CLASSIC THAI LITERATURE: THE RAMAKIEN, POETRY AND FOLK TALES

CLASSIC THAI LITERATURE

Thailand had a long history of written literature dating back to the thirteenth century, when much of the literature written in poetic style was religious or related to the monarchy. Examples include the Maha Chat Kham Luang, an epic adapted from the Buddhist Jataka tales, and Kotmai Tra Sam Duang, a legal work on Buddhist ethics. Of the 547 jakata tales in the Buddhist canon-each one depciting a past life of the Buddha—all appear in Thailand exactly as the id in their sources India and Sri Lanka. A group of 50 “extra stories” based on Thai folk taleswere added by schoalrs in northern Thailand around 300 to 400 years ago.

Thai literature was traditionally heavily influenced by Indian culture. Thailand's national epic is a version of the Hindu Ramayana called the Ramakien. The most important poet in Thai literature was Sunthorn Phu, who is best known for his romantic adventure story Phra Aphai Mani and for nine travel pieces called Nirats. Kings Rama V and Rama VI were writers, mainly of non-fiction works as part of their programme to combine Western knowledge with traditional Thai culture. The story Lilit Phra Lo was voted the best lilit work by King Rama VI's Royal literary club in 1916. Based on the tragic end of king Phra Lo, who died together with the two women he loved, Phra Phuean and Phra Phaeng, the daughters of the ruler of the city of Song, it originated in a tale of Thai folklore and later became part of Thai literature.

Beginning with the Chakkri Dynasty in the late eighteenth century, writing for both the court and the public flourished. New trends in literary style included Phra Aphai Mani, by Thailand's greatest poet Sunthon Phu (1786-1855), the written version of the popular epic romance poem called Khun Chang Khun Phaen, and Sang Thong, attributed to King Loet La (Rama II, 1809-24). Dynastic chronicles and poetry usually were dominant until the twentieth century, when King Vajiravudh (Rama VI, 1910-25) helped foster the birth of the modern Thai novel.

Ramayana and Ramakian

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Finnish Theatre Academy wrote: “The Ramakien (“Rama’s Story), also known as the Ramakirti (Rama’s Glory), is a localised version of the originally Indian epic, the Ramayana. It describes the life of Prince Rama (Phra Ram in Thai), Crown Prince of Ayodhya and also an avatara of the god Vishnu. His consort Princess Sita (Nang Sida) is abducted by the demon king Ravana (Tosakanth, also Tosakan, Tosachat, Thotsakan) to his island kingdom of Lanka (Longka). The lengthy story recounts the ultimately successful efforts of Prince Rama and his half-brother Lakshmana (Phra Lak), assisted by the white monkey Hanuman and the brave monkey army, to rescue Princess Sita from Lanka. [Source: Dr.Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance, Theatre Academy Helsinki, xip.fi/atd/thailand/early-periods ]

“The Rama stories, of which the Ramakien is only one of the numerous versions, are usually connected with Hinduism but are sometimes also interpreted in the Jain, Buddhist and even Islamic context. Rama’s story was already known in the regions of present-day central Thailand by the end of the first millennium and the beginning of the second millennium AD, when the Khmers ruled parts of the area. The importance of the story is clearly demonstrated by the fact that the capital of Ayutthaya was named after Rama’s city Ayodhya, located in northeast India. Little is, however, known about the manifestations of the Rama tradition during the Sukhothai and Ayutthaya periods. [Ibid]

A number of versions of the epic were lost in the destruction of Ayutthaya in 1767. When the new Chakri dynasty was established in Bangkok, one of the first activities of the first two kings was to have the text rewritten in its now approved classic form. The importance of the epic was further underlined by the fact that the kings were later renamed after the epic hero, as King Rama I and King Rama II. However, the origins of the Thai version and its sources are not known.

By order of King Rama I (1782–1809) Ramakien was compiled to form what is still today the longest composition in Thai verse. Three versions currently exist. The first one of one prepared under the supervision (and partly written by) King Rama I. In 1815, by order of King Rama II (1809–1824) Ramakien was written in a form suitable for khon and lakhon performances, and later, by order of King Rama IV (1851–1868) several scenes of the epic were rewritten.

