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Ajarn Fan Acharo & HM King Bhumibol the Great (Rama IX)

Seen Above: HM King Bhumibol Adulyadej (The Great) and Queen Sirikit of Thailand at the Funeral of Monk Luang Pu Fan Acharo

King Bhumibol the Great (Rama IX) had a long relationship with the revered Isaan monk Ajarn Fan Acharo (pronounced “ajahn fun ajaro”). His Majesty would often visit Wat Pa Udom Somphon in Phanna Nikhom (Sakon Nakhon) to visit with the wise forest monk, who studied under the renowned Ajarn Man Phurittato, the co-founder of the Thai Forest Tradition of Buddhism, who also spent his final years in Sakon Nakhon.

HM King Bhumibol greatly admired Ajarn Fan, and would invite him to present sermons at the Royal Residence whenever he was in Bangkok. It’s reported that the two would often have deep discussions late into the night.

Once when visiting the Northeast of Thailand, it’s said that the King told Ajarn Fan he wanted to visit him at Wat Pa Udom Somphon to study the dharma, but he didn’t have time due to his other responsibilities. Ajarn Fan told the King not to worry and that he need not come, because the temple is only a symbol of your own heart. “If you are kind, all is good” (ถ้าใจดีก็ดีหมด), which is in keeping with his other mystical Buddhist teachings.

When Ajarn Fan Acharo died in 1977, the King flew immediately to Sakon Nakhon to take part in the bathing ceremony. Then returned later for the cremation ceremony. Hundreds of thousands of Thai people attended the funeral of Luang Pu Fan Acharo, as the King paid the highest respect to his teacher, bowing on the ground below a gold casket that he had bought to hold the ashes of Luang Pu Fun.

After the funeral the King directed that a pagoda be built at Wat Pa Udom Somphom to hold the ashes and all of the relics of Ajarn Fan. This pagoda is now known as the Ajarn Fun Acharo Museum, and is one of several sites in Sakon Nakhon where people travel on a special pilgrimage to make merit in Thailand.

 

King Bhumbibol Adulyadej in Sakon Nakhon
King Bhumbibol Adulyadej in deep grief at the casket of his friend, Luang Pu Fan Acharo. Photo on display at the Phu Phan Museum, Sakon Nakhon.
David Alan
Sakon Nakhon Isaan