Chao Khun Nor (Wat Thepsirin)



 

Chao Khun Nor
Wat Thepsirin

Dhan Chao Khun Nor (CKN) was born on Saturday, 5th Febuary BE2440 and was the eldest in the family of 5 siblings. He was among the first batch of students at the Official University of Kingdom Siam, now known as Chulalongkorn University. After completing his studies, Chao Khun Nor became an officer in the King's Palace, then ruled by the 6th King of Thailand. He became the closest attendant to the King and he moved to the King's chamber and attended to the King's daily needs. After the death of the 6th King, CKN was devastated. He left the palace in BE2468.

His parents wanted him to get married with a lady teacher after seeing CKN so sad over the death of the King. However, before anything could be firmed up, CKN told his parents that he wanted to be ordained.

CKN ordained on 23th March BE2468 at Wat Thepsirintahwaht, a day before the 6th King was cremated. He became a monk as tum boon (giving merit) for the 6th King. CKN was a strict vegetarian who consumed only one meal a day and decided never to leave the monkhood. He was ordained by Somdej Phra Putta Koshacharn (Charoen), who was also his preceptor. Phra Putwiriyaaigon, the abbot of Wat Sommanatwihahn and Phra Udon Seelahkon Wat Dhepsirin were the Dhamma teachers.


STRICT OBSERVANCE OF THE 227 PRECEPTS

It is widely believed that CKN could accurately predict the future by looking at finger & palm prints. When the villagers got wind of that, all of them flocked to the temple asking for him to enlighten them on their future but were declined. Despite that, many people continued to visit him very often even though they know that they will most probably go back empty handed. They all came for an assortment of reasons ranging from offering presents, to seek guidance about their problems and to ask him about their futures. He was very uncomfortable and sad with all this.

When the villagers presented things to him, he advised them to bring it to other monks as he strictly observed the 227 provisions of moral precepts. He also mentioned that one would similarly accumulate merits when giving offerings to other monks. This made the villagers unhappy & felt that he looked down on them. They people brought the matter up to Somdej Phra Phutta Koshacharn (Charoen).

When Somdej Phra Phutta Koshacharn heard this, he asked CKN about this matter. CKN explained that the reason he did not accept the things or attendance from the villagers is because he was ordained for the purpose of tum boon for the 6th King. Besides that, he also needed to maintain good concentration in order to study the teachings of Buddha. In order to succeed, he needed to have no connections to the outside world. All the people who came to visit him brought along the troubles of the world, which adversely affected his concentration. When Somdej Phra Phutta Koshacharn heard his reasons, he sympathized and agreed with him.

As CKN had strictly observed the 227 precepts, he did not accept any form of offerings from the villagers. The room in which he lived was very empty and consisted of only the basic necessities. There was even no electric lighting. He does all his reading in the day. When CKN went back to his room, he would lock the door and stay inside. No one ever knew what he did in his room and he never came out to receive guests. He never accepted anything from anyone with the exception of his nephew who would bring vegetarian food from his mother’s house. He uses most of his time for insight development.

In the temple, they placed some skeletons of dead people to aid the monks in the development of their insight. The intention was to remind the monks that the female body would eventually resemble this ugly state so that they will refrain from sex and impure thoughts as well as to reinforce the rule of impermanence. LP Parn of Wat Bang Nom Kho Ayutthaya also practiced in such a manner.


WATER USED FOR WASHING FEET CAN CURE SICKNESS

It is a daily routine for CKN to walk back to the monk's residence. There were 2 things that were significantly different with him. Firstly, he did not wear any slippers like the villagers and walked around barefooted. The second and most remarkable thing was that he always walked on tip-toes and his heels never touched the ground. No one knows why he walked like that but it was assumed that it was a kind exercise for his leg muscles. Before stepping into the monk's residence, he would wash his feet in a basin and dry them.

A village was hit by a dreaded disease and one of the villagers was instructed to bring a bottle to CKN to ask for some holy water to try to cure his fellow villagers but was declined. The villager had no idea what to do and how to get holy water from CKN to appease the villagers. Out of desperation, he decided to take the water from the basin used for washing CKN's feet and brought it back to his place to give to the sick. Nobody knew the origins of the water and what it was used for.

When the sick people drank the water which they thought was holy water given by CKN, all of them were miraculously cured. This greatly puzzled the man who brought the water.

When this news leaked out (gossip is a fearful thing) people who heard the news all rushed towards Wat Thepsirin to ask CKN for this special holy water but he denied having given any to anyone much to their disappointment. When the villagers heard CKN's reply, they were all very confused as to where the holy water came from.

The monk staying next to CKN could not stand it anymore as more and more people flocked to the temple and decided to clarify to the villagers once and for all that CKN had never given any holy water to anyone. However, there was one man who came to beg for it but was declined. He also witnessed the same man taking the water from CKN's feet washing basin but at that time, he did not know what the man was doing. CKN was also aware of it.

When the origins of the holy water was established, all the villages rushed to take water from the basin. Some waited around for it to be filled up & immediately emptied the basin.

This made it a very hectic job for the person responsible for topping up the basin as he had to do it numerous times a day. Finally, the basin was placed in CKN's room to put a stop to this.


STRONG WILLPOWER

There were reports of strange incidents happening when CKN made incantations. On the fateful day of Saturday, 25th April BE2513, a photographer was assigned to take photographs of him consecrating a batch of amulets and was busy snapping pictures of the long and elaborate process until it was finished. When the pictures were sent for processing, there was something strange and remarkable about a picture in which CKN was sprinkling holy water on the amulets. The wooden brush that was used to sprinkle holy water emitted white light from its tip. There were many people who were present at the ceremony but the light was not seen by anyone there. It only showed up on the picture. Everyone was amazed as they could not find any logical explanation for this. However, everyone agreed that it could not have been caused by the actual physical sprinkling of holy water itself.

