Boran Kammatthan (Ancient Theravada) Meditation Transmissions in Siam from late Ayutthaya to Rattanakosin periods


  • Phibul Choompolpaisal Mahidol University



boran kammatthan, nimitta, Suk Kaitheun, King Taksin, Wat Ratchasittaram, Wat Hongrattanaram, Wat Pradusongtham


This article investigates three distinct lineages of the transmission of the ancient Theravada meditation, boran kammatthan (Thai, Khmer; Pali, purana kammatthana), in Siam from the late Ayutthaya to the Thonburi and Rattanakosin periods, as well as the survival of two of them as living practices. It traces the Ayutthaya lineage of the Supreme Patriarch Suk Kaitheun (1733–1822) back from Wat Ratchasittharam (Thonburi) in the present to Wat Pa Kaew (Ayutthaya) in the sixteenth century. It also looks at the transmission of boran kammatthan from Wat Choengtha and other temples in Ayutthaya via Wat Hongrattanaram (Thonburi) to Wat Intharam (Thonburi) by King Taksin (r.1767–1782) and the Supreme Patriarchs of Thonburi under his support in the eighteenth century. It finally looks at the continuing transmission at Wat Pradusongtham (Ayutthaya) from the 1750s to the present. Key meditation teachers, covered in this article, include the Supreme Patriarchs of Thonburi and early Bangkok periods, as well as King Taksin. Overall, by documenting more than one transmission from a historical point of view, I argue in this article that there could be various meditation lineages that transmitted diverse practices within the broad framework of boran kammatthan.


Bizot, François. 1992. Le Chemin de Lanka. Paris, Chiang Mai, Phnom Penh: Publication de l’École française d’Extrême-Orient.

Bunnag, Rome. 2007 [2550 BE]. [Miti Leelub nai Phongsawadan “The Mysterious Aspect of the Royal Chronicles”]. Bangkok: Sayam Bantuek.

Chatikun, Vethin. 2015 [2558 BE]. [Thamma Khong Phrajao Tak “The Dhamma of Phrajao Tak”]. Nonthaburi: Green Panyayan Press.

Choompolpaisal, Phibul. 2011. “Reassessing Modern Thai Political Buddhism: A Critical Study of Sociological Literature from Weber to Keyes.” Unpublished PhD, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London.

———. 2015. “Political Buddhism and the Modernisation of Thai Monastic Education: from Wachirayan to Phimonlatham (1880s–1960s).” Contemporary Buddhism 16(2): 152–183.

———. 2019. “Nimitta and Visual Methods in Siamese and Lao Meditation Traditions from the 17th century to the Present Day.” Contemporary Buddhism 20(1): 1–32.

Choompolpaisal, P. and A. Skilton. 2011. “Handlist of Manuscripts at Wat Ratcchasittharam.” Available for download at

Choompolpaisal, P. and B. Terwiel. (in preparation). Meditation and Warfare, the Unusual Career of King Taksin.

Crosby, Kate, with Andrew Skilton and Amal Gunasena. 2012 “The Sutta on Understanding Death in the Transmission of boran Meditation from Siam to the Kandyan Court.” Journal of Indian Philosophy. 40(2): 177–198.

Crosby, Kate. 2012. “The inheritance of Rahula: Abandoned child, boy monk, ideal son and trainee.” in Children in Buddhism: Children and Childhoods in Buddhist History, Texts and Cultures, edited by Vanessa Sassoon, 122–154. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

———. 2013. Traditional Theravada Meditation and its Modern-Era Suppression. Hong Kong: Buddha Dharma Centre of Hong Kong.

Damrongrachanuphap 1946 [2489 BE]. [Kwam Song Jam “Memories”]. No detail of publisher.

———. 1971 [2514 BE]. 5th ed. [Tamnan Kana Song “The Legend of the Sangha”] Funeral publication in memory of Lek Pinsaykaew at Wat Somanasvihan Temple. Bangkok: Silpakorn Department. First edition published in [Phongsawadan Hatthalekha Sayamupasampatavat “the Autobiographies Version of the Royal Chronicles, Siamupasampadavatta”] (1912) [2455 BE].

———. 1960 [2503 BE]. [Ruang Praditsathan Phrasong Sayamvong nai Lanka Taweep “On The Establishment of the Sayam Nikaya Sangha in Lanka”]. Funeral Publication at Wat Thepsirin (Bangkok) in commemoration of Prince Phraya Narissaranuwattiwong. Silpakorn Department: Bangkok. First publication in 1914 [2457 BE].

de Bernon, Olivier. 2000. “Le manuel des maître de kammatthan Étude et présentation de méditation dans la tradition du bouddhisme khmer.” Unpublished PhD thesis, Institut National des Langues et Civilisations Orientales, Paris.

