We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR
title

Forest Recollections

Wandering Monks in Twentieth-Century Thailand

Kamala Tiyavanich

Publication Year: 1997

"I stayed [in the forest] for two nights. The first night, nothing happened. The second night, at about one or two in the morning, a tiger came--which meant that I didn't get any sleep the whole night. I sat in meditation, scared stiff, while the tiger walked around and around my umbrella tent (klot). My body felt all frozen and numb. I started chanting, and the words came out like running water. All the old chants I had forgotten now came back to me, thanks both to my fear and to my ability to keep my mind under control. I sat like this from 2 until 5 a.m., when the tiger finally left." --A forest monk During the first half of this century the forests of Thailand were home to wandering ascetic monks. They were Buddhists, but their brand of Buddhism did not copy the practices described in ancient doctrinal texts. Their Buddhism found expression in living day-to-day in the forest and in contending with the mental and physical challenges of hunger, pain, fear, and desire. Combining interviews and biographies with an exhaustive knowledge of archival materials and a wide reading of ephemeral popular literature, Kamala Tiyavanich documents the monastic lives of three generations of forest-dwelling ascetics and challenges the stereotype of state-centric Thai Buddhism. Although the tradition of wandering forest ascetics has disappeared, a victim of Thailand's relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, the lives of the monks presented here are a testament to the rich diversity of regional Buddhist traditions. The study of these monastic lineages and practices enriches our understanding of Buddhism in Thailand and elsewhere.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Front Matter

pdf iconDownload PDF (49.2 KB)
 

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.6 KB)
pp. vii-ix

List of Figures

pdf iconDownload PDF (41.7 KB)
pp. x-

read more

Foreword

pdf iconDownload PDF (50.1 KB)
pp. xi-xiii

Some years ago, when the first paper of her first semester’s graduate work was due, Kamala Tiyavanich phoned me to ask for an extension. I thought she might be having trouble writing, and so when the paper appeared a week later, I was overwhelmed with a superb paper on provincial Thai Buddhism around the turn of the ...

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.8 KB)
pp. xv-xvii

I would like, first of all, to express my gratitude to my teachers at Cornell University: To David Wyatt, who always encouraged me to explore new paths and who planted the seeds of this project in the fall of 1985 when he suggested that I read the reports submitted by sangha inspectors in Siam at the turn of the century. To ...

read more

Thai Names and Romanization

pdf iconDownload PDF (49.1 KB)
pp. xix-xxi

Generally, in Thailand a monk is known throughout his life by a combination of his given name and a Pali name, for example, “Man Phurithat.” Given names are short, usually only one syllable long: Man, Waen, Dun, Fan, Thet, Li, La, Cha, Juan, Wan. Monks receive their Pali names upon entering the sangha. Phurithat ...

read more

Introduction

pdf iconDownload PDF (141.9 KB)
pp. 1-17

Although the tradition of wandering meditation ascetics has become a victim of Thailand’s relentless modernization and rampant deforestation, during the first half of this century the forests of Thailand, or Siam as it used to be called,1 were home to numerous ascetic monks. The Thai term for such monks is phra thudong ...

read more

1. Buddhist Traditions in Siam/Thailand

pdf iconDownload PDF (206.5 KB)
pp. 18-46

During the first half of the twentieth century many regional monastic traditions still existed in Siam. Although these traditions differed from one another as much as they did from modern state Buddhism, they shared common features. Surveying these features will give us an initial understanding of wandering meditation ...

read more

2. The Path to the Forest

pdf iconDownload PDF (153.7 KB)
pp. 47-78

During the late nineteenth century and early decades of this century, it was customary for young men to ordain in their local traditions to learn the dhamma and acquire practical knowledge relevant to rural communities. Those who were committed remained in the robes and eventually became village abbots. Most young ...

