Sunday, May 10, 2009

The Amazing Makkaliporn of Wat Prangmuni

Wat Prangmuni in Singburi is just opposite the great Phra Prom Shrine in Promburi district. Above we can see the temple gate, which says "Wat Phra Prangmuni". Locals call is Wat Phra Prang or Wat Prangmuni. This temple is famous for 2 things - 1. its Khmer style Chedi that is known as "Prang" in Thailand, and 2. the Makkaliporn. The Makkaliporn kept in this temple originally belonged to my master LP Jaran of Wat Ampawan. But because it was drawing too much attention, disturbing the peace of the Vipassana practitioners in Wat Ampawan, in the 1980s LP decided to have them kept in Wat Prangmuni instead. And this temple has become a strong tourist attraction ever since. However few foreign tourists will know this temple; it is the local tourists that are ever so fascinated by these out-of-this-world "creatures", because only locals know the legend behind them.
A golden chedi near the entrance. Many readers have expressed great interest in the Makkaliporn since I wrote the article "The Origins of Makkaliporn" last year, so I shall write more on the details in this follow-up article. Now, to understand more about them, again we need to go back to the Vessantara Jataka. As I wrote before, during the era of Vipassi Buddha in the previous kappa (aeon), the Lady Phussati was granted her wish to become the mother of a future Buddha by the Buddha Vipassi. She was then reborn as the consort of Lord Indra in Tavatimsa heaven. Before she passed away from that heaven, she was again granted 10 blessings by Indra, which are namely:
1) to be born into the khattiya (warrior) caste
2) to be endowed with eyes as beautiful and brilliant as a gazelle's
3) to continue to have the same name on earth as in heaven
4) to have an illustrious son with easy delivery
5) to remain slender even with a child in her womb
6) to have breasts firm and shapely,
with skin as fair as lotus buds even after becoming a mother
7) to always remain youthful and will not grow old
8) to have a delicate and soft complexion
9) to be allowed to release all prisoners from jails
10) to be able to get what she wishes for on earth
The famous golden Prang chedi of the temple. It is around 9-storeys tall. So Lady Phussati was reborn on earth with all those blessings, no less a goddess among women. What do these blessings got to do with the Makkaliporn? A lot - because later when Indra used his psychic powers to create the hermitage for Prince Vessantara along with the 16 Makkaliporn trees in the Himavana Forest, Phussati was the physical "model" from which he fashioned the beautiful Makkaliporn fruit fairies. Like Phussati the Makkaliporn have beautiful, brilliant eyes, slender figures, firm and shapely breasts and soft, delicate complexions. They are born as 16-yr old girls and will die as 16-yr old girls after 7 days, after which they will whither and shrink away. Many people are curious as to where this Himavana Forest is. According to Yogis who have been there, it lies 16 Yojanas or 256km away from the Himalayas. However, only Yogis who have attained the ability of teleportation through the 4th Jhana are able to enter the forest. It is actually a separate dimension by itself, inaccessible to ordinary human beings. Most of us live in a 3 dimensional world our whole lives, unaware of the 4th, 5th, 6th.. dimensions that exist in parallel to our reality. If there are people who could actually penetrate into those other dimensions, chances are they would be dismissed as crazy.
The LP Ban Laem shrine in front of the Prang chedi. LP Jaran did not believe in the existence of the Makkaliporn too, until he saw it with his own eyes in Sigiriya Hill, Sri Lanka in the year 1972. In the cave of the black-robed Sinhalese monk, LP saw it for the first time. The Makaliporn emitted a strong fragrance like perfume. It was the size of a 16-yr old human girl, very beautiful, and completely naked. It had almost connecting eyebrows, large bluish eyes with golden pupils. The eyebrows started from the top of the nose and curved outwards like a crescent moon (similar to a Sukhothai Buddha Image), and the eyes were as big as eggs. It also had a protruding nose. Its complexion was as smooth as a "mak pang" or marian plum; and it had long golden hair like a Westerner. On top of its head there was a stem like that of a mangosteen, evidence that it was actually a fruit. The neck had 3 ring-lines and it did not have any collar bones. In fact it did not have any obvious bone structure at all. When squeezed the Makkaliporn's body felt like a balloon. The hands and fingers were long and slender, with long finger nails, slightly different from a human. The feet were just as pretty as the hands, and equally smooth. There were no signs of any sinews at all. But what was amazing was that even though it had no bones, it had physical organs like the heart and the lungs inside its body just like an ordinary human being.
The Jow Mae Kery Thong shrine. She is a female deity in these parts. Given the goddess like attractiveness and beauty of the Makkaliporn, it is not hard to imagine how those lustful Yogis and Gandhabhas in the forest would go crazy over them. What was even more amazing that although Makaliporn are non-sentient beings created by psychic power, like an illusionary man created by a illusionist, they seemed to have minds of their own. They are "programed" to sing and dance to attract attention, and even after they fall from the tree and die, they still continue to possess that ability.
The golden Ubosot of Wat Prangmuni. Having seen and learned about the Makkaliporn in the cave, LP Jaran made a wish to meet the Makkaliporn again when he returned to Thailand. And in accordance with his wish, he came into possession of 2 of them years later, given to him by the son of a temple abbot in Lopburi province. At that time they were still large, but gradually they shrank and wither away, no longer looking like humans. Now they looked like palm-sized fairies.
Inside the Ubosot. Thousands of people have seen the Makkaliporn ever since they were at Wat Ampawan and thousands more when they were moved to Wat Prangmuni. People continued to be fascinated by them, whether they believed in them or not.
Inside the Kuti of the Abbot, who was a disciple of LP Jaran as well. He kindly allowed me to take a close look at the Makkaliporn on display inside his kuti.
The glass cabinet housing the 2 Makaliporn aka Nareepon in Thailand. Notice how it was well decorated with flowers and even offerings of cosmetics!
