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What A Paradise It Seems inside Wat Yai Chaimongkol

What A Paradise It Seems inside Wat Yai Chaimongkol
Phra Maha Nutthanit Sumano
Wat Yai Chaimongkol is a place for keeping mental rest and metal concentration. Inside, there are various forms of Buddhist art and its cultural heritage, contributing to the development of ethical-ideals in ancient Buddhist societies of Thailand. The charming beautiful environment in a wide plain encircled by grown trees and green lawn were absolutely suitable for mediators.
When reaching Wat Yai Chaimongkol, one would enjoy the scenic view of the Great Pagoda[1]  and its sacred peak that is so high and serene against the quiet blue sky. Although it lays ruined and colorless under the glare of the sun over 400 years, but the spirits residing in the Great Pagoda still alive, guarding the whole country. For those who dare to take travelling of 52 steps up the Great Pagoda, it is the most glorious moment of life, good for meditation and pleasure. Upon reaching its top, you will share the feeling of generosity, non-violence, compassion and triumph of our ancestors. A place to learn a deep lesson of “Buddhist Ethics[2]”.

Wat Yai Chaimongkol benefits from a lovely view of the green lawn and a little “lake” that looked up to the Great Pagoda as their “hero”. The Hero stands in the main square surrounded by innumerable Buddha images, giving blessing to visitors in silence.



Figure 1 : The Great Pagoda of Wat Yai Chaimongkol. >>

In the Ordination Hall close by, there is the most sacred Buddha image, Phra Buddha Chaimongkol, the Soul of Wat Yai Chaimongkol. The Ordination Hall with a magical atmosphere is full of ancient Buddhist arts, architecture, sacred objects made of stone, paintings, books, and stories. These are the powerful means of communicating Buddhist ethics beside the teaching. Innumerable prayers and visitors come to worship Phra Buddha Chaimongkol, presenting incense, candle, and flowers and making more long requests for health and prosperity. Nammon (Holy water) and Siem See seem to be the admirable choices for the Thai people of all generations.










<< Figure 2 : The Ordination Hall.

When the mind is steered through Buddhist art,
then the exploration begins.
On the far side of the Great Pagoda, the ancient and massive reclining Buddha image 10 metres  inside a ruined hall lies awake. The reclining Buddha image held too many memories; the rise and fall of Ayutthaya Kingdom, a continual dance of creation and annihilation. However, it seems as if the reclining Buddha image is always ready to break into a smile and that bring messages of welcome to the visitors.



Figure 3 : The Reclining Buddha Image. >>

Figure 4 : The Statue of King Naresuan
Sitting barely 300 meters away from the reclining Buddha is a large black statue of King Naresuan The Great[3] and thousands of “fighting cocks” in the garden museum. The statue of King Naresuan The Great also displayed Buddhist ethics for he practiced the ethics of Buddhist political philosophy of the Ten Royal Duties. At a moment of the intense eye catching, it seems as if King Naresuan The Great appeared to be staring straight at us, transmitting something of his great wisdom and courage with the magical power. For the Thai people, King Naresuan is not only part of the past but, he is, for always, a part of people’s heart.
Other things add to the ambiance of this charming temple are the Meditation Hall and a number of Monks and Nuns’ little residence (Kuti) in Thai traditional style. The Meditation Hall is a place to remember as the room of empowerment. It is surrounded by nuns’ Kuti, standing in tree-shaded compounds where birds chatter among the tree branches and little lizards and squirrels crawled among the tree roots. The soft combination of sounds was soothing during a grateful period of silence.

The monk’s residence lies near the entrance through a monastery, outside the ancient wall. Every day, the venerable masters would give Buddha’s teachings and led practices and rituals to young monks and nuns. Laymen and visitors are most welcome to join.

Figure 5 : 'Kuti' The Monks's Residence

What remained invisible in Wat Yai Chaimongkol is the best-preserved body of Phra Kru Pawanarangsri. There is little chance of paying the respect to his body except during the Funeral Chanting of the Abhidhamma Excerpts for Phra Kru Pawanarangsi. It will be held in the Buddhist Holy Day (Dharmasawana) in the evening (16.00 – 16.30 hrs.)












<< Figure 6 : Phra Kru Pawanarangsri
Merely look at children and visitors feeding turtles with bananas in that little lake is refreshment beyond words. This is an opportunity for caring and sharing with other living beings in a more leisurely manner.

The pride of little lake in Wat Yai Chaimongkol is a row of Plumeria trees which becomes a rest stop for visitors. As we come abreast of the Plumeria trees, sweetly scents are everywhere, giving our visitors an enormous sense of importance. Plumeria[4]  was known in Thai as “Lanthom” and later “LeeLawadee”, but only few knew that it is indeed a “Pagoda Tree”.

Figure 7 : Feeding Turtles
In the opinion of Thai society, Plumeria and temple are, in many ways, very similar in character and outlook: white and clean; immortal life and nirvana; beauty giver and wisdom giver; seemingly endless beauty and blossoms of Plumeria and the booming of the Buddha’s teaching of compassions and wisdom; having beautiful scented flowers and the Buddhist ethical value (Silas) of those monks and nuns.



<< Figure  8 : Plumeria Flower 'LeeLawadee'
Wat Yai Chaimongkol, especially Monks and Novice Monks[5]  rose early in order to collect alms in a procession on bare feet in the cool air of morning. The procession seems to be much longer during the three-month Buddhist Retreat (Mid of July – the beginning of October), with many young novice monks. Serving in the monkhood is an ideal of all Thai men to make a merit for his parent, his mother in particular[6] .

In every afternoon, dozens of monks and novice monks will sit in the posture of meditation in the Meditation Hall. Chanting, meditating, and preaching are the sight of so much magnificence.

Figure 9 : The Meeting of The Mind and The Moon
Occasionally, dozen of nuns and laymen would gather in a patch of moonlight less than a meter away from the Great Pagoda, sitting and practicing the Full Moon Meditation on the Full Moon Day. They called it “the meeting of the mind and the moon”. The soul explosion shattered the moonlit silence with a brilliant flash of spiritual power.

Wat Yai Chaimongkol is being the place where family circle, friends and tourists, meet and converse in such a relaxed and friendly fashion. What a surprise! Many of them are like an encyclopedia of Buddhist wisdom.

At the gate, it is the best place for souvenir shopping. The local shop offers a variety of items that have been made based on the temple’s characteristics. Souvenirs on sale include postcards, T-shirt, traditional Thai crafts, local products, ceramics, local candies and thai foods.

There was nothing else for visitors to do
but remember Wat Yai Chaimongkol
forever.


  Note:
[1] One could see that the Great Pagoda is still in an excellent state of repair.
[2] Buddhist ethics form a part of the main teachings of Buddhism.
[3] See also King Naresuan The Great’s Life History page.
[4] Plumeria is also the national flower of Lao, namely Champa.
[5] The venerable is known in Thai as “Phra Bhiksu” or “Phra Song”, following 227 precepts, while the Novice Monks namely  “Sammanaen”, followed 10 precepts.
[6] A monk must be a man at the age of 20, possesses good reading and writing skills, and a good knowledge of the rules and precepts for novice monks.


 
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