“Maha That” – The Maha That Temple, or Wat Maha That

Buddha's relics
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“Maha That” – The Maha That Temple, or Wat Maha That

As a foreign tourist coming to visit Thailand, one of your travel plans should be to sightsee the city’s temples, especially in Bangkok and inside the old capital, such as Ayutthaya Historical Park.

Inevitably, the word “Maha That” is one of many words that you will come across or hear from your tour guide or even when you are reading about the temple’s history or some of the buildings inside.

What does “Maha That” mean?

“Maha That” in general means the relics of the Buddha. According to ancient belief, innocent people who have done good deeds, follow and maintain the top ten virtues, as the born will become relics after they die, just as the Buddha’s bones became a kind of relic after he was cremated.

Here, the word “relics” refers to the bones of the lord Buddha (Buddha’s relics).

Where did the Buddha’s relic come from?

Yes, absolutely. It is from the Buddha!!! In ancient times, after the Buddha was cremated and his bones turned into relics, the Brama (the hindu priest) allocated the relics and distributed them to the Kings of the seven continents; from that time until now, the relics have been distributed worldwide, and many temples claim to possess the Buddha’s relics.

Are the relics small or big, or what’s the size, color or shape of the Buddha’s relics?

Relics and Buddha’s relics have various sizes, colors, and characteristics as described in the ancient text, some gold color, white color, or dried bullet-wood flower color. Size: some as small as the grain of rice and in shapes like cresent, oval, or round.

Where is the Buddha’s relic enshrined in the temple mostly?

Have you ever wondered when you go to visit a temple where the relics of Buddha have been kept and where they were actually enshrined? The answers are: it was enshrined in the Chedi or Stupa, and where is it actually? In what part of Chedi was the relic enshrined? Even I used to believe that the relic was enshrined at the top of the Chedi because it is a highly revered object that must be at the top. 

But recently, the right answer has come to brighten my brain. The answer is that the Buddha’s relics have mostly been enshrined beneath the basement of the chedi or stupa, for a variety of reasons, including keeping them safe from thiefs and unexpected events, such as the Buddha’s relics in the Phra Prang at Wat Maha That in Ayutthaya Historical Park where the relics were kept in a specially designed seven-layer casket before being buried 10 meters down under the main chedi so that even after the chedi collapsed, the relics were still kept safe.

What is the purpose of building Wat Maha That?

In ancient times, all the Rulers had to mobilize and harmonize their people to stay together to build and to keep them stronger over the enemy. Religion and belief are the priority methods, as people always want something or someone to count on, the temple of the Buddha’s relics was built as the center of belief and the center of religion.

Most importantly, it was built as the axis and pillar of the city that, according to the Hindu belief of Sumeru Mount, is the axis of the universe. Then Wat Maha That was considered the most significant as the Buddhist center of the city,

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