Kabilsingh, Chatsumarn. 1984 [2527 BE]. [Phraphutthasattasana nai Ratchasamai Somdet Phrajao Khrung Thonburi Mahrarat “Buddhism during the Reign of Somdet Phrajao Krung Thonburi Maharaj”] Bangkok: Silapasart (Arts) Faculty, Thammasart University.

National Library. 1976 [2519 BE]. [Somdet Phraariyavongsayan Somdet Phra Sangharacha Don “The Supreme Patriarch Somdej Phraariyavongsayan Don”]. Funeral publication in commemoration of Orapin Sangkangvan and Pew Klaypan at Wat Hua Lamphong (Bangkok) on 24 May 1976. Bangkok: Sutthisan Kan Phim.

Newell, Catherine. 2011. “Two Meditation Traditions from Contemporary Thailand: A Summary Overview.” Rian Thai. International Journal of Thai Studies 4: 81–110.

Ong, Pei Wen Patrick. 2011. “Examining and Analysing the Meditation System Passed Down by the Supreme Patriarch Suk Kaithuean, Now Taught at Wat Ratchasittharam.” Rian Thai, International Journal of Thai Studies 4: 115–189.

———. 2012–2013. “An Ancient Meditation System.” A 7-part blog at (last retrieval, 12 August 2014).

———. 2014. The Supreme Patriarch And His Walking Stick: The Meditation Legacy of Suk Kaithuean and its Implications for Theravãda Buddhism in Thailand. Bangkok: Chula Press.

Phothisai, Phairot. 1985 [2528 BE]. [Patchimmakan Khong Somdet Phrajao Krungthonburi Kab Samut Khoi Wat Ratchadathithan Ratchavihan (Wat Nguen) “The Last Period of Somdet Phrajao Khrungthonburi and The Paper Manuscript at Wat Ratchadathithan Ratchavihan (Wat Nguen)]” Silpa Watthanatham. Vol.6, No.9 (July 1985): 81-88.

Phrasuthamma-thibbadee (Aapaakathera) 1996 [2539 BE]. [Prawat Wat Rachativatvihan, Senasana lae Thavon-Vatthu “A History of Wat Rachativatvihan, Its Monastic Residence and Permanent Objects”]. Bangkok: Wat Rachathivat.

Phrayakosakonvijan 1934 [2477 BE]. [Mula Kammatthan Chabab Boran Samnak Wat Rachativat “The Traditional/Old Version of Mula Kammatthan in the Tradition of Wat Rachativat”]. Bangkok: Panit Sappa Udom.

Rutiroknok, Lada 2014 [2557 BE]. [Bantuek Jomthap Phrajao Taksin Maharat “The Record of the Ruler Phrajao Taksin Maharaja”]. Bangkok: DMG Books

Silpakorn Department 1994 [2537 BE]. [Phrachum Phongsawadan Phak Tee 82 Ruang Phraratcha Phongsawadan Krung Sayam Jak Ton Chabab Khong British Museum Krung London “Collections of the Royal Chronicles, Part 82 Concerning the Royal Chronicles of Siam According to the Original Material Kept at the British Museum in London”]. Bangkok: Silpakorn Department.

———. 1963 [2509 BE]. [History of Wat Ratchasittaram]. Bangkok: Silpakorn Department. A special publication on the occasion of royal Kathina ceremony at Wat Ratchasittaram on 16 November 1963.

Skilton, A. and P. Choompolpaisal. 2014. “The Practice of pre-reform Theravada meditation, boran kammatthana, from Wat Ratchasittharam: the piti section of the kammatthana majjima baeb lamdub.” ASEANIE: Sciences humaines en Asie du Sud-Est 33: 83–116.

———. 2015. “The Ancient Theravada Meditation System, Boran Kammatthana: Anapanasati or ‘Mindfulness of The Breath’ in Kammatthan Majjima Baeb Lamdub.” Buddhist Studies Review 32(2): 207–229.

———. (in preparation). “The Lakkhana Dhamma text and the preservation of boran kammatthana at Wat Hongrattanaram under King Taksin’s support.”

Supasophon, Satheun. 1962 [2515 BE]. [Phra Phutthasatsana kab Phramaha Kasat Thai “Buddhism and Thai Kings”]. Phra Nakon (Bangkok): Khlang Vitthaya.

