Search This Blog

Sunday, June 28, 2020

Bangkok, at Wat Pho

I have been a few times to Bangkok, and this was my second time to visit Wat Pho temple. Although it was my second visit, it refreshed my memories from long ago about this impressive temple. The hot humid summer did not deter me and the tourists coming to this temple that morning.

After passing the Chinese Giant Guardians, the Tha Tian entrance gate, I went straight into the Temple of Reclining Buddha. Like any other temple, you need to take your shoes off to enter, and all visitors must wear appropriate clothing, that means no exposed shoulders or skin above the knee. Then, straight from the entrance the first thing I found was the side of Buddha’s head sitting nicely on his right arm. The size of his head is amazing, and the elongated reclining body made the statue even more impressive. It stands 15 meters tall and 46 meters long, covered in gold leaves shining majestically in the rather dark room, making its presence dominating the whole room. Not sure about the weight of this gigantic Buddha statue, but the entire statue had a brick core, which was molded with plaster before finally being gilded.

His fish-shaped eyes made of white mother of pearl looked like lost in a thought. The crown on his head, or Ushnisha , symbolizes his Enlightenment, and the small dot between his eyebrows, or Urna, symbolizes a third eye, which in turn symbolizes vision into the divine world. His long earlobes symbolize a conscious rejection of the material world in favor of spiritual enlightenment.

After walking together with so many vistors along the 46 meters long reclining body we reached his feet, which are also gigantic in scale, 3 meters high and 4.5 meters long! The base of these feet are also inlaid with mother-of-pearl, engraved with carvings to display the symbols of Buddha. On the soles of his feet, there are 108 auspicious signs such as flowers, dancers, white elephants, tigers, and altar accessories by which Buddha can be identified. At the center of each foot there is a circle representing a chakra or 'energy point'. Many visitors were immersed in the beauty of this golden Buddha and the symbolism it represented.

Although the reclining Buddha looks like someone relaxing on a sofa, it is actually a representation of Buddha’s last moments on earth during his illness. It represents the moment he was about to enter parinirvana, the nirvana after death. He is lying on his right side with his blissful face resting on a cushion as he supports his head with his hand.

As a way of commemorating his passage to the afterlife, his disciples built a statue of him in this pose. This is now the grand, golden statue that lies inside Wat Pho. Decades later, more versions of reclining Buddhas were created all over South East Asia.


Source: Wikimedia