Nature-Spirits in the 21st Century

Thailand is one of the few countries that produce the best horror movies, however, the belief in ghosts is not uniquely Thai but, on the contrary, it is a cornerstone of most cultures. If you think believing in ghosts and spirits in this scientifically and technologically advanced age is weird or not align with mainstream belief then you may have to rethink critically.

A poll conducted by YouGov in October 2019 found that at least 45% of Americans believe in ghosts and demons whereas a similar poll conducted in October 2014 found 34% of British people share similar belief and these figures are rising steadily among those aged 35 and below. Other surveys conducted in the last 10 years have shown 68% of Singaporeans aged 45 and below and just about everyone in Thailand and Taiwan believe in ghosts.

Belief in Paranormal Existences in the 21st Century

Photograph extracted from the horror movie “Rang Song” produced by GDH.

Where does the belief in ghosts and spirits stands in a technologically and scientifically advanced 21st century? There are many Buddhist scholars who reject spirit related issues based on a claim that the death-birth cycle is instantaneous, that is to say, the moment an individual dies, his/her “mind” immediately finds a body conditioned by thoughts of that individual when breathing his/her last breath. There are equally other Buddhist scholars who claim that rebirth in the various planes of existence is all up in the mind, that is, from birth right up to enlightenment are all played out in a single life time and there is no real rebirth or reincarnation of beings.

We are not sure about the premises of their propositions. We have not found them in any sutta leave alone in the words of Lord Buddha. However, what we do observed is that both propositions share a common denomination which, in psychology, is called “thought flow.” The first proposition may be defined as fantasizing and, the second as daydreaming. If such propositions are to hold any legitimacy in Buddhism then, sadly, understanding the Four Noble Truth, the theory of dependent origination, the law of kamma, and practising the Noble Eightfold Path amongst other things taught by Lord Buddha will inevitably all-in-all become a mockery and a waste of time, are they not?

The essence of Buddhism in facing death is to conquer fear for the unknown. Rebirth after death, how long does it take to be reincarnated and what afterlife is like; and in which plane of existence will one be reborn are all unknown to an individual. Therefore, unavoidably, there will always be fear and anxiety. In order to overcome these negative psychological and emotional effects is through the understanding of the law of kamma, to cultivate and accumlate good kamma so as to be reborn in a pleasant state within the 31 planes of existence. Unfortunately, the afore-mentioned scholarly propositions approach fear and anxiety over the unknown outside one’s comfort zone through the formation of an escape route made easy and pleasant by way of fantasy and daydream which, in our opinion, is simply not Buddhism!

Does Science Explain Everything?

Photograph extracted from Bangkok Ghost Stories screened on Channel 33

Scientists have attempted to debunk and explain paranormal experiences based on faulty activity in the brain. They usually attribute such experiences to some form of neurotrauma, for examples, objects moving by itself may be associated with certain malfunctioning to specific regions of the visual processing centre of the brain called the occipital lobe; certain forms of epilepsy, a central nervous system disorder, may cause spooky feelings such as the presence of the unseen; and any combination of fatigue, drugs, alcohol, and lighting effects may also contribute to a single and isolated experience of paranormal encounter. There may be some truth in these scientific dogmas but they may not always be true in every context.

The psychiatric patient or more popularly known as the asylum lady in Shutter Island played by American actress Jill Larson

What happens if there is no brain damage detected? Then it must be some form of cognitive or emotional dysfunction, otherwise, the answer must be that of insanity. These are somewhat the scientific protocols that are guarded zealously by the institutions at the expense and well-being of people who experience paranormal activities. Many but not all paranormal experiences may be linked to neuropsychiatric problems and to force-fit each and every content into a set of predetermined context do more harm than good. The fear of being stigmatised and committed to some mental institutions apparently discouraged people to be frank about their experiences or to seek help and solutions if their experiences are bad ones.

The Protective Shield

Psychologists studying religion have utilised and expanded the concept of “protective shield” formulated by Freud to explain the belief in Gods and spirits. The protective shield functions as a dynamic barrier between outside and inside worlds of an individual as well as an aversive state of mind in attributing those things that is beyond one’s control to some illusory forces which may collectively be termed superstition. For examples, asking for God’s help to secure a job; prayers for a love one to recover speedily from a sickness; or wearing a sacred object to enhance charisma and et cetera.

We must not forget that science is a process of learning and discovery, and it has been proven times and again that what was initially thought to be scientifically right and conclusive turned out wrong decades later. Take eugenics, for example. In the past and, to a certain extent, even now, it is believed that intelligence is hereditary which by the very own scientific standards have proven it to be scientifically flawed and meaningless. Inasmuch as criminality, intelligence is greatly influenced by environment and not genes. Are sophisticated crimes not usually committed by intelligent, influential, and well-connected people? Why then do some people still hold ardently on to and propagate such a flawed belief? The answer is quite obvious, is it not? It all voices down to politics and discrimination serving the interests of a dominant group, like Nazis. Therefore, who is actually holding the protective shield?

Believing science knows everything is as superstitious as what it sets out to disprove. The very belief that science is the ultimate revelation and omniscience that ends all revelations as both Hawking and Weinberg envisioned has hitherto turned out to be nothing more than an apparition of scientific delusion. Thinking science as true and permanent is itself self-defeating right from the outset. We are making this statement not because we are Thai Buddhist subscribing to the theorem of impermanence but the very fact that aspects of life are none permanent. Our environment, laws, marriage instituion, and even apparatus are not even the same compared just to 20-30 years back. Try comparing each sexagenary cycle as far back as you could and you will see how vastly different things are. And they are continuously changing.

We have to bear in mind that science is not a conclusion but merely an approximation derived from the limited knowledge of mankind. Even the current knowledge of the cosmos together with the law and logic formulated there-in-under are merely inconclusive scientific guesses just as Newton’s theory on gravity does not explain the precession of Mercury’s orbit. In response, a hypothetical planet name Vulcan is said to have caused the scientific hiccups. Hitherto, to these scientists, planet Vulcan remains the omnipotent “Spirit” orbiting in our known solar system. Vulcan’s existence is just like spirits and ghosts that are scientifically incapable of being proved or disproved, at least with the current technology and knowledge of mankind.

In our opinion, whether the existence and validity of ghosts and spirits are real or mere superstition is for you to form your own judgment because it is after-all your own personal belief and experiences which none other besides yourself has the privy to make any pronouncement.

Nature-Spirits in Modern Thailand

The shrine of Nang Nak at “Wat Mahabut”, On Nut Road, Soi 7, Phra Khanong District, Bangkok

Nonetheless, in this article we are not going to talk about ghosts, rather, we are going to explore the theme of nature-spirits or “winyan thamachat” in the Thai context. In our earlier article “Understanding Thai Buddhism” we briefly touched on this topic by way of reference to “yakkhas,” There are a myriad of those who have and would continue to argue that yakkhas are Hindu and not Buddhist epithet and, thus, non-Buddhist. However, despite the overlap in the belief of yakkhas between Buddhism and Hinduism, the said proposition is actually flawed and untrue per se because nature-spirits predated any religious tradition we know of today. They were found in almost all primitive civilization and society from East to West. We may attribute the apparent incongruity to differences in cosmological, ontological, and epistemological approaches to the subject matter in contrast to Buddhism.

When talking about yakkhas it is often misunderstood that it refers only to the 12 Yahks.

There is no official name to that belief but which the Thais describe as “Satsana Phi” or “ghost religion.” Nevertheless, we are also not going to delve into the origin of the belief but suffice to state herein that the very concept of nature-spirits or yakkhas forms part of Buddhism per the Maha Niddesa in Pitaka Sutta, Ratana Sutta and Āṭānāṭiya Sutta. When we talk about yakkhas in Thai Buddhism, almost naturally, most people misperceive it to refer to the 12 guardian Yahks commonly seen in Thai temples. The most famous of these 12 Yahks is Phaya Yahk Tosakan. However, the fact is that in Buddhism, yakkhas refer not to a specific class of spirits but a very broad category of nature-spirits that are found in water, earth, trees, stones, mountains, caves, and et cetera. They can be good and benevolent like some tutelary deities or naughty, whimsical, or even outright demonic and devilish. Owing to their diverse characteristics and personalities, they are sometimes generally referred to as “amanussa” who could either be a deity, a spirit, a ghost, a demon or a devil.

Yakkhini Phra Nang Suphan Apsorn of Wat Nang Takhien Khlong Khoen, Mueang Samut Songkhram District, Samut Songkhram Province.

In this article, we are not going to explore the wide spectrum of nature-spirits but only to concentrate on tree spirits. We will borrow the epithet “nymph” from Greek mythology as a collective reference to tree spirits known as “nang mai” in Thailand. Nymphs can either be a deity, a spirit, a ghost, a demon or a devil that reside in large trees, especially old trees. In other words, the trees in which nymphs reside are considered their homes, thus, they will protect their homes from being destroyed by human beings. When human beings tampered with or have the intention of cutting down trees occupied by nymphs, the nymphs had to show their powers and make their presence known to warn and deter people from destroying their homes. There are numerous stories in various countries where people fell sick, became insane, or even died after cutting down certain trees believed to be “possessed” by spirits.

A nymph can either be male or female but in Thailand it is usually depicted as a beautiful young woman, with shoulder length hair, dressed in traditional costumes with a sabai. The reason for not illustrating a male nymph is perhaps related to inhibited stances in sexual desire between genders. Stories and movies of nymphs are usually centred on some sexual relationship and, hence, in a patriarchal society like Thailand, it is a taboo to stimulate female sexual fantasy. We will also leave the topic of sexuality and gender discrimination as it is and continue this article under the general assumption that nymphs are all females.

Mae Takhien: A Powerful Tree Spirit

Photograph taken from Phranakornfilm Takhian: The Haunted Tree Nov 10, 2018

A takhien can grow up to 45m in height with the base of its trunk reaching a diameter of 4.5m. Some of these takhien trees have been around for hundreds of years. The sprawling tall trunk gives a spooky and terrifying feeling that either something sacred or evil is in it. It is believed that the takhien trees are usually possessed by nymphs. If the more sap oozes out from it, the more it is possible that a nymph has taken abode in it. The Thais call nymphs residing in the takhien trees Mae Takhien or Nang Takhien.

Mae Takhien is a very powerful nature-spirit who can either bring blessing or cause severe disaster. It is said that Mae Takhien is usually a beautiful woman with long hair, wearing traditional Thai costumes with a sabai like an ancient Thai woman but sometimes she may also appear as typical forest girl, innocent, sweet and attractive. It is believed that in a very old takhian tree there will most likely be a Mae Takhian residing in it. Therefore, Mae Takhien is not a single entity but multiple individual spirits which, by virtue thereof, makes their characteristics diverse and unpredictable.

Is there a nymph residing in every takhian tree? No one can tell for sure. But to cut down a takhien tree, especially that which is many decades old, the cutter often has to perform a ritual requesting Mae Takhien to relocate to a new place. People who cut a takhian tree without performing that ritual are often punished. They are either struck with illness, insanity, or death whereas for people who show respect and honour Mae Takhien, they are, on the contrary, usually rewarded with good fortune and luck. Owing to the capricious nature of Mae Takhien it is difficult to describe her as a deva or a ghost, thus, the term “amanussa” is used in lieu.

This photograph extracted from Thairath shows monks and villagers participating in a ritual before two canoes carved from takhien trees.

Despite the belief, the fear, and the costs, both psychological and spiritual, associated with takhien trees, they are insufficient to prevent human beings from their desire to cut and use the hardwood that is resistant to sunlight and rain for various purposes, especially in canoe building. For the canoe builders, they usually perform grand offering ceremony when cutting and turning a takhien tree into a canoe. Each time a canoe is completed, another special ritual will be performed so that Mae Takhien will change her status to Mae Yanang, the guardian and protector of that canoe.

Some people also use takhien trees to make house pillars. However, there have been many reported cases in the Thai newspapers that oil kept oozing out from those pillars made from takhien trees. Those pillars are coined as “Oil Tak Pillar” and it is believed that it is a sign that Mae Takhien cries in dissatisfaction. The oil stopped oozing once homeowners hurry to pay homage to each pillar with grandiosity. Whereas for those house owners who ignored the omen, members living in the house will become sick and eventually die. The question is, why would one wants to have Mae Takhien as the pillars to his house?

Mae Takien of Wat Kaew Krachang, Si Bua Thong, Sawaeng Ha District, Ang Thong Province

In Wat Kaeo Krachang, Si Bua Thong Subdistrict, Sawan District, Ang Thong Province, there is a 5 meters tall and radius 1.5 meters wide wooden sculpture of a woman dressed in traditional Lanna Thai costumes with Pikul flowered patterns and beautiful jewellery enshrined in the pavillion. According to the abbot of the temple, Phrakru Wiboon Worawat, the statue enshrined in the temple is called “Mae Kaew Prakaithong” or “Chao Mae Takhien.” It is carved from a takhien wood dating back to Dvaravati period recovered from the Si Bua Thong pond by the Subdistrict Administrative Organization. This is one of the few Mae Takhien statues in Thailand. Note that once consecrated by monks and enshrined in a temple, the status of Mae Takhien is elevated from “amanussa” to “Chao” meaning deva.

Sacred Objects made from Takhien Wood

The Jaktukam amulet with Phra Pidta on the reverse side carved from takhien wood and consecrated by Wat Suthiwat Wararam (Wat Chong Lom) in 2550.

Takhien wood is believed to possess natural divine energy and many sacred objects carved from takhien wood are believed to be very powerful and highly sought after. In Buddhist year 2550, Wat Suthiwat Wararam (Wat Chong Lom), Tha Chalom, Mueang Samut Sakhon District, Samut Sakhon made and consecrated a batch of amulets carved from ancient takhien wood excavated in its temple compound.

The Luang Pu Tuad amulet with Phra Pikaniat on the reverse side carved from takhien wood and consecrated by Wat Suthiwat Wararam (Wat Chong Lom) in 2550.

There are also other temples that made and consecrated amulets out of takhien wood. For example, in Buddhist year 2551, Wat Nongpho also made and consecrated a batch of Luang Phor Derm amulets from Takhien wood.

Luang Phor Derm Buddhasaro of Wat Nongpho, Nong Pho Subdistrict, Takhli District, Nakhon Sawan, is one of the top guru monks revered by Thai Buddhists.

In our earlier article “Luang Phor Poot: Master of Snake Spirit” we have also introduced the the Phaya Tor amulets made from takhien wood and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot of Wat Klang Bangplad.

The Phaya Tor carved from “mai takien” made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot has the effect of stinging away backstabbers and villains.

Besides the huge statue of Chao Mae Takien statue in Wat Kaew Krachang that is carved from takhien wood, if you travel approximately 548 kilometres (about 7-8 hours journey from Bangkok) in the northeast direction to Phu Sing District, Si Saket Province to Wat Ban Thai Tavorn, you will find 3 huge statues carved personally by the abbot Luang Phor Boonsong Paphakro from takhien trees excavated within the temple’s compound.

The statue of Chao Mae Takhien also known as Niang Kaew Pathum of Wat Ban Thai Tavorn, Phu Sing District, Si Saket Province.

The first takhien tree excavated in year 2554 was carved into a statue of Chao Mae Takhien also known as Niang Kaew Pathum. A second takhien tree trunk was found immersed in a pond in year 2562 by villagers. However, for 7 days the villagers tried to hoist up the tree trunk but failed. A ritual was then initiated where prayers and offerings were made to Mae Takhien. After asking Mae Takhien for permission, the trunk was successfully hoisted.

The Phaya Jolakhe “Arak Khadang” carved from Takhien wood believed to be hundreds of years old.

The trunk was found to be burned, possibly being struck by lightning before it fell into water, therefore, the surface of the trunk was very rough. Luang Phor Boonsong then came up with the idea of carving the trunk into a 14 metres long and 1 metre wide Phaya Jolakhe, turning the rough surface into hard scales of Phaya Jolakhe. The Phaya Jolakhe is named “Arak Khadang” and is believed that walking into its mouth and coming out from its tail will help ward away all bad elements and bring about good fortune.

Thao Wesuwan belongs to the Yahk family and is the half-brother of Phaya Yahk Tosakan and a Buddhist Guardian protecting the human race.

The statue of Thao Wessuwan is about 9 meters high and the base is about 5 meters wide. His right hand holds a wand with a dog’s head and his left hand holds a glowing orb. Thao Wessuwan is also called “Thao Phaisop” and is the General of all demons. He is one of the four Jatulokban protectors of the human world and resides in the north heavens, with Thao Thot or “Phra In” in the east heavens, Thao Wirunhak or”Phra Yom” in the south heavens, and Thao Wirupak or “Phra Varun” in the west heavens. The Mahayanists call them the “Four Great Heavenly Kings.”

Nang Tani: The Banan Tree Ghost

It is believed Nang Tani has a beautiful face, a fragrant body, long hair, and pale red palms and soles like pigeon feet.

When we talk about banana tree ghost, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, and Indonesia share a similar belief. In Thailand, a banana tree ghost is known as “Phi Tani” or “Nang Tani” whilst in Malaysia and Singapore, and Indonesia it is called “pontianak” and “kuntilanak” respectively which refers to the ghost of a pregnant woman who died a tragic death and somehow resides in a banana tree. Whether primordial or impending, banana tree ghost is nothing but a ghost.



According to the Thai Encyclopedia for Youth, Volume 13, Nang Tani is defined as follows:

The banana tree is the hangout of Prai Nang Tani, well known among the older generation. She is said to have a beautiful face, a fragrant body, long hair, and pale red palms and soles like pigeon feet. Lips are the color of ripe gourds. If bananas have plump stems Prai Nang Tani has a chubby figure; if there is a transparent trunk Prai Nang Tani has a slender figure.”

Because Nang Tani is a ghost, therefore, Thais do not plant Tani banana trees near their houses. There are also certain rules to adhere to when cutting the tani banana leaves for use. It is forbidden to cut off the whole leaf which includes the pseudo stem. Either only trim off the banana leaves or cut off the mid rib leaving the pseudo stem and apparent trunk intact. Cutting off the pseudo stem and/or apparent trunk is like cutting into the house of Nang Tani. It is a bad omen and someone at home will soon die. This appears to be due to the old aphorism of using three banana leaves to support the bottom of a coffin. Now, usually only banana leaf crafts or “thaeng yuak” are used on-top of coffin cover.

Banana Ghost Witchcraft: A Low-Art Shunned by Mainstream

In certain places, ceremonies are initiated to placate Nang Tani for various reasons. Items used include baisi, pork head, sweet and savoury dishes, rice, flowers, incense sticks and candles, perfumes and fragrances such as sandalwood and etc. A ring and a gold necklace are attached to the trunk of a banana flower as an ornament and a piece of red cloth is wrapped around the banana tree trunk. Usually, the ritual is to ask Nang Tani not to harm but to protect the people in the house and to have good fortune. Sometimes monks are invited to pray and make merit for Nang Tani as well.

