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The Buddhist King Thibaw and Ratnagiri

Thibaw was the last king of the Myanmar. He was born in 1859. There are conspiracy in all the dynasties of the world. Accordingly, the dynasty of King Thibaw was also suffered by conspiracy. At the age of 26, while on the throne, the British launched a major campaign against the dynasty. The British merchants there exploited the King and Queen to enhance their own business interests. Fake stories of prejudice against them were circulated among the masses. British painted his image that King Thibaw is selfish, addictive and inefficient. But the general public knew what was true. They supported the dynasty. He was respected by the people as a supporter of Buddhism. Moreover, the Irish monk Dhammaloks movement against the British was intensified. Therefore, after the war, the King Thibaw and his Queen were captured and brought to Ratnagiri (India) by the British. When the King left the coast of Myanmar, the elephant in his yard was also said to have died.

On the expulsion of the King, British soldiers looted many items in the palace. The main treasure of Kings was robbed. Many historical documents, pamphlets, genealogies were destroyed. Many jewelery, jewels, gems, idols and valuables have been looted which were comes from generation to generation in dynasty. It was a great shock to the King and Queen. However, the King was a true follower of the Buddha’s teachings. But as a large pasture like Myanmar was to obtained the British authorities continued to rally the King financially and socially. But the King Thibaw spent the rest of his time in Ratnagiri quietly following Buddhist philosophy. It was during this time that he built a Myanmar style palace in Ratnagiri.

In Ratnagiri, the King and his family lived under the watch of British rule for 31 years. Five Buddhist monks were invited from Myanmar on the occasion of entering ceremony in to the new built palace in November 1910. Thibaw King became passionate after performing Buddhist rituals. He asked the monks to bless the family for their tolerance for suffering. The King Thibaw had four daughters. When they came to India, the education of the four girls did not work properly. At that time, his elder daughter Phaya fell in love with a man named Gopal Sawant, who was serving in the palace. She gave birth to a daughter on November 26, 1906. Her name was Tutu. King Thibaw died in 1916 while the first world war was still going on. The British then allowed dynasty of the Myanmar to go homeland. All then went to Myanmar. But a few days later Phaya returned with her daughter Tutu to stay in Ratnagiri. And remained there till the end of her life. She died on June 3, 1947. Her daughter Tutu married Shankar Pawar. She had 4 daughters and 7 sons. On 24 October 2000, Tutu died too. On completing hundred years to death anniversary of the King Thibaw, the function was arranged on 16 December 2016 near the grave yard of King. On that day, Myanmar’s Vice President Yu Mant Su and Army Chief came to Ratnagiri and visited the tomb of King Thibaw. At that time all the children of Tutu and all decendent of King Thibaw from Myanmar were embraced.

The all descendants of King Thibaw in Myanmar are highly educated today. But King’s descendants in Ratnagiri are working on daily wages. They were not helped either by the British and the Indian Government. Recently, every year the music festival is organized in the Thibaw Palace by the Art Circle. At that time, the palace shines brightly. There is great excitement. But while standing alone in the palace and watching the beach, it seemed as breeze is touching a tragic glimpse. The vague sob is felt in every room there. Also no one has seen here the King Thibaw’s faith on Buddha. So whenever you go to visit Ratnagiri palace in Konkan, light a candle in commemoration of King Thibaw. Because there is evidence in history that every King of Myanmar has strengthened the roots of Theravada Buddhism.

Sanjay Sawant (Navi Mumbai)

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