Posted: December 13, 2010 in BENUA ASIA

The Sandamuni Pagoda, Myanmar


The Sandamuni Pagoda (also Sandamani, because it contains the largest iron Buddha, the “Sandamani”), or Paya, is located to the southeast of Mandalay Hill and bears a resemblance to the nearby Kuthodaw pagoda because of the large number of slender whitewashed ancillary stupas on the grounds. The pagoda complex was erected on the location of King Mindon’s provisional palace, the “Nan Myey Bon Tha.” which he used until his permanent Royal Palace was completed in the center of the Royal City (now Mandalay Fort). Sandamunipagoda

It was built as a memorial to King Mindon’s younger half-brother, statesman, reformer, stimulating personality and confidante, the Crown Prince Kanaung, who had helped him seize power from Pagan Min in 1853. Two of Mindon’s sons, Princes Myingun, (or Myint Kun) and Myin Kon Taing disappointed in being excluded from the succession, launched a palace revolution against their father on June 8, 1866, and assassinated Crown Prince Kanaung and three other princes: Malun, Saku and Pyinsi. The princes were buried on the grounds where they died. The royal residence was demolished the next year as the court was moved to the new Royal Palace. In 1874, King Mindon had the pagoda built near the graves of the Crown Prince and the other members of the royal family who lost their lives in the 1866 coup.

It was perchance was a result of this coup that Mindon did not appoint another successor until, upon his death bed in 1879, the scheming Central Queen secured the appointment of her weak son-in-law, Theebaw, and her daughter, Supayalat, as successors . The unpopular regime collapsed in the British annexation of Mandalay and Upper Burma in 1885. / The Paya is famous one for the Iron Buddha Sandamani cast by King Bodawpay (1782-1819) of the Konbaung dynasty in 1802, and which King Mindon and brought from Amarapura to his new pagoda and shrine in 1874. This was the seventh and last of the many journeys of the Iron Buddha, frequently moved because of wars and the shift of capitals in the nineteenth century. supplementary this largest solid iron Buddha image were eighty statues of saint disciples, which are now sheltered in mini-stupas around the pagoda. The statue reportedly weighs 40,924.8 lbs or 18.562 metric tons. It now is covered with gold foil attached by believers over the decades.

Additionally there are 1774 marble slabs inscribed with Commentaries and Sub-commentaries on the Tipitaka (Pali spelling, or Tripitaka, in Sanskrit), the “Three Baskets of Buddha’s teaching” in the Pali language. Each is 5.5 ft high 3.5 ft wide and .5 ft thick. Some have called the grouping “Volume II of the World’s Largest Book,” in a clear reference to the adjoining Kuthodaw Pagoda, which contains the full text of the Tipitaka itself on 729 slabs. The project and the housings of the slabs were the result of the successful campaign in 1913 by the famous Hermit of Mandalay Hill, U Khanti (or Kanti), who also designed the iron covered causeways and devotional halls and the book-like layout of the tablets.


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