Thai Mysteries 3
Annotated definitions of Thai words related to, among other things, the esoteric currents of Theravada Buddhism.
กรวิก: นกการเวก; ชื่อภูเขาทิวที่ ๓ ในหมู่เขาสัตบริภัณฑ์ที่ล้อมรอบเขาพระสุเมรุ.
Garawik: 1/ the bird-of-paradise (Paradisaeidae); 2/ name of the third range of mountains in the group of seven that surround mount Sumeru (Meru). See Boripan.
Gramuat: the top nerve on an elephant’s head, an important organ included among the five criteria that are used to spot a royal viz. albino elephant and that deal with some birth defect of the elephant’s hair [depigmentation] on the following parts: ear’s hair, tail, back spine, head nerve gramuat, and flanks.
The finding of albino elephants in the forest is deemed, after a story from the Buddha’s life, auspicious and the Thai royalty cares for them, hence their status as ‘royal elephants.’ The Thai name used in the above definition, chang peuak, litteraly means ‘taro elephant,’ from the name of an edible plant (Colocosia esculenta) used in Thai cuisine, which corn flesh is of a bright white color.
Kaliyukka-sakarat: ‘Kali Yuga,’ the era of 2,558 years preceding the Buddhist era (which begins with the Lord Buddha’s attaining Nirvana).
Gasak: a magic bird which is invisible when flying. It is believed that if one gets hold of its feathers one acquires the power of invisibility for himself.
Gajasih: the ‘singha elephant,’ a legendary animal that has the body of a singha-lion and an elephant trunk.
Tjulamani: 1/ an ornamental hairpin stuck in the bun of high-ranking people; 2/ the name of Lord Buddha’s chignon, also called Tjutamani; 3/ the pagoda built by Indra in the second Heaven (Daowadeung or Indra’s Heaven) to keep Lord Buddha’s chignon.
Chagamapatjon or Chagamawatjon: the collective name of the six Heavens Tjatumaharat, Daowadeung, Yama, Dusit, Nimmanoradi, and Paranimmittawat-Sawatdi.
Each heavenly abode has its own godly dwellers: the four Great Kings, guardians of the four cardinal directions, and their courts in Tjatumaharat, Indra and his court in Daowadeung, the Deva Suyama in Yama, who fly in the air in vimanas, the Deva Sandusit (and Maitreya the next Buddha) in Dusit, etc. Paranimmittawat-Sawatdi is the most refined state in which one can be born in Samsara.
Chompunot or Chompunut: pure gold; in the ancient cosmology book Traiphum it is said to grow under the Java plum tree (tonwa, Syzygium cumini).
Talapat or Talipat: a long, shafted fan made of sugar-palm leaf, cloth, or silk, used by monks in various ceremonies. Formerly it was made of a single palm leaf (hence its name: tal is palm).
Tipitakadara: ‘In Myanmar nowadays we can find living examples in several monks on whom the title Tipitakadhara ‘bearer of the Pali Canon,’ has been conferred, who are word-perfect in reciting the entire Pali Canon, which, according to the printed version in Thai script, is well over 22,000 pages in length.’ (Dhamma Bilingualized, Bikkhu P. A. Payutto)
Taksa: (Astrology and Horoscopes) collective name of the eight planets or special celestial bodies, that is, the Sun (whose permanent direction is northeast and which is substituted by number 1), the Moon (east, number 2), Mars (southeast, number 3), Mercury (south, number 4), Saturn (southwest, number 7), Jupiter (west, number 5), Rahu (northwest, number 8), and Venus (north, number 6). The taksa can be written down as world divisions as follows (see diagram above).
Those familiar with Hindu astrology have recognized the Navagraha (‘nine abodes’) of which one, Ketu, is missing. Ketu is supposed to be an immaterial body and makes the pair with the other immaterial planet Rahu (here number 8).
Nopsun: (from Sanskrit naba shula, ‘sky spear’) an ornament of pagoda tops, made of metal and in the shape of a spear, with branches in the shape of swords pointing in the four directions.
Nakbat: ‘naga noose’, name of one missile weapon of Indrajit (in the Ramayana/Ramakien) that coils as a snake. In the legends, hunters use this weapon to hunt kinaris (see what the latter are here).
