WAT SANGKHA JAI (วัดสังขจาย)
Wat  Sangkha Jai or the Monastery of the Fat Monk was located off the city island
in the southern area in Samphao Lom Sub-district. (1) The monastery was situated in the
Bang Kraja area (2).

Wat Khok Raeng stood in the south, while Wat Khun Phrom and Wat Nang Kui were
respectively on its west and eastern side.

There are no traces anymore visible of the monastery above ground level.

Historical data about the monastery and its construction are unknown.

The site is not indicated on a
mid-19th century map, but is mentioned on Phraya Boran
Rachathanin's map drafted in 1926.  Some remains of the temple were excavated by the
Fine Arts Department (FAD) in geographical coordinates: 14° 20' 47.13" N, 100° 34'
19.52" E.

The name of the temple is derived from the Buddha image Phra Sangkha Jai [Pali:
Sankhajaya]. Pra Sangkha Jai, who is mostly called by westerners the "laughing Buddha",
but more correctly should be called the "fat monk", is invariably depicted with a bulging
belly in a sitting position. Pra Sangkha Jai is considered as Jambhala, the wealth-giving
form of Avalokiteśvara, the bodhisattva of compassion; or Kubera, the Lord of Wealth,
and the god-king of the semi-divine Yakshas in the Hindu mythology. He is also a World-
protector and the Guardian of the Northern direction. The "fat monk" is sometimes also
referred to as Gavampati the "Lord of the Cattle" and is said to have been patron of the
Mon merchants.

"...Saccakaparibajaka was a Nigrantha Jina ascetic. He lived in Vaisali
during the lifetime of the Buddha. He possesses immense wealth since birth and
later became a philosopher and teacher.  He has many followers seeking wealth.
Due to his immense wealth and abundance of food and grains, he looked
after the poor orphaned children of Vaisali.  He was said to have challenged
Mahavira and the Buddha to a discussion with him about whose philosophy was
the best.  At the end of the debate he had to bow down to Buddha and
acknowledge the Buddha’s superiority. Even after he became a normal monk in
Buddhism, his fame of being the harbinger of extreme wealth and abundance
made him followed by too many worshipers, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.  It
was to the point where his popularity was annoyed and jealous by much of
Buddha’s other follower monks.  To compensate the tension among his monks,
Buddha had to explain about the origin of Fat Monk Saccaka’s immense wealth
and popularity by telling a story of his previous life.  "25 worlds ago, at the
period of Kaukaukthan Buddha, there was a big flood and his native country was
flooded. Many people were starved.  The hungry and starved people called
Kaukaukthan Buddha for help.  Even though he can make food for people with
his own powers, Kaukaukthan Buddha asked for help from the people who could
donate food for the poor instead.  Saccaka at that time was a great merchant and
as being a devoted follower, he donated 500 ox-carts full of grains for the hungry
people.  Therefore the Kaukaukthan Buddha had granted him a promise that he
will be extremely rich and abundant for number of lives equal to the number of
grains in his 500 ox-carts and his wealth would be immense and uncountable like
the number of grains that he had donated for the people.  Since that time for 25
worlds, he was always immensely wealthy and abundant in each and every of his
life." Lord Buddha had praised the Fat Monk Saccaka for his excellence in
explaining sophisticated dhamma  in an easily and correctly understandable
manner. The Fat Monk Saccaka also composed the Madhupinadika Sutra or the
first Pali Grammar. One tale relates that when he was young, he was
so handsome that once even a man wanted him for a wife. To avoid a similar
situation, the Monk Saccaka decided to transform himself into a fat
monk. Another tale says he was so attractive that angels and men often compared
him with the Lord Buddha. He considered this inappropriate, so disguised himself
in an unpleasantly fat body. Since his wealth and abundance is mainly on food
and grains, many farmers in Asia regard him as the Lord of the Abundant
Grains.  Every year, at the start of the rainy season, before starting the farming,
his image was taken to the paddy fields and worshipped with flowers, food and
water.  Then farmers pray at his statue for great yield of paddy for the year."


(1) Literally the sub-district of the capsized junk.
(2) Bang (บาง) is a village on a river bank.


[1] Excerpt taken from http://mindandwork.com/tag/phra-sangkachai - retrieved on 08
September 2010.
Text & maps by Tricky Vandenberg - July 2010
Reviewed September 2010, June 2011, May 2015
Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno 1926
Phra Sangkha Jai at Wat Phukhao Thong
(Phra Sangkha Jai at Wat Phukhao Thong)
Phra Sangkha Jai at Wat Dawadung
(Phra Sangkha Jai at Wat Dawadung)
(Detail of Phraya Boran Rachathanin's map - Anno
Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map
(Detail of a 2007 Fine Arts Department GIS map -
Courtesy of the Fine Arts Department - 3th Region)