Theravada Buddhism symbols

Laotian monk

"Laos is a landlocked nation squeezed between Thailand to the west and Vietnam to the east, and sharing shorter borders with Burma in the northwest and Cambodia in the south. As its position on the map of southeast Asia might suggest, Laos is the product of early contacts between the Khmers of Cambodia and the Thais who eventually established Thailand. As Thai tribes migrated into the southwest Asian peninsula during the latter half of the first millennium, they came first down the Mekong river until they encountered the rear guard of the Khmer tribes who had followed that route before them. Some settled along the upper reaches of the Mekong, while others resorted to the relatively uninhabited Chao Phraya, which flows through the heart of present day Thailand, reaching the sea at Bangkok. The Thai-related people who settled in the upper Mekong region became the ancestors of the modern day Laos. Landlocked and surrounded by more powerful cultures, Laos remains the poorest country in southeast Asia in every way except for the renowned Lao sense of humour and fun.

A BuddhapadaLao history in fact begins in the 14th century with a risqué event, the seduction of one of the king's wives by his son Phi Fa, heir apparent to the throne. For his indiscretion, Phi Fa was banished. He and his son Fa Ngum journeyed south and took up residence in the Khmer royal court at Angkor. There, Fa Ngum studied under a Theravadin monk, gained favour of the Khmer king, and eventually married one of his daughters. In about 1350, the king of Angkor provided Fa Ngum with an army so that he could reassert control over his father's lost inheritance.

By this time, Angkor was in a state of decline, and the political centre of gravity in Thailand had shifted southward from Sukkhothai to Ayutthaya. Angkor's weakness and this shift in power in Thailand left the way open for Fa Ngum to establish an independent kingdom, with ties to Angkor, along the upper reaches of the Mekong river. Fa Ngum's coronation at Luang Phrabang in 1353 marked the beginning of the historical Laos state. It also established the farthest northern extent of Khmer civilization, since Fa Ngum's kingdom was modeled on Angkoran precedents even though the Laos are racially related to the Thais. Furthermore, Fa Ngum invited his Buddhist teacher at the Khmer court to act as his advisor and chief priest. Under his influence the new kingdom of Laos became firmly Theravadin, as it has remained to the present day. This Buddhist master brought with him from Angkor a Buddha image known as the "Phra Bang". This image accounts for the capital's name and like the tooth relic of the Buddha in Sri Lanka, became the palladium of the kingdom.

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Popular Q&A

Was Mahayana or Theravada the original buddhists?


Buddhism began after Siddhartha Gautama (born about 583 BCE) formed a set of teachings that were handed down orally to his disciples. The scriptural canon of the Theravada School was not committed to writing till 35-37 BCE, in Sri Lanka, and written on palm leaves.
But a few weeks after Buddha died, some 500 adepts met to form the teachings. About 100 years later a Second Council had to be held where a progressive party argued that the rules wee too rigid and should be relaxed. The Orthodox (Theravada School) won the day with the need to stick to the rules. The progressives seceded an…

How to Become a Theravada Buddhist.

Panati pata veramani sikkha padam sama diyami

What are the beliefs and practices of the theravada buddhists?

The Theravadins' belief that they most closely follow the original beliefs & practices of the Buddha & the early monastic Elders.

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