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Mahamuni Buddha Temple


Mahamuni Buddha, Mandalay


  • The Mahamuni Buddha Temple also known as the Mahamuni Pagoda is a Buddhist shrine and main pilgrimage place, situated southwest of Mandalay, Myanmar. The Mahamuni Buddha figure is worshipped in this shrine which initially came from Arakan. It’s highly revered in Mandalay because it’s perceived as an expression of signifying the life of the Buddha.
  • Prehistoric custom refers to just 5 similarities of the Buddha, formed in his lifespan; 2 were in India, 2 in heaven, and the 5th is the Mahamuni Buddha figure in Myanmar. Legend has it that the Buddha paid a visit to the Dhanyawadi city in 554 BC. King Sanda Thuriya wished that a figure of him was cast. After casting the Great Figure, the Buddha breathed upon it, and after that the figure turned into the exact image of the Mahamuni.

History

Origins

  • As per legend, the Gautama Buddha paid a visit to the Dhanyawadi city to spread Buddhism. The Buddha with Shin Ananda and 500 followers landed at Salagiri mountain peak. The King together with his Chief Queen Sandra Mala and an entourage of officials, generals and ministers paid respect to the Buddha. They were extremely moved by his knowledge and on his departure to Thawuthi, the King requested that he leave his figure for people to worship. For this reason, the Buddha sat below a Bodhi tree for a week of meditation. During this time Sakka helped by his subordinate Vissakamma, moulded a natural figure of the Buddha by making use of ornaments offered by the king and his subjects. It’s also stated that Sakka and Vissakamma made a separate building for the Buddha to reside and enjoy during these 7 days. After seeing at his natural figure, Buddha was delighted and named it "Candasara". He also predicted that the figure would last for 5,000 years as his deputy.
  • One more legend described in the Arakanese record pertains to the 9 miracles which occurred when the image was consecrated inside the temple and continued to take place after the departure of the Buddha. These 9 miracles were: the stone guards at the entry would detect the existence of evil doers and stop them from getting into the temple, birds wouldn’t fly above the temple, the leaves of trees would incline in the direction of the Buddha image, the area in the temple would inevitably provide accommodations to any number of believers, the rays fade away in the presence of non-believers, 6 coloured rays emerged when the believers worshipped the image in the evenings, sacred water used for washing the image wouldn’t pour out the collecting vessels and the water from the tank which was used for cleaning the Buddha's head would maintain its quality all through the year.
  • One more legend described is related to the 6 Khmer bronze sculptures, which are in the temple. Originally these sculptures were in the Angkor Wattemple complex in Cambodia. Believers think that the sculptures have therapeutic abilities to treat different diseases and ailments.

Image history

  • King Anawratha of Pagan did not succeed to shift the image to Pagan. In 1784, the Burmese military occupied the Kingdom of Mrauk U. The sacred relics of the kingdom, were impounded and placed in the Pagoda at Amarapura or Mahamuni temple on the suburbs of the old capital of Mandalay. Since the Mahamuni image as a whole was too big to transport, it was broken into parts and later on reassembled and placed in the new temple. Under King Mindon, Mandalay became the capital. In 1885 monarchic rule ceased when the British occupied Upper Myanmar to stop the French from controlling it. However, worship of the Mahamuni figure has continued, and is idolised and visited by a number of pilgrims, mainly Mon, Rakhine and Burmans peoples.
  • A number of old bronze sculptures which line the courtyard of the temple have a long history. Originally they were Khmer sculptures, discovered at Angkor Wat in Cambodia. In 1431, the Siamese took them to Ayutthaya. King Bayinnaung seized Ayutthaya in 1564 and took 30 such statues of these types to Bago. King Razagri attacked Bago in 1599 and transported the sculptures to his kingdom. Finally, in 1785 Thado Minsaw took them to Amarapura. As per local belief, a lot more of these sculptures were brought from Arakan. However, many of them were melted by King Thibaw to cast guns for reinforcement of his palace. Out of the 30 sculptures Bayinnaung brought from Siam, just 6 remain today, and are on display in the temple compound. They are main attraction due to their supposed therapeutic qualities.

Damage

  • Fires in 1879 and 1884 damaged the Mahamuni Image and its surroundings. In the fire the causeways, devotional halls, and seven-tiered spire on the brick temple were burnt down, although the Great Image was not damaged. After the fire, recovered gold was made into a robe which presently decorates the image.
  • Myanmar military rulers in carried out restoration task of the Mahamuni Pagoda in 1996.



Mahamuni Buddha, Mandalay



Mahamuni Temple, Mandalay