Life size statue of Somdej Toh in Wat Khao
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh, popularly known as “Ajahn Toh”, “Somdej Toh”, “Luang Pu Toh”, or “Somdej Wat Rahkang” is the most respected monk in the Kingdom of Thailand. His Venerable was the abbot of Wat Rahkang Kositaram Woramahaviharn for 20 years from the reigns of Rama IV to Rama V.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was the most prominent guru master who was versed in the art of supernatural, especially metta mahaniyom. He has made and consecrated many powerful Phra Somdej amulets of which formed one of the five most sacred amulets known as Phra Baenjakphraki in Thailand. These Phra Somdej amulets have a current market value of millions of Baht. It is believed owning one of these sacred amulets ensures one’s prosperity and success. Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh has also constructed many large Buddha images during his life time. The most prominent being the standing Buddha image in Wat Indaravihan located in Bang Khun Phrom, Bangkok. His Venerable is highly respected by both the royal families and the commoners from the days when he was still alive until hitherto.
A Brief History
Somdej Phra HBuddhacharntoh was born in April 17, 2331 in Baan Ta Luang, Ampur Ta Reur, Chanwat Si Ayutthaya during the reign of Rama I, just 7 years after the establishment of Rattanakosin. There are many versions of saying about the birth of Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh. However, none is able to conclusively establish who his parents were. What may be deduced from all those references is that Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was a native of Ayutthaya and was possibly of royal linage.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was first ordained as Samak Nen Toh in 2343 and subsequently ordained as Phra Phisuk Toh in the year 2350 at Wat Prasi Rattana Sasanaram. His preceptor was Somdej Arayuthwongsaya Somdej Phra Sangkarak. He excelled in both the scriptures and magical practices and became highly respected.
During the reign of Rama III, His Majesty conferred the title of Somdej on Phra Phisuk Toh. However, Phra Phisuk Toh refused to accept the honor. He instead travelled the kingdom on foot and built various Buddha images such as Phra Put Saiyak in Wat Satheur, tamboon Tak Luang, chanwat Si Ayutthaya, Luang Phor Toh in Wat Kiat Chayeo, chanwat Angthong and et cetera. All these required huge amount of capital of which Phra Phisuk Toh raised through rituals and miracles.
Somdej Wat Rahkang
Again during the reign of Rama IV, His Majesty favored making Phra Phisuk Toh the first Phra Ratansamanasak. In the year 2395, Phra Phisuk was made the abbot of Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan at the age of 65. However, Phra Phisuk again refused to accept the title conferred by King Mongkut until 2397. Then in 2407, he was conferred the title of Phra Theapkui and became known as Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh Promarangsi.
During his tenure as abbot of Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan, both Wat Mai Amatarot and Wat Indaravihan came under his purview and influence. Buddha images and amulets were made for these temples by His Venerable.
The Awakening of Somdej Toh
In the year 2410, Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh embarked on his last sacred construction, the image of Luang Pu Toh or Phra Yern, officially known as Phra Sri Ariya Emtatri, in Wat Indaravihan, also known as Wat Bang Khun Phrom. However, he entered into parinibbana in Wat Bang Khum Phrom on June 22, 2415 when the image was only built up to its navel level. He was then age 84.
After his awakening, his teachings remained alive. The first image of Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh was built and housed in Wat Kiat Chayeo in 2444 during the reign of Rama V. Shortly thereafter, another image measuring 40.2 centimeter was built and honored in Wat Indaravihan and another in the meditating posture measuring 48 centimeters was enshrined in Wat Rahkang Khositaram Woramahavihan.As of today, more than a century after his awakening, his followers and believers has transcended beyond the Kingdom of Thailand.
Amulets of Somdej Toh
The amulets made by Somdej Phra Buddhacharntoh, whether under Wat Rahkang, Wat Indaravihan, Wat Mai Amatarot, or Wat Kiat Chayeo equally remained expensive and highly sought after. However, because each of these amulets has a market value over millions of Baht, not many people can afford them. Even those made and consecrated by his successors are equally expensive and highly sought after. Consequently, replicas and imitations flooded the market and it would be wise to seek authentication from the respective temple if you are about to pay a hefty price for an amulet.
Besides the Phra Somdej amulets, the images of Somdej Toh from Wat Rahkang, Wat Indaravihan, Wat Mai Amatarot, and Wat Kiat Chayeo are also very precious and loved. They range from a few hundred to a few thousand Singapore dollars. It is believed that anyone offering and/or wearing the images of Somdej Toh is blessed with intelligence and protection. This has made the image of Somdej Toh very popular with executives and students.