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rate of two or three maunds per rupee, and the greater part of it bought for exportation.
Outside the village and facing the road was the large and comfortable dwelling of -the Soogree of Seppo-towng.
- He was an elder man, of respectable appearance, and bore a good character in his district; inviting me to pass the night under his roof, he set about making arrangements for my reception, and appeared desirous of contributing as much as possible to my comfort. I learned from his followers who were sitting around me in an attitude of careless and indolent attention, that the Soogree was a native of Ava, and had come to the province when very young. He had since that time enjoyed several situations of emolument, and was a man of much consequence under the Burmah Government. The change of rule had produced a change in his circumstances, and the net amount of per»centage* he now realized during the year will not perhaps exceed 400 rupees, probably not one-tenth of what he was accustomed to receive during the period of Burmah sovereignty in Arracan. Every thing around me but too plainly betrayed the existence of this decline of fortune. The stockade that surrounded his compound was gradually giving way under the pressure of age; no new posts supplied the places of those that had fallen in, and his shrubbery and garden forcibly reminded me of that which is said to have once belonged to the “Man of Ross.” The Soogree, said one of his dependents, cannot now afford to maintain that character for hospitality which once be~ longed to him ; he cannot even provide for his most faithful followers, much less give bread to the stranger ; he still continues to do so, however, as far as his means will permit, and there are none who approach his door without receiving a welcome to his board. I respected the feeling that induced the expression of these sentiments, and thought more favourably of my host in consequence thereof.
At the time that Rambree Island was subject to the Burmah rule, the Soogrees were invariably natives of the province ;' appointed and removed at pleasure by the Burmah M éyowoon or other local authority. The Rooagongs in like manner owed their nomination or dismissal to the Soogree. There appears to have been no regular maintenance authorized for the support of these functionaries, and consequently no limit to their exactions and misappropriation of the public funds. The Soogrees were not only entrusted with the collection of the revenue, (derived from demands made at pleasure on those able to comply with them, and which might therefore be viewed in the light of a property
“ A Soogree receives 15 per cent. on the collections, and a Rooayong four per
tax,) but were in some instances permitted to pass decisions in civil suits and also in cases of petty theft and larceny : at a time when corruption was so openly allowed and practised, it may be easily supposed that much gain was derived from this permission, and that little reliance could be placed upon the jirstice of the decisions, or statements made by these Soegrees respecting the gross amount of revenue derived from their several districts. One-fifth of the supposed produce was generally retained for the services of those delegated by authority to convey the royal mandates to the Me’;/owoon, and the remainder was devoured by that ofiicer, the Mroosoogree, and others of the local Go-~ vernment. The Soogrees and Rooagongs of districts having precisely secured to themselves such a share of the‘ spoil as they could safely maintain withoutdincurring the displeasure of the Meyowoon ; the proceeds of other sources of revenue, especially that derived from the customs, (and which during the Burmah rule was in some instances considerab1e,) were remitted to the capital as the provision for the Prince Royal, to whose safe and auspicious keeping the Island of Rambree had been consigned.
In the evening I took a walk towards the Kioum, and on my arrival there found the Phoongrees on the point of setting out to a small village in the neighbourhood, with the view of performing the rites of sepulture over a young woman and her child. The former had. died pregnant, and as is invariably the custom in such cases, the child had been removed from the womb, that it might be buried separately from its mother. It is further* deemed necessary that a river or creek should i-ntervene between the graves of the parent and child ;- a precaution that was observed in the present instance. Desirous of witnessing a ceremony that was new to me, I asked leave to accompany the Phoongrees .a permission that was readily granted. As we drew near to the house of the deceased, the corpse of the young woman, borne upon a litter adorned with gold and silver leaf, was brought upon the pathway, and preceded by the Phoongrees, was taken to the ground appointed for its home. Immediately behind the bier clothed in their white dresses and with shaven crowns, were a group of Mey-thee-layéngf ; and next to these followed the relatives of the deceased. A poor woman whom I learned was mother to the deceased continued to utter the most bitter lamentations the whole of the way, and did not cease from so doing until the corpse had been borne to the spot prepared for its final reception. When thelitter had been placed by the side of the grave, pieces of cloth, with rice and plantains, were laid out as an ofiering to the Pbraa ,- a leatheru carpet was spread upon the ground, and on this the senior Phoongree seated himself, assuming a look of deep meditation, and partially concealing his face from public view by means of the yatt0wing* that he bore in his hand. This done the Méy-thee-layéng and relatives of the deceased kneeled upon the ground in two rows (the former kneeling outside), and all made obeisance to the Phoongree. Rice was put into their hands, and each individual pronounced the following words in an audible and suppliant tone, receiving from the P/wongree replies to the several prayers that were put up. (Congregation. kneeling.) Ogdd/izah1"! Ogddkzah I I once, twice, and three times entreat for thy na1ne’s sake, and for the sake of thy holy ministers, that thou wilt forgive me those sins that I have commited in this life ; and I also pray that in the future migrations of my soul I may be the first of human beings who shall meet with Eye-yeemud-dea/ll (ariya Maitriya), and finally attain to Nibbban§ with him.