However, there are also witchcraft masters who performed rituals by taking the banana flowers from a tree in which it is believed a Nang Tani resides, dry them under the sun and, subsequently, grind them into powder and mixed it with chanted powder for use to charm people. Sometimes they put the banana flower-powder in honey and/or lipsticks to be use to attract the opposite sex.

There are also many low-crafts used in summoning Nang Tani. The most deplorable one is a distortion of a traditional Songkhla ritual of wedding a spirit tree. It has been said that a bachelor who knows about the existence of Nang Tani in a specific tree will go to that banana tree every night and rubbed his genital against the base of that banana tree as he says flirtatious words to Nang Tani until she becomes aroused. At that point, he then takes a knife and cut the root of the banana tree that looks like a rhizome to be carved into a figurine of a woman and put it in a wooden container. Offerings and chanting will be made every morning and evening for several days until the ghost of Nang Tani appears in his dream. The man will take Nang Tani as his wife and she will in turn help him to prosper. However, according to the Treasury of Thai Wisdom, it is stated that “The ghost Nang Tani likes to seduce men and is terribly jealous. If a man who has sex with her went with another woman, Nang Tani would immediately follow and break that man’s neck in a rage of jealousy.”

Such funny amulets are regarded as low arts and do not fall within Thai Buddhism

We have seen various amulets of Nang Tani circulating on the Internet for quite sometimes now but which are not found within the Thai community. To the numerous Thais we inquired, they are as equally perplexed and amused as we are. No Thai in his right mind would wear a ghost amulet, on the contrary, if a close one is suspected to be “playing with ghosts” monks or “mor phi” will usually be invited to terminate that relationship and dedicate the merit to Nang Tani to rest in peace. Moreover, ghosts are restrained within specific territories in which they are found and cannot travel freely from one place to another. For example, even if your neighbour’s house is haunted, the ghost cannot come to your house.

According to the various guru monks we have spoken to about the subject matter, they all said such “khorng dam” or low objects are specially made by profiteers for foreigners who do not understand Thai Buddhism because there is no Thai market for this type of things. To the Thais, Buddhism is not only a religion but also a way of life. Most Thais understand the law of kamma and they understand that actions driven by “cetanā” (intention) will lead to future consequences. In other words, there is a cost to every action which is a determining factor in both this life and the kind of rebirth in “saṃsāra.” The playing with low objects will only lead to bad, if not tragic, experiences in this lifetime and a rebirth in the lower planes.

So how real is the “banana ghost” some people are wearing? Honestly, we are sure but they will definitely have their own stories to tell.

Marrying a Nymph

As afore-mentioned, marrying a nymph or tree spirit is an ancient Songkhla custom with its root stretching 300-400 years back. The custom is centred in an ancient temple, Wat Mamuang. The temple was built around 2299 B.E. It is located at Ban Muang Mu, Sathing Mo Sub-district, Singhanakhon District, Songkhla Province, under the Maha Nikaya Sangha. It is also the place of origin pertaining to the legend of Chao Mae Muang Thong. There are two versions to the legend and they are as follows.

The statue of Mae Muang Thong in Wat Mamuang, Ban Muang Mu, Sathing Mo Sub-district, Singhanakhon District, Songkhla Province

According to the first story, the nymph Chao Mae Muang Thong was the daughter of Ya Chan and Ta Jerm, who donated the land on which her house was built to be built into a temple. After she died, she repeatedly appeared to the villagers and let them know that she resided in the huge mango tree in the temple’s compound. She was dressed in traditional costumes and was full of gold including bracelets, anklets, necklaces, and hairpins, hence, the villagers addressed her as Mae Muang Thong, literally meaning “mother gold mango.” When the villagers began to make offerings to the mango tree, she in turn cured them of their diseases and sufferings from various causes.

The second version is recorded in the Book of Songkhla and Culture. It states that “the daughter of the Governor of Nakhon Si Thammarat was captured by thieves and she was robbed and killed. The corpse was hidden in the hollow of a large mango which later performed miracles to appear repeatedly until the villagers respected and made sacrifices to her.

Chao Mae Muang Thong or such a nymph repeatedly appeared to the villagers to see and dream of, letting them know that she resided in the large mango tree inside Wat Mamuang. Indeed, the villagers began making offerings and sacrifices to Chao Mae Muang Thong at the large mango tree. The most unique thanksgiving culture practiced by the villagers is that of marrying the nymph after wishes are fulfilled.

The origin of marriage with a nymph is, however, unclear. It has been said that it could possibly be attributed to practices of the Chinese migrants from China. Chinapeople believe that if a child in the family falls seriously ill it is better to “sacrifice” the child and make it a descendant of the spirit, i.e. making the child a “godson” or “goddaughter” of a spirit. Thus, for the family to be bonded with the spirit, a marriage has to take place.

Somehow, that practice transformed into a custom that a man who has reached maturity but before the ordination as a monk must be wedded to Mae Muang Thong. However, unlike the low art practiced with regards to Nang Tani, there is no sexual fantasy in this instance and even after being married to Mae Muang Thong, the man can still marry a real woman as usual. Therefore, marriage with Mae Muang Thong is a matter that must be passed on through the family line. The wedding ceremony with Mae Muang Thong is carried out in the same way as a normal marriage between people but it can be performed only on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Another unique phenomenon is that the groom must dress in traditional costumes and carry a dagger. A traditional “khan mak” procession is held. At the end of the ceremony, everyone in the village will be fed with a bowl of vermicelli soup. Incidentally, if a woman received help from Mae Muang Thong, she will also initiate a wedding ceremony by dressing as a man.

Outsiders tend to view this custom as pure superstition. However, according to sociologists, the seemingly “weird” custom is actually an embodiment of social cohesion and integration of the various races and religions that settled in Singhanakhon District. In an article published by Thai Journalist Association, sociologists exhort critics to see beyond the surface and look deeper into the history and demographics of Songkhla, especially Ban Muang before passing any value judgment. Observation and analysis will show that the wedding ceremony is an amalgamation of various traditions of different races, for examples, the costume of the groom represents Buddhism and Thai, the dagger carried by the groom, a Kris, is a symbol of Islam, and the vermicelli soup is the food of the Chinese people. Therefore, the custom per se has rich socio-cultural undertones in lieu of superstition.

[蛇靈大師 ]龍波普

泛靈派大宗師龍普印•引達崇彤

順德帕普達叩薩佔•孫通無敵坤,俗稱龍波普•孫達洛,瓦康班帕佛寺前主持,與帕烏多姆•巴恰那•提庫諾,俗稱龍波本,瓦玉康佛寺和瓦班帕佛寺前主持,是佛統府那空猜是縣著名神靈派高德。兩位大師皆是泛靈派大宗師龍普印•引達崇彤的入室弟子。

龍波本在曼谷 瓦耐鴻佛寺主持開光儀式時所拍攝。

大多數泰國佛教徒都熟悉龍波本的虎靈咒語,龍波本也因此獲得[虎靈大師]的美號。有關龍波本的中文文章一般都把[虎靈大師] 誤譯為[伏虎羅漢],精通虎靈法術與降伏老虎根本是兩回事,但在本文中,我們將不對此誤解多加進行批評,我們主要是為您介紹龍波普和大師的靈蛇咒語。

[蛇靈大師 ]龍波普

龍波普的本名是普,姓氏 漢莎麥。 他於 佛曆2453 年 11 月 9 日出生在佛統府那空猜是區的 班帕分區。 他父親叫康,母親叫潘。 他是五個兄弟姐妹家庭中的第二個孩子。 他從小就在 瓦班帕佛寺接受教育。

普,當時大師的名稱,在二十歲時被徵召入伍軍隊。 他曾在皇家衛隊服役了兩年,然後返鄉幫助家中的農場事務。 他將多年的佛學學識融入村民的社會,幫助他們培養佛教社區的倫理道德,贏得了村民的尊重和信任。 隨後,他被任命為瓦拉姆分區的[普亞班]即村長。 在徵得父母同意出家之前,他勤奮地為村民服務了五年。

於佛曆2489 年 4 月 1 日,普結束了世俗生涯,正式拜在泛靈派大宗師龍普印•引達崇彤門下,在瓦班帕佛寺遁入空門。 龍普印賜普法號帕普•孫達洛。 在龍普印細心的指導和教導下,帕普•孫達洛在佛學和佛法方面皆表現卓出,並於 佛曆2491 年獲得了佛學雙碩士學位。 同時,大師也掌握了龍普印傳授的法術,尤其物靈咒語。 但是,帕普•孫達洛覺得僅僅學習和掌握佛學和法術是不夠的,同時,他主張接觸和實習的重要性。 於是,他拜別恩師,下山進行“土東”即苦修。 在此期間,他還從瓦大空佛寺的龍普兼 和瓦斯里薩通佛寺的 龍普耐處繼承了古曼童的製作和開光法術。

於佛曆2532 年,龍波普製作並開光的站立的古曼金佛童。

在佛曆 2495 年,瓦康班帕佛寺第五任住持大師涅槃,僧侶和村民聯合邀請帕普•孫達洛擔任這座歷史悠久的古佛寺住持。瓦康班帕佛寺建造於拉瑪一世統治期間,約佛曆1783 年左右,是一座臘塔那哥欣時代的歷史建築。因此,於 佛曆2495 年 6 月 7 日,帕普•孫達洛被正式任命為瓦康班帕佛寺的住持,並被稱為怕阿占普•孫達洛,隨後受封為 順德帕普達叩薩佔•孫通無敵坤。

根據教育部宗教事務司的記錄,瓦康班帕佛寺是建於 佛曆1819 年左右,而非佛曆 1783 年。建立的位置是[溺佛] 遺址。 相傳佛曆2300年左右,在緬甸人入侵時,一艘從湄南河到班帕運河,載有佛像、菩提樹、朝臣和村民的船傾覆了, 佛像沉入了河中,菩提樹卻從班帕運河漂流到西瑪哈坡分區,並在那裡生長。 該地點位於瓦班帕佛寺和瓦西瑪哈坡佛寺之間,這也是瓦康班帕佛寺名稱的由來。 因此,寺廟中出現的古遺址和遺蹟是龍波普特別重視保存和/或修復的寶貴歷史文物。

每個週末,成百上千的信徒湧向瓦康班帕佛寺敬拜龍波頌旺。

瓦康班帕佛寺內有一尊用馬賽克瓷磚裝飾的大型佛像,是由龍波普於 佛曆2524 年建造並開光的[驚魔] 佛陀神像,類似製服魔王的意思。 這尊大佛被稱為龍波雅。 在巨大龍波雅神像內,有 99 尊9 英吋膝寬的佛像。

從[靠宋]新聞中提取的照片顯示龍波係為信徒主持向龍波頌旺還願儀式。

自佛曆2524 年以來,龍波雅每年都吸引了成百上千的信徒。 當他們的祈願得賞後,他們開始稱龍波雅為[圓賞佛陀],即龍波頌旺。 每次祈禱得賞後,信徒們都會用雞蛋和豬頭做為供品答謝神恩。 只需看看照片中豬頭的數量,便可知龍波頌旺的靈驗。

這個巨大的帕普塔高納佛像最初供奉在瓦康班帕佛寺,但現被奉請到新加坡受供奉。

保護和修復古蹟、建築工程以及慈善業物的成本都很高,因此,龍波普製作並開光了各種聖物以籌集資金。

這是 佛历2528 年製作並开光的龍波普 5 英寸膝寬神像。

在佛曆2505年至2533年期間,朱製作和開光了十批龍波普自己的銅牌。

這是 佛曆2505 年製作並開光的龍波普本人首批銅牌。

從佛曆2505年開始,龍波普製作和開光的傳統佛像佛牌,包括帕普塔高納佛像、哈努曼、湄南卦、湄博索等等。


影片所顯示的是部分源自瓦康班帕佛寺的各種聖物。

然而,龍波普製作和開光的昂貴聖物卻屬於那些非傳統且含神異性的聖物。 如前所述,龍波普和龍波本都源於泛靈派大宗師龍普印•引達崇彤,然而,他們每個人在專業上的表現都大不相同。 龍波本專攻虎靈法術,而龍波普的專長卻在於蛇靈符咒。

曼谷最受歡迎的娜迦神廟是拉瑪二世路沿線的昭湄瑽俺公廟

對蛇和娜迦的信仰可以追溯到遠古時代,泰國人更是相信崇拜者將被賦予更好的生活命運。在本文中,我們不會深入研究 帕雅娜迦,但對於那些到過泰國遊玩人來說,你們可能已經留意到泰國各地都建造了許多大型蛇和娜迦的雕像,尤其是在寺廟和神社中更是普遍。例如,叻丕府蛇石山國家公園的大型眼鏡蛇雕像、曼谷拉瑪二世路沿線的昭湄瑽俺公廟、北標府的大蛇神社和寺廟屋頂和樓梯上的眾多娜迦的雕像。事實上,對娜迦的信仰一直是原始佛教的一部分,現在更構成了上座部受戒過程的重要組成部分。您不妨參考我們早前於 2018 年 8 月 23 日發表的關於[泰國南傳佛教受戒儀式] 的文章。

蛇刺必須由完整的股骨蛇刺製成,且不得故意殺死蛇。

精通蛇靈法術的師傅並不多,更少會用蛇刺製作並開光成稱為[努棱]的護身符 。龍波普是少數精通這門法術的人之一。 蛇刺很少見,因為只有某些年齡的蛇才有蛇刺。 而且,為了將製作成聖物,這些蛇不能被故意或以其他方式殺死。 此外,它們的骨刺它們必須與殘留的股骨完好無損,並且成對出現。 幾十年來,龍波普收集到的蛇刺數量有限,這就解釋了為什麼[努棱]的數量稀少,價格也昂貴。

魯仕普忠的蛇頭首神像非常罕見,很難找得到。

根據龍波普當年陳述,由他製作和開光的[努棱]屬於魯仕普忠(蛇首魯仕)領導下的蛇靈,魯仕普忠也恰好是濕婆神的蛇伴侶。這種關係可以通過綁在蛇股骨頂部的帕拉吉或林伽來證明。人們相信,鬼魂、物靈和靈體一般都受濕婆神和魯仕普忠的指揮。根據古代文獻,有刺的蛇通常會與它們劃出一個領地圈,任何進入圈內的東西都會被魔法擊中,完全由蛇支配。因此,[努棱]具有蛇的所有特徵,包括巨大的魅力和吸引力,神秘和催眠效果。它會自動帶來好運、財富、生意和人際關係。據說,凡是擁有和供奉[努棱]的人,都不用擔心衣食住行,更會逐漸繁榮昌盛。

增強[努棱]功效的咒語如下:

南無塔薩帕卡瓦托阿拉哈托薩瑪桑普特塔薩 X3

嗡馬哈拿卡娜迦怒馬甲康普啦瑞塔拉勒馬尼瑪瑪 X9

[帕雅怒]護身符的蛇鱗片會隨著個人運氣從棕色變為金色。

市場上有許多蛇皮護身符,然而,這些護身符再等等條件下都不能以龍波普製作和開光的[帕雅怒]相提並論。根據龍波普當年陳述,故意把蛇殺死以剝取其皮,所得是沒有用的。 因此,通過商業鏈衍產生出的蛇皮護身符,除了裝飾之外沒有其他用途。 為了用蛇皮製作有效的靈蛇護身符並召喚所有類別的蛇靈,蛇必須以昆達里尼冥想姿勢(盤繞)死在洞穴或寺廟中。那是回歸娜迦世界的標誌,因此也是神力的象徵。 是的,這種情況很罕見,很難遇到。 在其 200 多年的歷史中,在瓦康班帕佛寺只出現過一次。 我們目睹的另一件是出現在華富裡府的瓦譚達翩通佛寺內。

華富裡府瓦譚達翩通佛寺寺蝙蝠洞內的[帕雅怒]化石。

蛇皮更需經過九年的誦經,代表一個完整的淨化循環,才能發動四大納迦家族的力量。然後,龍波普在銅板上寫下[靈蛇符咒],再將銅板與蛇皮一起捲成所謂的[帕雅怒]護身符。 它是跨越三個領域的不朽力量的整合,因此,擁有[帕雅怒]護身符意味著富足、財富、吸引力等等神異磁場,最重要的是,它可以守護和保護你的星盤。 蛇皮上的鱗片從暗褐色變為黃色或閃閃發光的金色,這是你持續運程的指標。

增強[帕雅怒]護身符效果的咒語如下: 

南無塔薩帕卡瓦托阿拉哈托薩瑪桑普特塔薩 X3

納蒂當帕雅瑪 娜卡阿批囊娜卡薩涂 濃盤特 雅瑪雅瑪 X9

南無塔薩帕卡瓦托阿拉哈托薩瑪桑普特塔薩 X3

卡亞瓦查吉堂 阿航萬塔 拿卡提博迪 西素陀 維蘇特瓦普者彌 X9

素攀武裡府瓦卡爾內佛寺,黃蜂靈咒大宗師鑾普空盤坐在巨大黃蜂銅像上。

[帕雅鐸]或黃蜂靈的信仰很普遍,它構成了自然神靈信仰的一部分。 有許多泰國寺廟製作和開光帕雅鐸佛牌, 它們通常是一金一銀成對出現。[帕雅鐸]的流傳可歸功於長勝將軍坤平的傳說。據說坤平將軍曾經將素攀武裡府瓦卡爾內佛寺內的羅望子樹葉變成無數的黃蜂。

這是一對由瓦卡爾內佛寺製作並開光的金銀[帕雅鐸艮鐸銅]。

一般帕雅鐸製作和開光的共同目的是為了招財富和繁榮,正如泰語[艮銅] 字面意思便是金錢和財富。

由龍波普用[麥塔田]神木雕刻而成並開光的帕雅鐸具有排除小人的效果。

然而,由龍波普製作和開光的[帕雅鐸]沒有這些招財功能。 由龍波普製作和開光的帕雅鐸只有一個功能,那就是消除小人。 這些帕雅鐸是由[麥塔田] 神木雕刻而成的,這種木材被認為本身俱有神奇的力量,可遇不可求,因此,由龍波普製作和開光的[帕雅鐸]數量自然是有限的。 然而,由於,信徒對[帕雅鐸]的需求量高,現任方丈帕庫•西涂拉空,俗稱為龍波西,重新製作並開光了一批由紅木雕成的[帕雅鐸]共信徒奉請。由龍波西製作和開光的[帕雅鐸]價格當然比較經濟得多了。

龍波普親自在這彈殼護身符上手工雕刻了護身符咒,專門用於保護攜帶者免受各種危險和邪惡的侵害。

龍波本和龍波普師兄弟兩都以其[孔卡盤]或[無敵] 咒語而聞名。 除了在 2528 年製作和開光的木製帕比打之外,還有一批由龍波普採用現代歷史上幾乎聞所未聞的特殊[孔卡盤]儀式製作和開光的佛牌、護身符和布符。這批聖物被稱為[論普刊] 或 [十字槍印]系列。

這張[論普刊]布符在龍波普的畫像下具有獨特的兩把十字槍和手榴彈。

[論普刊] 開光儀式採用真正的槍支、彈藥和手榴彈堆積在瓦康班帕佛寺大殿中,然後再將佛牌、護身符和布符放在這些武器上進行誦經開光。 這批聖物很受泰國歡迎,而且,泰國各大報紙都報導了許多與此批聖物有關的超自然現象和事蹟。

至今,龍波普的法體尚保存在寺廟中,並開放供公眾禮拜。

為僧伽服務52年後,龍波普終於在佛曆2542年1月17日早晨涅槃,享年88歲。龍波普的法身至今尚保留在寺廟內,供公眾禮拜。 許多追隨者和信徒也都奉請了龍波普的銅像回家供奉崇拜。 信徒們相信,供奉崇拜龍波普的神像,充當了龍波普與信徒之間的溝通渠道,同時也能夠提高經龍波普開光聖物的有效性。

敬拜龍波頌旺與龍波普的經文如下:

南無塔薩帕卡瓦托阿拉哈托薩瑪桑普特塔薩 X3

卡耶那哇加壓 哇加塔薩 嘛嘿薩卡亞

特瓦塔呀 阿闢帕禮堂 伊提帕提哈利刊

普塔瑪吉馬拉美 薩米吉塔薩

普塔帕提忙 普車米航

么吉萬加 蘇卡米叩 蘇卡帕提亞X3

Luang Pu Poot: Master of Snake Spirit

Luang Pu Im Inthachoto, the Great Grandmaster of Animism and teacher to Luang Phor Pern and Luang Phor Poot.

