Lawkananda Pagoda

Lawkananda Pagoda
Lawkananda Pagoda is a Buddhist Stupa situated in Bagan, Myanmar. It is believed to have been constructed by enshrining a replica of the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha brought from Sri Lanka in the 11th century A.D. Lawkananda, or Lokananda in Pali means the "joy of the world".

Sri Lanka was under the rule of South Indian Cholas from 1017 to 1070 A.D. During this period Buddhism in Sri Lanka gradually declined as Cholas violently destroyed many Buddhist monasteries around the country (Ranawella, 2007). Although King Vijayabahu I (1055-1110 A.D.) expelled Cholas from Sri Lanka by 1070 he was unable to assemble a sufficient number of Buddhist monks to perform the ceremony of Upasampada [(the act of higher ordination) Ranawella, 2007]. He sent messengers to King Anuruddha (Anawrahta Minsaw: 1044-1077 A.D.) of the Ramanna country (present Myanmar/Burma) in order to get a sufficient number of monks to restore the Upasampada act in the country (Ranawella, 2007). 

At the request of Vijayabahu I, King Anawrahta sent twenty monks to Sri Lanka to perform the act of Upasampada for the entire clergy of the island. According to Burmese sources such as Glass Palace Chronicle, Anawrahta sent a mission to Sri Lanka along with a gift of a white elephant to Vijayabahu I to obtain the sacred Tooth Relic of the Buddha, one of the two most famous relics of the Buddha that Sri Lanka proudly possessed at the time (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925). However, it is said that Vijayabahu I only sent back Anawrahta a replica of the original relic (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925). 
The replica sent by Vijayabahu was received with great honour by Anawrahta. He placed it in a jewelled casket on a jewelled white elephant and set it free (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925). The white elephant knelt at Shwezigon where a Stupa was built by enshrining the replica of the relic (Goonatilake, 2009). Anawrahta is said to have made a vow for another replica to emerge from the first replica (Goonatilake, 2009). So another replica appeared and Anawrahta enshrined it in a Stupa on Mt. Tangyi (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925). In a similar fashion, a third replica appeared and it was enshrined in the present Lawkananda Pagoda erected on the bank of the Ayeyarwaddy river (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925). Another two replicas are said to have appeared and they were enshrined in Stupas built on Mt. Tuywin and Mt. Pyek (Goonatilake, 2009; Harvey, 1925).
1) Loka Nanda temple by Toresetre is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

1) Goonatilake, H., 2009. Sri Lanka-Myanmar Historical Relations in Religion, Culture and Polity. Journal of the Royal Asiatic Society of Sri Lanka, 55, pp.77-114.
2) Harvey, G. E., 1925. History of Burma: From the Earliest Times to 10 March 1824. London: Frank Cass & Co. Ltd. pp.32-33.
3) Ranawella, S., 2007. Inscription of Ceylon. Volume VI. Department of Archaeology. ISBN: 978-955-91-59-61-2. pp.lii-liii.
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This page was last updated on 30 June 2022
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