28 October, 2007
At Yathe-taung, we paid 1,300 kyat (US$ 1.20) for bus and arrived back to the base camp. I was quite hungry by that time but I was also running low on money so could only had oiled rice with fried egg.
On the way back, I had some questions popping up in my mind about the trip and Kyaikhtiyo. I couldn’t find the answers. If any of you could answer these questions, please let all of us know.
1. In Kyaikhtiyo legend, it was said that the pagoda was built on the rock which resembles the head of the Tissa Hermit, and thus called Kyaikhtiyo in Mon, meaning that “which was carried over the Hermit’s head”. I tried to look at the head, but could not find any resemblance to the head. I then tried to find the statue of the Tissa Hermit, but his head in the statue was nowhere near the rock. Finally, I realized that by the time they found the head, the hermit was already in his death bed, lying down. Then the head of a lying down person would resemble the rock.
2. Near the entrance of Kyaikhtiyo, there was a shrine where a statue of Princess Shwe Nan Kyin was kept and worshipped. In legend, Princess Shwe Nan Kyin passed away at that place and was instantly transformed into a rock statue. I don’t want to say anything about this legend, but how comes now there were three other rock statues? According to legend, there were more than three people around her when she died. Only one, Shwe Nan Kyin, was turned into rock, but now there were four statues there.
3. According to mouth history, the rock was one of those lifted out of the sea bed by Indra (Sakra or King of celestial beings). Around Kyaikhtiyo, I saw more than 50 similar stones, although not as big as this one. I was wondering if all these were salvaged by Indra. So I tried to find out about is in Kyaikhtiyo history books. In one book, it was said that the mountain where Kyaikhtiyo was situated was called “Doe-kha-maw-kh-tun-ga-line” in Mon language, meaning Mountain with many rocks.
4. I found quite a number of hermits around Kyaikhtiyo. According to Theravada Buddhism, hermits were considered outside of Buddhism. I could not think why these hermits want to be outside of Buddhism although there is flourishing Buddhism in Myanmar. Before Buddhism, there was no Monk (Buddhist monk). Only hermits exist. Tissa Hermit, according to Kyaikhtiyo Legend, met Lord Buddha but did not become a monk. That meant he did not become a Buddhist.
5. At the main entrance of Kyaikthiyo, in order to protect Myanmar cultural value, only women wearing longyi (sarong) were allowed to enter the pagoda. However, many girls just wrap longyi above the jeans. This was quite ugly and ridiculous. I was just wondering whether this really was culturally Myanmar.
6. There was a sign at the entrance on which was written down “No entrance for those wearing shorts, socks, sleeveless, earrings (for males) and long hair (for males)”. I could understand “shorts, socks and sleeveless”, but when I saw the statue of King Tissa Dama Siha Raj who built Kyaikhtiyo, I thought if he ever saw this sign board, the one who wrote down will be beheaded. Why? Because he was wearing a pair of big earrings and with long hair. Why you don’t let him come inside?
Original article in Burmese at PK’s Blog