Page:A Brief History of the Indian Peoples.djvu/209

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LORD AMHERST, 1823-1828. 205 that the southern parts of Burma were peopled by settlers from the coast of Coromandel on the Madras side of the Bay of Bengal. However this may be, it is certain that the Buddhist religion, which is professed by the Burmese at the present day, came from India at a very early date. Indeed, the State establish- ment of Buddhism in Burma is said to have taken place in 164 a. d. While a stream of civilisation reached Burma from India on the north-west, the wild Shan tribes and other races of Tibeto- Chinese origin poured into the Irawadi valley from the north-east. Waves of invaders thus passed over Burma during many centuries, some coming from Siam on the south-east, others from the wild mountains of the Chinese frontier on the north-east. These gradually established themselves into three separate kingdoms, namely, Arakan on the Burmese coast ; Ava in the upper valleys of the Irawadi ; and Pegu in the delta of that river They became the ruling races of Burma, races of Tibeto-Chinese descent, who professed or adopted the Buddhist religion which had originally come from India. The three Burmese kingdoms fought against each other with all the cruelties and massacres which characterize the Tibeto-Chinese tribes ; but the learning and civilization of Buddhism survived every shock and flourished around its ancient pagodas. European travellers in the six- teenth century visited Pegu and Tenasserim, which they describe as flourishing marts of maritime trade. During the period of Portuguese predominance in the East, Arakan became the asylum for desperate European adventurers. With their help, the Arakanese extended their power inland, occupied Chittagong, and (under the name of the Maghs) became the terror of the Gangetic delta. About 1750, a new dynasty arose in Burma, founded by Alaungpaya or Alompra, with its capital at Ava. His descendants ruled over Independent Burma until 1885. First Burmese War, 1824-1826. — The successors of Alompra, after having subjugated all Burma, and overrun Assam, which was then an independent kingdom, began a series of encroachments upon the British Districts of Bengal. As they rejected all peaceful proposals with scorn, Lord Amherst was at last compelled to declare war in 1824. One expedition with gunboats proceeded up the Brahmaputra into Assam.