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What is Arakan? [??????]

The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called ‘Rakhaing-pray’ [??????????] by its own peoples, Rakhaing-thars (Arakanese) [?????????]. The word “Arakan” was a derivation of the ancient word “Arakha-de-sha” [???? ?????] (the land of Arakan) which is found in line forty of Anandachandra inscriptions of Shitethaung pillar.

What is Rakhaing or Rakhine? [??????]

According to the Arakanese chronicles, the word ‘Rakhaing’ [??????] was originated from Rakhapura [?????] and it means the original inhabitants of Rakhapura [?????]. Arakhadesha [?????????] > Rakhasa [?????] > Rakkha [??] > Rakkhaing [??????] > Rakhaing [??????] In Pali [?????] the word ‘Rakhaing’ [??????] is used to honour the people who love their nation, and preserve their national heritage, and their traditional ethics or morality [???].

Area of Arakan

Arakan is situated among India in the North, Burma in the East and People's Republic of Bangladesh in the West. To the south, it extends up to Haigri Islands and is bounded on the southwest by the Bay of Bengal. The area of Arakan was more than 20,000 sq. ml. till the British period. But, Burmese ruler, without the consent of Arakanese people, split up a north western Arakan Hill Tracts area bordering India and a southern most part of Arakan (from Kyauk Chaung River to Cape Negaris) from the Arakan mainland. Due to these partitions, the present day total area of Arakan was reduced to 18, 500 sq. ml and it comprise less than half of historic Arakan territory.


Buddhism was introduced into Arakan during the lifetime of Buddha himself. According to Arakanese chronicles, Lord Buddha, accompanied by his five hundred disciples, visited the city of Dhannyawadi (Grain blessed) in 554 B.C. King Chandra Suriya (Sun and Moon) and all the people converted to Buddhism and became Buddhists since then. The king requested Lord Buddha to leave the image of Himself to commemorate the event before he left Arakan and Lord Buddha consented it. This was the famous Mahamuni (Great Sage) image, known throughout the Buddhist world and desired by kings who sought to conquer the country in order to carry away this powerful prize. The history of this image is entwined with that of Arakan. After casting the Great Image Mahamuni, Lord Buddha breathed upon it which resembled the exact likeness of the Blessed One.

The tradition of the origin of the Mahamuni image can be interpreted as an allegorical account of the introduction of Buddhism to Arakan. The first evidence we have of Buddhism is in the early sculpture of the Mahamuni shrine at Dhanyawadi.

Arakanese, to show their utmost respect to King Chandra Suriya who had donated Mahamuni Shrine and introduced Buddhism into Arakan, have been using the signs of Sun and Moon as the most sacred symbols throughout the history until today.

These symbols can be found in all ancient coins of Arakan, as well as present-day flag and seal of Rakhaing state under Burma.
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