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fHE HIUORY OF HUOOHUH

THAliA

IN

8Q
552
867
C.3

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BUD,DH1SM IN THA ILA NO '

ItJ

',WAIIG BORIBAL BURIBANDH


translated by

, 'Or. Luall SurlyalteDls, M.D.


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,Pre/ace
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'former d8Y~. 88y50 years ago, Thai1a~d :was mostly only


.ll, ':Nknown
from boo'ksand colourful deSCrIptions made by a
:few privileged persons who had ventured to visit this country.
It was ktlown as "~h~ Land of White Elephants t of gilded
temples apd pag()das. as ci the Land of Yellow Robes" and
.,' the Landof Smiles II. It was described as an island of peace
and tral)quility, a haven far away from the high seas ,of up~
heaval and pOlitical unrest.
,Today, particularly since the armed conflict in Korea,
where, the free nations of the world struggled to contain the
disruptive fo,rcesof Commun~sm. the eyes of the world are
focussed upon Thailand as a possible future victim of Com
munistaggressio~. , It is receiving the attention of both sides,
precisely because of its privileged position. It is still an island
of peace and relative prosperity, where there are class dis..
tinctiQns y~t no class hatred. Where rich and poor live peace~
fully togetl,1er because of their Buddhist tolerance 'and because
~here.is abundant food,for all.
Where foreigners of every
race and coUntry are met with a smile. And where the subtle
tactics ~nd s'L\bversive activities of Communism have not as
yet met with succesa worth speaking of, because of the peo~
ple'\i deep faith in their Religion and because of their inborn
love of personal freedom, and their loyalty. to their Rulers
who ~nce .ancient times have cared for their peoples as a
Father would look after his children.
Today. most peoples of the world have become air~,
minded. ' And because of the ease and comfort and speed
with which .it i. possible to travel by air, hundreds of people
from all corners of the earth and of every description now
come to see for themselves the wonders of this country, of
whlchtney'have read in old books and in magazines or which
they saw in the 'picture..
They come into personal contact
widl ordinary folk, they learn to laugh and play, with them.
Withthelr own eye. they see how the Buddhist religion is be
iDg faithfully ,prae~d ~y monks 'and laymen alike; and, at
the aame ti~e.,how people enjoy the many amenities of mo
deln,ci~tiOn,imported from the West. ThOle who have

visited Thailand before. SaY 20 or 30 ';years ago. ,1so notice


the sad decline of our highly spiritual Culture which once
had gained the respect of foreign countries and which in the
process of rapid sectilarisation has become less apparent in
the larger cities. but still lives on in the hearts of the ordinary
Thai in rural areas and in the ,older generations."
The great attractions of Thailand alld her people fot
'foreigners are stjU the fairylike beauty of our temples and
ch,dis; the picturesque sight of ancient cuitUTaI monuments
and modem buildings standing side by side in complete har
mony; the highly spiritual culture of the ordinary Thai their.
traditional hospitality and their extreme tolerance toward. all
fO'feigneH and their creeds. In short. better communications
have brought Westernera into clOH contact with our people
and have effected a better mutual understanding. 1 he only
barriers. besides tlle inoon'V,enience of paeaporta and v~as. fo'!!
a still greater knowledge of each other. are those imposed by
the limited knowledge of foreign languages. The eultitree
and religious beliefs of Eastern peoples. their cuatoms and
habits. are an enisma to most and are not 'Yet well known
enGugh eVen to higher educated people in the West. The1'e
is slill a wide gap to be bridged. and as long as this PP Cit
tha:e is bound to be misunderstanding and mutual di.truet
among the peoples of the world.
Therefore there is a great
need for more books on the various aspects of the Eastern
Way of Life; books that are baaed on facts aDd ligurea and
written with thorough knowledge of the subject at hand
.' 'In consideration of this very acute need fo, mOl'e books
to fill the gap between Weat and East, ,tllia Hiatory of the
Buddhist Religion in Siam. written by an eminent Siamese
8cl10Ial'. ha. been translated into English for the conw::e~eoce
oJ the m$ny fri~nds of Thailand. And to make it more readily,
under.tood. a .hol't introduction to the Buddha'. Doctrine hn
been added which t!:>gether will. it i, hoped, enluUlce gC',)04,
under.landin'S between East and West, so much deeded'. in
th~.e pre.eot days of fru$trati!:>n. of fear and of mutual dlstnlat
and ant"'lomam be~een the people. of the: world.

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Peace ttl all BeingsJ

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BUDDHISM 'IN THAILAND

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The, Buddha's Doctrine


The toun4e of the BGddhiat Religion was Gotama the
Buddha., who lived. .bout 60(} years before the Christian era.
He wae botnm6.22 B.C. (80 year. before the BuddhistEraHn
Lumbini Park, near Kappillavatthu, as the son of King Sud~
dhodana.. and Queen Maya who reigned over an Indo-Aryan
tribe caI~d Saldya, in the North of India at the foot of the
Himalaya'mountains and at the border of Nepal. When he
wae horn; it had been predicted that he would either become
the Ruler of ,tLeWorld or a Buddha. As his parents did not
wi.h him to become a Buddha, they sUfleJunded him only
with YOWlg 'folk and tried to keep 'him in ~omplete ignorance
of the aiUferinga of man; but they did not succeed. The sight
of a decrepit old man, a sick man, a dead man and a mendi
cant monk-'lhese "F~ur Signs" left such a deep impression
uPOn hi. tnirtd that, atfheage of 29, he decided to leave his
home and to enter" the homeless life u' of a monk to seek the
Truth and fO 'titl a we., to Sal-vatisn fer aU Sentient Beings,
an cape fi.,. .. the;WhM of Rebirth" aud bom all Suffering

, In hi. aeareh for Salvation, he first went to Alara Kala.


ma and la~t oh to Uddaka Mt advice; but he found that all
tL~ doctrine'S of his teache~8 were ., insufficient, n,ot leading to
A.wllkenitlg, to Extinction and to Enlightenment and Insight",
.a he himself laid. Not satisfied with their teachings, he
~al'1deted up and down in the hind of Ml1ghadha from place
to'l'lace and arrived ne'ar the town of Uruvela, the present
Btiddha Gaya. Here he saw .. a delightful piece of country
, with abea~tiful foreat and a dear river most suitable 'for
Lathiftg; I!l l<"'el, place surrounded by meadows and fields
then came to me the thought, ye Brethren. this il.'l, indeed, Ii
delightful .pot on eatth; this plaee will , suffice for ascetic
\ ~dee8.'
in Uruvela; he met the Five Ascetics (Panca
VtIg'ji) whb offeltd their services 10 him. With greatest :zeal
'Repraetiaeic:l aelf-.orti6catioft fOtmany years, and the, Five'
AKetiee followed kim tn evtrytLing'hedid, but w,de unable
..,\bathimmrheit ~erei.et., "

H.ne.

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Finally the Buddha rea~i$ed that these Ascetic.eiercillles


Were not the right way to attain to Salvation. He had pr~ctis
ed self-mortification to the limit of his endurance and felt
much weakened without a.chieving anything. So he 'partook
of food and having gained stren~th again he began topractise
meditation which finally led to his Enlightenm~nt under the
Holy Bodhi tree near the river Naranya by 'U~vela when he
was 35 years old.
The Supreme Knowledge he attained through his intui
tive insight in his Enlightenment under. the Holy Bodhi tree'
were: (J) The Doctrine of Anatta, namely that everything is
transient, miserable, and not self.contained (AniccaDukkha
Anatta ). All phenomena. nay the whole universe, is subject'
to change. It is a fleeting process of arising and disappearing,
without any perceivable break in it. t There is no primary
cause apparent, but all things arise and cease in dependence
of each other in a long chain of cause and effect. All is ,. Be,:
coming" without permanent substance; "put together. unatable
and changeable", says the Buddha.

