Minkyi Swa Saw Ke, Wunzin Pho Yaza and Meikhtila Lake


Maha Saddhama Jotikadhaja
Sithu Dr. Khin Maung Nyunt


Minkyi Swa saw ke [1368-1401 A.D] was the third king of First Ava dynasty [1364-1555 A.D]. During his reign,  in the year 1369, the embankments of Meikhtila Lake broke due to heavy rains in high monsoon. He came out from his capital Ava with a large body of retinue and stayed in a temporary Palace built not far from the Lake. With him were irrigation engineers, hydrologists, metriologists, astronomers, astrologers and many experts on maintenance, repair and renovation of such work. On inspection of the Lake, the king found a grand nat-spirit shrine with a gilt idol of a beautiful lady in it. On enquiry about this shrine, no one of his retinue could give answer. Meanwhile, a cart arrived at the shrine and the cart man offered pickled tea and flowers to the idol and propitiated. When the king asked the cart man about the idol, the cart man told that he was just doing what others do. But if the king wanted to know about the shrine, there was a knowledgeable young man called Sar-toe Nge Nyo who was a Son-in-law of head-man of Wunzin village, who might be able to tell about the Shrine. The king sent his equestrian messenger to bring Sar-toe Nge Nyo to him.
Wunzin Pho Yaza. To the north east of Meikhtila Town, about 10miles distance there was a village named Wunzin. At this village lived a herbalist doctor Saya Ohn and his wife Daw Cho. In 1347 A.D a son was born to them. At the time of his birth a big meteor flew from the east to the west crossing the sky above the village. So the parents named their son Mr Metcor [Maung Ukkar]. The parents sent their son Maung Okkar at the age of 6years to the village monastic school for education. The son proved a brilliant pupil who mastered all teaching subjects. His father passed away when he reached the age of 8years. The mother sent the son to another monastery and under the Abbot of that monastery Maung Okkar mastered all teaching subjects, Niti Treates and books almost by heart. Besides he showed his hobby of gathering any piece of knowledge, information or literary works. He would join the gatherings of adults and aged to listen or to participate in their talks and noted down all those worth noting. He copied stone inscriptions, ink writings of temples and pagodas, collecting pieces of manuscripts which he kept at home or farm house. His friends found him funny and they jokingly nick named him Sar toe Nge Nyo [literary collector Nge Nyo]. At the literary circles, he could contribute his knowledge. He was not only knowledgeable but also eloquent in his talk. Using simile, metaphors and his own teachnique of delivery, citing proverbs, old sayings, fables legends and tales, history and archaeology, he made his audience spell bound and informed.
At the age of 15 he was a young farmer, ploughing fields to support his aging mother while at the same time ardently pursing his hobby of research, collection of literary pieces and literary talks. His name’ Sar toe Nga Nyo spread far and wide. On reaching late teen age, he fell in love with Mei Chit, daughter of the headman U Moe who held a very low opinion of Maung Ukkar who was not a hard working farmer but a talker and collector of literary pieces. As his daughter married Maung Ukkar, U Moe gave them a pair of cattle, a cart, 3 pes of paddy fields, a cart load of paddy and kitchen utensil and let them stay at their own farm house.
Maung Okkar was his name mentioned in his horoscope [palm leaf birth certificate]. His real name was Maung Nyo. Villagers and friends combined his name and his hobby in a rhymed name Sar toe [collected of literary pieces] and Nge Nyo [his name Nyo]. His name spread far and wide as the most learned and knowledge able young man.
In 1368 A.D while king Minkyi Swa Saw Ke was repairing the embankments of Shi Shar Lake he found a nat spirit shrine with an idol of a beautiful lady in it, on the embankment. As no one of his retinue was able to tell him about it he sent his equestrian messager to Wun Zin village to bring Sar toe Nge Nyo to him.
Sar Toe Nge Nyo knew that he would be used by the king in royal service. He tied the horns of his farm cattles with sprigs of Eugenia [Tha byey] leaves and set them free and donated his farm lands to religion. On hearing that, his father-in-law was very angry and called his daughter to come back to him, since her husband was in danger of royal punishment.
