Update: 2013-09-20 12:44 AM +0630


The Burmese Empire a hundred years ago

As described by Father Vincenzo Sangermano, 1833

TIL collection to accompany the above work


-- by U Kyaw Tun, M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.). For students and staff of TIL. Not for sale. No copyright. Free for everyone. Prepared for students and staff of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, MYANMAR :  http://www.tuninst.net , http://www.softguide.net.mm , www.romabama.blogspot.com

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Contents of this page

UKT 130709: This collection from many sources is to accompany The Burmese Empire, A hundred years ago, V. Sangermano, and Notes by J. Jardine. It is intended for those who may not be familiar with subjects mentioned in the text. The collection may also throw some light on the relationship of the inhabitants of Myanmarpré to those of the West , Middle East , and the Indian sub-continent from the time of King Abiraza who founded the city of Tagaung, well before the birth of Gautama Buddha to the present.

All these foreigners are collectively called {ku.la:} 'relatives' which in common parlance degenerated into the pronunciation {ka.la:} 'coloured'. The British or English invaders were known as the 'white kala' to differentiate them from the 'black kala' of the Indian sub-continent. However, orthographically, the word remains {ku.la:} 'relatives' -- and with my emphasis "our relatives".

Byzantine Empire : Greek language speakers
Orthodox Christianity : the domes on churches and masjids 
St. John of Damascus : John Damascene
Sassanid Empire : Neo-Persian Empire
Seduction of St. Josaphat : authored by John of Damascus
Vanity of Vanities
Umayyad Caliphate - to be added

UKT notes

Contents of this page

Byzantine Empire : Greek language speakers

- UKT 130710


Working on BEPS (Burmese, English, Pali, & Sanskrit speeches written in Myanmar, Latin & Devanagari scripts), I am coming to see the need to know something of the Greek speech in Greek script, and the spoken language of Byzantium, which later became in Constantinople in Roman times, and Istanbul under the Moslem Turks.

The influence of Grk-Grk is quite important to Skt-Dev, as is the influence of Eng-Lat (English in Latin) on Pali in International Pali (Pali in Latin script), and again through Pali in Devanagari to Pal-Myan.

However, a study of the speeches of Rome, Athens, Constantinople and Rome in Latin, Greek, and Cyrillic  would be a major task, and for the moment I deem it best to shelve it. Instead, I would start with the Eastern Roman Empire aka the Byzantine Empire, and Eastern Orthodox Christianity visibly marked as the domes on Islamic Masjids aka Mosques in Myanmarpré.

If you reflect upon the caption The Crescent and the Dome , you can see that the three religions depicted from the most ancient to the least, all signifies the hope of the humankind who are afraid of a dark moonless light. The slightest Crescent of the moon gives them hope for a cool light to shine through the dark night! The Dome signifying roundness is the hope for Perfection and Wholeness. The greatest of all mental suffering is the Fear of the Night, the Darkness, and the Unknown! There is a way to be free of Darkness and achieve Perfection - the Eightfold Noble Path.

From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Byzantine_Empire 130710

The Byzantine Empire was the predominantly Greek-speaking continuation of the Roman Empire during Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages [c. 330 –1204, 1261–1453]. [UKT ¶]

UKT 130710: The above dates should be compared to those of Sri Ksetra and Pagan. The well-known Myanmar writer, Maung (Dr.) Htin Aung, Rector of Rangoon Univ. from 1949-59, and then Myanmar Ambassador to SriLanka, suggests that Pyu might have been founded in 78 CE, based on the Sanskrit / Pyu Era. D.G.E. However, the colonialist-historians had disputed this claim.

The Pyu civilization (ca. 2nd century BC - ca. 1050 AD) had its centre in the old Irrawaddy-Sittang valley before the rise of Mount Popa, and the breaking up of the old (proto-) river into two modern rivers - the {sa.moan}-river flowing from south to north and joining the the Irrawaddy near Mandalay, and the {sit-taung:} flowing from north to south emptying into the Gulf of Martaban. The Irrawaddy turned its course westward and join up with the Chindwin river and turned south and towards the sea building up a huge delta at its mouth.
See http://acl.arts.usyd.edu.au/~hudson/BH2005Jan.pdf 130714 , and
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pyu_city-states 130714

Its capital city was Constantinople (modern-day Istanbul), originally known as Byzantium. Initially the eastern half of the Roman Empire (often called the Eastern Roman Empire in this context), it survived the 5th century fragmentation and collapse of the Western Roman Empire [centre of Roman Catholic Christianity - or RC as is known in Myanmarpré] and continued to thrive, existing for an additional thousand years until it fell to the Ottoman Turks in 1453. [UKT ¶]

UKT 130711: It was a Muslim Turk who destroyed the  world famous ancient Buddhist university - the Nalanda University, in Behar, India within "walking distance" from the heartland of Myanmarpré. The following is the excerpt from Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nalanda 130711
"Evidence in literature suggests that in 1193, the Nalanda University was sacked by [10] Bakhtiyar Khilji, a Turk.[11] Muslim conquest in India is seen by scholars as one of the reasons of the decline of Buddhism in India. The Persian historian Minhaj-i-Siraj, in his chronicle the Tabaqat-I-Nasiri, reported that thousands of monks were burned alive and thousands beheaded as Khilji tried his best to uproot Buddhism. [12] The burning of the library continued for several months and "smoke from the burning manuscripts hung for days like a dark pall over the low hills." [13]

During most of its [i.e Byzantine Empire] existence, the empire was the most powerful economic, cultural, and military force in Europe. Both "Byzantine Empire" and "Eastern Roman Empire" are historiographical terms applied in later centuries; its citizens continued to refer to their empire as the Roman Empire (Ancient Greek: Βασιλεία Ῥωμαίων, tr. Basileia Rhōmaiōn; Latin: Imperium Romanum, [1] and Romania (Ῥωμανία). [2]

Several events from the 4th to 6th centuries mark the transitional period during which the Roman Empire's east and west divided. In 285, the emperor Diocletian (r. 284–305) partitioned the Roman Empire's administration into eastern and western halves. [3] [UKT ¶]

Between 324 and 330, Constantine I (r. 306–337) [the first Roman emperor converted to Christianity] transferred the main capital from Rome to Byzantium, later known as Constantinople ("City of Constantine") and Nova Roma ("New Rome"). [n 1] [UKT ¶]


-- UKT 130712 :
Christianity was not declared the state religion under the first Christian Emperor Constantine. He tolerated other religions. Constantine believed in heavenly signs, such as the the syzygy (or close alignment in a straight line) of three bright planets, Mars, Saturn and Jupiter, in the evening sky above the southwest horizon, positioned along a line within about 20 degrees of each other on the border of Capricorn and Sagittarius. See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Labarum, 130711 .
In fact, in 321 AD, Constantine made it official for the Christians and non-Christians to honour (venerable day) the Sun. See: 
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_the_Great 130711

