|WAT PA MOK
|In the "Testimony of the king from Wat Pradu Songtham" there are a eight sacred places listed outside the city of Ayutthaya, being the glory of the
capital since olden times.  One of these eight places is Wat Pa Mok, which features a reclining Buddha of 50 meters long. (1)  Wat Pa Mok is
located on the right bank of the Chao Phraya in Pa Mok district of Ang Thong. Pa Mok refers to an area with abundant Water Jasmine trees
(Wrightia Religiosa). The City of Pa Mok is located 12 Km south of Ang Thong.
The area of Pa Mok is mentioned on different occasions in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya, mainly in preparation of during warfare. Pa Mok
must have been one of the strategic passageways for the Burmese, Lao (Chiang Mai) and Ayutthaya armies situated on a stretched of the present
Chao Phraya River called at that time the Pa Mok Noi Canal 
Pa Mok was apparently a strategic position because it was located near the confluence of a canal connecting the present Noi and Chao Phraya
Rivers. Armies used to establish their camps in this area during warfare.
It is said that King Naresuan (r. 1590-1605) visited this temple to pay homage to the reclining Buddha of Pa Mok prior to go in to battle with the
Maha Uparacha of Burma - Minchit Sra - in 1592, but I found no trace of such a record in Cushman's English translation of the Royal Chronicles of
Ayutthaya. This battle is known as the "Battle of Nong Sarai" or the "Elephant Battle" (Yuddhahatthi). (2)
We do read that Prince Naresuan established a military camp at Pa Mok and during the night got a prophetic dream in which he fought with a large
crocodile on the flooded west side of Pa Mok and killed the beast. The Brahmins prophesied a victory for the king. A painting recalling this story
can be found in the prayer hall of Wat Suwan Dararam. The story continues that when the prince mounted his elephant, he saw a relic of the
Buddha, the size of an orange, appearing in the skies from the south to the west and prayed that he might be victorious in battle (3).
|"At ten thum the King dreamt a prophetic dream that a spate of waters flooded the
forest to the west, that he went wading around in the water and met a large alligator,
that they fought and that the King killed the alligator. When he awoke the King
immediately ordered the astrologers to interpret. Phra Horathibodi prophesied, "This
time the armies are enormous and the fighting will culminate in a great elephant
battle. Your Majesty, however, will be victorious, wading in pursuit of and killing Your
adversaries and enemies just as in the dream You went wading around through the
flowing water."; The King listened and was delighted. Having completed donning the
ornaments reserved for royal battle, he proceeded to the platform for mounting
elephants to await the auspicious moment and beheld a Great Holy Relic of the Buddha
the size of a Seville orange perform a miracle by advancing from the south, rotating
clockwise and passing on to the north. His Majesty was completely suffused with joy,
raised his hands in veneration with his ten fingers joined together, and prayed for [the
relic's] blessing for victory against his adversaries." 
|The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya describe how the Buddha was moved from its original location. Around 1725, the abbot of Wat Pa Mok
contacted Phraya Racha Songkhram to inform him that the river eroded its banks in his area, and the west bank collapsed already in front of the
vihara of Phra Phuttha Saiyat, making the image would tumble in the water within one year. (4) Phraya Racha Songkhram informed on his tour King
Phumintharacha (r. 1709-1733). (5) The Phraya went to investigate the situation himself and on his return offered the king to take care of the
movement if the Buddha image.
The Uparacha also present, asked the Phraya how he would proceed and the latter explained the course of action. The Uparacha was rather skeptic
about the feasibility of the works and suggested to destroy the image and build a new one. Finally the Buddhist Sangkha was consulted and
decided it was inappropriate to raze the image. Phraya Racha Songkhram guaranteed the work of moving the image, on failure losing his life. King
Thai Sa ordered the preparations to move forward. During five months ropes, pulleys and windlasses are made.
The work itself started in 1726 and the king ordered a Tamnak (Royal Pavillion) built in the vicinity of Ban Chi Pha Khao and went from time to time
to stay at the pavilion together with the Uparacha to survey the works. At first the vihara was taken down and then it took about five months to
prepare the statue for movement. After the image was lifted and deposed on lorries, a three-day festivity was held. On an auspicious moment
somewhere between mid 1726 and begin 1727 the reclining Buddha was moved to its final location. The Buddha was lifted 50 centimeters higher
than its original position and a new base was constructed underneath. (6)
"They had holes bored in the base to make fishtooth serrations and then [had] lorries brought forward to support [the crosspieces],
inserted the crosspieces and clamped them tightly [to the lorries]. Then They had holes bored in the remaining spaces and then [had]
other crosspiece timbers inserted. Then the figure of the Holy Reclining Buddha ascended onto the backs of the lorries. Then they had the
path along which it would be pulled to [its new site] prepared for [a distance of] four sen and ten wa. Pools were filled in in two places,
elephants were brought to trample it so it was compacted, and it was beaten flat so it was level. Then boards two niu wide were
laid down on it and three kam and three wa posts were brought and rolled along [on top of them] to make them roughly even with each
When all the works on the image were completed, a new vihara was built over it and a number of monastic constructions added to the site such as a
long covered passageway, a scripture hall, a seminary, a funeral monument etc. This additional work took another five to six years. The temple was
not yet dedicated when King Thai Sa became ill and died in 1733.
