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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
Worshiping Buddha images or wearing Thai amulets is perhaps no longer a Thai culture privy to Thais. The successful spread of Thai Buddhism around the world has also brought around Thai culture to many countries. Many people are either worshiping Buddha images or wearing Thai amulets for various reasons and there is no one universal standard applicable to what type of Buddha image or amulet should be worshiped or worn. It all depends on an individual’s belief, value, and objective. For many people the most intrinsic reason for worshiping a Buddha image or wearing a Thai amulet is either spiritual or psychological comfort. Yet, to others, it may merely be a matter of trend or decoration. However, whatever the reasons may be, the power of Phuttakhun, Thammakhun, and Sangkhakhun behind this action then brings about progress and prosperity in life for that individual.
Different people have different preferences for different types of Buddha images and amulets. In fact, Thais usually worship and wear multiple Buddha images and amulets. Amongst the many Buddha images and amulets, there is an image or amulet the Thais classify as the number one sacred object, it is considered the highest divine power of all, and that is their Birthday Buddha. In this article, we will introduce you to the Phra Prajamwan or Seven Days Buddha.
According to Thai astrology and belief, people who are born on different days of the week innate certain general but unique characteristics that are a mixture of both good and bad attributes in life. Therefore, in Thai Buddhism, there are a total of 8 Buddhas known as Phra Prajamwan acting as Birthday Buddhas to enhance those good characteristics and make good for the bad ones.
A person born on Sunday is said to be in the position of the Sun and is ambitious, determined, sincere and generous but, at the same time, impatient and quick-tempered. Owing to these birth characteristics, a person born on Sunday is prone to unknowingly create as many enemies as he makes friends. He just has too much fire in him.
Therefore, the Birthday Buddha for Sunday, Phra Prang Thewaynet, depicts Buddha in a standing position, eyes looking downward, and right hand overlapping left hand on lower abdomen (Phra Phela), a posture symbolising Sangvorn, looking at the Phra Sri Maha Bodhi tree. It is a representation of calm and peace which are attributes needed to reconcile the negative characteristics inherent of Sunday. The Sunday Buddha also symbolises the Fire element.
Chant for Worshipping Sunday Buddha
u the tan yan chak ku mae ka ra ja ha rissa wanno pat tha wi papa phaso
tang na massa mi harissa wan nang pa tha wi papa pha sang ta ya cha
kut ta vi hare mu ti wa sang yep rah ma na we ta ku sa pa tham me te me
namo te cha mang pa la ya na tu nama tu put ta nang nama tu phi ya
namo wi mut ta nang namo wi mu ti ya e mang so parit tang kat wa mo ro
ja ra te sana
a pe tan yan jak ku mae ka ra ja harissa wan no pat tha wi papa phaso
tang nama sa mi harissa wan nang pata wi papa pha sang ta ya cha
kut ta vi hare mu rat ting yep rah mana we ta ku sap tham me te me
namo te cha mang pa lay an tu nama tu put ta nang nama tu phi ya
namo wi mut ta nang namo wi mu ti ya e mang so parit tang kat wa mo ro
wa sama kap pa yi ti
A person born on Monday tends to have a charming character that attracts people. However, contrary to his charm, he is also an individualistic and competitive person, thus, often losing humbleness. Owing to the contrasting characteristics, he often does things unexpectedly that cause uneasiness to other people, thus, losing favourable position and harming long-term relationships.
Therefore, the Birthday Buddha for Monday took the standing posture with either one (Prang Pranaya) or both (Prang Praban) hands raised to the chest with palm(s) forward signifying forbidden action or simply “Stop!” The gist is to stop, introspect, and think before rash decisions and actions. The Monday Buddha also symbolises the Water element.
Chant for Worshipping Monday Buddha
yan thu nimit tang xa wa mang kha lay ca yo ca ma na po sa ku nassa sath tho papa kha ho thu su pi nang xa kan tang phutha nu pha we na wi na sa men tu
yan thu nimit tang xa wa mang kha lay ca yo ca ma na po sa ku nassa sath tho papa kha ho thus su pi nang xa kan tang thamma nu pha we na wi na sa men tu
yan thu nimit tang xa wa mang kha lay ca yo ca ma na po sa ku nassa sath tho papa kha ho thu su pi nang xa kan tang sangkha nu pha we na wi na sa men tu
A person born on Tuesday is carefree, un-ambitious, and does not care much about long-term planning. He does what he wants and what comes to mind without consideration of consequences and impact on others. Therefore, the life of a person born on Tuesday tends to be volatile especially when it comes to work and finance. Another shortcoming is that he rarely has any real friends. What is needed in order to have a stable life is a mindset of planning, sequencing of ideas, and goals setting.
