In our previous article “Phra Jaktukam Ramathep: A Frenzy Culture Within and Beyond Thailand” we categorically helped our readers to correlate facts to their beliefs in identifying who Phra Jakukam Ramathep really is by first distinguishing between facts and falsehoods amongst the numerous stories surrounding the Deity. Consequently, we all came to a firm conclusion by virtue of archaeological evidence, puranic records, and historical verifications that Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is in fact one of Hindu’s supreme God Lord Vishnu. Therefore, in this article, we are going to cross reference the godly abilities of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep with that of Lord Vishnu to enable believers to have a better understanding of their belief.
The Iconic Images of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep
As evidenced in the market, amulets, pendants, and images of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep are made with different materials and come in numerous styles that can prove really confusing to those who do not possess an in-depth understanding about the Deity. However, if believers are observant enough, traditional amulets, pendants, and images of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep contains either an image of the Deity Himself or together with one or more of the following emblematic images such as nagas, sun and moon, and Phra Rahu. More flexibility is accorded only to the rear side of amulets and pendants which may include talismans, images of chedi, Luang Phors, Phra Pidta and et cetera.
However, it has to be emphasised from the outset that these emblematic images are not designs out of whims and fancy but are rooted in puranic records. Each emblematic image that appears with Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is representational of a specific or a series of specific purposes of which can be explained and traced back to puranic records. Therefore, if any emblemtic design accompanying Phra Jaktukam Ramathep that is not traceable and explained in the Puranas, then the origin of those amulets, pendants, and images become fundamentally questionable.
Pursuant to the aforementioned, Phra Jaktukam Ramathep and His abilities is the principal effect of His amulets, pendants, and images whilst other emblematic figures possess secondary effects. Therefore, it is the responsibility of amulet dealers to educate their customers and carefully match the latter’s needs with both the principal and secondary effects of amulets and pendants.
For the rest of this article, besides elucidating the capabilities of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep, we are also going to explain how associations between Phra Jaktukam Ramathep and those emblematic images such as nagas, sun and moon, and Phra Rahu occur and what their secondary effects thereof are.
The above amulet originated from one of Thailand’s historical temple Wat Phutthaisawan in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district and has once rose to the market value of 100,000 baht during the Jaktukam fever. Today, it remains one of the highly sought after amulets which resulted in many imitations.
Price of the amulet aside, the unique feature here is Phra Jaktukam Ramathep has a five-headed naga acting as His sunshade. The five-headed naga is called Adishesha, the King of all nagas. We will not be delving into the story of Adishesha in this article but suffice to state herein that its five heads represent the five pillars or directions of the universe which it supports and that Adishesha is Lord Visnu’s companion. Adishesha is the protector of life and continuity. Therefore, when Phra Jaktukam Ramathep appears with his naga companion, it is actually Lord Vishnu with his companion Adishesha and it means offering protection to His believers.
Amulets and pendants featuring Phra Jaktukam Ramathep with the sun, moon, and Phra Rahu may be traced back to the Hindu mythology pertaining to the Churning of the Ocean of Milk as per the Vishnu Purana. This is yet another long and complicated story which is beyond the scope of this article. However, to help our readers correlate the significance of the various emblematic figures we shall provide a brief summary on the Churning of the Ocean of Milk.
Churning of the Ocean of Milk
The Devas, under the curse of sage Durvasas, were losing their powers and needed the amrita in the deep ocean to recover. However, the Devas were already too weak to churn the ocean of milk by themselves and, hence, they tricked the Asuras into helping them by promising the latter a share of the amrita. Nonetheless, after retrieving the amrita, Lord Vishnu transformed into an attractive and captivating damsel to distract and trick the Asuras of their share of the amrita whilst the Devas drank theirs. Only one Asura, that is Rahu, saw through Lord Vishnu’s trick and disguised himself as a Deva to drink the amrita. Nevertheless, Rahu was discovered by Sun God Surya and the Moon God Chandra who exposed Rahu to Lord Vishnu. Just before the amrita took full effect, Lord Vishnu cut Rahu into half but, because of the effect of the amrita, Rahu’s upper body remained immortal. Consequently, Rahu vowed revenge against the Sun and Moon Gods and attempted to swallow them whenever he has the opportunity (the Hindu’s rationale behind eclipse). Nevertheless, the Sun and Moon pass through his belly and end the eclipse. Therefore, when Phra Jaktukam Ramathep amulets and pendants come with the Sun, Moon, and Rahu, it signifies that Phra Jaktukam Ramathep will help His believers to remain unharmed.