A closer shot of the 2 "girls" and their nice little bed. LP Jaran mentioned a couple of miraculous stories regarding these Makkaliporn. When they were in LP's possession many people talked about them. Once, there was a female lay follower of LP, Mrs Sopa, who invited LP to her house for a merit making ceremony. She was the wife of a district chief officer in Chantaburi province who learned meditation at Wat Ampawan. However her house was located near the border of Chantaburi and Rayong province, hundreds of kilometers away from Wat Ampawan in Singburi.
A painting of the Makkaliporn tree. We can see the Gandhabhas and Lersi Yogis snatching and fighting over the Makkaliporn on the tree. Now, Mrs Sopa and her doctor friends knew the story of the Makkaliporn well and they requested LP to bring them along for the invitation. They wanted to examine the Makkaliporn as they had not met LP even when they visited Wat Ampawan. LP was undecided on whether to accede to their request or not.
A closer look at one of the Lersi Yogis flying up onto the tree and gleefully grabbing the Makkaliporn. There was one obvious inaccuracy in this painting - the Makkaliporn had black hair. But in actual fact they had golden blonde hair. Eventually LP decided to bring the Makkaliporn along. He put them on a pedestal plate, wrapped it with white cloth and put it in the car beside him.
Hoax photos of fake Makkaliporn which can be seen in the Kuti. So LP set off from Wat Ampawan at 7am in the morning. The moment he boarded the car, he fell asleep. The miracle happened then - the car arrived in Rayong province at 8am. It took them merely 1 hr to reach Mrs Sopa's house when it normally should have took more than 4 hrs! The Makkaliporn had miraculously shortened the distance between Singburi and Rayong province, allowing them to arrive much faster than humanly possible.
Closer shot of the fake Makkaliporn. Notice that they are hanging in space. How is it possible for the Makaliporn to manipulate time and space like that? It was just like the way the Buddha used his psychic power to keep the distance between Angulimala and himself always the same, even though Angulimala was running after him and the Buddha merely walked at a slow pace. The great female Vipassana master Dipa Ma was also able to do the same thing when she mastered the various Iddhis through Jhana practice. This, along with flying and teleportation, were forms of Iddhividha or transformation at will.
Another close shot. See how "plastic" it was. Although the Makkaliporn were officially dead, yet they still had such miraculous properties. So LP had to wait many hours at Mrs Sopa's house before it was time for chanting and lunch. This was the 1st miracle.
A photo of the gold jewelries and money that devotees have offered to the Makkaliporn. The 2nd miracle happened when LP was invited by Mr Chan Konsitipa to Wat Si Bunreung in Bangkok. He had learned about the Makkaliporn as well and wanted to organize a merit-making ceremony as well for his birthday. Mr Chan requested LP to bring the Makaliporn with him as his son who came back from America wished to see them. So LP took them along in his kitbag.
Another photo of the backs of the Makkaliporn. Notice that the spine, ribs and pelvis could be clearly seen when they are all whithered up. But when they are in their original glory, the bones cannot be seen at all. When LP arrived at Wat Si Bunreung, there were many Chao Khun (high ranking chief monks) who gathered at the abbot's kuti. However nobody knew about the Makkaliporn except Mr Chan. After a while, a sweet song was heard coming out from LP's kitbag. And the only person who heard it was the abbot Phra Kru Sipariyattikun. So he asked LP whether he had brought a cassette player with him. The abbot found the song very nice and wanted to see the cassette. LP replied he was not the type of monk who would carry a cassette player, but the abbot did not believe him.
The main altar of the 2nd storey Sala, venerating Phra Buddha Nimit of Ayuttaya. LP tried to keep the kitbag to himself even though the abbot was trying to look inside it. Later he needed to go to the toilet and the abbot asked him to leave the bag with him as the toilet was far away. LP forgot about the matter and agreed to it. So when LP went to the toilet, the abbot could not contain his curiousity anymore and opened the bag. The Makkaliporn were exposed and soon a crowd gathered around them. Most people had not seen them before, including the Chao Khun of Wat Po, Wat Pamok and others. The people there then called their folks at home to come down to the temple to see the Makkaliporn, and this lasted until the late evening. Needless to say, there was no chanting ceremony for Mr Chan's birthday on that day since everybody was busy admiring the Makkaliporn.
Under the Phra Buddha Nimit statue was this strange preserved creature in a tank, called Por Chang Noi or Father Little Elephant. This was one of the attractions at Wat Prangmuni. How is it that the Makkaliporn could still sing after being "dead" for so long? Could they really be considered dead when they still had such miraculous abilities? That was the 2nd miracle.
A closer look at the "little elephant", which was actually a piglet with a long mutated snout like an elephant. Notice that the umbillical cord was still attached to its navel. It probably died soon after being born. The Makkaliporn were really too popular and LP had to put them away eventually. Otherwise they would surely distract people from seeking the real Dhamma. They would continue to exist until the current Buddha's teachings vanish from the world, after which they would vanish along with the Vessantara hermitage as well as the Makkaliporn trees in Himavana Forest.
Another angle of the "little elephant". Its ears and nose really looked like an elephant rather than a pig. Could it be an elephant in its previous life? Anybody who have seen the Makkaliporn with his orher own eyes would have to accept that the Vessantara Jataka is a real story and the Himavana Forest and Makaliporn trees do exist. Those who have not seen might not believe and neither do we need to convince them otherwise.
The display cabinets outside the Abbot's kuti. Many goodies inside but they are not for chow. If the reader have the affinity to go to Wat Prangmuni, you can go see for yourself. Many people ask me how they could obtain one of these Makaliporn. My reply is do you have the merit to get them? They are very rare and only highly attained yogis could pick them up from the Himavana Forest. And even if you do get one of the Makaliporn, can you handle the constant attention it attracts? I leave you readers with this to ponder about.