Therefore, Tuesday Buddha Prang Pla Surintrahu takes on the reclining posture, lying on his right side with right hand supporting the head and left hand rested on the body. The Buddha symbolises nirvana and in order to enter nirvana the mind has to be healed, that is enlightened. Tuesday Buddha also represents the Earth element.
Chant for Worshipping Tuesday Buddha
ya sa nu sa ra ne na pi an ta li k khe pi pa ni no
pa tit tha ma thi kha chan ti phu mi yang wi ya saph pha tha
saph phu path tha wa cha lam ha yak kha co ra thi sampha wa
kha na na na ca mut ta nang pa ri tan tam pha na ma he
A person born on Wednesday usually has with him an onerous social burden. He often has to support family and relatives. This is primarily due to the nature that a person born on Wednesday finds satisfaction in seeing people around him being happy. Therefore, he has many friends in general but his true friends are only those of older age and higher social status. However, albeit being a very sociable person, he lacks charitable character because his likes entertainment and is being drowned in mundane enjoyment to bother about spirituality. The treasure for a person born on Wednesday is travelling where he gets his fortune.
For those born on Wednesday, his Birthday Buddha can be separated into two, day and night. The Wednesday daytime Buddha is Prang Om Bart in a standing position with both hands holding an alms bowl. It symbolises charity. It symbolises the Metal element. After 6 p.m. the Birthday Buddha is Wednesday night Buddha, Prang Palelai in the Ariyabot sitting on a rock with both hands on his knees but his right palm facing outward. By the sides of Buddha are an elephant offering water and a monkey offering a honeycomb. It represents making merits and characterises the Earth element.
Chant for Worshipping Wednesday Buddha
saph pha si wi sa cha ti nang thi pha mạn ta kha thạng wi ya
yan na se ti wi sang kho rang se say ca pi pa ri sa yang
xa nak khet tam hi saph phat tha saph pha tha saph pha pa ni nang
saph pha so pi ni wa re ti parit tan tam pha na ma he
Kin nu san ta ra ma no wa ra hu can thang pa mu ca si
sang wi kha ru po xa kham ma kin nu p̣hi to tit tha si ti
sat ta tha me pha le mu tha chi wan to na su khang la phe
phuth tha kha tha phi khi to hi no ce mu ce ya can thi man ti
A person born on Thursday is usually intelligent and knowledgeable. He develops the habit for deep detail and exquisite work and, thus, always interested in seeking knowledge. However, it is also because of the extent of knowledge that gradually turns him self-centric so much so that he rarely accepts others’ ideas and perceptions. He always wants to be right and thinks he is always right. He has high determination and enjoys making decisions both for himself and others. He craves for fame, honour and position. Owing to the self-centric characteristics, he suffers poor interpersonal relationships and normally ended up with few friends and a strained matrimonial relationship.
Therefore, Thursday Buddha also known as Prang Sammathi is in a meditating posture, legs crossed in half-lotus, right hand over the left hand. It is a representation of enlightenment and attainment of peace and tranquility.
Chant for Worshipping Thursday Buddha
pu ren tam pho ti sampha re ni phat wat ta chat yang
ya sa te che na ta wak khi ma ha sa tang vi wat cha cha yi
thra sa sa sa ri puta sa lo ka na te na pha si tang
u pat tha yi ma maha te chang parit tan tam bha na mae
A person born on Friday has a good character and is un-ambitious and easy-going. He is a simple person with a kind heart and is easily contented with life. He has a charitable character, however, his compassion is also his setback as he is often emotional especially over the misfortune of others. He gets angry easily but also forgives as quickly.
Therefore, Prang Rampheang or Friday Buddha stands with both hands raised to his chest, the right hand on-top the left hand in a meditative posture. It represents concentration and firming the heart. Thus, it is also symbolises the Metal element.
Chant for Worshipping Friday Buddha
ya sa nu pha wa to yak kha ne wa tha sen ti phing sa nang
ya hi ce wa nu yu chan to rat tin thi wa ma tan thi to
su khang su pa ti sut to ca pa pang ki ci na pa sa ti
xe wa ma thi khu nu pe tang parit tan tam pha na ma he
A person born on Saturday is tough, bold, and a go-getter. He has a passion of risk-taking and adventure that at times become reckless. He likes to catch attention that are frequently interpreted as being show-off or selfish. Another shortcoming is that he thinks too much, wanting to be sure and careful so much so that he procrastinates over almost everything. Thus, he is usually indecisive, faint-hearted and not resolute. Like work that does not have to be too serious.
