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 Der Drei-Korb

History of Wat Rampoeng

King Tilokaraj, of the Mengrai Dynasty, was the twelfth king of Chiangmai from 2031 to 2040 BE (1488-1497 A.D.). He had only one son, Tao Sree Boonroeng. King Tilokaraj was told by his favourite wife that Tao Sree Boonroeng, who was then twenty years old, was trying to overthrow him and become king himself, Consequently, King Tilokaraj sent his son away to rule Chiengsaen, which was under the domination of Chiangmai at the time.


At Chiangrai, Tao Sri Boonroeng had a son. This child was born while his mother was travelling and staying on the top of a mountain in Chiangrai (Doi-Bua). So Tao Sree Boonroeng named his son Yod Chiangrai, which means the top of Chiangrai.


Some years later King Tilokaraj was again told by his wife Nang Hau Mook, that Toa Sree Boonroeng was trying to rebel against him. He then decided to murder his son and make his grandson, Chao Yod Chiangrai, ruler of Chiangrai.


In 2035 B.E. (1492 A.D.) King Tilokaraj died and Chaoyod Chiangrai was crowned King of Chiangmai. After he had arranged the affairs of the kingdom, he then started to investigate the case of his father's death, to search for the persons who had accused his father of rebellion and thereby also caused his mother's mental illness. On discovering the persons who were responsible for the sad fate of his father and mother, King Yod Chiangrai sentenced them to death, however, as a devout follower of Lord Buddha, he wished to make compensation for this action.


At this time, a wandering monk came and stayed at the foot of Doi Kham at Tambol Suthep, the place were Wat Ram Poeng is situated nowadays. The monk later told King Yod Chiangrai that he had seen rays of light coming from the foot of a tree near where he was staying. He thought that there might be some relics buried there. King Yod Chiangrai visited the spot. Sitting on an elephant's back, he made a wish


"If there are relics buried here and - I am fortunate enough to become a patron of Buddhism the elephant will stop where the relics are". As it happened the elephant did stop under the tree and a relic was found. It was a tooth in a container in the Chiengsaen style. The King then brought the relic and held a grand celebration. During the celebration the relic revealed a radiance like the moon at the beginning of the lunar month. The relic was thus placed in a golden container and eventually put in a pagoda in Wat Ram Poeng, which was later built near the place where the relic was found.


In this monastery, King Yod Chiangrai had a stone inscription made called "Sila Phak-Kham".


This inscription survives to this day. It says, "On Friday", the third day of the seventh lunar month, the year of the monastery, 2035 B.E.(1492 A.D.) at 8: 20 a.m., a most auspicious time, this monastery was established by the religions and secular authorities of Chiangmai. The King commanded that Queen Atapadevi was to take charge of the construction of the monastery. The Queen set up a committee responsible for the construction consisting of the following persons: 

The Committee on the Religious Side: 

  1. Phra Mahā Samiyana-bodhi-chao 
  2. Phra Mahā Thera Surasimaha-bodhi-chao 
  3. Phra. Mahā Thera Dharmasenapati-chao 
  4. Phra Mahā Thera Saddharma-thira-prasad-chao 
  5. Phra Mahā Thera Yanasaizara Armitra-chao


The Committee on The Secular Side: 

  1. Atapadevi Director
  2. Chao Muang Yee
  3. Ativisudha Chao Muen Muang Tin Chieng
  4. Chao Muen Kamphraklang
  5. Dharmasenapati Muang Cha
  6. Chao Muen Nongsuevimonkirati Singharajmontri 
  7. Chao Pan Chaengkadi Ratanapanyo
  8. Chao Muen Sorn Rajapankrig


This inscription reveals that eventually all construction was finished and a sum of money was given to the monastery, the monks, and the people who were to take care of the monastery.


There is other evidence telling how Wat Ram Poeng was built, a pamphlet was written by Mrs. Mookda Ai-yasen and Mr. Sanguan Chotesukarat dated Saturday, November 2, 2509 B.E. (1966 A.D.), Mrs. Mookda claimed that her knowledge directly came from the spirit of King Yod Chiangrai himself. Mr. Sainguan said that he got his information from the Book of the Yo Nok Chronicle, Both of these writers claimed that Wat Rum Poeng was founded before King Yod Chiangrai ordered his wife, Phranang Proung Noi, to be the director of rebuilding the monastery. Its original name was Tapotaram. Later Phranang Proung Noi was named Atapadevi to honour her as the director of rebuilding it. Her name was derived from "tapo" which means heat, endeavour, an over the symbol of getting rid of all sin.


Wat Ram Poeng was deserted for many years. In World War II, when Japanese Army forces came to Thailand, some of them set up their camps near the monastery. Villagers had to go away to a remote area and no one was in charge of the monastery. The Buddha images, the pagoda, Uposatha and Vihāra built in region of King Yod Chiangrai were badly damaged and stone inscription was buried. In 2484 B.E. (1941 A.D.) a monk in Chiangmai agreed to move the Chief Buddha image in the Vihāra from Wat Ram Poeng to Wat Phra Singha, which is in Chiangmai City.


After World War II, the villagers who used to live near Wat Ram Poeng and had scattered to different places during the war came back. However, Wat Ram Poeng did not have an abbot to care for it. Some monks came to stay for a while and left. In 2514 B.E. (1971 A.D.) when work on rebuilding the Vihāra had begun, Khruba Insorn the abbot was to pass away only several months after its completion.


In 2517 B.E. (1974 A.D.) Phrakhru Pipatkanapibarn, the abbot of Wat Muang Mang and the head teacher of the meditation school, came to Wat Ram Poeng. He considered that the monastery would be a suitable place for the practice of the meditation. He decided to stay there and asked all the local people who were interested in Buddhism to help rebuilt the monastery. The response was such that on March 15, 2518 B.E. Wat Ram Poeng had the facilities to conduct courses in meditation and on this auspicious day the meditation centre was founded with Ven. Phrakhru Pipatkanapibam as its head and acting abbot of Wat Ram Poeng.


The Buddha image, Luang Pau Sri Ayodhya, in the Uposatha back some 700-800 years was donated by Sergeant Prayoot Tripian on Saturday, March 22, 2518 B.E. (1975 A.D.)


Since its foundation as a meditation retreat its support has grown and is well known to practitioners for it's quiet, secluded environment surround by woods and fields. The centre has facilities for both monks and lay meditators and in recent years had responded to an ever increasing interest shown by meditators from abroad so that the monastery has appropriate accommodation for both Thailand and foreign students speaking teacher and assistant.