In the first part of this article, we will explore the origins of this peculiar statue, which is a common sight across Thailand. It has its origins in ancient Buddhist scripture, and the worship of its 9-faced form is meant to remind devotees of the significance of the omni-present core teachings of the scriptures; dana
The Patrons who achieved Sainthood
The sacred image of Phra Setthi Nawa Kot
Myths of Phra Setthi Nawa Kot in Thailand
The Virtue of Reverence to the 9 Patrons
The Lord Buddha was known to have praised these 9 patrons, for their generosity and sincerity shown to the community, as well as their contribution to the widespread dissemination of Buddhist teachings, conferring them the title of Phra Ariya Bokkol
There are 4 stages of sainthood described in the Theravada scriptures, and upon attaining the 4th and final stage, one is liberated from suffering through endless cycles of rebirth and death.
The first stage is called Sotapanna
“Shining, shining in the Brahma World, squeaking squeaking in the sty of pigs”
Once, the Buddha went on an alms-gathering trip to Räjagaha
As the mind stream of a person lives on, (the mind is known to be active, even in sleep, comas or death), we are confined to an endless cycle of rebirth. Like the changes in a person’s nature can be kind or deceitful at different times, so too, can the conditions of their existence. One might be reborn in heaven in one life, and commune with the beasts in their next. The fruit of Sotapanna however, means cutting off the mental fetters that keep us chained to our plebian understanding, and the clarity and wisdom to recognise our own shortcomings which allows us to transcend them eventually. This elevated clarity will never be diminished, even through further instances of death and rebirth.
Physical damage caused by a comatose state, Alzheimer’s or dementia may result in the loss of superficial wisdom, which is always gained externally. The unlocking of an intrinsic, fundamental understanding however, is eternal, and the omnipresent awareness of the human mind, ensures this. When undergoing near-death experiences, for example, it is not uncommon for people to report an instant replay of memories long-forgotten, flashing before their mind’s eye. Such is also the case in terminal brain jury, such as patients afflicted with Fatal familial insomnia (a neurodegenerative disease which destroys the brain), who often awake from their cloud of anguish and confusion at the hour of their passing, to remind their family that they love and cherish them, before passing on.
A Sotapanna will become liberated from endless rebirths within 7 more lifetimes. It is also described as “the Eye of Truth”, the ability to discern what is wholesome/unwholesome at a moment’s notice, and understand the Buddha’s teachings that will lead to liberation from the torment of endless rebirth and death.
The Names of the 9 Patrons
- Thananchai, (Pali: Dhananjaya) who bestows respect and superiority upon the rank and file.
- Yutsa(Pali: Yasa) who blesses us with success in all pursuits, and fosters unity in the hearts and minds of the people around us.
- Sumana(Pali: Sumana) who bestows us with intelligence.
- Chatisatsa(Pali: Jati Kassa) who brings us prosperity and luck.
- Anata Binthika(Pali: Anathapindika) who aids us in progress with our lives.
- Maenathaka(Pali: Mendaka) who blesses us with material wealth and luck.
- Chotika(Pali: Jotika) who bestows Metta and attractiveness
- Sumangkala(Pali: Sumangala) who fosters a steady, peaceful life for all
- Manthatu(Pali: Mandathu/ Mandatha) who helps you with career advancement and achievements
A note to our readers: Many sources name Visakha
Some texts also name ten billionaires, including Vessantorn
In Part 2, we will explore the personal histories of the 9 patrons contained in the scriptural texts of Theravada Buddhism.