(J 1) The Doctrine of Karma and Rebirth, namely that

all sentient beings. including tIlen. are born according to their,


good and evil deeds, each merely consisting of wLat he has
thought, sPoken and done before. and only differs from others
by his own selfcreated Karma ( will-actions) which none can
escape. All beings exist because of their individual Karma.
~nd as long as his will actions are misguided by ignorance of
the'true facts of life. by Greed. UI.will. and Delusion of,Self.
he is bound to create new Karma. whi~h 'causes c~ntinaed,
Suffering and Rebirth. In man there is no abiding principle"
he has no eternal Soul, as all the Five Aggregates of which
lJ,is .. personality" consists are subject .to constant change and'
at the moment of death are completely extingui~hed. No
. soul! not even consciousness, passes over to the new Being,
but only that part of Karma whic'll has not yet been e~hau.ted
ill th~ pre.en~ life is reborn in anot)ter form. in another bodY.
and either in this realm of existence or in any otherl'ealtQ.
such as in hea\l'en or in hell, depending upon' the Kan::na
<:r~ated in the ~ast:' This re~idual Karm.a i. somewhat diR,~t
,'.of:

,.

(~oti.:~Karm8: of .the deceased, as it only consists of the


Karnla~ left~ by the deceased. It constitutes a separate
entity in the individual life stream and becomes" the One to
f;,e,born" (Gandhabba) which creates consciousness of its
own from this reeidual Karm:a and ullder the inRuence of
ignorance and ite inhe~ent desire to live (Tanha). This new
conscil;)usnes. of. the" one to be born" eventually" descends
intot:h.e maternal womb'" as the Buddha says, and creates a
new set of "Five Aggregates of Existence" and is born a.8 the
new Being. Thus Rebirth takes place without transmigration
of any .purlou. soul or Ego and eyen without any passing
over of consciousne.s.
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Life consist. of a specific stream


Karmic. causes
and effects created by each. individual life.
This continuity
of life, this indiv;dual life stream manifests itself a,s man or
beast or in any other kind of being in the various realms of
existence depending upon the good or bad will-actions of its
past life.
Birth, Death and Rebirth are but manifestations of one
and the same in.dividuallife-stream which will continue to
~ow without a break i.n. it from life to life until no more Karma
is Cl'.eated; until no more attach~ent to life exist~. that is until
the individual has destroyed the Thirst of Existence and Ig
norance which are the causes of Karma. of renewed con
sciou~hess ~nd of rebirth. When all eonscioU:sness has- com.
pletely ceased all life ceases.
:~ " Namean9, Form (our corporeal organism) die out,

le~ving po tracebehin'd". as the J;luddha says. With the com


plete~x:tinction

of consciousness. the state of nothingness is


attained which is Nirvana, the consummation of man's spirit
ual struggle. the goal of all Buddhists.

(tU) The Foul' 'Noble Truths. namely the Truth of


Sqift)ring, ite origin. its cessation; and the Holy Eightfold Path
that leads to the cessation of suffering. The Four Noble
Truths constitute the eS,sence pf the Buddha's teachings. Birth.
disease, old age.. death: not to attain what one desires; to be
separated from those we love; even the Five Aggregates of
A~chrnent of whicbOU'tpersonality conslets;-all these are

'Sufferiilg". The origin of 8'Uikrintt i. tbe Threefold C-i &'


namely, .exual de.ite. thed4lti:r6 to live, and the du!r& ~te
be what one dislike.. T~ Cl'avifts'is due 1:0 ianorance of the
true facts of life; namely, thai aD ill itn'Pftl'llanent, mWerable,,'
and not self-contained.' In. i~r*l1ee of theae true fael'8 of li~
weare attached to'aU tharwe 'can gra.p with. our.Dc _lea
( the mind being the sixth l5en.~).
Heaee. the ceseation of
suffering is effected by conquering r'be Threefold Cranag
which is the cause of attachmerit. and of .n euffering;by radic
al destruction of greed, hatred and dedu.ion. and b)" destroying
ignorance by following the Noble F4*htfold Path of Ealighten
ment which leads to the cessation of all.ufferlng. The Fourth
Noble Truth conl1ists of the Holy Eithtfold P~'h. namely:
Right Underatanding:
Richt Mindedne..;

Right Speech;
Right AdM&,

Right Living;
R.ight Effort:

Right Attepti"ene..; atkl Right Concentration.

By following conscientiously .the Holy Path of rili.ght


enment one attains to Nirvii.na. .' tt. i. the goal of perfection,
,he consummation of the spiritual.tr"'I1*~ of having dvdcome
the 'f Ten Fetter.'o which bin~ Olen to the "Circle of Rebirth".
It i. the extinction of greed, hatred aftd cteI\urion; the eetilft.tioft
of all individual life and of an sulferin&
This is in brief the Supreme Knowledge of which the
, Buddha became cognisant in his Englightenmerit under the
Holy Bodhi tree 2,500 years ago. He discovered the workinat
of the Laws of Nature which form the 'baais of hi. whole
Doctrine. They constitute the Absolute Trttth wlUch camrot
be tenoned but must be ez:perieneed~ eatb by' hiJneell and.
for himself.
The Eightfold Path of Enlightenment ~perieft~ed by
the Buddha and taught to mankind i.' the only way to attain
t'olialvation by oneself and ,"thour any external help. ~
AM the power inherent in his nature to seek and achieve !iw
0W1l .salvation. That is the beauty of the Buddhist' Rebaion.
Buddhism i. a docrtril)e of Cogniti9D'; it .. the truth tp:at. d~M
"pon Man "whe1lthe tearathat.Roware the hea1l:"'1 . BIle
.. that ia not all. . Beinl aware t ithe tlU6'Mctl Of life.':wW .
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.,~u' _.umd beasts alike are brothers iD. the same boat
.UD
high seas of life, each' seeking happiness and peace
, endtryiog desperatel" to escape bom suffering fr:~ life to
~e until the oommon soal t Nirvana, is reached.

-he

Thi. sen.e of common brotherhood in suffering, the


ewarcDeU ()f each forming an integral part of the universe,
this Oneness with all there has been and can ever be, becomes
the source of unlimited loving kindness and compassjon
( Metta-Kar",na) and toleranee lowards all beings. And this
universal. all-embracing loving kindness and compassion is
the fundamental principle underlying the 'whole Doctrine of
the Buddha, unsurpassed by any other religion. The Buddha's
foremost aim was to encourage man to purify his heart from
all passion (Kilesa); to contemplate himself ob iectively in
, order to free himself fr.om the delusion of self; and, to attain
to supreme wisdom and insight by meditation a~d by leading
a pure life which is "to !!void evil and to do good".
The
Buddha's teachings must be experienced by oneself in order
to be able to eman~ipate oneself from the "Circle of Rebirth"
and of all suffering. His philosophy is" difficult and hard to
understand by those who love pleasure and seek it ". But the
greatest and irre.istable altraction Buddhism has had and still
has for ordinary men and women is the all-embracing loving
kindness and compassion of the Buddha for the sJliferings of
all sentient beings. No other religious teacher has laid so
much emphasis upon suffering as the fundamental attribute .
of all life as the Buddha. ' Hi. Noble Truth of Suffering, its
origin, it. cessation, and too' Eightfold Path that leads to the
Cessation of Sufferins.., are the greatest gifts ever made to
mankind.
In the Holy Scripts of the Pan Canon of the Theravada
School, there lives the Spirit of our Lord Buddha and of his
immediate Disciples. unchanged and unspoiled after 2,500
years. It haa stood the acid test of time and lives on in the
hearts of the Thai people, who ever since HinaYIJNJ.LlJnka
Buddhism was introduced in Thailand have remained faithful
to their reliKion.
For this reasont the introduction of Lanka
HihaYlJna Buddhism to this c~untry is the most important
period iQ the history of Buddhism in Thailand.

, '

Opinion .as to w.hen Buddhism C4me to Thailand is still


divided. Some believe it was introduced by King A.oka: the
Great who sent .Earth Buddhist missionaries to numerous
countries in order to spread the Teachings of our Lord Btid
dha. Others think it. came at a much larerpel'iod, while some
.believe that Buddhism was introduced to Thailand as J'ecently ,
as at the Sukhodaya period.

From archaeological findings, a nd judging frorn his


.
torical records, we may assume that Buddhism spread to
Thailand at four qifferent periods:
I. As Hinayana Theravada Buddhism.
2. As Mahayana Buddhism.
3. As Pukam (Pagan) Hinayana Buddhi.m~
4. As Lanka.-Hinayana Buddhism~
In the following pages, these four periods shall be deiilt

within detail.

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1.101. .

