pp. 386-7
24

righteous those in the hamlets and states are not righteous. When those in the
hamlets and states are not righteous, the moon and sun shine unevenly. When the
moon and sun shine unevenly the stars and the constellation shine unevenly.
Then the night and day dawn unevenly. When the night and day dawn unevenly,
the fortnights and the months become uneven. When the fortnights and months
become uneven, the seasons and the year become uneven. When the seasons and
the year become uneven, an untimely wind blows in a wrong frame. When
untimely winds blow in a wrong frame the rainy clouds become disturbed. When
the clouds that bring rain are disturbed, the rightful rain does not come down.
When rightful rain does not come down the grains ripen unevenly. When humans
eat the grains unevenly ripened, their life span shortens, lose their beauty and
power and are struck by many ailments.

Monks, at a time the kings are righteous, the royal princes too are
righteous. When the royal princes are righteous the Brahmin householders are
righteous. When the Brahmin householders are righteous those in the hamlets
and states are righteous. When those in the hamlets and states are righteous, the
moon and sun shine evenly. When the moon and sun shine evenly the stars and
the constellation shine evenly. Then the night and day dawn evenly. When the
night and day dawn evenly, the fortnights and the months become even. When
the fortnights and months become even, the seasons and the year become even.
When the seasons and the year become even, timely winds blow in the right
frame. When timely winds blow in the right frame the rainy clouds are not
disturbed. When the clouds that bring rain are not disturbed, the rightful rain
comes down. When rightful rain comes down the grains ripen evenly. When
humans eat the grains evenly ripened, their life span lengthen, they become
beautiful and powerful and have few ailments. Of a herd of cattle if the leading
bull goes crooked, all the followers go crooked, not knowing that they do so.
25

Even so among humans if the one considered the chief, Is unrighteous, all the
following become unrighteous if the king is unrighteous, the whole country rest
unpleasantly. Of a herd of cattle if the leading bull goes straight, all the followers
go straight, not knowing that they do so. Even so among humans if the one
considered the chief, Is righteous, all the following become righteous if the king
is righteous, the whole country rest pleasantly.

“Gunnaµ ce taramænænaµ, jimhaµ gacchati pu³gvo;

sabbæ tæ jimhaµ gacchanti, nette jimhaµ gate sati.

Evamevaµ manussesu, yo hoti se¥¥hasammato;

so ce adhammaµ carati, pageva itaræ pajæ;

sabbaµ ra¥¥haµ dukkhaµ seti, ræjæ ce hoti adhammiko.

Gunnaµ ce taramænænaµ, ujuµ gacchati pu³gvo;

sabbæ tæ ujuµ gacchanti, nette ujuµ gate sati.

Evamevaµ manussesu, yo hoti se¥¥hasammato;

so sace dhammaµ carati, pageva itaræ pajæ;

sabbaµ ra¥¥haµ sukhaµ seti, ræjæ ce hoti dhammiko”41.

8. Plan for the Administration -- growth and change by stages

41
. Jæ. I. Gæthæ No. 133-4-5-6 Pp. 110-1
26

We must take another look at the system of government that was


undergoing change from the beginning of King Mindon's reign. Under this King,
the officials and their leaders were working within the law to devolve upon
themselves all the powers invested in the absolute monarchy. Foreign
relationships, in which the king would have special expertise, would by law be in
his personal control, under considerations of prudence. There was therefore a
strong movement towards making changes by stages.

The evidence for this is that, right from the time when the King assumed
the throne, changes were made removing certain of the King's powers, which
were taken up by the Parliament; for example the improved methods of tax
collection and the system of ruling through four separate ministries, among
others. To see how far these changes went, we have to say that, in the matter of
King Mindon's appointment of the Thonzel, Methkaræ and Nyaungyan Princes as
governor, the appointment, made without the agreement of the Parliament
(council of ministers in the time of Myanmar King), were only effective until the
Princes were arrested and placed in confinement.

As we have already said, by 1232 (1870) international contacts had


greatly increased, and in this year the telegraph line between the Burmese capital
and the British territory in Burma had almost been completed up to Mandalay.
The relationship with the British was settled and plans for changes in the
government of the Burmese kingdom now moved forward by stages. In this year
plans, which later met with much criticism, were made for the government that
involved dividing the functions of the Parliament between four sections.

These were first the “hand work” department (what is now known as the
employment department) next the department of defence, covering all musketry,
artillery and cavalry units, next the agricultural department and finally the
27

Shweidaik (now known as the Royal Treasury). These sections were placed
under the four ministers. These departments were accommodated in four
buildings inside the palace42.

