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Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:57 am
by JamesTheGiant
Wow she is gorgeous and... er... buxom. So much hotter than the matronly Guanyin. Is it wrong to have a crush on a massively powerful Earth Goddess?

Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Sat Dec 15, 2018 11:31 pm
by thomaslaw
Dhammanando wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 5:46 am
thomaslaw wrote:
Sat Dec 15, 2018 4:44 am
Does anyone devotionally place Phra Mae Thorani image in your home altar together with the Buddha image?
On a Thai multi-tiered home shrine one might find almost anything placed on the lower tiers below the Buddha statue. For example:

* Pictures of one's parents and favourite ajahns.
* Brass mini-stupas containing the ashes of deceased relatives.
* An offering tray loaded with the owner's collection of Buddha amulets.
* Hindu gods.
* Jīvaka Komārabhacca, Saṇkaccaya, Hotei, Kwan Yin, etc.
* Photos of the King and Queen, silver and gold parasols and other monarchy-related emblems.
* Scraps of cloth with mantras and maṇḍalas drawn on them.
* A photo of the manager or captain of whatever football team the owner supports.

And of course Mae Thoranee. Actually it needn't be her — any old mermaid will do. Many Thais in Iceland and Denmark have scaled-down replicas of Copenhagen's Den lille Havfrue on their shrines.
Many thanks, Dhammanando, for your explanations. I can imagine how the devotional faith works closely with the Buddha statue, and other relevant items respected by the individuals. The altar needs to have a multi-tiered setting. :meditate:

Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:14 pm
by AgarikaJ
Dhammanando wrote:
Thu Sep 13, 2018 1:51 am
["From her [i.e., Mother Thoranee's] hair [water] flowed like the stream of water of the Ganges. Then, the army of Māra, unable to hold, fled. By the power of the perfections (parāmitā) Māra's army was defeated, having been destroyed and scattered in all directions, with nothing left."]

Nang Thorani, as are many other aspects of supposedly pure Thēravāda Buddhism in Thailand, are leftovers from the reformist purges of the Thai Sangha by the then-monk Prince Mongkut in the early 19th century (re-importing the Pāli Tipiṭaka from the Sri Lankan Mahāvihāra sect) and owe to the very strong esoteric underpinnings of Buddhist practice in the whole of Southeast Asia.

One of the earliest carved images of Nang Thorani, from the 12th century, is for example known from Ta Prohm in Angkor, which we nowadays classify as full-blown Mahayana/Vajrayana temple. Nang Thorani (the "Earth Goddess") is actually to be understood as an aspect of the female Bodhisattva Vasudhārā (the Burmese and Thai water libation practices are based on this fact, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vasudhara).
This of course being a whole host of concepts utterly alien to purist Thēravāda doctrine; still, the temples depicting Nang Thorani are of course Thēravādin, peopled with Thēravāda-ordinated monks and visited by Thēravāda practitioners, with nobody seeing much of a conflict here.
- Buddhist Sculpture of Northern Thailand, p. 337

Going on a tangent here, other signs that esoteric Buddhism and Mahayana influences came both from the direction of Cambodia and from Sri Lanka (Abhayaghiri school) still can be found throughout Thailand both from archaeological finds as from immediate practices in present times (Naga worship, astrological rituals by the Thai monarchy, stupa worship as actually being originally a Mahayana vehicle, etc, etc).

As such, the strict orthodoxy and concentration on the Pāli canon and its interpretation by Buddhaghōsa (which is what we nowadays define under the term 'Thēravāda') had no easy fight against traditions ingrained for several centuries throughout Southeast Asia; I have made this point before, if somebody would have ordained in a Thai Buddhist temple just 200 years ago, what he would have experienced would have had hardly any correlation to our often romanticized and simplistic understanding of 'Thēravāda' to what was likely practised throughout most of Southeast Asia.

