Thai Theravada Ordination Ceremony

Many owners of Thai Buddhist amulet shops claimed to have gone through proper monkhood in Thailand so as to assume proper knowledge of the Theravada traditions. I too am no exception. In this article, I will chronicle the process of my legal ordination in one of Thailand’s historical temple. I used the description “legal ordination” because the process of Thai Theravada Buddhist ordination ceremony (UPASAMPADA) is one which is regulated by The Sangha Act 2505 in line with the ancient order contained in the Buddhist Monastic Rule (VINAYA) laid down since the time of Lord Buddha. In contemporary Thailand, with the rise of tourism, many temples had unofficially lower the bar of ordination for foreigners. Nonetheless, any ceremony not performed according to the Buddhist Monastic Rule is invalid and the candidate is not a monk proper regardless of the temples’ altruistic motive. Therefore, a legal candidate must necessary be familiar with the ordination process. I will not reiterate the entire Buddhist Monastic Rule but suffice to share herein my personal experience.

I will split the Theravada Ordination Ceremony into two sections, namely, the Shaving of the Naga and the Entrance into Vinaya.

Shaving of the Naga

The ordination ceremony in Thailand is still conducted in the Pali language, the original Buddhist language, so as to maintain a certain degree of sacred and solemn formality. The ordination ceremony is not conducted in any other language. Honestly, this is a language not many people are versed in. So am I. Therefore, prior to my ordination, I had the script recited to me and had it recorded phonetically. The meanings thereto were also painstakingly explained to me. Once when I had memorized the script, I returned to the temple and requested to be ordained.

It was in the early morning on or about December 1, 2534, I was legally ordained as a monk in one of Thailand’s historical temple Wat Noi Nanghong, Bangyikhan District, Khet Bang Phlat, Krungthep Maha Nakhon 10700, Thailand. Wat Noi Nanghong was built more than two centuries ago during the Rattanakosin period by Luang Phor Pin Dhamma, a highly respected meditation master from Wat Daodoongsaram, Khon Kaen, Bang Yai, Bang Phlat, Krung Thong, Nakhon Si Thammarat 10700, Thailand. For more than two centuries, Wat Noi Nanghong has hitherto remained an important centre for Thai Buddhism and the current abbot Luang Phor Boonrod is one of the few Pali language specialists.

Wat Noi Nanghong

Wat Noi Nanghong

Wat Noi Nanghong

My ordination ceremony begins with blessing from my late father who initiated the shaving ritual conferring his approval of me entering the Vinaya. That was followed by the Naga ritual initiated by Maha Bard whereby the elder monk shaved my head, eyebrows, and anointed me with pure white water which represented cleanliness of my body and mind.

The Ritual of Shaving the Naga has its root back to the days of Lord Buddha where a serpent transformed himself into human form and was ordained as a monk but when his identity was discovered, Lord Buddha summoned for the Naga and told him that only human can be a monk. Lord Buddha bestowed on the Naga the Five Precepts so that he will attain human existence in his next life thereby allowing him to enter the Vinaya. At the same time, Lord Buddha declared that all future candidates for monkhood will go through the “Naga” ritual before being officially conferred the saffron.

The Naga was then dressed up in:

1. Long-sleeved white shirt

2. White apron

3. White sash

4. Naga belt.

5. White robe embroiled with gold

6. Necklace.

When the Naga ritual is completed, friends and well-wishers broke into fanatical fanfare with musical instruments and dances known to the Thais as temple fun.

My late father initiated the shaving ritual

Maha Bard performing the Ritual of Shaving the Naga

The Naga is dressed in white

Temple fun

In the process of the temple fun, which is actually a ritual informing spirits that that I was about to enter monkhood and they should rejoice and come forward to share and receive the merits. That was why I had to stop and make offerings to the spirits when I encircled the temple compound.

Praying to the spirits

After the proclamation of the upcoming ordination to the spirits, I was ordered to return to the “sala” or simply known as a sacred chamber to listen to a sermon delivered by my would-be teacher Luang Phor Somjit Sukkho. I was told by His Venerable that I will only be accepted as his disciple if I were successfully ordained as a full-fledged monk.