9. A system of supervision

King Mindon himself had experience of various palace disturbances; in


particular, he had received no advance warning of the plot to murder his heir, the
Kanaung Crown Prince. The murdered Prince, on the day of the assassination,
had received a hint about the plot of the Myingun and Myingondaing Princes and
was in conference about how to defeat the attack when he fell into the hands of
his enemies. The King was worried about this and, so that reports about anything
that happened in the kingdom might reach his ears in good time, he set up a
system of informers to collect news reports. It can be seen in the Mahæuma³ga
Jætaka. In this- traders also coming from so many places ‘Friend came from
where’ have being asked by Mahosadæ ‘came from this place’ they thus say
‘what your King like’ in case of ask ‘this kinds’ when they say like that having
made their likeness and set freed and hundred-one solders being called ‘friends,
gifts I giving, having taken gone to hundred-one palaces, for need to like myself
given these gifts to the Kings cared for them and having done know their
behavior and discussing then sent their news to me, dwell in that countries, ‘I
will look for your sons and wives’ having leaved words, he had sent, given an
earring on someone’s hand, a slipper on someone’s hand, a sword on someone’s
hand, a gold-flower on someone’s hand having written alphabets ‘prove, when
there is my work’ made resolution. They having gone to those countries and
given gifts to those Kings. ‘Why came here’ the Kings in case of ask they say

42
. Ræjadhamma P. 69
28

that ‘we came here care for you’. And ‘where from came here’ they, no having
said coming place informed other places, the Kings ‘if so good’ accepted and
have been their trusted person cared for them.43

It is true that a system of supervision through informers did assist in


control of the country but, looking at it from the other side, this system also
provided the malicious with an opportunity of causing injustice through
mischief-making. For this reason it was necessary that information coming from
informers should be looked at with great care to check its legality. If we look at
this case, however, there was no proper investigation of the information that was
laid against the Yaw Atwinwun (It means 1, secretary of a government
ministerial department. 2, the minister of the enterior in the days of Myanmar
monarchy), and his ill-wishers were able to watch and estimate his circumstances
so as to bring a charge against him from his casual words. There is a note in the
Upper Burma Gazetteer that makes this clear.44

When the Yaw Atwinwun was out of Mandalay, his enemies brought
malicious reports to the King. They said that the Yaw Atwinwun always said
that there was no harm in drinking liquor45; that he drank it himself; that when he
was drunk he spoke against the King and other things. The King was easily
roused to anger and sent the Artillery minister, Mahaminkhaung Nawyathæ, with
instructions to arrest the Yaw Atwinwun. The place of his arrest was Myingyan
and he was brought to Mandalay in confinement. The King, without having any
enquiry made by his officers, stripped the Yaw Atwinwun of his offices and kept
him under house arrest in Amarapþra for a time. Later the King learned that the
43
. Jæ. VI. A. Pp.234-5
44
. Ræjadhamma. Pp. 71-2
45
.Five kinds of spirituous liquor – they are made of flour and grain; made of cake, bread and sweetmeat;
made of boiled rice; mixed intoxicating assortments and combined with intoxicating accessory. Five
kinds of fermented liquor –they are: arising from flower; from fruit; from honey; from molasses and
combined with intoxicating accessory. D. III. A. P.127
29

accusations were false and regretted his action; he restored his unlucky official to
his original position and reappointed him as the Yaw Atwinwun.

The Yaw Atwinwun was a man of keen intelligence in his office. He


succeeded in whatever he worked at in accordance with this keen intelligence. It
had come about for this reason that from his youth he had carried out duties of
great importance. His sharp disposition, however, was one to bring him many
enemies, but those who wanted to be at enmity could find no fault with the Yaw
Atwinwun's ability. Consequently, it seems that they attacked him with the liquor
business, knowing the King's personal prejudices and that he had a particular
dislike of it. The Yaw Atwinwun had a good understanding of the life led by
those who get close to and manage kings. Because of this understanding he had
the strength to bear with his enemies. In the Chronicles, the Histories and other
records we do not find him retaliating46.

10. Scientist

In our own time there is a separate branch of science that provides the
method of examining outstanding branches of knowledge on a comparative basis
to establish a truth. It is the custom of people who follow scientific enquiry to
examine anything that has come down to them from their parents and only to
accept it after examination. For us, if it has come down from our ancestors that
earth is white, then we take it as white. A scientist, on the other hand, may accept
a general assurance that something is white, but may say “Why do you call it
white? If you are to call it white, let that be the truth.” If he has any doubt about
it, he will look at it.

