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Switch to Forum Live View Hindu Gods in Thai Buddhism
10 years ago  ::  Aug 25, 2008 - 10:01PM #1
Posts: 172
Hello one and all,

Does anyone know the place of Hindu deities in Thai Buddhism - it seems they crop up all over the place ...


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10 years ago  ::  Aug 31, 2008 - 1:28AM #2
Posts: 47
I am not too familiar with Thai Buddhism, although I understand where you're coming from. It appears as though the devas play prominently in Thai culture. This is from an article "":

"The second major influence on Thai Buddhism is Hindu beliefs received from Cambodia, particularly during the Sukhothai period. Vedic Hinduism played a strong role in the early Thai institution of kingship, just as it did in Cambodia, and exerted influence in the creation of laws and order for Thai society as well as Thai religion. Certain rituals practiced in modern Thailand, either by monks or by Hindu ritual specialists, are either explicitly identified as Hindu in origin, or are easily seen to be derived from Hindu practices. While the visibility of Hinduism in Thai society has been diminished substantially during the Chakri dynasty, Hindu influences, particularly shrines to the god Brahma, continue to be seen in and around Buddhist institutions and ceremonies.
A Buddhist Monk chants evening prayers inside a monastery located near the town of Kantharalak, Thailand
A Buddhist Monk chants evening prayers inside a monastery located near the town of Kantharalak, Thailand

Folk religion—attempts to propitiate and attract the favor of local spirits known as phi—forms the third major influence on Thai Buddhism. While Western observers (as well as urbane and Western-educated Thais) have often drawn a clear line between Thai Buddhism and folk religious practices, this distinction is rarely observed in more rural locales. Spiritual power derived from the observance of Buddhist precepts and rituals is employed in attempting to appease local nature spirits. Many restrictions observed by rural Buddhist monks are derived not from the orthodox Vinaya, but from taboos derived from the practice of folk magic. Astrology, numerology, and the creation of talismans and charms also play a prominent role in Buddhism as practiced by the average Thai—topics that are, if not proscribed, at least marginalized in Buddhist texts."

It's almost like Theravada with a Mahayana flavor...but as for the devas, I cannot say for sure what the Thai outlook of them are, let alone if they're that important. The Hindu background may have played a big part on the culture. I look forward to learning more myself if someone would like to share!
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10 years ago  ::  Sep 29, 2008 - 5:16AM #3
Posts: 2
Theravadas' pali cannon has a lot to say about gods etc... the resident Devas of the whole Siamese regon probably embraced Buddhas' embassator monks when Dhamma first spread to thailand, and thus blended themselves into the cultural development of  "Thai Buddhism". Hindhuism recognizes much of the same Devic concepts.
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9 years ago  ::  Mar 17, 2009 - 8:32AM #4
Posts: 973

With respect to the Host.

This article may go some way to answering the question.

Quote from Hinduism today by Rajiv Mallik

"What boggled my mind was the Thai population's devotion to the  Hindu Gods and Goddesses, which was no less than I've witnessed among Hindus anywhere.  When I visited the Sri Mariamman temple on a typical Wednesday afternoon and evening,  95 percent of the devotees present were Thai Buddhists. Their devotion was in no  way less than their Hindu countrymen and women. They offered garlands of marigolds  (dok dao rueng in Thai, or gainda in Hindi), coconuts, bananas and  other puja materials—all readily available from the rows of flower  and offerings shops just opposite the temple. They lit incense sticks and put oil  in the temple  lamps. Each was spending up to 100 baht (us$2.50) on the  offerings, certainly more than the average Hindu in India would spend on a routine  temple visit. Most knelt before the Gods, folded their hands, closed their eyes  and quietly meditated for quite some time. The flow of devotees was heavy and constant  from afternoon to late in the evening. Hurditya Deva, a rare Thai convert to Hinduism  and friend of Hinduism Today, was my guide and translator during much of my visit."

The activites of the Buddhists from Thailand are very similar to the attitude of  the Burmese  Buddhists I have met and practised with at my local Theravada Buddhist Vihara. There is a Peace Pagoda next to the Vihara. people from all of the worlds' faiths are invites in.



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8 years ago  ::  Jul 21, 2010 - 3:27PM #5
Posts: 4

I too have noticed that many SouthEast Asian Theravada Buddhist nations have Hindu Deities in Buddhist Temples and folklore. I don't understand their place in Buddhism that much. I found a wikipedia article on Ganesha. He represents art and wisdom in much of SE Asia and removing obstacles in India,Nepal,and Tibet. Here is the article. . I am sure that if you search other Hindu Deities similar results will show up just as long as they are also Buddhist. I hope this helps. 

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