Entrance into Vinaya

Shortly after receiving blessings from His Venerable Luang Phor Somjit Sukkho, I was summoned to the “ubosot” or ordination hall before the congregation of monks assembled. I was stopped approximately twelve feet from the entrance of the ordination hall by two senior monks. That was whence the Ordination Ceremony officially began. As aforementioned, I am an illiterate in as long as Pali language is concerned and, hence, I anxiously and intently listened to the chant delivered by the two senior monks whilst waiting to deliver my answers to the questions asked。

With much anxiety, I finally let out a sigh of relief when I finally cleared the “antarayikadhamma” or the obstacles to entering the Order and was summoned to appear before the Sangha. The moment I stepped into the ordination hall, I received the saffron from my sponsor. The congregation of the Sangha was chaired by a heavyweight monk, Chao Khun Suthep (now known as Chao Khun Phrathep), the abbot of Wat Phra Pathom Chedi, Nakhon Pathom. Chao Khun Phrathep was my Upajjhaya or literally my Preceptor responsible for my good behavior and adherence to the 227 precepts throughout my monastic life. The ceremony continued. I knelt before the Sangha and place the robe down on my left so that I was able to present my Preceptor, Chao Khun Phrathep and two senior invigilators Luang Phor Supod (former abbot of Wat Noi Nanghong) and Luang Phor Boonrod (current abbot of Wat Noi Nanghong) with offerings. Thereafter, I chanted the request of Bhrampacha in Pali (a request to move forth with the ordination) thrice. My Preceptor then instructed me on meditation before delivering the forward and reverse orders. He subsequently place the “amsa” over my head and returned the rest of the bundle of saffron to me which I got changed into.

Officially entering the Vinaya

After I had changed into the saffron, I returned before the Sangha where I took refuge in Triple Gem and received the Ten Precepts. That was really a test of root memory whereby I had to chant in Pali beginning with “ukāsa vandāmi bhante, sabbaṃ aparādhaṃ khamatha me bhante…” followed by a series of to-and-fro chants between Luang Phor Supod, Luang Phor Boonrod and myself. After I successfully completed the undertaking of the Ten Precpts, I became a “nen”or novice.

Anjali Gesture asking for Nissaya

Next I received the alms bowl from my sponsor together with flowers, joss-sticks and candles. I returned to my Preceptor and placed the alms bowl down on my left whilst I presented him with the flowers, joss-sticks and candles.

Making offerings to Chao Khun Suthep

hen I clasped my hands in an “anjali” or a “wai” gesture and requested “Nissaya” through Pali chant. A series of to-and-fro chanting ensued. My Preceptor then told me my Pali name, Khantipalo and placed the alms bowl over my head whereby I carried on my left. I was then instructed to retire outside the assembly.

In just a short while, I was again summoned back to the assembly by the Karmavācācāriya and Anusāvanācāriya. That was when I requested for “upasampada” that was accepting the full 227 Precepts and officially became a full-fledged monk.

Officially accepting the full 227 precepts

After that I became known as Luang Phi Khantipalo. I was allowed to take a short break before my Preceptor instructed me on the Cattaro Nissaya and the four basic needs which anything exceeding thereof are luxury to be denounced. However, contrary to the monastic instruction, I received plenty of gifts and even money on that eventful day which I returned as offerings to all members of the Sangha present and money were in turn donated to temple fund. After-all, entering the Vinaya is all about letting go of worldly possession or was it not?

The entrance to the Vinaya has completed but another series of rituals were about to take place. The Ritual of Wai Kru took place on the night of that eventful day as I was officially accepted as a disciple of guru master Luang Phor Somjit Sukkho which set the journey for decades of learning and practicing of Thai mysticism…

Phra Prom – Four-Face Buddha

Phra Prom

When it comes to the Four-Faced Buddha, we can hear all kinds of rumours that make inevitably make many people sceptical about Thai Buddhism. There are also many unlearned fools who are fond of fabricating many unfounded stories to describe the Four-Faced Buddha, depicting the deity close to the characteristics of demons.


Who actually is Four-Faced Buddha? Do we make vegetarian or non-vegetarian offerings to Him? Do you really need to strip dance or perform an erotic dance in making thanksgiving? The source of the The Origin of Phra Prom (“Four-Face Buddha”)…


When it comes to Thai Buddhism, many people, especially the HongKongers, Taiwanese, Singaporeans and Malaysians, often mistook Phra Prom, commonly referred to as Four-Face Buddha, to be representative of the religion oblivious that Phra Prom is rooted in Hinduism. Thai Buddhism, as the noun denotes, is centred on Lord Buddha. In Hinduism, Phra Prom is known as Lord Brahma and is He is the God of Creation.


