Mahamuni Temple

Mahamuni Buddha Temple in Mandalay

The Mahamuni Pagoda is one of the most venerated in the country which means a sacred place where every day hundreds of pilgrims walk through and perform their rites. 

Mahamuni turtles and fish pond

The pagoda has a long historical background about among other stone slabs and copies of inscriptions recorded during the time of King Bodawpaya tell us today. The Mahamuni Buddha image is heavily covered by very thin gold leaves

Mahamuni Pagoda

The place was built to enshrine the great Mahamuni image which for so many centuries had been the palladium of the kingdom of Arakan, as well as the most important of the Buddhist sacred objects. The peculiar sanctity of this Buddha image lies in its acceptance by Buddhists as a contemporary likeness of the Master. It was cast in brass when the great teacher visited Arakan, at that time a remote Indian kingdom. 

The work was done supernaturally (people say) by none other than Sakra, the old Hindu Lord of Paradise, who had become converted to Buddhism. When completed, the portrait, which was indistinguishable from the original was embraced by the Buddha, and thereafter emitted an un­earthly refulgence and actually spoke a few words. Today countless Buddha statues are around.
Naturally, its possession was coveted by many pious kings, in particular, the greatest of Myanmar historical figures, Anawrahta, who organized a large-scale raid into Arakan with the object of removing this along with sacred relics to his capital at Bagan. The king's purpose was frustrated by the size and weight of the image: the white elephant which accompanied his army, and was regarded as the only suitable means of transport, could not carry the Buddha.

It was finally obtained in 1784 by King Bodawpaya, who is declared, in an inscription at the pagoda, to have drawn the image to its present resting place by the charm of his piety. In fact, an expeditionary corps of thirty thousand men were involved, after
elaborate precautions to deprive the image of its magic power had I had been told that only in Mandalay it would unfold its real power among the countless Myanmar works of art, wood carvings, bronzes, and ivories, be found; and that the colonnades of the Mahamuni Pagoda would be the most likely place in Mandalay itself.

Buddha statue at the Shwedagon Pagoda Yangon

As in the Shwedagon Pagoda at Yangon, the roofed-over approaches were lined with stalls selling devotional objects; flowers, votive images, and triangular gongs. In Myanmar or Burma art is always intertwined with religious or magic motives. The life of the Myanmar - Myanmar people still has a high spiritual component. As a result, lots of creative energy is diverted into pagoda-building, from which it is expected to derive not mere aesthetic pleasure, but a substantial spiritual reward. Mandalay is a good example for this, pagodas and temples white and golden on the hills around everywhere in particular at Sagaing on the western side of the Ayeyarwady (Irrawaddy) river. 

Bagan Pagoda on the Irrawaddy River

A permanent crowd was gathered before the railings of Mandalay's Mahamuni shrine behind which the twelve feet high Buddha is placed, but they were quite ready to make room for a foreigner to take a photograph. Gold-leaf is sold in packets and the purchaser was entitled to apply it himself. Clambering as reverently as possible up the sacred stomach to reach the face. Pilgrims from many parts of Myanmar waited their turn to perform this illustrious task.

The Mahamuni temple and pagoda 

Mahamuni Buddha Mandalay
the statue is almost 3 m tall
This religious compound houses the most venerated Buddha image in Mandalay, a huge sculpture called Payagyi “the great Buddha” by the devotees with reverence and veneration, Mahamuni means “The Exalted Sage and Saint”.

The colossal sitting statue was brought from Myohaung today Mrauk U in Rakhine Arakan state during the reign of King Bodawpaya in 1784 over mountain ranges and the Irrawaddy to be enshrined in a special building in Amarapura. The hall caught fire many years ago but the image was saved since it was made of alloy and is heavily gilded with gold leaves, the fire couldn't destroy it. The gold cover is increasing day by day; It's estimated the Buddha Statue weigh more than one ton of gold now.

The golden crown is studded with plenty of precious stones, rubies, sapphires, emeralds, jade, diamonds, etc. all donated by pious devotees. For them, a big pond with turtles in the southeast part of the pagoda was built. During the conveyance of the Great Image, many captives were brought along and they were settled around the precincts. If you wish to know the detail of the said conveyance, you can study the stone inscription that is in the north-east of the shrine.

Near the western entry are six bronze figures, two men, three lions and a three-headed elephant in a square building. These were brought from Rakhine state together with the sitting Buddha Sculpture into the temples. In fact, these statues are original Khmer from Cambodia taken away by Thais during the war they won. After the Myanmar King Bayinnaung seized and carried them to his capital, Hanthawaddy, Pegu or Bago during his triumphal return from ThailandIn the year 1660 King Razagyi of Rakhine State removed them

Mahamuni bronze figures

The Buddha Statue was moved to his capital Mrauk U and fro The Buddha Statue was moved to his capital Mrauk U and from there these sculptures finally reached their destination at Amarapura

This is the interesting and exciting story of the figures. People believe that whatever ailment one suffers, it can be remedied by rubbing the organic sections of the said statutes. For example, if you have stomach trouble, you rub the navel of the figure. Hence, you will now witness those parts shining where the people rub most. 

Mandalay legends tell 

The great statue was blessed and hallowed by Buddha himself due to the undying legend. In the Maha Sakarit year 97, Dinnyawaddy Rakhine Kingdom was ruled by King Canda Thuriya. He was a devout devotee and wanted to worship the living Buddha to listen to his sermons.

He repeatedly pleaded Budda to pay a visit to his state. During the occasion of his 26th anniversary of his reign he came accompanied by Shin Arahan and 500 disciples, they landed on the summit of Salagiri Hill near Kyauktaw town.

The Rakhine King was overwhelmed with delight and he readily and promptly attended them with his Chief Queen Sandra Mala and a retinue of ministers, generals, and officials.

Buddha Face Washing Ceremony

People have strong belief that the great sculpture personified the living Buddha and they want to do something in honor of him and gain merit.

One of the rituals is washing the face of the Buddha with fragrant scented water and cleaning the teeth. The washing and cleaning Buddha ceremony starts at 4.30 a.m. every day and the towels are offered by lay devotees and after the ceremony, the towels are given to the worshipers. Only male devotees are permitted to apply gold leaf on the statue. For female worshipers, the said kind of donation is carried out by pagoda officials on their behalf. This is one of the biggest pilgrimage sites in Myanmar.

Tags: Mahamuni Buddha  Mahamuni Temple  Mahamuni Pagoda