Mahamuni Temple

Mahamuni Buddha & Pagoda in Mandalay.

The Mahamuni Pagoda and the golden Buddha is one of the most venerated pilgrim destination in the country because of the outstanding architecture. This is a sacred place where every day hundreds of pilgrims walk through and perform their rites. 

Mahamuni Pagoda.

The pagoda has a long history and the sitting Buddha statue was carried from Arakan to Mandalay once which was not so easy considering the means of transportation of that time and weight of the statue.

Today the sitting Buddha sculpture is covered by a thick layer of pure gold in form of "gold leaves" people say this are several tons and every day more are are glued onto the sculpture by devotees to praise the Buddha gold leaves. 

This sacred shrine 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 temple is a unique showcase of Myanmar Buddhism

Every morning the ritual of the daily face-washing ceremony takes place in the Mahamuni Temple in the precinct where several pagoda and temples are placed around the turtle and fish pond are several white pagodas with different styles this is visualizing Myanmar Buddhism at it's best.

Myanmar Buddhism.

The hall where the golden Mahamuni Buddha statue is located is already filled with pilgrims who come from all over the country to pay respect to the Buddha.  This is one of the most important pilgrimage site in Myanmar actually there are only three similar popular sites for Buddha devotion in the the country this are the Shwedagon Pagoda in Yangon and the Kyaiktiyo Pagoda  in Bago Division plus the Shwezigon Pagoda in Bagan.

Maha Muni Buddha

The 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.

The Mahamuni Buddha face washing ceremony takes place in the early morning hours every day.

Mahamuni Buddha face washingMahamuni Buddha face washing ceremony

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 pictures below show some souvenir shops within the Mahamuni Temple Precinct the right side shop is selling silver ware. Myanmar has large silver gold and copper deposits beside of the known ruby and other precious stone mines although since about 5 years all prices almost exploded and hotels pushed up prices 3 to 4 times too. 

Burma has almost no manufacturing capability.

Burma has almost no manufacturing capability most goods are imported. That is a legacy of the British colonialists who destroyed everything once they conquered the country since they consider Burma as a country supplying raw materials only. In this context it needs to mention that's Myanmar before the British came was on a similar level as the Japanese Meiji Dynasty. Mandalay is typical for that before the British came they even already had the first street car in Asia which was also destroyed by the English.

Everything produced today is manufactured by foreign companies such as Pakistani furniture producers or Chinese clothing manufacturers who produce in the commercial parks around Yangon and exploit the low wages in Myanmar also Koreans and Japanese use the low wages as motivation. 

Inside Mahamuni Pagoda
Shopping at Mahamuni Temple

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. 

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 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.

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