In our upcoming article on Phra Pikaniat, we will introduce to our readers the Hindu concept of Trimurti comprising Lords Brahma, Shiva and Vishnu as Supreme Gods. When these three Supreme Gods combined into one single super Being, they are collectively known as Phra Trimurti represented by a Three-Face God symbolising Creator, Preserver, and Destroyer in toto. According to the Puranas, the origin of Lord Brahma is varied and incoherent but it is not the interest of this article to delve into each and every version contained therein but suffice to summarise Lord Brahma as the leader of Phra Trimurti. The Siva Puranas, however, claim Lord Siva as the leader and, of course, the Vishnu Puranas also claim Lord Vishnu as the leader.


Lord Brahma, owing to his supreme position, is less portrayed in myths just like the Jade Emperor in Taoism. Both Gods in their initial stages do not have any visual conceptualisation whilst other Gods in both these religions are oftentimes represented in human forms and take on human characteristics in their spiritual voyages to connect with human believers. Visual depictions were all later creations. Lord Brahma is subsequently depicted as having four heads of which represented wisdom and where-from all the four Vedas originated, four arms, and has a peacock as vahanam (‘坐骑’).


To the astonishment of many people is that despite being the leader of the Supreme Gods, Lord Brahma is not widely worshipped amongst Hindus.


Legend of Curse of Lord Shiva


According to SivaPurana, once Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu were overwhelmed by pomposity as to who was the superior of the two. Their argument became impassioned and intense that Lord Shiva had to intervene and arbitrate. Lord Shiva transformed himself into a gigantic lingam (the phallic representation of Lord Shiva which is known as Palakit in Thailand). The lingam stretched in both directions from heaven to hell. Lord Siva told both Lord Brahma and Lord Vishnu that whoever finds the ends of the lingam will the greater of the two. Both Lords Brahma and Vishnu took on the challenge and set out in opposite directions to find the lingam’s end. The search went on for many earth years and both their Lordships realized that the lingam had no end. Lord Vishnu then realized the fact that Lord Shiva was the greatest of Trimurti. However, Lord Brahma decided to deceive Lord Siva. He collaborated with the flower of Ketaki at the uppermost part of the lingam to lie to Lord Siva that He had reached the uppermost part of the lingam and had seen the end. When summoned, the Ketaki flower falsely testified that Lord Brahma had indeed seen the end of the lingam. Lord Siva became so infuriated by the dishonesty that He cursed Lord Brahma that He will thereafter never be worshipped by any human being. He also forbade the Ketaki flower to be used in any future Hindu ritual. Therefore, not many Lord Brahma’s temples survived in India today.


However, among the few Lord Brahma’s temples surviving Lord Siva’s curse is a fourteenth century temple in Pushkar, Rajasthan, India which sees large number of pilgrims annually. Lord Brahma may not have much remaining temples in India and may not have retained as many Hindu believers as He should, however, He undoubtedly did well in exile and has gain a wider and diverse base of believers in Thailand which helps Him expand territorially throughout the whole of SE Asia especially in Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and now, in Taiwan.


Lord Brahma in Thailand


Although there is no Lord Brahma’s temple in Thailand but you are able to see statues of Lord Brahma worshipped in many temples and shrines across the Kingdom of Thailand. Perhaps the largest statue of Phra Prom measuring 7.8 meters high and 4.99 meters wide is located in Wat Chong Samaesan Sathirhip, Chon Buri, a historical temple constructed during the reign of King Chulalongkorn.



Wat Chong

Another gigantic Phra Prom statue may be seen in Wat Saman Rattanaram Chachoengsao which has became a top tourist attraction in recent years.

Wat SamaRatanaram

Most foreigners who are not familiar with Thailand have only heard of the shrine at Erawan Hotel and are oblivious of other prominent places which housed and worshipped Phra Prom on larger scales. Besides those afore-mentioned, Wat Bangkudeethong also houses a majestically constructed statue of Phra Prom.

Wat Bangkudeethong

Foreigners are mostly familiar with the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine at the ceremonial court in Earwan Hotel at Ratchaprasong intersection. However, most, if not all, of them mistook the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine as a temple.

There are two stories in relation to the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine. One was pre-Internet version and another post-Internet version.