Under Theodosius I (r. 379–395), Christianity became the Empire's official state religion and others such as Roman polytheism were proscribed. And finally, under the reign of Heraclius (r. 610–641), the Empire's military and administration were restructured and adopted Greek for official use instead of Latin. [5] [UKT ¶]

In summation, Byzantium is distinguished from ancient Rome proper insofar as it was oriented towards Greek rather than Latin culture, and characterised by Orthodox Christianity rather than Roman polytheism. [6]

The borders of the [Byzantine] Empire evolved a great deal over its existence, as it went through several cycles of decline and recovery. During the reign of Justinian I (r. 527–565), the Empire reached its greatest extent after reconquering much of the historically Roman western Mediterranean coast, including north Africa, Italy, and Rome itself, which it held for two more centuries. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130712: The division between the Western Roman Empire, with Rome as its capital, and the Eastern Roman Empire, with Constantinople as the capital, may be viewed as a repeat of the ancient quarrel between the Roman (or Latin) speakers, and the Greek speakers.

Though both were Christians, the language divide seemed to be of more important than faith. The sounds of a language, particularly its vowel sounds, are dependent on anatomy -- the shape and muscles controlling the vocal apparatus.

The struggle was a continuation of racial struggle which has ever been present since the days of the Neanderthals (Europeans?), Cro-Magnons (Africans?), and those related to Homo-erectus (Asiatics?) with their evolution centre in Pondaung-Ponya area of Myanmarpré. It is just a suggestion by me, and I hope it will open up a new study of human evolution based on language, and not on genes.   

During the reign of Maurice (r. 582–602), the Empire's eastern frontier was expanded and north stabilised. However, his assassination caused a two-decade-long war with Sassanid Persia which exhausted the [Byzantine] Empire's resources and contributed to major territorial losses during the Muslim conquests of the 7th century. [UKT ¶ ]

During the 10th-century Macedonian dynasty, the Empire experienced a golden age, which culminated in the reign of Emperor Basil II "the Bulgar-Slayer" (r. 976–1025). [UKT ¶ ]

However, shortly after Basil's death, a neglect of the vast military built up during the Late Macedonian dynasty caused the Empire to begin to lose territory in Asia Minor to the Seljuk Turks. Emperor Romanos IV Diogenes (r. 1068–1071) and several of his predecessors had attempted to rid Eastern Anatolia of the Turkish menace, but this endeavor proved ultimately untenable - especially after the disastrous Battle of Manzikert in 1071.

Despite a prominent period of revival (1081-1180) under the steady leadership of the Komnenos family, who played an instrumental role in the First and Second Crusades, the final centuries of the Empire exhibit a general trend of decline. In 1204, after a period of strife following the downfall of the Komnenos dynasty, the Empire was delivered a mortal blow by the forces of the Fourth Crusade, when Constantinople was sacked and the Empire dissolved and divided into competing Byzantine Greek and Latin realms [speaking different languages]. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130713: Few, including myself at one time did not know much about the Fourth Crusade. Contrary to the aim of the First Crusade - an attempt by the European Christians to liberate Jerusalem from the domination of the Muslims - the Fourth Crusade was directed against fellow Christians of Orthodox Christianity. I view this as a struggle by the Roman language speakers of Rome and their compatriots against the Greek language speakers and nothing more. It could also be interpreted as the greed of the Westerners for the wealth of the East. The following is an excerpt from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth_Crusade 130713

" The experiences of the first two crusades had thrown into stark relief the vast cultural differences between the two Christian civilizations. The Latins (as the Byzantines called them because of their adherence to the Latin Rite) viewed the Byzantine preference for diplomacy and trade over war, as duplicitous and degenerate, and their policy of tolerance and assimilation towards Muslims as a corrupt betrayal of the faith. For their part, the educated and wealthy Byzantines saw the Latins as lawless, impious, covetous, blood-thirsty, undisciplined, and (quite literally) unwashed."

Despite the eventual recovery of Constantinople and re-establishment of the Empire in 1261, Byzantium remained only one of a number of small rival states in the area for the final two centuries of its existence. This volatile period lead to its progressive annexation by the Ottomans over the 15th century and the Fall of Constantinople in 1453.

UKT: More in the extensive article.

Contents of this page

Orthodox Christianity : the domes on churches and masjids

-- UKT 130712

The familiar dome on the Islamic masjids (in Arabic or mosques in English) in Myanmarpré is probably an eye-sore to many orthodox Theravada Buddhists, especially because they are present right in the centre of many Myanmar towns. The Burmese Buddhists have a tradition to build their places of worship out of the town's precincts.

The British administrators in the days when the country was under the British Colonial rule, had allowed the Muslim masjids and Christian churches to be built right in the town's prominent places. The loud calls to prayers by the mullahs using loud speakers turned to all the four corners of compass, five times a day, seven days a week throughout the whole year, and the very bloody slaughter of cattle which is held by many Buddhists as the most helpful animal because of their use in rice cultivation, had earned ire of the Buddhists. 

Stars in Symmetry - by a Muslim from

Dome was not an Islamic invention – the Muslim architects only start to use the architectural feature in the 7th Century, taking influences from the Sassanid Empire in Iran and from the Byzantine Empire.

The first ever building that the Muslims built with a prominent dome is the famed Dome of the Rock on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, Palestine, which is incidentally the oldest existing Islamic building without any alteration. [UKT ¶]

UKT 130712: The Temple Mount is the reputed site of the Temple of Solomon which was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar II  after the Siege of Jerusalem of 587 BCE. There is no direct archaeological evidence for the existence of Solomon's Temple, and no mention of it in the surviving contemporary extra-biblical literature.
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Solomon's_Temple 130712
However, there was a Second Temple . It was an important Jewish Holy Temple which stood on the Temple Mount between 516 BCE and 70 CE. The Romans destroyed Jerusalem and its Temple in 70 CE. Only some parts such as the lower levels of the Western Wall remain. --  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_Temple 130713
Timeline 1st Century in Myanmarpré : Pyu city of Halin in existence in 70 CE.
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Burmese_history 130713

So we can be pretty sure that there was a Jewish holy temple well before the birth of Prophet Mohamed (c.570-c.632) .
Timeline 7th Century in Myanmarpré : The Pyu of SriKsetra Kingdom launch the Burmese calendar with the start date of 22 Mar 638 CE
--  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Burmese_history 130713

Completed around 691-692, the building, a hexagonal shaped shrine is built over a stone believed to be the stepping stone of Prophet Muhammad during his journey heavenwards to God. It is also, as a notable feature, decorated with tiles that brought over from Turkey – Iznik tiles- all over its exterior walls. The shape of the whole building displays influences of Byzantium architecture, echoing the form of a Byzantine martyrium (which is traditionally used for keeping venerated saintly artifacts and relics). On top of the building built a dome made out of wood and covered with gold ; it is said that 100,000 gold dinars were melted for the covering of the dome, and when it was finished, it was reported at that time that “no eye can look straight to it” due to its strong shine.

