The Chedi

Our chedi is designed according to the artistic style of Thai chedis.  It comprises three main sections, a lower base of eight circular rings, a bell-shaped dome, a spire with thirteen circular rings, and is crowned by a lotus bud covered by a ceremonial umbrella.

1 chedi 2
The lower section of the Chedi comprises eight circular rings, each ring representing one of the factors of the Buddhist Noble Eightfold Path of practice to Enlightenment, namely:
1.    Samma Ditthi (Right View)
2.    Samma Samkappo (Right Renunciation)
3.    Samma Vaca (Right Speech)
4.    Samma Kammanto (Right Actions)
5.    Samma Ajivo (Right Livelihood)
6.    Samma Vayamo (Right Effort)
7.    Samma Sati (Right Mindfulness)
8.    Samma Samadhi (Right Concentration)

In the middle is a bell-shaped portion, containing relics of Lord Buddha and important artifacts (Buddhist scriptures of the Theravada school of Buddhism, Buddha images etc.). 

13 circular rings (uppermost portion) 

The uppermost portion of the Cetiya also 1 chedicomprises circular rings – 13 in all, each representing one of the factors of the 13 ascetic practices (the ‘dhutangas’).  These practices are adhered to by practising Buddhist monks either from time to time or throughout their entire monastic life, namely:

1.    wearing only robes made from discarded cloth (rag robes),
2.    wearing only the three principle robes,
3.    going on almsround everyday,
4.    not omitting any house on almsround,
5.    eating only one meal per day,
6.    eating all food directly from the alms bowl,
7.    refusing to accept food offered after the almsround,
8.    living in the forest,
9.    dwelling at the foot of a tree,
10.    living in the open – not under a roof or foot of a tree,
11.    living in a cemetery,
12.    being satisfied with whichever bed or resting place is available, and
13.    the sitter’s practice i.e. sitting, standing, or walking, but never lying down.

Lotus Flower Bud Finial

The Chedi is crowned by a lotus flower bud finial.  The lotus flower is symbolic of the most important aspect of the Dhamma-Vinaya: although the lotus is born in mud, it will eventually grow out of the mud and blossom into a beautiful flower.  Similarly, although all beings are born into natural conditions of aging, illness, death, and the stresses and strains of daily living, they can rise above these conditions and gain freedom from them – by undertaking to practice fully, Lord Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path to Nibbana.

Diamond Shield yantra

It is an ancient tradition for Buddhists to make their aspiration for Enlightenment by placing some sacred object in a temple building, Chedi (pagoda), or Buddha image during their construction.  In order to facilitate this for members and devotees of Palelai Buddhist Temple, arrangements were made for a special casting of the Diamond Shield yantra on 108,000 pieces of gold coloured copper plates as a symbol of every ones’ wish for Enlightenment.

The number 108 is derived from the multiplication of 9 by 12.  The number 9 signifies our taking Refuge in the Triple Gem (the Buddha, Dhamma, Sangha) three times - when we repeat something three times, we truly mean what we say.  The number 12 represents the 3 levels of knowledge of each of the 4 Noble Truths (appropriate understanding of each Truth, practice of each Truth, and realization of each Truth).  The number 108 also represents the total number of syllables in the verses Theravada Buddhists use to recite to contemplate on the qualities of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha. 

The Diamond Shield plate also contains an important summary of the heart of the Buddha’s teachings by the Venerable Assaji, one of the first five Bhikkhus taught by the Buddha.  The summary was given by Venerable Assaji in response to Venerable Sariputta’s question of what is taught by the Buddha. Upon hearing this summary, Venerable Sariputta attained the first stage of Enlightenment (Sotapanna). Venerable Assaji said:

“Ye Dhamma hetupabbhava, tesam hetum Tathagato aha, tesam ca yo nirodho, evam vadi Maha Samano”, meaning:

“Of conditions that arise from a cause, the cause and cessation has been declared by the Great Contemplative”

It is also an ancient tradition for Buddhists in China and Burma to write the above verse and place it inside chedis when they build them.  Hence our inclusion of the above verse is in keeping with a very ancient tradition for building chedis.  Moreover, the same verse has been engraved on a piece of marble in Northern Thai script along with Chinese and English translations and placed in the bell of our chedi.

Yantra in Homage to the Buddha

Immediately behind the base of the chedi is another yantra.  This yantra is called “The Great Script of 5 Buddhas”. It is composed of a five-tier script written in Khmer text. The ynatra is widely used by monks as a protective amulet. The late Luang Phor Doem, of Wat Nong Pho Temple, Nakonsawan always used this yantra for all of the amulets made by him.
The yantra reads “Namo Buddhaya – Homage to the Buddha” and in fact comprises initials of five Buddhas.  The Buddhas are Kakusandha Buddha, Konagamana Buddha, Kassapa Buddha, Gotama Buddha (the present era Buddha), and Sri Ariyametteyya Buddha (the next Buddha).

The yantra which we installed was written by the late Luang Phor Khron Ratchanaren (opularly known as Tok Raja (1876 – 1962), Abbot of Wat Uttamaram, Pasir Mas, Kelantan Malaysia.  The Venerable was and still is very well respected in Southern Thailand, Peninsula Malaysia and Singapore. He was the appointed the Chief Monk of Kelantan and given the Pali name Phra Vicaranayanmuni in 1945.  Tok Raja was also the founder of the first monastic school offering the ‘Nak Tham’ syllabus in Kelantan and he also taught meditation to his monastic and lay disciples at his monastery.