Phra Rheesi Chiwok Komaraphat, also known as Mor Yai, was a physician. He was born in Rajgir, an ancient city in the northeast Indian state of Bihar to a courtesan by the name of Salwadee who, in the middle of the night, ordered her servant to throw the baby away. However, at dawn, one of King Pimpisan’s sons, Prince Ampai and his guards happened to come across the abandoned child. The prince asked his guards if the baby was still alive and was told “still alive,” hence, he named that baby “Chiwok” meaning “alive.” The prince brought the baby back to the palace and raised him there thereby giving him the surname Komaraphat meaning “a child who was raised in the royal court.”
When Chiwok grew up and knew he was actually an orphan adopted by the prince, he was determined to seek the arts to support himself. Therefore, he asked for permission to leave the palace and travelled to Taxila, currently Rawalpindi District in Pakistan, where he was accepted as a student of a famous medical doctor Thipamokk. He studied for seven years before asking for permission to return to Rajgir. Doctor Thipamokk asked Chiwok to enter the forest and bring him a plant that cannot be used for treatment. Chiwok obliged. He entered the forest and tested every plant and returned empty handed. When doctor Thipamokk asked him what he had brought back, Chiwok replied “nothing” and explained that every plant in the forest is capable for use in treatment. Doctor Thipamokk then said “You have graduated then.” On his way back to Rajgir, Chiwok stopped and healed a rich man’s wife who had suffered severe headaches for many years. In return the rich man gave Chiwok 16,000 pieces of gold, slaves and a carriage to bring him safely back to Rajgir.
Upon returning to the palace, Chiwok brought the gold and rewards he received and presented them to Prince Ampai as gratitude for raising him. However, the prince rejected those presents and asked Chiwok to keep them instead. Not long thereafter, Chiwok treated and cured King Pimpisan from hemorrhoids and was appointed the Royal Physician. King Pimpisan also rewarded Chiwok with 500 royal women and many jewellery. This time round it was Chiwok who turned down those rewards and asked King Pimpisan to consider it as his service to the kingdom. However, he did accept the mango garden which he converted into a temple and presented it to Lord Buddha and His disciples. Rajgir was hit by diseases and Chiwok quickly went around helping and healing the people.
Besides practicing medicine, Maha Chiwok was also dedicated to the Dharma with strong faith in Lord Buddha. He visited Lord Buddha frequently to learn and practice the Dharma. He followed the teachings of Lord Buddha and practiced well that Lord Buddha bestowed on him the title of the Ethical One. At the same time, he was granted permission to serve as a physician in the Sangha to help maintain the health of all monks. Subsequently, he even extended his services to worshippers and devotees thereby becoming known as Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat, “The Grand Master of Traditional Medicine” and is revered by the general public until today.
What it is now
At present, there has been considerable archaeological evidence unearthed, one of which is the Thammarajiga Stupa which is said to be the earliest Buddhist footprint in Pakistan. It is believed to have been built during the time of the Ashoka the Great of the Moriya Dynasty in order to enshrine the relics of the Lord Buddha. Aubsequently, it has been expanded in the 2nd century AD during the reign of King Kanishaka.
In addition to archaeological remains that have already discovered in both Rajgir, India and in Taxila, Punjab, Pakistan where the medical school Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat studied, there is practically nothing left with regards to the legacy of traditional medicine in those areas. On the contrary, only the medical textbooks of Taksila or the medical texts written by Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat have been passed down for more than 2,500 years in the present Suvarnabhumi land, especially the Kingdfom of Thailand which underscored the source of honouring Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat as the Grand Instructor of Thai Traditional Medicine.
Honouring Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat
There are many temples making and consecrating statues and amulets of Rheesi Mor Chiwok Komaraphat for believers. The most popular temple is Wat Intharawihan, Bang Khun Phrom, Bangkok followed by Wat Khok That, Thai Traditional Medicine Association Nakhon Si Thammarat Province. The purpose is common, plain, and simple. They are for good health and speedy recovery from illness.
Since there is no distinction between practitioners and believers with regards to the charm for Phra Rheesi Chiwok Komaraphat; and since the charm only pertains to good health and speedy recovery from illness, we find it no harm sharing it with our readers as follow:
Kattar Bucha Phra Rheesi Chiwok
Om Namo Chiwoko Sirasa Ahang
Karunikon Sapa Sathanang O Sathatip Pamang Tang
Papaso Suriyanjan Tang Ko Mun Pacho Paka Say Si
Wanthami Panthito Su May Tasa Aroka Sumana Homi
This charm may be recited daily, both day and night, after paying homage to Lord Buddha.
Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai is the ancestral Rheesi of Luang Phor Jai Thitajaro of Wat Payayat, Amphawa, Amphawa District, Samut Songkhram. Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai is one of the main 108 Rheesi and the teacher of Hanuman. He is a known problem solver, be it magical, hypothetical, or practical and is highly respected and revered.
