Monday, May 08, 2006

The Legend of Jatukam Ramathep

Once upon a time, many centuries ago (about 1700 years ago), it was a time of war and trouble. There lived a king and his princes in Central Siam. The elder prince named Jatukam and the other named Ramathep. After many years of war, the King finally conquered and managed to secure Sri Lanka into part of his Kingdom. There was a saying that the King possessed a sacred treasure, this was none other than the holy relics of Lord Buddha. Before the King began his journey to the newly conquered land, he tasked the protection of the relics to his two princes, & ordered them to guard it with their lives.

Some time later, the princes received information of plan by their enemies to capture the relics. They immediately informed the King in Sri Lanka. The King instruction was to quickly take the relics away by sea and head to Sri Lanka. Halfway through the journey, a thunderstorm struck and their ships were sunken. Except the two princes, the rest of the crew did not survive.

The two princes were washed ashore, but well. Without the sea transport, they could no longer bring the relics to Sri Lanka. They started praying sincerely to the relics, saying: “Dear Enlightened One! If this land we step upon is a holy piece of land, then please guide us let us live a new life here. With our people, we shall guard and protected your relics forever.”

Later the two princes built a temple on this holy land and with much hard work, they also establish a wealthy and strong city. They brought new hope and peace to all the people. In remembrance of the great deeds by the two princes, they named this place Nakhon Si Thammarat in their honour. This is now located in Southern Thailand at the present time. The temple that the two princes built for the relics is called Wat Mahathat - as it is known now.

Ever since then, after a few centuries, many people had travelled to Wat Mahathat to locate the relics that were buried by the princes. Finally, they found a stone carving and the relics buried at the Wat. The stories of the two princes were found engraved on this stone.

The two princes had done many great deeds and the greatest is by erecting the temple to house the relics. And they promised to guard the Relics with their lives. They had earned respect from both the heavenly and earthly beings. Later, the people combined the two princes into one and named him Tao Jatukam Ramathep when praying to him. Tao Jatukam Ramathep becomes one of the most respected and popular deities in the South of Thailand. In olden days, Tao was used to address noble ones. It is believed that those that pray to Tao Jatukam Ramathep will be blessed with fulfilling life and better in all aspects in everyday work. (End) Wat Phra Mahathat

The temple is located on Ratchadamnoen Road in Tambon Nai Muang, Amphue Meuang of Nakhon Si Thammarat province. This is one of the most important historical sites in Southern Thailand. The stupa, 55.78m high, has a distinctive Sri Lankan style. The top of the spire is entirely covered in pure gold. Inside the temple are many buildings of importance, especially the royal building which has beautiful architecture from the Ayutthaya period and the Sam Chom building, where the Buddha image garbed in royal attire - Phra Si Thamma Sokarat is housed. There are also the Phra Maha Phinetkrom (the equestrian image) building and the Thap Kaset building; while the Khian and Pho Lanka buildings are used to display artifacts donated to the temple by Buddhists from the whole region.

Over the doorway at the entrance of Wat Phra Mahathat in Nakhon Si Thammarat, there are the statutes of Tao Kadtukam and Tao Ramathep, the guardian deities of holy relics of the Buddha. The name of one deity is Tao Kadtukam, which later people understand that he is none other than Jatukam.

There are many stories on how the City Pillar (Lak Meuang) and the first Jatukam amulets were made. One story tells of Police Maj Gen Sanpetch Thammikun, the provincial police chief during the 1980s, going to Wat Nang Phraya during a shamanistic ritual. The medium, a woman, told the policeman to come back. When he did come back later the woman wasn't there, but had been replaced by a new medium claiming to be the spirit of the military leader for the B.E. 17th century Nakhon Si Thammarat king.

The police general came a third time, and the second medium claimed to be yet another spirit - Jatukam, who instructed him to lead the construction of a city pillar. However, the spirit advised him that first he should consult with Police Maj Gen Khun Pantarakrachadej (also known as Ajarn Khun Phan), who was thought to be a master of Buddhist magical arts (Puttakom). This is believed by some to be the reason why Jatukam Ramathep was chosen to be a model for the amulet images when the campaign to raise funds for the city pillar was launched. The city pillar was partly completed in 1986, and the original Jatukam amulets were made in 1987. It was circular pendant a five-centimetres in diameter, and was priced at 49 baht. Now many are sold for more than 100,000 baht each. In the past only very few Jatukam amulets were produced, but after Police Maj Gen Khun Pantarakrachadej (Khun Phan) passed away recently at the age of 103 (some say 108), the amulets again became very popular. It may be significant that his death on Sep 5th 2006 was just two weeks before the military coup in Bangkok. Since the royal cremation ceremony of Khun Phan last February, Jatukam amulets have become even more popular. But how long can the craze last?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for posting this story, it was very helpful. In Thailand, so many people are crazy about this amulet of Jatukam Ramathep, but I couldn't find anyone who really know the story, they just wear these things like fashion. Is there any other websites, you might know, that I can read more about the legend? My email address is
Thanks again for the clarification. said...

Yes thank you a lot for the informations. I love the asian legend but often is not so easy to know the full story. This is a very special case i think. The legend is going on right now.
Thanks again

Khun Tina said...

Thankyou so much for this information. I have previously searched for information about Jatukam, but spelling it Ja To Kam, didn't succeed. Even asking my Thai friends for information, I get conflicting and partial stories, so have been none-the-wiser, 'til now. I'm passing this link to my friends in Thailand.

My partner and I bought Jatukams late in 2006 and early 2007 - before the current state of Jatukam fever. The funny thing is, that things definitely have changed for us since we got them. There is NO DOUBT that we can see a difference in our lives, without ever really expecting to.

I attended Khun Pan's coffin and made an offering to him late last year, prior to his burial in February.

Anonymous said...

I am not sure whether anyone has read this newspaper clipping:

I am neutral and just want to find out more

Mr D said...

i like the Jatukam Ramathep story. hope you dun mind i will use them on some amulets forum. will credit your blog.

Anonymous said...

Dear Wayne,
Your version of Jatukam Ramathep defers from other materials I have read since the Jatukam craze started in 2003 in Thailand. It would help if you could relate the source you based your article upon. The material will enlight not only myself but alot of confused people about JATUKAM RAMATHEP. Jatukam Ramathep just like Lord Buddha never ask to be recognise to be deity in their rights, is the people who religiously recognises their contributions to religion offers such prayers. Thanks

Anonymous said...

im really captured by this story but how this amulet is made??

cum.n.see said...

How would one go about to confirm that a particular JR amulet is authentic and not fake?

Thank you.

Mr. Jeremy Teo said...

My utmost respects to the spiritual divines, sad to say it's only humans making use of holy images to spin the amulet market with ruthless means and hoax stories.

Unknown said...

Very interesting, thank you! We staying here at NakhonSi now and saw other version of story with Lord's relic. Its described in city museum and painted in a Buddha park around that museum. There are prince Datta and princess carrying the relic to Lanka, coming to storm and appears in Haad Sai Kaeo in Nakhon Si, where they met king of Ligor and due to their divine arrival & survival he founded the stupa. Can I repost your story with link to our local website? (

Wayne Woo said...