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HINAYANA THERAYADA BUDDHISM


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Hinayana Theravada Buddhism was for the first time


introduced into Thailand when this territory was still inhabited
by the Laos or Lawa. Their Capital was Nagor Pathom, which
is menlio~ed in the Maha Wongse hiltory of Lanka as Su
varnabhumi, and figured in the Chinese chronicles as Davara
vati.
As you all know; Buddhism originated in India and.
aU du:ough the lik of Lord Buddha. never spread outside
India. Therefore the story that Lord Buddha visited the Isle
of Lanka (Ceylon) and even came to Thailand, leaving a
footprint on Saccabhanda hillside, named after a hermit
named Saccabhanda to whom it is said the Buddha preached
a sermon, is only a legend believed l:ty some Lanka people.

The truth is that Buddhism only began to spread out


side India in the reign of King Asolea the Great, under whose
auspices the third Buddhist Council was held in B.E. 303,
which i. a little more than 300 yeaflll after the Buddha attained
to Nibbana (Sid. Nirvana).
After the Third Council waS
held, King Asoka invited the Rev. Bhikkhu MoggallipuUa
tina-thera to select a number of Arahants whom he sent forth
to various countries as missionaries, the first missionaries sent
in world history.
In the Maha Wongse History of Lanka., the following
countries and Arahants are named.
I. Majjhantika.ihera went to Kashmira and to Gandha

rat the present Afghanistan.


f3. Mahadeva-thera went to the province of Mahisa,
south of river Kotavari. the present Mysore.

8. Rakkhitathera went to Vanavarsi, a province north


of Gandhara.
4. Dhammatakkhita-thera went to Parantakayona, the

province of the northern sea border of Bombay, .


6. Mahadhammarakkhita-thera went to Maharatha, the

country near the springs of the Kotavari river.


6. Mahar:.t1tkkhita-th,ra went to Yonaloka, the country
cotIqueud by the Yonaka (Greek) people who liv.ed in th~
~
(ban).

P.,.

7. Majjhima-thera went to Himmavanta provinces at


the foot of the Himalaya mountains, fol' example Nepal.

8. Sona-thera and Uuara-thera were sent to Suvarna


bhumi.
9. Mahinda-thera, son of King Asoka, together with
many other Bhikkhus, went to the Isle of Lanka, the present
Ceylon.
Of all the names of countries and theras mentioned in
the Maha Wongse History of Lanka the statement that Sona
thera and Uttara-thera went to Suvarnabhumi has a special
interest lor us and should be more closely studied. For a
considerable time, the exact location of Suvarnabhumi has
been a much disputed question.

Thai scholars say Nagor Pathom was the capital of


Suvarnabhumi, while Burmese scholars maintain that the town
of Saterm (Thaton), a Mon town in the south, was the capital.
The Khmer, the people of Luang Prabang and of Viengchan
all say their country is Suvarnabhumi. Whoever claims his
country to be Suvarnabhumi is perfectly right, because ~he
territory of Suvarnabhumi covers all these southern countries.
According to Rhys-Davids, the frontiers of Suvarnbhumi ex'
tended from the country of the Ramans (Southern Burma) to
that of the Annamites, lrom Pagan to the Malay Penimlula;
which means, in short, that all territory lying between India
in the West and China in the East (i.e; the whole of Indo
China) was called Suvarnabhumi in those days. It can also
be said that Suvarnabhumi included all the late Mon and
Thai territories, in the same way as we speak of "All India",
and therefore all countries in the Indo-China peninsula claim
ing Su varnabhumi to be their Capital is' without any doubt
correct.
But the all.important question is, where was the

Capital of Suvarnabhumi.
From archaeological and historical evidence, it appears
that Indians settled down in this country during the life. time
of the Buddha or even before His Advent. namely at a period
when it still was inhabited by the original La'!as; but owing
to their greater knowledge and ability the Indians became:
their rulers. This is convincingly proven by the Indi(ln mn:ne"

JO

~ of the towns they founded in this country, for instance Beira.


puri, Rajpuri, Kanchanapuri and Ayodhya, in the same way
as the British gave old English town names to their new cities
Further
in America, such as New York and New London.
,more, there were several trade routes used in those days by
the Indians'in their intercourse with this country. Coming
,fr<;lm India, they landed at the mouth of the Salween river
and entered this country at Mae Sod to T aka Another famous
entrance was by way of the "Three Pagodas" to Kanchana
puri, or they landed at Marit, passed the town of Tanaosri,
crossed the mountains at the octroi of Singkorn and went up
the coast of Koh' Lak. Two further routes were from T akuapa
to Jaiya in the p,resent province of Surashdradhani, and from
Saiburi to the province of Patani. Yet another sea route was
from India around the Malay Peninsula.

This is how Indians came to settle down. bringing with


them Hinayana Theravada Buddhism for the first time to this
country in the reign of King Asoka of India, in B.E. 300 (264
2~7 B.C,).
We Thai claim Nagor Pathom to be the capital of
Suvarnabhumi, because the province of Nagor Pathom is a
large one, and archaeological objects were found all over the
country.
But whether or not it was the capital of Suvarna
bhumi can only be assumed. Nagor Pathom must really have
been the capital of Suvarnabhumi because its name became
well-known in India as well as in Lanka. and was referred to
in Jhe Maha Wongse History of Lanka, saying that Sona-thera
and Uttara-thera brought the Buddhist religion to Suvarna
bhumi which was the reason for calling, a great stupa in
S~varnabhumi Phra Pathom Chedi, which was the'very first
Stupa built in this eastern country.
Furthermore,when the old capital had to be abandoned
and a new one was established further north in the valley of
the'same river near the present town of Supan, they used the
same name of.Suvarnabhumi for their new Capital.
When.
later on, the Thai coming down to the South conquered this
tenitory, they translated the name of Suvarnabhumi into their '
Thai language and called it th4 country of U-Thong ("The

Ii

Golden ,Land "). The town of U-The..g and ot S\W,WII."


bhumi are one and the same town.
The reason why the people of Pukam (Pagan) claim'
the town of 'Saterm (Tllaton) to be Suvarnabhumi is that, in
Burmese history, it is stated ~hat about B.E.1600 King Anu
rutha or Anorata-Manchor ~ho reigned overPukam wi.hed
to'obtain the Holy Pali Scripts as well as Buddhist monks
from Suvarnabhumi. which was refused by the Governor of
Suvarnabhumi on account of the Pukam people being non
believers in Buddhism. This so much aroused the wrath of
King Anurutha that he made war against the country of Su.
varnabhumi. In Burmese records it is claimed that the town
of Saterm (Thaton) was in the territory of Suyarnabhumi; but
there isno evidence to substantiate this claim. The archaeo
logical objects said to have been taken as trophies by King
Anurutha at that time, such as coins and votive tablets or
types of stupas built in Pukam, have not been f.ound in the
town of Sa term nor at any other place nearby, whereas they
have been found in abundance in the province of N.g~ Pa
thorn.
Furthermore. Pukam (or Pagan) and the t~wn of
Thaton are not far distant from one another .and King Anu
rutha's realm only reached that far. It is most probable that
he had already annexed the town of Sa term (or Thaton) to his
Kingdom as all K.ings of Burma who used to wage war a,gai~t
the Thai people had already subdued the country of the
Mons: The boundaries of Nagor Pathom were far eno},lgh
from the frontiers of Pukam, which makes it ut:l.der,standable.
why the Governor of Suvamabhumi. in ignorance of the habits
and customs of the people of Pukam believed the Pukam
inhabitants to be non-believers in the Buddhist religion, ani'l
therefore refused to send the Holy Scripts and Buddhiat
monks from Suvamabhumi to Pukam.
Nagor Pathom ,was
much more likely to be the capital of SuvarnabhJlmi than
Thaton. It is furthermore generallyacknowledge.d that Kjpa
Anurutha's realm at the time extended to ThaiterritOl'lY:
and there are many archaeological monuments pa:e.serYc:d ~
this day which were built by King Anurutha: fotinst~e thie
Temple of the Seven Spires in Chiensmai whj~h~_8
Anurutha copied from Buddha Gaya and Gf wlUcll. he Wit

.,_~n~J.'eplica

in PJl.ke.,m. At that time Chi~mai wa,


1I.oown as Mehraming. These are ,briefly' the facts recorded
in the hwtory of L.anka. and of Pukam.

