Known by different names, the Kaba Aye Pagoda literally translates into World Peace Pagoda. The pagoda, situated in Yangon, Myanmar, was built in 1952 by U Nu for the Sixth Buddhist Council that he hosted from 1954-1956. It measures 111 feet (34m) in height as well as in base. Within the complex, he also had the Maha Pasana Guha (great cave) built, which is identical to the Satta Panni cave in India, where the first Buddhist Synod was organized. This 455 feet (139 m) long and 370 feet (110 m) wide cave has six entrances, symbolizing the Sixth Great Synod.
Political Significance and Background
U Nu was the first Prime Minister of Burma after the independence in 1947. He was a devout Buddhist and built the Kaba Aye Pagoda and the Maha Pasana Guha Cave, as an attempt to make Burma a Buddhist state. In 1961, the Parliament announced Buddhism as the official religion; however, this stature was later repealed.
Furthermore, the Buddhist society did not wish to associate religion with politics. They were in favor of adopting the moral values but against the imposing of religion on the society. Thus, the Kaba Aye is not affiliated with any monasteries.
One can visit the pagoda on any day between 6 a.m. to 8 p.m. by paying a nominal entrance fee. There is a circular platform around the main pagoda (2.4 m high), which is enclosed in a cave-temple style. Five porches, all 8 feet high, are decorated with colorful arched pediments and have a smaller pagoda on each. The room inside the pagoda houses many significant Buddha relics. The entire premise is a quiet and peaceful area where monks, devotees and other visitors are present.
Significance and Origin of Pagodas in Burma
It is a traditional practice in the state for kings to build a pagoda to stand as a remnant of their rule. This practice began in the 11th century when King Anawrahta built many pagodas in south Burma after he invaded the region. It is reckoned by some that he ordered their construction to make up for the violence that was caused while setting up of the Pagan dynasty. Following suit, hundreds of rulers built pagodas during their reigns.
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