There was another strange incident on Saturday, 5th December BE2513. There was a big ceremony at Wat Thepsirin & many people came to witness the event. CKN announced that it was going to be the last time he was going to make incantations for the blessing of amulets. In a photograph, the flames from the candles which were lined up directly in front of the principle Buddha statue were swaying as if there was a strong wind blowing. However, all the windows and doors were shut during that time and there was no wind at all. The flames should have been completely still. Everyone who was at the ceremony were astonished when the picture was shown. This particular picture was taken when CKN was making incantations in front of the principal Buddha image in a temple and Dhan Chao Khun Udomsarasophon was blessing the amulets with holy water.

Based on the pictorial evidence taken during the ceremonies, there was widespread belief that the strange incidents were the result of CKN's high level of attainment.


DIVINE EYES

Many people and all his students strongly believed that CKN had completed the highest levels of insight development and may have attained the level of Arahant. They derived their conclusion from his performance and his thought invoking ways when he speaks and delivers his speeches.

One evening, after CKN finished praying, he waited for Dhan Chao Khun Udom and warned him about an impending misfortune and told him to be careful in his journeys. Chao Khun Udom Sarasophom was going to build a new building at Wang Kajom Temple at Nakronnayok. During the journey, an accident occurred and the car in which CK Udom was travelling in overturned. However, he only sustained minor injuries and only had to stay in the hospital for a few days for observations. According to the people who saw the wrecked car, they were absolutely astonished the CK Udom & the driver could have survived the accident. It was later mentioned that the driver was wearing a CKN amulet.

On another occasion, CKN was having a discussion with his students on Cambodia and he mentioned that that trouble will befall on the people of Cambodia as there will be a revolution in a few days time.

All the students were puzzled when they heard that and although some of them disagreed, they did not say it out loud. A few days later, it was published in the newspapers that a revolution had started in Cambodia to expel Chao Narodom Sridhanu. His students were in shock and awe at how he could have known this in advance. Thus, they realized that that CKN was able to see the future in his meditations.

On another occasion during the rainy season, there was a new monk staying at the monk's residence and resided right next to CKN's room. The walls of the rooms were all made of solid concrete.

One day, friends of the new monk came to visit him at the residence. This new monk took out a violin and was about to play it when CKN opened his window and told the monk's friend who was sitting down in front of his friend's room to please tell the new monk that this thing (violin) that he is holding is inappropriate for a monk and politely asked for him to put in away. Those words shocked the people around him as the walls were made of solid concrete & CKN could not have seen the violin from the outside. Besides, the new monk had never even played the violin before that day.

From the incidents above which were experienced by different people at different times, there is widespread belief that CKN had achieved a very high level of spiritual attainment and was able to know and read people's minds.


BLESSING OF GRAVEL

The person who took care of CKN was his nephew, Khun Kosol Pattamasonthon. He was the son of Mrs. Louen Pattamasonthon, CKN's sister.

CKN had some skin infections so one day, CKN requested Khun Kosol to go to the Pramongkoutkouw Hospital to get an anti-septic solution from Dr. Pantree Paiboon who was one of the doctors there. Khun Kosol cleaned CKN's wounds daily until 2nd Jan BE2514.

One fine day, CKN asked his nephew, “Do you need anything from me? If you do, please go and take the gravel from Amphur Bangbour and I will perform incantations to bless it for you."

Khun Kosol was startled when heard his uncle say that because CKN has seldom volunteered to do such things except on rare occasions when he blessed amulets for the well being of the masses. On some occasions, CKN may ask devotees to take amulets from Chao Khun Udomsarasophon and always instructed them to make some donations and never to take things for free.

Khun Kosol then replied asking, "If Amphur Bangbour doesn't have gravel, can I take from Chonburi or Samuthsongkram?” CKN answered, “No, you can't. You can only take from Amphur Bangbour because Bangbour is a good name meaning pit of gold and silver and Samutprakarn Province means melodious and is an auspicious name. There will be gravel there if you were to go now."

Khun Kosol went searching for the gravel at Amphur Bangbour until he was was able to gather one bag of gravel consisting the nine types of gravel indicated by CKN. When CKN finished blessing it, he told Khun Kosal to give it to the children around there for protection, and instructed him to bring more the next day.

As instructed, Khun Kosol brought one more bag of gravel. After the blessing, CKN said, “These are good things and are equivalent to the Guardians of the Earth and have the goodwill of all children. It will also have the power when you give to someone whom you venerate. Put this gravel in the center of a pipal leaf and write Nor and Au on top and write the name of the person below. After that, make a frame to cover it."

After Khun Kosol received one bag of blessed gravel from CKN, everybody asked Khun Kosol for the powerful gravel and he gave one to each person until all was gone.

When CKN saw that, he ask Khun Kosol to bring more gravel but he replied that he did not dare to bring more because he was afraid that CKN was too weak and had no strength to continue with the long, complicated & ardious process of chanting.

CKN said that he wanted to let the people have some good things from him before he leaves this world and assured Khun Kosol that he will be all right. Khun Khunsol immediately went to get the final bag of gravel from Amphur Bangbour.

After he finished the blessing on 7th January BE2514, CKN said that he was not feeling well and he asked to rest in the monk's residence. He also told one of his students that he would not be attending the prayer session the next day which he had never missed throughout his life.

CKN passed away the next day on Friday, 8th January BE2514 at the age of 74 after having lead a strict & disciplined lifestyle for 46 rain retreats. He was cremated on 22nd February BE2515. Although Dhan Chao Khun Nor has passed away, he is still fondly remembered until today and is immortalized in the hearts of many people. He remains as one of the most renowned and respected monks in Thailand.




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