San Phra Kan





San Phra Kan (1), a former Brahmin shrine, is located on the city island in the central area of Ayutthaya in the Pratu Chai sub-district. On its north stands the City Pillar or Lak Mueang, while on its south was Wat Pa Phrai (defunct).


In situ are newly built rectangular brick foundations indicating the former spot where the shrine was situated. The archaeological division of the Silpakon University excavated the area in 1969 CE. A Khmer prang with arches in the four cardinal directions was found as also the statues of Phra Isuan (Shiva), Phra Narai (Vishnu) and Phra Ganesh (Ganesha). These findings concluded that this site was a Brahmin shrine in former times.


We read in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya: "During 998 of the era, a year of the rat, eight of the decade, the Supreme-Holy-Buddhist-Lord-Omnipotent had the shrine of the Holy Isuan and Holy Narai moved on up and located at Chikun." indicating that King Prasat Thong (reign 1629-1656 CE) moved this shrine to the Chikun area (see Thewa Sathan) in 1636 CE. [1]


From that time onwards, the site was used as a Buddhist religious structure. A vihara was built in front of the prang. During excavations in the last century, a Buddha statue and miscellaneous pottery and utensils were found.


The site is mentioned on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE.


The exact date of the construction of the Brahmin shrine is unknown, but due to its location - in the centre of the old city - it could have been located there since the establishment of Ayutthaya in 1351 CE.


The old records from the Ayutthaya period refer to Phra Sua Mueang, Phra Song Mueang and Phra Kan as the guardian deities of the old City of Ayutthaya (4). San Phra Kan was probably where these city guardian deities were worshipped. In the "Short History of the Kings of Siam 1640", the Dutch VOC merchant Jeremias Van Vliet recounts a story in which these important city guardian spirits were mentioned. Van Vliet sets the account during the reign of Ramathibodi II (reign 1491-1529 CE) in which a King on the Coromandel Coast in Ramaradt (The Thai version of this tale speaks of Benares (India) and Ramathibodhi I) put a spell on the Siamese King. Hereunder is a detail of the text.


"His Majesty had his mandarins and all foreign interpreters summoned and commanded them to ask these strangers how, whence, and why they had come. They answered: "Have the king first release us, then we will tell everything truthfully." His Majesty commanded that they be brought to the following angels: Phra Trong Muang, Phra Cena Muang, and Phra Canoolij at the Pratu Chai, that is, the Heart Gate, where (so claim the Siamese) many angels lived, and that they should honor them in the Siamese way in order that through their prayers they might be freed." [2] In the late Ayutthaya period, there were shops selling heads and skeletons of cotton spinning situated on the road in front of San Phra Kan." [3]


The site is in geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 5.89" N, 100° 33' 35.98" E.


Footnotes:


(1) Kala is a Sanskrit term with dual meanings. The word can be translated as black or dark-coloured, but also as time, destiny, fate or death." Kala is also used about one of the forms of Yama, the Hindu god of the underworld and destruction.





References:

[1] Cushman, Richard D. Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. The Siam Society. p. 220 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph.
[2] Baker, Chris Pombejra, Dhiravat na Van Der Kraan Alfons & Wyatt, David K. (2005) - Van Vliet's Siam - Silkworm Books. p. 210.
[3] Baker, Chris (2011) - Before Ayutthaya Fell: Economic Life in an Industrious Society - Markets and Production in the City of Ayutthaya before 1767: Translation and Analysis of Part of the Description of Ayutthaya. Journal of the Siam Society. Vol. 99. p. 62.