Somdej Phra Buddhakosachan Sunthonwutthikhun, popularly known as Luang Phor Poot Suntharo, former abbot of Wat Klang Bangplad, , and Phra Udom Prachanat Thitkunno, popularly known as Luang Phor Pern, the former abbot of Wat Khok Kham and Wat Bangplad, were two prominent guru monks of Nakhon Chai Si, Nakhon Pathom Province. They were both disciples of Great Grandmaster of Animism Luang Pu Im Inthachoto.

Luang Phor Pern presiding over a consecrating ceremony in Wat Noi Nanghong, Bangkok Noi.

Most Thai Buddhists are familiar with Luang Phor Pern’s tiger spell that earned His Venerable the title “Tiger Spirit Master” but in this article we will introduce you to Luang Phor Poot and His Venerable’s snake spell.

Luang Phor Poot, the Master of Snake Spirit spell.

Luang Phor Poot’s birth name was Poot, surname, Hansamai. He was born on November 9, 2453 in Bangplad Subdistrict, Nakhon Chai Si District, Nakhon Pathom Province. His father’s name was Kham and his mother’s name was Pan. He was the second child in a family of five siblings. From young, he was educated in Wat Bangplad.

Poot, as His Venerable was then known, was conscripted into the army at the age of twenty. He served as a Royal Guard for two years before returning to help in the family’s farm. He brought his years of Buddhist learning into socialization with villagers and helping them cultivate the ethics of a Buddhist community which gained their respect and trust. He was subsequently appointed “phuyai baan” or village head of Wat Lamu Subdistrict. He diligently served the villagers for five years before asking for his parents’ permission to enter monkhood.

On April 1, 2489, Poot cut himself off mundane life and entered the monastic life in Wat Bangplad. He was accepted by Luang Pu Im Inthachoto as disciple and was given the name Suntaro. Under the guidance and teaching of Luang Pu Im , Phra Suntharo excelled in Dhamma and in year 2491, His Venerable earned a double Masters in Dhamma. At the same time, His Venerable also mastered the art of magic, especially in animism, imparted by Luang Pu Im. Phra Suntharo felt an insufficiency in mere learning and mastering both Dhamma and magic. He saw the importance of exposure and practicing. Therefore, he took leave from Wat Bangplad and went on “tudong”. During that period of time, he also inherited the secrets to making and consecrating Kumanthong from Luang Pu Cham of Wat Takong and Luang Pu Noi of Wat Srisathong.

The standing Kumanthong made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot in year 2532.

In the year 2495, the 5th abbot of Wat Klang Bangplad, a historical Ratanakosin temple built around 1783 during the reign of Rama I, passed over and the resident monks and villagers jointly invited Phra Poot Suntharo to assume the abbotship. Hence, on June 7, 2495 Phra Poot Suntharo was officially appointed the abbot of Wat Klang Bangplad and became known as Phra Ajahn Poot Suntharo, subsequently Somdej Phra Buddhakosachan Sunthonwutthikhun.

According to records from the Department of Religious Affairs, Ministry of Education, Wat Klang Bangplad was built around 1819 in lieu of 1783 on the site of the “drowning Buddha”. It was said that during the Burmese invasion around year 2300, a boat carrying a Buddha image, a bodhi tree, both courtiers and villagers from Chao Phraya River to Bangplad Canal capsized. The Buddha image “drowned” and the bodhi tree floated along the water from Bangplad Canal to Si Maha Pho Sub-district and grew there.  The location was between Wat Bangplad and Wat Si Maha Pho which served as the origin of the name Wat Klang Bangplad. Therefore, the ancient sites and relics that appeared in the temple are valuable historical artefacts which Luang Phor Poot paid special attention to their preservation and/or restoration.

Every weekend, hundreds and thousands of devotees flocked to Wat Klang Bangbplad to worship Luang Phor Somwang.

Inside Wat Klang Bangplad is a large Buddha statue decorated with mosaic tiles created and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot in year 2524. The Buddha is known to “startle the devil” which is analogous to subduing Mara. This large Buddha is called Luang Phor Yai. Inside Luang Phor Yai’s image sits 99 Buddha statues, size 9 inches lap-width.

The photograph extracted from khaosod showed Luang Phor Sri presiding over the ritual where devotees make offerings to Luang Phor Somwang after having their wishes fulfilled.

Since 2524, Luang Phor Yai has attracted hundreds and thousands of devotees annually. As their prayers are fulfilled they began calling Luang Phor Yai the fulfilling Buddha, that is, Luang Phor Somwang. Each time when a prayer is fulfilled, devotees will make offerings with eggs and pig’s head. Just look at the number of pig’s heads in the photograph will give you an indication of Luang Phor Somwang’s effectiveness.

This huge Phra Putta Gaona image was originally enshrined in Wat Klang Bangplad but is now being worshipped in Singapore.

Preservation, restoration, building and construction works as well as philanthropic endeavors are costly, hence, Luang Phor Poot had made and consecrated various sacred objects to raise fund.

This is a 5 inches lap-width image of Luang Phor Poot made and consecrated in the year 2528.

There were ten batches of coins and medallions of Luang Phor Poot himself made and consecrated between years 2505 to 2533 for various purposes. 

The first batch medallion of Luang Phor Poot 2505

There are various conventional sacred objects including images Phra Putta Gaona, Hanuman, Mae Nam Kua, Mae Bosok and et cetera made and consecrated by His Venerable beginning year 2505.

These are some of the various sacred objects originating from Wat Klang Bangplad.

However, the more expensive sacred objects created and consecrated by His Venerable are those of the exotic range. As mentioned earlier, both Luang Phor Poot and Luang Phor Pern shared the same lineage directly from Luang Pu Im, the Great Grandmaster of Animism; however, they each excelled quite differently in specialty. Luang Phor Pern of Wat Bangplad specialized in the Tiger Spirit spell whilst the expertise of Luang Phor Poot was in the Snake Spirit charm.

The most popular Naga temple in Bangkok is the one honoring Chao Mae Cong Ang along Rama II Road.

The belief in snake and Naga spell goes back to time immemorial and Thais believe worshippers will be bestowed with a better life destiny. In this article we will not be delving into Phaya Nagas specifically but for those who have visited Thailand, you may have already been aware of the many large serpent and Naga statues built across the country especially in temples and shrines. For examples, the large cobra statue in Khao Ngu Stone Park in Ratchaburi Province; the Chao Mae Cong Ang Shrine along Rama II Road in Bangkok; the Great Serpent Shrine in Saraburi Province and the numerous Nagas on temple roofs and stairways. In fact, this belief in Naga has been part of original Buddhism and now constitutes an important part of the Theravada ordination process. You may wish to refer to our earlier article on “Thai Theravada Ordination Ceremony” published on August 23, 2018.

Ngu Leum must be made from snake spurs with femurs intact and the snakes must not be intentionally killed.

There are not many guru masters who know the secrets of the Snake Spirit spell least using snake spurs to make and consecrate into amulets called Ngu Leum. Luang Phor Poot is among one of the few who specialized in this art. Snake spurs are rare because only certain species of snakes of age have them. Moreover, to turn them into sacred items those snakes must not be killed intentionally or otherwise. Furthermore, their spurs must be intact with the vestigial femur and come in a pair. Over decades, the number of snake spurs collected by Luang Phor Poot was limited which explained why the number of Ngu Leum made were scarce and, hence, expensive.

Rheesi Phuchong’s statue in the form of snakehead is rare and difficult to find.

According to Luang Phor Poot, the Ngu Leum made and consecrated by him are serpent spirits under the leadership of Rheesi Phuchong (Snakehead Rheesi) who also happens to be Lord Shiva’s serpent companion. This association is evidenced by the Palakit or lingam tied to the top of the femurs. It is believed that spirits, ghouls, and ghosts generally come under the command of Lord Shiva and Rheesi Phuchong. According to ancient text, snakes with spurs usually draw a territorial circle with them and anything that comes within that circle will be struck by a magical spell and becomes totally at the disposal of the snakes. Therefore, Ngu Leum has all the characteristics of snakes including great charm and attraction, mysticism and hypnotism. It brings about good luck, wealth, business and interpersonal relationship somewhat automatically. It is said that anyone possessing and worshipping Ngu Leum does not have to worry about food and basic necessities for survival and will prosperous progressively.

The chant for enhancing the effects of Ngu Leum is as follows:

Namo Tassa Pakawatoh Arahatoh Samma Samput Tassa X3

Om Mahanaka Najangu Majakang Pularuay Talalay Mani Mama X9

There are many snake-skin talismans available in the market, however, these talismans cannot be equated to the Takrut Phayangu created and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot in various ways. According to His Venerable, snake skin derived from snakes deliberately killed is useless. Therefore, talismans made from snake skin derived through the commercial chain serve no purpose other than decoration. In order to make effective talisman out of snake skin and summon snake spirits of all classes, the snake must die in a kundalini mediative posture (coiled) in a cave or in a temple. It is a sign of return to the Naga world and, hence, divine power. Yes, such occurrence is rare and difficult to come across. In its 200 over year’s history, it only occurred once in Wat Klang Bangplad. The other we witnessed was in Wat Tham Tapian Thong, Lopburi Province.

The fossilised Phayangu inside a bat cave in Wat Tham Tapian Thong, Lopburi Province.

The snake skin needs to go through 9 years of chanting representing a complete purifying cycle before the power of the four Naga families may be invoked. Luang Phor Poot then wrote the “Yant Phayana” on a copper plate that is subsequently rolled up together with a piece of the snake skin into what is called Takrut Phayangu.

The scales of Takrut Phayangu change color in accordance with the ongoing luck of the carrier.

It is a consolidation of immortal powers across three realms and, thus, possessing Takrut Phayangu means abundance, wealth, fortune, attraction, and most importantly, it guards and protects your horoscope. The scales on the snake skin changes from dull brown to yellow or sparkling gold which is an indicator of your ongoing luck.

The chants to enhance the effects of Takrut Phayangu are as follow:

Namo Tassa Pakawatoh Arahatoh Samma Samput Tassa X3

Natitang Phaya Ma Naga Apinang Naga Sathu Nophante Yama Yama X9

Namo Tassa Pakawatoh Arahatoh Samma Samput Tassa X3

Kaya Wacha Cittang Ahangwantha Nakathibodi SrisutthoWisuttheva Puchemi X3

Luang Pu Kong, the Great Grandmaster of Phaya Tor spell sitting on a huge statue of Phaya Tor in Wat Khae, Supanburi Province.

The belief of Phaya Tor or Wasp spirit is common and it forms part of the belief in nature spirits. There are many Thai temples making and consecrating Phaya Tor. They usually come in a pair. The popularity of Phaya Tor may be attributed to the legend of the Undefeated Warrior Khunpaen who turned tamarind leaves into wasps in Wat Khae, Supanburi Province.

Phaya Tor Ngen Tor Thong made and consecrated by Wat Khae.

The common purposes of Phaya Tor made and consecrated are for wealth and prosperity as suggested by the terms “ngen thong” which literally refers to money and wealth in Thai language.

The Phaya Tor carved from “mai takien” made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot has the effect of stinging away backstabbers and villains.

However, the Phaya Tor amulet made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot carries no such purposes. The Phaya Tor made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot serves only one single objective, that is eliminating villains especially backstabbers. These amulets are made from “mai takien”, a kind of wood believed to possess magical power per se, therefore, the number of Phaya Tor amulets made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot were also limited. However, due to high demand for the Phaya Tor amulet, the current abbot Phrakhru Sritulakorn, more commonly known as Luang Phor Sri, has remade and consecrated a new batch made from red wood which are far more economical compared to those made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot.

Takrut Krasun is a limited and special edition of Luang Phor Poot’s Takruts. His Venerable personally hand-carved talismans on this amulet that is specifically meant to protect carriers from all types of danger and evil.

Both Luang Phor Pern and Luang Phor Poot are equally known for their “khong krapan” or “invincible” spell. Besides the wooden Phra Pidta made and consecrated in 2528, there is a batch of amulets, takruts, and talismans made and consecrated by Luang Phor Poot known as “loon pun kham” or the “cross guns print” that has underwent a very special “khong krapan” ritual almost unheard of in modern history.

This “loon pun kham” talisman has uniquely two cross guns and grenades under the image of Luang Phor Poot.

Real guns, ammunitions, and grenades were piled up in the Ubosoth where amulets, takruts, and talismans were then placed over those weapons during consecration ceremony. This batch of sacred objects was well received by the Thai people and many paranormal experiences were reported in major Thai newspapers.

The holy body of Luang Phor Poot is preserved in the temple and opened for public worship.

After serving the Sangha for 52 years, Luang Phor Poot entered nibbana in the morning of January 17, 2542 at the age of 88. The holy body of His Venerable remains in the temple and is opened for public worship. Many followers and believers also invited the image of His Venerable home for worship. It is believed that the image of His Venerable acts as a communication channel between Luang Phor Poot and his believers that is also, at the same time, capable of enhancing the effectiveness of sacred objects consecrated by His Venerable.

The following fulfilling chant is used for praying to Luang Phor Somwang and Luang Phor Poot:

Namo Tassa Pakawatoh Arahatoh Samma Samput Tassa X3

Kayena Wajaya Wajay Tassa Mahaysak Khaya

Tehwataya Apipalitang Etipatiharikan

Putta Machimaramay Samichit Tassa

Putta Patimang Puchemihang

Yaochiwanja Sukamiko Sukkhapatiya X3

Phra Rheesi Petcherukan: Headmaster of Supernatural Powers

Asceticism has been practiced since time immemorial. It is not a practice unique to Hinduism. In fact, it was also and, perchance, is also practiced by many religions including Christianity and Islam. In Hinduism, laypeople who practiced asceticism and who have achieved high level of inner tapas (supernatural powers) were collectively called “Rishi” (rheesi).  

In our previous article “Understanding Thai Buddhism” we have highlighted the entwinement between Buddhism and Hinduism as well as religious complexity in Thai Buddhism and the topic of this article again reinforced that unique relationship. We will not be going into the controversies pertaining to the various schools of asceticism but suffice to establish the nexus between original Buddhism and asceticism.

The Buddha image in the posture of performing dukriya in Wat Suthat Thepwararam Ratchaworahawihan, The word “dukriya” (dukkarakiriya in Pāli) means “the most difficult action”.

Lord Buddha too led an extreme ascetic life but realised extreme asceticism does not lead to enlightenment. Only moderation does. The five ascetics who practiced asceticism with Lord Buddha became His first five disciples and they are, Kondañña, Assaji, Bhaddiya, Vappa, and Mahānāma. It has to be noted that Lord Buddha did not condemn the practice of asceticism or the supernatural abilities deriving therefrom but only extreme indulgence therein. In fact, many of Lord Buddha’s disciples who subsequently attained arahantship were ascetics and the most prominent being Mahākāśyapa (Kassapa). Mahākāśyapa is one of the nine main Rheesi honored by the inner path.

Rheesi and Thai Buddhism

This Rheesi Tafire mask was honoured and used in rituals by Ajahn Somjit.

Rheesi is an important part of Thai Buddhism and Thais are generally familiar with Rheesi because ancient chronicles and old archives often make references to Rheesi. Furthermore, Rheesi also appears in various literatures as the sole governor of ceremonies whom rulers need to learn from in order to lead the people. Other than that, Rheesi also dominate many academic disciplines such as music, theatrics, medicine and et cetera. For examples, in music, dance, and theatrics, you see people worshipping Phra Rheesi Narathanmuni whilst people in the medical profession worship Rheesi Chiwokkomaraphat. In other words, Rheesi are regarded as ancestors and teachers of various disciplines with regards to humanity which is why “wan wai khru” is such a solemn and important occasion to the Thais. The general attire of the Rheesi is either white robe or tiger skin with tall headgear.

Classification of Rheesi: Disparities within Inner Paths

The sacred image of the Master of Charm Luang Phor Somjit Sukkho.

Things are more complicated when it comes to the inner path where Phra Weyth or supernatural elements form the core of practices. There are too many Rheesi, some of them pious, some iniquitous, and some in-between. Nonetheless, the various schools of thoughts generally agree on the 108 categories of Rheesi but they differ in classification and numbers of the main Rheesi which thus underscore their disparities in cultivation and practices. However, in Regalia, as disciples of Luang Phor Somjit, we inherit and adhere to a classification of nine main Rheesi as follows:

(1) Rheesi Narod (Monday) – Protection and charisma (Bhrama)

(2) Rheesi Narai (Tuesday) – Strengthening positive energy (Vishnu)

(3) Rheesi Nanua (Wednesday) – Strengthen charisma

(4) Rheesi Tafire (Sunday) – Destroy bad energy (Shiva)

(5) Rheesi Kalaikot (Thursday) – Defeat enemies

(6) Rheesi Kassapa (Friday) – Add charm

(7) Rheesi Glaipok (Saturday) – also known as Rheesi Prabman or Rheesi Akasatya the Demon Slayer

(8) Rheesi Nalaek (Wednesday night) – Increase wealth and fortune

(9) Rheesi Petcherukan (Everyday) – Attract positive energy and return all bad things to their places of origin.

