Hundreds of years ago, there were four great revered Buddhist monks from Southern Thailand who earned the title of Somdet rank. These four great holy monks are listed as follow:
1. Somdet Chao Koh Yor 2. Somdet Chao Koh Yai 3. Somdet Chao Chom Thong 4. Somdet Chao Phra Kho - Luang Pu Thuat
In this instant, we solely base the history of Somdet Chao Phra Kho " Luang Pu Thuat ". According to legend, Somdet Chao Phra Kho attained his rank from King Maha Thammaraja of Ayutthaya and he was bestowed the official title Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan.Luang Pu Thuat was born on Friday in the year of snake, March 1582 AD at Baan Suan Chan, Chom Phol sub-district of Sathing Phra District, Songkhla Province. His father Hu and his mother Chan named him Pu, Pu was the couple first child. Hu and Chan were very poor couple who works and lived in a farm house belongs to their wealthy landlord. When Pu was few days old, Chan took her little baby Pu out to the paddy field with her husband, before they start to work, Chan put her little baby Pu to sleep and leave him alone under a tree where she and her husband tended the paddy field, after working for a while Chan turned around and was shock to see her little baby Pu bringing curled up by a huge snake, whereupon she shouted her husband for help, with her crying voice, peasants nearby rush to see what is the commotion but were hold back by this fierce huge snake and none of them dared to go near and are helpless to do anything to help little Pu that were wrapped up by this huge creature. As a faithful Buddhist, Hu and Chan just hope and prays by offering food and flowers to this huge creature hoping that it would not harm and release little baby Pu, as they will waiting and wishing for miracle, they could see and sense that this huge snake clasped their beloved little baby Pu like a guarding angel. Soon after, this huge Snake released little Pu and disappeared into the bushes leaving behind a crystal ball beside little Pu. Hu and Chan was relieved of their ordeal and they went back home with Pu together with the crystal ball. When the landlord heard and learned about the crystal ball, he asks Hu and Chan to give it to him, the couple could not refuse the request and handed the crystal ball to him. The landlord was so happy to own and possessed the crystal ball but abnormal incidence started to happen to his family and his health condition keep him worrying, by then, he realised that he should not possessed the crystal ball that doesn’t belong to him, cause he believes by keeping it, there would be more disasters befall on him. Therefore, he decided to return the crystal ball to the Hu’s family, thereafter this unusual incidence ceased to happen to the landlord again and because of this bad incident, the landlord has changed his attitude and treated kindly to the Hu’s family.
When Pu turned seven year old of age, his parent took him to Wat Di Luang school for his primary education, he was the most smartest and cleverest student compared to other children in his classes, once Pu turned fifteen, the chief abbot of Wat Di Luang ordained Pu as a novice and later on brought him to Wat Si Yang to under studies Buddhism with Phra Kru Lattham Rangsri. At Wat Si Yang there was a group of monk’s educator from Krung Sri Ayutthaya who came to teach at Wat Si Yang where they found out Pu was a fast learner and very distinctive from other novices, Pu was elevated to higher level where he completed his Buddhist studies under Phra Kru Chuang guardianship. To achieve another level of Buddhist studies, Pu have to move to Wat Sri Ma Muang at Nakhon Sri Thammarat province to further his studies with Phra Kru Gha Ther. When Pu reaches the age of twenty he was ordained as a full status monk and was given the new title named Sameramo but many villagers tended to called him Sameram. The ordination ceremony were held at a small canal and were done on the raft which made of four small sampan tied up together. Later that small canal was named Klong Tha Pair to the present day.
