by Tracy Vanity, (including pics)
I haven’t made a Bizarro Thailand post in awhile and there’s still a lot of Bizarro things here that you should know about.
During a road trip with some friends to Ayutthaya, the old capital of Thailand, we happened across a huge, sci-fi, space complex very reminiscent of Scientology but with a UFO Buddhist flavor:
As with any road trip in Thailand, you never know what you’re going to run into. I had no idea a Thai Buddhist space cult existed until I ran into it.
The place was empty when we visited but apparently tens of thousands of followers flood the 1,000 acre area during ceremonies and events and more buildings were being constructed to fit more people.
That youtube video does a great job of explaining what Dhammakāya is, especially from an outsider perspective. Here is more information cut & pasted from good ole’ wiki since I seriously have no clue what’s it’s about aside from the fact that their main building is a flying saucer and their symbol is a UFO:
The Dhammakāya Movement is a Buddhist movement founded in Thailand in the 1970s, with roots stretching back much earlier. It is said to be the fastest-growing Buddhist movement in present-day Thailand. It teaches of the reality of a True Self (the Dhammakaya) in all beings, which it equates with Nirvana.
…The Dhammakāya Foundation was founded in 1916 in Thailand by Phramongkolthepmuni, the abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. Following the death of Phra Monkolthepmuni, the Foundation’s work was continued by his disciple, Khun Yay Mahā Ratana Upāsikā Chandra Khonnokyoong, a Buddhist mae chi. In 1970, a temple, called Wat Phra Dhammakaya, was constructed as a home for the movement. Located in Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani Province, the temple was intended to become an international center for the study of meditation.
The Dhammakāya Foundation has been subject to its share of controversy. In 1999 and again in 2002, leaders of the organization were accused of charges ranging from fraud and embezzlement to corruption. At that time social critic Sulak Sivaraksa criticized the Dhammakaya Movement for promoting greed by emphasizing donations to the temple as a way to make merit. Widespread negative media coverage a this time was symptomatic of the movement being made the scapegoat for commercial malpractice in the Thai Buddhist temple community in the wake of the 1997 Asian Financial Crisis.
…The movement has expanded branches to over eighteen countries worldwide and is promoted via a Buddhist satellite network or Dhamma Media Channel (DMC.TV) with a 24 hour-a-day Dharma and meditation teachings broadcast to the audience worldwide.
…Accusations that the Thai Government had financed activities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya were made in a letter by Sulak Sivalaksa on 10 May 2010 but the government issued a press release on 12 May to deny the accusations
Seems like Dhammakāya is pretty much the core principles of Buddhism with white clothes, spaceships, and culty grandeur. Pretty cool.
by Tracy Vanity
I wanted to visit the body parts bakery for a Halloween post but I couldn’t find where it is. It might not even be open anymore, so instead I’ll just post a video someone else took of it:
The bakery is/was owned by artist Kittiwat Unarrom. His family are bakers and he incorporated his art into the craft. All of those parts are completely edible. I really hope I can track it down because I’d be interested in trying a limb…
by Tracy Vanity
I was strolling around Chinatown with some friends when we happened across a Vietnamese Buddhist Temple. It looked different than the typical Thai temples so we went to take a closer look and a nice, handsome monk invited us inside.
In a hall of important relics and pictures, behind glass was a mummified monk:
The living monk explained that the mummified monk had preserved naturally and so was not cremated as is the norm when a Buddhist dies. Instead his body was dressed and kept in the temple as a sacred relic.
There was a plaque explaining his biography:
“Chao Phra Khun was born Rueng Mathura Sakul at home in Phadung Krung Krasem canal, See Yak Mahanak district, Phranakorn province, Bangkok, on August 19th, 1900.
At the age of 21 years old, he was ordained as a monk at Wat Mongkol Samakom on May 20th, 1921.
At 09:15p.m., on April 11th, 1958 hen passed away in Chulalongkorn hospital.