Tambiah, Stanley Jeyaraja. 1976. World Conqueror and World Renouncer: A Study of Buddhism and Polity in Thailand against a Historical Background. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Tangtrongjit, Kovit. 2012 [2555 BE]. 2nd ed. 19 [19 Somdet Phra Sangharat Krung Rattanakosin “19 Somdej Phra Sangharaja of Rattanakosin City”]. Bangkok: Phimkham. First edititon published in 2006 [2549 BE].

Taylor, James L. 1993. Forest Monks and the Nation-State. An Anthropological and Historical Study in Northeastern Thailand. Singapore: Institute of Southeast Asian Studies.

Thammavarodom (Uttamathera) 1956 [2499 BE]. [Uppakon Kammatthan Khong Phra Thammavarodom (Uttamathera), Wat Rachativat “The Kammatthan Devices of Phra Thammavarodom at Wat Rachativat”]. Publication in commemoration of the Establishment of Pariyattitham School of Wat Ratchapha Tikaram on 5 October 1956.

Uluchada, Prayun (Penname No Na Paknam). 1967 [2510 BE]. [Ha Duen Klang Sak It Thee Ayutthaya “Five Months Amongst Brick Ruins in Ayutthaya”]. Bangkok: Muang Boran Press.

Veera (Thanaveero). 2005 [2548 BE]. [Tamnan Kan Suebthod Phra Kammatthan Majjima Baeb Lamdub Khong Phra Rahula Therajao “A Legend of the Transmission of Phra Kammatthan Majjima Baeb Lamdub Khong Phra Rahula Therajao”]. Nonthaburi: Sampachanya Press.

———. 2009 [2552 BE]. 7th ed. [Phra Prawat Somdet Phra Sangkharat Suk Kaitheun Yuk Krung Sri Ayutthaya “The Biography of Somdej Sangharaj Suk Kai Theun During the Ayutthaya Period”]. Nonthaburi: Sampachanya Press. 1st ed.1992 [2535 BE].

———. 2009a [2552 BE]. 7th ed. [Phra Prawat Somdet Phra Sangkharat Suk Kaitheun Yuk Krung Thonburi “The Biography of Somdej Sangharaj Suk Kai Theun During the Thonburi Period”] Nonthaburi: Sampachanya Press. 1st ed.1992 [2535 BE].

———. 2009b [2552 BE]. [Phra Prawat Somdet Phra Sangkharat Suk Kaitheun Yuk Krung Rattanakosin “The Biography of Somdej Sangharaj Suk Kai Theun During the Rattanakosin Period”]. 7th ed. Nonthaburi: Sampachanya Press. 1st ed.1992 [2535 BE].

———. No date. [Phra Prawat Somdet Phrasangkharat (Suk Kaitheun) Yuk Ayutthaya Yuk Thonburi Yuk Rattanakosin Lae Thammatayat. “The Biography of Somdej Sangharaj Suk Kai Theun During the Periods of Ayutthaya, Thonburi and Rattanakosin and Descendants”] Publication for Disseminating Phra Khammatthan Majjima of Somdet Phra Sangkharat Kaitheun (Suk) Bangkok: Wat Ratchasittaram.

Wat Choengtha. No date. [Somdet Phrajao Taksin Maharat]. Ayutthaya: Wat Choengtha.

Wat Pradusongtham 2012 [2555 BE]. [Prawat Jao Awat Ong Tee 9, Phrakhru Seelasangvorn “The Biography of the Ninth Abbot, Phrakhru Silasamvara”]. Funeral Publication in commemoration of Phrakhru Silasangvorn (Bunnag Silasangvaro) on 22 April 2012 at the meru of Wat Pradusongtham.

Wyatt, David. 1982. Thailand: A Short History. Bangkok: Trasvin Publications.

Yasothararat, (Phramaha Choti Panyo) Jai (coll.), ed. 1936 [2479 BE]. [Nangsue Phuttha Rangsi Thrisadiyan Wa duay Samatha Lae Vipassana Kammatthan See Yuk “Book of Phuttha Rangsi Thrisadiyan Relating to Samatha and Vipassana Meditation Covering the Four Eras)”]. Bangkok: No detail of publisher.

Websites (accessed on 1 March 2021).

Wat Bavon Mongkol. No Date. [“Wat Bavon Mongkol ‘Yuk Raman Nikay”/ “Wat Bavon Mongkol ‘During the Period of Raman/Mon Nikaya’]. This article is available on the official Thai website of Mon studies: (accessed on 31 December 2014).

About Suk’s life in Ayutthaya: (accessed 20 April 2019).



How to Cite

Choompolpaisal, P. . (2021). Boran Kammatthan (Ancient Theravada) Meditation Transmissions in Siam from late Ayutthaya to Rattanakosin periods. Buddhist Studies Review, 38(2), 225–252.