THEWA SATHAN (เทวสถาน)
(View north side)
(Extract of Phraya Boran Ratchathanin map - 1926)
Addendum 1

Thewa Sathan or the "Place of Deities" was an ancient Brahman sanctuary situated
close the
Chikun Bridge. Coedès in his article "Une nouvelle inscription d'Ayuthya"
referred to the sanctuary as Wat Phram, being likely
Wat Sao Ching Cha on the 1850
map.

Thewa Sathan is mentioned in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya. In 1601 an eclipse of
the sun occurred. King Naresuan (r. 1590-1605) on this occasion received the statues of
Shiva and Vishnu in the same year. After a ceremony the statues where probably
enshrined somewhere in the city. [1]

We read again that in 1636 King Prasat Thong (r. 1629-1656) had the shrine of Shiva
(in Thai “Isuan”) and Vishnu (in Thai “Narai”) relocated at Chikun. [2] On the map of
Phraya Boran Rachathanin drawn in 1926 - some 80 years ago - we find two locations
with Brahman shrines, close to each other but separated by the
(former)
Khlong Pratu Jin, the southern extension of Khlong Pratu Khao Pluak.

"In 998 of the era, a year of the rat, eighth of the decade, the Supreme-Holy-Lord-
Omnipotent had the shrine of Holy Isuan and Holy Narai moved on up and
established at Chikun".

The western location had three shrines with two ponds on their west side. These three
shrines symbolized the Hindu Trimurti (“three forms”); Brahma the creator, Vishnu the
preserver, and Shiva the destroyer. These were likely the shrines which King Prasat
Thong had built in 1636.

The shrine on the eastern side of Khlong Pratu Jin, just north of t
he Chikun Bridge was a
Brahman shrine, although I can only guess which Hindu deity or deities were worshipped
there. At this location a brick mound likely containing the foundations of this shrine, still
can be seen.

Brahman rituals were important during the Ayutthayan period. All religious ceremonies
within the King’s Court were always performed by Brahman priests. The priests
provided also service as astrologer and gave consultations.

Prior to dethrone his uncle, King Suthammaracha (r. 1656), Prince Narai (the later King
Narai) consulted the Brahmans and made offerings to Shiva and Vishnu announcing his
intentions to the gods. [3]

The same year King Narai (r. 1656-1688) performed acts of merit and ordered the
casting of four Hindu statues. They were covered with gold of the finest quality adorned
with a ring and reserved for worship during royal ceremonies. [4]

Buddhism and Brahmanism were intertwined with local practises to form the foundations
of the Thai Culture. Buddhism became the official religion, whilst Brahmanism played a
major role in the ceremonial rites of the Royal court. [5] The Brahman presence in
Thailand’s Buddhist temples and ceremonial rites is notable even today. The “Sao Ching
Cha” (Giant Swing) in Bangkok, in front of Wat Suthat, is a good example of it.

Although in the Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya the four statues mentioned above were all
depicting Shiva, I presume that it could have been the statues of Shiva’s devas being:
Suriya (the sun), Chandra (the moon), Torani (the earth) and Kongka (the water).

If this would be the case, than likely the ancient annual Brahman rite known as “Tri
Yampawai” was enacted. The rite was performed to pay homage to Shiva as to
commemorate the God’s annual visit to the earth. This royal ceremony, held in the first
lunar month of the Thai lunar calendar, was known since the Sukhothai period and still
performed during the Ratanakosin era until 1935. This would suggest that in the vicinity of
the Brahman shrines near the Chikun Bridge in Ayutthaya, a large swing was installed in
earlier times. Even in a minor city of that time as Nakhon Sri Thammarat, a large
Brahman swing can still be seen today.

References:

[1] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 189 /
Source: Luang Prasoet.
[2] BCDF - The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page
220 / Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat & Royal
Autograph.
[3] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 229 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum & Royal Autograph.
[4] The Royal Chronicles of Ayutthaya - Richard D. Cushman (2006) - page 243 /
Source: Phan Canthanumat, British Museum, Reverend Phonnarat, Phra
Cakkraphatdiphong & Royal Autograph.
[5] www.brahmin.siamfoundation.org - info retrieved 29 May 2009.
Thewa Sathan is an example of a place that you wouldn’t know it was there unless
somebody pointed it out. It is located at a busy traffic intersection (Pa Thon Road and
Chikun Road). A provincial police station is nearby.

I walked by it for years before realizing that a mound of soil and brush seemed out of
place. On closer inspection, I could see some type of brick wall and foundation peeking
out. There was also a headless and armless image. A Bodhi tree grew out of the center
of the abandoned monastery. Somebody managed to wrap a gold cloth around the tree.
There was also the standard spirit house for the ghosts on the property. It looked like it
hadn’t been excavated yet.

One map hanging at the Ayutthaya Historical Studies Center shows that some activity
existed in this area prior to the founding of the city. A guidebook produced by the Fine
Arts Department in 1957 suggests that this is the location of some Brahmin shrines. It is
difficult to guess what lies beneath that soil. People are using the area for storage. I
noticed that some equipment was leaking oil on the monastery ruin.
Text by Ken May - 2008
Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2009
Addendum 2

We return to Thewa Sathan. During roadwork constructions in September 1939, a flat
stone with inscriptions on both sides, was unearthed here. The origin of the stele is
unknown, but taken in account the place of discovery, it must be dating from the period
Ayutthaya was still the capital. It is impossible to know whether it was found at is original
location or it was brought in from another area. The inscribed part of the slab measures
45 cm in height on 22 cm in width for each of the sides.

