Mingalarzedi (1439/ 752)

Type of monument Type II Temple
Location North of Manuha
Region Nyaung U & Wetkyi-In
Built by King Narathihapati
Date A D 1277
Monument Number 1439/ 752

Mingala Zedi Pagoda (1439/ 752)

Mingala zedi is situated on the west of the road leading to Myin Kaba village. Its shape resembles that ofShwezigon. King Narathihapate built it in A D  1284 on the model of Shwezigon Pagoda. The only difference between it and Shwezigon is that it was built upon a brick platform.

The surrounding small stupas are decorated with glazed bricks of green and yellow colours. On the three terraces are found beautiful glazed plaques depicting in relief 550 Jataka stories, adorning the structure.

On the eastside of the brick platform are square plaques, figurines of devas paying homage to the Pagoda; On the southern side are found figures of ogres coming to offer devotional gifts to the Pagoda; on the western side are found figures of Nagas with devotional gifts to offer to the Pagoda; and on the northern side square plaques depicting garudas coming to offer devotional gifts to the Pagoda.

In the spacious precinct there used to be many Kala Kyaung monasteries. Many have now fallen into ruin. Few that still stand are in good condition. At the north-east corner there is a small pagoda on Ceylonese model.

Mingalazedi Inscription (Disāpramuk Inscription)

Disāpramuk Inscription was found near the Mingalazedi Pagoda at Bagan. Therefore it is known as Mingalazedi Inscription. Now it is kept at the Bagan Archaeological Museum. This inscription is about the Myanmar peace envoy led by venerable monk Shin Disāpramuk. Before discussion on the Disāpramuk Inscription, a brief background history is required to be related.

During the reign of King Narathihapate (A D 1255-87) the Mongol conquest of China was completed by Kublai Khan. When the conqueror had established himself at Beijing he sent out mission to demand tokens of submission from all the countries in the four directions. In 1271 his viceroy in Yunan was instructed to send envoys to Bagan to request the payment of tribute. Narathihapate proudly refused to receive them. Two years later the demands was renewed by an imperial envoy, who was the bearer of a letter from Kublai Khan himself. 

The chronicles admit that the ambassador and his three colleagues were seized and executed by the king’s order. But it seems improbable that they were executed by the king’s order. It is simple logic that if he had  killed the Chinese envoys in 1273, he would not have taken the risk of sending his envoy to Beijing in 1285. The cause of envoy did not reach to China might be that they found a certain danger in their return journey. However the Yunan government in 1275 reported about the execution of Chinese envoy and pleaded for immediate war. Nothing however happened until April 1277 when Myanmar proceeded to attack Kaungai on the Tapaing River because its chief had submitted to China. Thereupon Kublai Khan ordered the local authorities to punish the Myanmar, and the Governor of Tali sent a Tartar force, which defeated them at the battle of Ngasaunggyan. 

A detail account of this battle was given in Marco Polo’s Travelogue. The Myanmar forces were routed by Tartar archers who burnt the bamboo forest to frighten away the Myanmar war elephants and horses. The animals ran amok and stampeded the Myanmar foot soldiers.

A second Tartar force under Nasr-uddin, the viceroy of Yunan, advanced into the Bhamo district, and after destroying some Myanmar stockades retired homewards because of excessive heat. The Myanmar thereupon recovered their self-confidence and renewed their raids on the Yunan frontier. In 1283, therefore, the Tartar invaded again by the same route and defeated Myanmar forces. 

Ngasaunggyan fell on 3 December and Kaungsin fell on 9 December 1283. The Mongols penetrated as far as south to Tagaung which was captured in January 1284. Hence Upper Myanmar became a province of China called Chieng-mien. The Mongols planted garrisons in the Upper Ayeyarwaddy Valley. Narathihapate believing that the Mongols will continue to penetrate to further south and his capital was about to be attacked and went to Lhañ: kla west of Prañ sent Disāpramuk on a peace mission to Beijing. Disāpramuk recorded all events of peace mission in this inscription as follow: -

Honour to him, the Blessed, the Saint, the Fully Enlightened. In S. 548 (1285) Mrigasira year, the king was staying at Lhañ: kla west of Prañ (eighter Pyay or the capital city of Bagan) … 

“Pundit! these 20,000 soldiers of mine and the Mahāthera, Sanghathera and the monks, I am sending to propagate the Religion”. I replied: Mahārājā! All these soldiers, all these monks, will be steadfast only if there is paddy. Is not paddy the root of the prosperity of the kingdom? If these soldiers continuously eat nothing but minced toddy, will they not all die of pains in the stomach? … Let not the soldiers enter yet! As for me, I shall first plant rice and beans. When the rice and beans are full grown, and then enter!”

Thus I replied; and the Taruk king said: “in these words my profit also is included. Pundit! Call the monks who were running hither and thither at the time of your coming and plant rice and beans. When they are full grown, then send them onto me!” When he had said thus, I had to go. And there was indeed a respite (? Or delay) …

According to this inscription, when the Taruk came, the king did not go down to Pathein as mentioned in the chronicles but took to the hills on the west of the capital or Pyay. On the suggestion of his masters Anantapicañ: and Mahāpuiw, he sent Disāpramuk to Tetu who arrived there in about December 1285. So this inscription point out that although Narathipate was absolute monarch he used wise people and followed their advice in times crisis. The Truk came under command of Prince Susuttaki. Among them there were also monks from seventy monasteries under the leadership of Mahāthera Puññadhammika who were to propagate Buddhism at Bagan. Disāpramuk said that he was successful in persuading the Taruk King to recall his army. Disāpramuk inscription also gives as information related to the economy of Bagan.

Reference Books:

Glimpse of Glorious Bagan, Universities Historical Research Centre, Yangon, Myanmar, The University Press, 1996

Pictorial Guide to Pagan, Ministry of Culture, Yangon, Myanmar, The Printing and Publish Corporation, Reprint 1975

The Pagodas and Monuments of Bagan, Vol. 1, Translated by Dr Khin Maung Nyunt, Ministry of Information, Yangon, Myanmar, Graphic Training Centre (G.T.C), 1995

The Pagodas and Monuments of Bagan , Vol. 2, English Text by Dr Khin Maung Nyunt, Ministry of Information, Yangon, Myanmar, Graphic Training Centre (G.T.C), 1998

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