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The Oldest Buddha Tree in Thailand

Ton Pho Si Maha Pho: The Oldest Buddha Tree in Thailand

The oldest Buddha tree in Thailand…

On a recent drive I came across Ton Pho Si Maha Pho (ต้นโพธิ์ศรีมหาโพธ /dtôn-poh-sĕe má-hăa pôht/) in Prachin Buri. It’s said to be the oldest Buddha tree in Thailand.

From what I’ve read, 2000 years ago a seedling was brought from Buddhgaya, India, to be planted in Thailand. The tree I saw that day was not the original traveler, but an offshoot.

The ribbon-wrapped tree was set in the middle of an ample green lawn, encircled by a stone building with a roof. The side of the building facing the tree was open. No doors. No walls. Just wooden struts to stabilize the roof. At intervals under the roof, bowls filled with tied bunches of leaves were placed on small tables. Some Bodhi leaves had writings on them. Some were still waiting.

Why go to all this effort for a tree? When Lord Buddha came to enlightenment under a Bo-Tree (Ficus religiosa), he created a growing, living symbol. And that symbol has been traveling to far-flung parts of the world.

Years ago I did my part when transporting a seedling to Brunei Darussalam. I don’t know if it’s won any converts, but it’s sure to be huge by now.

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My passion is promoting the Thai language. Fullstop. Oh, and traveling. I'm passionate about that as well. And photography too.

11 Comments

  1. Fantastic picture Catherine. Is there much else to see in the local area?

  2. Thanks Paul. There is quite a bit but I only saw that one Wat and the tree (and the Wat only for a rest stop). The friend with me was dying to see the tree so we did a wide loop on our way home to take a look. To show you how wide, we were looking at sunflowers far over on the left.

  3. Btw – this type of post is the first of (hopefully) many showing brief snaps of Thailand. More coding needs to be done, so it’s a draft post really.

    Living here, I see many wonders but I don’t have time to write extensive posts. Not like I’d like (I have a zillion photos of fabulous places).

    I’m not going to cut long posts out altogether (I have another megga series coming up soon). Instead, I’ll be pacing myself and inviting guest writers on and off.

    And the reason I don’t have as much time is because I’m going to start doing my Thai homework instead (you read it here so it must be true ;-)

  4. Catherine I look forward to more snippets of Thailand…there’s so much here that goes unnoticed or unknown!

  5. Snap, I so agree. Your last post really brought that home. I didn’t think to ask about the red ribbons on some plants. I knew about money plants from Borneo (told by Filipino’s) but not that one. So after reading your post I know more than I did. It’s almost like we are all on a one-step program in Thailand :-)

  6. Catherine I remember one of the first posts I read on WLT was about the little red boxes…very intriguing. If you don’t ask, you never know.

    By the way, you seem to do a fair bit of smuggling of plants across borders, lol.

  7. oooohhhhh….yay! Comment blog has unclogged! I was starting to thing WLT had it in for me ;)

  8. Far out…corrections *Comment Luv and *think. Need sleep!

  9. I really like doing posts like the little red boxes and I have many more planned – most already drafted in… time…

    Moi? Smuggle plants across International borders? Nahhh…. I wrote it that way so someone would come in and lecture me on what a bad person I am, spreading disease all over the world. So far there are no takers. Darn.

    Congrats! You are in! I’m going to say that it was your new gravatar that did it… you know, sort of like digital gremlins?

  10. I love to look at trees. The traditions with holy trees are wonderful. Too many of us walk by magnificent trees without noticing. From India 2,000 years ago, 1200 years or so before the Thais came to Thailand and assimilated/conquered the local natives. It may be hard to verify, but it is impressive nonetheless! :o)

  11. You are right. When this tree was planted, I believe it was Com (Khmer) not Thai. You can still see the ancient walls made from laterite. Beautiful.

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