Worshipping Rheesi

Theoretically, these main Rheesi may be traced back to Vedic religions and, again, different schools of thoughts have their own versions. These disparities hitherto remain contentious issues within the inner paths. However, we will not be delving into the specificities and origins of each Rheesi in this article but suffice to state herein that, in general, anyone who worships Rheesi must first worship and honour Rheesi Narod because Rheesi Narod is believed to evolve from the fifth head of Phra Promthada and is considered to be the first Rheesi of Triphumi, alternatively known as the three worlds.  He is thus also the leader of all Rheesi and, therefore, regardless of lineage, Rheesi Narod must first be invited and honoured in whatever ceremony and ritual or else that ceremony or ritual will be incomplete. Only after honouring Rheesi Narod then will you worship other Rheesi. This pronouncement is seconded by the various different schools.

Ancestral Rheesi

The statue of this Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap was hand-made by Luang Phor Somjit using the earth of seven cremation grounds of guru monks. This statue currently sits on the altar table in Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre Co. Ltd. in Taiwan.

For a practitioner of the inner path, there is a specific guardian Rheesi from and through which all magical powers are derived, cultivated, and practiced. This guardian Rheesi is known as the ancestral Rheesi of a particular lineage (Kru Yai). The ancestral Rheesi of our lineage is Rheesi Petcherukan. Those who have followed our wan wai kru rituals in person would have noticed we begin our ritual by honoring the Triple Gem (the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha) before inviting and asking the 9 main Rheesi to descend. We then proceed to invite Phra Prom, Phra Narai, Mae Kongkha, Mae Phra Pai, Phra Phayana, and Phra Angkarn to take specific positions. We will then make offerings to Mae Tollani and invite all gods around the compound to come and rejoice together with our ancestral Rheesi. Once all these Pali chants and recitals are completed, we then do the Kham Athithan or prayers before engaging in a short 5 to 10 minutes of meditation. These rituals usually take about an hour or more to complete.

Phra Rheesi Petcherukan: The Two Forms

The statue of this limited edition Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap was made and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit in the year 2532.

Phor Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap

Many people may have heard about Rheesi Petcherukan who is the headmaster of supernatural powers and magic in the rank of Rheesi but little do they know that Rheesi Petcherukan actually has two forms. The form which people are more familiar with, including most Thais, is known as Phor Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap who they usually only refer to as Phor Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan. In this form, Rhessi Petcherukan looks not much different from any other Rheesi who are clothed in white robes and tall headgears. As Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap, he is also known as the weapon maker for all class of gods. It is through his incantation and spell that the weapons derive magical powers.

Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petchrukan Pang Phrapak Asura

Traditional Thai shadow puppeting, dance, and music artists worship Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap and they will always conduct a small ritual to worship Phor Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap before their shows begin. Astrologists and soothsayers too have to worship Phor Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapaktheap in order to see through hidden things in the three realms of past, present, and future although Rheesi Mordo is their ancestral Rheesi.

This Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura was made and consecrated by Luang Phor with hand drawn talisman and other sacred objects to guard the kuthip where His Venerable performed most rituals.

The other form lesser known to people in general is Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petchrukan Pang Phrapak Asura. “Asura” refers to the same class of power-seeking deities as used in Hinduism and not any evil forces assumed by movie scriptwriters. According to Hindu mythology, Asuras are not essentially evil just as Gods are not necessarily good. The term “Asura” does not denote good or evil but just as opposition to “Sura”. In other words, the term is merely a categorization of clans within the cosmos. However, in the form of Pang Phrapak Asura, Phra Rheesi Petchrukan is so powerful that he leads a large army of warring gods, spirits, demons, and ghosts across the three realms. Consequential of his power and influence in art of supernatural abilities, Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petchrukan is officiated as the headmaster of supernatural powers and magic in the rank of Rheesi.

This limited edition Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura was made and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit in the year 2518 using elephant bones carved into skulls. Skulls are symbols of dark magic and a direct contrast to Pang Phrapaktheap.

As high ranking deities, all nine main Rheesi inevitably show compassion and benevolence to a certain degree. Even for the two more aggressive ones, namely, Rheesi Tafire and Rheesi Glypok, they merely either repel or destroy harmful elements to protect believers whereas Rheesi Petcherukan in the form of Pang Phrapak Asura goes as far as returning harmful elements to their original sources to destroy their root causes. It is more of an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth.

Owing to the fact that our ancestral Rheesi belongs to the Asura clan, we are instructed to conduct one of our three annual “wan wai kru” on the 15th day of the seventh lunar month, that is Ghost Day. Good, bad, and in-between spirits are summoned whereby both white and black magic are being amalgamated and consolidated through recitals.

This limited edition Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura was made and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit in the year 2520 using beads carved from specially energized wood retrieved from the jungle in India during His Venerable’s stay there.

Other than Luang Phor Somjit hitherto there have been no other guru monks or masters able to perform the special rituals in making and consecrating Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura. This has resulted in the prices of His Venerable’s creation skyrocketing from ten-twenty thousand baht to several hundred thousand baht.

This edition of Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura was handmade and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit in the year 2525 using skulls carved from elephant bone, handwritten talisman on silver plate, and a special material for the heart.

His Venerable has also made and consecrated a batch of Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura for believers. This include the miniature skeleton-like figurines shown above which has become most popular and sought after by believers; that in a shape of a sea shell known as Bia Kair Petcherukan; and the more subtle form in a talisman container called takut Petcherukan. Nonetheless, because all sacred items were personally handmade by His Venerable hence the numbers were inevitably small and limited.

This edition of Phor Gae Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura was handmade and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit in the year 2525 using skulls carved from elephant bone, handwritten talisman on copper plate, and a special material for the heart.

Rheesi Petcherukan is Not Hoon Phayom

Since the past decade or so, a new and trendy object has found its way into the Thai Buddhism amulet market and it is called Hoon Phayom. Many people mistook it as Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura or that the Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura made and consecrated by Luang Phor Somjit were actually Hoon Phayom. The irony is that Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura has a long history rooted in Vedic religions whilst Hoon Phayom per se is neither a deity nor ghost according to their makers but a “bodyguard” character developed from an untraceable story. Again, we will not be exploring the details of Hoon Phayom but suffice to pronounce herein that it is not Por Gae Phra Rheesi Petcherukan Pang Phrapak Asura or vice versa.

Simplicity in Worshipping Rheesi for Laypeople

For practitioners, you will have to follow the methods imparted by your teacher (ajahn) and the chants associated with your lineage. Whereas for general believers and followers, worshipping and honouring Rheesi on wan wai kru is actually quite simple. All you need are fruits, flowers, tea, coffee, some sweet or savoury desserts, beetle nuts, cigarettes, and liquor. If you do not find it cumbersome and are affordable, you may offer a variety of food of your choices as well. Kham Athithan or prayers, which are totally different from charms or incantations used by practitioners, need not be recited in Pali or Thai languages. You may use your own choice of language, Rheesi can understand you.

Make 3 bows and you may begin as follow:

On this auspicious day, in the grace of the Triple Gems, the Lord Buddha, the Holy Dharma, and the Sangha, I humbly ask for your blessings as I recite my prayers under the prestige of the Triple Gems in honour of Phra Rheesi Narod (followed by the names of other Rheesi you worship). I humbly invite and ask you to descend upon this house and bestow upon me (and whoever else) all positive energy. I humbly beseech….. (request what you want)…..May my wishes be granted as my faith weighs.

Make another 3 bows and that is it.

Understanding Thai Buddhism

Introduction

It has been five years since Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre expanded into Taiwan under the entity Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre Pte Ltd. in 2017. Our modus operandi remains the same as Regalia Singapore. We distinguish ourselves from others in similar trade by virtue of the concept of Buddhist economy by adopting a “middle-path” similar to that advocated by His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej.  A balance between business and religious interests are adhered to in our operation since date of establishment.

Our experience over here in Taiwan draws many resemblances to that when Regalia were first established in Singapore more than two decades ago. We are faced with a complex customer base with diverse motives, a phenomenon that is common in our entire customer base including Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and even Thailand. The mass majority of the people misconceived Thai Buddhism as an occult entrenched in some form of mysticism and magic. However, unlike Singapore, which is a multi-religious country, whereby Singaporeans are being exposed to different religions since young, Taiwanese, on the other hand, are somewhat rooted in Chinese folk religion, a mixture of Mahayana Buddhism, Taoism, and Confucianism premised on superstition in lieu of religious doctrines thereby resulting in serious ontological and epistemological misconceptions. Their beliefs in spells, curses, and “kongtao” (sorcery or black occultism) in everyday life are overwhelmingly widespread. Therefore, our presence in Taiwan has drawn much curiosity and enthusiasm as we did in Singapore during the 90s. Nonetheless, the marked difference between our experiences is Taiwanese exposure and understanding of basic Hinduism and Theravada Buddhism is almost naught. This makes the preaching of Thai Buddhism a lot more tedious.

Most customers love mystical stories but our approach to mysticism, as usual, is based more on rationality instead of exaggeration. Under the Fourth Precept of Theravada Buddhism (pañcasīla), there is no such thing as a fine line between exaggeration and falsification. Consequently, this inevitably makes mystical stories less colourful and interesting that leads to the dismay of many people. We understand most customers are less ready to accommodate and accept dhammic teachings and explanations than they would superstitious beliefs and, as a result thereof, our approach to the subject matter may hurt our business interest. However, this is what makes Regalia unique. We find it un-Buddhist to postulate on the misconception of Thai Buddhism least to abet such misconception about Thai Buddhism thereby driving customers into one of the two extreme ends of fanaticism in Buddhism. The most difficult part is dealing with the category of people who are Internet savvy particularly when they possess strong confirmation bias. A lack of understanding about Thai Buddhism usually lead them to process and store mainly misinformation and disinformation more than facts. Therefore, to them, Regalia are labelled as old-fashioned, outdated, dry, boring, and not in-line with mainstream Taiwanese belief system.

Nevertheless, to the enthusiastic, we are ready to preach and teach; to the curious, we are more than willing to share information and knowledge; and to the “knowledgeable”, we will provide our best services without compromising our religious beliefs and values. It is this review of our Taiwan experience that prompted the writing of this article, however, the content herein is meant for general consumption especially to those who are keen about Thai Buddhism. We will begin this article with a brief history of Buddhism from Siam to Thailand that will allow you to appreciate why Thailand is considered the Centre of Theravada Buddhism and now inching towards becoming the World’s Buddhist Centre. We will then explore the complexity of Buddhism in Thai society with references to original Buddhism, the conflicts of fanaticism, and finally the Middle-Path in Thai society. Of course, we will also briefly touch on Thai amulets before penning off. We hope this will help you have a better understanding of Thai Buddhism.

Early Buddhism in Thailand

Buddhism in Suvarnabhumi

Wat Phra Pathom Chedi at 27 Tesa Rd, Phra Prathom Chedi Sub-district, Mueang Nakhon Pathom District, Nakhon Pathom 73000, Thailand

Indian culture was the dominant culture in Asia up-to 15th century. Buddhism entered the territory of Thailand around the year 236 BCE (before current era). At that time, Thailand was included in the territory known as Suvarnabhumi which comprised at least 7 countries, namely Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Laos, Sri Lanka, Vietnam, Malaysia, and possibly a large part of southern China with Nakhon Pathom Province of Thailand as its capital per historical artefacts such as the Phra Pathom Chedi and the crouching deer or Dhammachakra evidenced. The type of Buddhism that first entered Suvarnabhumi and, hence, Thailand was original Buddhism, that is, traditional Theravada Buddhism because the first Buddhist breakaway known as the Mahayana sect only occurred one-and-a-half century later and whose philosophy did not gain hold in Thailand. Therefore, it is not surprising that these countries share many common beliefs, cultural practices, arts, legends, folklores and et cetera. For examples, there are common beliefs in jumping vampire known as “Phi Dip Chin” in Thailand, “hantu pocong” in Malaysia and Indonesia, “cương thi” in Vietnam, and “jiangshi” in China; and the flying head ghost known as “krasue” in Thailand, “ahp” in Cambodia, “kasu” in Laos, “penanggalan” in Malaysia, “leyak” in Indonesia, and by various names such as “luotou” or “feitou” in China.

Sukhothai Buddhism

The belief in ghosts is not un-Buddhist; on the contrary, it aligns with the concept of samsāra of original Buddhism and the Ratana Sutta. Inasmuch as people of different geographical regions seek refuge in the Triple Gem so do ghosts and spirits of those respective localities. This perchance constituted the complexity of religious traditions. Furthermore, in every country, language, and religion, terms like ghosts, spirits, demons and the like are equally rich and abundant. The situation is no different for Thai Buddhism beginning from the first Thai Kingdom, the Sukhothai Kingdom (1238-1428 CE), as Thai people’s belief in ghosts began from time immemorial.

Ram Khamhaeng Inscription Inscription at The National Museum BangkokNa Phra That Alley, Phra Borom Maha Ratchawang, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok 10200, Thailand

The exact date as to when complexity of religious traditions occurred in Thai Buddhism is uncertain. The earliest archaeological evidence listed by UNESCO World Heritage Site in Thailand is a stone inscription of Sukhothai, No. 1 that reads:

“…Above Sukhothai City, there are the monk’s dwelling, monastery, Pu Kru, Saridapong, Pa Phrao, Pa Lang, Pa Kham, Nam Khok, and Phra Khaphung Phi. The fairies in that mountain are more powerful than any spirit in this city. Any noblemen who conquer Sukhothai City with good respect, the city will be good. Without the respect, the spirits in the mountains will not protect the city…” 

Photograph of “phi-thewada” Phra Khaphung Phi at Ram Khamhaeng National Park, Na Choeng Khiri, Khiri Mat District, Sukhothai 64160, Thailand

The Ram Khamhaeng inscription described the devotion of the Thai people to Theravada Buddhism and, at the same time, highlighted their reverence for “phi-thewada” or Phra Khaphung Phi Nang Sueang known as Phra Mae Ya to the Sukhothai people. Some writers claimed the classification of “phi-thewada” which literally means “ghost-deity” suggested the beginning of merging religious traditions or an amalgamation of Theravada Buddhism with local Thai religions but which we opined are both un-substantiable and flawed. If it was a merging of religious traditions or an amalgamation of Theravada Buddhism with local Thai religions the process would have occurred long ago during Suvarnabhumi period and not after the founding of Sukhothai Kingdom. Furthermore, from Thai perspective, good spirits are usually seen and revered as equivalent to deities. The process aforementioned was more a perpetuation of original Buddhism.

Phra Putta Si Sakyamuni enshrined in Wat Mahathat, Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai 64210, Thailand

The main Theravada Buddhist temple built in the reign of King Sri Inthrathit was Wat Mahathat located in today’s Sukhothai Historical Park at Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai, Thailand. It was the largest and most important temple of Sukhothai era. The temple has a spacious area consisting the main viharn, mondop, boath and chedi. The main Buddha statue enshrined in the temple is Phra Putta Si Sakyamuni.

Wat Si Chum, Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Sukhothai 64210, Thailand

Another historical temple built during Sukhothai period is Wat Si Chum, Mueang Kao, Mueang Sukhothai District, Thailand. It contained wall murals that pointed to the first Thai Buddhist Jataka tales underlying Thai national epic Ramakien. It is important to note that Ramakien is based on Hindu epic Ramayana thereby reiterating the entwined relationship between Buddhism and Hinduism in the Thai context. This further supports our proposition that Thai Buddhism is a perpetuation of original Buddhism.

Phra Ajana at Wat Si Chum

The main Buddha enshrined in the temple is Phra Ajana, the immoveable Buddha, measuring 15.6 meters high and 11.3 meters lap width.

Lanna Buddhism

At almost the same time as the Sukhothai Kingdom was founded in the north-central by King Sri Inthrathit, the Lanna Kingdom emerged in the north founded by King Mengrai of Chiang Saen. Lanna territories include Lamphun,    Lampang, Chiang Rai, Chiang Saen, Nan, Phrae,   Phayao, Mae Hong Son, Chiang Tung and Sipsong Phan Na with Chiang Mai as the capital. These territories were initially under Hariphunchai, a Theravada Buddhist kingdom with its capital in Lamphun. Therefore, the Lanna Kingdom also inherited Theravada Buddhism when it conquered the Mon kingdom. Similarly, the Lanna people aligned beliefs in ghosts and spirits with original Buddhist cosmology. The most popular is the nature spirit Mae Takien that is analogous to “yakkha” described in the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta.

Wat Chiang Mun 171 Ratchapakhinai Rd, Tambon Si Phum, Mueang Chiang Mai District, Chiang Mai 50200, Thailand

The first Lanna Buddhist temple Wat Chiang Mun built in 1681 enshrined the Phra Kaew Khaw Buddha statue brought back from Lamphun by King Mengrai. The wall murals of Buddhist Jataka tales were painted with gold on red background. Besides differences in artistic traditions, Sukhothai and Lanna Buddhism were very much the same.

Wall murals of Buddhist Jataka tales were painted with gold on red background.

However, Lanna civilization and Lanna Buddhism underwent a period  known as the “Dark Age” in Northern Thailand from 1560-1770 when the territory repeatedly fell under Burmese rule. Although, in between, King Naresuan and King Narai of the Ayutthaya Kingdom managed to reclaim Chiang Mai but the Burmese invaders were able to wrestle it back each time. It was in 1776 that King Taksin successfully drove the Burmese out of Chiang Mai but Lanna territories only formerly became part of the Thailand in 1892. Thence, Lanna-Thai Buddhism also became integrated and systematically regulated.

Kruba Srivichai Phim Sawng Chai 2482 medal has a current open market value of ฿500,000 to ฿1,000,000

The revitalization of Theravada Buddhism in the north is much attributed to the prominent monk Kruba Sriwichai (1878-1939) who remained revered as the Saint of Lanna hitherto.

Ayutthaya Buddhism

In 1350, King U-Thong or Ramathibodi I founded the Ayutthaya Kingdom and annexed the entire Sukhothai Kingdom in 1376 thereby forming the Siam Empire based in Ayutthaya which borders were approximate those of modern Thailand, saved for the northern territories comprising the Lanna Kingdom. Theravada Buddhism was declared the state religion. It was also during that period that the Tenth Buddhist Council was held in Thailand for the first time. Therefore, the Ayutthaya period was considered the golden era of Theravada Buddhism that formed the roots of contemporary Thai Buddhism.

