Kabar Aye Pagoda, Yangon, Myanmar

KABAR AYE PAGODA

Kabar Aye Pagoda in Yangon is a popular pilgrimage destination for devout Buddhists

To read about my visit to Kabar Aye Pagoda, visit the blog here: Kabar Aye Pagoda & Mahapasana Cave

For all the high-resolution photos from Kabar Aye Pagoda: Click Here

Entrance Fee: Free for locals and $5 USD  for foreigners

Visiting Hours: The pagoda opens daily from 6:00am until around 8:00pm

Location: The Pagoda is located in Mayangon Township about one kilometer northeast of Inya Lake on Kabar Aye Pagoda Road near the Gem Museum north of Inya Lake Hotel

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda (also spelled Kaba Aye Pagoda, Gaba Aye Pagoda, Kabaraye Paya) translates from Myanmar (Burmese) to “World Peace Pagoda.” Located just northeast of Yangon’s largest lake, Inya Lake, the pagoda was built in 1952 by former Prime Minister U Nu (Thakin Nu) for the Sixth Buddhist Council (Synod) held from 1954 to 1956. In Myanmar (Burma), kings and rulers traditionally built a pagoda in their honor to stand as a relic of their rule. The Mahapasana Cave (Mahapasana Guha) located just north of the pagoda was built at the same time. The construction of the pagoda and cave were a part of U Nu’s attempt to establish Buddhism as the official religion of Myanmar, thereby creating a Buddhist state.

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Located approximately 11 km north of downtown Yangon, the pagoda hosted many events during the Synod of 1954. The Synod coincided with the 2500-year anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment. Over 2,500 monks converged on the cave and Pagoda to recite the words of the Buddha in Pali, the entire Tipitaka. The monks recited, edited, and approved all of the Buddhist scriptures, known as the Three Pitakat. The Kabar Aye Pagoda compound is large and is intended to be peaceful and quiet for the tourists, monks and devotees who visit.

The pagoda measures 111 feet (34 m) high and is also 111 feet (34 m) around the base. The circular platform surrounding the main pagoda is enclosed in the style of a cave-temple. There are five porches and entrances decorated with colorful arched pediments. Lotus flowers, lotus buds and swastikas are carved in stucco around the outside. The pagoda, which is hollow, has a middle point inside which features four great Buddhas (four great pillars) in commemoration of the four Buddhas who have already appeared in the world. Aside from an exquisite exterior, the hollow interior of the Kabaraye Paya features exquisite paintings, Buddha depictions donated from around the world and four golden Buddha images: Kassapa Buddha, Kakusandha Buddha, Konagamana Buddha and Gautama Buddha. Vendors sell handmade products on the entrances to the pagoda and fortune tellers wait patiently for their chance to elaborate on what your future holds. A room inside the pagoda houses Buddha relics including a large silver statue of Buddha which stands over eight feet tall.

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda

On August 29, 1961, the Burmese Parliament announced that Buddhism was the official state religion, mainly as a result of U Nu’s efforts. Cow slaughtering was officially banned in Burma. However, in 1962 Ne Win, who succeeded U Nu, repealed this measure and the effort to make Burma a Buddhist country was effectively halted. The construction of the Kabar Aye complex was part of U Nu’s attempt to institutionalize Buddhism at the national level.

The Kabar Aye Paya also underscores the failure of U Nu to standardize and institutionalize Buddhism. There are numerous minorities in Burma such as the Kachins and Karens who felt alienated by this effort to make Buddhism a state enterprise. Furthermore, Buddhists did not believe that Buddhism should be a part of a political institution. They wanted Burma to be a moral society but did not wish their religion to be imposed on the citizens. The monks who want religion to be a social practice that is separate from the state do not associate with these pagodas. Therefore, the pagodas such as the Kaba Aye are not affiliated with any monasteries. The fear is that if these monks become tied to a pagoda, which was built by the state and is run by the state, they will be captured by the state and lose their autonomy.

Kabar Aye Pagoda

On December 25, 1996, two bombs exploded at the Kaba Aye Pagoda and Maha Pasana Cave, killing five people and wounding 17. The initial explosion took place at the Kaba Aye Pagoda at 8:20 pm, but nobody was injured because pilgrims did not use that entrance. However, the second explosion, which detonated two hours later as authorities were looking into the other blast, went off inside the temple as it was filling with pilgrims, causing the fatalities and injuries. At the Kaba Aye compound Buddha’s tooth relic was on display, and thus many more pilgrims were at the site than during normal times. The tooth relic, on loan from China and believed to be one of two surviving since the Buddha’s death 2500 years ago, was not damaged in the bombing.

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda

The explosion followed a crackdown on student protestors who were demanding more civil liberties. The SLORC (State Law and Order Restoration Council) accused the All-Burma Students Democratic Front (ABSDF) and the KNU (Karen National Union) of carrying out the bombing. Both groups denied the accusation. Aung Naing U, the foreign affairs liaison officer of the ABSDA, denied all involvement and added, “This is just an excuse by the SLORC to use force in suppressing the democratic forces. We learned that more security forces were placed at the site of the bombing; despite this measure, the explosions took place. Thus, it is assumed that it must be the work of the SLORC.”

Nowadays, the peaceful and quite compound houses a number of monasteries, the Mahapasana Cave, the Buddhist Art Museum, the Wizaya Dhamathabin Hall and the International Buddhist Learning Center. The Buddhist Art Museum displays quite a large number of religious paraphernalia and Buddhist texts. The Buddhist Learning Center is an important place for scholars from around the world. The center also makes a good place to learn the different mudras and gestures of Buddha Images.

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda

Kabar Aye Pagoda

To read about my visit to Kabar Aye Pagoda, visit the blog here: Kabar Aye Pagoda & Mahapasana Cave

For all the high-resolution photos from Kabar Aye Pagoda: Click Here

Kabar Aye Pagoda

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Resources:

Kaba Aye Pagoda Wiki

Buddhist Tourism

Phillip Harbor

Author, blogger, photographer, all-around world traveler

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Israeli Abroad

IsraeliAbroad (formerly SidepieceDiplomat) was started as a passion project by amateur photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!

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Wiloke

IsraeliAbroad was started as a passion project by photographer Phillip Harbor as he travels from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Yangon, Myanmar (formerly known as Burma) and throughout the world. Named for the adventure, the photoblog seeks to give followers a unique insight into life from a nation that was until recently closed off from the rest of the world for more than half a century. This blog is half photo-half information-half experience-driven. Yes that’s more than a whole… and yes that makes about as much sense as anything else you can find on this half of the globe! Feel free to follow us on social media and right here on the blog as we explore the incredible wonders of Myanmar. Updates will come as regularly as possible and don’t forget to share with your friends!