Mandalay Kuthodaw (Royal Merit) Pagoda

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Information about Mandalay Kuthodaw (Royal Merit) Pagoda
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Published on February 22, 2014

Author: michaelasanda

Source: slideshare.net

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Kuthodaw Pagoda (literally Royal Merit, and formally titled Mahalawka Marazein) is a Buddhist stupa that contains the world's largest book. It lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and was built during the reign of King Mindon. The stupa itself, which is gilded above its terraces, is 188 feet (57 m) high, and is modelled after the Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung-U near Bagan

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Scale model Kuthodaw Pagoda (literally Royal Merit, and formally titled Mahalawka Marazein) is a Buddhist stupa that contains the world's largest book. It lies at the foot of Mandalay Hill and was built during the reign of King Mindon. The stupa itself, which is gilded above its terraces, is 188 feet (57 m) high, and is modelled after the Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung-U near Bagan.

In the grounds of the pagoda are 729 kyauksa gu or stoneinscription caves, each containing a marble slab inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka, the entire Pali Canon of Theravada Buddhism.

The pagoda itself was built as part of the traditional foundations of the new royal city which also included a pitakat taik or library for religious scriptures, but King Mindon wanted to leave a great work of merit for posterity meant to last five millennia after Gotama Buddha who lived around 500 BC.

When the British invaded southern Burma in the mid-19th century, King Mindon Min was concerned that Buddhist Teachings would also be detrimentally affected in the North where he reigned. As well as organizing the Fifth Buddhist Council in 1871, he was responsible for the construction in Mandalay of the world's largest book, consisting of 729 large marble tablets with the Tipitaka Pali canon of Theravada Buddhism inscribed on them in gold. One more was added to record how it all came about, making 730 stone inscriptions in total.

One of 729 marble slab inscribed on both sides with a page of text from the Tipitaka,

After the annexation of Mandalay by the British in 1885, the walled city with Mandalay Palace became Fort Dufferin, and troops were billeted all around Mandalay Hill in the monasteries, temples and pagodas. They became offlimits to the public and Burmese were no longer allowed to visit their religious sites. One revenue surveyor called U Aung Ban then came up with the idea of appealing direct to Queen Victoria since she had promised to respect all religions practised by her subjects. To their amazement and great joy the British queen promptly ordered the withdrawal of all her troops from religious precincts in 1890.

Saungdan (covered approach) to Kuthodaw from the south

Saungdan (covered approach) to Kuthodaw from the south

This however turned to great sadness when they found that the pagoda had been looted from the hti, left lying on the ground stripped of its bells, gold, silver, diamonds, rubies and other precious stones, down to the marble tiles from its terraces. The zayats (rest houses) lay in utter ruin and the bricks had been used to build a road for the troops. All the brass bells from all the kyauksa gu stupas were gone, 9 on each making it 6570 in total. The gold ink from the letters as well as the sides and top of each marble slab had also disappeared. All the biloos along the corridors had lost their heads, and the marble eyes and claws from the masonry chinthes gone.

Doors

the kyauksa gu stupas

chains for the Buddha

Saungdan (covered approach) to Kuthodaw from the south

The stupa itself, which is gilded above its terraces, is 188 feet (57 m) high, and is modelled after the Shwezigon Pagoda at Nyaung-U near Bagan.

Thirty four brick zayats (rest houses) stood all around except on the east side of the pagoda.

Zayats (rest houses) stood all around except on the east side of the pagoda.

Zayat (rest house)

Temple bell

Inga nan paya - the small Buddha shrine for the planetary post Mars (Tuesday) Chinthe, the mythical lion is the Burmese temple guardian

The main shrine at the end of the southern approach

Glasswork

Ceiling

Glasswork

Mimusops elengi (Star Flower, Spanish Cherry) Its timber is valuable, the fruit is edible, and it is used in traditional medicine. As the trees give thick shade and flowers emit fragrance. The wood is a luxurious wood that is extremely hard, strong and tough, and rich deep red in color. The heart wood is sharply defined from the sapwood. It works easily and takes a beautiful polish. Flowers have light fragrance which is retained even after flowers are dried and are used to make ornamental garlands

Mimusops elengi (Star Flower, Spanish Cherry)

Adenium obesum. Desert rose

There is, unfortunately no corresponding entry for the rock-carved books at the nearby Sandamuni Pagoda, which contains not just the Tipitaka, but the commentaries and sub-commentaries as well. How it is that the former is classed as the World's Largest Book and not the one at the Sandamuni is a mystery. The history of the Pagoda is written up in stone ….. “In M.E. 1275 [C.E. 1913], in the compound of Sandamuni Pagoda, Venerable Hermit U Khanti managed to inscribe Sutta, Vinaya and Abhidhamma from Tipitaka with complete explanation (Atthakatha and Tika) on 1772 stone slabs and a historical record was inscribed on an iron sheet and a stone slab”.

Sandamuni

The pagoda was erected on the location of King Mindon’s provisional palace. It was built as a memorial to King Mindon’s younger half-brother Crown Prince Kanaung, who had helped him seize power from Pagan Min in 1853.

Poor Crown Prince Kanaung was assassinated by 2 of Mindon’s sons who were disappointed being excluded from the succession. In 1874, King Mindon had the pagoda built near the graves of the Crown Prince .

Additionally there are 1774 marble slabs inscribed with Commentaries and Subcommentaries on the Tipitaka (Pali spelling, or Tripitaka, in Sanskrit Each is 5.5 ft high 3.5 ft wide and .5 ft thick. The project and the housings of the slabs were the result of the successful campaign in 1913 by the famous Hermit of Mandalay Hill, U Khanti (or Kanti), who also designed the iron covered causeways and devotional halls and the book-like layout of the tablets. Atthakatha Slabs, Sandamuni

A renovation underwent in 1991: uncompleted stupas housing the slabs were completed and the existing ones were repaired. In addition, the tombs of the Crown Prince and the three princes were moved to a mausoleum.

Sandamuni

Sandamuni

Text: Internet Pictures: Sanda Foişoreanu & Internet Copyright: All the images belong to their authors Presentation: Sanda Foişoreanu www.slideshare.net/michaelasanda Sound Sein Bo Tint - Burmese Traditional Orchestra leader

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