The independent Arakan Kingdom extended from AD 327 to AD 1430. Buddhism came to Arakan in a very early period. From the 4th century AD the Chandra dynasty ruled in Arakan (AD 327-776), whose rulers are believed to be related to the Chandra dynasty that ruled southeast Bengal. The Chandra Dynasty, founded by King Mahataing Chandra, moved from Dhanywaddy to Vesali on the advice of his astrologers in 327 AD. The city prospered as a river port. But these legends are shadowy and of little value, and it is not till the ninth century AD that anything definite is heard.
At the City of Vesall in Arakan nine Kings of the Chandra dynasty ruled from 788 to 957 AD. As Anawrata came to the throne in 1044 AD, the Chandra dynasty had then been subverted, and the members of the Royal Family were evidently not in affluent circumstances. As far as can be gathered from the Arakanese chronicles, the Buddhist religion remained predominant in country until the eighth century of the Christian era. A revolution then occurred during the reign of the fifty-third king in lineal descent from Kan Rajagyi. The tumult which arose is explained as resulting from the mysterious decay of the fortune, or good influence, of the ancient capital. The astrologers declared that a change of site was necessary. The king, Maha Taing Chandra, therefore left his palace, the whole of the people following, and settled at a place where a new capital, called Wethali, after the city of Vaisali in Tirhut, was built.
At that city nine kings reigned in succession bearing the surname of Chandra. Their reigns lasted for one hundred and sixty-nine years – 788 to AD 957. From coins still existing, and which are attributed to the kings of this dynasty, coupled with obscure references to their acts in the chronicles of Arakan, it appears probable that they held Brahmanical doctrines. No clue is given in the chronicles as to where these kings came from. They appear to have been foreigners, and it is possible that they were connected with the dynasty which reigned in Eastern Bengal known as the Sena Rajas, and that the period of their rule in Arakan has been antedated.
This dynasty was succeeded, or rather temporarily displaced, by a chief of the Mro tribe, whose reign, with that of his nephew, lasted for thirty-six years. A descendant of the Chandra dynasty then came to the throne, and a new site was occupied for the capital; but from the troubles which soon after arose it was abandoned. The Shans from the Upper Irawadi now invaded Arakan, and occupied it for eighteen years. They behaved like cruel conquerors, robbed the people, and plundered the temples of the valuable offerings therein. When they retired, Anoarahta, the great king of Pugan, invaded the country, desiring to obtain the famous image of Buddha. By divine interposition, the Arakanese chronicle remarks, he was persuaded to retire without carrying away what was regarded as the protector of the kingdom.
A few years later a descendant of the Chandra dynasty was, with the assistance of Anoarahta, placed on the throne. The capital was established at Pingtsa, and Arakan became tributary to the king of Pagan. It remained so for sixty years, when the reigning king, Meng Bilu, was killed by a noble who usurped the throne. The heir-apparent, Mengrebaya, fled with his wife to Pagan, where he was received by King Kyausittha. For twenty-five years the royal family remained in exile. Mengrgbaya had a son born to him, known in history as Letyamengnan. The father having died, the reigning kimr of Pugan, Alaungsithu, determined to place the son on the throne of Arakan. According to popular tradition handed down in song, an army of 100,000 Pyus and 100,000 Talaing was sent by sea and land to Arakan at the close of the rainy season. The usurper offered a stout resistance, and it was not until the following year that the restoration was effected. In the Arakanese history this invasion is placed in the year AD 995, while some chronicles place it fifteen years later than that date.