Friezes at Wat Machimaram
high-definition creative commons photographs from Tumpat in Kelantan, Malaysia, showing the brightly-coloured reliefs in this Thai tradition temple, together with some further information.
A number of the friezes in this section concern Phra Malai and his descent into Hell to preach the Dhamma, especially on the Uposatha days. Legend has it that he was an arahat from Sri Lanka, who achieved great supernormal powers through his merits and meditation. He is also honored as a successor to Maudgalyayana, the Buddha’s disciple who was foremost for his supernormal attainments.
In the story this pious and compassionate monk descends to Hell to give teachings & comfort to the beings suffering in hell. He also learns how the hell-beings are punished according to their sins in the different hells.
He bears a striking resemblance to the Mahayana Boddhisattva Ksitigarbha, who also descends to Hell in order to release beings from their sufferings, again especially on the Uposatha days. Phra Malai also goes to Tavatimsa Heaven to worship the Cūḷamaṇi Thūpa, which has the hair relics of the Buddha. In Heaven Phra Malai discusses with Sakka about the results of meritorious and demeritorious actions.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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