Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Disapramok Inscription (U Pe Maung Tin, 1936)

Whatever may be the view we hold about the participation of Buddhist monks in political matters, we have a striking instance of an Elder undertaking a grave political mission. It appears frm L376 that during the cowardly flight of Tarokpyemin to Prome, which marks the downfall of Pagan, the Elder Disapramuk was the only one who did not lose his head and who had the courage to ask the invaders for terms:

"The king was living at Lhankla west of Pran (Prome). He sent the general Anantapican saying 'Find ye out the movements of the Taruk.'

Anantapican said 'This is indeed a great matter. There is neither a follower as go-between to send, nor is there a man to make the gold-address. If only Syan Disapramuk were here, he might undertake the matter.'

Thus he petitioned; and the king called me and entrusted it to me.

At Sacchim and Hanlan (Shwebo district) I did not stop.

Having made the gold address I sent it to the Taruk king.

He said: "This gold address is not sent by the king but by the ministers...' (It seems that the Mongols call Disapamoksa but keep him under arrest pending receipt of his credentials).

The maharaja of Pagan said: 'Kings (?) should not imprison envoys. He is to act as our envoy. He has made the gold address and sent me.'

When he made this gold address, they released me. I reached the Taruk country.

The Taruk king, intending to send an expedition to Pagan, (had) sent Prince Sasuttaki, 20,000 soldiers, the mahathera Pussadhammika, the sanghathera Sridhammika, etc., 70 monasteries, to Santhway country and caused them to halt there, saying that this expedition was not fitting in view of the coming of the embassy (?).

I arrived. Thereupon the monks who were halted there, presented gifts to me and said: 'Towards you, sir, the king shews trust and favour. Tell him that we ought not to do the religion at Pagan.'

I replied 'On passing the abode of the dwellers at Pagan...' In Tanchonmhun (Oct-Nov) I went up to Taytu (T'ai-tu, Peking). In Plasuiw (Dec-Jan) I arrived.

The Taruk king, well-pleased, spoke words of query, but nothing was said of politics. At the last there was talk of home affairs:

'Pandit, these 20,000 soldiers of mine, and the mahathera and the sanghathera, I am sending to do the religion'.

I replied: Maharaja, all these soldiers, all these monks, will be stead-fast only if there is paddy. Is not paddy the root of the prosperity of a country? If these solidiers eat nothing but toddy fruit, will they not have pains in the stomach and die? The remaining (?) monks do not dare (?) to enter the capital; they have all run into the jungle and died. O King, is not your work finished (?) ? A man who plants a garden, pours water and makes the trees to grow; he does not pinch the tips; when the trees have fruited, he eats the fruit. First pour water on the country of Tampratik! Small it is, but the religion is great. Are you not, O king, one who prays for the boon of Buddhahood? Let not the religion of father Kotama be ruined! The countries that you, O King, have conquered are many and great. Tampratit is very small. It is because the religion is there, that the Bodhisattvas exalt (?) the kingdom. Let not he soldiers enter yet! As for me, I will first plant rice and beans. When they are full grown, then enter!'

Thus I said, and the Taruk king spoke: 'In these words of yours, my profit also is contained. Pandit, call the monks who have fled at the time of your coming, and plant rice and beans. When they are ripe, then send them to me.' Thus he said, and so I came (home)"...

(Pe Maung Tin, JBRS, XXVI, I, 1936, 63-64)

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