46
.Ræjadhamma P. 72
30

Then, whether it is really white, or not, he will be able to say for certain
which it is. When he says the white thing is white, it becomes more effectively
white and all doubts disappear and there is no room for differences of opinion.
Still, when you show that their “white” is not white, however plain it may be that
it is not, those who give great weight to custom will give you an argument. In
particular, when you put ancient beliefs and certainties to the test, even while you
are producing arguments that are axiomatic, logical and with textual support,
since they do not fit with the hearers' preconceptions, many criticisms will break
out and you will be accused of being a revolutionary. On the path of knowledge,
looking closely at such criticisms over and over again will lead you to the truth.47
Such an inspection that turned over for examination the ideas and beliefs
received by the people in general would be in a way to affirm the Kælæma Sutta
which was pronounced by the Lord. Let us take as careful a look at the Kælæma
Sutta as the limited space allotted to this essay will allow, remembering that in
order to understand the Buddha's utterances correctly it is essential to take
account of his own intentions in making them.

The passage that has been cited so often runs as follows: "Come,
Kælæmas. Do not go upon what has been acquired by repeated hearing, nor upon
tradition, nor upon rumour, nor upon scripture, nor upon surmise, nor upon
axiom, nor upon specious reasoning, nor upon bias toward a notion pondered
over, nor upon another's seeming ability, nor upon the consideration 'The monk
is our teacher.' When you yourselves know: 'These things are bad, blamable,
censured by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to harm and ill,'
abandon them... When you yourselves know: 'These things are good, blameless,

47
. Ræjadhamma. P. 75
31

praised by the wise; undertaken and observed, these things lead to benefit and
happiness,' enter on and abide in them."48

This means that such an examination might be made by the scientific


methods of the time, even though those methods had been rejected by some
important people of the past. Those who disliked such methods could not reject
them as being unfounded. The scientific methods of enquiry applied into the
basic ideas of the Burmese polity and scheme of government. This enquiry was
not a matter of erasing the old to install a new replacement. ‘New’ and ‘Old’ do
not apply to the Law -- it is right to hold that good that meets your need." and:
“People say that if you go to make new rules and regulations when things in the
country are working well, you destroy the law of what must not be done, but
don't be in a hurry to believe them.” If we rely upon what is said that, in what is
old, anything that should be discarded must be discarded; in the new, what merits
adoption, should be adopted.49

11. The Social Contract and the Popular Assembly

It is correct that the principle of Burmese kingship was possession by right


of birth. This “possession by right of birth” meant that the king was the owner of
the lives of the people of the country. Because it could be said that he “owned
their lives”, we must also say that he owned all the property and wealth of the
people. Consequently, in the general usage of the Chronicles, the king is referred
to as the “Lord of Life” and as the “Lord of Land and Water”. Nevertheless,
ideas on Burmese kingship never included any sort of belief that the kings' rights

48
. A³. I. P. 190. The Sutta in which the Buddha stresses that truth-seekers should not follow authority,
but know for themselves.
49
. Ræjadhamma. P. 117
32

by right of birth were conferred by the spirits or by an Eternal God.50 This idea
that a king's rights were conferred by an eternal deity belongs to the western
countries. In the Mahæjanaka Jætaka so forth said that only one who is of power
and glory or influence can become King of a country. For example: the family
priest said to them, "Be not anxious; we must send out the festive carriage, the
king who is obtained by the festal carriage will be able to rule over all India." So
they agreed, and having decorated the city and yoked four lotus-coloured horses
to the festive chariot and spread a coverlet over them and fixed the five ensigns
of royalty, they surrounded them with an army of four hosts. Now musical
instruments are sounded in front of a chariot which contains a rider, but behind
one which contains none; so the family priest, having bid them sound the musical
instruments behind, and having sprinkled the strap of the car and the goad with a
golden ewer, bade the chariot proceed to him who has merit sufficient to rule the
kingdom. The car went solemnly round the palace and proceeded up the kettle-
drum road.51

