Sunday Snapshot #13

Wat Phra That Doi Suthep is a Theravada Buddhist temple (wat) in Chiang Mai Province, Thailand. The temple is often referred to as “Doi Suthep” although this is actually the name of the mountain where it’s located. It is a sacred site to many Thai people. The temple is 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the city of Chiang Mai and situated at an elevation of 1,073 meters. From the temple, impressive views of downtown Chiang Mai can be seen.

The original founding of the temple remains a legend and there are a few varied versions. The temple is said to have been founded in 1383 when the first stupa was built. Over time, the temple has expanded, and been made to look more extravagant with many more holy shrines added. A road to the temple was first built in 1935.

White elephant legend

According to legend, a monk named Sumanathera from the Sukhothai Kingdom had a dream. In this vision he was told to go to Pang Cha and look for a relic. Sumanathera ventured to Pang Cha and found a bone. Many claim it was Gautama Buddha’s shoulder bone. The relic displayed magical powers: it glowed, it was able to vanish, it could move and replicate itself. Sumanathera took the relic to King Dhammaraja, who ruled Sukhothai. The eager Dhammaraja made offerings and hosted a ceremony when Sumanathera arrived. However, the relic displayed no abnormal characteristics, and the king, doubtful of the relic’s authenticity, told Sumanathera to keep it.

King Nu Naone of Lan Na heard of the relic and bade the monk to bring it to him. In 1368, with Dharmmaraja’s permission, Sumanathera took the relic to what is now Lamphun, in northern Thailand. Once there, the relic broke into two pieces. The smaller piece was enshrined at Wat Suan Dok. The other piece was placed by the king on the back of a white elephant which was released into the jungle. The elephant is said to have climbed up Doi Suthep, at that time called Doi Aoy Chang (Sugar Elephant Mountain), stopped, trumpeted three times, then dropped dead. This was interpreted as an omen. King Nu Naone immediately ordered the construction of a temple at the site.

The name of the Temple (Wat Phra That Doi Suthep) actually explains what the temple has. Phra entails of an honorific Buddha image, and That means a relic.] Combining the two tells that there is a relic of Buddha’s in the sanctity of the Wat, and in this case it’s half of Buddha’s shoulder bone. The location of the shoulder bone relic is to be found in the rounded portion of the Chedi right above the octagonal redented section and below the ringed section.

The Picture of the Green Buddha statue at Wat Phra That Doi Suthep, Chiang Mai is from our 2014 Chian Mai vacation.

Happy Sunday, friends 😍

Kalyani S Kakade

28, Jyeshtha Shukla Paksha, Trayodashi, 2079 Rakshasa, Vikrama Samvata Singapore, 12 June 2022 Sunday

Text Source: Wikipedia

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