A Brief Legend
A long time ago, King Gaudom of Muang Saket who without a successor decided to forgo his kingdom and retreat into the forest as a Rheesi. His beard grew so long that sparrows came and built their nests. One day, a sparrow said to Rheesi Gaudom that he was a sinner and a deserter without sons and daughters and chose to elude by becoming a Rheesi. Infuriated, Rheesi Gaudom used his magical power and created a woman Nang Kalachana. Both of them lived together until she had a daughter named Nang Swaha.
Later, Lord Indra the Sun God, who wanted to consolidate their power to help Lord Vishnu defeat his enemies, impregnated Nang Kalachana causing her to give birth to a son, Phraya Katak. When Rheesi Gaudom found out about it, he dropped the two children including Nang Swaha into the water and prayed that if anyone is his child, swim back to him, if not, turn into a monkey and be banished into the forest. Only Nang Swaha swam back. Phraya Katak was turned into a monkey and scurried away into the forest. Rheesi Gaudom was also very angry with Nang Kalachana and cursed her to be turned into a stone. In retaliation, Nang Kalachana cursed her own daughter, Nang Swaha, to stand on one leg and eat the wind in the foothills of the universe and will pass the curse of Rheesi Gaudom on Phraya Katak to his grandchildren who shall also be monkeys.
Phra Phai, the Storm God released Nang Swaha from her mother’s curse when she gave birth to their son Hanuman, the Monkey God. When Phra Phai brought Hanuman to visit Lord Shiva, the latter created a great spell and turned Hanuman into an immortal with a body resistant to all weapons and, if killed, will be revived with just a blow of the wind. With such great powers, Hanuman quickly rises to become a great Warrior God and has defeated many strong enemies.
However, at one time, when Hanuman fought with a powerful giant Brlaikalpa he was surprised that he could not even catch Brlaikalpa, because the giant Brlaikalpa has rejuvenated with oil, so that the body is so oily that nothing could hold on to it. Hanuman thought of a Rheesi living in the nearby forest and flew to ask the Rheesi Prathit Phai how he could defeat Brlaikalpa. Rheesi Prathit Phai, afraid of sin, refused to tell Hanuman, but he picked up some sand and dust and sprinkled it into the air. Immediately, Hanuman broke into wild laughter and flew back to fight the giant Brlaikalpa. Hanuman ran so fast in circles around Brlaikalpa, causing the sand and dust to fill the air that when settled on Brlaikalpa’s body caused it to lose its oiliness. Thereafter, Hanuman had sought advice from Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai so much so that he honored Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai as his teacher.
Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai Nang Khlong
Luang Phor Jai has a deep understanding of the magical power of his ancestral Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai and what his ancestral Rheesi can do to help believers. Therefore, in year 2552, he made and consecrated his ancestral Rheesi Phra Prathit Phai in the style of the left hand holding a magic wand to support the divine destiny of the worshipers, the right in the posture of wealth fetching, and sitting above the large Tabor drum, the symbol of the Mae Klong River Basin which means having power, honor, and reputation. Following his lineage of Sai Mae Klong sect, Luang Phor Jai followed the ancient texts using the Sondhi method in the creation of this batch of statues and amulets.
Under the Sondhi method, an auspicious time of Sittichok was chosen for the casting ritual so that when combined it promotes career, finance, luck, and wealth to flow continuously. He also invited several guru monks from the inner path to help perform a special Putthapisek ceremony and they include Luang Por Kong of Wat Bang Kraphom, Luang Phor Nueng of Wat Chulamanee, Luang Phor Puek of Wat Suan Luang, Luang Phor Nu of Wat Phumarin, Luang Phor Kae of Wat Maenam, Luang Phor Yot of Kaew Charoen, Luang Phor Noi of Wat Pak Klong Temple, and et cetera.
Yi Kho Hong, original name Tee Yong Sae Tae, was born in 1851 (Thai calender 2394) and bestowed the title of Deputy Head of Thousand Anuwat Ratchaniyom Nai Akorn Bonbia in the land of His Majesty King Mongkut, Rama IV.
He was brought back to his hometown in the Qing Kingdom (now communist China) by his parents in 1853 where he suffered 14 years of humiliation and embarrassment until he reached the age of 16 years old.
In 1867 Yi Kho Hong travelled back to Siam. Contrary to the mindset of older Chinese immigrants, Yi Kho Hong considered himself a Siamese and pledged to live and die as a Siamese. He was dedicated to honest and diligent lifestyle through doing business and building a stable and respectable position in the society.
In the reign of King Chulalongkorn, Rama 5, as the Siam Kingdom expanded in foreign trading, Yi Kho Hong set a trading company named Kiam Hua to send products to and from abroad. His business thrived and he quickly became a wealthy master. He noticed a similar trait between the Siamese and the Chinese immigrants, that is, both ethnic groups are attracted to gambling. He therefore initiated the lottery play in Siam to that agenda.