This being so, how would the king acquire this “right by birth”? The
answer to this question may be given by the ideas on government contained in
the legend of the elevation of Mahāsammata52, (“ayaµ no ræjæ” ti mahæjanena
sammanitvæ ¥hapitattæ “Mahæsammato” ti evaµ sammatassa, that is to say: “this
is our King” thus so many people having selected and caused to be placed)53
which is in regular use by the Burmese. There was, then, when lies were being
told, a need for a man of wisdom and firmness, in order to recognize them and to
give decisions. Consequently, a gathering of men of knowledge, dexterity and

50
. “Divine Right of Kings”.
51
.Jæ. VI. A. P.48
52
. “Mahæjanasammatoti kho, vse¥¥ha, ‘Mahæsammato, Mahæsammato’ tveva pa¥hamaµ akkharaµ
upanibbattaµ.Khettænaµ adhipatøti kho, væse¥¥ha, ‘Khattiyo, Khattiyo’ tveva dutiyaµ akkharaµ
upanibbattaµ. Dhammena pare rañjetøti kho, væse¥¥ha, ‘ræjæ, ræjæ’ tveva tatiyaµ akkharaµ
upanibbattaµ.” D. III. P. 77
53
. D. I. ¿ø. P.300
33

wisdom raised a teacher named Manu (So hi sakalalokassa hitaµ manati jænætøti
Manþti vuccati. That is to say: Indeed, he is called thus Manu because he knows
benefit of the whole world)54 to be Mahāsammata. The method of this raising
was this: they joined together in urging him, saying, "Be our ruler and lord; so far
as the law allows, cast down those who deserve reproof, degrading, or exile and
raise up those who deserve help, advancement, or protection. For exercising this
control, please to accept, as the means needed for its exercise, a tithe - one part in
ten, one branch in ten branches, one weight in ten weights, one volume in ten
volumes, one flower in ten flowers – which we will give you according to the
estimated value". Those thus elevated, who rule as kings by mutual consent and
reciprocal undertakings, and those who are teachers, destined to be kings, and are
elevated to the monarchy by the three consecrations. It was in this manner then
that Mahāsammata acquired the right to rule over the people of the country55 and
it was because of this consideration that the parts to be played by the king's
family, by the Court Brahmins and by the wealthy person56 in the consecration
ceremony were laid down as shown below:

By the king’s family said, “My Lord King, will you firmly adhere to the
Law which was followed by Mahāsammata, the originator of the line of good
Kings in the beginning of the world? My Lord King, will you follow the way of
all good kings of this land in not giving way to anger, in promoting the prosperity
of all your people, in loving all your people as you love your own children, in
guarding the prosperity of all your people, in reckoning your own life as of no
more value than theirs? My Lord King, will you perform only actions of honour,
say only words of honour, plan only plans of honour?”

54
.D. I. Abinava ¿ø. P. 77
55
. D. III. P. 77
56
. Literally "rich and wealthy people" - in Burma two classes depending on royal recognition.
34

By the Court Brahmin then spoke similarly, modifying the formula, to say
“to love all living creatures as you love your own children, to guard the
prosperity of your people as your own and their lives as your own” and adding
“will you act to bring honour to the Religion? Will you always hold to the
guardianship of the Law and to listening to the words of wise counselors?”

The leader of the wealthy person completed the speech of the minister of
Brahmin saying, “In taking the people’s property as taxes, will you take care that
it is in accord with the law that you keep away from people who are worthless
and wicked in their ignorance of the Law, and that you listen to the advice of
wise scholars?”

When the consecration ceremony continued after these formulae, eight


wealthy persons spoke, “Lord King, will you accept the Water of Consecration
that we pour out? Will you act according to the precepts that we have spoken?
Will you collect from the people’s labour one part in ten as taxes for your use?
As you enjoy the rights of kingship, will you guard the people with your law?
Lord King, through your acting according to what we have said, benefits will
increase, both in the present and through the ages; the royal glory will flourish
like the new risen sun and the waxing moon as the days pass. All princes of the
land will come to bow their heads in full allegiance. Thieves and robbers will
keep the peace. The Religion (sāsanā) will be established in brightness, not short
of food and drink. While the people bring daily their gifts to the King with their
blessings, he will enjoy a life passing the century. If it is not thus, and the
kingdom is not set firm according to our words, the consecration oath that is
undertaken by good and upright kings is destroyed; on the sphere of the earth
great storms fall, the earthquakes, the earth itself splits open and the fires of hell
roar out in a blaze, crushing all to powder. Men are destroyed and burned. In
rebellions robbers and thieves set up their banners by sunlight and moonlight.
35

Birds of the air, birds of ill-omen, witches, demons, and ghosts come upon the
palace; they cause trouble and fear. Cobras and hamadryads are drawn in and
devour.”57 This was the wealthy persons’ pronouncement.

