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Thai Buddhism (more)

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1Thai Buddhism (more) Empty Thai Buddhism (more) on Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:37 pm


Feel free to walk through each face of the inscription and then rejoin us on the path...


My father was named Sri lndraditya, my mother was named Nang Suang, my elder brother was named Ban Muang. There were five of us born from the same womb: three boys and two girls. My eldest brother died when he was still a child.

When I was nineteen years old, Khun Sam Chon, the ruler of Muang Chot, came to raid Muang Tak. My father went to fight Khun Sam Chon on the left; Khun Sam Chon drove forward on the right. Khun Sam Chon charged in; my father’s men fled in confusion. I did not flee. I mounted my elephant, named Bekhpon, and pushed him ahead in front of my father. I fought an elephant duel with Khun Sam Chon. I fought Khun Sam Chon’s elephant, Mas Muang by name, and beat him. Khun Sam Chon fled. Then my father named me Phra Ramkhamhaeng because I fought Khun Sam Chon’s elephant.

In my father’s lifetime I served my father and I served my mother. When I caught any game or fish I brought them to my father, when I picked any acid [sour] or sweet fruits that were delicious and good to eat I brought them to my father. When I went hunting elephants and caught some, either by lasso or by driving them into a corral, I brought them to my father. When I raided a town or village and captured elephants, men and women, silver or gold, I turned them over to my father. When my father died, my elder brother was still alive, I served him steadfastly as I had served my father. When my elder brother died, I got the whole kingdom for myself.

In the time of King Ramkhamhaeng this land of Sukhothai is thriving. There are fish in the water and rice in the fields. The lord of the realm does not levy tolls on his subjects. They are free to lead their cattle or ride their horses to engage in trade; whoever wants to trade in elephants, does so; whoever wants to trade in horses, does so; whoever wants to trade in silver or gold, does so. When any commoner or man of rank dies, his estate — his elephants, wives, children, relatives, rice granaries, retainers and groves of areca and betel — is left in its entirety to his son. When commoners or men of rank differ and disagree, the King examines the case to get at the truth and then settles it justly for them. He does not connive with thieves or favor concealers of stolen goods. When he sees someone’s belongings, he does not covet them; when he sees someone’s wealth, he does not get envious. If anyone riding an elephant comes to him to put his own country under his protection, he helps him, treats him generously, and takes care of him; if someone comes to him with no elephants, no horses, no men or women, no silver or gold, he gives him some, and helps him until he can establish a state of his own. When he captures enemy warriors or their chiefs, he does not kill them or beat them.

There is a bell hanging at the gate; if any commoner in the land is involved in a quarrel and wants to make his case known to his ruler and lord, it is easy; he goes and strikes the…

…bell which the King has hung there; King Ramkhamhaeng, the ruler of the kingdom, hears the bell; he calls the man in and questions him, examines the case, and decides it justly for him. So the people of this land of Sukhothai praise him. They plant areca groves all over the city; coconut groves and jackfruit groves are planted in abundance in the city. Anyone who plants them gets them for himself and keeps them. Inside this city there is a pond called Traphang Poisi, the water of which is as clear and as delicious as the water of the Khong in the dry season. The triple rampart surrounding this city of Sukhothai measures three thousand four hundred wa.

The people of this city of Sukhothai like to observe the precepts and bestow alms. King Ramkhamhaeng, the ruler of this city of Sukhothai, as well as the princes and princesses, the men and women of rank, and all the noblefolk without exception, both male and female, all have faith in the religion of the Buddha, and all observe the precepts during the rainy season. At the close of the rainy season they celebrate the Kathin ceremonies, which last a month, with heaps of cowries, with heaps of areca nuts with heaps of flowers, with cushions and pillows: the gifts they present to the monks as accessories to the Kathin amount to two million (cowries) each year. Everyone goes to the Araññika over there for the Kathin ceremonies. When they are ready to return to the city they walk together, forming a line all the way from the Araññika to the parade-ground. They join together in striking up the sound of musical instruments, chanting and singing. Whoever wants to make merry, does so; whoever wants to laugh, does so. As this city of Sukhothai has four very big gates, and as the people always crowd together to come in and watch the lighting of candles and setting off of fireworks, the city is as noisy as if it were bursting.

Inside this city of Sukhothai, there are viharas, there are golden statues of the Buddha, and Phra Attharos statues; there are big statues of the Buddha and medium-sized ones, there are big viharas and medium-sized ones; there are senior monks — nissayamuttakas, theras and mahatheras.