As noted before the Dome of the Rock’s plan and architecture is much influenced by Byzantium architecture, mostly by the surrounding churches. In addition to the similarity of the floorplan of the shrine to Byzantine martyrium, the dome also influenced by domes of the churches of the Byzantine empire.

UKT: More in the article.

Contents of this page

St. John of Damascus aka John Damascene

-- UKT 130709

from: Catholic Online Saints: St. John of Damascus
-- http://www.catholic.org - old link
-- http://www.catholic.org/saints/saint.php?saint_id=66 - new link 130709

b. 645 d. 749: Saint John Damascene has the double honor of being the last but one of the fathers of the Eastern Church, and the greatest of her poets. It is surprising, however, how little that is authentic is known of his life. The account of him by John of Jerusalem, written some two hundred years after his death, contains an admixture of legendary matter, and it is not easy to say where truth ends and fiction begins.

UKT 130710: This article says, it was John of Jerusalem who wrote about John Damascene some two hundred years after his death. The problem is there were nine who could be the biographer, starting from Saint John the Baptist (died ca. 28 AD), Patron saint of Jerusalem to John IX of Jerusalem (1156–1166), Patriarch of Jerusalem in exile according to Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_of_Jerusalem 130710. Going by the dates given, the biographer was John VII of Jerusalem (964-966), who was burned at the stake by a Muslim mob after writing to the Byzantine Emperor Nikephoros II Phokas, pleading with him to hasten to Palestine and retake it from the Fatimid Caliphs. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_VII_of_Jerusalem 130710

The ancestors of John, according to his biographer, when Damascus fell into the hands of the [Muslim] Arabs, had alone remained faithful to Christianity. They commanded the respect of the conqueror, and were employed in judicial offices of trust and dignity, to administer, no doubt, the Christian law to the Christian subjects of the Sultan. His father, besides this honorable rank, had amassed great wealth; all this he devoted to the redemption of Christian slaves on whom he bestowed their freedom.

John was the reward of these pious actions. John was baptized immediately on his birth, probably by Peter II, bishop of Damascus, afterwards a sufferer for the Faith. The father was anxious to keep his son aloof from the savage habits of war and piracy, to which the youths of Damascus were addicted, and to devote him to the pursuit of knowledge. [UKT ¶ ]

The Saracen pirates of the seashore neighboring to Damascus, swept the Mediterranean, and brought in Christian captives from all quarters. A monk named Cosmas had the misfortune to fall into the hands of these freebooters. He was set apart for death, when his executioners, Christian slaves no doubt, fell at his feet and entreated his intercession with the Redeemer. The Saracens enquired of Cosmas who he was. He replied that he had not the dignity of a priest; he was a simple monk, and burst into tears.

UKT 130714: Saracen -- From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saracen 130714
   Saracen was a term for Muslims widely used in Europe during the later medieval era. The term's meaning evolved during its history. In the early centuries [AD] in Greek and Latin it referred to a people who lived in desert areas in and near the Roman province of Arabia, and who were specifically distinguished from Arabs. [1] [2] In Europe during the Early Medieval era, the term began to be used to describe Arab tribes as well. [3]
   By the 12th century, Saracen had become synonymous with Muslim in Medieval Latin literature. This expansion of the meaning had begun centuries earlier among the Byzantine Greeks, as evidenced in Byzantine Greek documents from the 8th century. [1] [4] [5]

The father of John was standing by, and expressed his surprise at this exhibition of timidity. Cosmas answered, "It is not for the loss of my life, but of my learning, that I weep." Then he recounted his attainments, and the father of John, thinking he would make a valuable tutor for his son, begged or bought his life of the Saracen governor; gave him his freedom, and placed his son under his tuition. The pupil in time exhausted all the acquirements of his teacher. The monk then obtained his dismissal, and retired to the monastery of S. Sabas, where he would have closed his days in peace, had he not been compelled to take on himself the bishopric of Majuma, the port of Gaza.

The attainments of the young John of Damascus commanded the veneration of the Saracens; he was compelled reluctantly to accept an office of higher trust and dignity than that held by his father. [UKT ¶ ]

As the Iconoclastic controversy became more violent, John of Damascus entered the field against the Emperor of the East, and wrote the first of his three treatises on the Veneration due to Images. This was probably composed immediately after the decree of Leo the Isaurian against images, in 730.

iconoclast - n. 1. a person who attacks cherished beliefs, traditional institutions, etc., as being based on error or superstition. 2. a breaker or destroyer of images, especially those set up for religious veneration -- http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/iconoclast 130710

Leo the Isaurian, aka the Syrian (c. 685 – 18 June 741) --
The Byzantine Emperor from 717 until his death in 741. He put an end to a period of instability, successfully defended the Empire against the invading Umayyads, and forbade the veneration of icons. -- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leo_III_the_Isaurian 130714

Before he [John Damascene] wrote the second, he was apparently ordained priest, for he speaks as one having authority and commission. The third treatise is a recapitulation of the arguments used in the other two. These three treatises were disseminated with the utmost activity throughout Christianity.

The biographer of John relates a story which is disproved not only by its exceeding improbability, but also by being opposed to the chronology of his history. It is one of those legends of which the East is so fertile, and cannot be traced, even in allusion, to any document earlier than the biography written two hundred years later. [UKT ¶]

Leo the Isaurian [the Byzantine Emperor], having obtained, through his emissaries, one of John's circular epistles in his own handwriting -- so runs the tale -- caused a letter to be forged, containing a proposal from John of Damascus to betray his native city to the Christians. The emperor, with specious magnanimity, sent this letter to the Sultan. The indignant Mahommedan ordered the guilty hand of John to be cut off. John entreated that the hand might be restored to him, knelt before the image of the Virgin, prayed, fell asleep, and woke with his hand as before. [UKT ¶]

John, convinced by this miracle, that he was under the special protection of our Lady [aka Virgin Mary - mother of Jesus], resolved to devote himself wholly to a life of prayer and praise, and retired to the monastery of Saint Sabas.

That the Sultan should have contented himself with cutting off the hand of one of his magistrates for an act of high treason is in itself improbable, but it is rendered more improbable by the fact that it has been proved by Father Lequien, the learned editor of his works, that Saint John Damascene was already a monk at Saint Sabas before the breaking out of the Iconoclastic dispute.