The famous Thai author S.P. Somtow said the Ramakien is "the sort of Iliad and Odyssey of Siamese mythology... The basic plot of the Ramakien is really that of the Trojan War, a war over a woman in which the gods end up taking sides. But where Homer seems to dwell on the humanity of his characters, the Ramakien's characters seemed much more than human, with their superpowers and their gaudy colors—Rama, the hero, with his green skin, and so on."

Hindu Ramayana Versus the Thai Ramakian

The main differences between the Hindu Ramayana and the Thai Ramakian is an extended role for the monkey god Hanuman and the addition of a happy ending in the Thai version. Joe Cummings wrote in the Lonely Planet guide for Thailand: “The Ramayana came to Thailand with the Khmers 900 years ago. First appearing on stone reliefs on Prasat Hin Phimal and other Angkor temples in the Northeast. Oral and written versions may have also been available; eventually, though, the Thais developed their own version of the epic, first written down during the reign of Rama I (1762-1809). This version contained 60,000 stanza, about 25 percent longer than the Sanskrit original. [Source: Joe Cummings, Lonely Planet guide for Thailand]

“Although the main themes remains the same, the Thais embroidered the Ramayana by providing much more biographic detail on the arch-villain Ravana (Dasakantha, called Thotsakan or ‘10-necked’ in the Ramakian ) and his wife Montho. Hanuman the monkey-god differed substantially in the Thai version insofar as he very flirtatious with females (in the Hindu version he follows a strict vow of chastity). One of the classic Ramikian reliefs at Bangkok’s Wat Pho depicts Hanuman clasping a maidens bare breast as if it were an apple.” [Ibid]

Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen of the Finnish Theatre Academy wrote: “It is easy to recognise several specifically Thai qualities in the Ramakien. Phra Ram is, of course, presented as an avatara or incarnation of Vishnu, but at the same time he is subordinate to Shiva. The emphasis lies in the second of the three parts of the story, that is, in the section describing the abduction of Sita and the Great War. Thus the story is localised in several ways. For example, the Buddhist connotation can be recognised, although Phra Ram is not regarded as the Buddha or any of his previous incarnations. The epic was, however, compiled by Buddhist kings and the epilogue, written by King Rama II, stresses the connection between the Ramakien and the Buddhist teachings.[Source: Dr. Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance, Theatre Academy Helsinki, xip.fi/atd/thailand/early-periods ]

One important aspect of the Ramakien is its role in the dynastic cult, which is firmly rooted in the ancient conception of the devaraja or god-king of the Khmer tradition. The King is regarded as the incarnation of Phra Ram, and thus the Ramakien is also the narration of the “Ten Kingly Virtues” of the righteous ruler. J.M.Cadet has written with good reason: “For so successfully indeed has Rama I transmuted the epic…that the majority of Thai know nothing of its Indian origin, looking upon the Ramakien less as a work of art than a history of their royal house.” [Ibid]

“The importance of the Ramakien for the dynastic cult is emphasised by the fact that the whole epic was painted by order of Rama I in the galleries of the Wat Phra Kaew or the Royal Chapel in the old Grand Palace of the early Bangkok period. It is the very centre of the dynastic cult enshrining the Emerald Buddha, the palladium of the ruling dynasty. Thus an ancient, probably Khmer-derived, but later Buddhacised god-king cult and the Ramakien tradition were officially amalgamated, which led to the creation of several theatrical traditions regarded as the classical forms still today. [Ibid]

Thai Poetry

Poetry has been featured extensively in Thai literature, and constituted the near-exclusive majority of literary works up to the early Rattanakosin period (early 19th century). It consists of five main forms, known as khlong, chan, kap, klon and rai; some of these developed indigenously while others were borrowed from other languages. Thai poetry dates to the Sukhothai period (13th–14th centuries) and flourished under Ayutthaya (14th–18th centuries), during which it developed into its current forms. Though many works were lost to the Burmese conquest of Ayutthaya in 1767, sponsorship by subsequent kings helped revive the art, with new works created by many great poets, including Sunthorn Phu (1786–1855). Prose writing as a literary form was introduced as a Western import during the reign of King Mongkut (1851–68) and gradually gained popularity, though poetry saw a revival during the reign of King Vajiravudh (1910–25), who authored and sponsored both traditional poetry and the newer literary forms. Poetry's popularity as a mainstream form of literature gradually declined afterwards, although it is still written and read, and is regularly employed ceremonially. [Source: Wikipedia]

Thai poetic works follow established forms, known as chanthalak . Almost all have rules governing the exact metre and rhyme structure, i.e. the number of syllables in each line and which syllable rhymes with which. Certain forms also specify the tone or tone marks of syllables; others have requirements of syllable "heaviness". Alliteration and within-line rhyming are also often employed, but are not required by the rules.