With this explanation and association amongst the various emblematic figures, we believe readers are now in an even better position to understand the actual relationship between Phra Jaktukam Ramathep and Lord Vishnu. If we are to believe any of those flawed speculations such as the four guardians of the city, or King Chandra Banu or Lord Sri Srinagarang, also known as “Black King of the South Sea” and the second of the Srivijaya Throne or Avalokiteshvara Bodisattva or anything along this line of propagation then we will equally not be able to explain and categorically elucidate the association and relationship amongst each of those emblematic figures as we have done above.
As regards how an Asuras like Rahu from the nether world is able to gain His own worshippers and help dispel “small people” like backstabbers, gossipers, and et cetera will be fully elaborated and explained in one of our upcoming articles on Phra Rahu.
Where does Phra Jaktukam Ramathep Gets Money to Give Believers?
Remember in our previous article “Phra Jaktukam Ramathep: A Frenzy Culture Within and Beyond Thailand” under the sub-header “The Connection between Sacred Objects and Believers” we postulated that “Faith in Thai Buddhism far transcend the primary prerequisite of mere believe and necessitate a clear description connecting past, present, and future. The same theory applies to the faith connecting believers and sacred objects. Believers need to know the origin (past) of the sacred object, its ability to intervene in a situation (present), and bringing about a desire outcome (future)”? As we all know, Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is known to bestow wealth and fortune on His believers and, consequential thereof, we need to know where lays the means to that end.
To answer this question, we would actually have to return to the Hindu mythology on the Churning of the Ocean of Milk again. Amongst the various Treasures that were churned out from the Ocean of Milk was the Goddess of Wealth and Fortune, Lakshmi, who chose Lord Vishnu as Her consort. The unlimited wealth and fortune is logically from Goddess Lashmi and bestowed on believers in the name of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep.
As we have promised in our earlier article we will not be joining the crowd to just plug information from the thin air when we come to describe Phra Jaktukam Ramathep’s devine abilities and we will provide readers with a cross reference pertaining to each of the afore-stated abilities of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep with that of Lord Vishnu’s to help our readers make senses out of their belief, we believe we had done nothing short of our promises in this article and we earnestly hope you enjoyed it.
Phra Jaktukam Ramathep, a God of Wealth in Thailand and Southeast Asia, has driven billions of dollars in transactions within Thai amulet market, and so many legends have emerged in pertinence thereto. Some people say that He is the two Siamese princes respectively named Jaktukam and Ramathep. Some people claim that He is the four guardian Gods of the city of Nakhon Si Thammarat, whilst some people speculate that He is either King Chandrabunu Lord Sri Srinagarang, also known as “Black King of the South Sea” and second to the Srivijaya Throne. Yet there are alsopeople who think He is the manifestation of Avalokiteshvara Bodisattva and so on. In these many legends, which is true or who exactly is Phra Jaktukam Ramathep?
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”)…
Peejok has been with Wat Suan Luang for a long time, approximately some 200 years. Wat Suan Luang is located near the Mekong River. In the past it can only be reached by boats. The river curves right in front of the temple and the water erodes the river bank. One day, a piece of wood was seen floating in front of the temple. A villager paddled his boat towards that piece of wood and noticed it resembled the image of a naked boy. Since then, that piece of wood has been located at Wat Suan Luang.
Since the time of Abbot Phraku Samut Viriyaporn or Luang Pu Perk, he had moved the carving of the naked boy next to the altar table in his room. Upon the passing over of Luang Pu Perk, the new abbot noticed the old kuthip has been damaged and has to be demolished. A new kuthip needed to be built. The ubosot project started by Luang Pu Perk was also incomplete. Furthermore, the temple also needed a bell tower. Other wear and tear also needed repairs. It was obvious that he needed money to carry out those renovations and repair works. But he did not have the money. One night the new abbot prayed then sat and meditated in front of the altar. It was almost midnight and in a vision, he saw a little boy 7-8 years of age who called out to him and said: “Luang Por, make images of me. I will help will help you rebuild this temple”. In the past, the temple has not made any images of PeeJok.
“Luang Por, make images of me. I will help you rebuild this temple.”
