The Emerald Buddha is a 66 cm high translucent bright green statue depicting a seated Buddha in a yogic pose. The Emerald Buddha is considered the protector of the Kingdom of Thailand not only among Buddhists, but also at the state level.
Buddha and his teachings
Buddha is not God, not the Creator, and not the Prophet or Messenger of higher powers. Who is Buddha, we will learn about this, having got acquainted with the biography and teachings of the founder of Buddhism .
The upbringing of Siddhartha Gautama
Royal Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in a small state on the border of India and Nepal in 558 BC. The mother died 7 days after giving birth, the boy was raised with love by her younger sister.
The father, raising the heir, in every possible way protected him from life’s troubles. The crown prince had at his disposal 3 palaces with luxurious furnishings. The king chose a smart and beautiful wife for his son, who gave birth to an heir.
What is the sense of life
So Prince Gautama lived until the age of 29, until he realized that such cruel things as aging, sickness and death are present in life, and wealth cannot save a person from disease or death.
He thought about the meaning of life and wanted to understand why people experience fear and anger, envy and hatred, why people do not leave and are tormented by passionate desires. The prince could not find an answer to these questions. He lost the joy of life and decided to save people from inevitable evils.
Gautama announced his decision to leave the palace. The persuasions and sobs of relatives did not stop the young man in his intention to find the Truth. The prince shaved off his hair as a sign of renunciation of worldly concerns and left the luxurious home.
Taking nothing with him, he picked up the discarded clothes, peeling the rags with saffron, which made them turn orange. Later, Buddhist monks, wishing to be like a great teacher, began to shave their heads and wear simple, plain orange clothes.
Searching for an answer
For six years the young man tried to find a way to free himself from suffering. He learned to meditate and led an ascetic lifestyle, exhausting his flesh, so that he almost died of hunger, but reached a supersensitive state.
The wanderer realized that he had experienced everything that is available to a mortal: the bliss and bliss of palace life, meditation of yogis and philosophical canons, power and poverty, love and hunger, loneliness and asceticism in life.
In April 523, he cognized “the highest and complete Enlightenment” – he became a Buddha , an awakened, enlightened spiritual teacher, free from suffering, who opened and explained to others the practical path of Enlightenment.
The “awakened” views of the Buddha
For 45 years, the Buddha traveled with his disciples throughout India, spreading his views as “the teachings of the Enlightened One.” He explained that Enlightenment is a real and attainable state where the mind and body are fully prepared to benefit all sentient beings.
Constant attentiveness to one’s own thoughts, words and actions, which should not lead to the suffering of other beings. This contributes to the attainment of happiness and enlightenment.
This requires generosity, patience and diligence, as well as concentration and wisdom. Persistent reflection on a problem – meditation – strengthens a new way of looking at things in the mind and helps to cope with internal problems.
The final stage of Enlightenment is the ascent to the summit of Wisdom. The essence of the Buddha’s path is the development of calmness and clarity of mind, combined with the daily observance of morality: refraining from harming, compassionate and benefiting other beings gradually leads to the acquisition of true wisdom.
A wise person possesses boundless love, wisdom and the ability to help others exactly as they need it.
Emerald Buddha in legends through the ages
According to legend, the image of the Buddha was made in India, where the sage Nagasina predicted that the Emerald Buddha would bring supremacy and prosperity to the country in which he would be located.
Appearance of Buddha to monks
The statue appeared to the world in 1534 in the North of Thailand in the town of Chiang Rai in an old stupa. Buddhist stupa is a high monument, a cult monument with a spire, reminiscent of a temple, a symbol of the enlightened mind of Buddha.
Who built the stupa and placed the Emerald Buddha there is unknown. The monks found the statue inside a plaster monument, which cracked and began to collapse.
During a thunderstorm downpour, after a lightning strike, the gypsum plaster crumbled, and the monks saw a gilded statue of Buddha, which they brought to the temple. Here, the amazed monks saw that the gilding was crumbling, and, sparkling with an emerald sheen, the Buddha appeared in all his glory, who has since been called the Emerald.
The statue of the Emerald Buddha is carved from jade , it got its name because of the rich color of the material that resembles an emerald.
Travels of the sacred statue
Since the 1st century, the statue of the Emerald Buddha has been constantly traveling. Legend claims that the statue was moved by heavenly forces through earth, water and air.
When the ruler of Chiang Mai learned about the discovery of Buddha, he ordered to deliver the shrine to the capital. The elephant, on which the statue was loaded, suddenly became obstinate, not wanting to go to the capital, but headed for the Lanpangu area. The stubborn was replaced by another elephant, which also marched only to Lanpangu.
Then the ruler decided that the Gods were denying him protection, and ordered to take the Buddha to Lanpang. Delivered at the request of the gods, the statue was placed in a specially built Phra temple, where it stood for 32 years, receiving Buddhist pilgrims at its feet.
The statue was located in the capital Vientiane for 200 years, from where, after the conquest of Laos by General Chankri, the shrine was transported in 1885 to the Phra Kaew temple on the territory of the Grand Royal Palace in Bangkok, where it is still located.
