Almost Unseen Thonburi II : Cosmic Universe at Phasi Charoen Canal
This is the new landmark of Thonburi that you might be able to see it from the Mars. It is an under construction enormous golden Buddha statue that you can see from a distance. You may wonder what temple it is from. It is commonly known by any random Thai people as Wat Pak Nam Phasi Charoen.
How to get to the temple?
There are many ways to get to Wat Pak Nam Phasi Charoen. For those who take BTS train, get off at Wutthakat Station and take a motorcycle taxi. If you get off at Talad Plu, you can take the red mini bus (Rod Song Taew) that goes to Wat Pak Nam. Another way, this is way is popular among the Japanese tourists, it is walking from Wutthakat Station. You will walk past Wat Nang Chi and Wat Nak Prok. Then, you will walk about one kilometer along the main road. It is a good cardio exercise for your traveling.
You may wonder why this temple is widely admired by the Japanese. It is an unmissable check-in spot for the Japanese tourists. You can search #watpaknam in Instagram, you will see the Japanese people pressing the hands together in front of the Cosmic Universe.
The Thai Exotic Experience
This mural on the ceiling makes the Japanese scream "Sugoi" is on the fifth floor of the Ratchamongkol Pagada. It was painted by Chakrabhand Posayakrit, a Thai National Artist. The mural portrays the Ananda Chakraval or the infinite universe according to the Buddhist belief. It means that there is another universe apart from our existing universe. Imagine that an ET, a flying saucer, a parallel universe do exist, how is it going to be.
In the infinite universe, you can see multiple Buddhas like they are copied and pasted. The multiple Buddhas are not just a beauty but it portrays a long history of Lord Buddhas. There are 28 of them. The last Buddha is Gautama Buddha who lived 2563 years ago. But according to the religious writings, the number of Buddhas are not only 28, but they are countless.
Think about the movie "Cloud Atlas", it is about reincarnation. Take a look at the painting, you will see that all Buddhas are related.
Back in Dipankara Buddha period, there was a monk named Sumetha Dabos. The monk lied down on the muddy ground so that the Buddha and his disciples could walk on him. The Dipankara Buddha predicted that the monk would be a Lord Buddha in the future. After Sumetha Dabos died, he was born again multiple times through 23 Buddha periods. Finally, he was born as Prince Siddhattha and became the last known Buddha, Gautama Buddha.
When Prince Siddhattha was in Trouble
According to religious writings, the Gautama Buddha once had a conflict with other Buddhas. In his past life, the Gautama Buddha was born as a man. His friend asked him to listen to the Dharma teaching of Kassapa Buddha. The man was disappointed that the teaching of Kassapa Buddha was too difficult to understand. The karma came back to him when he was born as Prince Siddhattha. The prince had to struggle for six years to find the way to end the adversity of life. He almost died from starving himself. But finally, Prince Siddhattha reached the enlightenment and became Lord Buddha. Six years is the longest time to become Buddha comparing to other Buddhas.
Even though the temple looks fairly new, it had a long history dating back to Ayutthaya period. You can see it from the statue in the main ceremonial hall. The Buddha statue looks like the Buddha statue, Phra Mongkhon Bophit, in Ayutthaya. The statue was made from cement. Therefore, part of the statue corroded over time. Then, the temple got an approval from the Fine Arts Department to coat the Buddha statue with pure gold. The gold that you see from the statue is pure gold.
Not only Wat Pak Nam, there are many unseen wonders in Wat Absorn Sawan, a temple nearby. After being fascinated by the painting of 28 Buddhas, now you can see the statues of them here. There are 28 Buddha statues placed in the main ceremonial hall. At front, it is the statue of Gautama Buddha, the Buddha of our generation.
Wat Absorn Sawan may be small, but it is not small in exoticness. When entering the temple, a small Ho Trai (library), in the middle of a pond, stands out. Building the library in the middle of a pond is to prevent ants and termites from runing the sacred Tripitaka scriptures. Ho Trai was built from the artisans of Ayutthaya Kingdom. The architecture of Ho Trai is widely admired.