Wishes that come true

There is a Buddha on the corner of an intersection in Bangkok, next to a posh hotel. The hotel made the shrine to appease bad Karma. I do not, unfortunately, remember the whole story on how this shrine came to be.

This place has become famous for wishing. An urban legend. If you go and pray at this shrine, and ask for a wish. Your wish will shall come true. An offering for this wish is made at this time. If your wish does come true. On your next visit to Thailand, you must go to the shrine to give your thanks and the offering promised.

I have gone to this shrine and prayed. I wished to Marry the girl I was dating at the time. I got my wish. The next time I went to Thailand, I went with my wife and my offering.

If you do not go back and pay your respects and fulfill the bargain. The promise shall go back on you ten fold.

I am not sure if I believe in all the urban legends, or scary stories that adult tell us. Though what does it hurt to believe in some.

19 responses to “Wishes that come true

  1. Do you mean the Erawan shrine with many faces and arms? This is not really a Buddha image.

  2. Kitjar Na Bangsar

    Hi Den and Richard,

    The Phra Phom or Thao Maha Brahma is actually a Brahman or Hindu deity. It is not part of traditional Thai or Theravadha Buddhism.

    As Buddhism is not an exclusive religion, it has incorporated the worship of Phra Phom as its own — the same can be said for the Dharma Protectors such as Mahakala or Wei To Pu Sa in Vajrayana and Mahayana traditions.

    From a historical basis, the Phra Phom is a relic of Ayuthaya’s conquest of the Khmers in the 15th century. Then, the Khmers were among the most ardent worshipers of Phra Phom.

    Today, in Southeast Asia, especially Thailand, the popularity of Phra Phom surpases even in the land of its birth in India. There, the worship of Vishnu and Siva are more popular then Phra Phom.

    As for the Erawan Shrine, contary to its name, it is not of the deity. Erawan is a three-headed elephant and it is actually the vehicle of Phra Phom. (In Samut Prakan, there is an 14-storey Erawan Museum)

    Den is right that Phra Phhom is noted for its boon-giving powers. Any group tours for Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Mainland China will make a compulsory stop at the shrine.

    I guess, I am also a recepient of Phra Phom’s blessings. To me, the believe of ‘bayar niat’ which is Peranakan for repayment of having a wish-fulfilled, has to come naturally.

    In Malaysia, the worship of Phra Phrom is common among Buddhists not only of Thai Theravadha tradition, but also among Mahayana Buddhism.

    Nonethelss, in Malaysia, it can also be an economic decision to install a Phra Phrom shrine at Buddhist temples. The rationale —it attracts a lot of devotees, and more importantly their donations.

    I reckon, it is the same for installing a Chao Meh Kuan Imm (Avalokitesvara Boddhistattva) shrine at Thai Buddhist temples — to attract Chinese devotees and their often generous donations.

  3. Thanks for the intresting comment Kitjar. My question now is where is the Phra Phom located. I seem to vaguely remember passing by it a few times on my last visit, but now I am blank.

  4. Kitjar Na Bangsar

    The most famous Erawan is located diagonally accross World Trade Centre at the intersection of Ploen Chit. Just next to the Erawan Shrine is the Erawan Shopping mall nearby.

    At World Trade Centre, there are two more Hindu shrines, of Ganesha/Ganapati and Siva (i’m not too sure, but it worship also as The God of Love, especially with students wearing red-colour clothes).

    Basically there are thousands of Phra Phrom shrines all accross Thailand. Nearly all Thai Buddhist Temples would have a Brahma Shrine (especially overseas Thai temples — some royal temples do not have Phra Phrom shrines)

    However, at times, there are supposedly the more popular ones (or the one with more boon-giving power) like Erawan at Ploenchit.

    If you are in Hatyai the most famous Phra Phrom is in Songkhla Hill. There are thousands of various donations in terms of cememt benches and various elephant statues.

    Besides Phra Phrom, another kind of popular shrine is the Spirit Houses — small looking traditional Thai houses, usually with small dancing dolls and at times, elephants. These are neither Hindu or Buddhist influences, but animism — and even older prevalent belief in Thai culture.

  5. Pat -The Erawan shrine is on the cornerof Ploenchit & Rachdami Road, at the intersection with Rachparasong.
    Kijar – Interesting – thankyou. Next time you are Chiang Mai you may like to visit Wat Chaimongkhon on the river side. This has a separate Chinese Buddha, also there is statue of King Chulalonkorn in addition to the Thai Wat. At the river side you can book and take river and dinner cruises on the Mai Ping River. There is also fish food to feed the fishes to make merit. There may even be a Phra Phrom shrine, though I did not see this. Quite apart from all that, it is a nice place to be, away from the traffic of nearby ChangKlan Road.

  6. Erawan is a three-headed elephant and it is actually the vehicle of Phra Phom.

    Are you sure? I thought that Erawan (Airavata) is the vehicle of Phra In (Indra), who is different than Phra Phom (Brahma). The only way they are related is that both deities accompanied Buddha on his descent from the home of gods.