West of this city of Sukhothai is the Araññika, where King Ramkhamhaeng bestows alms to the Mahathera Sangharaja, the sage who has studied the Tripitaka from beginning to end, who is wiser than any other monk in the kingdom, and who has come here from Muang Sri Dhammaraja. Inside the Araññika there is a large rectangular vihara, tall and exceedingly beautiful, and a Phra Attharos statue standing up.

East of this city of Sukhothai there are viharas and senior monks, there is a vast open field, there are groves of areca and betel, upland and lowland farms, homesteads, large and small villages, groves of mango and tamarind. They are as beautiful to look at as if they were made for that purpose.

North of this city of Sukhothai there is a bazaar, there is Phra Acana, there are prasadas, there are groves of coconut and jackfruit upland and lowland farms, homesteads, large and small villages.

South of this city of Sukhothai there are kutis and viharas where monks reside, there is a dam, there are groves of coconut and jackfruit, groves of mango and tamarind, there are small mountain springs and there is Phra Khaphung. The divine spirit of that mountain is more powerful than any other spirit in this kingdom. Whatever lord may rule this kingdom of Sukhothai, if he makes obeisance to him properly, with the right offerings, this kingdom will endure, this kingdom will thrive; but if obeisance is not made properly or the offerings are not right, the spirit of the mountain will no longer protect it and the kingdom will be lost.

In 1214 saka, a year of the dragon, King Ramkhamhaeng, lord of this kingdom of Sri Sajjanalai - Sukhothai, who had planted these sugar palm trees fourteen years before, commanded his craftsmen to carve a slab of stone and place it in the midst of these sugar palm trees. On the day of the new moon, the eighth day of the waxing moon, the day of the full moon, and the eighth day of the waning moon, the monks, theras or mahatheras go up and sit on the stone slab to preach the Dhamma to the throng of lay people who observe the precepts. When it is not a day for preaching the Dhamma, King Ramkhamhaeng, lord of the kingdom of Sri Sajjanalai - Sukhothai, goes up, sits on the stone slab, and gives audience to the officials, lords, princes and those who conduct affairs of state. On the day of the new moon and the day of the full moon, when the white elephant named Rucagri has been decked out with howdah and tasseled head cloth, and always with gold on both tusks, King Ramkhamhaeng mourns him, rides away to the Araññika to pay homage to the Buddha, and then returns.

There is an inscription in the city of Chaliang, erected beside the Sri Ratanadhatu; there is an inscription in the cave called Phra Ram’s Cave, which is located on the bank of the River Samphai; and there is an inscription in the Ratanadhatu Cave. In this Sugar Palm Grove there are two pavilions, one named Sala Phra Mas, one named Buddhasala. This slab of stone is named Manangsilabat. It is installed here for everyone to see.

King Ramkhamhaeng, son of King Sri Indraditya, is the lord of the kingdom of Sri Sajjanalai - Sukhothai, and all the Ma, the Kao, the Lao, the Thai of the distant lands, and the Thai who live along the U and the Khong come to pay homage.

In 1207 saka, a year of the boar, he caused the holy relics to be dug up so that everyone could see them. They were worshipped and celebrated for a month and six days, then they were buried in the middle of Sri Sajjanalai, and a cetiya was built on top of them which was finished in six years. A wall of rock enclosing Phra Mahadhatu was built which was finished in three years.

Formerly these Thai letters did not exist. In 1205 saka, a year of the goat, King Ramkamhaeng set his mind and his heart on devising these Thai letters. So these Thai letters exist because that lord devised them.

King Ramkhamhaeng is sovereign over all the Thai. He is the teacher who teaches all the Thai to understand merit and Dhamma rightly. Among men who live in the lands of the Thai, there is no one to equal him in knowledge and wisdom, in bravery and courage, in strength and energy. He is able to subdue a throng of enemies and possesses broad kingdoms and many elephants.

The places whose submission he receives on the east include Sra Luang Song Kwae, Lumbachai, Sakha, the banks of the Khong, Wiangchan and Wiangkham, which is the farthest place; on the south they include Khonthi, Phra Bang, Phraek, Suphannaphum, Ratchaburi, Phetchburi, Sri Dhammaraja, and the seacoast, which is the farthest place; on the west, they include Muang Chot, Muang …n, Hongsawadi, the seas being their limit; on the north, they include Muang Phrae, Muang Man, Muang N., Muang Phlua and, beyond the banks of the Khong, Muang Chawa, which is the farthest place. All the people who live in these lands have been reared by him in accordance with the Dhamma, every one of them.

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