The young monk Sameramo “Pu” completed his Dhammapada Boriboon within three years under Phra Kru Gha Ther supervision, whereupon Sameramo "Pu" requested Phra Kru Gha Ther permission to allow him to further his studies in Tripitaka and Dhamma at Krung Sri Ayutthaya. After listening to Sameramo "Pu" request, Phra Kru Gha Ther arrange and requested Khun Inn the ship owner to take Sameramo "Pu" onboard to travel with him to Krung Sri Ayutthya, Khun Inn had no objection and agreed to take Sameramo “Pu” there, before the ship depart Nakhon Sri Thammarat, Khun Inn invited Sameramo “Pu” to pay respect to the sacred stupa “ Buddhist Pagoda” this is the tradition for all seafarers for safe journey before heading to the open sea, the first three days of sea voyage was smooth navigating, but the following day the weather and sea conditions turned rough and stormy whereas the ship cannot go on any further and has to stayed anchored waiting for the weather condition to turn better. During this time, the ship rations and water happen to run out and Khun Inn was very enraged and blamed the whole incident on the monk Sameramo “Pu” because Khun In ship journey never encounter such a bad weather condition,
and as such he instruct his sailors to let down a small boat
and ousted the monk Sameramo “Pu” and ask his men to send him back to shore,
While the monk Samaramo “Pu’ sat on board the small boat, he put one of his
foot into the sea and start to recite, after a short time he ask one of
the sailor to scoop up some sea water to taste it, when the sailor tasted the
water he was alarm that the sea salt water had turned into fresh drinking water
by screaming to his fellowmen and say that the sea water are really fresh for
consumption. On hearing such miracle news, the ship owner Khun Inn and the
crews rushed to fetch the water within the parameter where the monk Sameramo
“Pu” was seated. After drinking and collected adequate water, the ship owner
Khun Inn feel regretted for what he has done to monk Sameramo “Pu” and ask for his
forgiveness. Monk Sameramo “Pu” was
invited back on board the ship, with the weather and sea condition started to
change better, the ship owner Khun Inn ordered his men to start the ship to
complete their final destination toward Krung Sri Ayutthaya City. When the ship
arrived at Krung Sri Ayutthaya port, Khun Inn invited monk Sameramo “Pu” to
visit the inner city but monk Sameramo “Pu” decline the invitation and say that
he preferred to stay outside the Krung Sri Ayutthaya city at Wat Raja Nuworn
located outside the city wall where there is more peace and serenity.
One day the king of Krung Sri Ayutthaya urgently summons his subordinate Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri to his palace and instructed him to invite every knowledgeable high priest from around the kingdom to decipher and translate all the gold seeds sacred scripture presented by the Sri Lanka envoy or else Krung Sri Ayutthaya kingdom has to come under the administration of King Wattakaminee of Sri Lanka. The King of Sri Lanka loved to bargain and wager instead of war to expand his kingdom, therefore he ordered and instruct his goldsmith to produce 84,000 pieces of gold seeds engrave with sacred alphabets with the size of tamarind seed. The completed sacred gold seed of 84,000 pieces and other valuable treasures were handed to seven highly respected Brahmin envoy and to be transported by seven ships, all the treasures and 84,000 pieces of sacred gold seed scripts are be presented to King Maha Thammaraja of Krung Sri Ayutthaya directly with message from the King of Sri Lanka. When King Maha Thammaraja read the royal message from the King of Sri Lanka, he realised it was a challenge for him to decipher and translate the sacred alphabets into a book of Dhamma within seven days, if King Maha Thammaraja could not accomplish this undertaking within the stated time, Krung Sri Ayutthaya has to pay tribute and come under the control of Sri Lanka, and if King Maha Thammaraja could accomplish this translation, he can have all the treasures and keep the sacred gold seeds sacred scripts in Krung Sri Ayutthaya.
On the sixth day, King Maha Thammaraja was very worried because none of the highly invited priests could translate the gold seed sacred scripts, which means his kingdom sovereignty will fell under the administration of Sri Lanka. Later that night he has dreamt of a great white elephant from the west stepping on his throne in the royal palace and then roars out loud into four directions, King Maha Thammaraja woke up and feels very anxious where he could not sleep till dawn. Early in morning, King Maha Thammaraja went into common court room and summons the whole astrologers to interpret his dream, after checking all the details thoroughly the astrologers told King Maha Thammaraja that his dream meant no harm to him but expressed that the elephant from the west suggest that there could be a knowledgeable monk residing in the west that may solve and translate the gold seeds sacred scripts. With that perspective in mind, King Maha Thammaraja ordered Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri to seek out a monk from the west where Wat Raja Nuworn was situated, after inquiring around in Wat Raja Nuworn compound, he chance upon a young monk and asks where he was from and the young monk reply to Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri that he is from Loong city ( Presently Phatthalung Province ) and is here to studies for his Tripitaka degree, on hearing the answers, Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri told the young monk of the dilemma and request made by King Maha Thammaraja and asked whether he could help solve and translate the gold seed sacred scripts, and without any hesitation, Phra Sameramo agree to try but would not guarantee that he will success in translating the gold seed sacred scripts. Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri then brought Phra Sameramo back to the palace’s Phra Viharn hall where senior Sangha already assembled, before entering the Phra Viharn hall, Phra Sameramo stepped onto one of the laterite staircase that suddenly broke into two. After Phra Sameramo entered the Phra Viharn hall, King Maha Thammaraja ordered his servant to lay down a carpet for the young monk to be seated, and before he start to translate the gold seeds sacred scripts from Sri Lanka, he recites some of the Dhamma manuscript in front of the seven Sri Lanka Brahmin with all sort of gesticulations. Meanwhile, the seven Sri Lanka Brahmin exchange word among themselves and wonder is this the young monk who is going to translate the gold seeds sacred scripts into a Dhamma book and wondering why the young monk acted so strange in front of them. The young monk Sameramo started to laugh and asked the seven Brahmin “ Have you all not seen any of my actions that made before in your homeland ? all the Brahmins were very curious but did not respond to the question asked. Subsequently, each of the seven Brahmin handed the bucket filled with the gold seeds sacred scripts to the young monk Sameramo, after taking over all the buckets from the seven Brahmin, Phra Sameramo started to vow for success in translating the gold seeds sacred scripts to save his country and peoples from disasters and aggression. With good faith and will powers to assist him, he emptied all the buckets and lines all the gold seeds sacred scripts in orderly manner without difficulties and began to recite all the gold seeds sacred scripts but then again he recognised there were seven missing seeds with the words of Su, Vi, Ta, Pu, Ga, Ya and Pa to complete the final sentences, with his stunning powers and ability, he turned around and asks the seven Brahmin envoy have they kept the seven missing seeds to deterred him from completing the whole interpretation, with his word of queries the seven Brahmin feel remorseful and handed over the remaining seven gold seeds to Phra Sameramo where he successfully completed the whole Dhamma interpretation into book within the agreed day and time, Immediately King Maha Thammaraja and his Royal court officials resounded in jubilation, at that moment the seven Sri Lakan Brahmin envoy presented all the treasures and the gold seeds to Phra Sameramo but he in turned offer all the gifts to King Maha Thammaraja.
With such a great an achievement, King Maha Thammaraja bestowed and elevated Phra Sameramo rank and title to Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan and at the same time offered Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan a new residence plus 25% percents of the city land, Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan only stayed three days at the new places and he nonetheless returned all the gifts given to him by the King and went back to reside at Wat Raja Nuworn to continues his Tripitaka and Dhamma studies.
Years later, a deadly disease were spreading around Krung Sri Ayutthaya where large number of general population felled sick and were unable to find any antidotes to contain the diseases, the King was very concerned for his subjects well-being and with infections that are transmitting in the kingdom, he urgently summons all the court officials to discussed what are their contingency plans in containing the diseases. Out of a sudden, the king recalls Phra Sameramo “ Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan “ and instantly ordered Srithanonchai Sangkhakiri to invite Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan to the palace to meet him, when Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan was inform and learned of the contagious diseases he started to reciting the Buddhist sutra by holding onto a very huge earthen vessel that contained the lustral waters, thereafter he set off to the township and begin to distribute and splattered the holy waters around Krung Sri Ayutthaya and the outer vicinity. Eventually the whole epidemics decreased gradually. After learning the miracles of lustral waters produced by Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan, the Kings begin to have more faith on Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan and publicised that whatever request or essential items Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan required, he promised that all his requests will be deliver and be make available to him.
Since leaving his hometown for a long time, Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan decided to return to the South because his age is catching up. The revered Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan went to seek permission to leave from King Maha Thammaraja and yet the King was very reluctant to let the revered monk go, in spite his pleads and appealed, revered Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan stilled insist of leaving, despite the fact, King Maha Thammaraja felts very sad but can only do his best by sending the revered monk off to the end of the city gate with guard of honour and general public lining the street biding farewell and wish that the revered monk will come back one day. The Kings last word to Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan is “ Please do not leave me and people of Krung Sri Ayutthaya forever “
Along the way to the South, whatever places Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan passed or stayed, that location has became a sacred place which drawn many villagers attentions until this day. Case in point is Pakpanang district in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province where villagers build a Stupa in remembrance of him and the Stupa still stand there till to this day. Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan ended his journey at Wat Ratchapraditsathan or Wat Pha Kho where he was well received by villagers who learnt of his reputation and his mystical powers in helping the people of Krung Sri Ayutthaya that made him a household name. From that onward villagers started to addressed him Somdet Chao Phra Kho, and Wat Phra Kho also known as Wat Ratchapraditsathan till to this present day.
According to record, Wat Ratchapraditsathan or Wat Pha Kho was built by three famous monks in the old day. They were:
1. Phra Narai Mui
2. Phra Maha Anomatassi
3. Phra Dhamma Ghawa
According to history, Phra Maha Anomatassi was the one who brought back the Buddha relics from India whereas Phraya Thamma Rungkul the governor of Phra Sathing district of that time built a 40 metres high Stupa for Wat Pha Kho to store the Buddha relics where the Stupa stilled stand today.
