Mummified Monk Mystery
On the sunny side Koh Samui is an island of beach worshippers and bar hoppers occupying touristy Chaweng and Lamai beaches. On the other side it is the island of magic and mystery. This time I am going to bring you mystery.
Death is an inevitable mystery for all living beings. Being able to keep a good figure after death an even greater mystery. Well preserved bodily exhibits project a morbid fascination of the long gone and are sacredly kept in museums and mausoleums around the world. Longevity and immortality is what humankind has been obsessed with since
mortality became an issue forever. Medicine and health industry prospering on prolonging life expectancy and changing life styles. Religion and spirituality growing on mankind’s fear and desire promising after life through reincarnation and entering the heavens.
The fascinating devotion to life after death we admire in mummified Pharaohs, the striking similarities we depict in well preserved marshland victims, we are drawn to our dead ancestors found in between layers of ice, not-decaying corpus delicti are
declared miracles and generate long everlasting attraction. Maybe looking at mummies provides a strange comfort in that death is the one thing we can be certain of. Somehow, mummified bodies remain mysteriously captivating.
We attended two sites where mummified mystery can be found.
The first site was Wat Kiriwongkaram.
Small Buddha statue.
Small human statue.
Romantically faded blue wooden structures and white cracked walls.
The mummified body of monk Luang Por Ruam rests in a glass case behind the joss sticks offerings.
He was 21 years old when he became a monk and eventually served at Wat Kiriwongkaram as the head monk before his death in January 1976. He led a simple life with one meal a day devoting himself to Buddhist meditation.
Luang Por Ruam died at the age of 87 and has been on public viewing for over 30 years, his body still remaining in a remarkably good condition.
The other mummified monk was to be found at Wat Kunaram.
The monk Phra Kru Samathakittikhun has been sitting in his glass casket since 1973. He died at the age of 79 in this seated mediative position not having spoken to anyone nor eaten anything one week before his death. There is a brand new still partially foiled memorial stone at the temple.
Born in 1894 he first led a prosper family life, marrying a local Lamai women and raising six children before he decided to join monkhood at the age of 50. Apparently, he foresaw his own death demanding to be put in a glass sarcophagus in the case that his body was not decomposing to serve following Buddhist generations. When his eyeballs fell into his head he was fitted with sunglasses.
A monk talking to visitors.
Old and young at the temple.
When visiting temples you will find that Buddha images have various poses. Each image reflects specific events in the life of Buddha which occurred on different days of the week. Therefore the day of the week on which you are born is important in Thailand. People give a donation to the Buddha statue which represents their birthday to pay their respect and wish for good luck.
The reclining Buddha would be Tomek’s lucky image as he was born on a Tuesday. On that day, Buddha was lying on his right side reaching nirvana. I am born on a Sunday which is represented through the pensive Buddha image. On that day Buddha had reached enlightenment and stood up in deep meditation.
Mummified monks give an insight to Thai culture as those monks are perceived as an inspiration to follow the Buddhist middle path.