Wat Phra Dhammakaya Temple
Today in Thailand there are about 40 thousand unique temples. But among them there is one that tourists rush to visit in the first place. Wat Phra Dhammakaya is the largest structure in the East, more like a giant alien plate than a temple. It is located in Pathumthani District, 15 kilometers from Bangkok Airport.
Unorthodox Dhammakaya sect
The Dhammakaya Buddhist sect was first heard in 1916. The founder of Scientology became a monk Luang Pu Wat Paknam. He believed that approaching God is possible only through meditation. A person is able to know the true meaning of life and find peace if he strengthens his soul and body.
After the death of Luang Pu Wat Paknam in 1959, his follower continued his teaching. In her residence she enlightened people, calling them to rites and meditations. The number of interested parishioners grew every day, and soon the place for them ceased to be enough. It was decided to create another center, which eventually turned into Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
The history of the temple
The construction of the temple in the form in which we know it, began in 1970 and lasted more than 15 years. The work was carried out in rice fields and cost one million US dollars. In 1982, a chapel was erected, and after a few years, the first ceremony was held in it.
The period from 1985 to 2002 was difficult: in the capital, scandals associated with the abbot of the temple did not subside. He was charged with corrupt practices and other violations of the law. However, a year later they were removed and declared illegal. To date, the unorthodox Dhammakaya movement is considered the most radical and fastest growing in the country.
Million golden statuettes
But Wat Phra Dhammakaya is famous not for the history of its creation, but for its unique architecture. The temple covers an area of more than 320 square meters. In its center is a 200-meter spherical dome. The dome is the only place in the world where more than a million Buddha statues are collected. Of these, 300 thousand are located outside, and another 700 thousand inside the building. Figurines are called the embodiment of integrity and purity. They symbolize enlightenment, spiritual unity and the penetration of the Dharma into the human mind.
If they tell you that the statues are made entirely of gold, do not believe it. They are coated with an alloy of titanium and gilding, inside of which is silicon bronze. Such an alloy is more durable and serves as a reliable protection from moisture and heat. Many figurines are nominal. They are named after “sponsors” who wanted to perpetuate their name on a stand. The dome is part of the Luang Pu Wat Paknam memorial and, according to the engineers, will be able to stand for a thousand years.
Inside Wat Phra Dhammakaya there are two memorial halls. In the center of the first hall is a statue of Luang Pu Wat Paknam, made of gold. In the second hall are stored the relics of the Great Master in a miniature pagoda.
In addition, the temple is a large two-story stadium, in which more than 600 thousand believers gather to conduct mass rituals. Outside, it is surrounded by a corporate site, which is daily visited by pilgrims and parishioners. In the temple itself is home to several thousand novices.
Festivities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya
In 2013, Wat Phra Dhammakaya received the “Best Center for Meditation” award. In the days of the festivities that fall on the full moon of the third lunar month, unique ceremonies are held here. More than 100 thousand followers gather in white robes and perform the rite according to the Vija Dhammakaya technique.
The essence of meditation is to use breathing rhythms, repeating mantras and visualizing a crystal ball. The visual composition is most striking in this process: the perfect symmetry of the statues and the monks with candles in their hands instill a sense of calm and tranquility.
Wat Phra Dhammakaya: how to get there
As mentioned earlier, Wat Phra Dhammakaya is located in Pathumthani District, an hour’s drive from central Bangkok. The easiest way to get there is by taxi or private car. However, in Thailand, the Dhammakaya is considered a scandalous sect, so you are unlikely to meet at least one pointer on your way. And not all taxi drivers know the way to the temple.
The second option is public transport, which runs from Bangkok to Rangsit. Its terminus is Sanam Luang Park. And if you wait for Sunday, you can get to the temple on one of the free buses of Tammasat University, which go there at 7.00 and 8.00 local time. For those who do not like to travel alone, we recommend taking a sightseeing tour. In this case, it is worth preparing for the fact that you will have much less time to explore the temple and its surroundings.