According to Chinese records. Dvaravati was a large


00llMrY between 'the country of Srikashetr (i.e. Burma) and
the easternc~un.try of the Khmer people and received it. cuI.
Part of this territory included
ture and it. arts from India.
southern Thailand. at the' time when the original Lawa
people still inhabited this country,
At that time. it was divided into three great territories.
The 80~thern part was called Dvaravati. the northern part was
named Yang or yono},. the eastern part was called .. Kotra
bur". That Dvaravati was actually the name of this country
may be seen from the fact that. when King UThong founded
his capital of Sri Ayudhya, its full name was .. Krungdeb
DvaravatiSri Ayudhya ", which indicates that Sri Ayudhya waS
the .capital of the Kingdom of Dvaravati. Krungdeb meaning
Capital. Dvaravati is the former name of this country, and
the name of Sri AyudhY!l is a transformation of Ayodhya.

The reason why, according to Chinese records of B.E.

1150, Nagor Pathom was believed to be the capital of Dvara.


vati is because in Nagor Pathom there are many ruins of an
ancient town larger than any other town in this country. In
th.e prpvince of Nagor Pathom and in neighbouring province.
many Buddha images were f(i)un~. Their iconography shows
much simi1aa:ity wi(h Indian craftsmanship of the period of the
G1lPtJl Dynasty (J3. E. ,863-1023, ) leav:ing ,no doubt that the art
of makin,gBlld,dha hna,ges was brought to this cO,'IJntrY from
India. which proves the correctness of the Chine&e xecords.
B~h the history of Suvarnabhumi and of Dvaravatiapea,k of
one and .the same country, the difference only being that in.
the h~tory of Lanka this country is aUed Suvarnabhutni.and
in. Chinese reoords pvaravati. Furthermore. the assumption
that the caPital of both countries named was Nagar Pathom
is ""mplyproved by the fact that ,in Nagar Pathol)l. many
alchaf,elogical findings b.ear both the name.s of S1;IvarnabhuJ;Qi
frnd,of Dvaravati. The archaeol~gieal objects bearing fhe
n~t\ ,Qf S"vwnal;humi .consist :of a Dha.mmtlp(:lkka ~d ..

13

deer. various seats or pedestals; stupas and footprints of the


Buddha, all being used instead of actual Buddha images for
wors hipping. The Dhamm(ICakka reminds the worshipper of
the Buddha's first sermon, and the Deer 1S an allusion to the
deer park of lsipatana (or Migatayavan) near Benares where
the Buddha preached his first sermon to the Five Ascetics
( PancaTJaggi). The pedestals are symbolic of the place where
the Buddha attained to Enlightenment under the Holy Bodhi
tree at Buddha Gaya, whereas the Stupas often containing re
lics of the Buddha remind the worshipper of the Buddha's
attainment tO Nibbana; and the Buddha footprints are wor
!lhipped instead of standing Buddha images. These archaeo
logical findings were all reminders of the Buddha and were
the only objects of worship used before it became the custom
to create Buddha images. Since ancient times. the Indians
thought it unseemly to make Buddha portraits or images; and
whenever the necessity arose to worship Lord Buddha, they
used objects which were onl~ symbolic of the Buddha. This
Indian custom was strictly followed until after the reign of
King Asoka. Even in the reign of King hoka drawings and
pictures describing the Life of the Buddha always used sym
bols to signify the Person of the Buddha or the design$ only
hinted at the Buddha. For example, in the scene describing
\ the Buddha leaving his royal palace to enter the .. homeless
life" of a Bhikkhu, one sees only his saddled horse. but with
no Bhodisattva sitting on horse. back.
It was only after King Asoka's reign that Buddha
images' were made for the purpose of worship.
And it
was not the Indians who created them. but the Greeks
who settled down in India and made Buddha images. They
were not forbidden by their religion to make images for
worshipping, but on the contrary had long been making
images of the Gods they worshipped.
Thus when the
Greeks in India adopted Buddhist religion they began to
create many Buddha images for themselves to. worship.
According to history, the first Buddha image was mad~
under the auspices of King Melinda of India between B.E.
363.387. King Melinda was a Greek, and the Indians soon
followed his esa~ple.
The various objects of wd:rahip
I

14

\'

, found in Nagor Pathom, such, as the Dhammacakka and a


deer show the same design and. craftsmanship as those
art of making these objects of worship was br~ught and
taught to the local inhabitants by Buddhist missionaries who
came to this country in thQse ancient days. All these objects
of worship were made at a time when it was not yet the cus
tom to make Buddha images. They are found abundantly in
the province of Nagor Pathom but not in the town of Saterm
nor at any other place. Furthermore, the Stupa of Nagor Pa
thorn and other stupas of the. same' period. when the upper
part which was added at a later period is taken off, will show
exactly the same construction and style as the Stupa of Sand
in India.
It is therefore certain that the Stupa of Nagor Pa
thom is an exact replica of the one erected by King Asoka:
the design of which was brought to this country by Buddhist
misssionaries sent forth by King Asoka.
Besides this, the
character in which for instance the Ye Dhamma Kalha is en
graved are in Magadha language (PaIn, showing that the
Buddhist religion came from the land of Magadha.

From this short summary of archaeological evidence


given above, the Capital of Suvarnabhumi cannot have been
any other town but Nagor Pathom. It is also evident that
Buddhism came for the first time to thi$ country in B.E. 300
and was' brought by two missionaries, namely Sona-thera
and Uttara-thella.
Another thing worth mentioning and Qf whieh former
historians apparently had not thought of, is the common be
lief that any language spoken by any race can be understood
by people of all races without ado. For example, it is stated
that when Sona-thera and Uttara-thera preached the Brahma
iala-Sutta to the people of Suvarnabhumi. those who listen
ed at once won faith in the Buddha's Doctrine. which if we
come to think of it today does not seem as easy as that, as
told in those historical records. The only explanation is that
many Indians had lived already for a long time in Suvarna..
bhumi, who had come to settle down as traders. and it was
probably to the.se Indians that the two missionaries first
t"ught the Buddha.Dhamma or possibly the eheras used In.
I)

diaae ta ttenelate their sermona to the meal people of this


country and thus. acbiev~d good and quick results.
A'ff regarde archaeological findings pertaining to,Dvara
van, t~ere are many B~ddha images similar in iconography
to those made in India in the Gupta period to be feund in
Nagor Pathom from the largest size to the smallest one. and
are made of stone or ,bronze. For e:lample~ the large Buddha
image in the Phra Vbosot of Wat Yai in Nagar Pathom
which originally was in the Wat Phra Meru. This image re
presents the Buddha p~eaching his first sermon; and Phya
Kong and Phya Pan at the back of the Vihara facing towards
the Stupa probably date back to the time when Nagor Pathom
was at its height: Many Buddha images of the same type are
found in other provinces, such as in the' provinces of Rajpuri,
Subanpuri, Lobpuri, Prachinpuri and Nagor Raiasima (Korat),
which goes to' show that the territory of Suvarnahhumi was
very far flung. In Rajpuri; there is an important Buddha
image of this period in the Hermit C~ves of Khao Ngu (Sel'"
pent's Hill). It represents the Buddha preaching the First Ser
mon and bears an inscription saying that this image was
made "by the Hermit Samati Gupta".
All of these Buddha
images are the same type as, those made in India in the Gupta
period and found at ditferent places in India, for instance in
the Ajanta Caves. which proves that the Chinese records
were right when they said that Dvaravati received its culture
and arts from India.
Furthermore, there also exists a large
number of votive tablets (Phra Phim) similar in design and
craftsmanship to those of the Gupta ,period in India. It is
theref$>re certain that the capital of Dvaravati ~a. the present
town of Nagor Pathom.

The statement that Buddhism came to Thailand for the


first time a8 Hinayana Theravada Buddhism is baaedupoll the
following facts. After the Buddha had attained to. Nibb&na.
Buddhism in India became divided. into two ditfereJlt schools
after the Second Council. One school strictly adhered to the
Dhamma ViIiayana as laid down by the First CaUDell held
under Ka8&a.pa Thera.
They were of the ,opinion .that the
Vinayaualaiddown by the Buddha himaelf.hould .ble MliOt.
1~

ly observed and no alterations whatever should be made.


