11 May 1014 – 11 April 1077) was the founder of the Pagan Empire. Considered the father of the Burmese nation, Anawrahta turned a small principality in the dry zone of Upper Burma into the first Burmese Empire that formed the basis of modern-day Burma (Myanmar). Historically verifiable Burmese history begins with his accession to the Pagan throne in 1044. Anawrahta unified the entire Irrawaddy valley for the first time in history, and placed peripheral regions such as the Shan States and Arakan (Northern Rakhine) under Pagan’s suzerainty. He successfully stopped the advance of Khmer Empire into Tenasserim coastline and into Upper Menam valley, making Pagan one of two main kingdoms in mainland Southeast Asia. A strict disciplinarian, Anawrahta implemented a series of key social, religious and economic reforms that would have a lasting impact in Burmese history. His social and religious reforms later developed into the modern-day Burmese culture. By building a series of weirs, he turned parched, arid regions around Pagan into the main rice granaries of Upper Burma, giving Upper Burma an enduring economic base from which to dominate the Irrawaddy valley and its periphery in the following centuries. He bequeathed a strong administrative system that all later Pagan kings followed until the dynasty’s fall in 1287. The success and longevity of Pagan’s dominance over the Irrawaddy valley laid the foundation for the ascent of Burmese language and culture, the spread of Burman ethnicity in Upper Burma. Anawrahta’s legacy went far beyond the borders of modern Burma. His embrace of Theravada Buddhism and his success in stopping the advance of Khmer Empire, a Hindu state, provided the Buddhist school, which had been in retreat elsewhere in South and Southeast Asia, a much needed reprieve and a safe shelter. He helped restart Theravada Buddhism in Ceylon, the Buddhist school’s original home. The success of Pagan dynasty made Theravada Buddhism’s later growth in Lan Na (northern Thailand), Siam (central Thailand), Lan Xang (Laos), and Khmer Empire (Cambodia) in the 13th and 14th centuries possible. Anawrahta is one of the most famous kings in Burmese history. His life stories (legends) are a staple of Burmese folklore and retold in popular literature and theater.