In the ceremony of consecration that has been described, the ritual


speeches offered at the present time to those who had been appointed to the
leadership of the people were adapted from and modeled on those with which the
people swore their faith and loyalty to the king, when Mahāsammata was raised
to that rank and carried the same sense. The point about collection of taxes
according to the Law and listening to the advice of men of the Law derives from
the Pā¹i “Dhammena samena rajjaṃ kāreti”58 “The King should rule in
accordance with the Law”, which is the ancient customary statement.

“Most excellent king! We, the royal kindred, the Brahmin, and the
wealthy person pour out the water of consecration upon you for the sake of
prosperity and for our own protection. Lord King! Will you exercise your rule as
King in accordance with the Law? Will you keep a mind to serve the prosperity
of us all, royal kindred, Brahmin and wealthy person, with the same loving care
as you give to those of your own golden house? Will you keep a mind of kindly
goodwill which is well-being? Will you take care of us all, royal kindred,
Brahmin and wealthy person? Excellent Lord King! So long as you rule in
accordance with our words, it will be very well. If you fail in this, Lord King
may your head shatter into seven parts!” 59

This custom of consecrating come from pig, thus, has said like this in the
Jætaka- they consecrated Tacchasþkara as their king, making him sit on a fig-tree,
57
. The end part of this recitation is in rough verse. Presumably delivered in a chant.
58
. Jæ. III. A. P.8 Dhamma mean those are five precepts, ten ways of actions of virtue and pursuing a
wrong course of conduct. D. II. A. P. 35. D. I. A. P. 223. Sama means there punish other conform to
crime and lets to go victory and defeated. Dh. II. A. 242
59
. D. I. Abhinava ¿ø. II. Pp. 79-80
36

and sprinkling water on him from a conch shell, with its spirals turning clockwise
the one the ascetic had used for drinking. Hence, the custom of seating a king on
a throne of fig-wood kept up and sprinkling water from a conch shell at his
coronation.60

Considering what has been said above, as the general ideas of the western
nations developed, the notion that the rights of royalty were the gift of an eternal
God was overturned. The belief that a popular assembly should undertake to be
the guarantor of a contract of mutual observance between the State and the
People became accepted and this was the general trend of affairs. The idea of the
popular assembly as the guarantor was propounded 400 years before the
Christian era by the famous philosopher named Plato and his writings have been
studied ever since his time. In England in the kingdom of Wessex in about 920
AD, a form of oath is found: “Lord King! If you guard and protect us suitably to
our needs, we shall maintain our faith and loyalty to you.” The drift of this
recorded oath was to set up the popular assembly to the end that the king and the
people might be bound by a mutual commitment. This guarantee from the
existence of a popular assembly was proposed in 1250 by St. Thomas Aquinas,
in 1690 by John Locke, in 1748 by David Hume and in 1776 by Jean-Jacques
Rousseau in various works. Thus, this principle little by little grew firmer and
came to prevail. In our country, from the time when the civilizing influence of
the Buddhist religion entered Burma, the legend of the elevation of
Mahāsammata was accepted.

Nevertheless, if it is looked at against the times when the people of the


country made no advance, the kings who ruled forgot the principle and habitually
identified government only with power as they drew in sustenance from the
people of the land. For a good example of this accumulation of power by ruling

60
. Jæ. IV. A. P. 348
37

princes, the lineage of the Candaravaṃsa (Lunar) and of the Ādiccavaṃsa (Solar)
races devoted themselves to their own glory. There were some kings even who
received the title of Bodhisattva. When things got to this point, it was getting
pretty close to the European idea of a right conferred by an eternal God.61

12. Royalty under Law

In describing a king, a distinction is made between a “king by


consecration (muddhābhiseka)62” and an “ordinary king”.63 A king who has
water poured over his head according to custom is called a “king by
consecration”. Otherwise, he is merely an “ordinary king”. King who is
consecrated by kings’ consecration which succeeds with three features
(possession with tradition-performance, bringing of king’s condition and
becoming of consecration on top of head) perfects king’s majestic, power and
authority.64

The ruler, who is perfect include the ten-fold law of royal conduct and the
four rules of Saṅgaha of which we have spoken , may indeed be called a king. If,
however, a single one of the country's "limbs" is lacking to him, the kingdom
cannot amount to much and he may lack the respect of its people as a whole. The
mass of the people will be divided into separate interests.

