The main Phra Buddha Nimit is enshrined in the Ubosot of Wat Phra Meru Rachikaram Worawihan in Tambon Tha Wa Su Kri, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya Province. The majestically constructed Buddha image has a 4.5 meters lap width and 6 meters height. The Buddha image sits cross-legged in bhumisparsa mudra posture with left hand placed supine on lap; right hand placed resting on right leg. The Phra Buddha Nimit statue was designed with a mixture of “Dharma” and “Dhavaraja” Buddhist art in 1503, early Ayutthaya period during the reign of King Phra Ramathibodi II, to amplify the grandiose and majesty of Lord Buddha. Later in the reign of King Phra Nangklao (Rama III), Phra Buddha Nimit was officially named the guardian Buddha of Ayutthaya by His Majesty and conferred the official name of Phra Buddha Nimit Wichit Marmoli Sri Sanphet Borom Trilokanat.
Wat Phra Meru Rachikaram Worawihan was severely damaged during the first Burmese invasion but was restored by King Phra Nangklao. However, in year 2303, the Burmese again invaded the Siam Empire under the leadership of Alaungpaya, king of the Konbaung Dynasty in Burma. Wat Phra Meru again fell into the enemy’s hands. The Burmese disrespectfully brought and set up artillery in Wat Phra Meru Rachikaram Worawihan and Alaungpaya thought that Phra Buddha Nimit will help him destroy Ayutthaya, thus, he personally went to light the cannon. However, a miracle happened, the moment Alaungpaya lit the cannon, it exploded and severely injuring Alaungpaya himself. The Burmese troops saw that as a bad omen and immediately retreated but Alaungpaya nevertheless died on the way before reaching Burma. From thence, Phra Buddha Nimit has been worshipped by Thais for destroying the devils and for according the faithful a second chance.
Phra Buddha Nimit: Wat Noak
The Phra Buddha Nimit enshrined in Wat Noak, Phasi Charoen, Bangkok is designed and constructed with mixture of Indian Gandhara, Sukhothai, and western arts. The facial features of the Buddha are typically more realistic and human-like as in western art but, at the same time, retained the slender figure, spiral hair curls, and distended earlobes of Sukhothai art as well as the facial expression of inner peace typical of Indian Gandhara art.
The Phra Buddha Nimit statue in Wat Noak also differs from that of Wat Phra Meru Rachikaram Worawihan in three other major aspects. Firstly, in lieu of the bhumisparsa mudra posture, the Phra Buddha Nimit in Wat Noak adopts the Dhyana Mudra and a Khad Samathi Rab posture; secondly, the Buddha is adorned in Kāṣāya instead of the Mahachak ornamental gears; and thirdly, the Buddha sits on a round lotus top Chat Tat or triratha pedestal with eight disciples or Arahants, namely, Phra Kotamyak, Phra Mahakasapak, Phra Anun, Phra Mokalanak, Phra Lahoon, Phra Kawanbodi, Phra Wubali, and Phra Salibuk guarding the eight directions.
The primary purposes of Phra Buddha Nimit Wat Noak remain the same as those of Wat Phra Meru saved that the meditating posture of the Buddha adds a proximate cause to the attainment of wisdom; the replacement of royal gears with Kāṣāya represents the Triple Gems, compassion, and forgiveness augmenting the effect of according faithful believers a second chance in life; and the eight disciples guarding the eight direction enhances the effect of destroying the devils.
There are several temples making and consecrating statues of Phra Buddha Nimit but the most popular are those of Phrakru Sujittaporn, better known as Ajahn Jet of Wat Noak due to their artistic beauty and special effects. In a replication of the Phra Buddha Nimit enshrined in the Ubosot, Ajahn Jet made and consecrated a batch of statues in year 2546. The consecration ceremony was led by the most respected elder of the inner path Luang Pu Tim of Wat Phra Khao, Bang Ban District, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya. This batch of Phra Buddha Nimit statues comes in two sizes, one in 5 inches lap width and the other in 9 inches lap width. Both models are half-spread with gold leaf.
Phra Buddha Nimit and the Eight Arahats
Subsequently, in Buddhist year 2549, Ajahn Jet also made and consecrated a batch of Phra Buddha Nimit and the eight Arahat amulets. The features of the Buddha exhibited traditional Gandhara art with Buddha’s hair tied up in spiral curls, a serene expression with half-closed eyes and long ear lobes. Behind the Buddha is the chakra wheel and at the external perimeter of the amulet are the eight Arahants.
