The Third Long Journey
East Turkistan-Tibet (1866-1388 B.C)
The Karens learned valuable lessons in their second journey through the hostile Taklamakan desert. It was quite a brilliant feat for the whole race to come out alive. They endured the wild and horrible climate of the desert. They fought the wily invisible enemy who tried to wipe them out. With unity and determination they overwhelmed them. And with more unity and more determination they will conquer more. When Lop Nor could not accommodate large population anymore, the Karens learned to send scouts for exploration of the lands before the main bulk advanced. It was clear that the Karens always left remnants voluntarily or involuntarily to enjoy more lands vacated by their neighbors. They could sustain themselves longer. Some remained there to mingle with local population to decide their own destiny and some later followed on relatives and neighbors who had gone before them. This pattern of mass exodus is still found in the Karen behavior today.
The journey was preconceived and the Karens met no difficulty. They had to ascend mountains of more than 5000 meters high. They also made Htars about the land they were approaching, compared it with Lop Nor, and they marched with joy and fervor towards a new hopeful land. The journey lasted 2 years and covered a distance of more than 1000 Kilometers.
Theebaw Theemu was a name given by the Karens to a land called Tibet today. The Karens were mostly familiar with nature and when they saw the great height and tremendous white cap mountains they felt like they were amidst God’s surroundings. The Karens have quite a few terms to call God. In awe, they named the land Theebaw Theemu which chose a place where the sources of three great rivers of Asia, Yangtze, Mekong, and Salween located. The soil were rich for cultivation, the land green with pasture for animals raising, the water filled with fishes for meat and the forest abounded with flora and fauna for nourishment. It was said that when the three rivers flooded the land became a sea and fishes enjoyed touring others’ domain. It also made possible for the Karens to get big catches. For a peaceful and industrious people like Karens, the land provided everything they needed and they started building villages and towns. This was the first evidence showing the Karens’ interest to settle down for meaningful lives. The Karen system of government at that time seemed to be unitary with more power for decentralized communities. The Karens increased in great numbers and as years went by there happened to be scarcity of food arising from many reasons. The soil became barren, the fishes reduced and a large area of forest used up. Occasional famine plagued the land and the leaders became worried about the future of their race. The Karens were perhaps the first settlers of this land and named it Theebaw Theemu. The first record of Tibet Empire happened to be in 700 A.D, over a thousand year after the Karens left. To prevent this seeming disaster, they decided to move again. In 1388 B.C, after 476 years in Tibet, they set out to find new lands, following the courses of the three rivers and moved eastward to Sichuan.
Why did the Karens fail to build a nation?
Even though the Karens had been a large race, crossed many unexplored boundaries, covered long distance of more than 10,000 Kilometers, resided as the first settlers in many lands, they never thought of claiming the land as their own and built walls and ramparts for their defense. So many possibilities can be accounted for this long asked question.
- The Karens were one of the most ancient tribes survived to this day.
- Nomadic lives had been the first political system ancient people developed in keeping a tribe or a race together.
- The Karens avoided belligerent and warlike races who in times past established city-states by subduing other tribes. (These conquerors sustained themselves by demanding heavy taxes on their subjects and looting their neighbors).
- The Karens were not interested in trading which made traditional kingdoms of the region powerful.
- The Karens race comprised largely of slash and burn cultivators, hunters and fishermen who enjoyed outdoor lives.
- Even though they never lacked good leaders for guidance and instruction, they still need more effective leaders to make their dreams come true.
- The Karens were probably following the course of history to fulfill the prophecies made for them by their charismatic and enigmatic leaders.