The murals of King Kirti Sri Rajasinghe presenting a ritual fan to Phra Upali at Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara in Colombo. Photograph extracted from Bangkok Post, Life Section

Theravada Buddhism was so well preserved in Siam so much so that in 1753 a mission of 17 monks led by Phra Upali Maha Thera of Wat Dhammaram in Ayutthaya was sent to Ceylon at the request of King Kirti Sri Rajasinhe (1747-1782) to re-establish higher ordination in the kingdom. The Siamese ordination tradition survived until now and became known as Siyam Nikāya (Svasti, 2013).

Many Thai Buddhist temples were built during that era and the most prominent are Wat Mahathat built during the reign of King Borom Rachathirat I, Wat Rachaburana built during the reign of King Borom Rachathirat II, Wat Phra Si Sanphet built during the reign of King Borom Trailokanat, and Wat Phra Ram which was built on the cremation site of Ramathibodi I. Another thing worth noting is that the official titles of the Ayutthaya kings highlighted the entwined relationship between original Buddhism and Hinduism, e.g. “Narai”, “Ramathibodi”, “Ramesuan”, “Ekathotsarot” and “Phra Phutthachao” as appeared in the palatine law.

Wat Mahathat, Naresuan Rd, Tha Wasukri, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya 13000, Thailand

Unfortunately, most of those historical temples were destroyed by the Burmese when Burma launched a 7 year war against Ayutthaya from 1760-1767 that brought to end 416 years of Siam Empire. Phraya Taksin, as he was then known, however, managed to secure the east coast of the Gulf of Siam including provinces such as Rayong, Chonburi, Chanthaburi and Trat from the Burmese invaders. After securing Thonburi on the west bank of the Chao Phraya River near present day Bangkok in 1768, Phraya Taksin declared himself king and made Thon Buri his capital. 

The Monument of King Taksin the Great has commemorating His Majestiy passing Chachoengsao after the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767 to restore Thailand’s independence.

The succession of King Taksin the Great (1768-1782) merely extended the life of the Siam Empire by another 15 years but within 10 years of his ascension, he not only reclaimed all Ayutthaya territories seized by the Burmese he also successfully liberated Chiang Mai and totally ended Burmese incursion. Although his reign was short, King Taksin the Great is revered by the Thais hitherto and is also known as King of Siam, Warrior King, and the first king to have restored and united the Kingdom of Thailand. December 28 became King Taksin Day commemorating his ascension to the throne in December 28, 1768.

The Taksin Maharat Memorial located in the near the town hall at Liap Noen Road in Chantaburi houses the statue of King Taksin and his four bodyguards.

King Taksin was a devout Theravada Buddhist who began education in Wat Kosawat, Khlong Mueang, Tambon Tha Wasukri and was ordained as a monk for three years before he joined the service of King Ekkathat. Therefore, after his ascension to the throne, King Taksin extensively promoted the study of Theravada Buddhism and laid the foundation for development of contemporary Thai Buddhism.

Ratanakosin Buddhism

The history of Rattanakosin began year 1782 when King Rama I of the Chakri Dynasty shifted the capital to Krungthep, that is, present day Bangkok. Inasmuch as not many people fully understand Thai Buddhism, there are equally few people who remember the official name least the meaning of the Thai capital. Even if they do, how many would see the significance therein? The official name of Bangkok is “Krungthep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit” which literally means “The city of angels, the great city, the eternal jewel city, the impregnable city of God Indra, the grand capital of the world endowed with nine precious gems, the happy city, abounding in an enormous Royal Palace that resembles the heavenly abode where reigns the reincarnated god, a city given by Indra and built by Vishnukarma”. Indra is the Vedic Hindu god and Vishnukarma is the divine architect in Hinduism. Consequently, we again see a continued entwinement between Buddhism and Hinduism in Thailand.

We will not be going into archaic political illusion of truth about “divine right to rule” or being a “reincarnation of God” because, in this contemporary world, anyone who claims thus is unlikely to gain a throne but a bed space in a mental institution. However, the institution of the Thai monarchy, which is deeply rooted in Hinduism and Buddhism, have adopted Hindu Gods’ names as their official titles with the current Chakri Dynasty adopting the name “Rama”, the seventh avatar of Lord Vishnu.  Nonetheless, the Theravada Buddhist concept of “Dhammaraja”, that is, kingship under dhamma has been the proclaimed goal of the Thai monarchy. Amongst all kings of the Chakri Dynasty, Thai people have shown a “cultish” reverence towards King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) and King Bhumibol (Rama IX) not for their “godliness” but for their Buddhist virtues, values, and their contribution to Thai society and people.

Phra Bat Somdet Phra Poraminthra Maha Chulalongkorn Phra Chunla Chom Klao Chao Yu Hua (Rama V)

Many temples and Buddha statues including scriptures were destroyed by the Burmese invaders that prompted the Second Buddhist Council of Siam to be held in Krungthep from November 13, 1788 to April 10, 1789 whereby the Pāḷi Canon Tipitaka and commentaries were collected, revised and re-established. The reign of King Chulalongkorn (Rama V) underscored major innovations in both secular and religious affairs leading to a systematized institutional structure for Buddhism in the Kingdom of Thailand. He enacted the Sangha Administration Act 1902 which systemized the entire Siamese Buddhist ecclesiastical system and education under the regulation of a single Siamese Sasana headed by the Supreme Patriarch. King Chulalongkorn was dedicated to Buddhism and education, thus, the 1902 Act prescribed education to commence at various temples and it was the responsibility of abbots and higher-ranking monks to educate both monks and laypeople.

Under commission by His Majesty, the world’s first printed PāḷiTipitaka known as the Chulachomklao of Siam Pāḷi Tipiṭaka Edition comprising 39 volumes came into existence in 1893. They were distributed to prominent temples in Thailand and leading institutions around the world. The Chulachomklao of Siam Pāḷi Tipiṭaka is presently being preserved in at least 30 countries (British Library, 2019). Meanwhile, King Chulalongkorn also had the Pāḷi Tipitaka translated and published in the Thai language in 1898 which is called “The Printed Tipitaka Edition” (Maha Chulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya University, 2002).

Phrabat Somdet Phra Paraminthara Maha Bhumibol Adulyadej (Rama IX)

Despite the Siam Revolution 1932 that put an end to absolute monarchy, Thai people generally welcomed the restoration of the monarchy after World War II. We will leave what is called the “coup season” running from 1932 until present day to the scholars and just concentrate on His Majesty, King Bhumibol Adulyadej’s impact on Thai Buddhism between 1950-2017. What made His Majesty popular with the people were his Buddhist virtues and values. He was as dedicated as his grandfather, Rama V, to Buddhism and the people. He cared and worked hard for the people and was a frequent visitor to poor rural areas. He integrated the Buddhist Middle-Path concept into what became known as Thailand’s “Sufficiency Economy” comprising three fundamental principles, namely, moderation, rationality, and self-immunity to changes (Chaisumritchoke, 2007).

Somdet Sangkarat Phra Yannasangwon Suvaddhano 19th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand

During the reign of King Bhumibol Adulyadej, Thai Buddhism flourished internationally and the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka was made comprehensible and available to the laypeople. In 1988, Mahidol University recorded all 45 volumes of the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka in Thai-script digitally and in 1991, at the request of King Bhumibol, another 70 volumes of Atthakatha or commentary were also added to its data base.  Finally, in 1994, all 115 volumes of the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka in Thai-script were made available on CD-Rom.

In 1999, the 19th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand Somdet Sangkarat Phra Yannasangwon of Wat Bovoranives initiated the Commemorative Pāḷi Tipiṭaka Project resulting in the complete 40-volume Roman-script Tipitaka known as “Mahāsaṅgīti Tipiṭaka Buddhavasse 2500” or simply as “The World Tipiṭaka Edition” published by M.L. Maniratana Bunnag Dhamma Society Fund in 2004. Pāḷi Suttas in Thai language have also been made widely available. Among others, Maha Chulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya University has been publishing Buddhist scriptures in Thai language since 1993.

We shall also leave the politicization of Thai Buddhism, a fundamental condition on which most academic dissertation on Thai Buddhism is premised, out from this article as categorizations such as those proposed by Jackson (1989) are not only spurious but also based on false premises and, thus, not reflective of Thai reality. Whereas atheistic propositions attributing Buddhist cosmology to metaphors for mental states (Phuthathat, 1982) are equally farfetched and self-defeating when studied alongside the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka. Notwithstanding, it can be self-consoling when everything from heaven and hell to karma are perceived as nothing more than make-believes or illusions of the mind. In that case, everyone can have his own perfect fantasy world all in his mind which would consequently render Buddha’s teachings redundant in toto. Scientifically, an imaginary state of mind would amount to deficiency ranging from mild daydreaming to severe mental illness. Obviously, this is not what Buddhism is about.

Scholarly and Academic Buddhism

In order to understand Thai Buddhism we must not allow the subject matter to be clouded by cognitive biases. When we talk about fact we refer to a statement of truth whereas in academic discourse a fact does not necessarily have to be true but suffice that it relies on some form of observation and research which are oftentimes subject to study power and bias (Ioannidis, 2005). For example, Prombunpong (1995) cited in Blyth (1995) alleged there was a decline in monkhood in Thailand owing to “outdated Buddhist texts” and the use of Pāḷi language. Any Thai Buddhist can tell you that the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka is regarded as the corpus of Buddhist scriptures, thus, despite the availability of Thai or English translated editions, the depth of language and, therefore, meanings may not be fully appreciated beyond the original language. Nonetheless, monks ordained on a temporary basis are not required to study the Pāḷi language. Furthermore, the study of Pāḷi language has, on the contrary, been growing exponentially so much so that it is being offered by universities including Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies, Oxford University. UK. In Thailand, there are three universities operated by the Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand that offer Bachelors, Masters, and Doctoral level studies in Pāḷi language, and they are, Mahachulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya University (founded in 1887), Mahamakut Buddhist University (founded in 1893), and International Buddhist College (founded in 2005). Furthermore, Theravada Buddhism is a religion, an orthodox tradition with roots stretching 2564 years back and is based on the Pāḷi Tipiṭaka, thereby distinguishing it from other Buddhist offshoots, thus, the allegation of “outdated Buddhist texts” is simply misplaced if not superficial.

There may be a decline in ecclesiastical ordination but the reasons thereof are likely to be changes in social values and behavior. Modernization, advancement, and affluence are causes shifting sacred to sacrilegious in every society and religion. We will leave the exploration between religiosity and affluence to you. What we wish to highlight here is that the art of discernment, especially in academic praxis, is always tricky so are misconceptions that are lodged in our consciousness which result in what is known as fragmented knowledge and a distorted worldview. For example, you may have read about “Buddhist conversion” or “converting to Buddhism” (Gokhale, 1986; Yu, 2014; Baker, 2020), however, do you know the phenomenon of “conversion” does not exist in Buddhism? Academically it may be said that the premise is false but in psychology we aptly call this paradoxical knowing. Refer to Upāli Sutta (Majjhima Nikāya 56) and you will understand Lord Buddha’s position on this subject matter. It will also help you understand the tolerant and accommodating nature of present day Thai Buddhism.

Confusion in Thai Society

The majority of Thais share the same set of complexity and perplexity encountered by non-Thai believers when it comes to Thai Buddhism. The situation is being aggravated especially when temples and clergies willingly deviate from Buddha’s teachings in pursuit of economic gains. The Dhammakaya Temple scandal, the sports car scandal involving the abbot Luang Pi Namfon (Phraku Palad Sitthiwat) of Wat Pailom, the Private Jet scandal involving the abbot Phra Wirapol Sukphol of Wat Pa Khantitham (now defrocked) and et cetera are all severe examples of un-Buddhist behaviors. Although disapproved and shunned by the general public, however, these institutions and people still managed to retain and/or recruit sizeable followers who in turn contributed to those monastic misbehavior (Worathanee, 2013). This unequivocally shows that even the Thais share the same intellectual deficiencies as non-Thai believers when it comes to truth, wisdom, and faith.

Apart from the afore-mentioned challenges, Thais are also faced with competing propositions pertaining Thai Buddhism. There are basically three main propositions, namely, Thai Buddhism is a philosophy, Thai Buddhism is a religion, and Thai Buddhism is merely superstition. Now, when a “nobody” makes such claims the impact is not readily felt by the larger population but if their proponents are famous monks or academics the consequence will definitely be immense if not dire. Whichever proposition there is bound to be followers and opponents, thus, disagreement and dispute that tend to obfuscate the subject matter especially when an incorrect definition is being ascribed to the respective subject matter is present.

The three competing topics are, namely, (1) philosophy; (2) religion; and (3) superstition. We are going to import definitions of these topics from dictionaries as well as an influential source within the Thai society, the “Encyclopedia for Thai Youth” for the purpose of comparison.

According to dictionaries:

Philosophy: a theory or attitude that acts as a guiding principle for behaviour.

Religion:  a particular system of faith and worship.

Superstition: a widely held but irrational belief in supernatural influences, especially as leading to good or bad luck, or a practice based on such a belief.

According to the Encyclopedia for Thai Youth:

Religion:Religion is a way of life for the ultimate goal, which is liberation from suffering, complete happiness when leaving this world. It is an explanation of the cause of suffering and the course of action for the release of suffering which must be practiced every day for the rest of their lives.”

Superstition: “Superstition is the subject of controlling mystical powers believed to exist in the world, in nature, and in the universe. Inspiring to produce desirable effects such as curing diseases, enchanting people, various tattoos for invincibility and hanging sacred objects to get out of danger. Miracle work in order to achieve the desired effect, recitation, spells, etc. ……”

Whichever proposition you may favour we will like to reiterate Lord Buddha’s teaching about the “Middle-Path” which should be a guide to “moderation” in life, achieving a balance and not falling into either side of the extreme ends.

Now, before we proceed further with “Understanding Thai Buddhism” it is crucial that we walk you through the backdrop of original Buddhism so that you are able to better comprehend the composition and essence of Thai Buddhism.

Backdrop of Original Buddhism

Summary

The birthplace of Buddhism is dominated by Vedic Hinduism which, albeit being polytheistic, Hinduism propagates Lord Brahma as the creator of the universe, Lord Vishnu as the preserver, and Lord Shiva as the destroyer that underlined Hindu life-death cycle and cosmological order. Lord Buddha, however, rejected the proposition of a divine creator but not polytheism and propounded the theory of dependent origination (paṭiccasamuppāda) whereby life-death cycle is consequential of interactions amongst elements within six realms and thirty-one planes which formed the Buddhist cosmological order as explicitly set out in the Sāleyyakasutta of the Majjhima Nikāya and Anguttara-Nikāya.

You may find many similarities and differences between the two religions, for examples, they utilise similar concepts such as saṃsāra, dhamma, kamma, Dhammachakra Mudra, and et cetera but differ in their substances and constituents. The concept of saṃsāra in Hinduism pertains to the everlasting “atman” whilst Lord Buddha advocates anattā” which literally means not-self not-soul in His teaching of saṃsāra that is aligned with His doctrine of “annica”, that is, impermanence. Although both sought liberation (moksha) from saṃsāra, in Hinduism the ultimate goal is the unification of the atman with Brahman whilst for Buddhism is the entering of nibbāna. The concept of dhamma in Hinduism pertains to one’s role in the universe and is caste specific whilst in Buddhism dhamma refers to the modus operandi of the universe and teachings of Lord Buddha. Both Hinduism and Buddhism are in agreement when kamma is concerned. It relates to the cause-and-effect of one’s actions for which condition life events. It is a neutral and non-judgmental cycle of life.

Philosophy of cosmology is a scientific conceptualization as well as deliberation and explanation of the universe as a sum total. However, despite celebrations of human intelligence and achievements, many things within this universe remain unknown and inexplicable by science. We will leave the limits and flaws of scientific cosmological theorizing to the academics and scientists. Religious cosmology, on the other hand, is a description of how the universe works from a religious point of view. This may include creation myths (now disproven) or evolution theory in describing the spatial arrangement of the universe including dimensions unseen by mortal eyes. Many religions are based on narratives, legends, and doctrines formulated over long periods of time. Nonetheless, in Thai Buddhism, we are only interested in what Lord Buddha has said and taught and not what someone else perceives and interprets what Lord Buddha has said and taught. Therefore, in pursuit of truth, wisdom, and faith, we adhere to the ten intellectual tenets imparted by Lord Buddha. We will explain what these ten tenets are in the later part of this article.

From the backdrop of original Buddhism, it can be seen that Buddhism, especially Thai Buddhism, is somewhat intertwined with and yet different from Hinduism. So, now we are ready to move on to Thai Buddhism whereby there is sumptuous of mysticism both in rituals and practices invoked by monastic figures including “iddhi” (psychic powers), “paritta” (chant and incantation), “raksha” (charm and spell), and “asphanaka yoga” which have been misunderstood as Hindu or un-Buddhist even by some Thais when these are actually derivations from original Buddhism that are reflected in the Pāli Canon. Hence, even Thais are confused about Thai Buddhism so it is neither surprising nor embarrassing for non-Thai believers to be equally bewildered.

Diversity and Mysticism

Regardless of whichever religion, a common attraction that draws people to it is mysticism. There are Christian mysticism pertaining to contact with the divine (Stefon, n.d.); Islamic Sufism pertaining to esoteric insight (Stanford, 2021); Hindu Tantrism relating to the obscured (Hoen & Goudriaan, 1981) so is there mysticism in Buddhism. However, people are drawn by this mystical factor for varying reasons and motives ranging from a desire to establish a deeper spiritual relationship and a channel of communication with the Divine to the belief in the ability of manipulating the supernatural forces for specific ends.  It is neither the purpose of this article to explore the consonance and dissonance of religious beliefs nor the conflict arising from a philosophical versus a religious approach to Buddhism but rather to expound the complexity of Thai Buddhism underscored by a sumptuousness of mysticism.

Thai Buddhism in particular and Buddhism in general is not a theistic religion and do not believe in an omnipotent creator. According to the Saṃyutta Nikāya (one of the “three baskets” comprising Pāli Tripitaka), Lord Buddha said this saṃsāra or world is without beginning and, in both the Abhidhamma and Aggañña Sutta, He propounded the theory of dependent origination through interactions amongst elements which may, prima facie, be equated with contemporary theory of evolution.

It is, therefore, correct and true to claim that Buddhism is not a theistic religion but it is false and wrong to garble original Buddhism as atheistic. Not theistic refers to the rejection of a single omnipotent creator of the world and all beings therein but does not reject the existence of Gods, Deities, spirits, ghosts and et cetera as atheism does. The existence of Gods, Deities, spirits, ghosts and et cetera are posited throughout Buddhist scriptures and texts by which basic Buddhist tenets such as six spiritual realms, thirty-one planes of existence, kammic cycle, reincarnation and et cetera are thereupon premised.