There are two models of amulets made on that occasion, one is made from bronze and gold-plated and another made from selected powder and color-painted.
In Buddhist year 2546, apart from the 5-inch and 9-inch Phra Buddha Nimit statues, Ajahn Jet has also separately made and consecrated amulets of the eight Arahants, namely, Phra Kotamyak, Phra Mahakasapak, Phra Anun, Phra Mokalanak, Phra Lahoon, Phra Kawanbodi, Phra Wubali, and Phra Salibuk. These amulets are made of lead.
Phra Buddha Nimit: Wat Kao Phrachuntheap
Besides those Phra Buddha Nimit statues and amulets aforementioned, there is also a batch of Phra Buddha Nimit amulets that deserve special attention and recommendation. In Buddhist year 2515, Luang Phor Ruay of Wat Kao Phrachuntheap had also made a batch of Phra Buddha Nimit amulets from herbs and consecrated them in accordance with ancient Phra Weth ritual. His venerable has laboriously brought these amulets to a total of 108 temples within four years to be charmed by 108 guru monks from the inner path. Therefore, this batch of amulets is said to be so powerful that it is able to destroy all devils. His Venerable has used this batch of amulets to perform exorcism in both Thailand and Singapore with effective results.
With various special attributes and effects accorded by Phra Buddha Nimit, this Buddha has remained a priority choice among mainstream believers. It is strongly believed that Phra Buddha Nimit possesses the miracle of miracles and a “Sarana” that is justified in respect of all 3 worlds. The special charm to enhance these effects is as follow:
Namo Tassa Pakawatoh Arahatoh Samma Samput Tassa X3
Putang Arahang Wankha Mamihang
Puta Sanatang Sana Sakotik Tatang
Putang Sathu Rupatang Eti Sukatoh Arahang Putoh Namoputaya
Tattooing of talisman or “sak yan” originated from time immemorial and it entails special rituals of “wai kru” before it can be done. The tattooing of talisman is not mere tattooing. It is something magical and purposeful. Conventionally, the tattooing of magical talisman is performed by a handful of learned guru masters for only a selected number of their disciples mainly for strengthening of their mind and, exceptionally, for battling evil forces or as their successors. These talismans are usually representation of animism together with ancient inscriptions. Each design and form of talisman carries with it a different alchemy and it is the master who chooses the designs to be tattooed on the individual disciples and what type of mystical knowledge he will impart to the latter. Basically. the disciples do not enjoy the liberty of choice.
The Ritual of “Wai Kru” (ไหว้ครู)
The ritual of “wai kru” is a serious ceremony. It is also a grand ceremony whereby both Gods and human come together to witness the initiation process. In the presence of both the immortals and mortals, an individual begs to be accepted as a disciple and takes an oath to abide by certain rules and regulations, including the “dos and don’ts” of the specific lineage. Different masters may impose varying stipulations but those in common are as follow:
The recipient of magical tattoo will (1) observe the taboos imposed by the master; (2) adhere to canon laws; and (3) exercise self-restrain. There are also some universal taboos imposed by the various masters, amongst other things, (a) refrain from immoral practices; (b) refrain from being un-filial; (c) refrain from certain types of food, e.g. food offered in funeral; (d) refraining from walking under clothe hangers and bamboos; (e) refrain from allowing a woman to cross over the body and et cetera.
When the master agrees to accept the requestor as his disciple, he will instruct the latter to make offerings to Rheesi, the witnessing Gods and ancestors. Tributes in the process include (1) joss sticks; (2) candles; (3) flowers; (4) gold leaf foils; (5) betel nuts; (5) cigarettes; (6) liquor; (7) baisri; (8) coconut; (9) banana; (10) 7 types of fruits; (11) tea; (12) cooked and raw pig’s head; (13) cooked and raw duck; (14) cooked and raw chicken; (15) cooked and raw shrimps; (16) cooked and raw fish; (17) raw pork, heart and liver; (18) raw eggs; (19) pastries; (20) sesame seeds; and water.
Photograph extracted from http://upic.me
When this ritual of “wai kru” is completed, only then will the master tattoo for his disciple and impart to him the magical knowledge. It is important to understand that a talisman tattoo has to be in a certain position where it should be for it to produce magical effect. Tattooing a talisman in the wrong position of the body will bring about counter-effect and extreme bad luck.