The temple was finally dedicated in 1734 by King Borommakot (r. 1733-1758), who came that year in the month of May in military formation along
the river to Pa Mok. He stayed at the Royal Pavillion in Ban Chi Pha Khao. For three days in a row he went up in the afternoon in procession to
listen to the Buddhist prayers. Three hundred monks, gathered for the inauguration, were offered food, cloth and other items as alms. The
king staged a 3-day long festival in the area in celebration of the reclining Buddha. On the last day of the festivities there was an elephant tusk-
toughening. In the evening a heavy storm developed and the king returned to Ayutthaya in military formation.
Additional information found in situ
On an inscription stone on the south side of the covered passageway we read the following additional information. The image of Phra Phuttha Saiyat
contains 36 relics. The Buddha image was moved by King Thai Sa to the location of Wat Talat (Monastery of the Market) and renamed Wat Pa
Mok. In 1863 King Mongkut (Rama IV - r. 1851-1868) ordered the repair of the Pa Mok Monastery and one year later held a Royal Kathin
ceremony at the place. Twenty years later in 1833, King Chulalongkhorn (Rama V - r. 1868-1910) on his turn held here a Royal Kathin.
On a frame of a picture of Phraya Boran Rachathanin (Phon Dechakhup) at the backside of the image sits an information board which recounts us
that on a visit of King Chulalongkhorn and his retinue on an inspection round to the north, they came to greet Phra Phuttha Saiyat in Wat Pa Mok
Woravihan in 1901. He found the Buddha image damaged on the backside where some carved historical stone slab was removed; scratches and
scrapes were visible. The king ordered the image to be repaired and to be better taken care of. Later Phraya Boran Rachathanin (Phon Dechakhup)
discovered an old text, being a royal poem regarding Phra Phuttha Saiyat Wat Pa Mok underneath the scripture hall Udom Wachirayan on the
premises. Apparently the text in 69 chapters dated from the period of King Thai Sa, when his younger brother Prince Phon (later King Boromakot)
was Minister of the Palace and Auspicious Places. Prince Damrong Rachanuphap (1862-1943) got the 69 steles incorporated in the framework of
Wat Phra Phuttha Saiyat in 1917.
On a drawing, featuring the displacement of the image in 1726-7, there is a text which states the image dates from the Sukhothai period. (7) It was
made of brick and mortar, and covered with gold. Phra Maha Thera Lailai offered 36 relics, being what I understood old sacred Buddha images, to
Maha Phuttha Sakhon named Kasetriya (presumably the King) to be incorporated in Phra Phuttha Saiyat.
The site is located in Geo Coord: 14° 28' 55.88" N, 100° 26' 54.30" E.
(1) The "Testimony of the king from Wat Pradu Songtham" gave a length of 1 Sen and 5 Wa, which is about 50 meters (1 Sen = 40 meters, 1 Wa =
2 meters). The image is in fact only half that size. Some sources give 22.58 meters precisely.
(2) Nong Sarai was a sub-district which merged with Don Chedi sub-district (Suphanburi) and the merged district received the latter's name. The
battle took allegedly place in Phang Tru, an area in Nong Sarai sub-district. King Naresuan ordered a funeral monument built to depose the remains
of the slain Burmese crown prince.  This said monument was on the place of the present Don Chedi Memorial. I said allegedly, because some
sources stated the above as being incorrect. In the Burmese Chronicles is written that the Crown Prince died of a stab wound three years after the
battle. Some historians refer to Phukhao Thong as the victory monument built by King Naresuan in commemoration of the battle, which is said to
have taken place in the Phukhao Thong Plains instead of Phang Tru. 
(3) Likely he saw Venus, the Morning Star.
(4) The Phan Canthanumat Chronicle states 1714 [1076 + 638] as the year the work of demolishing the old vihara in order to move the Buddha
image was started. In fact 1724 would have been more close to the exact date. It took Phraya Ratcha Songkhram five months of preparation prior;
thus the warning of the abbot regarding the collapsing of river bank must have been given by in 1723 following this source. The British Museum,
Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph Chronicles give 1725 [1087 + 638] as the year the abbot warned Phraya Racha Songkhram. The last
chronicles have been followed here. 
(5) Also called King Thai Sa.
(6) The Phan Canthanumat Chronicle states 1727 [1089 + 638] as the date the reclining Buddha was moved to its new position. The British
Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph Chronicles give April 1726 [1088 + 638] as the date when everything was ready for the statue to
be moved, but did not indicate the exact moment of the movement (after a propitious period, day and time …..). 
(7) Apparently referred to in the Northern Chronicles (not checked as not in my possession)
 พรรณนาภูมิสถาน พระนครศรีอยุธยา เอกสารจากหอหลวง (ฉบับความสมบูรณ์) - Geographical description of Ayutthaya: Documents
from the palace - Dr Winai Pongsripian - Bangkok (2007) - page 107.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 106 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat, Phra Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph - The Battle of Pa Mok.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 126 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - A Dream Foretells Naresuan’s Victory.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 409-413 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - The Reclining Buddha Image at Pa Mok.
 The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 131 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend
Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - Post-Battle Rewards and Recriminations.
 Piriya Krairiksh - A Revised Dating Of Ayudhya Architecture (II) - JSS-080-2b - page 15 - The Victory Chedi of King Naresuan the Great.
|Text & pictures by Tricky Vandenberg