Fanaticism on Two Extreme Ends

Many people are drawn to Thai Buddhism by virtue of the mysticism associated with the Order. Magic has been part of religion since time immemorial and it has remained a crucial part of Thai belief system hitherto. Supernatural beings and supernatural abilities are intertwined and entrenched just as they were in original Buddhism.

There are people, monastic and laity alike, who condemn mysticism or claim that belief and practices associated therewith are un-Buddhist. Well, under the theory of freedom of choice, a doctrine consistently advocated by Lord Buddha in His teachings, the prerogative to believe or disbelieve undoubtedly lies with the beholders. However, some people have gone to the extent as to falsely claim that Buddha denied the existence of supernatural beings and also condemned mysticism or magic and, thus, anyone believing and/or practicing such arts is un-Buddhist. The attempt to portray Buddhism as atheistic is one of the two extreme ends of fanaticism stemming purely from ignorance or “avijjā”.

In some Buddhist literature it was claimed that Lord Buddha himself condemned psychic powers as “triachchhana vijja” or “michchha-ajiva” or simply “low arts” by taking the Kevatta Sutta out of context. The said Sutta actually contains Lord Buddha’s cautions against possible abuse and falsification of supernatural abilities which are, at the same time, not indicators of truth and wisdom. Condemnation, if any, is confined to obsessive indulgence in psychic power which constitutes the other extreme end of fanaticism not beneficial towards liberation and/or enlightenment.

Lord Buddha teaching Devas

The fact is, inasmuch as Lord Buddha did not deny the existence of Gods, Deities, spirits, ghosts and et cetera, He neither condemned nor forbade the cultivation and practice of supernatural abilities. It should not be forgotten that Lord Buddha is “satthadevamanussanam”, that is, teacher to Gods and human. A rich account of Lord Buddha’s interactions with celestial beings is recorded in Saṃyutta Nikāya. Furthermore, in various ancient Pāli Canon and Buddhist literature, “iddhi” or the supernatural abilities including what is known as “abhiññā” or the six higher knowledge of Lord Buddha have been explicitly recorded.  Charms against evil spirits and a description of the celestial kingdoms are also provided for in a section of the Dīgha Nikāya Pāli Canon known as the Āṭānāṭiya Sutta.

Now, take a pause and analyze the conflicting propositions with references to what Lord Buddha said and did not say. Start with the most common example such as did Lord Buddha prescribe a vegetarian diet? Do not bother about what people said or told you, just ask yourself what is Lord Buddha’s position on this subject matter. Fact (1): Lord Buddha survived on alms food and did not choose what to receive and what not to. Fact (2): According to the Pāli Canon, Lord Buddha explicitly rejected Devadatta’s request to mandate vegetarian diet. Fact (3): The alms rules laid down by Lord Buddha, including the receiving and consumption of meat, are unambiguously set forth in Aṅguttara Nikāya, a tradition adhered to by Thai monks hitherto. These will provide you with a truthful answer to the question. Use the same process and ask yourself, were there any magical ability invoked when Lord Buddha brought Phra Maha Moggallāna to hell to see the latter’s mother or when He outpaced Aṅgulimāla? Were many of Lord Buddha’s disciples also masters of magical faculties and amongst them the most prominent was Phra Maha Moggallāna or was it not? Similarly, these should also provide you with a truthful answer with regards to Buddhist magic.

Finding the Path in a Foggy World

How should falsifications be construed and dealt with in a Buddhist context? What should we do when confronted with so many different and contradicting propositions? Luang Phor Pern of Wat Bangplaad once taught us “Examine, examine, re-examine. What is in accordance with the Dhamma is true and what is not does not really matter anymore.” So do not believe and accept everything that is fed to you, you will need to verify and authenticate those information against the teachings of Lord Buddha to ascertain the truth and anything untruthful thereof is rendered useless. When it comes to exposure and learning, this was what Luang Phor Somjit of Wat Noi Nanghong instructed us “Exposure and learning is good but knowing alone is insufficient. Understanding is the goal and practicing to perfection makes you whole.” Therefore, both Luang Phor Pern and Luang Phor Somjit provided us with the paraphernalia to learning, understanding, and practicing the Dhamma so as to find the Path in a foggy world.

Buddha’s Words

Theravada, or the “Doctrine of the Elders” teachings is based on the Pāli Canon “Tripitaka Suttas” that is “buddhavacana” (Buddha’s words).

Admittedly, Buddhism today is generally beyond recognition. There are simply too many sects purporting to spread the teachings of Lord Buddha but which canons vastly differ from the oldest and most authentic Buddhist scripture known as the “Tripitaka Suttas”.  Perhaps, the only orthodox follower of original Buddhism remains the Theravada, also known as the “Doctrine of the Elders”, which teachings still pivots on the Pāli Canon “Tripitaka Suttas” that is “buddhavacana” (Buddha’s words).  This is the Dhamma to Theravada Buddhists. Whereas for other sects of Buddhism, their canons may or may not contain the “Tripitaka Suttas” but undeniably contain self-composed supplementary writings based on perceptions and interpretations of others within and outside of India by breakaways from original Buddhism who spearheaded new ideas (Shashkevich, 2018). They labelled their new ideas “Mahāyāna” which means “greater way” whilst, at the same time, belittling original Buddhist way as “Hīnayāna” meaning “deficient way”. Despite scorning original and, hence, Theravada Buddhism as “deficient” , however, the founders of the Mahāyāna sect did not have an original philosophy but only to built upon the “deficient” through supplementing and varying “buddhavacana”.

Therefore, the Theravada school rejects Mahayana “scriptures” as inauthentic. If you believe and accept Lord Buddha as the “Samma Sambuddha”, it would be an irony to second guess His teachings and suggest that He had not contemplated or had hidden alternative truths (ācariya-muṭṭhi) and ways as postulated by the many non-awakened writers. The first set of rules set by Lord Buddha is known as “Ovādapātimokkha” which was delivered to 1250 enlightened disciples assembled without being summoned.

The three principles are:

Sabba-papassa akaranam,
kusalassa upasampada,
sa-citta pariyodapanam

– etam Buddhana-sasanam

  • Dhammapada, XIV. 5(183).

      1. Sabba-papassa akaranam: Abstain from all unwholesome deeds pertaining to action, speech, and thought that are trouble to self and others.

      2. Kusalassa upasampada: Perform wholesome deeds pertaining to action, speech, and thought that are right for self and others.

      3. Sa-citta pariyodapanam: Purify the mind to be free of sorrow, greed, anger, and delusion.

Etam Buddhana-sasanam : This is the teaching of Buddha.

Kālāma Sutta: Ten Tenets to Detect and Filter Illusion of Truth

The impact of un-Buddhist mischief becomes aggravated in a technological age whereby both misinformation and disinformation are immediately delivered at the tip of the fingers to mostly uncritical minds. The toxicity arising therefrom is vile. Joseph Goebbels (1897-1945), chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, said “repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth” and that forms the law of propaganda. Psychologists termed the effect consequential therefrom “illusion of truth”. If you are to look around you and, examine your environment carefully, you may realize almost everybody from news reporters, politicians, advertisers and even academics are all postulating the flaw of human psychology for varying motives.  This is why we see and read about people, even the educated and knowledgeable too often fall victims to scams when those ruse are detectable from the outset with a little bit of wisdom.

From a religious perspective, “illusion of truth” takes effect by virtue of fantasies and desires to dispose uncomfortable realities. For example, it is much easier to attribute undesirable realities as the “will of God” than to take responsibility and face consequences therefrom. However, in Buddhism, these fantasies and desires are collectively classified as “taṇhā” which is the cause of “dukkhā”. Dukkhā is usually interpreted as suffering and other negative effects of life but, in reality, it pertains also to positive aspects of life whence attachments arise. We will not be delving into the concept of “upadanā” in this article but suffices to state herein that “dukkhā” may include the exact opposite “sukha” if “taṇhā” is found in the latter.

In Ambalatthika-Rahulovada Sutta of Majjhima Nikāya, second of the five Nikāyas in Sutta Pitaka, is a section of Lord Buddha’s instructions to Rahula at Mango Stone on the subjects of shame of telling lies, the purification of kamma, speech, and the mind. These underscored Theravada practice of “sacca-kiriyā” (act of truth) and underlined the Buddhist fourth precept of “not lying”. The precept of “not lying” goes well beyond the simple practice of not lying and it includes not reiterating and aiding in the spread of lies.

There are many Buddhist sects that grew from fantasies and desires of ignorant people and prospered on the latter’s sufferings through manufacturing an illusion of truth. Lord Buddha taught the doctrine of anattā as a key concept to nibanna through cessation of dukkha of which essence is contained in the Four Noble Truth and the Noble Eightfold Path. In cultivation thereof arose 227 precepts for monks and 311 precepts for nuns contained in the Suttavibhaṅga, a division of the Vinaya Piṭaka. In other words, the path and journey towards nibanna is long and difficult, something not achievable by laypeople who, at most, would settle in the Deva realms and have to be reborn as monks, nuns, or ascetics to achieve nibanna.  As part of religious inclusiveness arises waves of Buddhist populism propagating a “here and now” ideology that even laypeople can attain nibanna without having to forgo anything monks and nuns forgo. This is an illusion of truth appealing to the desire and lackadaisical nature of human beings. They will meet your requirement if you are merely looking to buying some psychological comfort or a fictitious place in heaven after death in the name of “Buddhism”. However, if you are not a subscriber to self-deception and truly seek liberation through Lord Buddha’s teachings we will like to share with you the ten primary tenets Lord Buddha imparted in pertinence to learning as per the Kālāma Sutta and they are as follow:

1. Mā anussavena: do not believe or accept just because something has been passed along and retold through the years.

2. Mā paramparāya: do not believe or accept just because some practice has become customary or traditional.

3. Mā itikiraāya: do not believe or accept merely because reports and news spreading far and wide throughout the world.

4. Mā pitakasampadānena: do not believe or accept just because something is cited in an “authoritative” literature.

5. Mā takkahetu: do not believe or accept just because something fits into logical reasoning (takka).

6. Mā nayahetu: do not believe or accept just because something is correct by virtue of deductive or inductive reasoning (naya).

7. Mā ākāraparivitakkena: do not believe or accept just because something appeals to one’s common sense.

8. Mā ditthinijjhānakkhantiyā: do not believe or accept just because something stands up to or agrees with one’s preconceived opinions and theories.

9. Mā bhabbarupatāya: do not believe or accept just because the speaker appears believable.

10. Mā samano no garu ti: do not believe or accept just because the samana or preacher, or the speaker is “our teacher.”  

Pursuant therefrom it may be argued that nothing is believable or acceptable. That will again be a misconception. Remember the advise from His Venerable Luang Phor Pern quoted above: “Examine, examine, re-examine. What is in accordance with the Dhamma is true and what is not does not really matter anymore.”

Before we end this article, we will like to provide you with a brief summary on Thai amulets as they have become central to Thai Buddhism. Inasmuch as we need to know what is and is not Buddhism, we also need to know what is and is not Thai amulets.

Thai Amulets

At the present moment, the oldest Buddha amulets discovered were Mathura art of the 2nd century (Chandra, 1985). However, Thai amulets are said to have existed only from 10th century CE (current era). At that time, Thai amulets were not meant to be worn or taken home rather they were buried in Chedi or in temple ground as a form of merit. The ancient prints then were usually “Phattha Kappa” commonly known as “Phra Puttha Har Phra Oong”. Thai historians have also pointed to a stone inscription of Wat Bang Sanuk, Phrae province dating back to Sukhothai period which described the people of the Sukhothai made Buddha amulets with tin and clay to make merit. This is the reason behind the belief that “renting” amulets (Thais do not use the term “buy” when it comes to amulets) is a form of merit making in Thai Buddhism.

The Phra Pathumas amulet unearthed is approximately more than 600 years old and it is made from a mixture of old silver and lead.

Amulets made during the Sukhothai period include Phra Pathumas, Phra Suphan Lang Phan, Phra Ruang and Phra Leela. Two thousand clay amulets dating back to 1101-1300 inscribed with “ye dhamma” known as Phra Phim Kradun Sriwichai were discovered in Wat Khao Si Wichai, Phunphin District, Surat Thani Province (Konchadleuk, 2014). “Ye dhamma” is an abbreviation for “ye dhammā hetuprabhavā hetuṃ teṣāṃ tathāgato hyavadat, teṣāṃ ca yo nirodha evaṃvādī mahāśramaṇaḥ” which means “regarding dhammas that arise from a cause, the Tathagata taught their cause and also their cessation. Those were the words of the Great Mendicant”

Phra Phim Kradun Sriwichai with diameter approximately 2 centimeter unearthed in in Wat Khao Si Wichai, Phunphin District, Surat Thani Province

When did the culture of wearing Thai amulets begin may be traced back to early Ratanakosin period. Thailand thence began to open up to foreigners and the culture of wearing auspicious and religious objects was brought into the country from the East to the West. From archaeological works to pure treasure hunting at ancient temple sites also took place during that era. Buddha amulets and images unearthed became treasure troves. The elites began collecting those religious antiques that gradually turned into a culture of wearing amulets and worshipping Buddha images at home.

Amulets started as treasure and remained as treasure up until today. High-end Thai amulet collectors only concentrate on traditional amulets such as Phra Benjakphakhi consisting of five types of amulets representing the five periods of Buddhism in Thai history and other rare prints originating from temples and consecrated by prominent guru monks. Phra Somdej from Wat Rakhang made and consecrated by Somdej Phra Puttachanto Promarangsri represent Ratanakosin; Phra Nang Phaya represents Ayutthaya; Phra Soonko represents Sukhothai; Phra Phong Suphan represents U-Thong; and Phra Rod represents Lopburi (Lanna); Phra Ruang, Phra Khring, Pidta and et cetera are also within the collection list. Subsequently, other guru monks versed in supernatural abilities began making various types of images and amulets available to the general public. Temple origination, thus, became a prerequisite for amulet collectors.

However, in contemporary commercial environment, the Thai amulet market has underwent major changes giving rise to distinctions between genuine (temple made) amulets and fake (non-temple made) amulets as well as Thai amulets (Buddhist) and non-Thai amulets (non-Buddhist). Therefore, amulets made-in-Thailand does not necessary mean Thai amulets (wathumongkhun) especially when they lack temple origin and Buddhist standing. Thai Buddhists generally shun and look down upon Black Occultism but these categories of amulets such as “corpse oil”. phi phrai kasip, mae hong phrai, mae tani, and et cetera, collectively classified as “khorng tam” meaning “low things” in Thailand, have their own market comprising mostly overseas customers of lower education background and who do not understand what Thai Buddhism is all about. For example, the 9-tail fox statues and amulets stemming from Chinese fairytales are totally unrelated to Thai Buddhism but has gain popularity with foreigners from China, Taiwan, Malaysia, and Singapore. 9-tail fox and anything related thereto is perceived as promiscuousness pertaining to sex trades (Kapook, 2018).

When we talk about magic within Buddhism, we are referring to “white magic that focuses on good and, at the same time, precludes evil in accordance with Buddhist values and not on immoral actions and thoughts which are suffering owing to ignorance. White magic is a matter that the monks can relate to, practice, and impart for advancing purposes as allowed in accordance with the Heart of Buddhism (Ovāda-pātimokkha ). It must not deviate from the Four Noble Truth and the Noble Eightfold Path. Remember, our actions, thoughts, and speeches are determinants of our karma impacting life events.

Conclusion

We have highlighted the entwinement between Thai Buddhism and Hinduism since time immemorial. Their co-existence and intricate mix is neither syncretism nor religious pluralism commonly understood in contemporary context but rather they characterizes the complex religious traditions of original and, hence, Thai Buddhism. Western literature for one reason or another usually picks the Sukhothai period, or more precisely, Rama Kamhaeng era, as the commencement of religious complexity in Thailand (Kirsch, 1977) which we opine was a perpetuation of original Buddhism. Nonetheless, whether complexity existed since time immemorial or from Rama Kamhaeng era is merely a topic for academic debate and does not impact Thai Buddhism as a religion.

However, debating over what “should” and “should not” be original Buddhism is purely argumentative. Perception is not reality but merely a cursor of illusion. When a perception becomes adamant it brings an individual further away from reality and into a delusionary state known as psychosis. This is a form of sickness and it is definitely not Buddhism. Therefore, in understanding Buddhism we concentrate on what “is” and “is not” Buddhism regardless whether or not we like the truth. Therefore, obstinately clinging onto either end of fanaticism is devoid from reality when it can unambiguously be discerned from the Pāli Canon that original Buddhism, hence, Thai Buddhism, is neither purely dhammic nor mystical. It is a moderation of the two elements.

We may not reach enlightenment in this lifetime but, in the least, we do not have to move further and further away from it. As laypeople it is impossible for us to lead the lives of monks or nuns and observe the 227 and 311 precepts respectively, but in the minimum, the Heart of Buddhism “Sabbapāpassa akaraṇaṃKusalassa upasampadāSa-citta pariyodapanaṃ – Etaṃ buddhāna sāsanaṃ” which simply means “avoid evil, do good, purify the mind – this is the teaching of Buddha” can be our guiding principles.  Therefore, after reading this article, we hope you are able to evaluate your own position within Thai Buddhism and make necessary adjustments, if needed, towards being a proper Thai Buddhist and have a happier Buddhistic life. 

References

Abhidhamma Piṭaka.

Aggañña Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya 27.

Ambalatthika-Rahulovada Sutta, Majjhima Nikāya.

Anguttara-Nikāya, Sutta Pitaka.

Āṭānāṭiya Sutta,  Dīgha Nikāya 32.

Baker, D. (2020). Converting American Buddhism: Second-Generation Buddhist Americans, the Politics Orientalism, and of Family Religion. CA: Claremont Press.

British Library (2019). British Library receives gift of Pāḷi Tipitaka. Retrieved from: https://blogs.bl.uk/asian-and-african/2019/11/british-library-receives-gift-of-the-pali-tipitaka.html

Chaisumritchoke, S.T. (2007). Sufficiency Economy, the King’s Philosophy: An Application of Buddhist Economics to Develop Thai Local Pharmaceutical Industries for Sustainable Well-Being. Society & Economy, 29(2), 235-252.

Chandra, P. (1985).  The Sculpture of India: 3000 B.C. to 1300 A.D. Washington: D.C., National Gallery of Art.

Gokhale, J.B. (1986). The Sociopolitical Effects of Ideological Change: The Buddhist Conversion of Maharashtrian Untouchables. Journal of Asian Studies, 45(2), 269-292.