These monks were called the Theravada school. The other
8chool maintained that the Buddha in his last days had con
sented that minor and less important rules of the Vinayana
might be changed. They therc<fore made such alterations and
adhered to the changes made by their Acariyas (teachers).
This school was called Acariyavada. The former school was
also called Sathavira, meaning the "old school", or sometimes
Savakayana. meaning .. the Vehicle of Phra Sava k "; but later
they were called by the other school Hinayana. which means
"the'Small and narrow Vehicle"~
The Acariyavada school
were sometimes called Mahasanghika which means" belong
ing to the Great Order of Monks " or "belonging to the major
ity".
Later on they called themselves Mahayana, meaning
"the Great Vehicle". It can briefly be said that the Hin~yana
or Theravada school represents the Southern Buddhism which
uses the Magadha (PalO language in their Pa.li Canon, while
the Acariyavada or Mahayana school constitutes the Northerl).
Buddhism of today and uses the Sanskrit language for their
Dhamma Vinaya.

King Asoka had no faith in the Acariyavada school


and, tried to restrict as far as possible tht:: Mahayana monks;
but he did not succeed because they were too numerous and
m~ny of them fled to the North. KingAsoka was a great be
liever in Hipayana Buddhism and gave all his support and
energy to spread the Teachings of Lord Buddha in their origin
al form.
At the time of King Asoka, Buddhism was called
Hinayana Thera~ada Buddhism and first came to this country
at a time when it was still called Suvarnabhumi.
Later on, when it became the custom to create Buddha
images, Indian missionaries taught this art to the local in
habitants of this country. Probably the later Buddhist mission
aries coming from lnclia belonged equally to the Hinayana
school.
Some Mahayana Buddhist missionaries may also
have come to this country at that period; but as the majority
of Siamese Buddhist adopted the Hinayana .as their religion,
Mahayana Buddhism did n~t spread much in' that period.
ThuS', the first period of Buddhism in Siam may be called

Hinayana Theravada Buddhism.

~I'~ "

17

,,,

"

~\

::

..:

MAHAYAJt!_8U_QIlHISM !
Long after Buddhism in IndIa had been divided into
two schools, into Hinayana and Mahayana Buddhism, there
ruled over India in,B.E. 6.13 a King named Kanishaka whos~
Capital was the town of Burushbura. the present Peshav8.
His empire extended t~ the.South.
He was a great believer
in Mahayana Buddhism whkh W8S brought to his country by
Bhikkhus of the Acariyavada school, wL;' had Red to the
North in great numbers since the reign of King Asoka. It was
his greatest ambition ,to become' 8S great 8 protector and
supporter of Mahayana Buddhism as King Asoka had, sup,;.
ported Hinayana. He built numerous
Chedl (Buddhist shrines)
, '
and temples and thus contributed much to the prosperity of
the Holy Sangha in the country of Gandhara in th,e same way
as King Asoka had fostered Hina'yana Buddhism in the land
of Magadha.
King KanJshaka's endeavour was to unite the
two schools into a single great Nikaya, but was unable to
succeed because the schism between the two schools had al
ready existed t09 long, so he, ordered a Council to be held of
only Mahayana monks whose task it was to revise and make
changes, in tI:e Dhamma Vinaya. This Council was held in
Peshava in B.E. 624, and the Holy Scripts (the Dhammavina
ya) were recited in Sanskrit which was the cause for the Tri.
pitakas to become widely different from the original Canon,
namely the northern school believed in the Sanskrit Tripitakas
and the southern school remained faithful to the Tripifaka
in Magadha or Pili language as fixed by the Third Council
under the auspices of King A.oka.

The Acariyavada monks, who since the foundation of


their Order had already made minor changes to the Buddha's
Doctrine, now gradually undertook more radical and greater
deviations from the original Doctrine. for inatance as, regarp.
Nibbana (Sltt. Nirvltna).
According to the Hinayana Doctrine, man is able to
attain to Nibbana by becoming a Buddha, a Pacheka Buddha
or an Arahant, and therefore Arahantship was their goal. But
the Mahayana Buddhists say that one should nol aim at be
coming an Arahant. becaus.e one would altain to NirvilOa
"lone, which is of no help to others. One should, op the

Ie

_COftbaty, endeavour only to become a Bud.dhabhumi o~ Sod.hi


,attve. in order to be able to help others get, a.cross the Wheel
- of Rebirth, Suffering and Samsara first, after which one would
: attain to Nirva,na. To support their view, they cite the example
of t~e Buddha himself, who in one of his previous incarna
tions was a hermit named Sumedha Dabot. He was then
.till a Bodhisattva ~nd he refused to accept the prediction' of
a Brahmin who predicted that he would attain to Nirva.na in
this life. but made a wish to be r,eborn as a Buddha in order
to be able to show the Way to Salvation to ait sentient
As this was their common belief. the Mahayana
beings.
monks taught all people to endeavour
to become Bodhisattva.
I
instead of striving to achieve the fruits of the Holy Eightfold
Path of EnJjghten~ent as was practised before. Whoever
lives this high ideal is an Ariya, a potential Bodhisattva.
Hence the worship of the Bodhisattva principles in Mahayana
Buddhism.

-'.

As there also existed a strong rivalry between the Bud~


dhist religion and Hindu religion, the Mahayana school made
further changes to their Doctrine to fall in line with Hinduism.
For example they changed the oIiginal Buddhist teaching that
there had been Buddhas in the past before the present one
and there would oome a further athagata (Buddha) in the
distant future, into quite a new doctrine. They said that there
exists universal Buddha called Adi~Buddha who came into
existence at th~ same time with the world and rules eternally
over the 'universe; tbatheaides this universal Buddha there
are yet five Ohyani Buddhas, naniely: Vairocana~Buddha.
Akahobhaya Buddha, Ratana Sambhava Buddha, Amitabha
Buddha, -and Amoghasiddha Buddha. who all came info
exifltence by the heavenly power of AdiBuddha and under
,whose rule they live in the higher Heavenfl. It was also AdiBuddha who caused to Bodhisattva to be born in the world of
man as Manuahya Bodhisattva (or Human Bodhisattva) to
teach the Ohamma to all Beings. Later the Mahayana Bud
dhists created a new Buddha image which they called "Bhaya
aajuguru", which some believe to represent the Dhyani
Buddha, while others 'believe it to be yet anothe~ human
Buddha.

19

Whereas accol'i:Hng to the Hinayana Doctrine. "Bodhi. ,


sattva" was the name given to Lord Buddha in .his former
existences before his attainment of Buddhahood, and that
only one more Bodhisattva will be born in the future, namely
Maitreya Bodhisattva {the Buddha.to.be}. the Mahayana
sc~ool bhanged this Doctrine into a new complicated cosmo
logy. They taught that there will be many future Dhyani
Bodhisattvas, Manu Bodhisattvas (human Bodhisattvas) with
the same characteristics of the Buddha. Besides Bodhiaattvas.
they discerned more deities such as Nang Daras, the wives
of Bodhisattvas, aU possessing heavenly powers, who'will be
sent to the world of man to assist m~nkind in times of
calamity.

The five most important Bodhisattvas in Mahayana


Buddhism are:

1. Samantabhadra Bodhisattva, the guard~~n()f the


religion of the Kakusandha Buddha.
2. Vajrapani Bodhisattva, guardian of
,Konagama Buddha:

there~ionof
.

3. Ratnapani Bodhisattva, the guardian .()f the religion


of Kassapa 'Buddha.
4. 'Avalokitesavara BO'dhisattva,
r~H.giortof Gotama Buddha.

th~"guardian of the

5. Visvapani Bodhisattva, the guardian of the religion


of Maitreya Buddha who will be born in the future. ,
The belief in so many Bodhisattvas is most reassuring
to believers, in Mahayana Buddhism, ~s they can be invoked
whenev~r people are indi'stress. Thus. people feel themselv
es at no disadvantage to believers in Brahmanism.
Mahayana came to Thailand at two different period.,
namely at the time,when the empire of Srivijaya was at its
height and for the second time when the Khmer were ,ruling
over this country, namely in ,the period of Lobpuri.
When
Mahayana Buddhism was at its height in, India. Indians
spread this doctrine to adjoining countries. It first spread to
the Isle Qf Sumatra and then to Java (the present Indonesia)
and to Kampuja. These Buddhist missionaries were.northern

20

..

,~" 'oI4~. S i~I .. . . . . .1 .~ . I . .... 1..... .1 .~. ...... ~ 10.

n.lI,., I.

,~ .

. ... 1... . 1N" i 1M. .....

