Somdej Phra Puttajarn (Toh Prommarangsri) from Wat Rakhangkhositaram
is legend of Rattanagosin era. Even Somdej Toh have passed away for more than 100 years. But his named still talk until now,
his amulets are the most famous of all. Thai people give name "King of Thailand amulets".
Somdej To was born in 17 April B.E.2331 in the 7th years of Groong Rattanagosin era
of King Rama 1st. Even though Somdej To may act rather unfashionably but never capriciously
he had been known as a highly eccentric monk. The legend has is that King Rama the fourth favord him a great deal. it was
also known that King was a true expert on astrology and astronomy to the extent that he could even predict the solar eclipse
in advance. The king together with his son along with the diplematic corps proceeded to WhaKoh in Prachaub and withnessed
the solar eclipse - an event which surprised everyone-concerning his ability in mathematical and astrological prediction.
Before he ascended to the throne he was voted unanimously
by the nobility to leave monkhood and became the King of Siam. Being a keen astrologer, he believed that the birthchart of
Prince Issaresrangsarn, his younger brother, was excellent so he appointed him anohter king called "Phra Pinklauo". It was
also believed that the birthchart of Somdej To was also examined by the king as Somdej To did but the king were displeased
with such plagiarism.
According to his birthchart, it was known that Somdej
To was a very intelligent and highly capable monk. At the time that he was born, the "Sri" or special merit was upon his ascendant.
This means he would be well-known and well respected. His Mars would help him in terms of hard work. At the same time his
Mars proved that he was simply an orphan so he turned to Buddhism. His Jupiter happen to be one of the highest point which
certainly testifies to the fact that his intelligence was high whereas his Venus shows that he did not crave for any wealth,
Saturn as well as Rahu Proved that he did not long for any possession and would live very long. His Majesty King Rama the
fourth was well known for his prediction and treatise on astrology. He found that Somdej To's birthchart was amazingly good.
In fact it would be far more scientific to suggest that the moment of conception would be the time when the influence of the
planets would be more significant. King Rama the fourth also put forward his own interpretation for the planets without conflicting
with any traditional astrological beliefs. Those who are interested in astrology may also try to interpret their signs according
to King Rama the fourth's interpretation, they will be surprised that it is accurate and can explain the psychic nature that
sees through to their real inner personality.
Judging from the signs as well as personality and character it is believed that Somdej To
had attained a high degree of emlightenment and could perform prescience. Once he was asked in front of a stupa what would
be stuck up inside the niche, he answered "Two frogs" and it turned out that the two frogs could not find the way out. The
niche was then broken apart to let them go. His life was full of meritorius activities and he had been helping the poor all
along. This is why the Thai people do find him a great and respectable monk. Somdej Puttajart (To) was known to be a sagacious
and intelligent monk and yet his conduct was rather eccentric. No one would act the way he did. At one time his disciples
quarreled with each other and were about to use violence, if he should stop it, it would be natural but he did otherwise.
He simply went to see the disciples bringing along candles and joss-sticks and prostrated himself, gave the disciples a deep
bow and said "You all are very great. Allow me to be your simple disciple"
The disciples, upon seeing this, stopped the quarrel right away. Somdej Puttajarn (To) made
another bow and said:-"I did not manage well and it's not your fault. Please put the blame on me." Somdej Puttajarn believed
in the Buddhist way of conquering anger with non-anger. Once his disciples were playing Takraw, a ball of woven ratten strips.
upon learning this incident he went up there with clothing folded upon his head and said "May I join this game." The players
immediately stopped playing and there was sense of guilt among them. He often exchanged ideas and opinions with foreign missionaries.
Once he was asked where the poles of earth are. He took the missionary to the ground and pointed at it. saying "It is right
here". The missionary then asked him how he knew about it. He said the earth is round and if we draw the line across the earth
it would simply be here with is another pole.
