Kruba Srivichai

Kruba Srivichai

by Jun Wei

Kruba Srivichai was a Thai Buddhist monk born in BE 2421 in the village of Ban Pang, Li District, Lamphun Province of Northern Thailand. Kruba Srivichai is known for helping out in building temples. 

Early life and rise to monkhood

Kruba Srivichai was born to a humble peasant family in Ban Pang. Early accounts suggest that on the particular day that he was born there was a heavy thunderstorm and rain thus the family gave him the name of Fuen, "quake" or Fahong, "thunder". Due to the fact that he was born on a day that is with thunderstorm and rain, villagers started to accredited him as the “phu mee boon” as it refers to a person having merit. As a child, Kruba Srivichai has been described to have compassion with all beings.

From an early age, he expressed a serious interest in Buddhism as he strongly believed that his family's present state of poverty was a consequence of his misbehavior in his previous life and intended to become a  monk so his parents would have a better life. At the age of 18, he was ordained as a novice monk at the local temple in the village of Ban Pang. Kruba Srivichai was ordained as a monk in BE 2442 at Wat Ban Hong Luang at that point he was given the name ‘Phra Srivichai’ and went on to study with Kruba Khadtiya. 

As a student, Kruba Srivichai was known to have great respect and reverence towards the science of magic and spells. Additionally, Kruba Srivichai gained reputation for his asceticism Traditional accounts. Which suggests that Kruba Srivichai was an exemplary Buddhist monk. 

One day, one villager gave some meat to Kruba Srivichai. After he consumed it, he vomited and fell ill. Since then, everytime he consumed meat, he would vomit and fall ill. Hence, Kruba Srivichai became a vegetarian and stopped eating meat. 

Kruba Srivichai has a very disciplined routine daily. He woke up at 5am everyday to sweep the temple's compound, then he would perform chanting and after which, he would go for alms in the village. In the afternoon, he would teach the villagers, novice monks and children on Buddha's teachings. By the evening period, he would start his chanting once again and practice Sammadhi. He stayed in the temple and hardly left the temple.

Ever since,Kruba Srivichai stopped consuming meat he became very thin. The villagers saw that and respected him alot by offering him many gifts, yet Kruba Srivichai just passed the gifts to the poorer villagers. He was contented with a meal of small lump of rice with little vegetables each day

He only ate one vegetarian meal a day and refraining from "habit-forming practices such as chewing betel and fermented tea leaves, and smoking". His generosity and compassion were evident to everyone around him. He showed compassion and mercy towards anyone who appealed to him. He was not a monk of rank but only a monk of the people. As a result he was always moving about, doing useful things wherever he went. They were things that led Buddhists to rejoice that a monk with the wide heart of a Bodhisattva had been born into the world. 

Temple constructions

Kruba Srivichai became the new abbot of Wat Ban Pang after Kruba Khadtiya passed away.Soon after, he began building a new temple and finished it in BE 2447. The new temple name is called Wat Sri Don Chai Sai Mun Bun Rueng even though villagers still referred to it as Wat Ban Pang. The new temple was the beginning of a career involving the repair and construction of over one hundred religious and nonreligious projects such as temples, roads, and bridges. Some of his more renowned monuments were temples on the top of Doi Suthep, the Suan Dork temple in Chiang Mai and the reliquary at the Camthewi temple in Lamphun. Villagers were urged to donate their money and labor as an act of merit (bun). Nationally known Buddhist monk and writer Phikkhu Panyanantha described Kruba Srivichai as a monk not of rank, but of the people and gained massive popular support and the status of a ton bun (holy men). A highly respected northern Thai monk writes:            

“Kruba Srivichai had done many good deeds to Buddhism. His goodness could hardly fade away from northern people' minds and especially for his many construction and renovation works. It seems that there were no other monks in this region who had done such things like Kruba Srivichai.”

Kruba Srivichai passed away in BE 2482. Today, Wat Ban Pang temple serves as a museum Kruba Srivichai.The museum's entrance is protected by two tiger statues from the same year as Kruba Srivichai’s birth year. By the staircase, a small shrine has been placed for monks and others to worship Kruba Srivichai and recite his prayers. The museum features collections of paraphernalia associated with his various construction projects including maps, a bench for resting, and a carrier bicycle. Additionally, the most notable temples that Kruba  built contain shrines built in his honor. For instance, the temple of Wat Phra Singha contains a shrine of Kruba Srivichai and features a long bronze statue of him standing at the front of the "vihara". Similar bronze statues can be seen in Wat Suan Dok.

Leave a comment