Anawrahta, King

   (r. 1044-1077)
   Also known as Aniruddha, the Burman (Bamar) founding king of the Pagan (Bagan) Dynasty and the first unifier of Upper Burma and Lower Burma. He established what is sometimes called the "First Burmese (Myanmar) Empire." Conquering the Mon city-state of Thaton in 1057, he brought its ruler, Manuha (or Makuta) and 30,000 of his subjects back to Pagan (Bagan). This resulted in a transformation of the culture of the unsophisticated and warlike Burmans, who were deeply influenced by the older and more refined art, literature, and manners of the Mons. In effect, the Mons were intermediaries who brought the Burmans into the mainstream of Indo-Buddhist civilization. The earliest monuments at Pagan are of Mon design, and the Burmans adapted the Mon writing system to their own language. But the most important development of Anawrahta's reign was his recognition of Theravada Buddhism as the state religion, largely through the influence of a Mon monk, Shin Arahan. Among the booty brought back from Thaton were copies of the Pali Tipitaka. Anawrahta curbed, but did not eliminate, Mahayana influences, and established the pantheon of 37 nats, enshrined at the Shwezigon Pagoda, who were an important though subordinate feature of later Burmese religious life. His realm apparently included most of modern Burma, including parts of Arakan, Tenasserim (Tanintharyi), and possibly Shan State. Some historians believe he blocked the westward expansion of the Khmer Angkor Empire, ruled by Suryavarman I, and had close relations with the Sinhalese ruler of Sri Lanka, a coreligionist.
   See also Kyanzittha; Manuha Temple.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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