We must take another look at the system of government that was


undergoing change from the beginning of King Mindon's reign. Under this King,
the officials and their leaders were working within the law to devolve upon
themselves all the powers invested in the absolute monarchy. Foreign

61
. Ræjadhamma. Pp.88-9-90-6-7
62
. "Lustration of the head" - formal consecration as king.
63
. antepurasikkāpada Ratanavagga Pācittiyapāli vinayapiṭaka
64
. D. I. Abhinava ¿ø. II. P. 79
38

relationships, in which the king would have special expertise, would by law be in
his personal control, under considerations of prudence. There was therefore a
strong movement towards making changes by stages. The evidence for this is
that, right from the time when the King assumed the throne, changes were made
removing certain of the King's powers, which were taken up by the parliament;
for example the improved methods of tax collection and the system of ruling
through four separate ministries, among others. To see how far these changes
went, we have to say that, in the matter of King Mindon's appointment of the
Thonnzel, Methkaræ and Nyaungyan Princes as governor, the appointment, made
without the agreement of the parliament, was only effective until the Princes
were arrested and placed in confinement. There was then an intention of
changing the mode of government but it cannot be said that the parliament had
yet gained complete control of the changes. It might be said that the above-
mentioned business of appointing the princes as governor by the King only
amounted to a death-bed action and the power of the parliament was fully
effective. In fact, the governing powers had not yet been firmly established in the
parliament. However, the basic rules of government by the committee of
parliament ministers who had access to the King were beginning to emerge.65 It
says that the ministers established a scheme for government under law; they set
up an assembly under the name of the parliament for ruling the country.
According to the document establishing this assembly, no proclamation of an
order or of an appointment might be issued by anyone without the agreement of
the assembly.

13. Fourteen Departments of Government

65
. Ræjadhamma. P.109
39

We have shown above how King Mindon devised the system in which the
four ministers controlled the four departments into which government business
was divided. However, only a part of the royal power was actually handed over
to the four departments. The four ministers who were at the head of these four
departments were only established in a right to be consulted. It was only when
the time of King Mindon’s sickness came that the four ministers could override
the King’s power.

Now, when King Thībaw had just come to the throne, it seemed that there
was an excellent opportunity for changing the system of government and,
therefore, the plans for government gradually expanded.

The distribution of business between fourteen departments was a separate


decision taken at the meeting in the North Garden in 1240 (1878). The fourteen
departments were what are now called “Ministries”. They were –

1. Agriculture

2. Handwork industries

3. Land warfare

4. Taxation

5. Religious knowledge

6. Purisamedha66

7. Sassamedha 67

8. Criminal Justice
66
. S.I. A. P. 133. Purisamedha, “wisdom in handling men” refers to outgoing payments (mostly in
salaries).
67
.Sassamedha, “wisdom in handling crops” refers to money coming in from taxation.
40

9. Civil Justice

10. Water-borne warfare

11. Foreign Affairs

12. Partnerships

13. Town and village affairs

14. Mechanized industries

If we look at how, in modern times, ministries are formed, we shall be


able to recognise these fourteen departments, but I believe that it will be best to
give a clear explanation of the old usages and an explanation follows. The
department dealing with “Handwork industries” is that which dealt with public
building works. What is now called the “Defense Department” is that which was
called “Land warfare” and it now includes “Water-borne warfare”, which was
then separate. The duty of the “Human Resources” department (purisamedha)
was that of supervising the King’s personal estates.

In modern times it would be referred to as the Treasury. The


“Foreign Affairs Department” still dealt with foreign affairs, but the department
dealing with “Partnerships” was then separate. Its duties were to deal with legal
cases involving foreigners in co-operation with the Agent of the appropriate
foreign country. In particular, at this time when a British subject was the subject
of a criminal case in a foreign country, the British had the right of an
extraterritorial jurisdiction in association with the local authorities. This was the
origin of the “Partnership” department. The “Town and Village Affairs”
department was the department concerned with the administration and control of
territories outside of the capital area. The remit of the “Mechanised Industries”
department was that of the present “Department of Industries”.
41

Once the division of government functions between the fourteen


departments had been devised, the meetings of the parliament took a different
shape. Formerly the parliament held three sessions in the day -- the morning
session, the midday session and the evening session. In the new arrangement
ministers did not attend to make individual decisions, as the minister of the
parliament had done. Rather, the sessions were called on the lines of western
countries’ Parliaments. According to the MMOS68 there were sixty-four officials
who attended the meetings of the parliament. These officials were divided into
three grades in accordance with Abihnaµ sannipætæ69; those who attended the
first level, the second level and the third level meetings. The first level was for
the ministers, the secretary of a government ministerial department or the
minister of the interior (in the days of Myanmar monarchy) and the officer who
assisted the parliament ministers in the days of Myanmar dings or gazette officer
of sub-divisional rank in colonial days., who had the prime responsibility and,
according to the MMOS, it was a meeting of fifteen officers.

