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Biography – Somdej Phra Putthachan Toh (Wat Rakang Kositaram)

Somdej Phra Putthachan Toh (Wat Rakang Kositaram)

About Somdej Phra Putthachan Toh Promarungsri Wat Rakang Kositaram (Bangkok)

The origin of the name Somdej came from a Sir’s name. Any person with a blood line descendant from the Royal family will carry a prefix Sir named Somdej. For example, Somdej Toh simply imply that his name is Toh and he is a descendant from the Royal family. In the olden days, monks were not entitled to create Phra Somdej amulets unless they have such blood line or obtained a special permission from the King.

Somdej Toh (1788 – 1872; BE2331 – BE2415), was formally known as Phra Buddhacharn Toh Phomarangsi and he was one of the most famous monks during Thailand’s Rattanakosin Period.

Somdej Toh was born in Kamphaeng Phet province during the reign of King Rama, morning of the 17th April, BE2331 (1788). Somdej Toh was named “Toh” before entering monk hood and then “Phomarangsi” as his ordination name. His mother, Gade, daughter of Chai, lived at Tambon Tarr-It, Amphur Tarr-Poh (now Amphur Muang) in Uttaradit Province. His father’s name was unknown to the public; they only knew that he came from other province, with some believing possibly the son of King Rama I.

He studied the Buddhist scriptures of the Pali language with several masters. When Somdej Toh was young, he studied at ChaoKhun Arunyik Institute, Wat Intarawiharn in Bangkok. At the age of 12 in BE2343, he was ordained novice by ChaoKhun Bowonwiriyataera. Later he had moved to Wat Rakang Kositaram to study Pra-Pariyuttidham, which means study of words of the Buddha. After he became a well known monk, he became the preceptor for Prince Mongkut, who became a monk, and at later stage, he became King Rama IV.

He was noted for the skill of his preaching and his use of Thai poetry to reflect the beauty of Buddhism, and for making amulets call ” Phra Somdej”. The amulets were blessed by himself, as well as other respected monks in Thailand.

During Rama IV’s reign, Somdej Toh was given the ceremonial name Phra Buddhacharn Toh Phomarangsi. Somdej Pra Bhuddhachara Toh Prohmarangsri (we called him as Somdej Toh or Archan Toh among amulet collector) the most famous and beloved monk in the nineteenth century in Thailand.

It was said that at the age of 20, the King gave Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh an official title of Narkluang (Someone who is in a process of being ordained as a Budhist monk). This was during the time when he was still at Wat Ta Krai in Pitsanulok province. Eventually, Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh became the abbot of Wat Rakang Kositaram and was promoted to the title of Somdej Pra Bhuddha Jarn. Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh was highly intellectual and great in performing sermons. He is considered to be the most well known, respected, and beloved monk of the Thai people.

Somdej Toh was sick and died on Saturday the 22, June in B.E2415 B.E at the age of 85.

Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh left us with his lasting legacy and his blessing to the people of Thailand with the Pra Somdej that was blessed by him and the top Buddhist masters of his time. There are several designs of Phra Somdej that were blessed by Phra Puttachan Toh. The design that all serious collectors are seeking is the large mold, “Phra Somdej Pim Yai”. This is considered to be the rarest and most expensive of all his designs. Other designs seem less attractive in comparison. For one to find a lPim Yai of Phra Somdej made by Somdej Pra Bhuddha Jarn Toh that is still in good condition (which is very rare and difficult), a Pim Yai Phra Somdej can easily exceed 10 Million Thai Baht (and price is still going up). For example, there was one particular Phra Somdej own by Mr. Khru Eheu, was priced at 50 Million Baht.

During his time, Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh would give a Phra Somdej to the Thai people every time he was invited to important events, to bless a new home, or during a simple lunch invitation. Before giving out one of his Somdej, Somdej Phra Bhuddha Jarn Toh often give his blessing and tell the person accepting the Phra Somdej that this amulet would bless them with happiness and prosperity. It is known that the material for making a Phra Somdej is made with powdered sea shells, powdered lime stones, gold dust, holy powder, burned blessed holy scrolls, assorted flowers from a shrine, his left over rice from meals, lotus, bananas, ceremonial incense ashes, honey, tang oil, etc.

Another contribution of Somdej Toh is the Chinnabanchon (Jinnabunchorn/JiNaPaJaRa) Katha. The Pra Katha Chinnabanchon was an ancient Buddhist katha, inherited from Langka city, and was found in an ancient book by Somdej Toh. The Katha was improved and rewritten by Somdej Toh of Wat Rakang. The Phra Katha Chinabunchorn is very powerful Katha and believed to be the supreme Buddhist spell because the words of this Katha will invite the magic power of Lord Buddha Somdej Pra Sammasambuddhachao, other Lord Buddhas and Phra Arahuntaras (supreme monks who are enlightened ) to protect the worshippers from their heads to their toes in addition to dispelling all evil.

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