Monday, January 14, 2008

9. Minyekyawswa sends an envoy to Rajadhirat with gifts

A fairly literal translation to English:
In the evening Minyekyawswa sent his men to Prince Banya Dala and Awa-na-naing to speak with them.

"We have waited til dusk for Emuntaya to travel up river for Pegu. Why hasn't he left yet?," they asked.

"Doesn't younger brother Minyekyawswa know? Emuntaya left for Pegu at dawn," Prince Banya Dala replied.

When Minyekyawswa's men came back, they related what had happened. When Minyekyawswa had listened to their story, he was quite surprised and because he didn't believe what they had said, he sent a courier with a letter to Pegu. The courier's official position was that of "let-ya thaut-hmu" [leader of the left wing thwei-thauk]. The letter read as follows:
Exceedingly dear and venerable elder uncle, to whom Minyekyawswa addresses this letter, I had heard that you fled to Martaban (Mottama). Since elder uncle has now returned from Martaban to Pegu, my desire to fight elephant to elephant with you (duel) will soon be realized. It is because elder uncle ran away that I have been staying in Dala. Older uncle has chosen neither to come after me from upriver, nor to come after me from downriver.

"Being from a sovereign line of kings, when you see war you feel disheartened? One who acts like older uncle cannot be considered a sovereign king. If elder uncle requests that I travel upriver to Pegu, I will. If elder uncle wants to travel downriver I will likewise welcome him."
Minyekyawswa sent this letter together with one fine horse equipped with gold reins and one set of red ruby bracelets to King Rajadhirat. To the courier Let-ya Thaut-hmu, he gave the order: "If you meet Emuntaya, award him with this fine horse equipped with golden reins and also with this velvet robe."

The courier set off to Pegu and when he arrived there, the lord Rajadhirat was residing at Thebyuchaung. Rajadhirat ordered that the courier be welcomed and when the courier arrived in the presence of Rajadhirat , the courier presented the letter and gifts that had been given to him to present. When Rajadhirat had listened to the letter, he ordered the courier to send the following message in return: "Tell my nephew (Minyekyawswa) not to come up to Pegu, I will come instead to Dala.

Then the courier inquired as to whether Emuntaya had already arrived back at the royal feet or not, whether this was true or not true, the royal nephew (Minyekyawswa) wished to know. The courier addressed the king that he was to inform the royal nephew as to whether he had seen Emuntaya or not.

Emuntaya was called and when he arrived in front of the courier, the courier bestowed upon him the many gifts (su) that Minyekyawswa wished to award him with, including the horse, the golden reins, and the velvet robe. In return the lord Minyekyawswa was given as gifts one green velvet robe and sixteen rolls of cloth for basoes (sarongs).

The courier was rewarded for his efforts and given as gifts a fine basoe and a golden bowl (shwei-hpala). The courier returned to Dala and reported all that had transpired to Minyekyawswa especially the return of Emuntaya" (Banya Dala, Razadarit Ayeidawpon in Burmese, 318).
[Note: There are obviously a lot of issues to be worked out in translating this old text. There is often a tradeoff between literally and rendering exactly what the Burmese text is saying and the way it is saying it and other factors such as readability of the translation and having it make sense to modern-day non-Burmese readers without a lot of cumbersome accompanying footnotes.

In my translation I tried to be more literal but also tried to avoid English idioms which sometimes seem misplaced when translating an ancient text. Sometimes providing the exact Burmese word used can shed light on exactly what was said to those familiar with the Burmese language. For example, "award" as the translation of the Burmese word "su" (award) is often used when the word "gift" perhaps would be more appropriate, since it really seems to be an extension of the practice of gift exchange found in many cultures. In the text above, it does not seem to be correct usage to describe valuable objects given to an enemy king as "awards." "Gifts" seems more appropriate. The use of the word "present" instead of "gift" as seen in some translations also perhaps seems too quaint according to modern usage of the two words.

The theme of rewarding warriors who excel in battle whether they are working for or against you, perhaps with an aim to getting them to desert to your side, is an oft repeated theme in Rajadhirat]

Here is the venerable senior scholar U San Lwin's translation that I used as a guide:
"At dusk Minyekyawswa sent his men to call on prince Binnya Dala and Smin Awananaing to inquire into this matter and they were told by Binnya Dala that did not Minyekyawswa know that he had left at dawn. Accordingly, a courier was sent to Pegu with this letter, "Dear Elder Uncle to Minyekyawswa informs that, I had heard that you ran away to Martaban but now that you are back in Pegu my hopes of jousting with you on elephant will be realised soon. I was in Dala all the time but you chose not to come at me either from upstream or downstream but instead ran away. There is no monarch like you who is so battle-shy. If you would like me to come to Pegu I will gladly do so or should you come down for me I will welcome you." This was carried by the commander of the left wing of blood brothers, together with a steed caparisoned in gold and a pair of ruby bracelets to be presented to Razadarit. He was also given a fine horse caparisoned in gold and a velvet robe with instructions that they were to be awarded to Emuntaya if he happened to meet him at the court of Pegu.

Razadarit was staying at Thebyuchaung when Minyekyawswa's courier arrived and after the message had been conveyed Razadarit told the courier "Tell my nephew that he need not come up to Pegu but that I will be coming down to Dala. Then the courier submitted to the king that he had also been given the task of looking up Emuntaya. Emuntaya was summoned and and Minyekyawswa's presents were duly given to him. King Razadarit then gave a green velvet robe and sixteen bolts of material each enough for a suit as presents for Minyekyawswa and a bowl made of gold and a length of quality cloth for the courier. All these were duly reported on the courier's return" (San Lwin, 142-143).