Post-Internet version

The latest version of the story relating to the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine omitted all mysticism from it. It was said that in 1951, Pol. Gen. Pao Sriyanon was appointed the Police Commissioner of Thailand. The Erawan Hotel at Ratchaprasong intersection was scheduled to be built to accommodate foreign guests. However, during the early stages of construction, many accidents occurred. Finally, after five long years, the project was completed at the end of 1956 and Rear Admiral Luang Suvachan was invited to the opening ceremony. Rear Admiral Luang Suvachan, however, complained that no proper ritual was conducted prior to the construction and the foundation stone was not laid in accordance to auspice of astrological requirement. Furthermore, the name of the hotel “Erawan” is the name of Lord Indra, the God of heavens, lightning, thunder, storms, rains and river flows and, hence, sacred. More misfortunes were prone to occur without appropriate blessings. Rear Admiral Luang Suwachan instructed that it is necessary to seek the blessings of Phra Prom, the Creator so as to absolve all obstacles.

The Phra Prom court was immediately built. The initial intention was to cast a bronze statue of Phra Prom and has it coated with gold leaves but, due to want of time, a gilded stucco statue was constructed instead. The Phra Prom shrine was finally completed in front of the Erawan Hotel on November 9, 1956.

Pre-Internet Version

The pre-Internet version of the story was infused with mysticism instead of astrological perceptions. It was speculated that the location in which the Erawan Hotel sits was an elephant burial ground during ancient time. The construction of the hotel, its pile caps and columns construction had disturbed the spirits of the elephants which thus ran amok causing accidents in the construction site. A monk was invited to perform some rituals at the site and saw the cause of problem. He, therefore, instructed that Phra Prom’s shrine be constructed to subdue the elephant spirits.

Thao Maha Phrom Shrine

Whichever the version of Thao Maha Phrom Shrine is correct does not really matters because it is believed that the worshipping of Phra Prom helps dispel bad luck and frustration, and at the same time, promote good luck and success.

Today, the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine houses a new Phra Prom statue made in May 21, 2006 exactly two months after the original statue was destroyed in an isolated incident of vandalism. Nonetheless, the current Thao Maha Phrom Shrine serves as a generator of myths and tales for foreigners and a source of livelihood for some Thais who facilitate the needs to fulfilling the religious fantasies of foreigners.

As consistently mentioned in our other articles, sacred artefacts must be properly created and consecrated by Thai temples. It has all along been part of the Thai temple culture to make statues and amulets of Buddhas and Gods for believers to own and Phra Prom is also among the legion of highly demanded sacred objects. There are many temples making statues and amulets of Phra Prom but the most famous of them are Wat KiaoJamfar and Wat Noak.

Statues and amulets made and consecrated by Luang Pu Phrathep of Wat KiaoJamfar are quite pricey including the several batches of Phra Prom made. In contrast, those made and consecrated by Ajahn Jet of Wat Noak are more reasonably priced. Nevertheless, Phra Prom originating from both these temples are highly sought after for their effects.

Praying Phra Prom at Home

Another aspect of Phra Prom commonly misunderstood by foreigners is the setting up of a shrine at home. It is commonly misapprehended that Phra Prom must be worshipped outside of the house because He has four faces and neither must face the wall. His shrine should be analogous to that of the Thao Maha Phrom Shrine. Only if believers were to take a step back and look at Lord Brahma’s images in temples, it is not difficult for them to understand the above-mentioned misapprehension arose from stupidity. Once this stupidity is uncovered, the same will go for walking around Phra Prom’s statues when praying. Otherwise only the very rich people with their own yards may worship Phra Prom.

It is our culture and conceptualization passed down from our great teacher Luang Phor Somjit Sukkho that Phra Prom should be honoured on the same altar table as any other Buddhas and Gods unless for specific purposes such as that of Thao Maha Phrom Shrine.


When it comes to thanksgiving we are never short-supplied with funny actions from funny people. It is already sinful to offer meat to Phra Prom who is vegetarian and it is even more aberrant to strip dance before Him. The advocacy of strip dancing is probably influenced by the Hindu Story of Sarawati which is not within the discussion of this article but suffice to advise believers herein to discard such foolish act.

Actually offerings to Phra Prom are simple. The primary offerings comprise all types of flowers, fruits (especially coconuts), brown rice, sesame seeds, bean sprouts, herbs, pepper seeds, coriander leaves, basil leaves, fresh vegetables, incense, and frankincense. Just remember not to mix offerings.


