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Phra Buddha Chinnaraj "Victory Buddha"

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Phra Buddha Chinnaraj is one of the most beautiful and venerated Buddha sculpture in the posture of submitting Mara in Thailand. Wat Yai is famous throughout Thailand for this gold casted Phra Buddha Chinnaraj also known as “Victory Buddha” to the Thais. Wat Yai (meaning Big Temple) is also referred to as Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahatat Woramahawihan and it is regarded as the most important Thai Theravada monastery in Phitsanulok Province.

Inside Wat Yai hosts Phra Buddha Chinnaraj which was built during the reign of King Mahathamma Racha Lithai in AD 1357. The pearl inlaid wooden doors of the temple were built by King Borommakot in AD 1756 dedicated to Phra Buddha Chinnaraj. Behind the temple is a large pagoda measuring 36m high with a staircase leading up to the niche containing Lord Buddha’s relics. In front of the pagoda, there is Phra Attharos, a standing Buddha image.

Throughout history, the Royal family in Thailand firmly believed in Phra Buddha Chinnaraj until the extent that King Rama 5 faithfully made several copies of the Victory Buddha to be placed in other parts of Thailand including Wat Benchamabophit in Bangkok and Wat Saranat Thammaram in Rayong. However, the original Phra Buddha Chinnaraj at Wat Yai remained as the most popular and why is it so? We may want to dwell into the history making of this sacred Buddha, second in Thailand after the sacred Emerald Buddha of Wat Phra Kaew in Bangkok.

According to commentary records emphasized that Phra Buddha Chinnaraj is the most powerful and respected Buddha in Thailand. Not only that. It’s also regarded as a perfect Buddha in the Thai Kingdom. The sculpture of this Buddha for Success traced back to AD1357 with over 650 years of history. During the Sukhothai era, King Mahathamma Racha Lithai felt devastated over the many deaths due to war. Feeling unrest due to the fear of Karma for the many killings had caused King Lithai grave concerns. In order to reduce his own Karma and seek forgiveness from his lost soldiers at the battlefield, he wanted to perform some good deeds. Hence, King Lithai ordered the construction of Wat Phra Sri Rattana Mahathat. More importantly, the King had wished to have 3 residing Buddha gilded in gold to be constructed and placed inside the new temple; Phra Buddha Chinnaraj, Phra Buddha Chinnasri and Phra Buddha Satsada.

King Lithai had especially engaged 5 of the most cultivated holy men in white robes with austerity practice to participate in the making of the three Buddha sculptures. In addition to that, he also sought the best sculptors at that time in the formation of this working team.

The Buddha statues are made from a combination of 5 metal compounds; gold, silver, copper, metal and tin. When the construction of all the statues was completed, the unexpected happened. Only 2 of the statues was successfully completed which was Phra Buddha Chinnasri and Phra Buddha Satsada. The Phra Buddha Chinnaraj failed for unknown reason.

Not long after that, King Lithai ordered the construction of Phra Chinnaraj again for the 2nd time. This time more specialists were engaged to do the job. Again the project failed and nobody knows the reason for the failure. Rendered with such disaster, he then decided to defer the construction of Phra Buddha Chinnaraj for a while. However, he did not give up the plan just because of the “unknown” problems that was encountered. He offered prayers to have a solemn and perfect Buddha statue for the Thai people to venerate.

Two years went by and the King had decided it’s time he would begin construction of Phra Buddha Chinnaraj for the 3rd time. Everything went well at first but when come to the stage of pouring the 5 metal composites during the casting process, uneasy feelings crept into the minds of the sculptors fearing the recurrence of previous unsuccessful attempts. An elderly man in white robe suddenly appeared out from nowhere to give them assurance and offered to help. Before long, the material casting process of Phra Buddha Chinnaraj was done. Everyone prayed sincerely at the crucial moment of opening the casting mould to see the outcome of the statue whether this time they succeed in their attempt or fail again. Gradually the mould encasing the Victory Buddha was opened and the golden structure began to illuminate. Tears flowed from the eyes of King Lithai and everyone as they have been bestowed upon a solemn Buddha statue and a successful mission accomplished.

While everyone was admiring the newly constructed statue, they suddenly realized the elderly man in white robe vanished into thin air was nowhere to be found. People started to speculate that the elderly man was a celestial being sent from heaven to assist in the construction of the Victory Buddha. The King then ordered the construction of a small temple as thanksgiving to commemorate the elderly man.

In Thai scriptures, it’s mentioned that at the sides surrounding the Victory Buddha are two ferocious Nagas (dragon) that frequently caused harms and devastation to people. Finally, they were subdued by Lord Buddha and were converted as celestial Dharma guardians. The other 2 celestial beings that are placed near to both knees of Lord Buddha are the powerful Dharma protectors; Hanuman (Monkey God) and Tao Tetsuwan (Door Guardian).  Thai people and many Buddhist prayed to the Victory Buddha and most of their wishes are answered.

Sacred amulets bearing the image of this remarkable Phra Buddha Chinnaraj are able to ward off dangers, bring success and peace to oneself. Worshippers firmly believing in Phra Buddha Chinnaraj can bring them a successful and happy life will install a smaller version to be venerated in their homes. Such is the history and high veneration for Phra Buddha Chinnaraj for success in life that has a huge following and respect from all Theravadian Buddhists.

From the perspective of a Buddhist, whichever Buddha images we may have installed at home is not important. The purpose is not to worship Lord Buddha as an idol. Instead we must take the correct approach to constantly remind us that a Buddha’s image represents His teachings. Hence, it is crucial to understand Buddhism doctrine regarding the sublime subject on Anicca, Dukkha and Anatta while eradicating the mind defilements associated with Lobha, Dosa and Moha. This can only be achieved through meditation practice to develop the Wisdom and see the Truth in accordance with His profound teaching. As a true Buddhist at heart, we must strive on to attain Victory by ourselves following this doctrine to reach the ultimate bliss.

Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!

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