According to Folklore
Like most Siamese of those days, Yi Kho Hong took a special interest in occult and magic and became proficient in two specialised areas. When he set up a lottery hall at Sam Yot he use the magic techniques learned to protect his interests against opponents who will come and destroy his hall before the lottery is released. He was said to have performed the ceremony properly according to traditions and his lottery business progressed swiftly. The main essences of his magic are to prevent both competitors and customers from cheating and destroying his business so that he can make hefty profits.
His popularity and wealth increased rapidly and the Chinese community became united under his leadership. Together with eleven other Chinese business immigrants, they constructed Por Tek Tueng Foundation is located opposite Phlaplachai Police Station and invited the deity Tai Hong Kong to allow people to pay their respects and seek prosperity. The Por Tek Tueng Foundation also helps to manage and handle unclaimed corpses, especially those of the Chinese immigrants.
There is still a growing popularity of people worshiping Yi Kho Hong be they Thai or foreigners because they all believe that if they want good luck in buying lottery or gambling, praying to Yi Kho Hong will materialise their desire. However, in many respects this must not exceed the law of karma as well or they will end up being disappointed. There is a wide variety of auspicious items made and consecrated by traditional Thai temples or from either the Por Tek Tueng Foundation or the Phlapphlachai Police Station. People carry and wear Yi Kho Hong amulets mainly for good gaming luck and prosperity. Some people may invite his image and worship at home or business places. The preferred offerings are black coffee without sugar and Mak Plu tobacco.
Phra Pikaniat or Lord Ganesh, the elder son of Lord Shiva and Goddess Parvati, is a popular Hindu God. Lord Shiva is part of Supreme Being Trimurti and Goddess Parvati is also part of Supreme Goddess Shakti. The origin of Lord Ganesh is contained in Shiva Purana, part of the Shivaism corpus of literature. He has an elephant head and a human body. He is the most popular Hindu God and is also regarded as the Chieftain of Gods. All religious ceremony must first go through Him because he clears all obstacles and ensures success. Consequently, it becomes believed those who seek success in business must first pay respect to Lord Ganesh.
The Birth of Ganesha
It is recorded in Shiva Purana that one day, Goddess Parvati told Nandi, one of Lord Shiva’s able followers who was assigned as her bodyguard that she did not want to be disturbed as she takes her bath and he was not to let anyone pass, including her husband, Lord Shiva. Nandi faithfully took his post but when Lord Shiva came home, Nandi tried to stop him but when His Lordship was insistent, Nandi let him passed through. Parvati was infuriated by what happened.
In another day, when Goddess Parvati wished to take a bath and did not want to be disturbed but in lieu of asking Nandi to stand guard, she took the turmeric paste (for bathing) from her body and breathed life into it, she created Lord Ganesh out of it and declared him to be her own loyal son. She asked Lord Ganesh to stand guard for her.
When Lord Shiva returned home, he was deprived entry by the young boy. Lord Shiva was greatly offended and ordered His men to destroy Lord Ganesh. However, they failed. They were easily defeated by the young boy, thus, compelling Lord Shiva to take on the young boy himself.
Being one of the Supreme Gods, Lord Shiva was able to defeat Lord Ganesh easily and, out of blind anger, he severed Lord Ganesh’s head. When Goddess Parvati saw that, she was so enraged and she transformed into her multi-arms devilish form of Goddess of Death, Kali. Goddess Kali threatened to destroy all creation. That alarmed the Creator, Lord Brahma who tried to salvage the precarious situation. The Goddess of Death laid down two conditions, firstly, Lord Ganesh be resurrected and, secondly, thereafter be accorded the status of Ganapati and be honoured before all Gods in all religious ceremonies.
Knowing his wife well and realising the consequence of His rashness, Lord Shiva asked Lord Brahma to fetch Him the head of the first living creature He found facing in the North direction. Lord Brahma, upon reaching the North spotted an elephant and hence returned with an elephant’s severed head which Lord Shiva joined it to Lord Ganesh’s lifeless body. With His own breath, Lord Shiva brought Lord Ganesh back to life and declared Him His own son.
With the agreement of the three Supreme Gods, Lord Ganesh was accorded the status of leader of all ganas (all classes of beings) and will be worshipped before all other Gods in all religious ceremonies. It was from then that Lord Ganesh received His alternative name Ganapati – leader of all classes of beings.
Lord Ganesh is known as Phra Pikaniat in Thailand and is widely worshipped by Thais. There are many temples and shrines dedicated to Phra Pikaniat. The most accessible would be the shrine at Central World, Rajmari Road which is frequented by both Thais and foreigners.