The Modern Trend of “Sak Yan” (สักยันต์)
Up-to-now, the ancient tradition of “wai kru” is not and cannot be dispensed with if the “sak yan” process is to be meaningful and useful. However, many laypeople, both men and women, are having their bodies tattooed but few actually went through the process of “wai kru” least being taught the secrets of activating the power of those talismans tattooed.
People nowadays went on tattooing talisman for a variety of reasons, ranging from the desire of wealth and invincibility to melancholic craving for love and sexual attraction. They choose their own tattoo designs and where they want them to be tattooed. They have very little knowledge and understanding of the tradition of “sak yan” (although many pretended as if they know a lot!).
What Happened to the Power of Invincibility?
Photograph extracted from www.dailynews.co.th
Furthermore, most secular or individual who perform popular tattooing of talisman without due consideration for the traditions is not a real master. Such individuals are at best tattoo artists who allows clients to choose their own designs and where they want the talismans to be tattooed. Both the tattoo artist and clients are eager to build a reciprocal relationship without the onus of rituals of “wai kru” and the precepts flowing there-from. Therefore, at the end of the day, the tattoo artist gets paid for his work and his clients get the required symbol tattoo on the surface of their skin.
Although this revelation may be crude but take a look around you and analyze your observation critically. How many of those who had had their bodies inked with talisman through the modern process have prospered, gained social acceptance, charmed others, and are really invincible? Or has the ink appearing on their bodies, especially their necks, hands, and legs projected them negatively and impressing on the general public a subculture of hooliganism that is being frowned upon?
Does She Look More Attractive with Tattooed Talismans?
Photograph extracted from โพสท์จัง Webboard
Traditionally, talisman tattoos are supposed to help an individual avoid danger or difficult situation and bestow mental strength and stability but if it, on the contrary, causes one to slip into a subculture of tattoo superstition then the puzzle really needs to be reworked with a little more intelligence.
Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it. (Kālāma Sutta)
Phra Kaew images and amulets are believed to bring about success and prosperity to believers. Devotees in Singapore and Malaysia usually prefer the Buddha image adorned in the summer cloak but the Thais prefer a complete set of three representing the three seasons which symbolize success and prosperity all year round. Apart from these, it is also believed that reverence of the Emerald Buddha bestows authority on the believer and helps in overcoming dangers.
Wat Phra Keaw
Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram, or more commonly known as Wat Phra Keaw, houses one of the Buddhist treasure, the Emerald Buddha or Phra Keaw Morakot, in its ordination hall. The sacred Buddha image is officially known as Phra Buddha Maha Mani Rattana Patimakon. It is carved from a single block of emerald and adorned in one of the three seasonal cloaks (summer, rainy season, and winter) that are exquisitely made from gold. The costumes changing ceremonies take place three times annually during the 4th, 8th, and 12th lunar months and are personally performed by His Majesty the King to bring about good fortune to the Kingdom and its people. It is enshrined on a traditional Thai-style throne made from gilded-carved wood of which is known as Busabok in Thai. The Royal Monastery is located in the historic centre of Bangkok within the premise of the Grand Palace.
The Controversial Origin
The exact origin and history of the Emerald Buddha hitherto remains controversial. There are many versions of claim. One version propounded that the sacred Emerald Buddha originated from Pataliputra in India around 43 BC where it remained for three centuries before it was moved to Sri Lanka. It was claimed that the Burmese King Anuruth, in an attempt to strengthen Buddhism in Burma, sent a mission to Ceylon to receive the holy image and other Buddhist scriptures. However, during the return voyage, the Emerald Buddha’s image was lost in a storm together with the ship and crew sent out by the Burmese king. It was not explained how the sacred Buddha image subsequently surfaced in Cambodia when the Thais allegedly took possession in 1432 after they captured Angkor Wat.
The Various Claims and Contentions
Another version of claim was said to be based on archeological and historical findings. It proposed that the Emerald Buddha image was a creation of the Lannathai period in the 15th century. Historical sources adduced explained that the Emerald Buddha was first discovered in 1434 during King Sam Fang Kaen era in northern Thailand when an old chedi in Chiang Rai fell apart. A clay Buddha image was discovered in the ruined chedi and it was taken and housed in Wat Phra Kaew in Chiang Rai. However, it was not until the Buddha image began flaking that it was discovered that the Buddha image was actually carved from a single block of jade. (Note: there was another version claiming that the Buddha image was dropped and the clay fell apart during transportation).