After staying at Wat Ratchapraditsathan or Wat Pha Kho for a period, Revered Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan notice that the Monastery was in such a debilitated conditions that require repair and reconstruction, ftherefore he decided to go back to Krung Sri Ayutthaya to seek King Maha Thammaraja assistant for Wat Pha Kho rebuilding, after listening attentive and without hesitation, King Maha Thammaraja ordered his son to gathered all necessary building materials and workforces in preparation for Wat Pha Kho rebuilding construction, moreover, the Kings even ordered his royal craftsman to go down South with revered Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan or Somdet Chao Phra Kho to restored Wat Pha Koh back to its original condition, the reconstruction progress takes number of years before it was fully completed. Meanwhile, King Maha Thammaraja also donated a large piece of land around Wat Pha Kho to Phrarajchamuni Sameeram Khunupanachan where the land faced toward four directions.
1. The North : Facing the direction of Peninsula of Chom Phut.
2. The South : Facing the direction of Peninsula of Leam Soon.
3. The East : Facing the direction of Gulf of Thailand.
4. The West : Facing the direction of Thale Luang Lake Shore.
While Staying at Wat Pha Kho, Somdet Chao Phra Kho has carried out his daily routines mission by propagating Dhamma and Buddha teaching to many of his disciples as well as villagers. He became a centred figure in near and afar city. During that time, there was a novice monk who is very keen of learning the Dhamma and Buddhist scripture, he vowed and wish that one day he would like to meet Phra Sri Arriya “ Bodhisattva Buddha ” then one night this young novice has a dream of an old man who gave him a flower and says this flower is from the heavenly world and it would stayed fresh forever, the old man too also mentions that Phra Sri Arriya “ Bodhisattva Buddha “ has reborn into this world and is helping the souls of the human being presently in this world. Before the old man depart, he told the young novice that if he wish to meet Phra Sri Arriya “ Bodhisattva Buddha “ all he has to do is presented the flower to whoever that can divulges the name of the flower, then that holy person will be Phra Sri Arriya “ Bodhisattva Buddha ”, after the end of the conversation, the old man just disappeared.
Next morning, the young novice went to see the abbot of his temple and request for permission to leave the temple where he began his journey in pursuit of his dream in seeking out the Bodhisattva Buddha, he went to many places with the flower in hand, but nobody were able to give him an answers. Then one day, he reached Wat Ratchapraditsathan or Wat Pha Kho in the full moon night where all the monks are preparing to enter the sermon hall doing their evening incantation. The young novice just stood outside the sermon hall waiting to see is there any absent monks that still not yet presence in the sermon hall, he then make inquiries with one of the monk, whether is all the monks already in the sermon hall? And the monk replied that there is an old monk still not in sermon hall yet but told the young novice to look at the old living quarter where the senior old monk resided. With that information, the young novice headed toward the direction of the old living quarter, over there he saw an old monk standing in front of the collapsible wooden gate of the living quarter, whereupon he kneels down to pay respect to the old monk. When Somdet Chao Phra Kho saw the flower in the young novice’s hand he said that this Montatip flower can only be found at the heavenly world, then again Somdet Chao Phra Kho asks the young novice who gave him the flower? By then the young novice realized that he has met the enlighten Bodhisattva Buddha as he recalled the old man telling him on his dream. Without second thought the young novice placed both his hands in a lotus shape on his forehead and kneel down again to pay his full respect with the offering of heavenly flower to Somdet Chao Phra Kho, after receiving the flower, Somdet Chao Phra Kho stood silently liked meditation for a while, then invited the young novice to go into his living quarter together with him, once inside Somdet Chao Phra Kho closed the door and from that onward no one ever heard or see both Somdet Chao Phra Kho and the young novice again. Both were vanished without a trace from that night and at the same time some very unusual phenomenon lighted up the sky in and around that area where villagers saw a fireball circling three round above the full moon night sky before heading east till no one eyes could follow the fireball light. From that day onward, everyone believed Somdet Chao Phra Kho and the young novice has attained nirvana and has returned to the heavenly world, and the only things left behind by Somdet Chao Phra Kho " Somdet Luang Pu Thuat " were his Crystal Ball and Twisted Walking Cane that is still on displayed at Wat Pha Kho, Sathing Phra district, Songkhla province.