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Mongkut

(1804—1868)


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Former monk and, as Rāma IV, ruler of Thailand 1851–68. During his period of 27 years as a monk, 1824–51, he studied the Pāli scriptures intensively, and as a result of his research founded the Thammayut (Pāli, Dhammayuttika) sect in about 1833. This group, whose name means ‘those holding to the Law’, was a reform movement advocating stricter compliance with the Vinaya.in contrast to the mainstream Mahānikai (Pāli, Mahānikāya) order. As abbot of Wat Bovoranives, which became the centre of the Thammayut sect, he laid down strict rules governing ordination, wearing of the monastic robe (over both shoulders instead of just one), and for the conduct of the kaṭhina or robe-giving ceremony. Mongkut was keen to learn from the West and invited Christian missionaries, scientists, and intellectuals to discuss their ideas with him. A sense of his desire to modernize his country comes across in the depiction of his character in the popular novel, play, and film, The King and I. Mongkut's reforms emphasized scripture, intellectualism, and rationalism, and laid the foundations for modern Thai Buddhism which became established under his son Chulalongkorn (Rāma V, 1886–1910).

Subjects: Buddhism.


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