- By Thiha (the Traveller)
We knew of Nat Shin Naung ever since we were young after being taught about him in our school lessons. But I learnt more about him as I grew up because this great poet was a very interesting person. Yaza Datu Kalyar, known for her beauty, was a person known together with him. She was 19 years his senior and he won her heart through his poems. He was not only an outstanding person in the soft arts of poems but also in the hard and tough works of warfare and fighting. He was also known as the grandson of Bayintnaung. The tomb or a pagoda entombing his remain was right beside Kyaikkhauk Pagoda in Thanlyin Township. Most visitors overlooked and went past this significant place without ever knowing the background about it.
Who was Nat Shin Naung?
An outstanding poet, musician and an equally outstanding military commander, he was the grandson of King Bayitnaung. His father, ruler of Toungoo, was Min Ye Thiha Thu. Nat Shin Naung was born in 1587. As a military commander, he took part in King Nanda’s unsuccessful attempt to conquer Siam in the early 1590s. He was in a battle where King Naresuan of Thailand was victorious over the Crown Prince of Myanmar. The date 18 January had been commemorated in Thailand as Royal Thai Armed Forces Day.
Nat Shin Naung also participated in his father’s successful attack or revolt against King Nanda’s capital city in Bago on 1599. The joint attack on Bago was by forces of Taungoo and Arakan (Rakhine) where King Nanda was captured and taken as prisoner to Taungoo. Captive King Nanda was reportedly assassinated by Nat Shin Naung without authorization from his father. Nat Shin Naung became Crown Prince when his father Min Ye Thiha Thu became King of Toungoo.
Crown Prince Nat Shin Naung married his love Yaza Datu Kalyar, the source of his famous poems, in 1603. But their love story ended as tragedy with the death of Yaza Datu Kalyar seven months later.
On his father’s death in 1609, Nat Shin Naung became King of Toungoo. By that time, Myanmar that has fallen apart into small states after the sacking of King Nanda’s capital city Bago, was mostly unified under the leadership of King Anaukpetlun. The kingdom of Anuakpetlun was known in Myanmar history as Nyaungyan Dynasty and King Anaukpetlun completed the reunification effort of his father King Nyaungyan. In 1610, King Anaukpetlun attacked and conquered Toungoo but let Nat Shin Naung continue to rule Toungoo as a vessel state. As Nat Shin Naung was not happy with his status, he made secret alliance with Filipe de Brito e Nicote, a Protuguese mercenary who became ruler of Thanlyin known locally as Nga Zinga to take back Toungoo. When this attack failed, Nat Shin Naung fled to Thanlyin with Nga Zinga.
The final chapter of Nat Shin Naung came with the capture of Thanlyin in 1613 by Anuakpetlun. King Anuakpetlun offered to pardon Nat Shin Naung but Nat Shin Naung refused to gave an oath of allegiance saying he had already converted to Christianity after being baptized in Thanlyin and chose death together with his blood-brother Nga Zinga over servitude. Both were put to death by the conquering King Anaukpetlun.
Tomb or pagoda for Nat Shin Naung
Remains or Nat Shin Naung and Nga Zinga were buried separately. Nat Shin Naung tomb was built as a pagoda near Kyaikkhauk Pagoda. It was now maintained as historical building and was fenced off probably for renovation or restoration.
How to go there
Thanlyin can be reached simply by car and Kyaikkhauk Pagoda is after the turn to Thilawa Industrial Zone. Just don’t miss the Nat Shin Naung tomb or pagoda beside the Kyaikkhauk pagoda. It is the final resting place of the controversial poet king Nat Shin Naung.
Translated by Handytips