Leon Basin said...

Hey, I just wanted to say how much I enjoy your blog. I would love to speak to you sometime. I will add your site to my favorites!:)

Wayne said...

Thks for your appreciation, Leon.

Ryan said...

Dear Wayne,
It was superb to see your travel logs and blogs on various Wat. I was wondering, do you know any white robe retreats in hatyai or Pattalung?

Saw the blog on Kow Or, is the samnak still open? Are they still accepting white robes?

From Malaysia Penang.

Could I get your email? There are few things that I need to ask you :P


Wayne said...

I'm not sure abt whether Kow Or accepts white robes, but you can always go there to ask. Your Thai shld be good if u want to practice there.

fred said...

Nice to see the photos of makaliphon.... I knew from the books about Luang Por jaran that he had returned them to their owner....but wasn't aware that they are on display at a temple.....
You really must learn Thai and read the whole series of six books about his life.

fred said...

You mention at the beginning of this article that you wrote about makaliphon before....that wasn't on this blog was it?...or do i need to learn

Wayne said...

Yes I only managed to learn some basic Thai, which is unfortunately not enough to read Thai books. I wish I will have the chance to further my knowledge in the Thai language. My earlier article on Makaliporn is at:

fred said...

The story in Wayne's blog about when Luang Por took them to a visit to a lay follower's home, and many villagers and some monks there listened to them singing for some time, enchanted by their heavenly sound. They agreed to allow the head monk there to converse with them, although nobody else but Luang por could hear them. He wanted to be able to see them but they refused...when he got annoyed and asked why they allowed Luang por to see them they replied that Luang por was free of all the defilements (Arahant)...but the monk was not, and was still not even very good at keeping his monks rules and precepts.... so they knew that if they allowed ordinary beings to see them, then lust would arise and cause those persons to create bad karma for themselves.

fred said...

The 'spirits' which inhabited the two dried up makaliphon have now gone back to wherever they came from. Whilst they were with Luang Por he could converse with them....sometimes the boys attending him at his guti caught sight of young girls climbing the stairs to his room and became worried that his reputation would be spoiled...sometimes they heard singing or girlish laughter.
Luang Por had the ability to chant a special mantra which would 'shorten a journey'...and the two makaiphon used their powers to do similar one time. They also left him to return home...for a day and night...and returned after seven years of our time.

Wayne said...

Many thks for putting in the additional details Fred!