In 743, the Khalif Ahlid II persecuted the Christians. He cut off the tongue of Peter, metropolitan of Damascus, and banished him to Arabia Felix. [UKT ¶ ]

Arabia Felix

UKT 130714  : The following is from my memory and is also based on Wikipedia:
-- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabia_Felix 130714

Arabia Felix 'Fertile Arabia', now modern Yemen lies directly on the trade route through which the produce of Myanmarpré might have passed through in ancient times, down through the time of Pagan of Anawrahta. It was the trade route - the southern Silk and Tea route - which had extended between Europe and the Far East.

Part of what led to Arabia Felix's wealth and importance to the ancient world was its near monopoly of the trade in cinnamon and spices, both its native products and imports from India and the Horn of Africa .

However, for some unknown reason the World doesn't know anything about the ancient Pyus and Pagan being part of the southern Silk route. I wonder, if the colonialist historians had had a hand in it. Is it also possible that the ancient Indians and Chinese were afraid of the heartland of northern Myanmarpré reported to be inhabited by astrologers, sorcerers, and Nagas? [See the story of Arjuna, the hero of Mahabharata, and the Naga princess Ulupi.] I wonder, if the Myanmar akshara itself, being based on rounded circles, the perfect akshara for writing out magical squares or runes related to the Swastikas of the Indus-Saraswati civilizations of Mohanjodaro and Harapa?
See my work on Dr. Htin Aung's Folk Elements in Burmese Buddhism
¤ http://www.tuninst.net/FLK-ELE/flk-ele-indx.htm 130714
¤ http://www.tuninst.net/FLK-ELE/ch01/ch01.htm#Tib-Bur-goddess 130714

Peter, bishop of Majuma, suffered decapitation at the same time, and Saint John of Damascus wrote an eulogium on his memory. [UKT ¶ ]

Another legend is as follows: it is probably not as apocryphal as that of the severed hand: -- The abbot sent Saint John in the meanest and most beggarly attire to sell baskets in the marketplace of Damascus, where he had been accustomed to appear in the dignity of office, and to vend his poor ware at exorbitant prices. [UKT ¶]

Nor did the harshness of the abbot end there. A man had lost his brother, and broken-hearted at his bereaval, besought Saint John to compose him a sweet hymn that might be sung at this brother's funeral, and which at the same time would soothe his own sorrow. John asked leave of the abbot, and was curtly refused permission. But when he saw the distress of the mourner he yielded, and sang him a beautiful lament. The abbot was passing at the time, and heard the voice of his disciple raised in song. Highly incensed, he expelled him from the monastery, and only re-admitted him on condition of his daily cleaning the filth from all the cells of his brethren. An opportune vision rebuked the abbot for thus wasting the splendid talents of his inmate. [UKT ¶]

John was allowed to devote himself to religious poetry, which became the heritage of the Eastern Church, and to theological arguments in defense of the doctrines of the Church, and refutation of all heresies. His three great hymns or "canons," are those on Easter, the Ascension, and Satin Thomas's Sunday. Probably also many of the Idiomela an Stichera which are scattered about the office- books under the title of "John" and "John the Hermit" are his. His eloquent defense of images has deservedly procured him the title of "The Doctor of Christian Art." The date of his death cannot be fixed with any certainty; but it lies between 754 and before 787.

Contents of this page

The following is from the Catholic Encyclopedia on:
St. John of Damascus or Damascene
-- copied from Catholic Encyclopedia http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08459b.htm
-- http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08459b.htm 130710

Born at Damascus, about 676; died some time between 754 and 787. The only extant life of the saint is that by John, Patriarch of Jerusalem, which dates from the tenth century (P.G. XCIV, 429-90). This life is the single source from which have been drawn the materials of all his biographical notices. It is extremely unsatisfactory from the standpoint of historical criticism. An exasperating lack of detail, a pronounced legendary tendency, and a turgid style are its chief characteristics. [UKT ¶]

Mansur was probably the name of John's father. What little is known of him indicates that he was a sterling Christian whose infidel environment made no impression on his religious fervour. Apparently his adhesion to Christian truth constituted no offence in the eyes of his Saracen countrymen, for he seems to have enjoyed their esteem in an eminent degree, and discharged the duties of chief financial officer for the caliph, Abdul Malek. [UKT ¶ ]

Siamese White

-- UKT 130715:

Maurice Collis, the author, was one of the District Commissioners in the British-Burma Government, in the Tenassarim Division. While in Mergui, he came across the headstone from the grave of Mrs. White which was being used as a washing platform. This discovery led him to write "Siamese White" based on the life story of Samuel White.

Mergui was then part of the Kingdom of Siam (the present-day Thailand), and White was employed as Governor by the Siamese king to administer that little part of Myanmarpré. At the same time, the king had in his court in Siam, one Phulkun a Greek as the Chief Minister. I am writing this part from memory and I need to recheck the facts. White was undoubtedly an English Protestant, while Phulkun was probably an Orthodox [Byzantine] Christian, and the king of Siam a Buddhist. The three spoke different languages, English, Greek and Thai.

So when I read that John Damascene and his father were in positions of trust of a Muslim ruler, I am not surprised. It is in the nature of oriental monarchs to employ people of different race, religion, and language, as long as they were not against the ruler. In the Burmese royal courts there had been Muslims (Shia's and Sunnis alike), and various kinds of Christians who were generally quite loyal. Yet, many, but not all, eventually fell from disgrace! The wily White, had made himself rich out of this service, and had probably enriched himself further by being a freebooter, and had hoped to spend the rest of his life as a respectable English gentleman but ran afoul of his own kind -- the British in India!

The author of the life records the names of but two of his children, John and his half-brother Cosmas. When the future apologist had reached the age of twenty-three his father cast about for a Christian tutor capable of giving his sons the best education the age afforded. In this he was singularly fortunate. [UKT ¶ ]

Standing one day in the market-place he discovered among the captives taken in a recent raid on the shores of Italy a Sicilian monk named Cosmas. Investigation proved him to be a man of deep and broad erudition. Through the influence of the caliph, Mansur secured the captive's liberty and appointed him tutor to his sons. Under the tutelage of Cosmas, John made such rapid progress that, in the enthusiastic language of his biographer, he soon equalled Diophantus in algebra and Euclid in geometry. Equal progress was made in music, astronomy, and theology.