Phra Prom





帕蓬“四面佛” 的來源

談到泰國佛教,許多人,特別是香港人,台灣人,新加坡人和馬來西亞人,一般都誤認為“帕蓬”(外地人稱之為“四面佛”)是泰國佛教代表象徵卻不知其實四面佛 源於印度教神袛。在印度教中,帕蓬被稱為梵天大天王霸拉瑪,祂是創造之神。正如名詞所示,泰國佛教是以佛陀為中心的而非梵天大天王。

在我們即將發表關於像神的文章中,我們將向讀者介紹特裡穆迪的印度教概念,那是包括梵天大天王霸拉瑪,濕婆天王和毘濕奴天王三大王合一而成的至尊神。當三位至尊神合璧成一個超級體時,祂們被統稱為“帕特里穆迪”,形象是一尊三頭六臂的神,代表創造,保護和毀滅。根據印度教經文中記錄的說法,梵天大天王霸拉瑪的起源雖些為 複雜且不詳細,但本文的興趣並不是深入研究其中所包含的每一個細節,而是從印度教經文中證實梵天大天王霸拉瑪是為帕特里穆迪的領導者便足以。然而,我們也必須在此強調,依據濕婆經文聲稱 濕婆天王才是帕特里穆迪的領導者。因為缺乏時間和空間,我們不會在此討論不同經文之間的差異 。







然而,在濕婆天王的詛咒下少數倖存的梵天大天王霸拉瑪的寺廟中是一座位於印度拉賈斯坦邦普什卡的十四世紀寺廟,每年都會看到大量的朝聖者到那朝拜梵天大天王霸拉瑪。在濕婆天王的詛咒下,梵天大天王霸拉瑪在印度或許沒有太多剩餘的寺廟和信徒,然而,祂是呼在“流亡”他方之際做得很好,並且在 泰國獲得了更廣泛和多樣化的信徒基礎,這有助於祂在整個地區領土不斷地擴展。整個東南亞,特別是印度尼西亞,新加坡,馬來西亞,香港,且現在包括台灣,都相繼看到了梵天大天王霸拉瑪的信徒崛起和增加。


雖然在泰國沒有純屬梵天大天王霸拉瑪的寺廟,但是你們到處都可以可以看到供奉帕蓬的神社,而且,在泰國許多寺廟中也有設立供奉帕蓬的神社,讓信徒們崇拜這尊 來之印度教的大天王。也許在泰國最大的帕蓬神像是在位於春武裡府的瓦崇薩美叄薩特喜佛寺內所供奉的雕像。該雕像高7.8米,寬4.99米,這是朱拉隆功國王統治時期建造的一座歷史悠久的寺廟。



大多數不熟悉泰國的外國人大約只聽說過伊拉灣酒店的帕蓬神社,並且忽視了具更大規模的崇拜帕蓬的其他著名聖地。 除了上述的佛寺之外,位於巴吞他尼府的瓦邦庫迪通佛寺也供奉著一尊建造莊嚴的帕蓬神像。








這個前互聯網版本的故事不是以占星術感知為基而是充滿了神秘。據說,伊拉灣酒店所處的位置是古代大象墓地,而酒店的建設,其樁帽和柱子建設擾亂了象靈,因此 在建築工地上發生了許多意外事故。一名僧人被邀請到現場進行一些祭祀儀式看到了受驚憂的象靈,因此,他指示在酒店前方建造帕蓬神社以製服象靈。









在家裡建立一座帕蓬神社是另一個通常被外國人誤解的項目,一般人們普遍認為因為帕蓬有四張臉所以必須被安置在房子外面崇拜,那麼就不必有一面面對牆壁,因此, 若要設立帕蓬神社必須如同伊拉灣酒店神社相似。不過,只要信徒退後一步想想,看看梵天大天王霸拉瑪在寺廟中的形象時,他們就不難理解上述因愚昧而 產生的誤解。一旦發現這種愚昧後,對祈禱時就必須在帕蓬的神像周圍繞之說也一定覺得好笑。有很多花樣原本和宗教都沒關係的,只不過人們一般都喜歡有花樣方覺得 有效,所以就會產生一些專門塑造迷信的“師傅”囉!如果依照以上所述的迷信,只有擁有大院子的富家子弟才有資格崇拜帕蓬了!



當談到答謝神恩時,我們不斷從有趣的人那裡看到有趣的動作。向素食的帕蓬提供肉類祭品已屬罪過了,在祂面前裸舞更顯得異常邪惡。對於脫衣舞的宣傳可能是受到印度教的“薩拉瓦蒂故事”的影響,但是,這故事不在本文的討論範圍內,不過建議信徒,尤其是我們南傳佛教徒,請放棄這種愚蠢的行為 。