Further reading, just to get started:

- Theory and Practice of Mantra in the Esoteric Theravāda Mahānikāya Tradition
- Seeds of Vajrabodhi - Buddhist Ritual Bronzes from Java and Khorat
- Heterodox Buddhism: The School of Abhayagiri
- Rituals and Ruins: Recovering the History of Vajrayāna Buddhism in Sri Lanka

Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:48 am
by thomaslaw
AgarikaJ wrote:
Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:14 pm
Going on a tangent here, other signs that esoteric Buddhism and Mahayana influences came both from the direction of Cambodia and from Sri Lanka (Abhayaghiri school) still can be found throughout Thailand both from archaeological finds as from immediate practices in present times (Naga worship, astrological rituals by the Thai monarchy, stupa worship as actually being originally a Mahayana vehicle, etc, etc).
I consider it is very unlikely that the Naga worship, stupa worship were originated from Mahayana vehicle, esoteric Buddhism. The adaptation of general Indian religious beliefs, such as devas, myths, are found in the early Buddhist texts (such as the four basic Nikayas/Agamas). The Naga, stupa, and also various deva worships are also found in early Buddhist art (in non-Mahayana, non-esoteric Buddhism's constructions). The adaptation of general Indian religious beliefs into the Buddhist tradition seems before the emerging of the early Mahayana.

Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Sat Dec 22, 2018 6:46 pm
by AgarikaJ
thomaslaw wrote:
Sat Dec 22, 2018 12:48 am
AgarikaJ wrote:
Fri Dec 21, 2018 1:14 pm
Going on a tangent here, other signs that esoteric Buddhism and Mahayana influences came both from the direction of Cambodia and from Sri Lanka (Abhayaghiri school) still can be found throughout Thailand both from archaeological finds as from immediate practices in present times (Naga worship, astrological rituals by the Thai monarchy, stupa worship as actually being originally a Mahayana vehicle, etc, etc).
The Naga, stupa, and also various deva worships are also found in early Buddhist art (in non-Mahayana, non-esoteric Buddhism's constructions). The adaptation of general Indian religious beliefs into the Buddhist tradition seems before the emerging of the early Mahayana.
Being found in is not the same as being a main element. Of course, the Pali canon and Early Buddhist practices contain all of these, but they are a subordinate part.

All this, it is to be said, is not a private theory of mine, but one exceedingly discussed in the scientific literature over the last 30 years; see also the links posted in my previous post.

With regard to the postulation that stupa worship was a central, maybe in the beginning even a defining feature demarkating Buddhist monastic practice during Asokan and the Early Nikaya Buddhism from a lay-driven worship of Buddha reliquiaries and stupas, I recommend the reading of 'A History of Indian Buddhism From Sakyamuni to Early Mahayana Akira' by Minh Nhuan.

A full text can be found here, the interesting part for this discussion (the whole book is very readable, BTW) would be Part 3 from p.223 onwards:
- http://www.academia.edu/37286065/A_Hist ... yana_Akira

And, if we do not find common ground on this point, I think it beyond discussion that Earth "godesses", Bodhisattvas, and idolization of past and future Buddhas are impossible to be counted as the central tenets of Theravada doctrine.

Still, you find them mixed in quite casually in contemporary, supposedly Theravadan Thai temples, another example being 'Buddhist' folk rituals in Isaan who were actually unrecognizable in a Theravadan sense (less so if you understood them as magical mantras) -- things I have seen myself. So assuming a mixed tradition only recently reformed back to a 'fundamentalist' orthodoxy fits to my mind quite well with what I have experienced during my years in Southeast Asia.

Others' mileages might vary, of course, so as in all things where the actual source situation is fractured and fragmentry, it is best to form one's own opinion. I only bring up a perspective for discussion.

Re: Star Water Blessing...

Posted: Wed Jan 09, 2019 12:14 pm
by AgarikaJ
An interesting history of the 'earth goddess' Dharani can be found here, p. 506:

- Jaini, Padmanabh - “Mahàdibbamanta: A Paritta Manuscript from Cambodia.”
A reference in our text to a devi called Dharani (the Earth goddess) is also significant. As a Buddhist goddess, she enjoys great popularity in Cambodia and Siam, but not, it seems, in India or Ceylon. She is known in Cambodia as Phra Thorni.
Her image, a standing figure wringing her long hair, the floods pouring from which drown the hosts of Mara, is carved on the pedestals supporting the statues of the Buddha (in bhumi-sparia-mudra) and is also found, in modem times, in the courtyards of temples and in public parks.
The legend of Dharani, as pointed out by Coedes, is unknown to the canonical texts and is peculiar to Cambodia and Siam.
The earliest image of Dharani is found on a stele at Angkor Vat. It is likely, in view of this iconographical evidence, that the legend of Dharani is of Khmer origin.
The reference to her 'in our text, the only Pali work known to refer to her, together with references to Harihara and such other Khmer deities, could also point to a Cambodian origin of the Mahàdibbamanta.