By Maung Tha (Archaeology)
We interestingly viewed a two-storey brick monastery similar to Nanmadaw Mei Nu Brick Monastery in Inwa. Thanks to Ko Pyae Phyo Aung from the administrator office of Nyaungkan Village-tract, I grasped a chance to pay visit to the precinct of such monastery among paddy fields outside Nyaungkan Village, the native land of venerable Sayadaw U Bud.
The monastery in Nyaungkan Village was built in similar design of Aungmyebonsan brick monastery built by Nanmadaw Mei Nu in Inwa. Local people call such monastery as second Nanmadaw Mei Nu Brick Monastery because of smaller than the latter.
We entered below the monastery by bending the body. The lower part of the monastery was built with rooms as a tunnel. So, guides told me these rooms might be venues for monks in taking meditation. At present, only one monk has been residing at the monastery but we missed a chance to pay homage to the monk.
Nyaungkan Village was a significant place in archaeological field due to evidences of Bronze Age in excavation of Myanmar. Moreover, it was a native land of venerable Sayadaw U Budd. Nyaungkan Village takes a position on the eastern bank of Chindwin River, five miles southwest of Budalin in Sagaing Region. It is located beside the asphalt road leading from Budalin to Kani.
An express bus leaving Yangon arrived in Monywa in the early morning. Taking a break in Monywa, the bus continued the trip and arrived in Budalin at 10 am. After visiting Budalin Township General Administration Department, I continued the trip and arrived in Nyaungkan.
I made a trip to Nyaungkan in advance for making arrangements for excursion tour of undergraduate and post-graduate students form Archaeology Department of the Yangon University to make a field trip to Nyaungkan Village of Budalin Township in Myanmar’s Bronze Age area.
We were warmly welcomed by U Soe Myint Aung from Nyaungkan Village and Ko Pyae Phyo Aung from the village administrator office. A sub-police inspector and a police sergeant from Budalin Township Police Force were assigned to take security measures at Affiliated Basic Education High School where university students would stay.
Museum of Venerable Sayadaw U Bud
We went to the place of birth of Sayadaw U Bud. The Museum of Venerable Sayadaw U Bud is opened in his place of birth on the village road in Nyaungkan. A Buda image is kept in the museum. It is not a building in the time of the venerable Sayadaw but it marks the place of birth of the Sayadaw. The museum is located in Thakhaung area. Some utensils of the Sayadaw can be seen in the museum, U Soe Mying Aung explained.
Nyaungkan was located as a large village in Badon rural area in the past. The Sayadaw mentioned salient points of his village in Pali language at the conclusion of his Pali Sadda Padarupa Siddhi Nissaya treatise. The translated story was as follows:-
“As frog could conquer snake, rat could win over cat, deer could beat tiger, a Bo tree could thrive in the land, like the area of monastery of hermit Kapila, where enemy could never achieve victory. A large lake with full brim of water took a position near Bo tree. Relying on the Bo tree and lake, a wonderful city with characteristics of royal city flourished in the past.
At a time when the city deteriorated due to lack of meritorious deeds performed by the people, a village called Nyaungkan Village emerged.”
The boy who would become venerable Sayadaw U Bud was born of U Oh and Daw Hmwe on 5th waning of Nayon, 1149 Myanmar Era, Tuesday. His native land was Nyaungkan Village of Budalin Township called Badon area in the past. He was named Maung Poke. At 8 years old, he started learning at Sayadaw U Pyay from Yadana Myinzu Monastery called the west monastery of Nyaungkan Village. He was very sharp and talented in childhood. It was reported that he could remember a sentence or a reason when he heard it three times. Whenever he returned home, he recited a learned paragraph. When he arrived at home he did not enter the house if recitation of his sentence did not end.
He learned from Sayadaw U Pyay till 13 years old. Then, the Sayadaw entrusted him at Sayadaw U Tha Pon, the neighbour of his monastery. Sayadaw U Tha Pon renamed him Maung Bud with forecast that the boy would be an unrivalled in the future due to sharpening in learning. He was novitiated at the monastery of Sayadaw U Tha Pon who titled the novice with Shin Jambudhaja which means the greatest famous one across the Universe.
The novice was always reading and reciting all the time except sleeping, eating and taking a bath as he was very interested in learning literature. The novice was ordained in 1169 ME and he became administrator of Nyaungkan Gana in 1182 ME while teaching religious literatures to more than 100 monks at Yadana Myinzu Monastery in Nyaungkan Village.
After First Abbot of Maha Aungmyebonsan Brick Monastery of Inwa Sayadaw U Poe passed away in 1192 ME, King Sagaing and First Queen Nanmadaw Mei Nu offered the monastery to Sayadaw U Bud who then resided at the monastery. The monastery was named Nanmadaw Mei Nu Brick Monastery. In May 1840, King Thayawady handed down a death sentence to Nanmadaw Mei Nu to be killed in the water in the case of rebelling against the king. On the day of death sentence, she requested the killers to pay homage to Sayadaw U Bud for the last chance. On her arrival at the monastery, she saw the Sayadaw was reading. After paying homage, she supplicated that she would be killed for the case. That day was the last chance for her to pay homage to the Sayadaw.
The Sayadaw turned to her and said, “Mi Nu, if you have debt, you must pay back.” After that, donor of the monastery Mei Nu paid homage to Sayadaw U Budd and descended from the monastery. Then, she bravely followed the killers, mentioned in the book with the title of Finding Konbaung written by author Nyo Mya.
On our way back from Sayadaw U Bud museum, we proceeded to the monastery where the Sayadaw resided in his young age. A two-storey wooden building was seen on the place of the monastery where the Sayadaw resided. The abbot of the monastery explained that the building was constructed with the use of timber posts from the monastery where the Sayadaw resided in his young age.
We saw some parts of utensils such as the post box and lamp of Sayadaw U Bud at the monastery. The post box was made of wood to store palm-leave inscriptions. A Buda image was seen in the cupboard where betel box and Kammava inscriptions on the tusk were kept.
I was much satisfied with the chance to pay visits to the monastery which was the residence of Sayadaw U Bud who had learned religious literature there. The Sayadaw was paid respects by King Sagaing and King Thayawady in Konbaung era. In descending from about 200 years old monastery after paying homage to the picture of the Sayadaw on the two-storey monastery, I have felt hearing the speech made by the Sayadaw, “if you have debt, you must pay back.”
(Translated by Than Tun Aung)
Religious history of Nyaungkan (U Sudana)
Finding Konbaung (Nyo Mya)