Sunday, April 15, 2007

Buddhism in Thailand : Ratanakosin Period King Rama I

King Rama I

The reign of King Rama 1 of Chakri dynasty began in the year 2325 BE, with the town of Bangkok as capital. Although there were some wars with outward enemy, he often managed to find time to encourage the study and practice of Buddhism. Numerous temples, both inside and outside the capital, were repaired. Of these temples, the Jetuvana Vihara (or Wat Pho, in the vernacular), which ranks among one of the most important, had undergone seven years of repair and the well-known Wat-Phra-Keo (Temple of the Emmeral Buddha), which is regarded as the most important one in Thailand, was also built during his reign. From the Northern provinces such as from Sukhothai, a number of Buddha images (about two thousand in all) were brought in order to be enshrined in the Uposatha of various temples in Bangkok.

In 2331 BE a Council of Bhikkhus was convened for the sake of, as before, settling the contents of the Tipitaka and having those settled passages written down with a stylus on books made of corypha palm leaves. Such books were numbered 345 in all, i.e. 80 for the Abhidhamma and 53 for the Saddavisesa texts. The Council, held at the present Wat Mahadhat, lasted five months and under the chairmanship of a Supreme Patriarch (whose name was Sri). The participants were 218 bhikkhus together with 32 lay scholars. This was the second council held in Thailand.

Religious literature during his reign were compiled both in Pali and in Thai, of these, one was a Pali treatise celled Sangitiyavangsa written by Somdet Phra Vanarat of Jetuvana Temple.

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