Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew, Petchabun
high-definition creative commons photographs from this modern temple in Petchabun, together with further information.
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The Five Buddha Statue
This is a unique statue, which I haven’t seen represented anywhere else before, excellently visioned and carried out and which marks out this temple as special. It is meant to be the five Buddhas of the Bhadda (Fortunate) Aeon, with the fifth, at the back, being Metteyya, who is crowned as the Buddha-to-be. That makes the fourth one our Gotama Buddha, and the middle one Kassapa. The other two would then be Koṇāgamana and Kakusandha. See the Introduction below for more information.
The Shrine Rooms
Underneath the Buddha statue are various levels, each with their own shrine rooms and their own unique characteristics.
On the hill opposite to the 5-Buddha statue stands another interesting construction, the Chedi. The tower or spire is unusually shaped like a lotus, and the building again has many shrines in it. One of the most interesting things about it, however, is the decoration which is made of approx. 5 million pieces of ceramics, and other materials.
Buddha Statues and Shrines
Outside the shrine rooms stand a number of very finely wrought Buddha statues, and inside are even more, and some other very interesting work, including nāgas which, on close inspection, turned out to be made of dried leaves, and some very fine stained glass windows.
One of the most outstanding features of this temple is the ceramic decoration which is found on the walls and staircases. It appears there are over 5 million pieces of ceramic decorating the Chedi and its surroundings.
There are numerous protective gods, nāgas and other divine beings found in the grounds of this temple, which is quite syncretic in its outlook. We saw above a shrine to Hanumān, and here, to close, we see the prominent shrine to Śiva.
Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew
Introduction written by the Abbot
Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew was established in 2004 under the name ‘Phutthatham Sathan Pha Sorn Kaew’. Approval was given to establish a temple called ‘Wat Phrathat Phakaew’ on July 1, 2010. The name of the temple was later changed to ‘Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew’ on 30 May 2013, to be consistent with the location. Originally, the villagers called it ‘Phasornkaew’.
Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew is located in Chaiyaphum Tham, on the hillside near the village of Tang Daeng, Khamp Son Subdistrict, Khao Kho District, Phetchabun Province in northeastern Thailand. There are about 10 acres of land purchased to construct a place for meditation retreats for monks and lay people. At present people are making offerings to buy additional land, totalling around 35 more acres.
In the year 2011 Phra Ajarn Parami Surayutho was appointed the Abbot of Wat Phrathat Phasornkaew. His intention was to create something new for Buddhism, so it would flourish in the province of Khao Kho, and to make it interesting for people who come to visit the temple in the future. Therefore, Phra Ajarn studied the Tripitaka until the idea crystallized of creating a memorial about the Buddha for people to worship.
He found in the Tripitaka texts, the Buddhavaṁsa & Cariyapiṭaka, that in this Bhadda Kappa that there were three Buddhas: Kakusandha, Koṇāgamana, and Kassapa, and now we are in Lord Buddha Gotama’s time, and there will be a future Buddha, Metteyya. These five Lord Buddhas are teachers who help the world of humans and devas, and will lead their disciples to Nirvāṇa.
For this reason Phra Ajarn Parami Surayutho had the idea of creating five Buddha images as a stimulus to make the people question the reason for the creation of the statues, which are stacked in a row one behind the other. If people have curiosity, they will ask questions and this will lead them to listening to Dhamma, and it therefore helps with the establishment and stability of Buddhism in Thailand.
The base of the Vihāra of the Five Buddhas measures 41 meters in width, 72 meters in length and 45 meters in height. Kakusandha Buddha has a lap size of 5 meters; Koṇāgamana Buddha has a lap size of 8 meters; Kassapa Buddha has a lap size of 11 meters; Shakyamuni Gotama Buddhahas a lap size of 14 meters; Metteyya has a lap size of 22 meters, 82 centimeters.
The temple to the five Lord Buddhas is divided into seven floors, with the 1st to 3rd floors set aside for the accommodation of the practitioner. As for the other areas they are used as a place for religious activities such as prayer, listening to Dhamma, meditation practice and being a place to study the teachings of the Lord Buddha.
Photographs by Anandajoti Bhikkhu
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