Hoen, D.J., & Goudriaan, T. (1981). Review: A Survey of Tantric Hinduism for the Historian of Religions. History of Religions, 20(4), 345-360.

Jackson, P.A. (1989). Buddhism, Legitimation and Conflict: The Political Functions of Urban Thai Buddhism. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Kevatta Sutta, Dīgha Nikāya 11.

Kirsch, A.T. (1977). Complexity in Thai Religious System: An Interpretation. Journal of Asian Studies, 241-266.

Komchadleuk (2014). Phra Phim Kradun Sriwichai over One Thousand Years Old. Extracted from Komshadleuk News on 2021, August 13: https://www.komchadluek.net/news/lifestyle/190112

Loannidis, J.P.A. (2005). Why Most Published Research Findings Are False. PLOS Med, 2(8) : e124. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.0020124

Maha Chulalongkorn Rajavidyalaya University (2002). Thai Tripitaka Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University edition: From Wiriya to Wisdom in order to carry on Buddhism as a Thai partner. Extracted from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University on 2021, August 7: http://oldweb.mcu.ac.th/mcutrai/menu2/Article/article_21.htm

Prombunpong, S. (1995). Monkhood Faces Further Decline. In Blyth, G. (ed.). The Cult Worship of King Chulalongkorn. Department of Thai Studies, Clayton: AUS, Monash University.

Ratana Sutta, Khuddakapāṭha 6.

Sāleyyakasutta , Majjhima Nikāya 41.

Saṃyutta Nikāya, Sutta Pitaka.

 Shashkevich, A. (2018). Stanford Scholar Discusses Buddhism and its Origins. Extracted from Standford News on 2021, August 7: https://news.stanford.edu/2018/08/20/stanford-scholar-discusses-buddhism-origins/

Stanford University (2021). Mysticism in Arabic and Islamic Philosophy. Extracted from Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy on 2021, August 7: https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/arabic-islamic-mysticism/

Stefon, M. (n.d.). Christianity. Extracted from Britannica on 2021, August 7: https://www.britannica.com/topic/Christianity/Christian-mysticism

Suttavibhanga, Ninaya Pitaka.

 Svasti, P. (2013). Links Forged in Faith. Extracted from Bangkok Post on 2021, August 7: https://www.bangkokpost.com/travel/343819/links-forged-in-faith

Upāli Sutta, Majjhima Nikāya 56.

Worathanee (2013). I will make merit at all…consider it first (or not…?). Extracted from Post Today on 2021, August 7: https://www.posttoday.com/dhamma/231584

Yu, D.S. (2014). Buddhist Conversion in Contemporary World. New York: NY, The Oxford Handbook on Religious Conversion.

Kapook (2018). Revealing a Picture of a Resolute Chinese Woman Flocking to the Charm of a Nine-Tailed Fox, Believed to Help Attract Men and Fortune. Extracted from Kapook on 2021, August 7: https://hilight.kapook.com/view/171264

Origin of Phra Pikaniat

Phra Pikaniat or Lord Ganesh, the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is a popular Hindu God. Lord Shiva is part of Supreme Being Trimurti and Goddess Parvati is also part of Supreme Goddess Shakti. The origin of Lord Ganesh is contained in Shiva Purana, part of the Shivaism corpus of literature. He has an elephant head and a human body. He is the most popular Hindu God and is also regarded as the Chieftain of Gods. All religious ceremony must first go through Him because he clears all obstacles and ensures success. Consequently, it becomes believed those who seek success in business must first pay respect to Lord Ganesh.

The birth of Ganesha

It is recorded in Shiva Purana that one day, Goddess Parvati told Nandi, one of Lord Shiva’s able followers who was assigned as her bodyguard that she did not want to be disturbed as she takes her bath and he was not to let anyone pass, including her husband, Lord Shiva. Nandi faithfully took his post but when Lord Shiva came home, Nandi tried to stop him but when His Lordship was insistent, Nandi let him passed through. Parvati was infuriated by what happened.

Lord Siva and Goddess Parvati

In another day, when Goddess Parvati wished to take a bath and did not want to be disturbed but in lieu of asking Nandi to stand guard, she took the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathed life into it, she created Lord Ganesh out of it and declared him to be her own loyal son. She asked Lord Ganesh to stand guard for her.

When Lord Shiva returned home, he was deprived entry by the young boy. Lord Shiva was greatly offended and ordered His men to destroy Lord Ganesh. However, they failed. They were easily defeated by the young boy, thus, compelling Lord Shiva to take on the young boy himself.

Goddess Kali

Being one of the Supreme Gods, Lord Shiva was able to defeat Lord Ganesh easily and, out of blind anger, he severed Lord Ganesh’s head. When Goddess Parvati saw that, she was so enraged and she transformed into her multi-arms devilish form of Goddess of Death, Kali. Goddess Kali threatened to destroy all creation. That alarmed the Creator, Lord Brahma who tried to salvage the precarious situation. The Goddess of Death laid down two conditions, firstly, Lord Ganesh be resurrected and, secondly, thereafter be accorded the status of Ganapati and be honoured before all Gods in all religious ceremonies.

Knowing his wife well and realising the consequence of His rashness, Lord Shiva asked Lord Brahma to fetch Him the head of the first living creature He found facing in the North direction. Lord Brahma, upon reaching the North spotted an elephant and hence returned with an elephant’s severed head which Lord Shiva joined it to Lord Ganesh’s lifeless body. With His own breath, Lord Shiva brought Lord Ganesh back to life and declared Him His own son.

With the agreement of the three Supreme Gods, Lord Ganesh was accorded the status of leader of all ganas (all classes of beings) and will be worshipped before all other Gods in all religious ceremonies. It was from then that Lord Ganesh received His alternative name Ganapati – leader of all classes of beings.

Phra Pikaniat shrine at Central World

Lord Ganesh is known as Phra Pikaniat in Thailand and is widely worshipped by Thais. There are many temples and shrines dedicated to Phra Pikaniat. The most accessible would be the shrine at Central World, Rajmari Road which is frequented by both Thais and foreigners.

Wat Saman Rattanaram

Another Phra Pikaniat temple that has attracted tourists from around the world is Wat Saman Rattanaram in Chachoengsao with a large reclining statue of Lord Ganesha measuring 16 meters high and 22 meters long.

Besides the removing of obstacles, it is almost customary for Thais to pray to Phra Pikaniat when starting a business, embark on long travelling, starting a new construction or during engagement or wedding. Praying to Phra Pikaniat is also popular with university students not because Phra Pikaniat will do the exams for them but He will instead remove all obstacles to learning. Phra Pikaniat is also well-known for His passion for fine arts and is, thus, believed to encourage creativeness. This is evident in the logos of Thailand’s Department of Fine Arts and Silapakorn University.

Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre

Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre’s official logo

The Phra Pikaniat in our logo, sitting at the centre of our company’s name in Thai “Regalia Soon Wathanathamputh” or Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre contains our mission to “encourage people to come and pray (Conch Shell) by pulling them to the highest goal (Rope) in the right path (Tusk) through love, wisdom, and action (Trident)”.

Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon replaces Phra Si Ariyamettrai as the tallest Buddha statue in Bangkok

The Kingdom of Thailand, a country known for its leadership in Theravada Buddhism, adds yet another gigantic Buddha statue to the array that spreads throughout the kingdom, the tallest being the 92-metres high Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin statue in Wat Muang, Ang Thong province.

Phra Buddha Maha Nawamin in Wat Muang, Wiset Chai Chan, Ang Thong province

Nonetheless, the newly constructed statue of Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon will replaced the iconic 32-metres tall Buddha statue of Phra Si Ariyamettrai of Wat Intharawihan, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok as the tallest Buddha in the capital.

Phra Si Ariyamettrai of Wat Intharawihan, Bang Khun Phrom, Phra Nakhon, Bangkok



The Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon statue is a meditation Buddha image seated on a lotus with a lap width of 40-meters and a height of 69-meters that is approximately equivalent to a 20-storey building overseeing the Chao Phaya River.

Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon in Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen

The construction took place in one of Thailand’s prominent temple Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen which was built during the Ayutthaya period or around year 1610. The temple received royal patronage up-until late nineteenth century before falling into abandonment and destitute.  

Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro abbot of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen 2459-2502


However, at the turn of the twentieth century, the Wat Paknam rose from the ashes with the appointment of Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro’s (Phra Mongkolthepmuni) as its abbot in 1916. The temple underwent major restructuring and innovation under the leadership of His Venerable. Luang Pu Sodh began preaching the Dharma on a regular basis and His Venerable also conducted meditation classes for both monks and laypeople. Subsequently, in the 1950s, Luang Pu Sodh also established an institute for Pali studies and schools for primary education.

Somdej Wat Paknam Loon Sam 2499

Apart from his dharmic nature, Luang Pu Sodh was also a top and highly respected guru monk within the inner path. He has made various amulets and among the more highly sought after are His Venerable’s personal medallions and Somdej Wat Paknam Loon Laek to Loon Sam. Consequently, the temple was expeditiously restored to its past glory housing hundreds of monks and became well-supported by the affluent community around Bangkok.

The body of Luang Pu Sodh is preserved in the golden coffin behind the large image of His Venerable.

After serving the Sangha for 53 years, Luang Pu Sodh entered parinibbana on February 3, 1959 at the age of 75. His body is still being preserved in the temple because of the large number of believers paying respect to His Venerable hitherto. Pursuant thereto, it also became a major tourist attraction for the temple. However, the years 1916 to 1959 marked the peak of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen.

Work on the statue of Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon commenced in 2017 and is projected to be completed this year. However, owing to the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic, the Phra Puttapisek ceremony will likely be deferred to a later date.

It was speculated that the statue of Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon was built as an offering to the Triple Gems, that is, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, as well as a homage to Luang Pu Sodh, In other words, the statue of  Phra Buddha Dhammakaya Thepmongkhon is representational of Buddhanusati, Dhammanusati, and Sanghanusati,

12 kilograms of pure gold is placed inside the Buddha statue according to the Lotus Sattha Bongkut

The 69-metre-tall Buddha statue made from copper and painted gold has a heart, according to the “Lotus Sattha Bongkut”, made of 12 kilograms of pure gold. The total cost for the construction was reported to be 500 million baht (approximately USD 15.4 million). The Buddha statue will be visible across the capital, especially on all raised train lines, and is expected to become a new tourist attraction once the Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is over.

象神的來歷

像神,在泰國稱之為帕比加涅,是婆羅門至高無上的神之一的濕婆天王和帕爾瓦蒂女神的長子,是一尊倍受歡迎的印度教神袛。濕婆天神是婆羅門至高無上的神袛特里穆迪的一部分,而帕爾瓦蒂女神則是至尊女神沙克蒂的一部分。象神的來原記載在濕婆往世書中,是濕婆教經文料庫的一部分。像神是最受歡迎的印度教神袛,也被視為神的酋長,所有宗教儀式必須首先通過祂,因為唯有祂能清除所有障礙並確保一切成功。人們相信賈商若求有成必須敬拜象神。

象神甘尼薩的誕生

在濕婆經文中有記錄,有一天,帕爾瓦蒂女神告訴南迪,一個被指派為帕爾瓦蒂女神的保鏢的濕婆天王旗下能幹部將之一,祂不想在洗澡時被打擾,包括祂的丈夫濕婆天王在內。南迪忠實地接受祂的任命,但當濕婆天王回到家時,南迪試圖阻止祂,但濕婆天王畢竟是祂的主子,所以當濕婆天王堅持時,南迪也唯有讓祂通過。帕爾瓦蒂女神對發生的事情暗暗感到憤怒,部下竟沒有一個真正忠心與祂。

在另一天,當帕爾瓦蒂女神希望洗澡時不被打擾,但是祂不再吩咐南迪站崗,祂從自己身體中取出薑黃膏(用於沐浴)並將生命吸入其中,她創造了一個年輕部將。帕爾瓦蒂女神把部將認作自己的忠誠兒子並且把站崗任務交付兒子。

當濕婆天王回到家時,發現其竟被一個小男童擋在門外,剝奪了入家門的權利。濕而天王對男童的冒犯感到憤怒並命令祂的士兵摧毀小男童。然而,他們失敗了。他們輕而易舉就被小男孩擊敗,因此,迫使濕婆天王親自向小男童勳手。

卡莉女神

作為至尊神之一,濕婆天王輕易便擊敗了小男童,但出於盲目的憤怒,其竟下手把小男童的六陽之首切了下來。當帕爾瓦蒂女神目睹這一幕時,祂憤怒極了,祂變成了祂那多臂惡魔形像的死亡女神,卡利。卡莉女神揚言要摧毀萬物,那難免驚動了萬物讓創造者,梵天大天王霸拉瑪,也是一般人熟悉的帕蓬“四面佛”。梵天大天王霸拉瑪試圖挽救岌岌可危的局面,而死亡女神卡利規定了兩個條件,若要挽救萬物,首先,必須使小男童復活,其次,在此之後,把小男童封為眾神之首,且在所有宗教儀式中享受優先祭拜。

濕婆天王非常了解妻子的脾氣,並意識到自己魯莽的後果。祂請求梵天大天王霸拉瑪向北方行且把第一時間發現的生物首級取回來。梵天大天王霸拉瑪在到達北方時發現了一頭大象,因此便把大像的頭帶了回來,由濕婆天​​王將它和毫無生命的小男孩屍體連接在一起。燃後,濕婆天王把自己的靈氣一氣灌入小男童體內,使小男童起死回生並宣布祂為自己的兒子。

在三位至高無上的神,即梵天大天王霸拉瑪,濕婆天王和毘濕奴天王三得同意下,像神被賦予眾神之首,並將在所有宗教儀式中先受崇拜。從那時起,像神也接受了祂的另一個名字“甘納帕迪” – 眾神的領袖。

中央世界象神

像神在泰國被稱為帕比加涅,受到泰國人的廣泛崇拜。帕比加涅有很多寺廟和神社。最容易到達的是中央世界,拉吉馬里路的像神神社,一處泰國和外國人經常聚合的象神神社。

瓦萨曼拉塔纳然佛寺

另一個吸引了來自世界各地遊客的象神廟宇是位於北柳府的瓦薩曼拉塔納然佛寺,該佛寺立有一尊16米高,22米長的斜倚的象神神像。

除了消除障礙之外,泰國人習慣在開辦企業,開始長途旅行,開始新建築或訂婚或婚禮期間都向象神祈禱。象神也很受泰國大學生的歡迎,不是因為象神將代替他們考試, 而是祂將為他們消除所有學習的障礙。像神也因其對美術的熱情而聞名,因此被認為是鼓勵創造力的神袛。因為以上原因,像神也成為泰國藝術部和希臘帕孔大學的標誌。

聚佛樓

聚佛樓商標

本行從開業之際也採用象神為標誌。象神端坐我們公司泰國名字中間,祂包含了本公司的使命,即“鼓勵人們前來祈禱(海螺殼牌),在正確的道路上(象牙 )通過愛,智慧和行動(三叉戟)將他們拉到最高目標(繩索)”。

泰國傳奇之常勝將軍(二)

第二集

神話與傳說:一種辯證的方法

在本文的第一集中,我們簡要討論了神話和傳說的起源和重要性,以及一些神話中出現的與歷史性有關的問題。許多作家傾向於將神話和歷史置於兩個極端點。更有歷史學家出於某種原因自承擔了從歷史中刪除所有神話痕跡的義務,但是具有諷刺意味的是,歷史與神話同樣皆存有扭曲或半真半假的記載。

囊蘋琵啦萊畫像

讓我們以夏朝(公元前2200 – 1760年)為例。在發現放射性定年之前,夏朝被認為為是中國童話故事,直2007 – 2009年方在使用放射性定年鑑定下才被證明是歷史事實。相反的,有許多歷史人物或事件在某種政治和利益原因之下,逐漸被附加上一層超自然因數把該歷史人物或事件給神化。施倫普和漢森在他們的書“神話:一個新的研討會“中,解說這種行為為藉用神話來提升主題的權威性和真實性。目前台灣的政治局面恰好對於“借用神話來提升主題的權威性和真實性”這種行為给我們提供了一個非常好的例子,如“媽祖”顯靈命某某人參選等等。絕對真理必須產生絕對的確定性,不受主觀解釋的影響,堅定不移地忍受時間的考驗,例如死亡。無論你是“好額人”還“散赤人”,漂亮或醜陋,受過教育還是文盲,你的終極命運都是死亡,這是絕對肯定的最終結果。因此理解後一命題並不難,我們也大膽的建議鑑於歷史本身並不包含絕對真理,而只不過是最有可能性的“真理”。

因此,即使在批判性歷史方面,也沒有人會知道真相,除却個人經歷。 西尔在“歷史與理論雜誌”上發表的一篇文章中得出結論認為,“因為兩者相互滲透”性所以歷史和神話根本无法绝对的分類。 作為上座部佛教徒,我們既不傳播迷信也不傳播無神論,但却反映佛陀所教導的適度法。 我們堅持上座部佛教的基本原則,特別是基於我們辯證方法的智慧,使我們的讀者能夠得出自己的結論。

故事繼續

瓦曼感佛寺于佛歷2492開光,常勝將軍坤平.

拍驕以瓦帕勒萊佛寺沙彌的身份重返回素攀府。他英俊的外表贏得了許多年輕女孩的芳心,他們在每天早晨的“塔罷”或布施儀式時,期待看到他,且用許多食物填滿他的缽。當然,囊蘋琵啦萊也不例外。

有一天,在瓦帕勒萊佛寺有一場由囊蘋琵啦萊贊助的法會,拍驕恰好被方丈指定誦達經文。那也是三個童年時代的朋友分別多年後再次聚在一起的一天。囊蘋琵啦萊被年輕英俊的拍驕深深吸引,無法抑制自己的情懷,她將“薩掰”(圍肩布)取下並當众奉獻給身為沙彌的拍驕。一直暗戀著囊蘋琵啦萊的坤昌亦迅速摘下“帕瑪”(頭飾)並將其放在囊蘋琵啦萊的圍肩布上,且公開要求沙彌給予他們兩人將作為一對夫婦聚在一起的祝福。囊蘋琵啦萊對坤昌的舉動感到非常生氣。

坤昌在意識中感受到了拍驕的威脅,他也感受到了囊蘋琵啦萊對後者的愛慕。因此,坤昌糾纏他的母親囊帖桐吵著她前往向囊斯里帕蟬提親,撮合他和囊蘋琵啦萊的婚姻。坤昌甚至帶去了“鑫梭”即聘金,“鑫梭”通常是在一位少女的父母同意該提親後再商議的。囊蘋琵啦萊強烈反對該門親事。

座落于瓦卡爾的坤平神像

後來,拍驕也隨著還俗並與囊蘋琵啦萊結婚。這對夫妻沉醉在愛河中,無法忍受彼此分離。儘管囊蘋琵啦萊與拍驕已經結了婚,但坤昌並沒有放棄她並且一直在計謀如何把她從拍驕身邊奪過來。不巧在囊琵啦萊和拍驕新婚不久,順德帕潘瓦薩接到消息,稱大城府的一個小支流蔣通國,據信當前位於清萊省東北部的清孔鎮,已經叛變並轉而效忠於清邁國。順德帕潘瓦薩在極度憤怒之下打算派軍隊懲罰蔣通國。

蔣通國究竟在哪裡?