‘* It is ordered by Gautama that the womb of every woman dying pregnant shall be opened, the child removed and buried apart from its mother; (a river or creek intervening between the graves.) Otherwise the mother will be born again for ten successive times‘, and be subject to the same misfortune.
1- The Mdy-thee-layéng are an inferior order of nuns wearing white dresses and living in convents of their own. Their discipline is less severe than that
imposed upont he Bhikitnni, and their knowledge of the doctrines of the Buddhist faith less extensive.
"“ I/allowing, a kind of fan, borne only by the Phoongrees.
+ Okésa, Holy Being.
1 It is the belief of these worshippers of Gautama that the age of man was far greater formerly than it is at present ; it is now said to be 60 years or more, it will gradually become less, until 10 years will be the average term of existence. This will be followed by an increase, so that 1000 years shall be the period of existence allotted to man. When this has occurred, all the images of Gautama, and all his sacred writings will be miraculously collected and consumed at the Bhodeebéng tree. (The branches of this tree are said to be of gold, and the leaves to resemble emeralds. It is celebrated as the place where Gautama first became a Phraa, or religious teacher. To ascertain the site of this tree, as well as the locality of kingdoms and cities known at present by other names, was not one of the least important objects of the Burmah mission sent into Hindustan some years ago under charge of the méyowoon Thoowé-dfing-sa-ga-soc.)
The destruction of the images and writings of Gautama will he succeeded by the nativity of the Phraa Eye-yee-mud-deah ; and all good men thenresiding upon earth will become his disciples. Occurrences similar to those above described as consequent to the Nighban of Gautama will mark the departure of Eye-yee-muddeal: from the world. Rdmah Phraa will then appear, and he will declare his successor.
§ Nibbhm, annihilation, properly. If a man, or woman, is eminently virtn. ousin this life, he or she, may hope to attain to a Nibbhan, i. e. not to be born again, but to become as air, smoke, &c. without sense, substance, or shape.
(Phoongree.) You have once, twice and three times entreated of me in prayer, and you may hope that your sins will be forgiven to you ; and that you will hereafter meet with Eye-yee-mud-deah, and attain to a Nibbhan.
C. Ogadhzah! Ogadlzzah! once, twice, and three times I vow that I will not commit those five mortal sins which are spoken of in the holy writings, and which I am forbidden to commit.
P. You have declared that you will not this day commit those sins. Is that which you have said true P
C. I will do according to that which I have said.
P. Do you believe in the Phraa Gautama? do you believe in his holy writings, and do you acknowledge his ministers ?
C. All these do I believe and acknowledge.
P. If you do believe in these*, take not the life of any living being this day ; neither steal; neither commit adultery; neither bear false witness ; and do not make use of intoxicating liquors.
C. All these sins will I carefully avoid.
Gshén Phraa1' ! Accept of these offerings, I pray thee, and pardon the sins that I have committed in this life ; pardon also the sins of the deceased for whom these offerings are also presented; and grant that during this life, or in the future migrations of my soul I may not suffer harm from the five enemies; of mankind, If I shall be born again as man, let me, I pray thee, be placed in a condition far superior to that enjoyed by my fellow creatures ; if as a spirit, let me he as Sub-gyala (Sagyd or Indra), in the world of spirits.
Accept of these offerings, I pray thee; they are made not for my good alone, but for the future benefit of my parents and relatives, as well as for my spiritual teachers and the rulers of the land. They are made also for those who suffer torment in Ngah-_1/eh§ ; for the spirit in the world above and for all living beings. I call Muth-soon-dye’/zll to witness that these offerings are made not for my individual good alone, but for the benefit of all that have the breath of life.
(Water is here poured upon the ground through one of the pieces of cloth that had been presented to the Phraa. The water percolates through the earth, and is supposed to reach the abode of Mutl|-s0on
* These are the five mortal sins.
1* Lord! Master! &c.
3 The five enemies of mankind are, 1, Fire; 2, Water; 3, The Rulers of the Land; 4, Robbers ; 5, Wild Beasts.
§ Hell, (q. Purgatory?)
1| Muth-soon-dyéh (Vasundare) is the “ Recording Angel” who resides in the earth ; hears, and marks down every thing that is said.