Warring Neighbours

Riuns in Ayuthaya


A stone stature of the seated Buddha, with its head and two lower arms severed off, was photographed in Wat Maha That, one of the many ruin temples in Ayutthaya, Thailand. About 240 years ago, the invading Burmese army, destroyed everything Thai in the city and many of the wreckages still remain today.

This picture of the Buddha, at the moment of enlightenment, with his right hand touching the earth and the left hand calling the earth to witness it, captures the mood and essence of the Wesak celebration, in May every year. This visualization, brings together, the time when Siddhartha Gautama became a Buddha, when he was born (563BC) and when he died (483 BC) and also his teachings about spiritual liberation and human insights.

Ayutthaya, in the 14th and 15th century, was the second Capital of Thailand after Sukhothai. It was the greatest inland port at that time but it was in constant war with invading neighbours, wanting to take over its power and wealth.

Some of the best Thai Buddhist art flourished during that time but in 1765 the invading army from Burma, over ran the city within two years, and in its wake, desecrated everything sacred to the Thais, including manuscripts, temples and sculptures.

The Mon people (Thais and Burmese), who were mostly Theravada Buddhist, were at war with each other constantly, in their history, and they are now still at war, not only with their neighbours, but also with their own people. This is true too of many parts of the world today; we are endlessly at war with each other, many of this conflicts are in the name of religion, race, power and greed (for oil and other limited natural resources).

When will we ever learn to live and share with our neighbours?