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Dhammayangyi Phaya (ဓမ္မရံကြီးပုထိုး)

Burmese. ‘Delight of Righteousness Pagoda’. Name of a Buddhist temple in Bagan and the largest of all temples in this ancient capital of Burma. It was constructed during the reign of King Narathu, who reigned from 1167 to early 1171 AD, yet the king was assassinated before the construction of the temple was completed. It is said that Narathu was displeased by the performance of Hindu rituals and when an Indian princess of Pateikkaya performed such rituals, he had her executed. Her father, the leader of Pateikkaya, revenged his daughter by sending eight mercenaries disguised as brahmans, who assassinated Narathu in this very temple. King Narathu had come to the throne by assassinating his father King Alaungsithu (fig.) and his elder brother Min Shin Saw. After his father fell ill, Narathu could not wait to become king and quickly moved his father away from the palace to the Shwegugyi Phaya (fig.). However, his father regained consciousness and when he latched on what his son was up to, he became furious for having been set aside, prompting Narathu to smother his father with his own bedclothes. After Alaungsithu death, Narathu's elder brother Min Shin Saw, the heir apparent to the throne returned to Pagan from Ava, where he was sent in exile by his father after some run-ins with the latter, to claim his throne. However, the Crown Prince was also assassinated by his younger brother Narathu, shortly after he was consecrated King. The temple has a near square floor plan, with small side porches that make the layout somewhat cruciform. The interior includes two ambulatories, that form a continuous passage way around the inner sanctum (fig.). However, almost the entire innermost passage was intentionally filled with brick rubble centuries ago, as were three out of the four sanctums (fig.) that house Buddha images (fig.), which have now all been cleared. The western shrine features two original side-by-side images of Gautama and Maitreya, i.e. the historical Buddha and the future buddha (fig.). The interlocking, mortarless brickwork at Dhammayangyi Phaya, best appreciated on the upper terraces, which are accessible by hidden stairways, is said to rank as the finest in Bagan. It is alleged that King Narathu oversaw the construction of this temple himself and that masons were executed if a needle could be pushed between the bricks they had laid. It is widely presumed that King Narathu had Dhammayangyi Phaya built to atone for his sins and to raise his stature, as his ill behaviour had made him deeply unpopular and had greatly lowered the prestige of the dynasty. See also MAP.