Tuesday, 21 August 2007

Wat Kunaram, Lamai

Wat Kunaram;

Is best known for it's Mummified Monk, known all around Samui but also known from the National Geographic Channel, which had a feature about him.

Today I found myself on one of the 'around the island trips', which on the ring road, all around, is maybe 65 km's.

A great stop is Wat Kunaram, with it's Mummified Monk.



Coming from Lamai, this is how to recognise the Temple or Wat Kunaram; it's on the left side of the road, not too far away from the Nam Muang waterfall.


Here's a picture of the 'Bot' of Wat Kunaram

The "Bot's" are traditionally used when men are ordained as monks, and there is a central ball in the middle of the building, which is suspended on a rope and used as a focal point of the ancient ordination ceremony.

The building that houses the Mummified Monk. Upon entering the Temple, on your right hand with small steps leading up to the entrance.



A brief explanation about the origins of the Monk, Phra Khru Samathakittikhun (Dang Piyasilo) or Loung Por Daeng. He , was born in 1894, was a well respected family man within the local community on Koh Samui and first become ordained as a monk when he was in his early twenties. He spent two years in Wat Samret before exiting and marrying a local lady from Lamai with whom he had six children, a few still alive on the island as of today.
Upon reaching fifty years of age, once his children were all grown up, Loung Por Daeng, decided to dedicate the latter part of his life to Buddhism and returned to the temples where he felt so at peace. He was ordained as a monk in 1944.


Here's a picture of him, it's fairly difficult to get a good shot, due to the lightning.

He then traveled to Bangkok where he spent some time studying and learning more about Buddhist texts and meditation, one of the great passions of his life.
It is believed that upon returning to Koh Samui he went to meditate in a cave, Tham Yai in Lamai, which is located within present day Tamarind Springs.
Later he moved to Chaweng and was one of the first monks to stay in the location that nowadays is known as Wat Pang Bua.
He was one of the first Jao Wat's, which is the Thai term for Abbot, who led the temple into its present existence.

Following this, he decided to return to his family home, which was located just behind the current Wat Kunaram where the temple school is located.
Most famously, two months before his death, at the age of 79 years and 8 months, he requested the company of his students to inform them that he felt his death was imminent and wanted to instruct them as to his last wishes. He requested that should his body decompose that he be cremated and his ashes scattered at the famous 'Saam Jaeg' in Hua Thanon, meaning the three forked road intersection, in Thai.
He went on to request that should his body not decompose, he would like to stay at the temple and be placed in an upright coffin on display as a symbol to inspire future generations to follow Buddhist teachings and be saved from suffering.

In his final seven days of mortal life, he no longer spoke to anyone or ate or drank anything, concentrating solely on his mediation and the path to enlightenment. He died a week later in the same position that we can see him sitting in nowadays.
He's in impeccable condition considering he died 30 years ago and on his head one can still see some hairs.
When his eyes fell into his head, the monks at the temple fitted him with some sunglasses.
He is still sitting in the original position of his meditation.


Directly next to the building that houses Loung Por Daeng, one can find this interesting display of coins and paper money from all over the world, that visitors left at the temple.



No temple is complete without selling amulets of it's own temple. Here one can purchase amulets of Loung Por Daeng, these are believed to bring good luck and fortune when worn around the neck. However, one must also treat the amulet with respect and always keep the it above floor level or it shall lose it's charm.


A Thai tradition is having a white or bright colored string around the wrist. Each temple offers this and in Wat Kunaram it seems to be a day job for the monks.


Here's a picture of another traditional part of each temple, seven Buddha statues representing the seven days of the week, so one can worship the day one is born.
The temple is well worth a visit just to see this extraordinary mummy of Loung Por Daeng. Despite a constant increase of tourist visitors over the years, Wat Kunaram retains much of the Buddhist traditions and ambience of the time when Loung Por Daeng meditated there. It has not turned into a tourist museum but more a place of historical and cultural heritage that to many is seen as the site of a true Buddhist miracle.

With thanks to an article about Wat Kunaram in the local magazine Community, the July 2007 issue.

Camille

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