There exists in Theravada Buddhism a tradition of interpreting the esoteric meaning of the Ramakien. In contemporary Thailand, they also make amulets with the name nakbat, ringed-shaped naga(s).
Nakprok: name of a posture of Buddha images in which Lord Buddha is sitting cross-legged (samadi or diamond-samadi posture) with hands upon each other face up and resting on his lap, while the stretched hoods of royal nagas adumbrate his head. Two models exist in fact: one in which the circling coils of the nagas serve as a bench and the other in which Lord Buddha sits inside the circle of the naga coils.
Boripan: the collective name of the mountains that surround mount Meru in seven ranges is ‘the seven Boripan mountains.’
The names of each of these mountains from closest to farthest from mount Meru are: Yukonton, Isinton, Karawik, Sutasana, Neminton, Wintaka, and Atsakan. The ranges are separated from each other, and mount Meru from Yukonton, by seas called Sitandon.
Bokkarapat: A rain like that falling on a lotus leaf: who wants to be wet gets wet, who does not want to get wet does not.
Palilai: 1/ name of a forest where Lord Buddha spent the rainy season; 2/ name of an elephant living in that forest; 3/ name of a posture of Buddha images in which Lord Buddha is represented sitting on a rock, his feet resting on a lotus flower, both hands resting on his knees, while a crouching elephant is offering him a water pot with his trunk and a monkey is holding a honeycomb out.
Parichat: a heavenly tree in Indra’s garden, in the second Heaven; (by extension) the coral tree or flame tree (Erythrina).
Prai-krasip: a familiar spirit that whispers (krasip) in its owner or caretaker’s ear to unveil the causes of events.
A prai-krasip can be acquired like the object in the picture below, which is a hoon-payon, also a servant spirit, that I acquired in Thailand. My hoon-payon is made of a fragment of human bone as the doll’s belly, a piece of mortuary shroud covering the bone, the hair of a dead person laid down on the doll’s head, takruts, i.e. cylinder amulets usually inscribed with magic formulas, as the limbs, a turquoise stone, carved and painted, as the skull, and red exorcism oil. It was made by Luang Po Somchat of Wat Huay Bong temple in Lopburi province.
Prai-tani: the ghost of a woman who dwells in wild banana trees.
Pong or Pi-pong: a kind of ghost who is said to like eating raw meat.
Mahalaluai: the magic to make one fall in love.
Me-seu or Me-wi: a god or spirit that is believed to protect newborn babies.
Depending on the day of the week that the baby is born, the baby has a different guardian. The me-seu are therefore seven in numbers. For sunday the spirit is Witjitoramawan, red with a singha head, Monday it is Wannongkran, ivory white with a horse head, Tuesday it is Yaksaborisut (‘Yaksa Pure’), pink with a buffalo head, Wednesday it is Samonlatat, green with an elephant head, Thursday it is Galotuk, light yellow with a deer head, Friday it is Yaknongyao (‘Yaksa Belle’), blue with a cow head, and Saturday it is Ekalai, black with a tiger head. They all wear golden clothes.
Men: a god, for instance in the phrases ‘country of the gods,’ ‘vehicle of the gods’…
Makkalipon: name of a legendary tree in Himmapan forest, which bears fruits in the shape of naked young women dangling from its branches. After seven days, the fruits are ripe, fall down and rot. Also called naripon.
Siraprapa: halo of beams that radiate from the head of a holy person and of a Buddha statue.
Sumeru or Sineru: name of a mountain believed to lie in the Daowadeung Heaven.
Himmapan: name of a legendary forest believed to lie on the Himalaya.
Ho: To fly or move in the air through magic.
Hong-prai: a ghost that a sorcerer conjures to do work for him.
For more definitions, see Thai Mysteries 1 here.
Let me now introduce you to a meditation practice of Theravada monks, namely the meditation on the nature of our body. Such booklets as the one I got in a Bangkok temple during a temple fair a few years ago are destined to assist such form of meditation through their pictures. The book’s title is Considerations on the Body and its cover displays an image of the Emaciated Buddha (Pra Pom: look here). It displays photos on which to meditate, together with thoughts of Buddhist philosophy. I enclose a few of these pictures.