Abstract

Abstract:

The Arakanese monk Sangharaja Saramedha (1801–82) received titles from the British colonial government in 1846, Chittagong's Chakma court in 1857, and the Burmese kingdom in 1868. Highlighting Sangharaja Saramedha's importance in understanding the cross-border history of Buddhism in the Arakan-Chittagong region, this paper lays out the politics of these state titles to the same monk. It argues that the British colonial and the Burmese counter-colonial states invoked the image of or even projected themselves as, the mahādhammarāja (great righteous ruler) to advance their colonial and anti-colonial political agendas. In between these expanding and contracting empires, the colonized ruler Rani Kalindi of the Chittagong Hill Tracts employed the same Arakanese monk to avert the most consequential of all colonial interventions for the Chakma court: the colonial hill-plain separation of Chittagong and dividing the hills into three regions. Rani Kalindi's title to the monk stood as a response to the colonial Bengali-Arakanese ethnic discourse, the underlying force of the colonial hill-plain separation. Rani Kalindi could not forestall the 1860 hill-plain separation nor the resulting emergence of the Arakanese Buddhists as a distinct hill people who extracted the place, people, and properties that the Chakma court had hitherto enjoyed. Nevertheless, she contributed tremendously to the mid-nineteenth century Buddhist reformation in Chittagong that still reverberates in Chittagong and wider Bengal as the legacy of Sangharaja Saramedha.

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Additional Information

ISSN
2010-314X
Print ISSN
1094-799X
Pages
pp. 37-85
Launched on MUSE
2019-10-03
Open Access
No
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