Thursday, 22 September 2011

The Mummy of Koh Samui

The story of the mummified monk

The mummified body of Loung Por Ruam is the only mummified monk in Thailand and possibly in the Buddhist world. Whereas the Russian Orthodox Church and communist parties have a desire to preserve the bodies of inspirational leaders, the Buddhist faith has been opposed to the idea.

The story is that Loung Pordaeng (monks receive new names when the join an order) was a wealthy resident of Koh Samui. He saw the proverbial light and donated his wealth to charity and joined an order of monks on the island.

In then sat down to meditate. That was 30 years ago. He died and his death was not noticed at first. When it was noticed people were amazed to discover that his body was not decomposing. This event drew notice in the local area and the dead monk soon attracted a following. His death was considered a miracle. Very much against the wishes of the other monks Loung Por Ruam was mummified and put in a glass case.

The Condition of Koh Samui's mummy

Even after all this time the body of the monk looks in good condition: he still has some hair, fingernails and leathery skin. The sunglasses give the monk a slightly comical aspect. I need not remind you that laughing in a temple while not forbidden shows very poor taste when the laughter is directed at an object of veneration.

Where is the mummified monk?

The mummified monk of Koh Samui can be found near the beach of Baan Ban Kao in Wat Khunaram. It is free to enter the temple; as with all temples in Thailand legs and arms should be covered when in the temple.

A miracle of sorts

As a final note I am reminded of the Brothers Karamazov. The grand patriarch that the one religious Karamazov brother Alexei loved was nearing the end of life. In the story it goes that many of the monks were convinced that when the old patriarch died he wouldn’t decompose. Sadly, the story goes that he did. It seems that defying the forces of nature after death is a fairly common idea of a miracle. In the heat of Thailand it seems even more miraculous.

No comments:

Post a Comment