Another Phra Pikaniat temple that has attracted tourists from around the world is Wat Saman Rattanaram in Chachoengsao with a large reclining statue of Lord Ganesha measuring 16 meters high and 22 meters long.
Besides the removing of obstacles, it is almost customary for Thais to pray to Phra Pikaniat when starting a business, embark on long travelling, starting a new construction or during engagement or wedding. Praying to Phra Pikaniat is also popular with university students not because Phra Pikaniat will do the exams for them but He will instead remove all obstacles to learning. Phra Pikaniat is also well-known for His passion for fine arts and is, thus, believed to encourage creativeness. This is evident in the logos of Thailand’s Department of Fine Arts and Silapakorn University.
The Phra Pikaniat in our logo, sitting at the centre of our company’s name in Thai “Regalia Soon Wathanathamputh” or Regalia Buddhist Cultural Centre contains our mission to “encourage people to come and pray (Conch Shell) by pulling them to the highest goal (Rope) in the right path (Tusk) through love, wisdom, and action (Trident)”.
In our previous two articles about Luang Pu Sanit of Wat Lam Bua Loi we have explored the animalistic charms used in making and consecrating Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao but in this article we endeavour to go beyond that. We will introduce you to how Luang Pu Sanit merged the 9 points of wisdom and the Triple Gems (Phra Buddha Khun Phra Dharma Khun Phra Sangkha Khun) with ancient magical charms in the making of sacred amulets that included Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao.
9 Points of Wisdom
Many people know what Triple Gems are but may not understand what the 9 points of wisdom refer to. These 9 points of wisdom actually constitute the fundamentals of Thai Buddhism. Most of you who have been into Thai Buddhism for a while would have learned the chant of Itipiso but have you found the 9 rooms within the chant that contain the 9 wisdom? If you have, you can feel proud that you are really a Thai Buddhist to the core; if you have not, do not be daunted because we will briefly run you through the 9 rooms in this article. It is never too late to learn. Moreover, is it not that learning is part of Thai Buddhism? Just remember that in Thai Buddhism the growing of wisdom is infinite.
Pay attention to the phrases highlighted hereinafter, they are phrases that you find in the chant of Itipiso which you may not have fully comprehend or that you have yet to detect the true meanings thereof.
1. Arahant: Extinguished the fire of sufferings. This room is entirely fire proof.
2. Sammasamputtho: Gaining enlightenment. This room is used as a patriarchal to strengthen the glory.
3. Wichitjarat Sampanno: The ability to use means in a charitable way. This room uses the aspects of wealth and fortune.
4. Sukato: Practicing these virtues (aforementioned) well. This room is used to cover the three realms of air, land, and water.
5. Loka Vitu: Ability to see the world clearly. This room uses the state of water when entering the unknown and darkness.
6. Anutro Puriza Thammasathi: Learned and practiced well. Become knowledgeable and trained. This room uses the necromancy to communicate with spirits and ghosts.
7. Sattatha Devamanusa: Becoming a teacher of deities and humans. This room uses the method Metta Mahaniyom.
8. Puttho: The Enlightened and Awakened. This room uses chanting and prayers to avoid misfortune and pitfalls.
9. Phakawati: Being a blessed person. This room uses the Dharma in the way of preventing harm being done to us.
Consecration Ritual and Ceremony
The methods of incantation invoked by Luang Pu Sanit coincide with those of Luang Phor Somjit,Wat Noi Nanghong. Despite being gurus of the inner path, neither of them advocates extreme to both ends, that is neither extreme dharmic or extreme superstition. They followed the footsteps of Lord Buddha by adhering to the middle path which forms the crux of Thai Buddhism.
In Regalia, we cultivate the inner path but practice and advocate the middle path as instructed by our Ajahn, Luang Phor Somjit. This is to protect every disciple, follower, and believer. Extremism impairs the mental faculty, corrupts the heart, and destroys the soul. Thus, extremism has no place in Thai Buddhism and extremism is per se not Thai Buddhism.
Luang Pu Sanit adhered to strict ancient ritual and ceremony when consecrating sacred objects. Each consecration ceremony was long, cumbersome, and tedious. In each closure, the traditional ritual of Phutthaphisek was conducted with a full congregation of the Sangha summoned to perform the chanting of ItipisoThongchai 108 times. Therefore, these two chapters underscored the great incantation of Luang Pu Sanit’s sacred objects.
Phra Buddha Chinnaraj 2519
The Phra Buddha Chinnarat medal 2519 with both Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao on the rear side of the medal is the most well known Buddha medal from Luang Pu Sanit. It represents success and invulnerability with great power against danger and evil spirits. Some of these medals were distributed to soldiers of Camp Chakrabongse, Prachinburi, during the war against Communist Camp promoters (PEO) in the Kingdom of Thailand. Only 5,000 medals were made and, hence, they have become rare and expensive.
