Friday, May 22, 2009

LP Tah Wat Paniangdaek

Wat Paniangdaek in Nakhon Pathom is the famous temple of LP Tah (seen above), the greatest old-time guru monk of the province. He passed away 87 yrs ago in 2465 BE (1922 CE) and was also the first master of LP Tae Wat Sam Ngam (2434-2524 BE), the creator of the original Kumanthongs. LP Tah was the one who imparted to LP Tae all his knowledge of the Dhamma as well as meditation.
Arriving at the temple, located not far from the highway.
The outer shrine with a standing image of LP Tah as well as various Buddha statues.
The Katha to pray for LP Tah's help.
The LP Tah Vihara.
The gold foil covered statue of LP Tah.
Behind LP Tah is the big Buddha image of "Maha Mongkon Nimit".
Another glass shrine with the wax statue of LP Tah inside. In front is a standing Kumanthong statue like those of Wat Sam Ngam. Incidentally, Wat Paniangdaek does not make KMTs.
A display cabinet with the earliest amulets of LP Tah, consecrated by him in 2450 and 2455 BE.
The later batches of amulets consecrated in 2482 and 2502 BE.
An old 5" bucha of LP Tah, as well as Takruts and Pidtas consecrated by him.
The temple shop.
An altar with various Lersi and Deity Masks.

A video I took of the temple's courtyard. Interestingly there are many animal sculptures here, like a zoo.
One of the 2 elephant guardians of the temple, Plai Chaiyo.
The Ubosot.
The Vihara of LP Prayong, another disciple of LP Tah.
The 5" Phra Sangkachai bucha I obtained from the temple.

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.

Saturday, May 09, 2009

LP Sawai Wat Preedaram

On 21.4.2009 I visited Wat Preedaram for the first time. This is the temple of the late LP Sawai (1921-2000 CE), master of Metta magic. The temple is located very far from the highway, deep in the rural parts of Nakhon Pathom. Above is the LP Sawai Vihara with his statue and undecaying body behind. The temple counter is also in this Vihara.
A closer shot of LP Sawai's body, which is covered with gold foil.
Another angle. On closer look, LP Sawai's flesh and his facial features still appear to be intact.
Outside the Vihara is this big white Buddha statue in the posture of preaching.

A video I took of the White Buddha statue and the surroundings.
The Phra Sivali shrine.
The Ubosot.
The golden Luang Por Ban Laem (Wednesday AM Buddha) statue at the back of the Ubosot.
The Phra Ruang (Monday Buddha) and LP Sawai statues at the front.
Inside the Ubosot. The Sangha was doing their evening chanting at that time.
The elegant crematorium.
The Kuti building of the monks.
Above the LP Sawai Vihara we can see an image of LP riding on a rooster - his zodiac animal. Both LP Sawai and LP Mee passed away in the same year, but Wat Preedaram is obviously in a much better state than Wat Manwichai. After chowing some of LP Sawai's remaining amulets, we proceeded back to Bangkok.