Ayutthaya, Capital of a Kingdom, Part 21
The mission of Siamese monks returned from Sri Lanka with the borrowed Tripitaka which to be compared with the versions we had in Siam
Mongkut was born a Prince to the Royal House of Chakri in 1804. His grandfather, Rama I, founded the Chakri Dynasty and still reigned when Prince Mongkut was born. The baby Prince's father, Rama II, became Monarch five years later, in 1809, and as he was the first-born son of Rama II's Royal Queen, Prince Mongkut was perceived by many as being the heir apparent to the Siamese Throne. However, this was not to be; Prince Mongkut had an older half-brother, a son of one of Rama II's many concubines, who ultimately succeeded to the Kingdom as Rama III. Prince Mongkut, instead, became a monk in his 20th year and studied scholarly matters for the next 27 years.
Prince Mongkut developed good friendships and learned foreign languages with educated foreign residents. Roman CCatholic Monsignor Pallegoix taught Latin meanwhile Dr. Dan Bradley and other Christian Missionary members taught English.
Before the coronation ceremony was taken place on May 15, 1951, King Rama 4 announced that those who were in audience had to fully dress up. They could not be bare chested.
Prince Mongkut took up residence at Wat Rajadhivasa and left his royal title at the gate! He was now simply "Mongkut", a humble monk on the path of enlightenment, humility and learning in the service of Buddha and the people. Long pilgrimages, on foot, took him to many parts of Siam meeting and talking with ordinary people as he went. Poor villagers and country folk pressed gifts of food into his alms-bowl early each morning and their simple kindness and generosity moved Mongkut spiritually. The future King of Siam was learning about his people as they were learning about him.
Prince Mongkut was appointed in 1837 as the Abbot of Wat Borwornniwej where he develpoed the new more strict discipline of monkhood - Dhammayootti Nikaya
In 1894 King Rama 3 thought that if we could defeat Chiangtoong (Kengtung) we should be able to liberate Chiangroong (Kengrung) the capital of Sipsongpanna King dom from the Burmese influence.
The new king was the real scholar who knew brilliantly in Buddhism and Pali. He also knew Latin and English languages will. He was the first and the only king in Asia during that time who could keep corresponding in English with the head of states in Europe and America.
An insatiable curiosity drove Mongkut to pursue greater knowledge and understanding. No educated opinion, either Siamese or Western was rejected out of hand. Opinions were weighed, balanced and compared against what was accepted custom in Siam or Mongkut's personal Buddhist beliefs. In many instances, Mongkut knew that the Kingdom of Siam would make progress from some Western influence so he never closed his mind, or his door, to Western debate. However, on the question of religious beliefs, he felt that no other faith could be compared with his well-studied Buddhism. Many accepted sacred writings from other faiths, he said, were contrary to common sense. Christian missionaries were advised "What you teach people to do is admirable but what you teach them to believe is foolish".
Mongkut offered his firmly held opinions not in any sense of arrogance or criticism but, rather, as humble observations from his Buddhist viewpoint. Because of this gentle sincerity he was well regarded by the many Westerners with whom he had contact French, British and Americans all held him in high esteem as a learned, interesting and humble Siamese Buddhist Abbot. They could not know how his circumstances would change in the future.
Mongkut Royal Prince of the purest Chakri blood, humble monk and wise Abbot with knowledge of the stars above Siam and compassion for the people of Siam the future King of Thailand King Mongkut, Rama IV, of Siam.
See related articles (History of Ayutthaya):
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Last modified on: October 27 2013