Phra Buddha Chai Mongkhun Marawichai
This is another popular Buddha amulet from Luang Pu Sanit. The Buddha sits cross-legged with His left hand resting on His lap and His right hand on His right knee with fingers pointing to the ground. This was the posture of Lord Buddha when He defeated the army of Mara Wasawadee, thus, signifying protection against all evil spirits. This is also the large Buddha image sitting in the Ubosot of Wat Lam Bua Loi. Luang Pu Sanit has on the Sao Har of year 2516 made and consecrated the first batch of Phra Buddha Chai Mongkhun medals which rear bore the image of His Venerable. This batch of medals was charmed with Khorng Krapan.
The second batch also took on the posture of Phra Buddha Chai Mongkhun Marawichai Chiang Saen style but with Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao on the rear. They were made in year 2518 and which consecration ceremony was also commenced on Sao Har (the auspicious fifth Saturday) of that year and lasted two years before these medals were made available to the public. However, in lieu of charming them with Khorng Krapan, this time round Luang Pu Sanit invoked the charms of Phra Khring, Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao. Therefore, this batch of Phra Buddha Chai Mongkhun Marawichai medals has the power to bring about good health, longevity, and protection against evil spirits.
The third batch of Phra Buddha Chai Mongkhun Marawichai medals were made and consecrated in 2521. This batch has Phaya Tao in the form of talisman on the rear side of the medal. On the shell of Phaya Tao is the charm “Nasang Si Mo Sang Si Mo Si Monasang Monasang Monasang;” in the middle are the hearts of the five Buddhas, “Namo Phuttaya”, backed by the Phra Buddha Singhe and the recital “Buddhasangmi“, surrounded by sixteen Buddhas. They are designed specifically for good heath and warding away illness.
Luang Pu Sanit’s Medals
In Thai culture, it is believed that a special spiritual connection is built or a spiritual channel of communication is established between a believer and a guru master through worshiping a statue or wearing an amulet of the guru master.
The last batch of Luang Pu Sanit’s medals depicts His Venerable sitting on Phaya Tao and was released when his Venerable entered nirvana in 2542.
Similar to belief in Phaya Jolakhe, myths, legends, and folklores relating to Phaya Tao are abundant in Thai culture. The belief may be traced as far back as 1600 AD after the Siamese victory over the Laos. A new settlement Tao Ngoi Village was built along the Lam Nam Phung River in Sakon Nakhon. Presently, the Kudnakham Arts and Crafts Center has built a giant Phaya Tao sculpture surrounded by numerous smaller ones behind the Tao Ngoi District Office.
The main essence of this belief is longevity and prosperity. There are several guru masters in the Kingdom of Thailand making and consecrating statues and amulets of Phaya Tao and the most prominent is of course Luang Pu Liu of Wat Rai Tang Thong, Nakhon Pathom.
Phaya Tao from Wat Lam Bua Loi
If the most acclaimed Phaya Tao statues and amulets are attributed to Luang Phor Liu, you may wonder what then is so special about those made and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit of Wat Lam Bua Loi?
Whilst most guru master used conventional charms of longevity and prosperity in their creation of Phaya Tao, on the other hand, Luang Pu Sanit, besides conventional charms, has added charms to detect and protect against dangers to his creation. These are special features of Phaya Tao originating from Wat Lam Bua Loi.
Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring
These features are most eminent in the Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring amulet made in year 2535 and consecrated for five years before they were released in year 2540. In each of these Phaya Tao Reun Wud Khring amulet there is a talismanic heart inserted into the belly of the Phaya Tao. When the bell rings it signifies auspiciousness but if it does not then believers are advised to avoid all intended activities because the Phaya Tao has detected dangers.
For anyone who has visited Wat Lam Bua Loi he would have noticed that in one of the chamber there are numerous Phaya Tao carved from stones and marbles sitting of racks. Those statues are actually not available to the public. They are actually meant to guard the temple which is why Wat Lam Bua Loi is also known as the house of tortoises to the locals. The only Phaya Tao statues available to the public were made in year 2540 and released in year 2542 after Luang Pu Sanit entered nirvana. They come in the sizes of 3, 5, and 7 inches. Only a total of 797 pieces were made altogether.
However, according to the current abbot Phrakru Pradit, there have been a large number of fake Phaya Tao amulets and statues that are falsely represented to have originated from Wat Lam Bua Loi and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit. His venerable has in a notification dated September 6, 2560 made the following clarifications:
1. The statue of Phaya Tao on a green resin tray (on the left side of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is a prototype brought by a craftsman to Luang Pu Sanit for examination. But because the craftsman was not able to find all the 9 colors stipulated by Luang Pu Sanit, therefore, the construction was stopped. The only prototype is now at the temple as seen in the photograph.
2. The bronze Phaya Tao on a white tray (on the right hand side of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) was made and consecrated in year 2540. A total of 797 pieces were created.