,lndlahswho came from Kasmira (Kashmir) and were Ma


.;hayana monks. They came to Sumatra about RE. 960 when
the Empire of Srivijaya was at its height.
The King of Srivijaya h~d become very powerful. He

extended his empire to the Malay Peninsula of Thailand and

. rel:}ched as far as Plltani and Surashdradhani where Mahaya


na 'Buddhism was taught to the people by their conquerors.
of which ample evidence is found in this country. For exam
'pIe. the Phra Maha Dhatu of Jaiya and thePhra Maha Dhatu
bf Nagor Sridharmaraj are stupas in Srivijaya ,style, the same
as in Jaiya; but the present one is in Lanka. style and was re
c.onstructedbyCeylonese in theSukhodaya Qeriod. The votive
tablets of the Srivijaya period are quite different from those
of other periods; th~y are made of unburned earth which were
customary to Mahayana Buddhists who made them in memo
. ry of their deceased teachers (Acariya). This custom is still
practised in Tibet. They are made as follows: When one of
thei~ teachers dies and has been cremated, they mix the ashes
of the deceased with unburned earth and make votive tablets
out of them for the future benefit of the deceased. These vo
tive tablets are never made of lasting material such as of
metal or burned clay as in other periods to keep the Buddhist
,'faith alive.
The reason why they were not made of-burned
earth is,oecause the ashes of the deceased had already been
burned once., They are found in many caves in the province
of Nagor Sridharmaraj and further south in Patani. The Bud
dha images and Bodhi&attva images found in Southern Thai
land are ,all made in Mahayana style and are the same type
as those found in Java. Therefore Mahayana Buddhism of the
Srivijaya period did not spread to Central and to Northern
,Thailand. although objects of the Srivijaya school were found
in CE:ntral and Northern Thailand, such as the Bodhisatt~a
im~ge of Avalokita-shavara popularly called Roop Yai Harm
(the .old woman) in the province of Nagor Pathom and the
image of Maitreya-Bodhisattva in Mahasarakham province.
They are of small siZE: and might ~ave been brought there
from the South at a later time.

At the period 'when,the Dynasty of Suriyavaraman rul

21
,)

ed over Kampu]a ( ea mbodia) between B.f.. 1545- t 725. they


probably extended their sovereignty over the whole of pre8ent.
day Thailand. establishing capitals for administrative pur
poses in Lobpuri. which wae the administrative centre for
Dvaravati. and in Srideb. the Centre of Pasak river valley; in
Bimai. which was the c~pital of the highlands in the South.
and in Sakol Nagor, which was the' ~ntre of adminiatration
of the highlands i~ the North. Lobpuri was the most im
portant Capital of all these vassal states of the Khmer empire.
Therefore historians call this period the .. Lobpuri period".
The Khmer Kings and their people were Mahayana Bud.
dhists whose Doctrine came from Sumatra. But, for centuries
before, the Khmers had developed theiro~n arts which were
different from that of India and ofSumatra. Thus arose another
separate school of arts called Khmer craftsmanship. When the
Khmers conquered this country, they built Ii large number of .
Wats and monuments for the worship pfDevas(deities)which
are commonly. called Prasat Hin (Stone Monuments). for
instance the Prasat Hin of Bimai and the Prasat Hin on the
hill of Banom Rang.

All Bud~hist temples ,built in thie period by the Khmer.


are dedicated to Mahayana Buddhism.. Besjdea the above
mentioned monuments, there are yet more archaeoloaical
findings such as Buddlla im~ges. Bodhisattva images and'
Deva images. But the original inhabitants did not all follow
the Mahayana Buddhism of the Khmers but still were faithful
to Hinayana Buddhism inherited from generation to genera
tion since the Dvaravati period. And a stoneinaciption was
found in the Hindu Temple (fl1i'1Wum\,\,) of Lobpuri, written
in Khmer language, stating that" in this town of Lobpuri there
are monks of the Sathaviranikaya", which was the first Bud
dhist sect that came in the Dvaravati period. u well as Maha
yana monks who only prospered since the Khmer became the
masters of this town and since Mahayana began,080urish in
the country at that time; and who used the Sanskrit language
to preach the Dhamma.Vinaya instead of PAli language ae
was the custom before. That is all there i.-to be said about
the spread of Mahayana Buddhiam in Thailand in the period
of Srivijaya and of Lobpuri.

22

.~

iJ

PUKAM HINAYANA BUDDHISM


IN B.E. 1600 King Anurutha, after having conquered all
.the country: of Raman (Southern Burma), established his Capi
tal in Pukam. then pushed his frontiers further north to the Thai
country of Lanna. the present circle of Bayab. and southwards
down to the province of Lobpuri. spreading at the same time
the Buddhist religion to all the territories of his realm, while
Buddhism in India was rapidly declining and almost became
extinguished by the general adoption of Brahmanism and the
Mohammeda.n religon by the peoples of India.

Originally, the people of Pukam had adopted Hinayana


Theravada Buddhism which had been brought to them from
the counh:yof Magadha in the same way as ithad been brought
to the territory of the Thai. But later on. when they lost more
and more contact with India, their religion developed. into the
so-called Pukam Hinayana Buddhism; and when they con
quered the country of the Thai. their religion ~pread to the
Thai people living in the circle of Bayab, which has been
proved by the fad that no Mah~yana Bodhisattva images are
found in northern Siam, while they are abundantly encountered'
in Southern Siam. The reason for this probably is that the
Burmese only established themselves in northern Siam which
they conquered and which was wit'\tin easy reach of Burma;
whereas they left the South to be ruled by the Khmers 8S vassal
.tate~ c)f Pukam in their capital of Lobpuri, which was also
the realon why Mahayana Buddhism still continued to exist
in the South for a long time

.Thi, period coincides with the era in which many Thai


people migrated southwards into the present Siam from their
original homeland which today lies within Southern China,
which consists ofthe provinces of Hunnan, Kiew Chiu, Kwan.
tung aad Kwangsi. Each of these provinces had their own in..
.ciependent rulers ( Chao) and their own realm. The reason
why these Thai people migrated from their original homeland
into the preMnt .Siam waa that they had been conatantly
haractd by the Chineee who gradually took. their land.away,
.

23

a process which began ever since before RE. 400; therefore


the Thai migrated in st~~es to the territory of Lanna (Chieng
mai) and of Lanchang ,( Luang Phl'abang). These Thai already
were Buddhists, but of the Mahayana school which had been
brought to them whim they were still living in their original
homeland. It was onlY'when King Anurutha brought Hina,
yana Pukam Buddhism to the territories of Lanna and of Lan
chang that the Thai adopted the Hinayana religion in the
Pukam venion.
Later on. after the reign of King' Anurutha. when the
. mighty Kingdom of Pukam and the Empire of the Khmers
declined, the Thai became more and. more powerful, both in
the north as well as in the ~outh; but whereas the Thai in the
north still had their own customs and original culture, the
Thai in the south who had been dominated by the Khmers
for a long time and to whom Mahayana Buddhism had been
brought by their former masters, forcing them to use the
,Khmer alphabet and language. still commonly used Khmer
customs even after they had liberated themselves and were
now free people ruling themselves.
But as the Thai have a
born ability to. discern what is good or bad in foreign customs,
, they adopted whate~er seemed useful to them or improved
upon them. For example they changed and improved the
Khmer alphab~t to a Thai alphabet.

As regards the Buddhist religion. the Thai in this period


were divided; the Thai of Lanna and of Lanchang were Hina.
yana Buddhists, which doctrine had been brought to them
from Pukam ( Burma ), whereas the Thai South of Sukhodaya
still ~dhered to Mahayana Buddhism as taught to them by the
Khmer in this third period.
. I may now be allowed to say a few words about the'
Thai alphabet invented by King Ramkamhaeng. Formerly
the alphabet used in this cO'untry was of Grintha characters
of Southern India which later on were changed into MOn and
Khom letters. When the Khmer ruled over this country, Khom
letters (or Khmer) were used in official correspondence. But
the Khom alphabet could only be used for writing Pali and
Sanskrit or Khmer words: but could not be used to write Thai

24,

p~ ..

8. 46'" Ji .. "I. I ho ... ,1 01 810 ,. 1 ~ . . .. . ~

I................! .... . ,.,41" I ~ . . ..010.