There had been a saying concerning him that he resided in AYUTTHAYA,came to stay at CHAIYO,
grew up in WATINDRA dad keeps Buddist precepts at WATRAKHANG, denoting several places where he had lived. He built up Luand
Poh To, a hugh image, at Wat INDRA but he passed away before the construction was completed. As for Buddha images that he
created, it is believed that he should have known a number of royally sponsored artists or "Chang Sipmoo" who also helped
him to design these images. His incantation used as magic spell or charm also came from Sri Lanka or Ceylon. People who chant
his incantation are free from any discases and should also be happy with all the praises and blessings. Somdej Puttajarn (To)
also translated and adapted the verses from Pali into Thai.
The stories and legends concerning Somdej Puttajarn seem innumerable, especially known to
be the king of all little Buddha images. Chao Phrya Srisuriyawongse (Cuang Bunnag) who had been Regent for some 5 years before
King Rama the fifth became of age so his duty and work expired. The Regent was then raised to the position of Somdej Chao
Phrya Barommahasrisuriya-wongse. However, the legend has it that he might betray the King which had been untrue. Somdej Puttajarn
To walked with torch lit up during day time and went over to see the Regent asking directly "is it true of not true? If it
should be true, i would ask you to stop it right away." The regent, ofcourse, agreed to end such rumor.
Somdej Puttajarn had been very familiar with the Regent who asked him to give sermons from
time to time. His sermons were full of examples and stories which today still remain easy for understanding. He was very sagacious
and highly intelligent in the sense that he was truly a genius. When King Mongkut ascended to the throne at the age of 69,
Somdej Puttajarn (To) was then 81 years old and became Puttajarn, an ecclesiastical title, for 3 years or so. He was then
in the autumn of his life and asked a monk called Phra Puttabatpilan (Tad) to be the abbot of the monastery. M.L.Phra Maha
Swang and Prom Suddipong drew some 21 scenes of pictures covering Somdej Puttajarn (To)'s lifetime based upon the explanation
given by 88 years-old Chao Khun Phra Thammatavorn (Chang) as follows:- Once Prince Duang, King of Cambodia, graciously invited
him to give a sermon. On the way to his residence, there were many tigers around. So he asked the tigers to take full rest,
not harassing the people anymore. He journeyed to the prince's palace on a palanquin instead of being driven by cart led by
buffalos or cows since he did not prefer that type of journey.
The sermon was then given to the prince and Cambodian people concerning unity. King Mongkut
was pleased with this sermon. Somdej Puttajarn (To) decided to buld a monastery called Kettuchaiyo. The construction was assisted
by King Mongkut and Prince Pinklauo as well as foreign residents such as Indians,Farang,Cambodian,Lao,Mons and Chinese. This
monastery become famous and was visited by a large number of people all the time. It had been widely known that Somdej puttajarn
(To), former about of WatRakhang, and King Rama the fourth who had been a monk also for a long time, had known each other
well. When the king ascended to the throne, he would allow the Somdej to do what he liked and always found him a sagacious
monk. Once King Rama the fourth held a boat decoration contest where different state agencies sent beautiful boats for the
occasion Somdej Puttajarn also came in an ordinary boat, with a monkey staying there.
The King certainly found that the Somdej would never enter the contest since he was a monk
who desired no power nor any other worldly things. Thai monks could merely have four pieces of personal belongings and could
not amass wealth. Therefore he could never enter a decoration contest. He put the money on the boat to prove that such contest
was nonsensical. The King could defrock him since it was in the days of absolute monarchy. In the past he already defrocked
Phra Pavana of Thonburi. The King and the Somdej had a very good relationship for over a long time. Once the king graciously
gave him a beautiful boat and asked that he should use it to go around giving sermons. But the boat was a big one so the people
started calling him Somdej To or Somdej Big.
A couple of years later the Somdej passed away amidst sorrow and despondence among the people
. What is most interesting is the legends about him that are still talked about even today.