The Saturday Buddha has a guardian Naga with him and, hence, is known a Prang Naplok. The Buddha is in the Ariyabha, sits cross-legged, both hands on the lap, right hand on-top the left and the Naga King Mujalin as his seat and shade. It represents wisdom and protection.
Chant for Worshipping Friday Buddha
ya to hang pha khi ni xa ri ya ya cha ti ya cha to
na phi cha na mi say ci ca pa nang chi wi ta wo ro pe ta
te na sa ce na sot thi te ho tu sot thi kha pha sa
Buddhism is a major world religion founded in the 5th century BC based on the teachings of Lord Buddha Siddhartha Gautama. There are approximately 535 million Buddhists worldwide of which more than 100 million are Theravada Buddhists. Theravada Buddhism, also known as “doctrine of the elders”, is the oldest and purest form of Buddhism which preserved and practiced the teachings and traditions as was observed during Lord Buddha’s time and thereafter recorded in the Pali canons. Today, Theravada Buddhism is strongest in South Asia but is, currently, gaining grounds throughout Southeast Asia as well as western continent.Pursuant therefrom, it is not difficult to imagine the number of Buddhist temples around the world. In our earlier article “Phra Jaktukam Ramathep: a Frenzy Culture within and beyond Thailand” we mentioned that in the Kingdom of Thailand alone there are 40, 717 Theravada temples and, perhaps, the most in the world. Out of these 40,717 temples is a historical temple that was built during the late Ayutthaya Period on the bank of Bang Pakong River, Tambon Amphoe Mueang Chachoengsao, eastern Thailand. The history of this temple and the Buddha image that it houses are both filled with mystery and suspense.
Three Large Bronze Buddha Swimming in Bang Pakong River
More than three centuries ago, during the reign of King Narai the Great or Ramathibodi Si Samphet of the Siamese Ayutthaya Kingdom, three large bronze Buddha images were unbelievably discovered floating in Bang Pakong River by a fisherman. The fisherman quickly gathered the villagers to help bring the three large bronze Buddha images out from the water. However, all attempt failed. They even tied ropes to the images but the ropes snapped and the Buddha images kept flowing down the river. The villagers were filled with disappointment and grieve as they believed the village did not have sufficient merits to invite the three Buddha images to be enshrined in their village.Suddenly, water current increased and became turbulent. Two of the three images were swiped downstream whilst the third remained in the water. One of the two Buddha travelled another 79 kilometres and took up abode in Samut Prakan and became known as Luang Phor Toh Bang Phli whilst the other travelled 152 kilometres to Samut Songkhram and became known as Luang Phor Wat Ban Laem.
A Guru Monk Used a Chanting Thread and Invited the Buddha Image out from the River
A guru monk from Wat Hong was summoned to help invite the remaining Buddha to reside in the village. Joss-sticks, flowers, and other offerings were made during the ritual and the villagers were surprised when the guru monk asked them to bring a “saisin” (Thai chanting thread) out to the Buddha image and tie it around the Buddha. Even a thick rope had snapped and what good can a “saisin” do, the villagers thought. Nonetheless, they did as they were told. The monk then sat by the river bank and began chanting. To the surprise of the villagers, the Buddha image began flowing towards the river bank as the monk chanted.The large bronze Buddha image lap-wide 1.65 meters and height 1.48 meters was lifted off the water and His features were so different from other Buddha images during or before the Ayutthaya Period. Luang Phor Sothorn’s face is a full moon with a peaceful smile. The image of Luang Phor Sothorn was invited to be enshrined in Wat Hong which was subsequently renamed Wat Sothorn Woraram Woravihan. Do not be surprised that the Buddha image you pay homage to in Wat Sothorn Woraram Woravihan today is much larger than the measurements provided herein because the original image has been concealed in a coat of stucco to prevent sinners from stealing the image during the time when the Buddha was first enshrined in Wat Hong. Since then, the original image has remained concealed hitherto.