The first side has 18 lines completely in shloka (1), with exception of the sixth stance
(lines 11 and 12) which is an āryā (2). The text begins with two invocations: the first at
Shankara (Shiva) and the second at Parvati, united with Shiva in the Ardhanarishvara
form (3). It gives next the genealogy of the kings of
Canasa Pura.

The first king, which era is not mentioned, named himself Bhagadatta. One of its
descendants Sundaraparakrama had as son Sundaravarman, and the last had also two
sons. The oldest one, Marapatisinhavarman became supreme leader of Sri Canasa; the
minor Mangalavarman, was the author of the inscription which had as object to
commemorate the erection of an image of his mother in the aspect of Devi, spouse of
Shiva in 859 Saka (937 AD). This royal lineage, who appeared here for the first time, is
completely different of the dynasty ruling the Khmer empire - at that time King
Jayavarman IV residing at Chok Gargyar (Koh Ker).

The 17 lines on the other side of the slab give a list of proper names preceded by the
Khmer word "Khnum", which means "slave". [1]

King Bhagadatta, had the same name as the king who reigned in 515 AD in the Malay
Peninsula state which the Chinese called Lang-ya-sieou (
Langkasuka). Whether or not
we speak of one and the same ruler is unknown, as the name of Bhagadatta was rather
common in that period.

Another quadrilateral stele dating from 868 AD (Coedès dates the side with the Sanskrit
inscription into the 7th century AD) and mentioning Canasa was found at Ban Bo Ika,
Mueang Sema in Sung Noen District of Nakhon Ratchasima Province. The inscription in
Sanskrit/Khmer on one side mentions the livestock and slaves that a king of Sri Canasa
offered to the sangha. The inscription on the reverse begins with praise for Lord Siva and
then hails a person named Ansdeva who had the phallic image built. (4)

Coedès concluded that in 937 AD, three centuries after the Mon inscription of Lopburi
and close to one century before the Khmer inscription of 944 - 947 Saka (1022 - 1025
AD) in the name of Suryavarman I of Angkor, the region of Ayutthaya could have been
part of a state which was not yet attached to the Khmer empire, but were the Khmer
element already supplanted the Mon element, paving as thus the way for the
annexation of the country by Angkor.

The Ayutthaya and the Bo Ika inscriptions suggest that there existed a small state in the
upper Mun Valley over several generations during the period of the Chenla kingdoms
(550 - 802 AD). [2]

Srisakra Vallibhotama suggested that Mueang Sema (Sung Noen District) and Hin Khon
(Pak Thong Chai District) in Nakhon Ratchasima Province, were two sites of the
Kingdom of Canasa from the pre-Angkorian period to at least the tenth century; stating
that the inscriptions also show that the kingdom was initially Buddhist, but later became
Hindu. [3]

Bandaranayake agreed that "Canasa must have been a polity in the seventh century in the
area of Mueang Sema, the ruler of which was a supporter of Buddhism. There are cakras
from Mueang Sema  that date from this time, or more probably the eighth century, and
thus can reasonably be said to be associated with Canasa".  At the same time he doubts
the connection of this Canasa with the Canasa of the Ayutthaya inscription. [4]

Out of the above it is very likely that the stele found at Thewa Sathan initially came from
an area located in the upper reaches and sources of the Mun River on the Khorat plateau.

Footnotes:

(1) Shloka, Sanskrit meaning 'song', is a category of verse line developed from the Vedic
Anustup. Shloka is the basis for the Indian Epic verse, and may be considered the Indian
verse form par excellence, occurring, as it does, far more frequently than any other meter
in classical Sanskrit poetry. The shloka is treated as a couplet. [Source Wikipedia]
(2) Āryā is a meter used in Sanskrit and Prakrit verses. A verse in āryā metre is in four
metrical feet called pādas. [Source Wikipedia]
(3) Ardhanarishvara is a composite androgynous form of the Hindu god Shiva and his
consort Parvati, depicted as half male and half female, split down the middle. The right
half is usually the male Shiva, illustrating his traditional attributes.
(4) See “The inscriptions in Thailand database project” - Bo Ika (on line).

References:

[1] Une nouvelle inscription d' Ayuthya - George Coedès - The Journal of the Thailand
Research Society 35, February 1944 - pages 73-76.
[2] Encyclopedia of Ancient Asian Civilizations - Charles Higham - Infobase
Publishing, 1 jan. 2552 BE - page 63.
[3] The Northeast between the 12th-16th C. BE  - Srisakra Vallibothama - page 41.
[4] Sinhalese Monastic Architecture: The Viháras of Anurádhapura - Senake
Bandaranayake (1974) - BRILL - Page 25-6.
(Stele found at Thewa Sathan - Source JSS)
Text by Tricky Vandenberg - August 2012
(View east side)
(Aerial view of the location)