Monks told not to camp on historic site

AYUTTHAYA ― Authorities on Tuesday asked two monks camping out on an ancient stupa more than 400 years old to get off the holy structure, citing improper use of the historic site.

Phra La Chiayamano, 73, and Phra Prasit Thammanantho, 56, set up shelter on the base of Chedi Phukhao Thong in Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya district as part of a pilgrimage.

Officials led by Thanyathep Muanyuth, director of the Ayutthaya provincial Buddhism office, went to negotiate with the two monks who were camping on top of the four-levelled base of the 90-metre chedi. 

Mr Thanyathep accused the monks of carrying out religious ceremonies in contradiction of Buddhist principles. The ancient chedi was also being inappropriately used by them, he said.  

The chedi is believed to have been built in the reign of King Naresuan the Great (1590-1605) on the compound of Wat Phukhao Thong (the Golden Mount) in Ayutthaya's inner city island, where a number of historical sites are located. 

The duo claimed the abbot of Wat Phukhao Thong had given them permission to stay on the temple compound for 10 days, and argued they still have five days left.  

After lengthy negotiations, Mr Thanyathep finally convinced the two pilgrim monks to pack up their belongings and come down from the chedi’s base to shelter under a tree below instead. 

Phra La is from Wat Doi Saket in Chiang Mai and Phra Prasit is a member of Wat Simalai Song Tham in Nakhon Ratchasima.

Mr Thanyathep said he will report the monk’s behaviour to the ecclesiastical provincial governors of Chiang Mai and Nakhon Ratchasima.

He said he would also ask the ecclesiastical district governor of Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya to investigate monks from other provinces who stay at archaeological sites and conduct inappropriate religious rites in the area. 

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