3. The Golden Phaya Tao (in front of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is taxidermy and there is only 1 piece.
4. The small Phaya Tao of size 3 inches (bottom left hand of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is made from plaster with a ring of Luang Phor Sub, Wat Taluk, Chai Nat. This is the most fake and cited type.
5. The small cast iron tortoise of size 3 inches (bottom right hand of Luang Pu Sanit’s photograph) is a factory casting from Ma Sai, Tak province, given to Luang Pu Sanit by one of his grandnephew. It is purely for display only.
Finally, his venerable advised believers to “use your discretion when considering carved stone turtles in order not to become a victim to a group of people who are disguising those fake objects as sacred objects from Luang Pu Sanit.”
In these two articles we have introduced you to Luang Pu Sanit’s Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao and in our next article we will introduce you to more Luang Pu Sanit’s amulets whereby his Venerable combined the two charms into one. So stay tuned.
There are many Thai myths, legends and folklores about crocodile spirits running back many centuries. The most popular is that of Nai Kraithong subduing the great crocodile spirit Phaya Chalawan. This myth originated from Phitchit during the end of the Khodtabang Thewarat Dynasty around 1800 AD.
The statues of Phaya Chalawan in both human and crocodile forms are found all over the Kingdom of Thailand especially in Phichit province.Belief in Phaya Jolakhe can be traced back to time immemorial. Magic and charm in relation thereto are also deeply entrenched in Thai culture. There are many Thai temples that make statues and amulets of Phaya Jolakhe but the most acclaimed came from Nakhon Nayok.
The Great Grandmaster of Crocodile Charm
Phrakru Worawet Niwit also known as Luang Pu Sanit Sintharo , Nakhon Nayok, was born in the year 2468. He was ordained as a monk at the age of 22 and took special interests in occultism and astrology. In year 2496, that was 6 years after his ordination, Phra Sintharo, as his Venerable was then known, was officially accepted as a disciple of Luang Pu Daam of Wat Kut, a highly regarded master in the art of animalistic charm, mysticism, and astrology.
After completing his learning in Wat Kut, he was instructed by Luang Pu Daam to travel to Changwat Prachin Buri to learn the ancient crocodile charm from a famous guru monk Phra Ajarn Seng of Wat Santhree. Luang Pu Sanit also learned traditional medicine from Pkrakru Uthai Thammathari (Luang Por Di Suriyawong Sawatdee) of Wat Thao U Thong, Prachin Buri Province, and other ancient magical charms from Luang Phor Thongdam of Wat Khok Mo, Nakhon Sawan Province.
Phaya Jolakhe First Batch
Luang Pu Sanit mastered the knowledge and merged his learning into a powerful art that he used to create his two iconic amulets, namely Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao. Luang Pu Sanit made the first batch of Phaya Jolakhe from black lead around year 2508. This batch of Phaya Jolakhe was consecrated for seven years from year 2509 to 2516 using the ancient methods imparted by Luang Pu Seng before the 7,999 pieces were made available to believers during Luang Pu Seng’s funeral.
Wearing this batch of Phaya Jolakhe bestow on believers as follows:
1. A great power against dangers;
2. Protection against evil spirits; and
3. Dispel charms cast by others.
Following the release of the first batch of Phaya Jolakhe in 2516, a group of civil servants and police officers have requested Luang Pu Sanit to make them a batch of Phaya Jolakhe which came to be known as the Police Model. The Phaya Jolakhe Police Model was miniature gold crocodiles with a silver arrow on their backs made and consecrated for three years from 2516 to 2519. A total of 89,499 pieces were created.
Full Moon Model
Another batch of Phaya Jolakhe was made in 2528. It was a bigger version of the Phaya Jolakhe Police Model which came to be known as Full Moon Model or Phim Dwongchankan. This model was made from alms bowl and underwent a stringent consecration process lasting five years. Luang Pu Sanit specially added a charm on each full moon night beginning year 2528 throughout the five years and, therefore, this version of Phaya Jolakhe is also called Phim Dwongchankan, the full moon. The five years consecration process came to a closure on February 21, 2533 when the Phuttaphisek ritual was conducted.
This version of Phaya Jolakhe is special compared to other models because this batch contains a charm leading to the ancient root of crocodiles where the most mysterious powers lay. The power is unthinkable and is said to even surpass that of Phra Trimulathit. During the monthly full moon night, Luang Pu Sanit summoned the Angel of Weapon Theap Tri Petch Surakan as the teeth; the jewels of Chakra as the nails; the diamond sceptre as the backbone; Phaya Anan the Nakarak as its tail; and the arrow of Vishnu directed its back. Thus, Phaya Jolakhe Phim Dwongchankan has power over the sky and the three realms.