On the death of his father, John Damascene was made protosymbulus, or chief councillor, of Damascus. It was during his incumbency of this office that the Church in the East began to be agitated by the first mutterings of the Iconoclast heresy. [UKT ¶ ]

UKT 130715: Unless you know the supposedly difference between an Icon and an Idol, you will not know what the fuss was all about. To me, a non-Christian, they are the same, and so are the images of Lord Buddha which we revered but do not worship. It is you yourself who makes the difference -- you beg something from an Idol, but an Icon is just something you revere. You can see the difference in hand gesture - of the cupped hands.

© अञ्जलि «añjali» 
Skt: अञ्जलि [añgalí ] - - m. the two open hands held together hollowed. -- Mac005c3
Skt: अञ्जलि «añjali» - m. joining palms of the hand [in reverence], reverence, salutation, benediction -- SpkSkt
Pal: {iñ~za.li.}
- UHS-PMD0021
UKT from UHS: cupped hands [in reverence for worship]

If you worship an Icon it becomes an Idol. The following is probably the best answer in Yahoo http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20080829142037AAMYwab 130715
   "There is an overlap in the distinction.
   "An idol is more general. Any of a number of celebrities in hollywood -- singers, actors, can be an idol. An idol has a large following of admirers.
   "An icon is an idol but has a greater significance in representing a whole type. Elvis Presley was an icon of rock and roll. Marlon Brando an icon of the movie industry. Madona may be an icon too.
   "The word icon is reserved for the special of the special. They're are far fewer of them. They withstand time longer. They are not one hit wonders; they endure.
   "Whereas an idol may be just a passing fad."

In 726, despite the protests of Germanus, Patriarch of Constantinople [equivalent to Pope of Roman Catholic Church], Leo the Isaurian [Byzantine emperor] issued his first edict against the veneration of images. From his secure refuge in the caliph's court, John Damascene immediately entered the lists against him, in defence of this ancient usage of the Christians. Not only did he himself oppose the Byzantine monarch, but he also stirred the people to resistance. [UKT ¶]

In 730 the Isaurian [the Byzantine emperor] issued a second edict, in which he not only forbade the veneration of images, but even inhibited their exhibition in public places. To this royal decree the Damascene replied with even greater vigour than before, and by the adoption of a simpler style brought the Christian side of the controversy within the grasp of the common people. A third letter emphasized what he had already said and warned the emperor to beware of the consequences of this unlawful action. Naturally, these powerful apologies aroused the anger of the Byzantine emperor. Unable to reach the writer with physical force, he sought to encompass his destruction by strategy. Having secured an autograph letter written by John Damascene, he forged a letter, exactly similar in chirography, purporting to have been written by John to the Isaurian, and offering to betray into his hands the city of Damascus. The letter he sent to the caliph. Notwithstanding his councillor's earnest avowal of innocence, the latter accepted it as genuine and ordered that the hand that wrote it be severed at the wrist. The sentence was executed, but, according to his biographer, through the intervention of the Blessed Virgin, the amputated hand was miraculously restored.

The caliph, now convinced of John's innocence, would fain have reinstated him in his former office, but the Damascene had heard a call to a higher life, and with his foster-brother entered the monastery of St. Sabas, some eighteen miles south-east of Jerusalem. After the usual probation, John V, Patriarch of Jerusalem, conferred on him the office of the priesthood. In 754 the pseudo-Synod of Constantinople, convened at the command of Constantine Copronymus, the successor of Leo, confirmed the principles of the Iconoclasts and anathematized by name those who had conspicuously opposed them. [UKT ¶]

But the largest measure of the council's spleen was reserved for John of Damascus. He was called a "cursed favourer of Saracens", a "traitorous worshipper of images", a "wronger of Jesus Christ", a "teacher of impiety", and a "bad interpreter of the Scriptures". At the emperor's command his name was written "Manzer" (Manzeros, a bastard). But the Seventh General Council of Nicea (787) made ample amends for the insults of his enemies, and Theophanes, writing in 813, tells us that he was surnamed Chrysorrhoas (golden stream) by his friends on account of his oratorical gifts. In the pontificate of Leo XIII he was enrolled among the doctors of the Church. His feast is celebrated on 27 March.

John of Damascus was the last of the Greek Fathers. His genius was not for original theological development, but for compilation of an encyclopedic character. In fact, the state of full development to which theological thought had been brought by the great Greek writers and councils left him little else than the work of an encyclopedist; and this work he performed in such manner as to merit the gratitude of all succeeding ages. Some consider him the precursor of the Scholastics, whilst others regard him as the first Scholastic, and his "De fide orthodoxa" as the first work of Scholasticism. The Arabians too, owe not a little of the fame of their philosophy to his inspiration. The most important and best known of all his works is that to which the author himself gave the name of "Fountain of Wisdom" (pege gnoseos). This work has always been held in the highest esteem in both the Catholic and Greek Churches. Its merit is not that of originality, for the author asserts, at the end of the second chapter of the "Dialectic", that it is not his purpose to set forth his own views, but rather to collate and epitomize in a single work the opinions of the great ecclesiastical writers who have gone before him. A special interest attaches to it for the reason that it is the first attempt at a summa theologica that has come down to us.

The "Fountain of Wisdom" is divided into three parts, namely, "Philosophical Chapters" (Kephalaia philosophika), "Concerning Heresy" (peri aipeseon), and "An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" (Ikdosis akribes tes orthodoxou pisteos). The title of the first book is somewhat too comprehensive for its contents and consequently is more commonly called "Dialectic". With the exception of the fifteen chapters that deal exclusively with logic, it has mostly to do with the ontology of Aristotle. It is largely a summary of the Categories of Aristotle with Porphyry's "Isagoge" (Eisagoge eis tas kategorias). It seems to have been John Damascene's purpose to give his readers only such philosophical knowledge as was necessary for understanding the subsequent parts of the "Fountain of Wisdom". For more than one reason the "Dialectic" is a work of unusual interest. In the first place, it is a record of the technical terminology used by the Greek Fathers, not only against the heretics, but also in the exposition of the Faith for the benefit of Christians. It is interesting, too, for the reason that it is a partial exposition of the "Organon", and the application of its methods to Catholic theology a century before the first Arabic translation of Aristotle made its appearance. The second part, "Concerning Heresy", is little more than a copy of a similar work by Epiphanius, brought up to date by John Damascene. The author indeed expressly disclaims originality except in the chapters devoted to Islamism, Iconoclasm, and Aposchitae. To the list of eighty heresies that constitute the "Panarion" of Epiphanius, he added twenty heresies that had sprung up since his time. In treating of Islamism he vigorously assails the immoral practices of Mohammed and the corrupt teachings inserted in the Koran to legalize the delinquencies of the prophet. Like Epiphanius, he brings the work to a close with a fervent profession of Faith. John's authorship of this book has been challenged, for the reason that the writer, in treating of Arianism, speaks of Arius, who died four centuries before the time of Damascene, as still living and working spiritual ruin among his people. The solution of the difficulty is to be found in the fact that John of Damascene did not epitomize the contents of the "Panarion", but copied it verbatim. Hence the passage referred to is in the exact words of Epiphanius himself, who was a contemporary of Arius.