Phra Keaw Being Stolen
It was said that the Emerald Buddha was moved from Chiang Rai to Lamphang where it remained in Wat Phra Kaew Don Tao until King Tilok shifted his capital to Chiang Mai. King Tilok had the Emerald Buddha enshrined in Wat Chedi Luang until 1552 when an interruption occurred in the Lannathai line of succession when Prince Setthathirah of Luang Prabang was invited to succeed the throne to become King Chaichettha. However, shortly thereafter, King Chaichettha returned to Laos to succeed the Lan Xang throne upon the death of King Photisarath and he allegedly stole the Emerald Buddha image and carted it to Vientiane.
King Rama I Reclaimed the Holy Emerald Buddha
The Emerald Buddha image was detained for 226 years by the Laos until 1779 when General Chao Phraya Chakri, who later became Phra Chao Yodfa Chulaloke or King Rama I, successfully invaded Laos and captured the Laotian capital of Vientiane. General Chao Phraya Chakri regained the holy image and brought it safely back to Siam. The Emerald Buddha was then temporarily housed in Thonburi.When General Chao Phraya Chakri ascended the throne, he built his capital in Krungtheap – the City of Angels (Bangkok) in 1782. Wat Phra Sri Rattana Satsadaram was then constructed to house the Emerald Buddha. Construction was duly completed in 1784 and the sacred Emerald Buddha was thence enshrined in the Royal Monastery.
Ordination ceremony in Wat Noi Nanghong with Chao Khun Phratheap of Wat Pathom Chedi as the preceptor.
Since time immemorial, there are those people who took up the life of brahmacariya of one ordained and who renounce earthly wealth and desires to pursue a more fulfilling spiritual life in instructing others on religious practices. These are the sattha or teachers whose teachings are believed by many people and passed down through the generations.
However, in our contemporary world, there are as many good teachers who took up a chaste life to teach and instruct others in the practice of the Dharma as there are self-proclaimed “teachers” who are either monastic or laity and who spread sectarian or outright fake religious practices. Therefore, as previously mentioned in “Mysticism in Thai Buddhism”, it is imperative for you not only to understand the Dharma but also the Vinaya so as to distinguish between the true teachers and the phonies in order not to be duped.
In this article, I will refer to the writings of His Holiness Somdej Phra Maha Samma Chao in starting off with a summary of the rules and regulations of giving the upasampada of which is also known as the “Four Fulfilling Conditions” or Sampati in order to be accepted into monkhood. The “Four Fulfilling Conditions” are summarized as:
(1)Vatthu-sampati – of the material relating to personal qualities;
(2)Parisa-sampati – of the assembly;
(3)Sima-sampati – of the boundary; and
(4)Kammavaca-sampati – of announcing the Act
An individual to be ordained as a monk has to possess the right personal qualities as stipulated in the Vinaya. Firstly, the person who wishes for upasampada has to be a male of at least 20 years of age; not physically defective; must not have committed any serious crime; and must not have committed any serious spiritual offence according to the Buddhasasana. It is also a tradition that the upasampada must only be given to a willing aspirant who utters the words requesting the Going-forth. The ordination of any individual not fulfilling the afore-mentioned prerequisites is defective of the material (vatthu-vipatti) and is not considered a monk according to the rules set by the Exalted Lord Buddha.
The second and third conditions are intertwined. An ordination ceremony can only take place within a prescribed boundary (sima) with one or two examiners of qualities (acariya), a preceptor (upajjhaaya) who has completed a minimum of ten rain retreats and a required quorum of monks (parisa-sampatti) to confirm the prescribed Sangha Act. Only when the formal rules and regulations are satisfied (sampatti), a senior monk would move the first motion (nanti) informing the Sangha and requesting that it accept the aspirant. The recital would be made another three times (anusavana) of which, in the course thereof, any monk can oppose the motion and announcements. The ceremony is spoilt if any objection takes place.The quorum of monks unanimously assents to the motion by remaining silent during the anusavana.Thereafter, the acariya through chanting witnessed the consent. Finally, the name of the aspirant, the upajjhaaya, and mention of the Sangha is uttered, fulfilling the final condition of kammavaca-sampati.
The aspirant is then admitted into the Sangha, the community of monks. The newly ordained monk is expected to behave properly and uphold good conduct (Abhisamacara). For this purpose, the Exalted Lord Buddha has established the Buddhapannatti – the rules and regulations precluding wrongful behaviors. The Buddhapannatti and Abhisamacara are collectively known as the Vinaya. In the next article, I will provide a prelude to the origin and advantages of the Vinaya before delving into the rules of training in the subsequent articles.