WAT KHOK SAENG





Wat Khok Saeng, or the Monastery of the Knoll of Light, is a defunct temple located on Ayutthaya's city island in the Pratu Chai Sub-district.
Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown.
The monastery is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya during the reign of King Borommakot (1733-1758 CE). Prince Suren Phithak became ill and ordained at Wat Khok Saeng. Sena Phithak, the son of the elder consort of the king and two of his children, laid an ambush for Suren for an unknown reason. Suren escaped Sena Phithak's attack and reported afterwards to the king. The elder consort, realising her son was in danger, smuggled Sena out of the palace in her palanquin and took him to Wat Khok Saeng, where he was ordained. King Borommakot searching for Sena and unable to find him, ordered the execution of the latter's two children.
"When it was the seventh month of the year of the hare, seventh of the decade, the Holy Lord Omnipotent became ill with a holy disease. His Majesty the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak came in to stay at the Monastery of the Knoll of Light and regularly came in to pay visits to the Holy Lord Omnipotent. One day, in the evening, the Holy Lord Child and Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak sent His Holiness Chün and His Holiness Thet, His sons, out to invite His Majesty the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak at the monastery, by saying, “A holy royal proclamation has been issued to have Your Majesty invited to go to the King.” His Majesty the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak, assuming that it was true, came and ascended in front of the Holy Victory and, advancing, reached the center of the doorway where the Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak was hiding behind the doorway. He slashed at Him with His holy sword weapon and tore His waist cloth and cold weather robe, but failed to cut into Him. The Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak ran on in to a place in the interior. His Majesty the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak entered the place where the Holy Lord Omnipotent was lying ill. Looking with His holy eyes and seeing Him, the King asked, “How come the cloth of Your cold weather robe and of Your waist cloth is torn?” The Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak bestowed His holy blessing and said, “The Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak was playing a joke.” When the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak bestowed His holy blessing, took His leave and came forth, Her Majesty the Department of the Third Rank Aphainuchit, the Holy Mother of the Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak, followed after Him and pleaded with Him, saying, “If father doesn’t help, it appears His younger sibling will die.” The Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak said, “Only the Lumnitzera dyed cloth, which is the victory banner of the Holy Arahats, will accordingly be able to help Him.” The Department of the Third Rank Aphainuchit having regained Her holy senses, Her Majesty thereupon went in to ride Her holy canopied palanquin, hid the Department of the Fourth Rank Sena Phithak inside, took Him out by way of the Gate of the Covered Passageway and had Him take His holy vows as a monk at the Monastery of the Knoll of Light and stay with the Department of the Fourth Rank Suren Phithak. The Holy Lord Omnipotent had people search for His person but they did not find Him. Finding only His Holiness Thet and His Holiness Chün, the King accordingly had Them executed with sections of sandalwood." [1]
Wat Khok Saeng on the maps:
Based on a map of the 19th century drafted by an unknown surveyor, the monastery was situated along the east bank of Khlong Pratu Jin (1). Wat Khok Suea (defunct) stood north, and Wat Khun Khon Jai presently called Wat Khun Mueang Jai to its south. Wat Pa Takua (defunct) was on its east. The 19th-century map indicates the existence of a chedi.
The temple is not mentioned on Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926 CE.
Assessing all the monastic structures in the zone demarcated by Chikun Road, Pa Thon Road, Pridi Banomyong Road and U-Thong Road is rather complex, as the position and name of the structures vary on different maps. On a 19th-century map, there are 15 structures counted, while on the 20th-century PBR map, there are 13 mentioned. There is inconsistency in the names and the positions. Even maps drafted by the Fine Arts Department, what I presume, based on excavations in the zone, shed no light on this matter. The positions of monastic structures can be asserted, but their ancient names will remain questioned forever.
Wat Khok Saeng was likely located near geographical coordinates: 14° 21' 6.33" N, 100° 34' 12.57" E.
Footnotes:
(1) Khlong Pratu Jin, or the Canal of the Chinese Gate, is part of a waterway running through the middle of Ayutthaya from north to south. The canal ran from the Chikun Bridge to the Chinese water gate (Pratu Jin), one of the eleven water gates at that time and was an extension of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak. The canal was a shortcut through the oxbow of the Lopburi River and connected the old Lopburi River, present Khlong Mueang in the north with - what is today - the Chao Phraya River in the south. The canal could have been the eastern defence moat of the initial city.
References:
[1] Cushman, Richard D. & Wyatt, David K. (2006). The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. Bangkok: The Siam Society. p. 428-430. Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal Autograph - Illness of the Prince-Monk, 1735.