The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called ‘Rakhine-pray’ [ရခုိင္ျပည္] by its own peoples, Rakhine-thars (Arakanese) [ရခုိင္သား (သုိ႔မဟုတ္) ရခုိင္လူမ်ဳိး]. The word “Arakan” was a derivation of the ancient word “Arakha-de-sha” (the land of the people who preserve their nation and national identity) which is found in line forty of Anandachandra inscriptions of the Shitethaung pillar [သွ်စ္ေသာင္းပုထုိးေက်ာက္စာတုိင္].
What is Rakhine? [ရခုိင္]
According to the Arakanese chronicles, the word ‘Rakhine’ [ရခုိင္] was originated from Rakhapura [ရကွ်ပူရ] and it means the original inhabitants of Rakhapura [ရကွ်ပူရ]. Arakhadesha [အာရကွ်ေဒသ] > Rakhasa [ရကွ်သ] > Rakkha [ရကွ်] > Rakkhaing [ရကဳိင္] > Rakhaing [ရခုိင္] In Pali [ပါဌိ] the word ‘Rakhaing’ [ရခုိင္] is used to honour the people who love their nation, and preserve their national heritage, and their traditional ethics or morality [သီလ].
What is Rakhapura?
Rakhapura [ရကွ်ပူရ] is the former name of Rakhine-pray’ [ရခုိင္ျပည္]. Arakanese people today do not use the term 'Rakhapura' to mention their land. But, every Arakanese love the word “Rakhapura” [ရကွ်ပူရ] as they assume that it is a unique word for only Arakanese in this universe. It can also be found in both classical and modern Arakanese plays, poetry and songs. Both Rakhapura and Rakhine-pray means the land that is owned and inhabited by the Arakanese.
A Brief History of Arakan
The Arakanese history records the early Arakanese to migrate in Arakan and settled down there since time immemorial. The independent and sovereign Buddhist Kingdom of Arakan had been splendidly flourishing from 3325 B.C. until 1784 AD. During the time Arakan was ruled by the skilled and powerful kings, Decca (present capital of Republic of Bangladesh, Dhaka) area as far a field as Mushidabad (near present day Calcutta) was most of the time under Arakanese rule.
Arakan's fame and glory has steadily declined when it was succeeded and ruled by the unqualified kings. Arakan's second largest port city,Chittagong and other districts of Bengal were invaded and occupied by the Moghal in 1666 AD. Arakan's second largest port city, Chittagong was invaded and occupied by the Moghul in 1666 AD and subsequently Arakanese territory of 12 Bengal cities were lost to the Maghul.
After the Moghal invaded and annexed part of the Arakanese territories, internal instability and dethroning of kings had happened very often in Arakan Court. Taking opportunity in the overall weakness inside the country, the Burmese King U Wine violated the good-friendly neighbour's ethics and dispatched his invading forces into Arakan in mid-November, 1784 and occupied it by the end of 1784.
The national independence of Arakan and sovereignty of the Arakan Kingdom were lost on 31 December 1784 (7 waxing day of Pratho 1146 AE.) when it was invaded and subjugated by the Burman King Maung Wyne. The people of Arakan became enslaved. The national flag hoisted in honour of the nation on the top of the Royal Assembly Hall was dropped. The dignity, the honour and the prestige of the Rakhine as a FREE NATION had terminated immediately after loss of independence.
The Rakhine State
Today Arakan is known as Rakhine state under the Union of Burma (Myanmar) and Arakanese belong to one of the eight major ethnic races of Myanmar namely: Chin, Shan, Kachin, Karen, Karenni, Mon, Rakhine and Bama.
Today area of Arakan is located between Lat. 16' 00" N- Lat. 21' 20" N and Long. 92' 20" E- Long. 95' 20" E. Arakan is known as one of the poorest states in Myanmar.
Buddhism was introduced into Arakan during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Arakanese chronicles, Lord Buddha, accompanied by his five hundred disciples, visited the city of Dhannyawadi (Grain blessed) in 554 B.C. King Chandra Suriya and all the people converted to Buddhism and became Buddhists since then. The king requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of Himself to commemorate the event before he left Arakan and Lord Buddha consented it. This was the famous Mahamuni (Great Sage) image, known throughout the Buddhist world and desired by kings who sought to conquer the country in order to carry away this powerful prize. The history of this image is entwined with that of Arakan. After casting the Great Image Mahamuni, Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likeness of the Blessed One.
The tradition of the origin of the Mahamuni image can be interpreted as an allegorical account of the introduction of Buddhism to Arakan. The first evidence we have of Buddhism is in the early sculpture of the Mahamuni shrine at Dhanyawadi.
Arakanese, to show their utmost respect to King Chandra Suriya who had donated Mahamuni Shrine and introduced Buddhism into Arakan, have been using the signs of Sun and Moon as the most sacred symbols throughout the history until today.
These symbols can be found in all ancient coins of Arakan, as well as present-day flag and seal of Rakhine state of the Union of Burma.