Since the business of government had been divided between fourteen


ministries, it seems that this should have been fourteen officers. The second
level meeting was held between members of the group of executive ministers,
such as the ministers of Cavalry, the ministers of trade and commerce and the
Infantry ministers. The third level meetings were attended by the officers
guarding the palace compound, army officers and, always, the officer guarding
the palace’s Red Gate. Officials attending these three levels of meetings had the
responsibility of making laws and therefore all these officials can be compared

68
. MMOS Chapter 04 P. 171
69
. D. II. A. P.107. A³. III. A. P. 151
42

with the old parliament ministers. They were not, however, appointed by popular
election.70

14. The Native Democracy

In the Sārandada Sutta of A³guttaranikæya Pæ¹i71 scriptures the Lord gave


his attention to the Licchavī princes and pronounced the seven rules of
Aparihāniya, which are

1. Consultation in a body

2. Acting by consensus

3. Behaviour in accordance with the law

4. Respect for the admonishments of superiors

5. No oppression of women

6. Respecting the rites of the spirit guardians of the towns and villages

7. Protection for the monkhood.

70
. Ræjadhamma. Pp.111-2
71
. A³.II. P.407
43

The meaning of the word Aparihāniya is “what cannot be diminished or


destroyed”. It can be said therefore that the rules of Aparihāniya are the rules of
progress. Among these elements of progress, that which is called Sannipāta, the
rule of the assembly; that which is called Samagga on the conduct of business in
agreement; that which is called paññatta on the drafting and enactment of laws,
are all essential parts of what in our own time is the legal system known as
“democracy”. “If a country is ruled by the authority of only one or two men,
there will be much wrong and distress done to what common people there are,
and therefore the authority must not lie with one or two men.

If there is a general meeting between the Prince and his ministers and
officials, there will be no chance of wrong and distress.” We adduce this as good
evidence of how the aim should be government by the will of the majority. A
basic law that government is carried on by the will of the majority is of the first
importance. However, while the institution of government by the will of the
majority and the rights of the people are both of great importance, of no less
importance is the responsibility lying upon the people. For those who submit to
the government to be in debate with the governors is a distribution of rights, and
the responsibility is equally divided.

The ministers gave great importance to the legislative system, and in


explaining it based on the experience had accumulated of the British
parliamentary system. It explained how the British parliament consists of two
Houses, one of a “group of important people selected by agreement from the
towns and villages of the country”, and the other of “a group of people who
entered it according to their lineage”. In their legislating duty the two Houses had
to work so as to preserve Sannipæta and Samagga, to be united in keeping the
rule of Aviroddhana, and to set in place the four rules of sa³gaha. In this
demonstration he also showed how in forming a consensus of the will of the
44

majority of the people, both government newspaper houses and popular


newspaper houses had responsibilities. In the matter of newspapers, in 1868
(1230)72 under King Mindon the Yadanabon Newspaper first appeared.73

Among the Burmese the virtue of Hirø and Ottappa is recognised. This is a
double rule separated out the two parts for discussion of their essential natures.
Hirø applies to oneself. It means to be ashamed for oneself. Ottappa on the other
hand applies to the external, the outside, another person; it is the fear arising
from bad conduct when an ill deed is brought into the open by another. Put
otherwise, Hirø is the shame that is felt when you know that you have behaved
badly; Ottappa is the fear from knowing that you will be blamed by others for
your bad behaviour. To speak in modern terms, it is the respect that one has for
public opinion.74

15. Roots of the Dictatorship

We applied the scientific methods of enquiry into the basic ideas of the
Burmese polity and scheme of government. This enquiry was not a matter of
erasing the old to install a new replacement. ‘New’ and ‘Old’ do not apply to the
Law -- it is right to hold that good that meets your need." And: “People say that
if you go to make new rules and regulations when things in the country are
working well, you destroy the law of what must not be done, but don't be in a
hurry to believe them.” In the time after the British had annexed one part and
another of the Kingdom of Burma, the population of Upper Burma was much
reduced75. When we considered this circumstance, even though the English were

72
. 1868 - The year in which Ahee opened the Burma Herald operations in Yangon.
73
. Ræjadhamma. P. 122
74
. Abhi. I. A. P. 168
75
. The rapid loss of population to the British territory in the 1860s was a great worry to Burmese
Authorities.
45

a different people he had always to keep in mind the Three Rules for dealing with
under population in a country that are given in the Tika Nipāta of A³guttara
Nikāya76 scripture. They are:

1. Incestuous lusts for women of one's close kindred and desire for twenty
other types of women and such transgressions are called Adhammarāga
(wrongful desires).

