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June 10, 2013

【Thai Temples】Wat Bophit Phimuk

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Wat Bophit Phimuk Worawiharn (Thai: วัดบพิตรภิมุขวริหาร) is a second-class Royal Temple of the "Woriwiharn" grade in Samphanthawong District, Bangkok. This was originally an ancient civil temple built sometime after the Ayutthaya period and named Wat Lain or Wat Choeng Lain, due to the temple's location by the bank of the river where the area had an abundance of lain (mud or muck).

Around 2324 BE (AD 1781) during the reign of King Rama I, Krom Phra Ratchawangbowon Sathan Phimuk renovated the entire temple and the king named it Wat Bophit Phimuk. In the reign of King Rama III, the wood structures were demolished and replaced by masonry buildings. Later, King Rama IV had the temple restored again and a teak wooden pavilion was built with the design of the King's emblem, a royal crown on a pedestal guarded by mythical animals. This still appears on the front and side of the pavilion. The monks' residences show a combination of Thai and Chinese styles.

The ubosot (ordination hall) of Wat Bophit Phimuk holds not only the ordination ceremony but also other activities, like scripture-chanting and preaching, in "Wan Phra" (Buddhist holy days), Vesak Day (Buddha's Birthday), Asalha Puja Day (Dhamma Day), Magha Puja Day, etc.

Luang Pu Khai

Luang Pu Khai (Thai: หลวงปู่ไข่), the guru monk of Wat Bophit Phimuk, was born in Chachoengsao Province of eastern Thailand. At the age of 6 his father had him come to Wat Sothon to study Buddhism from Lung Phor Pan.

After becoming a novice monk, Luang Pu Khai began learning to explain Buddhist stories. After Lung Phor Pan passed away, Luang Pu Khai went to Wat Noi in Chonburi Province and studied from Phra Achan Zhuang. Spending three years studying Buddhism in Wat Hong Rattanaram of Bangkok, he was also taught by Phra Achan Iam in Wat Laddan of Samut Songkhram Province, where he was formally ordained as a monk. After learing "vipassana kammatthana" in Kanchanaburi Province, Luang Pu Khai itinerated all over Thailand.

Luang Pu Khai finally located himself in Wat Bophit Phimuk because tranquil environment in the temple. The abbot of Wat Bophit Phimuk at that time was Phra Kavewong Kajea Watsuttamo.

Luang Pu Khai lived in a hut and in the graveyard of Wat Bophit Phimuk. Monks at that time could come to any temple and live for a long time, and needed not check paperwork or get allowance from temples' abbot, except in Vassa (Buddhist Lent Day).

In Wat Bophit Phimuk, Luang Pu Khai practiced Buddhism seriously, was disciplined rigidly, and often did good deeds, such as teaching monks and worshippers the mediation, giving supports to patients, donating money, and encouraging disciples to build Buddha statues, print Buddhist scriptures, etc.

Luang Pu Khai renovated old monks' residences and built new monks' residences, roads, and ponds. Luang Pu Khai also helped the maintenance of other temples when living there.

Luang Pu Khai was highly venerated by disciples and worshippers for his dignity and great contributions to Buddhism. Sacred objects and Buddha amulets made by him are very popular.

Luang Pu Khai departed on January 16, 2475 BE (AD 1932) at the age of 74.

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