For more information about Arakanese history, please visit our Scholars' Column.
External Links related to Arakanese historical books and documents
The following list are copied from http://www.mornrazagree.blogspot.com/.
(1) A political Analysis (Series 1)
(2) AFPFA (Series 2)
(3) Bo Gree Kra Hla Aung (Series 3)
(4) The Third Dimension of 8-8-88 ( Series 4)
(5) The Strategies and Tactics After 8-8-88 (Series 5)
(6) The Struggle of Hidden Colony and Globalization (Series 6)
(7) The Prisoner of Mandalay and Democracy Part I (Series 7)
(8) The Prisoner of Mandalay and Democracy Part II (Series 8)
(9) The People's Republic of Arakan and Her Concept I (Series 9)
(10) The People's Republic of Arakan and Her Concept II (Series 10)
(11) The Arakan Republic and Decolonization of Burma (Series 11)
(12) An Outlet of the Arakanese Rule in Southeast Bengal During
16th and 17th Century AD
(13) Buddhist Kings with Muslim Title
(14) Rock Art and Artisans in Lemro Valley, Arakan
(15) Literature on the Mrauk-U Period in Arakanese History
(16) The Remote Mysteries of Mraunk-U
(17) Thesis on Arakan Chapter 1
(18) Thesis on Arakan Chapter 2
(19) Thesis on Arakan Chapter 3
(20) Thesis on Arakan Chapter 4
(21) Thesis on Arakan Chapter 5
(22) Arakan (Fochhammer 1891)
(23) Ancient Arakan (Gutman, Pamela)
(24) Crisis and Reformation in the Kingdom of Arakan
(25) Dom Martin By Maurice Collis and San Shwe Bu
(26) Changes in Spirits Cults in Arakan
(27) Arakan, Morn RaZaGree and Portuguese
(28) Arakan Eighty Years Ago
(29) A Study of Arakan’s Subjection in Nineteenth-Century
(30) Arakan King's Letter to Dutch King
(31) Rakhaing New Historical Journal
(32) Vaishali and the Indianization of Arakan
(33) A Dicussion of Muslim Influence in Mrauk_U Period(Dr.Jacques)
(34) Rediscovering Arakan (Dr.Jacques)
(35) The Land of Historic Finds by U Shwe Zan
(36) History of Mahamuni Image
(37) The Story of Mahamuni
(38) Mahamuni Tradition
(39) The Land of Great Image (Maurice Collis)
(40) Arakan - A Promised Land
(41) History of Arakan
(42) Arakan: Past, Present and Future (John Ogilvy Hay)
(43) Arakan and First Anglo Burmese War
(44) Interpretations of Burmese World Part I
(45) The Serpent and The King
(46) The Rise and The Fall of Arakan Kingdom
(47) A Buddhist Land of Rakhaing
(48) How Mrauk-U was translated into Monkey's egg
(49) The Forgotten Cities of Arakan
(50) Marma (The Arakanese)
(51) Ancient Arakan
(52) Old Arakan (U San Shwe Bu)
(53) ရခိုင္သမိုင္း နန္႔ သံသယမ်ား (ဥဴးရြီစံ)
(54) Notes on Arakan
(55) PhD. Thesis on Arakan
(56) Stephans's Thesis on Arakan
(57) Arkanese Poem of 16th Century
(59) Arakanese Proverbs in Comparison with their counterparts in Burmese
(61) Buddhist Art of Ancient Arakan
(62) THE MAGHS
(63) So-called Rohingya and Rakhaing
(64) Influx Virus (1)
(65) Illegal Migration into Assam from Bangladesh
(67) Illegal Kular Problem in Arakan
(68) On the Evolution of Rohingya problem in Rakhine State of Burma I
(69) My Views on Rohingya
(70) Al Qaeda
(71) False Rohingya History
(72) Toward Understanding Rohingya
(73) On the Evolution of Rohingya Problem in Arakan State
(74) The Developement of Muslim Enclavement
(75) Rohingya And Migrated People in Arakan
(76) Response to Muslim Press Release the Rohingyas
(77) (Mis)Interpretation of Burmese Words Kula
(78) Identities of The Rakhaing Community (Maung Than Aye)
(79) Interview with guest Editor Stephan Van Galen
(80) Political Success of a Buddhist Boarder States (Dr.Jucques)
(81) The Rohingyas, Who are they?
(82) Burmese Responses to Indian Immigration 1
(83) Burmese Responses to Indian Immigration 2
(84) An Historian Looks at Rohingya (Dr.Aye Kyaw)
(85) Background of Rohingya Problem (Kyaw Zan Tha,MA)
(87) Burma or Myanmar
(88) Northern Arakan District by GRANT BROWN
(90) Arakan Shwe Gas
(91) Arakanese Nationalism and the Struggle for National self- determination(An overview of Arakanese political history up to 1988)
(92) Voices from Inside (Ethnics speak)
(93) The Burma We Love (Dr.Aye Kyaw)(94) Northern Arakan District by GRANT BROWN
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