Bodawpaya, King

   (r. 1781-1819)
   Sixth monarch of the Konbaung Dynasty, he was the third and last of Alaungpaya's sons to occupy the throne and was one of Burma's most prominent kings. He is also known as Badon Min. During his reign, Burma enjoyed, for the last time, a period of military expansion. His coming to power resulted in a bloody purge of his rivals, and he quit the nat-infested capital of Ava (Inwa), building a new one at Amarapura. Crushing a revolt by the Mons in 1783, he invaded and occupied the Kingdom of Arakan in 1784, depriving it of its centuries-long independence and the sacred Maha Muni Image, which was brought back by his army along with 20,000 prisoners to Amarapura by way of the Arakan Yoma and the Irrawaddy (Ayeyarwady) River. He attempted unsuccessfully to subjugate the newly established Chakri Dynasty in Siam (Thailand) and allowed the East India Company to base residents at Rangoon (Yangon). However, he was basically uninterested in pursuing amicable relations with the British, who were increasingly bothered by his arrogance as well as his intervention in northeastern India (Assam).
   Bodawpaya's domestic policies combined practical and religious themes. He initiated a thorough survey of his realm's land and population for tax purposes (the "Burmese Domesday Book") and promoted public works, especially irrigation. He sought to purify the Sangha, backing orthodoxy, and sponsored the establishment of the conservative Amarapura Sect in Sri Lanka. If completed, his pagoda at Mingun would have been the tallest in the world, at 170 meters. He attempted unsuccessfully to get the Sangha to recognize him as a Future Buddha. Bodawpaya's incessant demands for manpower for public works and military expeditions imposed terrible hardship on the population, especially in Arakan, which fanned insurgency that was a contributing cause of the First Anglo-Burmese War. Although a tyrant, he was the classical Burman ruler, in the words of one observer, "a masterful man who never hesitated to punish."

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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