The land that is known as Arakan by the foreigners is called ‘Rakhaing-pray’ by its own peoples, Rakhaing-thars Arakanese).The word “Arakan” was a derivation of the ancient word “Arakha-de-sha” (the land of Arakan) which is found in line forty of Anandachandra inscriptions of Shitethaung pillar.
Rakhapura is the former name of Rakhaing-pray. Arakanese people today do not use the term ‘Rakhapura’ to mention their land. But, every Arakanese love the word “Rakhapura” as they assume that it is a unique word for only Arakanese in this universe. It can also be found in both classical and modern Arakanese plays, poetry and songs.
Both Rakhapura and Rakhaing-pay means the land that is owned and inhabited by the Arakanese.
According to the Arakanese chronicles, the word ‘Rakhaing’ was originated from Rakhap-ura and it means the original inhabitants of Rakhapura.
Arakhadesha > Rakhasa > Rakkha > Rakkhaing > Rakhaing
In Pali the word ‘Rakhaing’ is used to honor the people who love their nation, and preser- ve their national heritage, and their traditional ethics or morality
The Arakanese history records the early Arakanese to migrate in Arakan and settled down in their true land since time immemorial. The independent and sovereign Buddhist Kingdom of Arakan had been splendidly flourishing from 3325 B.C. till the Burman invaders occupied it in 1784.
The history of Arakan can be divided in to four major period throughout its thousand-years-long history. They are:
The 1st Dhannyawaddy Period (King Marayu, BC. 3325 – BC. 1483)
The 2nd Dhannyawaddy Period (King Kanrazagree, BC. 1483 – BC. 580)
The 3rd Dhannyawaddy Period (King Chandra Surya, BC. 580 – AD. 326)
- Vesali Period (King Dvan Chandra, AD. 327 – AD. 1018)
- Laemro Period (King Nga Tone Munn, AD. 1018 – AD.1406)
- Mrauk-U Period (King Munn Saw Mwan, AD.1430 – 1784)
The 1st Dhannyawaddy Period (BC. 3325 – BC. 1483)
According to the legend, Dhanyawadi (the first independent Arakan kingdom) was established in 3325 B.C by King Maryu (the Arakanese legendary hero-ancestor). It is said that King Rarayu had married the daughter of the chief of Mro tribe and had founded Dhanyawadi after defeating the bilus (demon-like creatures) who arrived earlier in the area.
The Lost of Chittagong and Twelve Bengal Districts
Even though Arakan had reached zenith of power in the Bay when it was under the rule of the skilled and powerful kings, the country’s glory and fame has steadily declined when it was succeeded and ruled by the unqualified kings. Chittagong and other districts of Bengal were invaded and occupied by the Moghal in 1666 AD.
The Lost of Arakan Kingdom, its nation and national identity
After the Moghal invaded and annexed part of the Arakanese territories, internal instability and dethroning of kings had happened very often in Arakan Court. Taking opportunity in the overall weakness inside the country, the Burmese King U Wine violated the good-friendly neighbour’s ethics and dispatched his invading forces into Arakan in mid-November, 1784 and occupied it by the end of 1784.
The national independence of Arakan and sovereignty of the Arakan Kingdom were lost on 31 December 1784 (7 waxing day of Pratho 1146 AE.) when it was invaded and subjugated by the Burman King Maung Wyne. The people of Arakan became enslaved. The national flag hoisted in honour of the nation on the top of the Royal Assembly Hall was dropped. The dignity, the honour and the prestige of the Rakhine as a FREE NATION had terminated immediately after loss of independence.
Area of Arakan
Arakan is situated among India in the North, Burma in the East and People’s Republic of Bangladesh in the West. To the south, it extends up to Haigri Islands and is bounded on the southwest by the Bay of Bengal.
The area of Arakan was more than 20,000 sq. ml. till the British period. But, Burmese ruler, without the consent of Arakanese people, split up a north western Arakan Hill Tracts area bordering India and a southern most part of Arakan (from Kyauk Chaung River to Cape Negaris) from the Arakan mainland. Due to these partitions, the present day total area of Arakan was reduced to 18, 500 sq. ml and it comprise less than half of historic Arakan territory.
The Rakhine State of Burma
The Rakhine state, consisting 17 townships was created by the then Burmese Socialist Programme Party (BSPP) government led by General Ne Win after granting Arakan region the state status. But it was done by the Burmese for administrative purposes.
Today area of Arakan is located between Lat. 16′ 00″ N- Lat. 21′ 20″ N and Long. 92′ 20″ E- Long. 95′ 20″ E. Arakan is known as one of the poorest states under so called Union of Burma ruled by military junta called SPDC (State Peace and Development Council) with its official name, Rakhine State.
Arakanese, however, use the term “Arakan” to mean the area which was historically and traditionally known as Arakan before the 1784 Burmese invasion. Despite over 200 years of Burmese occupation of Arakan, the Arakanese peoples refuse to be conquered and subjugated by the Burmese. Arakan independent movement started just after it lost independent and is carrying on until now.