It was time to perform the cremation ceremony, the head of Anamm Nikai asked the disciples to open his coffin. Miraculously, his body was still remained and dried without being decayed. Monks brought his body out of the coffin and rearranged him in sitting position. His body as relic was placed in the Patriarch’s Hall in order that Annam Nikai monks ans lat people are able to worship him.”
Thai grammar is cute. It’s cool to just stumble across something like this, it’s definitely not on a tour guide. This is not the first mummified monk I’ve seen.
I came across another one, again randomly during a road trip for New Years Eve. The Buddhist temple was empty so there wasn’t anyone to explain why this monk was mummified but he was clearly mummified on purpose as he had that waxy look:
Apparently, naturally mummified monks are not a rarity here in Thailand. There’s a famous naturally mummified monk on the island of Samui who has been fitted with some cool shades. I haven’t had a chance to visit him yet.
by Tracy Vanity
I didn’t know hell existed in Buddhism until I saw one while on a road trip with friends in Khon Kaen. If you’ve never seen huge plaster statues of warped human souls getting tortured, you’re missing out.
This Buddhist hell, or Naraka as it is properly called, was in a rural area totally off road on a path leading towards a temple. It was like a mini theme park or giant, fucked up art installation.
My Thai friend explained this giant with the huge sagging balls is a guardian of Naraka.
The sagging tits and lack of balls on this giant leads me to believe it is female.
Each of these art installations represent a Buddhist ethic that was broken. What is considered unethical in Buddhism is pretty much the same as what is considered a sin in Christianity. But unlike Christianity, Buddhist hell is meant to purify your soul so you can eventually get out of hell and become reincarnated. There are also 5 Precepts instead of 7 sins. This installation shows what happens when you lie. Note the padlock on the soul’s tongue.
These souls are getting their hands chopped off for stealing.
I think this female soul whose nipple I’m licking is also a thief. .
The amount of work that went into creating this hell is incredible. Aside from monks and people who live in the surrounding area, I don’t think very many people visit. There isn’t a sign from the highway mentioning it exists. My friends and I came across it completely by accident.
These guys were chilling in the back of hell with a smug expression on their face. I can only gather that they are demons of some sort.
This is the suffering endured by souls who have committed “sexual misconduct.”
I asked my friend what would be considered sexual misconduct. He said adultery.
These souls are suffering because they did drugs. Note the giant pill and bongs shoved down those souls’ throats.
These souls are being tortured for killing animals.
As is typical of any Buddhist temple or art installation, there is a huge Nāga overlooking everything. These multi-headed serpents are my favorite Buddhist creature. So cute!
There are apparently many hells all over Thailand. I need to go on a Buddhist hell road trip!
By Tracy Vanity
People here in Thailand tend to view Hitler as a Darth Vader-like symbol of rebellion. Evil; but in a fun, punk-rock way. Thais happily sport Nazi imagery alongside images of Che Guevara and Doraemon without irony. The rock band “SLUR” even dressed up in Führer-regalia for their video simply called “Hitler.”
It doesn’t hurt that most of the planet’s people — Buddhists and Hindus — consider the swastika an auspicious emblem of the elephant-headed Ganesha. And there’s little comprehension of the Holocaust or most Western sentiments toward the Third Reich.
As a result, one frequently spots Nazi-iconography-as-fashion here, mostly in the form of t-shirts and other merchandise sold at various outdoor markets around Bangkok:
8-bit Führer for sale.
Hitler with a Western pop culture twist.
A Japanese tourist sports a pink Hitler shirt.
Nazi stickers on the ferry ride home.
Pop art Hitler is bigger than Warhol.
Rubber Hitler masks are available year round.
A chimpanzee hocks some Hitler faces at the gas station.
The Hitler wax sculpture at LOUIS Tussaud’s wax museum in Pattaya, Thailand is as popular as Obama.
And my personal favorite, the Swastikar.