The last batch of Phaya Jolakhe known in Thai as Phaya Jolakhe Loon Sukthai was made in 2540. This batch came in a pair of gold and silver coated meant specifically for attracting wealth and good luck. They went through two years of consecration and were released when the Great Grandmaster of Crocodile Charm, Luang Pu Sanit, entered nirvana on March 14, 2542 at age 74 years, after serving a total of 51 years of monkhood. His Venerable’s body lay in the temple’s main hall for public prayers for two years and was cremated on March 18, 2544.
We have introduced you to the four batches of Phaya Jolakhe made and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit. The processes were cumbersome and tedious. These, according to the temple, were reasons why each batch of statues and amulets originating from Wat Lam Bua Loi are always expensive. Meanwhile, it is worth taking note that the amulets and statues made and consecrated by Luang Pu Sanit are so highly sought that many fake objects were claimed to have came from his Venerable so much so that in year 2561, the current abbot of Wat Lam Bua Loi, Phrakru Pradit Anutaro has to publicly denounce those fake statues and amulets…… In our following article, we will be introducing you to Luang Pu Sanit’s Phaya Tao and other amulets in which the Grandmaster combined both Phaya Jolakhe and Phaya Tao together. So stay tuned.
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.
The frenzy for Thai Buddhist statues and amulets is an established Thai culture for more than a century. Mystical manifestations and effects arising therefrom have aid in the spreading of this unique Thai culture beyond national border. Unlike religions based on conversion or coercion, Thai Buddhism spreads, grows, and expands based on two primary factors vis-à-vis the wisdom and truth handed down by Lord Buddha as reflected in the Dharma; and the mystical manifestations and effects of sacred objects.
Both westerner and Asian alike, have, since the last four decades or even earlier, came into contact with this unique Thai culture. A large number has embraced and became part of it which contributed to both its growth and frenzy. It is not unusual for an amulet which costs as little as 99 Baht fetching millions in the future. The Thai amulet industry has all along been estimated to be around 20-30 billion Baht per annum. However, this culture has perpetuated and grew quietly until the Phra Jaktukam fever broke and spread like wild fire across the continent in 2007 and caught even the attention of western press like BBC and Reuters. Hitherto, Phra Jatukam statues and amulets remain in high demand in many countries including Taiwan and Hong Kong.
Who is Phra Jaktukam Ramathep?
When it comes to the origin of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep, readers will not be kept short of amusement by numerous write-outs in both the English and Chinese languages where fiction and non-fiction are lumped together to produce loads of interesting stories to entertain, amuse or simply to mislead unsuspecting readers whatever the reasons may be. Owing to the fact that the origin of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is necessarily related to Wat Mahathat Woramahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat, it becomes essential for us to provide our readers with a brief but authentic history of the southern province based on the information gathered from the Fine Arts Department of Thailand before we enter into the crux of this article so as to allow our readers to distinguish between facts and falsehood.
Brief History of Nakhon Si Thammarat
Nakhon Si Thammarat is a province in southern Thailand, approximately 780 kilometers away from the capital. It houses the largest populations in the South but is second to Surat Thani in terms of area. Adjacent provinces include Songkhla, Phatthalung, Trang, Krabi and Surat Thani.
Archaeological evidence discovered and housed in both Wat Mahathat Woramahawihan’s museum and Nakhon Si Thammarat National Museum reflect a long period of history right up-to Rattanakosin Period. The archaeological evidences for the Srivijaya Period were especially abundant. However, amongst the bulk of archaeological evidences which established the presence of Hinduism, the strong influences of Lord Siva and Lord Vishnu on the local culture and a 1000-1400 year-old Siva Lingam was even unearthed at Wat Nang Tra in the Sala district in 2006; pottery and the presence of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism traceable to the Chinese Tang Dynasty were also unearthed. However, there was, nonetheless, no evidence to substantiate the existence of two Siamese princes Jaktukam and Ramathep who were used to cook up fascinating and enthralling stories in relation to the origin of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep.
Ascertaining the Truth
Remember in our earlier article “Kumanthong: Dispelling Superstition and Falsehood” we emphasised that Thai Buddhism is not a religion based on blind faith. On the contrary, Thai Buddhism pivots on cultivation of wisdom to first identify and reject falsehood on the way to finding the truth. So now allow me to juice things up a little for you here by invoking your critical and analytical processes.
Firstly, do you know who the first Siamese King was? Do not worry, this is not an examination. If you had not studied the history of Thailand, or if you are not familiar with it, you can do a quick Google search. Identification of the first Siamese King will allow us to ascertain the year whereby the Siamese empire was first established. Once that is done, we will then be in the position to authenticate the claim of the two Siamese princes Jaktukam and Ramathep who were said to have lived in the Buddhist year 800 that is year 543.