"Concerning the Orthodox Faith", the third book of the "Fountain of Wisdom", is the most important of John Damascene's writings and one of the most notable works of Christian antiquity. Its authority has always been great among the theologians of the East and West. Here, again, the author modestly disavows any claim of originality -- any purpose to essay a new exposition of doctrinal truth. He assigns himself the less pretentious task of collecting in a single work the opinions of the ancient writers scattered through many volumes, and of systematizing and connecting them in a logical whole. It is no small credit to John of Damascus that he was able to give to the Church in the eighth century its first summary of connected theological opinions. At the command of Eugenius III it was rendered into Latin by Burgundio of Pisa, in 1150, shortly before Peter Lombard's "Book of Sentences" appeared. This translation was used by Peter Lombard and St. Thomas Aquinas, as well as by other theologians, till the Humanists rejected it for a more elegant one. The author follows the same order as does Theodoret of Cyrus in his "Epitome of Christian Doctrine". But, while he imitates the general plan of Theodoret, he does not make use of his method. He quotes, not only form the pages of Holy Writ, but also from the writings of the Fathers. As a result, his work is an inexhaustible thesaurus of tradition which became the standard for the great Scholastics who followed. In particular, he draws generously from Gregory of Nazianzus, whose works he seems to have absorbed, from Basil, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, Leo the Great, Athanasius, John Chrysostum, and Epiphanius. The work is divided into four books. This division, however, is an arbitrary one neither contemplated by the author nor justified by the Greek manuscript. It is probably the work of a Latin translator seeking to accommodate it to the style of the four books of Lombard's "Sentences".

The first book of "The Orthodox Faith" treats of the essence and existence of God, the Divine nature, and the Trinity. As evidence of the existence of God he cites the concurrence of opinion among those enlightened by Revelation and those who have only the light of reason to guide them. To the same end he employs the argument drawn from the mutability of created things and that from design. Treating, in the second book, of the physical world, he summarizes all the views of his times, without, however, committing himself to any of them. In the same treatise he discloses a comprehensive knowledge of the astronomy of his day. Here, also, place is given to the consideration of the nature of angels and demons, the terrestrial paradise, the properties of human nature, the foreknowledge of God, and predestination. Treating of man (c.xxvii), he gives what has been aptly called a "psychology in nuce". Contrary to the teachings of Plotinus, the master of Porphyry, he identifies mind and soul. In the third book the personality and two-fold nature of Christ are discussed with great ability. This leads up to the consideration of the Monophysite heresy. In this connexion he deals with Peter the Fuller's addition to the "Trisagion", and combats Anastasius's interpretation of this ancient hymn. The latter, who was Abbot of the monastery of St. Euthymius in Palestine, referred the "Trisagion" only to the Second Person of the Trinity. In his letter "Concerning the Trisagion" John Damascene contends that the hymn applies not to the Son alone, but to each Person of the Blessed Trinity. This book also contains a spirited defence of the Blessed Virgin's claim to the tile of "Theotokos." Nestorius is vigorously dealt with for trying to substitute the title of "Mother of Christ" for "Mother of God". The Scriptures are discussed in the fourth book. In assigning twenty-two books to the Old Testament Canon he is treating of the Hebrew, and not the Christian, Canon, as he finds it in a work of Epiphanius, "De ponderibus et mensuris". His treatment in this book of the Real Presence is especially satisfactory. The nineteenth chapter contains a powerful plea for the veneration of images.

The treatise, "Against the Jacobites", was written at the request of Peter, Metropolitan of Damascus, who imposed on him the task of reconciling to the Faith the Jacobite bishop. It is a strong polemic against the Jacobites, as the Monophysites in Syria were called. He also wrote against the Manicheans and Monothelites. The "Booklet Concerning Right Judgment" is little more than a profession of Faith, confirmed by arguments setting forth the mysteries of the Faith, especially the Trinity and the Incarnation. Though John of Damascus wrote voluminously on the Scriptures, as in the case of so much of his writing, his work bears little of the stamp of originality. His "Select Passages" (Loci Selecti), as he himself admits, are taken largely from the homilies of St. John Chrysostom and appended as commentaries to texts from the Epistles of St. Paul. The commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians is taken from Cyril of Alexandria. The "Sacred Parallels" (Sacra parallela) is a kind of topical concordance, treating principally of God, man, virtues, and vices.

Under the general title of "Homilies" he wrote fourteen discourses. The sermon on the Transfiguration, which Lequien asserts was delivered in the church on Mt. Tabor, is of more than usual excellence. It is characterized by dramatic eloquence, vivid description, and a wealth of imagery. In it he discourses on his favorite topic, the twofold nature of Christ, quotes the classic text of Scripture in testimony of the primacy of Peter, and witnesses the Catholic doctrine of sacramental Penance. In his sermon on Holy Saturday he descants on the Easter duty and on the Real Presence. The Annunciation is the text of a sermon, now extant only in a Latin version of an Arabic text, in which he attributes various blessings to the intercession of the Blessed Virgin. The second of his three sermons on the Assumption is especially notable for its detailed account of the translation of the body of the Blessed Virgin into heaven, an account, he avers, that is based on the most reliable and ancient tradition. Both Liddledale and Neale regard John of Damascus as the prince of Greek hymnodists. His hymns are contained in the "Carmina" of the Lequien edition. The "canons" on the Nativity, Epiphany, and Pentecost are written in iambic trimeters. Three of his hymns have become widely known and admired in their English version -- "Those eternal bowers", "Come ye faithful raise the strain", and "Tis the Day of Resurrection". The most famous of the "canons" is that on Easter. It is a song of triumph and thanksgiving -- the "Te Deum" of the Greek Church. It is a traditional opinion, lately controverted, that John Damascene composed the "Octoëchos", which contains the liturgical hymns used by the Greek Church in its Sunday services. Gerbet, in his "History of Sacred Music", credits him with doing for the East what Gregory the Great accomplished for the West -- substitution of notes and other musical characters for the letters of the alphabet to indicate musical quantities. It is certain he adapted choral music to the purposes of the Liturgy.

