Friday, 18 November 2011

Koh Samui Attractions: Visit the Mummified Monk at Wat Khunaram

One the top Koh Samui attractions is the mummified monk at Wat Khunaram. 

One of the more unusual Koh Samui attractions is also a great place to get some unique insights into Thailand’s Buddhist culture. The ancient temple Wat Khunaram is not only one of the most beautiful temples on the island, it’s also home to one highly unusual resident – the mummified body of monk Loung Pordaeng.

Loung Pordaeng passed away in 1973 while meditating, and ever since then his body had been left alone, sat upright in a meditative position, inside a glass case. What’s remarkable about this most unique of Koh Samui attractions is that even though the body was never treated to preserve it, it shows very few signs of decay. While some visitors may find that having a corpse in full view at one of the top Koh Samui attractions to be a bit shocking, Thai people see it more as something to reflect upon and so we beg you to take the same attitude.

Most Buddhists are unafraid of dying, as they see death as simply the end of one life and a chance to be reborn as someone better, with a better lot in their life, hopefully one step closer to attaining nirvana, the ultimate goal of all Buddhists. Loung Pordaeng is actually just one of a number of mummified monks in Thailand, although he is especially highly revered, which is why Wat Khunaram is one of the best Koh Samui attractions for local people.

Loung Pordaeng told his fellow monks, just before he died, that if his body decomposes as one would expect, then it should just be cremated as normal. But, rather prophetically, he told them that if his body failed to decompose, it should instead be put on display at the temple, to serve as a visual reminder of the teachings of Buddha, something that has led to its status as one of the most famous Koh Samui attractions.

Loung Pordaeng led a relatively normal life for many years, getting married to a local woman and having six children. However, in later life he began to reflect on what he had achieved, and was drawn into Buddhist teachings. He eventually left his wife to begin a monastic existence, absorbing himself in meditation and Buddhist texts. He lived for a while at a temple in Bangkok before moving to Koh Samui, where he spent time doing intensive meditation at the Tham Yai cave, before living out his last years as the islands most highly respected monk and abbot.

In his last few weeks of life, when aged 79, Lourd Pordang stopped eating altogether, and refused to speak any more, instead spending the entire time just meditating as his life slowly slipped away. It’s said that the reason his body is so well preserved after more than four decades is due to his simple lifestyle, his healthy lifestyle and his dedication to meditating for hours at a time. The body is remarkably intact, with the only noticeable change being in his eyes, which are now covered with sunglasses out of respect.

Wat Khunaram is a fairly typical temple aside from the mummified monk – Thai’s come this most unusual of Koh Samui attractions to make merit and pray each day, and visitors are more than welcome to come and look around and observe the Buddhist rituals.

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