Khlong is the among oldest Thai poetic forms. This is reflected in its requirements on the tone markings of certain syllables, which must be marked with mai ek or mai tho. This was likely derived from when the Thai language had three tones (as opposed to today's five, a split which occurred during the Ayutthaya period), two of which corresponded directly to the aforementioned marks. It is usually regarded as an advanced and sophisticated poetic form. In khlong, a stanza has a number of lines (bat), depending on the type. The bat are subdivided into two wak. The first wak has five syllables, the second has a variable number, also depending on the type, and may be optional. The type of khlong is named by the number of bat in a stanza; it may also be divided into two main types: khlong suphap and khlong dan. The two differ in the number of syllables in the second wak of the final bat and inter-stanza rhyming rules.

Khlong si suphapis the most common form still currently employed. It has four bat per stanza (si translates as four). The first wak of each bat has five syllables. The second wak has two or four syllables in the first and third bat, two syllables in the second, and four syllables in the fourth. Mai ek is required for seven syllables and Mai tho is required for four, as shown below. "Dead word" syllables are allowed in place of syllables which require mai ek, and changing the spelling of words to satisfy the criteria is usually acceptable.

Chan is derived from Pali and Sanskrit metres, and based on the Vuttodaya, a Sri Lankan treatise on Pali prosody. It developed during the Ayutthaya period, and became a prominent poetic form, but declined afterwards until it resurfaced in a 1913 revival. The main feature of the chan is its requirements on the "heaviness" of each syllable. Syllables are classified as either "light", those with a short vowel and open ending, or "heavy"; See also Light and heavy syllables under Sanskrit prosody). The Thai metres follow their Pali/Sanskrit origins, with added rhyming schemes. Modern authors have also invented new forms for their compositions. Two are traditional forms are shown here. Inthrawichian chan from Indravajra, (a form of Sanskrit poetry and meaning Indra's thunderbolt) has two bat per stanza, with eleven syllables in each bat,

In the generic sense, klon originally referred to any type of poetry. In the narrow sense it refers to a more recently developed form where a stanza has four wak, each with the same number of syllables. It is usually considered an original Thai form. The klon metres are named by the number of syllables in a wak, e.g. klon hok has six syllables per wak (hok means six). All metres have the same rhyming scheme, and there are also requirements on the tone of the final syllable of each wak. The klon is also divided into several types according to their manner of composition, with klon suphap, being the basic form. The most common eight-syllable variety of klon suphap was employed extensively by Sunthorn Phu, and is the most common form of the Rattanakosin period.

Rai is probably the oldest Thai poetic form and was used in laws and chronicles. It is also the simplest. It consists of a continuing series of wak of unspecified number, usually with five syllables each, and with rhymes from the last syllable of a wak to the first, second or third of the next. Some variations don't specify the number of syllables per wak and are actually a form of rhymed prose. A composition consisting of rai alternating with (and ending with) khlong is known as lilit , and suggests that the khlong developed from rai.

Thai Folk Stories: The Rabbit and the Crocodile and Diamond Cuts Diamond

The Rabbit and the Crocodile . Once upon a time the rabbit used to have a long and beautiful tail similar to that of the squirrel and at that time the crocodile also had a long tongue like other animals on earth. Unfortunately, one day while the rabbit was drinking water at the bank of a river without realizing possible danger, a big crocodile slowly and quietly moved in. It came close to the poor rabbit. The crocodile suddenly snatched the small creature into its mouth with intention of eating it slowly. However, before swallowing its prey, the crocodile threatened the helpless rabbit by making a loud noise without opening its mouth. Afraid as it was, the rabbit pretended not to fear approaching death and shouted loudly.[Source: From the book Fascinating Folktales of Thailand chickynet.com