The Mascot of Chachoengsao
After Luang Phor Sothorn was enshrined in Wat Hong, the province of Chachoengsao which was originally a sparsely populated fishing village began to prosper and develop. Traders gradually brought their transactions to the village and more businesses were also set up there. Those who pay homage to Luang Phor Sothorn saw their businesses prospered and, thus, for centuries, Luang Phor Sothorn has been Thailand’s most prominent Buddha of Wealth.During the Ayutthaya Period, medical facilities were almost primitive and people usually resort to faith healing. Diseases, sickness, and outbreak of epidemic are just too often during those days. The people of Chachoengsao, and subsequently included people from other provinces, turned to Luang Phor Sothorn for help. The incense and flowers used as offerings were used as medicines. They were either boiled and consumed or used in bath to ward away sickness. Many miracles had taken place, especially the cure of epidemic in the year 2433, have strengthened the people’s faith in Luang Phor Sothorn who not only became the guardian but also the mascot of Chachoengsao.
The Two Main Effects that Touched the Hearts of Millions
The two main effects granted by Luang Phor Sothorn are wealth and good health. As news about the effects of Luang Phor Sothorn spread, many people from all over Thailand travelled by rafts through the Bang Pakong River to Wat Sothorn. Consequently, the number of people who decided to settle down in Chachoengsao also increased and the population inevitably bloomed. Perhaps, it was for that particular reason that some people today also think and speculate that, apart from the two primary effects, Luang Phor Sothorn is also “fertility” Buddha.
Reverence of Luang Phor Sothorn as the Buddha of wealth and healing has persisted to this day. Millions of businessmen and believers from all over the world have deliberately travelled to the Chacherngsao province every year to worship Luang Phor Sothorn resulting in Wat Sothorn Woraram Woravihan becoming Thailand’s richest temple. Phra Buddha Sothorn or simply Luang Phor Sothorn has become the main prosperity Buddha in the Kingdom of Thailand.
The Wish of His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej
In 1966, His Majesty King Bhumibol Aduyadej has made a wish that the most revered Buddha image of Luang Phor Sothorn will one day be enshrined in a magnificent temple. The temple administrators have since set their minds in fulfilling the wish of His Majesty and, finally, in the year 1992, Wat Sothorn Woraram Woravihan underwent a 15 year-long reconstruction which was completed in the year 2006.
The new temple took on a unique architectural outlook comprising traditional Thai architectural characteristics and contemporary flavour with Italian carrara marble tiles and gold plated ceramics. The current temple occupies an area of 5496 meter square, excluding other surrounding temple facilities.
At the centre of the “Vihan”, or the assembly hall, is a square structure with four arches erected into an eight-level pyramidal roof of 85m in height with five 4.9m high golden royal umbrella weighing 77kg. It was estimated that the entire reconstruction project cost more than 2.04 billion baht in total.
In August 30, 2006, Her Royal Highness Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn officiated the opening ceremony of the newly constructed Wat Sothorn Wararam Worawiharn in Chachoengsao for and on behalf of His Majesty the King Bhumibol Aduyadej. The new temple is considered the most beautiful and largest Theravada Buddhist temple in the world.
Luang Phor Sothorn Amulets are as Expensive as Phra Somdej Amulets
Because of the effects, amulets and images of Luang Phor Sothorn are highly sought after. To cater for the varying masses, some of these amulets and images are pricey while others are moderately priced. Those that were made a century or so ago are without saying exquisite and expensive for both effects and antique value and their prices easily fetch from a few hundred thousand baht to tens of millions baht. The highest recorded price of Luang Phor Sothorn amulet is 30 million baht for a 2460 medallion. Fake copies are selling over the Internet for a meagre amount of few hundred baht to as much as half-a-million baht. Other moulds commemorating special occasions or made from special materials may also be costly.
Even those amulets and images slightly above half-a-century old are placed on the high-end of the scale.
Images and amulets bearing the royal insignia are also priced higher than normal molds.
There are two batches of roof tile images and amulets released in the Buddhist calendar years 2530 and 2534. The former were made from old roof tiles dismantled from Wat Sothorn Wararam Worawiharn that was believed to contained strong energies due to years of chanting by guru monks in the temple. This batch was made available to soldiers only.
The latter were made from a mixture of old and new roof tiles. They were moderately priced and made available to the public. In the Buddhist calendar year 2534 batch include images and amulets made from shredded bank notes provided by the Bank of Thailand signifying wealth and prosperity. Simultaneously, there were also those made from Gomphrena globosa linn flowers signifying good health.