Emerald Buddha in Bangkok
On the territory of the Royal Palace in Bangkok – the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, the pearl of Thailand. Inside the palace, on a dais, sits the Emerald Buddha. This is the original statue brought from Sri Lanka.
Sacred residence of Buddha
The patron saint of Thailand, the Emerald Buddha, who protects the Kingdom, was erected a dwelling – a sacred residence , the Wat Phra Kaew complex. The Buddha’s residence has the status of a personal royal temple, open to everyone.
The complex includes 100 buildings with 200 years of royal history, including: a mausoleum with the ashes of the royal family, a golden stupa that preserves the Buddha bone, and the royal library.
Built in the old style of Bangkok, the buildings, covering an area of 95 hectares, are bounded by a 2-kilometer snow-white stone wall. In the well-groomed area there is a beautiful park and numerous lakes covered with lotus flowers.
The exterior of the temple
The main temple is elegantly decorated. The roof is decorated with polished orange and green tiles, the pillars are mosaic, the pediments (the ends of the facades, bounded by the roof slopes) are made of expensive marble.
Around the temple of the Emerald Buddha – figurines of the heroes of Buddhist holy books : the king of monkeys, bird people and Yaksha demons, the keepers of the sanctuary, with blue skin and richly decorated clothes.
Multistage carved domes, patterned windows and doors are decorated with gold and bronze. On the roofs of the temple there are images of sacred snakes protecting the sanctuary from evil spirits. Ceramic mosaics, gilding and colored glass are full of symbols of Buddhism, making up a picture of the majestic positive characteristic of this religion.
At the front doors there are 12 bronze lions on guard: only the royal family enters through the front doors, for ordinary people there is another way. The outer walls are decorated with frescoes from the Thai epic of 178 stories, the essence of which is human honesty, faith and devotion.
Around the temple there are 12 structures , so that people, offering prayer, sheltered here from the sun and rain. In the southwestern part of the complex there is a chapel and a high bell tower.
Inside the temple, the main place is occupied by the altar, adorned with precious stones, on which the Emerald Buddha sits. The deity seated in the sacred room – Ubossote, covered in gold, froze in a yogic meditation position: hands folded on knees, palms open and directed upward.
The stone statue of the deity, made 5 centuries ago from semi-precious jade and decorated with pure gold , depicts the Buddha sitting in the lotus position. The statue is 66 cm high and 28.3 cm wide.
The third eye of the Buddha is made of a gold insert, located above the level of the eyebrows of the statue. The gaze of the deity is directed downward, and small lips and nose, elongated ears are evidence of complete pacification and tranquility.
At the base of the throne are 10 small bronze crowned Buddha statues, symbolizing members of the royal families of three reigns.
On both sides of the front doors, trimmed with mother-of-pearl, there are three-meter-high bronze statues of the crowned Buddha, adorned with precious stones.
Worship and rituals of the Emerald Buddha
Thais believe in the power and strength of the Emerald deity. In the early days of Bangkok, the statue was carried through city streets to relieve disaster. Near the Emerald Buddha, the rulers of Thailand swear allegiance to the people and country.
Only the king has the right to touch the statue. Even the dust from the deity is allowed to be wiped off only by the king or crown prince.
Dressing a deity
According to ancient tradition, the king of Thailand, 3 times a year, depending on the season, dresses the Buddha in golden robes.
Summer clothing of the Emerald Buddha is a pointed crown with gold and jewelry. A golden robe covers the statue from shoulders to ankles. In winter, a drapery of gold beads, covering the statue, starting from the neck. In the rainy months, the headdress is gold spikes, adorned with enamel and sapphires. The golden outfit is thrown over the left shoulder.
The dates of the ritual ceremonies fall on the first waning moon in March, July and November. The dress change ceremony is conducted only by the King of Thailand, who leads all Buddhist ceremonies.
The king sprinkles water on monks and believers who have come to receive the blessing of the deity for a successful life in the coming season. The ritual is intended for the prosperity of the state and the power of the king.
Worshiping the Buddha at the coronation is the most important ritual in the life of a king. The ruler makes offerings to the deity in the form of gold and silver flowers, then lights candles.
By worshiping the image, the king makes an oath to be faithful to his religion. Before entering the temple, as a sign of respect for the deity, they take off their shoes. While praying, one should not direct their feet towards the Buddha and turn their backs to the deity.
Every ruler in Thailand contributes to the preservation of the temple complex. Through their efforts, once every 50 years, a major overhaul and reconstruction of the temple is carried out.
Temple of the Emerald Buddha – an object of pilgrimage and tourism in Thailand
The Temple of the Emerald Buddha is the main object of pilgrimage and tourist curiosity. Among the visitors there are not only visitors, but also local residents: Thais revere the shrine.
When you enter the temple, it seems like you are on an ornate stage with many details from immaculately clean slabs to flashy rooftops. The temple, in which not a single monk lives, retains such a noble appearance, as if it was built only yesterday.