“A poor crocodile! Though you are big, I’m not afraid of you in the least. You threatened me with a noise not loud enough to make me scared because you didn’t open your mouth widely.” Not knowing the rabbit’s trick, the furious crocodile opened its mouth widely and made a loud noise. As soon as the crocodile opened its mouth, the rabbit jumped out fast and its sharp claws snatched away the crocodile’s tongue. At the moment of sharp pain, the crocodile shut its mouth at once as instinct had taught it to do. At the end of the episode, the rabbit lost its beautiful tail while the crocodile lost its long tongue in exchange for its ignorance of the trick. From then on, the rabbit no longer had a long tail while the crocodile no longer had a long tongue as other animals. For fear of danger from a crocodile, the rabbit never again drank water from the river or the canal. It has opted to drink dewdrops on the grass leaves instead. The morale is: People should not provoke people and if they do so, they will get revenged.

Diamond cuts Diamond. Once upon a time there was a poor man who travelled to visit his sick relative in another city. The distance was a one-day walk, so his wife gave him a lump of rice to eat on the way. As his family was so poor, so he could not afford to have curry or soup to eat with the rice. The poor man happened to walk past the house of the millionaire whose cook was preparing curry for him. The smell of the curry was so nice that it made the man feel hungry immediately. He then sat under a tree and took out his rice to eat while taking a deep smell of the curry. He imagined that he was eating rice with the curry. The smell of the curry from the kitchen stimulated him to eat all the rice. Normally, it was very difficult for him to swallow rice without curry or soup. [Ibid]

After finishing his meal, he went to the kitchen of the millionaire to ask for water to drink from the cook. Before taking leave, he praised the female cook that she was surely a good cook as the curry produced a very delicious smell. He told her that he could eat all the rice without curry or soup because the smell of her curry helped him to eat it all. He thanked her and took leave. The cook was very pleased to hear it. The cook smiled and then took the curry to serve her master. To her surprise, the millionaire tested the curry and complained that today his cook had prepared the curry poorly for him. The cook was afraid of her guilt, so she told him that the curry became tasteless because its smell had just been stolen by the poor man who happened to walk past this way. The poor man ate his rice only with the smell of curry spreading out from our kitchen.

The stingy millionaire was very angry to hear this. He told his servants to bring the poor man to meet him and enquired about the whole story. The innocent man admitted that he had taken away the delicious smell of that curry without permission. The millionaire then demanded compensation from the poor man who was relunctant to pay as he had only one small coin in his possession. He still had to travel a long way to visit his sick relative. He might have to use it at the time of need. The millionaire arrested him and took him to be investigated by the village chief. After being told the whole story, the village chief instructed his servant to bring a bowl of water. He then asked the poor man how much money he had. The poor man told him frankly that he was so poor, so he could manage to have only one coin to be used while travelling alone.

The village chief then told the poor man to put his only coin in the bowl of water. While the stingy millionaire was very happy as he thought that he would get the coin in exchange for the smell of his curry. “Thank you very much Village Chief. You have given a fair judgement. That’s why all people have great respect for you" , said the millionaire with a broad smile. The millionaire quickly stretched his hand to pick up the coin from the bowl of water, but the village chief suddenly took back the bowl of water and told the poor man to take his coin back. “Alright! This man took away a delicious smell of your curry, now you can take the water of money from him in exchange for your loss. But you are allowed to take only the water. Don’t take the bowl because it belongs to me,” said the village chief to the millionaire whose face suddenly turned pale. The morale is: Don’t be mean to others. Don’t own all benefit on your own and share with everyone.

Thai Folk Story: Phikul Thong

Once upon a time there was a beautiful woman named Phikul. She was said to have not only physical beauty but good behaviour as well. Her mother died while she was very young. So she was looked after by her step-mother who also had a daughter named Mali. It was very unfortunate that both the mother and her daughter were wicked women. They forced Phikul to work hard every day. One day after the job of pounding rice was finished, Phikul went to fetch water from a stream which was not far from home. On the way back, an old woman suddenly appeared in front of Phikul and asked water from her to drink. Phikul was very pleased to be able to help the old woman. She gave her water and told her to take more water to wash her face and body so as to refresh herself. Phikul told her not to worry if the water was not enough, she would go and bring it more. [Source: From the book Fascinating Folktales of Thailand chickynet.com