I am sure you would have gotten the answer. Yes, the first Siamese King was the son of Chinese emigrant named Tae Sin or Zheng Xin. Taksin the Great or Somdet Phra Chao Taksin Maharat of Thongburi who united the territories forming the Kingdom of Siam in 1767, which is Buddhist year 1310. Even if we were to entertain the claim that the Ayudhayans were referred to by their neighbours as Siamese, at most that will bring the first occurrence of the word “Siam” or “Siamese” 417 years earlier to the start of the Ayuthaya period in 1351. If we are to take the second source, that will make Somdej Phra Chao U-thong ( 1350-1369 ) as the first Siamese King, however, his son was Ramesuan and not Jaktukam or Ramathep.
Okay, even that being so we are still not too rash to dismiss the claim as yet. So we are going to make an alternative test. Those rumours also claimed that the two Siamese princes built Wat Phra Mahathat Worammahawihan and housed the Buddha relics they were protecting, right? So what then are we going to do? Yes, we are going to established when Wat Phra Mahathat Worammahawihan was actually built. Oops! Not in the 6th century or anywhere near but, according to UNSECO ‘s record, it was built in the 13th century by King Sri Dhammasokraja.
Alas! What are we to say? That we uncovered another truth and dispelled yet another superstition? No, it is nothing near that great. We merely share some useful historical information with our readers in earnest that they will develop some “punna” in the course hereof. Actually, only if readers were to be more critical in reading these stories, it is not difficult to identify the fallacy contained therein. Similarly, suggestions that Phra Jaktukam Ramathep refers to four guardians of the city, or King Chandra Banu or Lord Sri Srinagarang, also known as “Black King of the South Sea” and second to the Srivijaya Throne or Avalokiteshvara Bodisattva or anything along this line of propagation based solely on false notions has to be unreservedly dismissed as fake news.
The Connection between Sacred Objects and Believers
Probably some believers may perceive that the origin of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is not important in as long as His amulets and/or statues are effective. However, in order for any sacred objects to be effective, there must be a means connecting the believers to the sacred objects and that connection point is “faith”. Faith is not blind and cannot be blind as is frequently seen. 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 desired outcome (future). This is a simple logic which involves complex interactions between variables. For easy understanding, let us put it this way, when seeking intervention, we need to identify the correct source and make sure that what we seek is within the means of that said source to intervene. Just imagine, what happens when those who seek to have children make their requests through the Yama （閻羅王）instead of the Goddess of Birth （註生娘娘）? Therefore, knowing the origin of sacred objects is necessary for it to be effective.
Actual Meaning and Correct Belief
Jaktu “จตุ”simply means a city square used for community gathering which Wat Phra Mahathat Worammahawihan was and is. It has remained hitherto a Thai tradition and culture that Thai Buddhist temples are places for community gatherings and bonding. There are currently approximately 40, 717 Thai temples, excluding shrines and Buddhist centres which do not fall within the strict definitions of Thai temples that, for qualification, requires a ubosoth. With the number of Thai temples serving the Thai community, there is invariably a boundary with which each temple operates. The boundary refers to above is called “คาม” in Thai. Therefore, Jaktukam “จตุคาม” means a defined city square whereby community gatherings and activities are being carried out.
Now that we already know the literal meaning of Jaktukam, let us move on to the meaning of Ramathep “รามเทพ”. Rama “รามเ” is the seventh avatar of Hindu God Lord Vishnu. Remember in our earlier article on “The Origin of Phra Prom (Four Face Buddha)” we mentioned three principal Hindu deities comprising Phra Trimurti? Yes, Lord Vishnu is amongst one of those three Supreme Hindu Gods. The final term would be “thep” (เทพ) which simply means Deity.
Therefore, what do we have here? We can safely conclude that Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is neither about two legendary Siamese princes or Avalokiteshvara Bodisattva and King Chandra Banu rather Phra Jaktukam Ramathep, in actual fact means, the Deity Lord Vishnu who guards the Phra Borommathat Chedi which houses the tooth relic of Lord Buddha within the defined boundary of Wat Phra Mahathat Worammahawihan in Nakhon Si Thammarat province.
It is common for people to choose to remember a shorter description of almost everything for convenient purposes and, in this instance, it is no different. Phra Jaktukam Ramathep is now commonly referred to as Phra Jaktukam or just Jaktukam. It is believed that Phra Jaktukam Ramathep protects believers by warding away all evils and He also brings wealth to those who sincerely believe in Him. Since we have helped you identify Phra Jaktukam Ramathep as Lord Vishnu, as a result thereof, we will not be joining the crowd to just plug information from the thin air when we come to describe His abilities. In our upcoming article “Phra Jaktukam Ramathep: Lord Vishnu” we are going to cross reference each of the afore-stated abilities of Phra Jaktukam Ramathep with Lord Vishnu’s capabilities to help our readers make senses out of their belief. So stay tuned and keep a look-out.
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.
Another gigantic Phra Prom statue may be seen in Wat Saman Rattanaram Chachoengsao which has became a top tourist attraction in recent years.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.