Among the several works that are dubiously attributed to John Damascene the most important is the romance entitled "Barlaam and Josaphat". Throughout the Middle Ages it enjoyed the widest popularity in all languages. It is not regarded as authentic by Lequien, and the discovery of a Syriac version of the "Apology of Aristides" shows that what amounts to sixteen printed pages of it was taken directly from Aristides. The panegyric of St. Barbara, while accepted as genuine by Lequien, is rejected by many others. The treatise entitled "Concerning those who have died in the Faith" is rejected as spurious by Suarez, Bellarmine, and Lequien, not only on account of its doctrinal discrepancies, but for its fabulous character as well. The first Greek edition of any of the works of John Damascene was that of the "Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith" brought out at Verona (1531) under the auspices of John Matthew Gibertus, Bishop of Verona. Another Greek edition of the same work was published at Moldavia (1715) by John Epnesinus. It was also printed in a Latin edition at Paris (1507), by James Faber. Henry Gravius, O.P., published a Latin edition at Cologne (1546) which contained the following works: "Dialectic", "Elementary and Dogmatic Instruction", "Concerning the two Wills and Operations", and "Concerning Heresy". A Greek-Latin edition with an introduction by Mark Hopper made its appearance at Basle (1548). A similar edition, but much more complete was published at the same place in 1575. Another Latin edition, constituting a partial collection of the author's works is that by Michael Lequien, O.P., published at Paris (1717) and Venice (1748). To the reprint of this edition, P.G., XCIV-XCVI (Paris, 1864), Migne has added a supplement of works attributed by some to the authorship of John Damascene.

UKT: End of article.

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Sassanid Empire : Neo-Persian Empire

UKT 130713: Pronunciation <sassanid> /'sæsənɪd/ shows the accent to be probably hissing fricative. My interest is in Georgia with a rounded circular script similar to Myanmar.
From Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sasanian_Empire 130920

The Sasanian Empire or Neo-Persian Empire,[9] known to its inhabitants as Ērānshahr[1] and Ērān in Middle Persian and resulting in the New Persian terms Iranshahr and Iran,[10] was the last Iranian empire before the rise of Islam, ruled by the Sasanian Dynasty from 224 CE to 651 CE.[2][11] [UKT ¶]

UKT 130920: Certainly a historical event, on 21 Mar 640 AD, the Burmese calendar was launched by the Pyu of SriKsetra {þa.ré-hket~ta.ra}.: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_Burmese_history 130920

My conjecture is: this date indicates that the Mons to the further south in Myanmar would have contacts Sasarians and had probably picked up the hissing fricative {Sa.}-sounds from them, and that the northern Pyus in Tagaung would still have overland contacts with Tib-Bur speakers in northern India (and the present-day Nepal) -- the homeland of Gautama Buddha. The Pyus of SriKsestra in the middle would have both ways of contact with the West. And so when Pagan kingdom was founded after the fall of SriKsestra, it would have enjoyed the full benefits of Southern Silk and Tea road. The clergy in Myanmarpré is expected to have close contacts with the clergy in India from north to south using Pali as the common language, and they would certainly have full access to the Nalanda University (fl 5th century AD to 1197 AD).

The Sassanid Empire, which succeeded the Parthian Empire, was recognized as one of the main powers in Western and Central Asia, alongside the Roman–Byzantine Empire, for a period of more than 400 years.[12]

The Sasanian Empire was founded by Ardashir I, after the fall of the Arsacid Empire and the defeat of the last Arsacid king, Artabanus V. At its greatest extent, the Sassanid Empire encompassed all of today's Iran, Iraq, the Levant (Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Jordan, Israel), the Caucasus (Armenia, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Dagestan), Egypt, parts of Turkey, much of Central Asia (Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan), the Persian Gulf countries, Yemen, Oman and Pakistan. According to legend, the vexilloid of the Sassanid Empire was the Derafsh Kaviani.[13] It was also hypothesized that the transition toward the Sassanid Empire represents the end of struggle of ethnic proto-Persians with their close migrant ethnic relatives, the Parthians, whose original homeland was in modern-day Central Asia.

The Sasanian empire, during Late Antiquity, is considered to have been one of Iran's most important and influential historical periods, and constituted the last great Iranian empire before the Muslim conquest and the adoption of Islam.[14] In many ways, the Sassanid period witnessed the peak of ancient Iranian civilization. Persia influenced Roman civilization considerably during the Sassanid period.[15] The Sassanids' cultural influence extended far beyond the empire's territorial borders, reaching as far as Western Europe,[16] Africa,[17] China and India.[18] It played a prominent role in the formation of both European and Asian medieval art.[19] Much of what later became known as Islamic culture in architecture, poetry and other subject matter was transferred from the Sassanids throughout the Muslim world.[20] Even after the fall of Sasanian empire it remained the ideal model of organization, splendor, and justice in Perso-Arab tradition; and its bureaucracy and royal ideology were imitated by successor states, especially the Abbasid, Ottoman, and Safavid empires.[21]

More in the article.

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Seduction of St. Josaphat

-- UKT 130710

From: http://www.monsalvat.no/josaphat.htm 130920
UKT: The name Josaphat has been derived from Bodhisattva.

The tale of the hermit St. Barlaam and his convert St. Josaphat is a curious link between Christianity and Buddhism, since at least the beginning of the story is unmistakably an account of the early life of the Buddha. The story is thought to have been composed by John of Damascus in the 6th century AD. It also appears, in abridged form, in the Golden Legend of Jacobus de Voragine. The attempted seduction of St. Josaphat by the beautiful maiden seems to be a Christian reworking of part of the conflict between the future Buddha and the dark lord, Mára. What does this have to do with Richard Wagner?, the reader might well ask. Wagner had a version of the story of Barlaam and Josaphat, in one of the books that he left behind him when he had to leave Saxony in haste in 1849. This was a German translation made by Rudolf von Ems about 1325.

Barlaam and Josaphat

The story of Barlaam and Josaphat closely follows, with additions, the story of the youth of Gautama Shakyamuni, the future Buddha. The details of his life-story are slightly different, but in broad terms similar, in Indian, Ceylonese and Tibetan texts. The main difference here is that, in a prologue to the story, an astrologer predicts that the newly-born Josaphat, son of King Avennir, will be a follower of the Christian religion, which at that time was being persecuted by Avennir. Obviously the events of the Buddhist scriptures have been brought forward by about 900 years, so that in this version they take place after Christian missionary activity has begun in India. The young prince is brought up in ignorance of old age, sickness and death; but eventually finds out about their existence during excursions from the palace. In the Buddhist versions, his father finds a wife for him at this point, but the Christian version leaves the prince unmarried.

Prince Josaphat then meets the hermit Barlaam, a Christian missionary, who preaches in parables. The young prince becomes a convert to Christianity. After unsuccessfully attempting to dislodge him from the new faith by various stratagems, his father King Avennir receives a visit from the sorcerer Theodas, who offers to help him. On the sorcerer's advice, the king replaces the prince's male attendants with beautiful women (as Shakyamuni's father also does in the Buddhist version). Theodas sends an evil spirit into Josaphat's heart to inflame him with lust. The women flirt with Josaphat but fail to seduce him.