    The connection between the name Erawan and Saan Phra Phrom, the shrine in question, is simply the Grand Hyatt Erawan. Much bad luck accompanied its construction in 1953, thus an astrloger was consulted. The shrine was erected in place of an existing spirithouse that apparently wasn’t enough to ward off the bad luck. The new shrine, however, must have pleased the spirits better, as today the hotel is one of the more hi-so places in the area. 😉

    Pictures and a plethora of interesting info about this shrine can be found on Thaistudents.com. Nice job! 🙂

  7. I just found Brahma’s true vehicle: Hamsa the goose ! 😀

  8. Umm, SiamJai – Hansa the Swan, actually.
    Big difference in the UK, if nowhere else. Goose used to be eaten at Christmas in the UK, and still is eaten, while all Swans belong to the Queen and it is a criminal offence to kill or injure one. The Goose is a relatively harmless bird while the Swan can break a person’s legs with it ‘s wings – they are particularly nasty when nesting and will readily attack if they feel threatened.

  9. Sure, Khun Don; it’s pretty obvious from the website that I linked to – I was just trying to be funny. 🙂

    Thank you for the info on the differences in the UK. Your words remind me of the story of a certain Peter Kurten from Germany who decapitated living swans to drink the blood gushing from the severed neck. Ummm… okay, that’s a bit too far from the original topic, lol.

  10. Sorry SiamJai, I didn’t check the link – Doh!
    Peter Kurten – he would probably have been lynched in the UK for killing Swans – if he killed people he would probably have got a small prison sentence !!

  11. Thanks Kitjar for the history and religious lesson. I am really humbled by your knowledge. I was in the shrine on 25 June night with my wife. Most Malaysian Chinese don’t have a clue on what they are praying except “do as others do”.

    I remembered there was an episode in Discovery and Living Channel where Ian Wright met a really RICH lady praying at Erawan and interviwed her in her Mansion.

    I am A Malaysian Chinese Man.

  12. he would probably have been lynched in the UK for killing Swans – if he killed people he would probably have got a small prison sentence !!

    Really? That’s ironic, I didn’t know before that swans have such status in the UK. I shouldn’t be surprised though; after all, it was the favorite bird of Shakespeare too. I wonder how swans became associated with the Queen…

    Actually, Kurten did kill people too. He was sentenced to death – nine times (did the judge think he’s a cat? :p ). His life is an interesting story, although the details are perhaps not fitting this blog’s family atmoshpere. :p

  13. Kitjar Na Bangsar

    Interesting comments on this blog!

    For members interested to know more on the Indianization of Southeat Asia should read the French 1938 classic, G Coedes’ The Indianized States of Southeast Asia.

    According to Coedes, the Hindu religion practiced in Southeast Asia is very different from its Indian homeland.

    For example, the Khemer concept of Devaraja or in Ayutthaya, Chao Chiwit is actually a very Southeast Asian concept. Until then, few examples existed in India.

    Thus, it is not surprising that the deities of Indian Hinduism is different from Brahmanism practiced in mainland Southeast Asia of Thailand, Cambodia and Laos. Eg, the vehicle of Phra Phrom is different compared to Indian Hinduism.

    Even the iconography of Phra Phrom is different from the Brahma god of Indian Hinduism. There, Brahma is often viewed as an old man, not as a deity with four face.

    I have always used the example of Phra Phrom as the dynamics of Southeast Asian history. Even with the introduction of canonical Theravadha Sinhala Buddhism in the 13-14th century, the practice of Phra Phrom continued, and today it is more or less an element of Thai Buddhism.

    You would be surprise to note that some scholars actually claim that Tibetan Buddhism was founded in Southeast Asia. No need to go far, Atisha, the founder of Kadampa Buddhism, which later became the Dalai Lama’s Gelukpa school of Tibetan Buddhism reportedly studied at Palembang in Sri Vijaya (modern day Sumatra, Indonesia)

    My point here is that Tibetan Buddhism (then, it was merely called orthodox Buddhism) spread far and wide in Southeast Asia. Even in Southern Thailand in the port polities of the Kra Isthmus, the remains of this early form of Buddhism were discovered.

    And with this early form of orthodox Buddhism, the Indian influence was strong — e.g the worship of Hindu deities such as the Phra Phrom.

    My Malaysian Thai friends (most who have no formal education on canonical Buddhism) often view Phra Phrom as part of Thai Buddhist tradition.

    Many are unaware, historically and canonically, the worship of Phra Phrom is not Buddhism, but actually Hindu- Brahmanism,

  14. Hmm -done a bit of research – turns out all the swans do not belong to the monarchy, (but almost !) -more general info here:
    http://www.thamesweb.co.uk/swans/upping2.html

  15. Drinking swans blood, murder and a wonderful history lesson! This sure made my evening after along day at work.

    Khun Don- Thanks for the exact location. I’ll go offer merit this September for my recent run of good fortune.

  16. Great

  17. did you know some months ago,
    some retarded man tried destroying
    the erawan shrine ….

    he met his fate to Death
    by being killed by
    HOLIER than Thou buddhists/
    brahma lovers
    who think nothing of killing a human
    who destroys a statue.

    this is the logic of the masses

  18. Rudy Wiguno Karno

    I’m very interesting about story THAO MAHA BRAHMA,but no have ,please help give information detail and complete for me.
    Thanks and OM MANI PADME HUM 108X

  19. Rudy Wiguno Karno

    I’m very interesting about story THAO MAHA BRAHMA,but no have ,please help give information detail and complete for me.
    Thanks and OM MANI PADME HUM 108X