Historically significant author and Mon scholar Dr. Nai Pan Hla passes away

The famous Mon scholar and historical figure Dr. Nai Pan Hla passed away on June 18, 2010, in Yangoon at the age of 87. He passed away from paralytic stroke in the early hours of Friday, June 18, in Hin Zee Hone hospital. Dr. Nai Pan Hla’s daughter, Mi Pawt [Daw Khin Khin Hla], said he had been suffering for two months prior to his death.

Dr. Nai Pan Hla was respected for his work on preserving Mon and Pali history and literature. He was one of the first Mon scholars to translate Pali, Mon and Burmese into English. His knowledge of Pali was particularly respected, as this ancient Buddhist language is no longer practiced by many Mon and many texts threaten to be lost.

Dr. Nai Pan Hla was made famous by his book “The Struggle of Rajadharit”, a book that describes a defining struggle in Burmese history and the role of a famous Mon King. “The Struggle of Rajadharit” was published in 1977 in Yangoon, and was a bestseller in Burma.

Mi Pawt explained the significance of her father’s loss to Mon people in stating, “Everybody will die, but for my father, I feel like I have lost a Mon historical figure and resource on Mon history”. One of his pupils expressed that he has no doubt that all of Dr. Nai Pan Hla’s pupils and those that knew him feel like they have lost an important historical scholar.

Nai Pan Hla was born on March 1923 in Karen State, Kaw-ka-reik township, Kawpain village, to his father, Nai Jawt, and mother, Mi Cho. He studied at Karen KBM high school and Yangoon high school. After World War II, he moved to Yangoon. In Yangoon he served as an assistant secretary at the Government chemistry office, while also working as a secretary for the All Rehmonnya Mon Association.

In 1953 he was appointed as a high officer for the Ministry of Culture. He retired from the Ministry of Culture in 1986. Several years later he went on to get higher educational degrees, including a Bachelor of Science (B.Sc), Law degree (LL.D) and a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) in Anthropology from Pacific Western University, in Los Angeles, California, USA.

In 1991, at the age of 70, he was awarded his B.Sc and Ph.D. In 1992 he translated the Mon Damatha into English, which he received an LL.D for. He received his Ph.D for translating eleven of the Mon TamaTat – a book of Buddhist dharma teachings – into English.

From 1994 to 1998 he taught the subjects of South East Asian Literature and History at Japan’s Okinawah Island University. He returned to Yangoon in 1998, where he taught Mon stone inscription and Pali language to Mon monks, youth and students.

Throughout his life he wrote many articles for Burmese newspapers and journals about Mon culture and history.

Nai Pan Hla always said “We may be able to speak and write Mon, but without knowledge of Mon stone inscription and Pali, it is like we do not know Mon literature at all”.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s