, \ ,:.7 \

language, because the alphabet had not sufficient vowels nor


,had it any accents to express the low and high tones of the
Thai language, and the characters themselves were too ornate
and could not be written quickly. So King Ramkamhaeng
alten=d and improved upon the existing characters so as to
render them more suitable for writing Thai words easily. He
invented additional vowels and accents for expressing the
right tones. The introduction of this first Thai alph~bet in
v~rited by King Ramkamhaeng, besides being most useful for
writing Thai. was a brilliant beacon to demonstrate that the
Thai had shaken off their Khmer yoke under which they had
been suffering for many centuries. and that they now were free
people (Thai) in every respect and even possessed their own
alphabet~
1\ aroused their patriotism.
But the alphabet
invented by King Ramkamha~ng differs from the one used
today'as in his alphabet the vowels as well as the consonants
are'written all in one row. All vowels are placed in front of
th~ 'eonsonants except
which follow the consonants. Np
vowels were placed above and below the consonants as in
But King Ramkamhaen'g's
the untidy Khom alphabet.
alphabet was only used as long as he lived, and in later
reign. the vowels were placed partly in front, partly', behind
Or above or below the consonants as practised today. Thus.
ill ,the end, we only inherited from King Ramkamhaenghis
vowela.but not the way of writing; the reason for which is
that generations after King R~mkamhaeng we have become
le.s patriotic. We do not r,ea:lise the neces,sity nor th~ pride
of pOl8essinK something of our own as King Ramkamhaeng
and his people did. Otherwise the way of writing our own
language might have 'been as advanced and modern as all
other foreign languages.

,0,:;

"

LANKA BUDDHISM
The 'fourth period is of great importance as it marks
the period in which all Siamese a~opted Hinayana Buddhism
as their only Buddhist Faith and ever since the~ have faith.
fully kept it to this day.
In RE. 1696, King Para Kama Phahu the Great of
Lanka brought about a revival of Buddhism on the isle of
Lanka by inviting Maha Kassapa-thera to preside over a
council, the object of which was to revise the Buddha Dham
ma Vinaya. It was the 7th Council held by Southern Bud
dhists. News of this great Council held under the auspices of
King Para Kama Phahu reached aU eastern countries of
Buddhist Faith, and delegations of monks from Pukam, M6n,
Siam and Kambuja (Cambodia) were sent to the isle of Lanka
to study the newly revised Buddhist Holy Scripts in order to
bring back home what they had learned. But the Holy Sangha
of Ceylon would not accept these foreign Bhikkhus into their
Order unless they consented to be reordinated in the Lanka
Nikaya (sect). All the monks. who had seen for themselves
the practice of the Dhamma Vinaya of this new monk Order
6f Lanka, agreed to be reordinated in the Lanka Sangha.
Since that time, the revised procedure of ordination as laid
down at this Council appears ip the Canon of Southern Buq
dhism. After studying the revised.Canon, the foreign mission
aries returned to their respective home countries. Some of
them invited Lanka monks to accompany them back to their
country to teach the revised Dhamma Vinaya to the local ~n.
habitants, who became much impressed by the Lanka monk.,'
and allowed their sons and grandsons to be ordained in this
Lanka Monk Order in increasing numbers. Thus, Lanka Bud
dhism spread rapidly to Burma. the M6n country, Thailand
and as far as Kambuja.

In Thailand these Lanka monkssettled nrstin NagorSri.


dharmaraj about B.E. 1800. as evidenced by archaeological
nndioss discovered when the Phra Maha Dhatu of Nasor .
~Q

..

. S ridharmarai was repaired. and. changed. Irom its original Sri.


vijaya style into a Lanka type of Stupa which still exists to~
day. In Wat Phra Mahadhatu. a Buddha image made of iade
was also found which shows Lanka craftsmanlhip of that
~etiod.
As further evidence, a stone inscription (dated B.E.
1630) was found with the following inscription:

"King Ramkamhaeng gave alms (Dana) to the 'Holy


Th,ras (Elders) who had completed the study of the Tripitaka
and were appointed to higher ranks than any other monks
residing in this country.

They all came from Nagor Sridharmaraj."


Thus. it is certain that the Lanka monks firlt came to
Nagor Sridharmarai. and when their fa~e reached the town
of Sukhodaya which at that time was the capital of King
Ramkamhaeng, the King invited these Theras to come
and
\
settle down in his Capital.
At the same time, the King ordered the Governor of
Sridharmaraj to negotiate the transfer of the Phra Buddha
Sihing image from Lanka to Siam.
Mahayana Buddhism; which had been adopted when
the Khmer ruled over the country. declined and finally dis
appeared. Nevertheless. at the beginning of this fourth period,
the Holy Sangha in Siam was still divided into two sects.
namely those monks who belonged to the original Nikaya
and those who were ordained according to the Lanka religion.
Even in Burma, the M6n country and Cambodia, the monks
in the beginning were still divided into the two above-mention
ed Nikayas. but finally joined together in one single sect. In
the M6n country, the unification had to be enforced by the
King, as stated on a stone inscription, whereas in Siam the
unification took place by mut~aJ consent, for which there is
evidence found today, namely, the formalities of an ordination
used in former days or practised even at the present day
in some rural districts was to let the novice repeat twice
the CfTlu-ee Refuges" (Trisaranagama), once in Pali and for
the second time in Sanskrit, which shows that the Lanka
Buq.?hilts uSed Pali according, to Hinayana Buddhism
f

27

,,,

'

whlle thelormet monks Used San8k~idn accordance ~


Mahayana religion which had been. introduced to this
~ountry by.the Khmers.
Furthermore, the rOYBf wats (monasteries) in Su
khodaya. Lanna and Lanchang. erect 2 Sema, (Skt. BU.).
boun~ary stones around the most holy part ofth,eteinple~
~r in ~ome
3 or~ '4 Bemas, which probably i.du~ the
fact that when the La~ka monks came to this country they
objected to the local . monks, because they were' pS:rtly
Mahayana and partly Hinayana monks mixed to.thet~
and would not consent to ordain. their. disciples.. witbinthe
precincts. of the Semas erected by Mahayana monk~.Thi.
was most embaraasing to parents who wished to have their
sons ordained by Lanka monks in the village or townwatJ,
as the Lanka monks lived in forest wats far outside the vil
Jages ot towns. On the other hand, the wats near their hOJ;lles
belonged to the local monks.

to

wats

1n order to make it more convenient for his people.


the King allowed the Lanka monks to add the new Semf#
to the old ones in the .town and village wats, so thattney
could be used by both the former monks and the new monkia
for ordination purposes.

.'

Some Wilts had 3 or 4 SemtfS, because Lanka monk.


who cam~ later objected to the old ones and therefore added'
new ones of their own, considering it of great importance.
The main reason why the unification of the l\vo .Becta wall
posaible was the fact. that the majority of pe'ople~~~te'a
Lanka. Buddhism, and 'in increasing numbers h~itheir .cl.il
dren ordained by monks of this sect. The former monkalo..t
more and more disciples and finally had to join with the
Lanka monks.
Since Lanka Buddhiam began to prosper undeJ'the
Phra Ruane J}ynalty. all Chedis were built in Lanka styl~&nd
according to Lanka doctrine. For instance. diey b4nev.4. that
itwal po.sible to find retli e of the. Biaddha (PM4 StJril'iJ...:
dn",":), and it became the .custom to build Stupae for a..dd1.
renal. The.G, $JuP wefe :built.in Lanka
~t '-""'

28

.ty",

"".e,

< '.

~w '1W..W't~"i6r ...nCe the &uPS at Wat 'Chang


Llml insY~J.t.k;v' Lifo erect a Parihhoga Chedi (a. sbrim.
tontaiaibif .~ineoli;e_ l~ behind: by the Buddha, luch
al Buddha. ~footprin~), they went to Lanka to eopy the
Buc:ldha fuQt~nt .aid to have been 'actually made by the
Buddha at t'bc niounwn of Sumanakut and built an esact
r~licaof t~~ ioqtprint at the hill of Phrabat and changed
the Deane Ql the hill to Sumanakut, giving it the same nam~
as the
in Lanl$a. '
Forprejithiag tbe .Dhamma (doctrine), Pali was Wled
u the fUD4a.eatallanguage of the Buddhist religion. and the
aludy of PallbecatQe c~totnary and spread widely, whereas
Sanakri~ was used to triln.lf,te Pali into Thai.
Sanakrit is
uaed ..: itit
were, actu~1iy the Thai, language. For instanc;e.
.,
Auho is espressed in 1fhai as Artha; SfUtha i. e;xprelled
Sasda. and meenl teacher or master; Satlnam is eapreed
.. S4Ira.-mcains weapon.' Pali is raised to aholy laQsuage,
.,;hile Sanskrit is used ~s a Colloquial or ordinary laquase.