許多泰國學者和歷史學家都對蔣通國位在清萊的說法提出異議,並認為它應該是位於現在的清邁南部的鐘通市地區。事實上,當我們調查坤平將軍與清邁戰鬥的戰爭數次時,這個論點聽起來更合乎邏輯。如果蔣通國是位於清萊的話,那麼當時坤平將軍就可以避開清邁軍隊的主力,他進軍的路線因該從素攀武裡穿過那空沙旺府,甘烹碧府,拉亨府,特恩府到帕堯府再進入清萊。

進軍路線圖一

然而,據說坤平將軍與清邁大軍進行了多次戰爭,但沒有直接攻擊清邁國。這再次與歷史記錄保持一致,因為儘管與清邁國不斷戰爭,大城府從未征服過清邁國( 1259年至1892)。清邁國是在1893年才成為暹羅國(現在的泰國王國)的一部分。因此,如果蔣通國確實在清邁的鐘通市地區那麼坤平將軍的軍隊在前往蔣通國的過程中不斷與清邁大軍交鋒就合理,因為從特恩府他不得不穿越當時位於清邁國的南奔府並將他的部隊沿著平河遊行方可抵達清邁南部的鐘通市地區。

進軍路線圖二

然而,深入了解古蔣通國位置並不是本文的要提但以上的推論足以為讀者提供想像的骨架背景。

坤昌孕育了他的第一個預謀

當順德帕潘瓦薩得知蔣通國倒向清邁國和清邁軍隊的實力情報時,他對多年前冒失處決身邊猛坤凱彭深感遺憾和後悔。如今遇到強悍的清邁軍隊他又能讓誰帶領他的軍隊對抗敵人呢?正當順德帕潘瓦薩懊惱時,坤昌乘機向國王提到坤凱彭的兒子拍驕,且捏造了關於拍驕等等武藝事蹟,目的就是希望拍驕被召為國家服務,那麼就不得不與囊蘋琵啦萊分開,最好是拍驕能死在戰場上。順德帕潘瓦薩聞言後,想虎父無犬子,深信拍驕的确續傳他父親的能耐,於是便下旨召拍驕擔任皇家軍隊指揮官,領兵懲罰蔣通國。

夢想實現

拍驕從小就盼望長大後像父親一樣做一名大將,因此,儘管是新婚,他一收到國王的旨意便迅速帶著母親囊彤帕薩和妻子囊蘋琵啦萊前往大城府受命。順德帕潘瓦薩正式任命拍驕為皇家軍隊的指揮官,並賜他寶劍和盔甲,且封號為坤平大將軍。

瓦卡爾佛寺神樹

誓言和菩提樹儀式

隨著坤平開始整頓軍隊並準備出兵討伐蔣通國時,囊蘋琵啦萊感到沮喪和擔憂,變得如同面臨生離死別。一天早上,坤平領著愛妻一同到家外的一顆菩提樹前,準備祭品,開壇施法召喚森林地主山神,要求地主山神為證,若他戰死戰場,讓菩提樹也一同死去,否則菩提樹就會變得更堅強。然後他轉身告訴他的妻子囊蘋琵啦萊,菩提樹將讓她知道他的生與死,因此,她沒有什麼可擔心的了。

漫長戰爭之旅

坤平將軍领着军隊從素攀府穿過那空沙旺府,甘烹碧府,拉亨府(目前是泰國西部的達府),特恩府(目前南邦府)直指向蔣通國前进。一路上,坤平將軍的部队和清邁軍隊交战无数次。據說坤平將軍並未曾吃过一場败战,所以贏得常勝將軍的頭銜。許多故事都融入了法術和巫術的鬥爭,但我們不會在這裡重複那些,只在此提及,除其他事項之外,據說坤平將軍因使用古代泰國“孔卡盘”即无敌法術召喚戰士靈魂,助提升士兵無所畏懼的精神才贏得了每場戰鬥。這也是為什麼敵人的屍體鋪滿了整条通往蔣通國的道路的原因。

坤昌的第二個預謀

關於坤平將軍離家後所發生的事情至少有兩個不同版本的故事。然而,我們既然介紹了上述的菩提樹儀式,於是我們便將在這裡繼續使用菩提樹版本。但是,為了滿足讀者的好奇心,我們稍後還會提供其他另一版本的簡要說明。

自從坤平將軍參戰以來,囊蘋琵啦萊就非常想念丈夫,甚至因而高燒而逐漸病重,草藥皆對她沒有任何作用。直到在死亡的邊緣時,她的家人方抬她前往瓦帕勒萊佛寺求老方丈。這位老方丈為她進行一種泰國古老的儀式,稱為“舍斗科”,表示從疾病到死亡然後重生的循環,後再由老方丈為她改名為囊萬彤。換句話說,囊蘋琵啦萊已去世了,囊萬彤是個新生命。

坤昌府邸

注:這種傳統的泰國古老儀式經常被誤解為一般的驅魔儀式,然而卻不然。這是一個複雜的儀式,欺騙死亡並改變一個人的命運的儀式,但是,是好是壞還得取決於個人儀式後的行為。如果不熟練的僧侶不得執行此法科,不然可能會產生可怕的後果,如同香港巨星兼歌后莫文蔚主演的恐怖電影“棺材”中的描述(儘管充滿誤解和誇張)。

儀式結束後,囊萬彤的發燒開始消退,身體也逐漸康復。在此期間,坤昌經常拜訪她並要求照顧她,但他的提議被囊萬彤拒絕了。然而,也不知道坤昌從何得知菩提樹儀式之事,他命令他的一個忠誠僕人每天在樹周圍散佈有毒草藥,直到該樹死亡。

不用多久時間,菩提樹便枯死了。囊萬彤被菩提樹的突然枯死給嚇昏了,她當真認為坤平將軍已戰死戰場。坤昌見一計得逞,便又使第二計。他直接找上囊萬彤的母親囊斯里帕蟬,並要求她把女兒改嫁他,或者讓她根據法律宣布為寡婦。

注:沒有菩提樹樹儀式的坤平將軍傳說版本反而說坤昌帶來了一甕的骨頭聲稱是坤平的遺骸,欺騙囊萬彤和囊斯里帕蟬。

瓦曼感佛寺于佛歷2486開光,常勝將軍坤平.

注:與許多當代製作的古裝電影不同,實際上在古代社會中,無論是在東方還是西方,女性都被視為法律下的動產。他們分別在婚前和婚後個別由父母和丈夫所擁有。在大城時代,女性的父母有權決定女兒的一切,包括生死。因此,在坤平將軍的“死亡”後,囊萬彤因为尚未养儿育女之故便再次被歸為母親的動產。在看到坤昌富裕並身為國王服務,囊斯里帕蟬便強迫女兒再嫁。

坤平將軍娶蔣通公主

坤平將軍和他的軍隊在前往蔣通國的途中是充滿血腥的,多次與敵人交戰都以性命搏殺出一條血淋淋的路,踩著敵人的屍體前進。然而,當他們抵達蔣通國時,他們卻沒獵殺蔣通士兵,也沒有騷擾村民。而蔣通國小王沙恩卡曼更是下令開啟城門,迎接坤平將軍和他的部隊。

小王沙恩卡曼以接待貴賓儀式接待坤平將軍和他的軍隊。小王沙恩卡曼也向坤平將軍解釋蔣通國並無倒向清邁國的意思,無奈在清邁大軍壓境之下不得不暫低頭。小王沙恩卡曼和他的妻子囊斯里亙穆旺感激坤平將軍對他們的困境表示諒解,並且沒有對他們或村民使用武力,因而便提出願意把美麗的愛女囊絡彤許配坤平。他們也希望能通過這門親事來表示對大城王國的忠誠且同時得到一名英俊勇猛的將軍女婿。

坤平將軍對嬌美的囊絡彤也非常喜愛,於是便欣然答應這門親事。他和囊絡彤便在蔣通國結成夫婦妻。因而坤平將軍在蔣通國呆了一段時間,一面是新婚,一面也好讓他的士兵療傷恢復原狀,然後方重新整頓部隊並興高采烈地凱旋回大城府。在他們回途上並未在再遇清邁大軍伏擊,一路倒是平安順利。

隨著坤平將軍帶著他美麗的新妻子囊絡彤回到素攀府,正室妻子囊蘋琵啦萊會有什麼反應呢?又如坤平得知自己妻子竟改嫁坤昌時該如何處理呢?

欲知詳情,請留意我們即將發表的文章“泰國傳奇之常勝將軍(第三集)”。

泰國傳奇之常勝將軍(一)

第一集

每年都有成千上萬來自世界各地的的遊客遊覽距離曼谷約一百多公里的素攀府古城,該古城擁有著豐富的歷史和文化,其歷史可以追溯到3,500 – 3,800年前,但它的重要性實際上是在大城王國(1650- 1767年)期間建立的。當時它不但是一個重要的邊境城鎮,更參與了許多具有歷史意義的戰爭。因此,遊覽泰國素攀府古城通常包括參觀紀念大城王國創始國王的烏通國家博物館,獻給擊敗緬甸人的納黎萱大帝國王的隆柴迪紀念碑,以及兩座建於大約500 – 600年前的古寺,瓦帕勒萊佛寺和瓦卡爾佛寺。這兩座古寺皆在素攀府歷史上具有重要淵源,許多泰國神話和傳說也與這兩座寺廟直接相關,尤其是本文將探討的常勝將軍傳說。

瓦卡爾佛寺常勝將軍坤平住宅

常勝將軍也是泰國最著名的魅力,無敵,運氣和財富之神,其根源也可以追溯到這個古老的城市。據說常勝將軍曾在瓦帕勒萊佛寺和瓦卡爾佛寺學習並掌握了內徑即神通的要領。此外,迄今關於常勝將軍坤平的傳說和詩歌更是學校廣泛傳授的最著名泰國文學課程之一。常勝將軍坤平的神聖物品,包括神像佛牌和護身符等更是廣泛備受追捧。幾乎每個神靈派寺廟都有鑄造常勝將軍坤平的佛牌和護身符,而最受歡迎的恰好也是來自位於素攀府的瓦曼感佛寺在佛歷2486至2492所鑄造的幾批佛牌。

本文目的

常勝將軍坤平“力能劈”,瓦耐南鴻佛寺,鑾波順治蘇赫以人緣和防身經咒特鑄經典佛牌。

在這篇文章中,我們試圖探索泰國最著名的傳奇和具有爭議的角色 – 常勝將軍坤平的故事- 他是迄今為止最受尊敬的魅力,無敵,運氣和財富之神。我們將客觀分析和評估所有資料,包括歷史文物和與坤平將軍相關的痕跡,並讓我們的讀者來做出自己的結論。因此,我們將這篇文章分為幾集,容我們做簡要探討神話與歷史性之間的本質,並對坤平將軍的故事進行敘述;我們也將試圖分析從收集的資料中得出的事實,並確定坤平將軍在神話和歷史之間的位置;最後我們將討論坤平將軍在現代泰國和全世界泰國佛教徒社區中所扮演的角色。

神話與傳說

神話和傳說是自遠古以來伴隨人類的最有趣的事物。這兩個主題反映了特定文化的特徵,價值觀和歷史。人們常說,神話和傳說是為了反映特定文化的道德和美德,從而塑造其觀點和生活方式。儘管自公元前250年以來一直是素萬那普地區內的上部座佛教社會,但泰國神話的拉瑪基恩基礎卻深深紮根於印度羅摩衍那神話中,唯有傳說中那些裝飾,武器,地形和環境的成分,皆被賦予了泰國風味。最常被引用的例子包括經典的拉瑪基恩和倥舞古典舞蹈,或分別在拉瑪一世和拉瑪二世監督下所創作的“面具歌舞劇”。

倥舞古典舞蹈

雖然據說拉瑪基恩和倥舞古典舞蹈為泰國神話和傳說扎下了基礎且提供了泰國神和神靈的來源,但那也不盡然,因為從泰國文學中同時也發現了許多與上述兩種來源無關的神話和傳說,尤其是與歷史密不可分的那些神話和傳說。考古學是人類觀點的重要來源,因為任何重要的發現都會改變人類的整個編年史,因此,有許多考古學家和歷史學家都很努力要證明或反駁某個特定的神話,例如耶穌基督的存在等等。

瓦三奔佛寺,欒普通以招財經咒特鑄坤平佛牌。

神話與傳說的重要性

神話和傳說都在世界各地的許多學校被教授,因為它們先於哲學,科學甚至宗教,因此,它們是反映文化的主要來源,並且神話和傳說都被用來傳授美德,道德和節制的價值觀等等。反過來,它們共同構成了研究特定文化文學的基礎。例如,為了學習和理解莎士比亞,人們可能需要對希臘神話有一定程度的理解。同樣,如果沒有對拉馬基恩的深入理解,人們根本無法理解泰國人的宗教政治意識形態和文化。

雖然大多數神話和傳說是融合許多不同作者的想像力和創造力在很長一段時間內產生的精品,所以其內容也可能因此不連貫,從然那些神話和傳說可能包含歷史性。歷史性有時被用作連接過去和現在或僅僅描描人物和歷史存在事件的現實紐帶。在神話中,歷史性的價值往往會增加某些神話和歷史的爭議,就像聖經或基督神話理論,當然還有本文的主角 – 常勝將軍坤平。

故事的開始

這個故事發生於拉瑪迪博迪二世俗稱順德帕潘瓦薩統治時期(1473年至1529年)的素攀府。在那古城誕生了故事中的拍驕(後來的坤平),斯里(後來 的坤昌)和囊蘋琵啦萊(後來的囊婉彤)。拍驕是皇軍指揮官坤凱彭和囊彤帕薩的兒子,長得英俊聰明。斯里的父親是坤斯里偉,母親 囊帖桐。斯里天生禿頭粗魯。囊蘋琵啦萊是富商潘松猶大和囊斯里帕蟬的千金,天生美麗動人。三人是童年玩伴好友。

那個時代正是大城王國與清邁和蘭昌國發生激烈戰爭的時期。根據華盛頓協議,蘭昌省於1946年被割讓給法屬印度支那為殖民地,以換取泰國加入聯合國的條件,今天蘭昌省已成為寮國的一部分。這個故事還提供了對泰國人尤其是素攀府和北碧府人民的傳統,習俗,文化,信仰和生活方式的豐富見解。

禍從天降指揮官殘遭斬首

有一天,順德帕潘瓦薩突然想要一群野生水牛,並命令坤凱彭建立一個牧場。坤凱彭是一位精通內經法術和戰略的戰士,但卻缺乏放牧野生水牛的技能。因此,當他試圖將那些野生水牛趕入牧場時,它們變得害怕並且到處亂闖。坤凱彭感到沮喪和憤怒,然後他使用長矛刺殺了許多水牛,而剩下的水牛都逃到了森林裡去。順德帕潘瓦薩非常生氣,並下令把坤凱彭和家人一併處決。在收到丈夫被處決的消息後,囊彤帕薩迅速帶著兒子拍驕逃亡到北碧府。

現今在素攀府,邦帕瑪區,有一座名為瓦坤凱的寺廟,供奉的主神就是坤平將軍的父親,皇軍指揮官坤凱彭。

拍驕瓦松雅佛寺當沙彌

在北碧府,囊 彤帕萨一手把拍驕撫養长大,而拍驕對父親更是念念不忘。 他努力練習父親教他的武藝和神靈學,盼望長大後像父親一樣做一名大將。囊彤帕薩見兒子心意如此,便前往瓦松雅佛寺當乞求當時神靈派長老鑾普文收拍驕為徒。於是拍驕便在瓦松雅佛寺梯度為沙彌隨著鑾普文學藝。

於佛歷2525年,瓦松雅佛寺改稱瓦雅融蘘佛寺。神靈派長老鑾普文把畢生所學全全傳授拍驕並在他身上塑造了一個堅實的法術基礎。至今瓦雅融蘘佛寺中仍然保存著由瓦松雅佛寺遺留下來的一座記載著當年拍驕拜師學藝進展過程記錄的石碑。

在拍驕15歲那年,也是他在瓦松雅佛寺滿師後,被老鑾普文派往素攀府的瓦帕勒萊佛寺和瓦卡爾佛寺拜在友人門下再行進修。

瓦卡爾佛寺巨型大黃蜂

每年都有成千上萬的人參觀瓦卡爾佛寺,大多數人都對一棵在寺廟內的10米週寬大羅望子樹感到好奇,尤其是那隻坐落在羅望子樹下的巨大的大黃蜂雕塑。常常都可以看到有人向大黃蜂奉獻供品和做祈禱,但具諷刺的是,沒有多少人知道巨型大黃蜂和羅望子樹的來源和意義。

據說,當年坤平將軍從瓦卡爾佛寺主持那學會了把樹葉變成黃蜂攻擊敵人的法術,在被考驗時便是用現在這顆羅望子樹的葉子化成黃蜂,所以,後來寺廟才在顆羅望子樹下建造巨型大黃蜂的雕塑。因此,向大黃蜂奉獻和祈禱象徵著尋求幫助來制服和/或擊敗敵人。

童年朋友團聚:愛,嫉妒和情節展開

悲劇不只是降落在拍驕一家人身上而已。在他的父親坤凱彭被處決後不久,斯里的家也被強盜搶劫,斯里的父親坤斯里偉才也在抗盜時被殺害。幾乎在同一時間,囊蘋琵啦萊的父親潘松猶大在從外經商返回家後也死於致命的發燒。三個童年時代的朋友幾乎在同一時期都變成沒有父親。

當拍驕重回到素攀府時,三個童年時代的朋友都已經是年輕人了。囊蘋琵啦萊已長大成為一位美麗動人的少女,而斯里則是禿頭且肥胖,但已進入皇室服務並與獲得“坤昌”封號。儘管他家被搶劫過,但坤昌到底家底深厚,任然能夠積累巨額財富並保留一定的影響力。然而,他性格卻變得自私和麻木不仁。

坤昌從小就一直喜歡囊蘋琵啦萊,隨著他們的成長,那種喜愛已經漸漸變成了迷戀。隨著英俊瀟灑和有魅力的拍驕的歸來,三個童年時代的朋友能否保持那種天真和真摯的友誼或……

欲知詳情,請留意我們即將發表的文章“泰國傳奇之常勝將軍(第二集)”。