On presenting him to the king, Sar toe Nge Nyo replied to the King’s question without delay. “Your Majesty, it is not a nat-spirit shrine. Neither was the idol of a beautiful lady a female nat-spirit. In the reign of king Anawrahta of Bagan, this Lake was badly damaged by heavy rain in high monsoon. The king came out with his retinue, including irrigation engineers, hydrologists, metreologists, astrologers and other experts and stationed in a temporary Palace not far from the Lake. The king personally supervised the works. One day one Sawbwa from Kamboza [a vassal king of Anawrahta] came to pay respects to Anawrahta with the tribute of his beautiful daughter named Saw-Khin Hla in marriage to the king, who raised her to a lesser queen [concubine] she was so beautiful that the king always kept her near him. After a few months, she died of malaria. The king was so sad that he forget to bury her body. The ministers made a gold statue in the likeness of Saw Khin Hla and kept it near the king. They buried her dead body in that place on the embankment. When the repair and renovation works were finished, the king returned to his capital. His ministers objected to bringing the gold statue of Saw Khin Hla to the capital as it was in-auspicious. They buried in a strong chamber made in the embankment just above her dead body. They built a memorial on this spot with a gilt idol of her in it. In course of time local people, thinking that she was the guardian spirit of the Lake, began to worship and propitiate it. If Your Majesty order to excavate the place, you will recover the gold status, Sir.”
When the shrine was removed and its ground was excavated a gold statue and the skeleton of Siw Khin Hla in the coffin beneath it were recovered. The king was highly impressed by Sar Toe Nge Nyo’s vast knowledge and personality. He deserved a royal service, not a farmer here. But he was young, only 21 years in age. Therefore the king appointed him a junior minister with the title Sitapyit Amat. He, his wife and his father-in-law and household were taken to the capital Ava. In 1368 A.D he was promoted with the title Min Yaza and many rewards were given him. After Minkyi Swa Saw Ke, king Min Khaung raised him to the status of Akyitaw Min [Royal Counsllor] with many awards. His native village’s name was prefixed to his titles such as Wun Zin Min Yazar, Wun Zin Pho Yazar. From the reign of Minkyi Swa Saw Ke, Sin Byu Shin Tayaphayar to Inwa Ming Khaung, he served faithfully three kings in successibn. He carried out political, diplomatic and religious works with diligence and sincerity. In 1423 A.D at the old age of 74 he passed away peacefully.
Because of learnedness and vast knowledge he acquired by his hobby and perseverance, he reached the summit of his successes from a mere farmer to the king’s adviser and counsellor, under three successive kings. But he never forgot his native counsellor village. In 1379 A.D just eleven years after his appointment as Sitapyet Amat, he reached the age of 32 years, he built at his native village Ein Kone Ywa, Shwezigon Zedi Pagoda with 21 minor Zedis around it. Shwezigon Zedi measures 32 cubits high, 32 cubits at the base and 128 cubits on all four sides. 21 minor zedis surrounded it to mark his age 21 when he became Sitapiyrit Amat and his age 32 when he became Wun Zin Min Yaza.
The outstanding achievements of Wun Zin Min Yaza were recorded in Myanmar chronicles. Among them, his diplomacy in putting an end to long-drawn-out Mon-Myanmar conflicts between Ava and Hamsavadi was most noteworthy. The writer of this Article had contributed a research paper on this subject in Thar Kaung Ta-man annual Magazine [om;aumif;wrefr*¾Zif;] published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Here is a brief of his diplomatic tour de force.
Wun Zin Min Yazar advised both King Min Khaung of Ava and King Rajadarit of Hamsavadi, on the futility and destruction of war and peace and utility of ending war by means of dynastic marriages a&T*a[csif; qufjcif;jzifh
ESpfjynfaxmifa&Tvrf;aiGvrf;yGifhap [By means of dynastic marriages between King Min Khaung and his royal family and king Rajadarit and his royal family the two kingdoms were united and thus there was free flow of trade and commerce to and fro between Upper Myanmar Ava Kingdom] and Lower Myanmar [Hamsavadi] and beyond [Overseas]. King Min Khaung’s sister and daughter were given in marriage to King Rajadarit and vice versa. Thus King Min Khaung and King Rajadarit each became father-in-law and brother-in-law to each other. The war ended forever. The two kings wept when they heard the news of the death of each other. There were records of many cases of domestic and foreign affairs which Wun Zin Pho Yaza settled with his diplomacy par excellence.
His monuments in the form of Pagodas with stone inscriptions are located in the area around Meikhtila Lake and Wun Zin village. There is a hotel name Wun Zin Hotel at Meikhtilar Town today. The writer, in his capacity as Director General of the Fine and Performing Arts Department 1965-1973 had produced with the help of Saya Zaw Gyi, [U Thein Han], K (U Khin Zaw) and U Myat Kyaw [Sinbaungwei Min Min] a ballet “Wun Zin Pho Yazar” which was a hit at home and abroad.

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