Tuesday, 27 May 2008

Mummified monk at Wat Khunaram

The body of Samui's most famous mummified monk, Loung Por daeng, is on display here in a specially constructed building. When he died more than 20 years ago, he was sitting in a meditation position. He is still in that same position and his body shows few signs of any major decay. Wat Khunaram is on the 4169 ring-road between the Na Muang waterfalls and Hua Thanon.

Phra Khru Samathakittikhun (Dang Piyasilo) or Loung Por Daeng, was born in 1894, was a well respected family man within the local community on Koh Samui and first become ordained as a monk when he was in his early twenties. He spent two years in Wat Samret before exiting and marrying a local lady from Lamai with whom he had six children, a few still alive on the island today.

Upon reaching fifty years of age, once his children were all grown up, Loung Por Daeng, decided to dedicate the latter part of his life to Buddhism and returned to the temples where he felt so at peace. He was ordained as a monk in 1944.

He then travelled to Bangkok where he spent some time studying and learning more about Buddhist texts and meditation, one of the great passions of his life.

It is believed that upon returning to Koh Samui he went to meditate in a cave, Tham Yai in Lamai, which is located within present day Tamarind Springs.

Later he moved to Chaweng and was one of the first monks to stay in the location that nowadays is known as Wat Pang Bua. He was one of the first Jao Wat's, which is the Thai term for Abbot, who led the temple into its present existence.

Following this, he decided to return to his family home, which was located just behind the current Wat Kunaram where the temple school is located. Most famously, two months before his death, at the age of 79 years and 8 months, he requested the company of his students to inform them that he felt his death was imminent and wanted to instruct them as to his last wishes. He requested that should his body decompose that he be cremated and his ashes scattered at the famous 'Saam Jaeg' in Hua Thanon, meaning the three forked road intersection, in Thai.

He went on to request that should his body not decompose, he would like to stay at the temple and be placed in an upright coffin on display as a symbol to inspire future generations to follow Buddhist teachings and be saved from suffering.

In his final seven days of mortal life, he no longer spoke to anyone or ate or drank anything, concentrating solely on his mediation and the path to enlightenment. He died a week later in the same position that we can see him sitting in nowadays.

He's in impeccable condition considering he died 30 years ago and on his head one can still see some hairs.

When his eyes fell into his head, the monks at the temple fitted him with some sunglasses.

He is still sitting in the original position of his meditation.

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