The king then sends to Josaphat the orphan daughter of a king, a beautiful maiden. The young prince attempts to convert her to his new religion, to which she responds that she will only convert if Josaphat will marry her. Josaphat tells her that he has taken a vow of chastity. The nameless maiden tells him, if you want to save my soul, grant me one little request: sleep with me tonight, just once is all I ask, and I promise you I will become a Christian first thing tomorrow morning... just do as I ask this once and you will win my salvation. Josaphat prays and receives a vision of heaven. He rejects the temptress, and is attacked by evil spirits. Josaphat destroys them by making the sign of the cross.

Parsifal and Kundry

So it seems that the Buddha became a Christian saint, and even received a feast-day, 27 November. The name Josaphat has been derived from Bodhisattva, one whose being is illumination. It seems entirely possible that Wagner had this story in mind when he made his first sketch for Parsifal. The sorcerer Theodas became Klingsor, Josaphat became the act 2 Parsifal and the beautiful maiden the act 2 Kundry. It could be argued that Wagner based his scene directly on a Buddhist version of the story, perhaps never having read the Christian version. Two elements weigh against this hypothesis. One is the common emphasis on chastity, typical of medieval Christian literature, but less important in the Buddhist versions. The other is that Josaphat concludes the struggle with the agents of Theodas by making the sign of the cross. It would have been typical of Wagner to go beneath the surface of the sources he first encountered, and by 1865 he had almost certainly read several versions of the life of the Buddha. In none of these, however, does the Buddha make the sign of the cross!

After the apparently Buddhist detour of the second act of Parsifal, an act that might have been based on the struggle between the future Buddha and the dark lord, Mára, we suddenly encounter a Christian symbol. It seems so out of place that most "modern" productions simply (but unwisely) ignore Wagner's stage directions at the end of this act:

"Er hat den Speer im Zeichen des Kreuzes geschwangen; wie durch ein Erdbeben versinkt das Schloss. Der Garten ist schnell zur Einöde verdorrt; verwelkte Blumen verstreuen sich auf dem Boden. Kundry ist schreiend zusammengesunken."

"(He has swung the Spear in the sign of the Cross; the castle collapses as in an earthquake. The garden withers to a desert; the ground is strewn with faded flowers. Kundry collapses with a scream.)"


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Vanity of Vanities

-- UKT 130709

Most in Myanmarpré, including the Bur-Myan Christians may not be aware that the Christian Bible was written by many authors over centuries in more than one language (speech & script), and finally for the English speaking public, in English speech in Latin script, again over time because of which there are more than one version. When I was young, I used to read the King James' version with its thou's and thee's. Then came along the Gideon version where the thou's and thee's are replaced in 'you's'. In many ways, I am still like the the King James' version.

I am a Theravada Buddhist, and you might say I have no business reading the Bible of another Faith. I started out on my life long journey into languages, and English was the first one I took up thoroughly and then only started out on Burmese-Myanmar. Why? Because, I became aware of importance of English as an International language as I stepped into the Rangoon University just after my 15th birthday as a wide-eyed skinny boy of just 96 lbs. I looked into English History and went over what I had read in my pre-teens. I looked into English Fairy Tales with which I was already familiar before the age of 5.

The Christian Bible is divided into two main divisions: the Old Testament - similar to the Jewish Bible, and the New Testament. I studied the Old Testament, book by book, line by line, looking up the meanings of words in English-to-English dictionaries. I paid less attention to the New Testament. Overall, I must have gone over the Bible, cover to cover, not less than four times.

Ecclesiastes is one of the books in the Old Testament . The author is Solomon, the 10th century B.C. king of Israel, and he lived 5 centuries before Gautama Buddha (ca. 563-483 B.C.). Compare it to what the Buddha had said in Anguttara-nikkaya, Tika-nibat, Thu'nama'wa'la-sutta and Patha'ra'thi-sutta, Mijjama-nikkaya, Mula'panna'tha. See Before Attainment of Buddhahood in Buddha and Dhamma, according to Pitikat (Little known suttas), copied from official Burmese translation of Pitikat, (in Burmese), by U Aye Maung, in manuscript form (one out of four) in Burmese.1990 Mar 5. Interpretation and edition in English by U Kyaw Tun.

The following is from:
http://biblia.com/jesusbible/ecclesiastes.htm - broken link on 130709
New search has given me: http://biblia.com/ 130709
This new online page has links to the parent site which I have to remove to conform to TIL requirements.


Ecclesiastes contains reflections of an old man, the “Preacher,” as he considered the question of meaning in life. He looked back and saw the futility (“vanity”) of chasing after even the good things this life can offer, including wisdom, work, pleasure, and wealth. Even if such things are satisfying for a time, death is certain to end this satisfaction. In fact, God’s judgment on Adam for his sin (Gen. 3:17–19) echoes throughout the book (especially 12:7). Yet the person who lives in the fear of the Lord can enjoy God’s good gifts. Young people, especially, should remember their Creator while they still have their whole lives before them (12:1). Traditionally interpreters of Ecclesiastes have identified the “Preacher,” who is also called “the son of David, king in Jerusalem” (1:1), as Solomon (tenth century b.c.).

Ecclesiastes is the book of vanity of vanities ... all under the Sun, under God, is vanity of vanities, meaningless, all things under the sun are vanity of vanities and a chasing of the wind (Ecc.1:14, 2:11)....nothing on earth will make us happy... nothing!... not reaches nor honor nor fame nor pleasures... nothing!... and it is the backbone of every word in the Book.

The book has a great philosophy of life and practical proverbs, with beautiful and very practical advices to the young, the best allegory of the old age in the Bible, and a Great Solution of life in the last two verses with the Last Judgment after death.

The author is Solomon, the Qoheleth, the Teacher... Jesus Christ! (Ecc.1:1, 12:9-12).

Solomon recounts the experience of his life: He had all the wisdom and pleasures of the world, with 700 wives and 300 concubines (1K.11:3)... and all is vanity of vanities and a chasing of the wind under the sun ... all the wine and philosophies is vanity... nothing on earth under the sun will make you happy... nothing!

He made great works, palaces, vineyards, beautiful gardens... and all is vanity of vanities under the sun, under God, under Jesus Christ!...

He was very rich, with many servants, and flocks and herds, and choirmaster and singers, "more than anyone before me in Jerusalem"... and it is vanity of vanities, meaningless under the sun...

He was the King, living in palace, with great honor and power... and all of it is vanity of vanities and chasing the wind, there is no profit under the sun, under God...

UKT: More on http://biblia.com/ 130709

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UKT footnotes



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