"e

"

a.

. Wl1en Ud<1eeika Chedi. (Buddha hnase. for the pur


poseG. worshipping) were created, an intensive study o.f the
.it ofm~kini Buddha imaie. ~as made, which resulted in
the cr,ation of Buddha images of the Sukhodaya.stlle~
Characterittic .of these Buddha images ate the Ions rlJ4mi or
jeWelled ~J{Qn the head of an image of the Buddha re~re.
sentirig ray. of glory, and tne han,d. with four equall)!' long
~nlJer~. , Ex~l'l_ are the rhra Buddha jinaraja .nel. Phra
. S4dd~.:Jin.~it"imalies. "
. - ....
.. '
.
. "

'-

T"~ of the:Pht!i Ruang Dynasty were Jreat

h...

U.vel'.:ill:l.anIu. hd<1b.iam; 80 much so that .orne of them,


~ _hJ.~ .,Phr. Mal}a'Dharmaraia Lithai, even entet;ed the
H~lY'~_N._of,he Lanka Met IU)d became for Jaome-lm.e a
BWk\.hu; all ,,*,,1l\P!e wbich 'Wu followed by the Kinp of
-t\YQdhYJl ~;h,''''' KiQ~.of the Re.ta.-koaindra peri9d.~d
i .. ~,tbe' ca.'"m:for Thai YO'Gths to enter t~e hI~ly
B,.th.~bQod {Qr. at
.I

; "

,,: ~

' , ' lo'"

".at a shott period in their life

'"

. .

"

"

. ,

Kms Jlboifb.caja u.~aj wes lIe.t.fCaolilr, an authari.


IJ:enHto.l1IucWhitl"''';.b&Wldte .:tr.atiac on Budc:Q,._
21.

,I

Qoftmology, called the 44:Tri Bhumi K.adaa. ( Tehbhumikaluunii.)


of 'phra 'Ruang". It. is the oldest work of Thai literature
apart from the stone inscriptions, much older than any other
, Thai books.

.. ~

, After their unification into one single sect, the Thai.


Buddhist monks divided theniselves into: two groups. One
group of monks made it their task to study the Palitexts and
the Doctrine.
They were called Gamavasi Bhikkhus or
Ganthadhuram, meaning U occupied with study" and lived in
the wats of the towns where they inaugurated Buddhist schools.
The other group of monks practised meditation (Vipal$ana
Dhara land endeavoured to attain to Vimutti or emancipation
from suffering an d rebirth. They lived in forest wats (Van(.l$i).
These forest dwellers were called in Lanka Aranyavasi. The
isle of Lanka being'mountainous and the mountain. forests
beii:lg within easy reach of towns, the monks in town wats
called the other monks Vanavasi. They still use'their forest
wats in Lanka today.
\

In the Ayudhya period, Buddhism in Thailand remained


much the same as it was in the Sukhodaya period, which was

.' Lanka Buddhism, except that in' the beginning the Stupas

'were buUt in Khmer stYle. It was only after the reign of King

Parama TraUokanat that Chedis were built in Sukhodaya

style. King Parama Trailokanat followed the example of

King Dharmaraja Llthai of Sukhodaya ~i\Ud invited ?hra Ma

Lasami, the Patri~rch of Lanka, to be his Upajjhaya(ordinat

~ing thera} for his ol'dinatlon at Wat Chulamani in Bisnulok. '


He dedicated hi~ royal palace to be used as a Buddhist Chapel,
and in the reigns of later Kings stupas and Buddha 1majites
were added to this place which now is the present Wat Phra
'Sri Sanbejra, which was a t:eplica ,of Wat Mahadhatu' in Su.
khodaya; they made Stupas more beautiful than the Sukho~
daya stupa.
For instance, they chanjited the square type of
the Sukhodaya Stupa into a duodecahedral stupa (n'~mJ'~611
ftf)~); Examples ale' the Phrachedi Sri Suriyodaya and the
Phrachedi at WatJumbor Nikayaram. They furl~r l'eceived

. luggestions diree:.tly from Lank,. for the cre~~on of Bl.idd\l_t

$0'

"

shrine~.:FQrxample, whereas the Buddha footprint which in

this country was originally believed to be only a Uddesika


Chedi was in Lanka regarded as a Paribhoga Chedi. a real
relic belonging to the Buddha, meaning that the Buddha
actually left behind his footprint and the footprint was not
man-made.
It was further learned that there was another
footprint of the Buddha, namely at the foot of the hill of Sac
cabandha near Saraburi. The Buddha is said to have left a
footprint at this place when he delivered a sermon to the her
mit Saccabhanda. This story was told to the Thai monks
when they visited the Buddha~s sacred foot print~at the hill of
Sumanakut in the isle of Lanka. On their return from Lanka,
these Thai monks reported this story to King Songdharm.
Whereupon a search was ordered by the King and they found
the Buddha's footprint on the hillside of Saccabhandhakiri
which is the present Phrabat. near Saraburi. Since 'that time,
Phrabat on 'Saccabhandakiri hill has been regarded as a sa
Cred Paribhoga Chedi, a shrine of gre~t importance. Many
laymen and m9nks go yearly to Phiabat to worship the
Buddha's footprint.

. Towards the end of the Ayudhya period, a great revolu


tion broke out on the isle of Lanka in the course of which the
Lanka menkhood was wiped out. The King of Lanka there
fore asked the King of Thailand to send a delegation of Thai
monks to Lanka and to preach the Dhamma Vinaya. King
Bor51~akot sent Phra UPali and Phra Aryamuni as leaders of
the Thai delegation of monks to Lanka. Ever since then
the Lanka Thai has continued to exist under the name of
"Say",m
i. Wonpe " or
" UpaI'1 Wongse "to. th'IS d ay. Th e mIs
.
sion of Thai monks was of great importance, as it gave
us the opportunity to return the services once rendered to our
country by the Lanka Sangha and to show our gratitude to
them.At the same time, it greatly enhanced the prestige and
.the high esteem of our Sangha in the eyes of the people of
Lanka; in fact. to lIIuchan extent that a book was written in
Ceylon .entitled uA Textbook on the Ordination of Thai
Monk. " (Sa~amup$ampaflat) which still exists today.

:U:

In the Ratana'k.o&i.ndra period. 1-aD\aB~ddhi.~ a.a


practised durina the Ayudhya period, still ~ontinued in.the
..meW4ly.The making of Buddha Chedis,theobservanpe.of
the Dhamma Vinaylt- rules and tbe .tudy of the Buddha Do~,:,
trine conlinued to be pr~ctised. as in the Ayudhya period.
For instance, the Temple of the Emerald. ~uddha in the GI'Uld
Palace was built in the aame style aa that. of the Ayudhy.
period. Although many minions were exchanged be.tween
Lanka and Thailand during those day., no neW idea. were
brought to Thailand in regard to the Buddhist relision. The
Lanka miasionarie. brought o01y Buddha Relics to Thailand
and the Thai' mis.joltaries .sent
Lanka took no further
Improvements of the Doctrine except that they hrought back
with them a sapling of the Holy. Bhodi tree, said robe
from the original Bhodi tree in Buddha-gaya hom the: time
when Mabinda-thera brought the' Buddha'aTeaching to
the isle of Lanka and w hleh i. worahiprled a. ~ Parlhhoja
Chedi, a relic used by the Buddha himaelf,to this day. "

'0

The practice of the Buddhist reltaion in Thail.nd since


the Sukhodaya period should therefor~ be considered as
.pecificall~ Thai in the same way as wall the Hinayana
Buddhism of King Anurutha. And, for this reason, the
~ntroduction of Lanka Buddhipm should be regarded.a the
most important period of Buddhism in Thailand. it was the
period: ef unification of all Buddhists in Thailand under one
single Faith. in Hinayana Buddhism. and ever since th~n
the Thai people have been Hinayana Buddhists.

1
j

'j

11