The new abbot decided to make PeeJok’s images. Firstly, Luang Por created 259 images. PeeJok told the new abbot that he did not need to invite any guru monks to help him consecrate those images and all he needed was to meditate. The new abbot mediated in front of those images for three months before he released that batch of images to raise funds. Quickly, those images were snatched up by devotees and the abbot had to come out with several other batches. Most of the money received from the sales was spent on building the temple. It was pleasant to learn that those who invited PeeJok have their wishes fulfilled be it business, luck, or career. Even the sacred temple hall that enshrines the Buddha statues to allow the Buddhist monks who pay homage there are all built from PeeJok’s money.
The name of PeeJok came from the vision of the new abbot.
“I am no longer a little boy. I am aged. Call me PeeJok.”
He could possibly be 200 years-old. Since PeeJok said he is aged, then let him be addressed as “Pee”.
The miracles of PeeJok may be categorised into wealth, sales, and career. First, it’s wealth. Some of the wealth received is wealth due to devotees whilst some are from the request made to PeeJok. The second is sales. Most business people ask PeeJok to help bring customers to their shops and help them sell more items. The third is most common, devotees asked for promotion and help when they meet obstacles in work. This is evident by the donations devotees made to the temple.
What is the best way to do Kumanthep? Kumanthep are usually made from a variety of materials and usually takes the forms of children. PeeJok Kumanthep also comes in a variety of forms. He is made as a baby figurine or a young boy. Whichever the form, PeeJok Kumanthep comes to help those who respect and truly believe in him.
Vongphong Eiamlao (Miss Maekong), researcher and writer
You can copy the text by entering the writer’s name.
In our previous article “Kumanthong”, we tried to introduce a rational approach towards Thai Buddhism through dispelling misinformed falsehood, an over-emphasis on mysticism, and indulgence in superstitions. Coincidentally, on July 20, 2018, a conversation with a couple of Taiwanese customers prompted us to explore the subject matter in more depth. What prompted our decision is…perchance, our market ignorance. We had been in this trade for more than two decades but we have not heard that Kumanthongs have a big brother or a chieftain known as big brother Jook. Our bewilderment was probably ludicrous. We did some information search over the Internet and, as usual, there is an abundance of unverified information available. However, a search with the Thai language “พี่จุก” fortunately led us directly to the Website of Wat Suan Luang and an article titled “Prawat PeeJook Kumanthep Kaithip” written by Ms Vongphong Eiamlao pertaining to the origin of “PeeJook”. We have republished the said article with full credit to Ms Vongphong Eiamlao and Wat Suan Luang. The translation of “พี่จุก” into “大哥族” in Chinese has probably also resulted in misrepresentation. If anyone needs a literal translation, here is it. “พี่” is brother and “พี่จุก” is pacifier and, therefore, “พี่จุก” means brother “pacifier”. Anyway, we will provide an update in both English and Chinese versions soon. Nonetheless, in summary, the article neither support nor affirm any falsehood postulated by other writers. PeeJook is the name of the Kumanthep of Wat Suan Luang and not the “Big Brother” of “Chieftain” of Kumanthongs as speculated. The only correct information is that PeeJook appeared before Luang Phor Mai and offered to help raise fund for him to repair the temple. Other than that, PeeJook is like any other Kumantheps and helps to enhance believers’ luck, business, career and protection. Furthermore, it is specifically stated in the temple’s website that PeeJook is not a ghost or spirit and has to be honoured on the same altar table as “Guan Yim, Lord Ganesh, Rama V, Brahma or other gods” if an altar table already exists.