2. Dishonest gains taken by cunning tricks that are beyond one’s due or
taken by oppressive means are called Visamalobha (unfair profit).

3. The master's duty, the servant's duty, the teacher's duty, the pupil's
duty, the husband's duty, the wife's duty, all such duties are set out in the Siṅgāla
Sutta77 and they are to be followed. The fault that lies in not following them is
called Micchādhamma (wrong course of life).78

On normal considerations we should only have regard to the fact that the
English, after they had taken over Lower Burma, had worked to spread
prosperity by governing in accordance with laws and by raising up the people by
establishing new lands for them, and in this had outdone the Burmese rule.
However, as we considered these facts and their basic causes, determined that the
system of rule set up by the Kings of Burma was pervaded by lawless passion,
corrupt gains and false beliefs. The cause of this had to be thought about.
Coming to the truth, the fact was that the principles that had been followed for
more than 2400 years were principles that only fitted their original time.

In discussing the war of words between King of Devas and the Asuræ
Lord Vepacitti, he considered the opinion “fools are checked by violent

76
. A³. I. Pp. 159-160
77
. D. III. P.153
78
. D. III. P. 36
46

punishment”. It rejected this view. The governing rule of the Asuræ Vepacitti and
his legal principle was that to put an end to criminality, the imposition of severe
punishment was needed. In the time of the Mindon this would have been the
view that was in vogue. King of Devas’s view with which he attacked it was not
as yet well-known. It is not possible for ideas that belong to a later time to come
to birth. Still, from the point of view of today, it is hard for progressive nations to
hold to the opinion of the Asuræ Vepacitti.79

16. Fall in number of houses in the villages of Burma

During the reign of King Hsinbyushin of Hanthawadø80 in Burma, his


armies, drawn just from Burmese and Talaing territories for the expedition
against Thailand, included between forty and fifty divisions of 12,000 men each,
besides those left to guard the kingdom,. When Your Majesty's great grandfather,
the founder of Amarapþra,81 marched against Thailand, his armies amounted to
forty divisions of 10,000 men. In 1857 CE the number of separate households in
the Shan country was 400,000; today only just over 200,000 are left. In the time
of Your Majesty's great grandfather, the founder of Amarapþra, in the four
quarters of the city and its four suburbs, there were 70.000 houses, but only
40,000 were left in the reign of his great grandfather.82 When Your Majesty's
father moved his capital to Mandalay, there were no more than about 20,000 left.
During the time of the Burmese kings’ rule over the three districts of one division
the taxation register was 70,000, worth about K-1,000,000. At present, the
collection is K-10,400,000.83 It is because of those deplorable three principles
that our towns and villages are being destroyed and it must be the constant object
79
. S. I. P. 223
80
. Otherwise Bayin-naung (1551-1581)
81
. Alaunghpaya (1752-1760)
82
. Badon-min (Bodawhpaya) (1781-1819)
83
. An area under British rule is indicated
47

of our kings and their ministers to devote all their efforts to their eradication. It is
right that they should be suppressed.
Places that have no regular market or town wall are called Gæma in Pæ¹i,
which translates as “village”. If it has only a market, but no town wall, it is
referred to as Nigam. With both market and town wall it becomes Nagara or
“city”.84 A city in which a king resides is Ræja¥hænø;85 one in which no king lives
is Sækhanagara. A place in which people of a single classification live together is
Janapada, though it may also be called Ra¥¥ha, which means “division”.86 The
Burmese quarter, the Talaing quarter and the Thailand quarter are all Janapada. A
territory over which a king has the sole rule is called Rajja, which has the
meaning of “country”.

84
. Simævi. P. 45
85
. S. II. ¿ø. P. 252 /Abhidhæna ¿ø. P.148
86
. Vi. I. A. II. P. 160/ Pæcittayædi. P. 173