read more

3. Facing Fear

pdf iconDownload PDF (133.4 KB)
pp. 79-105

During the Forest-Community Period, the North and Northeast were sparsely populated. Paved roads were few. Vast tracts of the land were covered by forests that were home to elephants, tigers, clouded leopards, black panthers, bears, wild buffaloes, gaurs,1 bantengs, boars, and snakes. These animals ruled not only the wilderness ...

read more

4. Overcoming Bodily Suffering

pdf iconDownload PDF (114.9 KB)
pp. 106-126

Although fear forced many an inexperienced monk off the thudong path, the ten monks under study here all passed this obstacle, some easily and others after much difficulty. But even more daunting than fear was the risk of catching jungle fever and other diseases. It was not uncommon for monks or novices to die from ...

read more

5. Battling Sexual Desire

pdf iconDownload PDF (94.0 KB)
pp. 127-142

Judging from the thudong monks’ accounts, sexual desire may have been an even bigger obstacle than illness or fear of death. Many monks found such temptation more difficult to resist than hunger, loneliness, and illness. All feared the female power to undermine the rule of celibacy, a fear that was reinforced by seeing ...

read more

6. Wandering and Hardship

pdf iconDownload PDF (146.2 KB)
pp. 143-171

Thudong monks valued wandering as an ascetic practice, as a means of training the mind to face hardship and the unpredictable. Whenever they wandered far from the relative comfort and security of the monastic life, they had to contend with fear, pain, fatigue, hunger, frustration, and distress; and sometimes they ...

read more

7. Relations with Sangha Officials

pdf iconDownload PDF (135.3 KB)
pp. 172-197

During the Forest-Community Period, the same wandering monks who had little difficulty communicating with villagers or coping with wild animals frequently had problems relating to certain administrative Thammayut monks, who viewed them either as outlaws or just lazy. The relationship between the wandering monks ...

read more

8. Relations with Villagers

pdf iconDownload PDF (123.7 KB)
pp. 198-225

Sangha authorities, once suspicious of and hostile toward thudong monks, eventually recruited them. Thudong monks were no longer outlaws; they became effective promoters of the Thammayut presence in the countryside. The question now is, Why were they so effective? We shall see that the monks’ exemplary lifestyle, ...

read more

9. The Forest Invaded

pdf iconDownload PDF (144.2 KB)
pp. 226-251

Wandering meditation monks led lives on the margin. They frequented sparsely inhabited forests, and they conducted their meditative practice either in solitude or in the company of others like themselves. The outside world for them consisted, for the most part, of frontier villages, occasionally provincial towns, and rarely, ...

read more

10. Many Paths and Misconceptions

pdf iconDownload PDF (158.0 KB)
pp. 252-290

Ajan Man and disciples, a lineage of peripatetics whose rise paralleled the ascent of modern state Buddhism, found themselves drawn into the turmoil of national affairs despite their wish to live secluded lives. They gradually lost their autonomy during the Forest-Invasion Period and became settled monastics. Examining ...

read more

Conclusion

pdf iconDownload PDF (58.7 KB)
pp. 291-298

The wandering forest monk tradition, whose history spans three generations from the formation of the modern Thai state until the present, developed within a specific natural and sociocultural ecosystem. When that ecosystem changed—when the forests disappeared and the forest communities vanished or were transformed ...

Abbreviations

pdf iconDownload PDF (44.2 KB)
pp. 299-300

Notes

pdf iconDownload PDF (368.9 KB)
pp. 301-380

Glossary

pdf iconDownload PDF (61.3 KB)
pp. 381-386

Bibliography

pdf iconDownload PDF (98.9 KB)
pp. 387-400

Index

pdf iconDownload PDF (76.6 KB)
pp. 401-410

About the Author

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.8 KB)
 


E-ISBN-13: 9780824862565
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824817688

Publication Year: 1997

Research Areas

Recommend

UPCC logo

Subject Headings

  • Asceticism -- Buddhism.
  • Buddhism -- Thailand -- History -- 20th century.
  • Buddhist monks -- Thailand.
  • Ascetics -- Thailand.
  • Wayfaring life -- Thailand.
  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access