Many aspects of Thai Buddhism, especially those pertaining to the obscure, are an interesting subject which has left many people nonplus, bewildered and even paranoid. Kumanthong tops the list of mysticism in connection thereto. We are not going to sell you any “plaster” but to share with readers our conceptualization of the association between Thai Buddhism and the obscure. It is about the possibility of life associated with the law of karma, interplay of the two sciences where things begins from physical existence and impacts on continuation into the obscure and vice versa. Kumanthong exists within this wavelength.But it has to be reiterated at this instant that the existence of Kumanthong is equivalent to devas as mentioned in our earlier article and whose existence may be calculated according to the Lifespan of Celestial Devas. Unfortunately, the term “Kumanthong” has been used in the catastrophe of human rebirth to illustrate karmic retribution in many stories with Buddhist underpinnings, the cyclical process of pre-birth as a ghost to birth as human being and ultimately back as ghost again upon death. The cycle restarts with rebirth and repeats itself until one reaches nirvana that is enlightenment. In these stories, albeit the objective is usually novel, the delineation between Kumanthong and Pee Dek is unfortunately obliterated leading to terrible misinformation and the evolution of certain evil by-products. What is usually depicted in these stories stemming from abortion is a baby ghost (Pee Dek) and not Kumanthong (golden boy). If readers are observant, scriptwriters prefer a girl ghost to a boy ghost which they also call Kumanthong. Let us provide readers with a side-dish here. In Thai culture, there is a female counterpart of Kumanthong known as Kumarithong. This is something not known to many people, especially foreigners, and probably Kumari is not as popular as Kumanthong that scriptwriters gave her a pass. Moreover, what is missing in these occult stories is a ritual necessary to bring about a baby ghost that is controlled by a mantra. A baby ghost is not a natural consequent of abortion otherwise in this contemporary world we will have too many baby ghosts running amok! The preconditions of Pee Dek are, among other things, a fully developed fetus which died together with its mother that needs to be removed from its mother’s womb through black magic and its spirit summoned back into the fetus. So far, only the Story of Khunpaen has introduced these procedures to the audience.
Khunpaen: Legend of the Warlord
The process is complex and the product is naturally rare and expensive. Frankly, it is an offense in Thailand and, probably, in most other countries. If you think you can get a baby ghost for a couple of hundreds or thousands, we advise that you might as well buy yourself a Chucky collectible.There is more value for the amount spent.
Despite these fallacies more and more ludicrous additions were subsequently added by scriptwriters. If you are aware, in these stories, karmic retribution usually set in within the next ten years and the baby ghost has grown up with time to be a little boy or girl. Probably, scriptwriters find a baby or even a toddler is incapable of inflicting much terror so the baby ghost needs to grow up. This line of story is picked up by people purportedly “selling” baby ghosts. This, however, in itself raises many questions and, among others, is a very intrinsic question that, assuming the truth of the said propagation, then would the baby ghost ultimately grows up to be an adult ghost, an old ghost, and a dying ghost? Funny, isn’t it? Or, no, it’s scary…to be shallowly fooled! These are all loopholes and adversities unforeseen by storytellers but still many people got duped.
Kumanthong in reality is neither about a ghost story nor a literary story as seen in the story of Khun Phaen. It is about the law of universe pivoting on the cycle of life which are depicted in these stories. This law of the universe is explained through Buddhist philosophy about Karma. It is perplexing to those who do not understand the concepts of Buddhism, especially Theravada Buddhism, and consequently deciphering surface value thereof inevitably leads to wrong understanding about Thai Buddhism and Kumanthong. This may sound hurting to the unlearned souls, but unfortunately, truth is never pleasant especially when it contradicts one’s make-belief. As a believer and practitioner of Thai Buddhism with a little academic foundation, allow me to posit that this world cannot exist on pure-science alone. Despite the advancement in both science and technology there is something lingering in the obscure which has not disappear with these advancements. Science can neither explain nor cover this subject matter. However, denial also does not serve any beneficial purpose save to conceal ignorance and dejection. Similarly, superstitions have no positive contribution both physically or spiritually. Moderate academics began toying with the theory of dual-existence which I view as an attempt to compliment spirituality whist simultaneously provides a gloss over science and nothing more. It still does not explain the scientifically obscure. In lieu of the dual-existence theory, I am more inclined to view the world as well as Thai Buddhism through the lens of dual-sciences, which is a co-existence of two sciences, pure science and mental science.
I do not deny the existence of mystique falling within the realm of obscurity which I classify as mental science but I reject superstitions which are primarily based on falsehood and ignorance. As a Thai Buddhist, you have to know a basic tenet of Thai Buddhism and that is “punna”, a Pali term which literally means wisdom. You may not be equipped with a library of knowledge but you must have, or at least cultivate, the ability to identify and reject falsehood. Stories may be entertaining but they must not be confused with facts and become a part of or a way of life. Take another example. The Buddhist tenet of rebirth states explicitly that all spirits shall return to the wheel of reincarnation after death and who then, within the Buddhist community, has the authority to disregard this tenet? A simple analysis like this will tell you that tampering with the spirits of deceased beings is un-Buddhist and cannot have any relation to Thai Buddhism. Therefore, do not let yourself be misled into a un-Buddhist way of life.
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.