The old woman smiled and said, “You’re beautiful and kind at heart. Even though I am poor and look shabby, you still treat me nicely.” After praising Phikul with kind words, the old woman then gave a wish to her and by this virtue, the golden flowers of bullet wood (Tanjong tree or Mimusops), known in Thai as Phikul, would come out from her mouth whenever she felt sympathy for anyone or anything. Immediately after granting this wish to Phikul, the old woman disappeared in front of her eyes. Phikul knew at once that the woman was surely an angel in disguise who had come down to earth to grant her a wish. After returning home late, she was scolded by her step-mother who thought that she had gone astray just to avoid daily work. Phikul thus told the whole story to her and feeling sympathy, many golden flowers of the bullet wood came out from her mouth.

The greedy step-mother quickly changed her mood from anger to greed and rushed to grasp them all while cajoling Phikul to speak more to satisfy her greed. From that day onwards, the step-mother collected as many golden flowers as possible to sell in the market and got a lot of money. All of them now lived a happy life. Phikul did not need to work so hard as before but she was forced to speak the whole day so that more golden flowers would come out from her mouth. Exhausted by her step-mother’s greedy demands, Phikul got a soar throat and became voiceless. She could not speak for a while. The situation upset her step-mother so much so that she started beating Phikul, trying to force her to speak but Phikul could not utter even a single word.

To satisfy her greed, the step-mother decided to send her own daughter, Mali, to do the same thing as Phikul did. Mali was sent to the same place as told by Phikul, but instead of meeting an old woman, she met a beautiful woman wearing an impressive dress standing under the shade of a big tree. The woman then asked for water from Mali to drink. Out of jealousy, Mali got angry and thought that the woman was not an angel so she refused to give any and used rude words to curse the angel in disguise. The angel thus placed a curse on Mali that whenever she got angry and spoke, worms would come out from her mouth. Upon returning home, Mali told the whole story to her mother. From the anger of telling the story, the whole house was full of worms. The mother thought that Phikul was jealous of her daughter so she had distorted the story and that was why Mali did not meet an old woman. She beat Phikul and drove her out from home.

Overwhelmed by this grief, Phikul wandered in the forest alone. Fortunately, she walked in the direction of a young Prince who was enjoying a horse ride in the forest along with his soldiers. Upon seeing the young girl crying, the Prince asked her to tell the whole story. At the end of her narration the whole area was full of golden flowers. The Prince was very pleased and asked for her hand. After marrying her, the couple ascended the throne and ruled the city happily ever after. The morale is: In Thailand it is considered very inappropriate to raise your voice and express anger or frustration. This folktale shows the Thai strong value in compassion and kindness. Compassion is one of the Buddha’s most emphasized teachings.

Thai Folk Story: Story of Makatho

The Story of Makatho dates back to the time of the Sukhothai Period (1240-1438). There was a young man named Makatho. He was a son of the Mon merchant who lived in Kohwan Village in the city of Mortama, a city in the present Myanmar. When he reached the age of 15 years old his father died so he had to continue his father’s business. One day he led his sales team comprising of 30 men carrying goods on their shoulders to be sold in the city of Sukhothai, a former capital of Thailand. On arriving at Matewa, one of his men suddenly felt sick. Out of sympathy, Makatho helped the man by carrying the goods on his shoulder. When he reached the top of the hill, there was heavy rain and a thunderstorm. A thunderbolt suddenly struck his stick used to carry the goods on his shoulder breaking it into pieces,but surprisingly he did not get hurt. Even though he changed the sticks three times, a thunderbolt struck it again and again. When he looked towards the west, in a flash of lightning there appeared perhaps a castle or a palace. [Source: From the book Fascinating Folktales of Thailand chickynet.com

To know more about the strange occurrences, he went to see a fortune-teller and asked him to forecast what he saw. But the fortune-teller set a condition that he had to bring a huge sum of money equivalent to the heap which was to be as high as his head and then he would make a forecast for him. Though Makatho had a small amount of money equivalent to only a few baht, he was intelligent enough to place all the money he had on the termite hill and told the fortune-teller to look at it. The fortune-teller thought that this man was very intelligent. He thus made a prediction that Makatho was a man of great merit and he would be promoted to a high position in the direction of the west.