In Thailand there is a sally saying “you are not a Thai Buddhist if you do not rent a Luang Phor Sothorn image or amulet”. From the sally it can be known the importance of Luang Phor Sothorn to Thai Buddhism. Luang Phor Sothorn is not only an important Buddha but He is also one of the three main Thai Buddhas of Wealth. Thais throughout the Kingdom of Thailand revered Luang Phor Sothorn and so do many people from around the world. If you think we have exaggerated the prominence of Luang Phor Sothorn please feel free to consult any Thai about this Buddha and verify our content for yourself. Finally, if you are keen to know who are the other two Thai Buddhas of Wealth, please keep a watch out for our articles.
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.
Today most people have heard of Wat Raikhing, the most prominent temple in Nakhom Pathom province. The temple was built in 2334 by the then abbot of Wat Sala Poon Woravihan Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Poot near the Nakhon Chaisri River in Tambon Raikhing, a village in Amphur Samphran, Changwat Nakhon Pathom during the reign of His Majesty the King Chulalongkorn or Rama V. Wat Raikhing is also known as Wat Mongkhun Chinda Ram Raikhing. On July 10, 2533, Wat Raikhing was officially upgraded from a common monastery to the status of Royal Monastery.
Annual Wat Raikhing Festival
Annually, during the Chinese Lunar New Year, thousands of faithful Buddhists flood to Wat Raikhing to worship Luang Phor Wat Raikhing, the golden Buddha image in the posture of Maravijaya that signifies victory over Mara. The atmosphere is festival with a host of entertainments. It is believed that worshipping Luang Phor Raikhing helps believers to be victorious. Then again, in the fifth month of the lunar calendar, there are yet another series of celebrations, collectively known as Wat Raikhing Festival, which begins on the 13th day of the waxing moon and ends on the 4th day of the waning moon.
A Brief History of Luang Phor Wat Raikhing
The golden Buddha image of Luang Phor Wat Raikhing measures 4 feet 2 inches in lap width and 4 feet 16 inches in height. The Buddha sits on a 5 level grandly decorated concrete base and faces north in the direction of Udon Thani. The origin of Luang Phoe Raikhing is not conclusively documented. However, it has been determined that the craftsmanship of the Buddha image resembles that of the Chiang Saen (Lanna) period. According to legend, the golden Buddha image was found drifting in the Chao Praya River close to Ayutthaya, and was retrieved by villagers who brought it to the Wat Sala Poon. It was subsequently relocated to and enshrined in the newly constructed Wat Raikhing in Nakhon Pathom.
Somdej Phra Buddhacharn Poot named that temple Wat Raikhing after the district it was located. However, Prince Vachirayan Varoros gave the temple the official name Wat Mongkhun Chinda Ram Raikhing. Nonetheless, most people continued calling it Wat Raikhing until this day and its official name is seldom used or even known. The villagers also addressed the golden Buddha as Luang Phor Wat Raikhing or simply as Luang Phor Raikhing.
Once the construction of Wat Raikhing was completed, thousands of huge sawai fish began appearing in the river behind Wat Raikhing. The image of the golden Buddha was then sailed downstream from Wat Sala Poon in Ayutthaya to Wat Raikhing in Nakhon Pathom on a bamboo raft. It was said that the arrival of Luang Phor Raikhing changed the weather in Nakhon Pathom from a burning heat to a cooling pleasure that was interpreted as an auspicious sign of prosperity. True enough, the village began to prosper and the villagers devoutly made frequent homage to Luang Phor Raikhing. Hitherto, those huge sawai fish still exist in huge numbers in the river flowing through the Mae Nam Tha Chin behind the temple and it has since become customary for worshippers to feed the fish with bread after praying to Luang Phor Raikhing.
Amulets consecrated by Luang Phor Panya
It is believed that Luang Phor Raikhing bestows devotees with success, affluence, and good health. Annually, thousands and thousands of devotees from all over the world travel to Nakhom Pathom specifically to worship Luang Phor Raikhing. Most believers would also enshrine a holy image of Luang Phor Raikhing at home and the more devout would even wear an amulet of Luang Phor Raikhing.
Luang Phor Panya, or Phra Ubali Khunupamajarn, the greatly respected abbot of Wat Raikhing, who was awakened at the age of 84 in Februabry 14, 2008, has over the years made various images and amulets of Luang Phor Raikhing. Each of these images and amulets were consecrated through traditional Thai incantation and they are quite pricey. However, despite the costliness these sacred items their demands are ever escalating.