“Thai Buddhism Prayer“
You can hear the Homage on special occasions or even listen to it daily in Buddhism temples, but as a foreigner you are unlikely to understand the meanings of the words. They are not only not in English, but they are not in Thai, either.
They are in Sanskrit, an ancient Indian Indo-Aryan language and in a literal manner of speaking, a liturgical language of Hinduism and Buddhism. It went back until 1500 B.C.E, yet used daily in Hinduism and Buddhism monasteries around the world by their prayers, guided by the monks themselves.
As a spoken language, Sanskrit is still in use in a few traditional institutions in India and is actually also a member of the Indo-Iranian sub-family of the Indo-European family. In past times, Sanskrit was taught in India mainly to the higher casts to differentiate them. But only 1% of the Indian do speak them, enable them to understand Hindi, Bengali and Marathi.
Nowadays, the Sanskrit prayers are used in the Thai culture with wordings which differ according the purpose. Even if a Thai do not understand the exact meaning of the prayers (since they are all spoken in Sanskrit), they are very familiar with it and are following the monks who talks them in advance in small paragraphs or even explain them shortly beforehand.
To better understand one of the prayers, I wrote down a few paragraphs translated from English and confirmed by a local Buddhist:
“Homage to the Buddha“.
The Tathagata is the Pure One, the Perfect Enlightened One
He is impeccable in conduct and understanding.
The Accomplished One.
The Knower of the Words.
He trains perfectly those who wish to be trained.
He is Teacher of Gods and humans.
He is Awake and Holy.
In this world with its Gods, demons, and kind spirits,
its seekers and sages, celestials and human beings -
He has deep insight revealing the Truth.
He has pointed out the Dharma:
beautiful in the beginning,
beautiful in the middle,
beautiful in the end.
He has explained the Spiritual Life
of complete purity in its essence and conventions.
I chant my praise to the Blessed One.
I bow my head to the blessed One.
© 2010, Original: Article-Athenaeum (Another Point of Views)
© 2022, Republished & Updated with permit: Rainer F. Otto (Link-Mail)
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