|WAT PHO RANG (วัดโพธิ์ร้าง)
|Wat Pho Rang or the Deserted Monastery of the Fig Tree was located north of Ayutthaya located in the Pho Sam Ton fields of Pho Sam Ton
Sub-district of Bang Pahan in Ayutthaya Province. The mound with commemoration sala is located opposite Wat Dao Khanong on the west bank of
Khlong Ban Muang and on the north bank of Khlong Chang. In 2013 the sala was changed into a vihara and a monk came to reside in the location.
From the old monastery remains only a brick mound on which a commemoration vihara had been built. The former monastery was completely
dismantled in the Siamese-Burmese war of 1766-67 and the bricks used to construct the Burmese fortification slightly north of the temple site.
The vihara contains five Buddha images, which were repaired between March 1999 and January 2000, in the way that the core remains of the old
sandstone Buddha excavated on the spot, were incorporated in the newly made images. The vihara was inaugurated on 4 February 2000. Phra
Racha Sang Worayan (พระราชสังวรญาณ - พุธ ฐานิโย) of Wat Pa Salawan (downtown Nakhon Ratchasima) was the inceptor of the
restoration of the Buddha images. He died during the restoration works on 15 May 1999.
Wat Pho Rang was the community temple of old Pho Sam Ton village and situated on the right bank of the old Lopburi River, which is called today
Khlong Ban Muang and its extension further south, Khlong Bang Khuat. It stood also on the north bank of the loop of the old Lopburi River, on a
stretch called Khlong Chang last century. The temple stood as thus on the crossroad of waterways.
In the epic 16th century Siamese poem "Khun Chang Khun Phaen", we find a possible reference to the area of this temple.
"They marched to the mouth of the Bang Lang Canal and crossed over to the side with houses. Porters dropped the loads which had
bounced up and down until the frames loosened. They untied the shoulder poles to take a rest. As soon as they had eaten some winged
beans, Phlai Kaeo ordered the troops to march on to the start of the route they would travel. ‘Unharness the elephant and horses and
wait for me at the salaof Wat Pa Fai.’ The troops saluted their chief and moved off immediately.
Left alone, Phlai Kaeo looked around and saw the boat of Phim and his mother at mooring. He went down from the sala to meet them,
and the three talked together on important matters. As he was going far away to war with consequences unknown, they would plant
three bo trees and pray that if disaster struck any one of them, one of the bo trees would be disfigured in a similar way. They went off to
look around for bo tree shoots, and dug them up, taking care not to wrench them sharply or snap the roots, and to keep a nice clump of
soil. They loaded the shoots on the boat, crossed the river, and dragged the bows up the bank. They got down and carried the bo trees to
a site marked by a big tree. They made offerings to the gods which resided in that spot, and then dug holes. Each planted one of the
shoots and each made a wish.
Thong Prasi made the first wish. ‘If I pass away and cannot survive, may this bo tree of mine die. If I’m sick, may the bo tree sicken in
the same way. If I’m hale and hearty with no suffering, may this bo tree be bushy, lush, and cool for anyone to see.’ With these words, she
lifted the bo tree and put it in the front hole. Next, Phlai prayed to the gods: ‘I’m going off to war. If I gain victory over the enemy, may
this bo tree sprout profusely. If I die, may this bo tree die too. If I’m not sick, may this bo tree be healthy and flourish. If I have success in
war, may it be beautifully green, lush, and bushy.’ With this wish, he lifted the bo tree along with its roots into the hole, pushed in some
soil, and tamped it down. Phim’s tears spattered down. She raised her hands and paid respects to the gods of the place, and then
collapsed, racked with sobs. She cradled the little bo tree in a daze. ‘Oh lords, gods of great power, with this bo tree of mine, I pray that
if at home my body should die and spirit be snuffed out, may this bo tree likewise sicken and die. As long as I have life, may it not die, but
grow happily to be so lush and shady that even the nectar of the gods bears no comparison. Should my body sicken, wilt, and waste
away, may the leaves of the bo tree wither and look strange.’ With this wish, she planted the shoot, her face bathed in tears.
They heaped earth around the three holes and poured water. Each took off their sabai, folded it, and gently wrapped around each of the
trees. ‘We call on the gods, that the cloth tied on each bo tree is a mark that we three will be far away from one another. On return, may
we succeed in meeting together again Should any one of us die, may that person go happily to heaven above, to be born again in the next
life. May we meet together with certainty for a hundred ages and one hundred thousand eras into the future until reaching nirvana.’
Having wrapped the three bo trees, they left the wishing place and boarded the boat which the servants poled out and paddled away.
History cannot tell us whether the village of Pho Sam Ton was called after the story or the story was called after the village. Where exactly the old
village was situated is not known, but very likely it should have been in the vicinity of this temple.
Wat Pho Sam Ton is situated in Geo. Coord.: 14° 24' 18.96" N, 100° 32' 40.71" E.
 The Tale of Khun Chang Khun Phaen - Siam’s Great Folk Epic of Love and War - Translated and edited by Chris Baker and Pasuk
Phongpaichit (2010) - Chap 9: Phlai Kaeo leads the army.
|Text & photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - December 2012
Updated February 2015