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Thailand - 7991292 - Hariphunchai / Haripunjaya Period

The Hariphunchai in the North became Chiang Saen, and later developed into Lanna. Taking advantage of Funan's decline in the sixth century AD, the Mon began to establish independent kingdoms, among them Dvaravati in the northern part of the area formerly controlled by Funan and farther north at Haripunjaya. The Mon kingdom of Haripunjaya was founded in 654. The town of Lamphun was originally the center of the Mon Kingdom known as Hariphunchai and believed to have been founded in the late 7th or early 8th century AD.

The Haripunchai kingdom was established with the influence of the Thevaradi culture of the central plains along the Chao Phraya River. It prospered in terms of religion, art, culture and economy in particular. Its kings were attentive to patronize Buddhism. The Mon were receptive to the art and literature of India, and for centuries they were the agents for diffusing Hindu cultural values in the region. The frequent occurrence of Sanskrit place-names in modern Thailand is one result of the long and pervasive Indian influence.

According to the Yonok Chronicle, Haripunchai was founded by a holy man named Wasuthep, who recruited the Mon ethnic groups to work on the construction. The city was located in the space between two rivers, Mae Kwuang and Mae Ping. Wasuthep invited Chammathewi, a daughter of the King of Lawo, to rule the city as the first queen of the Kingdom of Hariphunchai. The legendary amorous and diplomatic exploits of Queen Chamma Thewi are the subject of numerous Lanna folk tales. Queen Jamadevi roamed far and wide across the kingdom, leading forces of warriors, monks, pundits and craftsmen in brave attempts to expand her territory to the greatest. However, before Queen Jamadevi could achieve her greatest desire, the storm of a great war erupted. With her beloved land and freedom at stake, the revered Queen Jamadevi and her loyal warriors were about to encounter the most dreadful and mightiest army ever, knowing that if they lost, all would be lost.

Subsequently, Queen Chammathewi introduced Buddhism into the city of Hariphunchai. Hitherto, the people in this area remain deeply related to Buddhism. In the eighth century, missionaries from Ceylon (present-day Sri Lanka) introduced the Mon to Theravada Buddhism. The Mon embraced Buddhism enthusiastically and conveyed it to the Khmer and the Malay of Tambralinga. The two Indian religious systems -- Hindu and Buddhist -- existed side by side without conflict. Hinduism continued to provide the cultural setting in which Buddhist religious values and ethical standards were articulated. Although Buddhism was the official religion of the Mon and the Khmer, in popular practice it incorporated many local cults.

Laurent Hennequin notes that "The history of the Mon Kingdom of Haripunjaya, now Lamphun in the North of Thailand, is comparatively well known thanks to a number of chronicles. However, the chronicles rarely agree between themselves, in particular concerning chronology, and there is no contemporary evidence to confirm any of them. ... the chronology, before the setting up of Thai principalities, of the Kingdom of Haripunjaya ... gives historians numerous headaches for a complex of reasons : Paradoxically, there is an excess of evidence, as there are comparatively many chronicles which mention this kingdom and its kings, but their testimonies are very often contradictory... There are very few first-hand documents, as the number of inscriptions of this kingdom so far discovered does not exceed ten and they are usually quite uninformative... "

The Legend of Queen Cama (Camadevivamsa), an early fifteenth-century Pali chronicle written by Mahathera Bodhiramsi, recounts the story of the founding of the kingdom of Haripunjaya in the Chiang Mai valley of Northern Thailand in the seventh century AD. Similar to other Theravada Pali chronicles, the legend integrates religious and political stories, namely, Queen Cama's founding of a dynastic lineage and the fortunes of Buddhism within it. One of the most striking features of the book is the parallelism between the text's dominant narratives--the Buddha's journey to Northern Thailand and his prediction of the discovery of a Buddha relic by King Adittaraja (eleventh century C.E.), and the founding by Queen Cama of a lineage destined to govern Haripunjaya for five hundred years.

The 11th century was a time of conflict and brutal power struggles. Only with Suryavarman II (reigned 11131150) was the Khmer Lingdom united internally and extended externally. Under his rule, the largest temple of Angkor was built in a period of 37 years: Angkor Wat, dedicated to the god Vishnu. Suryavarman II conquered the Mon kingdom of Haripunjaya to the west (in today's central Thailand).

Hariphunchai City underwent political changes over a long period. Several dynasties and kings ruled the city, which was an independent principality. The last king of the lineage was Phraya Yiba, who lost the city to King Mengrai the Great of the Lan Na Kingdom in 1282. During the reign of King Mengrai, the Central Administration was shifted to Chiang Mai whereas Haripunchai became a religious center.

Therefore, Buddhism was well established and continued to prosper in the area. Phra Borommathat Hariphunchai, which represented the glory of Buddhism in the upper north in its early days, remained significantly important. Subsequent Lanna kings continued to attach great importance to Phra Borommathat Hariphunchai Pagoda. Since then, the influence of Lamphun art and culture has been apparent throughout the kingdom especially in Wiang Kum Kam, Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

Lamphun was incorporated into the Thai Kingdom during the reign of King Taksin the Great. Ever since then, Lamphun was ruled by city rulers until 1922 when the last ruler, Major General Prince Chakkham Khachonsak passed away.

Chiang Mai Province is located in the Chiang Mai-Lampoon graben, the largest graben in the northern part of Thailand. The graben fed by the Ping River, which originates upstream from Chiang Dao District. The Chiang Mai-Lampoon graben has a specialplace in Thai history as it was the location of the three Lanna empires, namely, Haripunjaya, Wiang Kumkam, and Nopphaburi Sri Nakornping Chiang Mai. Although this area provides an excellent location for community settlements and commerce, it is located on the plain that has always been vulnerableto flooding. Therefore, Wiangkumkam was severely flooded and drawn for more than 700 years.

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Page last modified: 08-04-2012 18:43:20 ZULU