Luang Phor Rung Khrao Lek – The Iron Beard Monk
Luang Phor Rung remains to this day, one of the most renowned monks from the South of Thailand. Throughout his life, Luang Phor Rung was involved in numerous extraordinary and sometimes supernatural events, leading to his fame.
The story of Luang Phor Rung
Luang Phor Rung was born Rung Thip-Aksorn
When he was a teenager, he ordained at Bang Waen Temple, studying Thai and Khmer to proficiency. At the age of 20, he was ordained as a full-fledged Buddhist monk at Bang Waen Temple, where he remained until his eventual appointment as Abbot.
Luang Phor Rung is renowned for his encyclopedic mastery of the esoteric arts, from herbal healing to consecration. His aforementioned beard was his most recognizable feature, as facial hair, and for that matter, hair of any sort, was distinctly lacking among Thai Buddhist monks, who usually shaved it all off.
Luang Phor Rung was known to be austere and disciplined, yet merciful. He only ate a single meal each day throughout his life, and consistently expressed his unworthiness to receive titles and worship from the community, no matter how astounding his feats. His name too, was an auspicious omen for Thais (“Rung”
He passed away in B.E 2501 at Bang Waen Temple, at the age of 99. To carry on his legacy, his disciples created effigies in his image for purposes of continued worship at Bang Waen Temple.
Growing the “Khrao Lek” (Iron Beard)
Luang Phor’s Iron Beard is a tale unto itself. He was said to have grown it after retreating into the jungles to meditate and develop his spiritual prowess. In his singular pursuit, he began to neglect his physical appearance, over time growing a long, flowing beard.
This beard became a calling card of sorts, eventually drawing the attention of other members of the Sangha who crossed his path. An elderly, high-ranking monk named Chao Khana Jangwat Chumphon
However, much to their astonishment, neither razors nor blades were able to even graze a single hair of the monk’s beard. The monks reported this matter to Chao Khana Jangwat, who in turn reported this strange occurrence to the Chief Monk in Bangkok.
Refusing to believe the stirrings, the Chief Monk sent more monks to Chumphon province to investigate. They too, were awed by this seemingly supernatural occurrence. By this point the legend of the “Iron Beard” had been sealed, having been spread far and wide across the country.
Luang Phor Rung’s amulet: Phra Kreung
It is widespread belief among devotees that Takrut crafted by Luang Phor Rung offer protection from fire. This was inspired by an incident that occurred in Luang Phor’s youth. During a period of intense spiritual training, he lived in a wooden hut thatched with vetiver grass. One day, the surrounding forest was engulfed by a raging wildfire, that burnt everything in the area to cinders. Miraculously, the master’s hut stood strong against the blaze, emerging completely untouched by the savage flames.
As a result of this, people from the surrounding , who had witnessed this miraculous event, began seeking out Luang Phor Rung and asking him to craft protection charms for them. He presented these to them in the form of Takrut. During the consecration process, it was purported that some of these metal Takrut melted into molten lumps under the weight of his powers alone, with absolutely no flame or heat applied to them. The Takrut that failed in this manner, were discarded by the master, as he considered them to be impotent. Luang Phor Rung undertook the consecration process while meditating over Teycho Kasin or the Fire element, and any amulets that survived the process were considered to be rich in Kongkrapan Chatree and Maha Ut, in addition to their supernatural prowess at mitigating dangerous fires. These amulets were in high demand, in the days before pre-industrial agriculture, where random fires that were set by the villagers themselves to raze and clear swathes of jungle, would often burn out of control. These savage wildfires would often reap massive collateral damage, eliminating any unsuspecting houses (and the occupants within) who were unlucky enough to stand in their path. The protection afforded by Luang Phor Rung’s amulets, became legendary, as endless accounts of people being miraculously passed over by these blazes, began to emerge.
Unfortunately, their popularity, and the fierce devotion they inspired, made Luang Phor Rung’s amulets quite hard to come by. Those who had them, held on to them tenaciously. As his patronship and renown grew, so too did the fortunes of the people in the Pathiw district. Many saw no point in trading his amulets for profit.
The fierce monsoon storms in the area, also meant that many of his amulets have been lost to the ravages of time during floods, making them prohibitively expensive. We are also unable to find pictures of Luang Phor Rung’s takrut.
In addition to their supernatural protective powers, Luang Phor Rung’s amulets are also well-regarded for imbuing their owners with the powers of compassion, enhancing their aura and popularity, and blessing them with rapid career advancement.
His strict observance of monastic rules, and the sanctity and serenity he projected onto those in his presence, attracted flocks of devotees to him, even while he was still alive. When he was passed away, his disciples and devotees, erected a life-sized statue of him to worship at the Bang Waen Temple. There exists, even today, a tradition of gilding this statue with pieces of gold foil during the annual Songkran festival, as an offering to the master. These activities reach fever pitch between April 12-14 every year, where throngs of people visit the temple to worship him and gild his statue. The practice is widely considered an act of merit-making towards Wat Bang Waen Temple.
In the pursuit of the esoteric arts, powerful values such as honour, courage, and faith hold supreme. Without a strong grounding in the pillars of virutue, mental steadfastness and wisdom, no spiritual endeavor will succeed. To succeed in these pursuits is a cause for celebration, but one should never forget the principles taught to him by his Teachers, and always elect to show grace and gratitude for unlocking one more door on their to enlightenment.
Luang Phor Rung is an excellent example of the sheer efficacy of positive practices. His iron beard was but a manifestation of his iron-clad resolve to live his life on the path laid out for him by his teachers, the teachings he studied, and the path walked aeons ago by the Buddha himself.
As a reflection of his philosophies, though spoken off with bombast and pageantry, his amulets were never intended to deviate from the principles dictated by his monastic code, rather, they were meant to help a slew of others navigate the pitfalls, dangers, and miseries of life through merit and virtue. He intended to encourage and support them, and never turned anyone away, no matter how dire or inconvenient their circumstances.
Though these small miracles may have temporarily reversed the ravages of time and tide, they still fell far short of liberating beings from the endless chain of rebirth and suffering. Only the pursuit of the Buddhist way, and the path towards transcendence birth, death and suffering, is the true miracle of Life.
Dhammapada Verse 277 to 279 ;
“All conditioned phenomena are impermanent”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one comes out of suffering. This is the Path to Purity.
“All conditioned phenomena are unsatisfactory”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of suffering. This is the Path to Purity.
Verse 279: “All phenomena are without Self”; when one sees this with Insight-wisdom, one becomes weary of suffering. This is the Path to Purity.