Upon arriving at Sukhothai City, he sold all the goods and told his men to return home while he remained in the city. He then went to seek shelter with the mahout of Phra Ruang who was the King of Sukhothai. By nature Makatho was an industrious man so he helped the mahout looking after the elephants day and night. In turn the mahout was very kind to him. When he received his own salary from the king, he would share it with Makatho every time.

One day King Ruang came to see his elephants in the pen. While looking at the elephants from the raised platform, he saw Makatho sweeping the floor of the pen. The king then asked the mahout who that man was. After being informed of the truth, the king showed his kindness to him and instructed the mahout to take good care of Makatho. While looking at the elephants, the king released the areca-nut from his mouth and spat the saliva on the ground so strongly that dust floated in the air. A money cowrie shell suddenly emerged from the ground. The king told Makatho to pick it up. Makatho paid respect to the king and then picked up the money cowrie shell.

Makatho was very happy, though the money was just a small amount. He thought that it was very valuable to him as it was given to him by the king. So to make it more valuable, he went to buy lettuce seeds from the market. The seller did not know how to sell them as the amount of money was too small to count in exchange for the lettuce seeds. So Makatho told the seller a way out. He then raised his finger to touch the saliva from his mouth and then touched on the lettuce seeds. “Alright! I just wanted this much. Nothing more,” said Makatho. The seller smiled and praised him for his intelligence, and thought that this man would surely become a great person in the future. After getting the lettuce seeds, Makatho prepared the soil and planted the seeds nearby. He used the elephant’s dung as fertilizer to nourish the vegetable.

One day King Ruang again came to see his elephants. Makatho picked up a lettuce in a hurry and presented it to the king. To his surprise, the king asked where he got it from. Makatho told him the story. The king was very pleased and thought that this son of the Mon was very industrious and intelligent. Thus he was promoted to work in the royal kitchen. Makatho worked hard as usual. The king was very pleased with his performance, so he appointed him in the position of Khun Wang whose duty was to take care of the capital. Makatho worked hard and took his assignment seriously. The king treated him as his own son. Everybody showed him great respect.

Later Makatho asked permission to visit his home village. Since he was a good man, all people liked him and gave him due respect. The ruler of Mortama City named Alimamang was jealous of him and planned to eliminate him. However, Makatho knew about the plot, so he decided to get rid of Alimamang first and was then chosen as the new ruler. After his appointment, Makatho rebuilt the city of Mortama and sent offerings to King Ruang and informed him of the situation. To his pleasure, King Ruang gave Makatho a new royal name as Phra Chao Fa Rua or the King of the Leaking Sky. He expanded his territories far and wide. The morale is: They who are smart, show initiative, creativity and have kindness will receive respect from everyone.

Thai Folk Story: Ungrateful Man

Once upon a time there was a poor young man who aimlessly travelled from one city to another. One day he entered a small city and met a crippled beggar who asked for food from him. Out of sympathy, he gave the beggar some food and water that he carried with him. While preparing to leave, the beggar seized his hand and said with a dry parched voice, “Young man! You’re very kind. Though you’re poor, you still give me some food. To reciprocate your generosity, I will give you one magic spell. Learn it by heart, some day it’ll be useful to you.” [Source: From the book Fascinating Folktales of Thailand chickynet.com

With the power of the magic spell, a person who recited it would be able to stimulate any type of fruit to yield out of season, but that person had to bring a bowl of water and blow on it after reciting the magic spell, then pour the water on the root of the tree. However, the beggar set a condition that the young man had to respect him sincerely throughout his life, otherwise the magic spell would lose its power. The young man agreed unconditionally. He was very pleased and after paying a tribute to the beggar, he went on his way to other cities.

One day the young man happened to arrive at a big city where a soldier was making an announcement that anyone who could get a mango at this time of the year and present it to the pregnant queen would get a handsome reward. At the time of this announcement, it was not the season of the mango tree to fruit, so no one could get a mango for the queen. The queen was very eager to eat a mango.

Having heard of the announcement, the young man immediately volunteered to get a mango for the queen. He brought a bowl of water and after reciting his magic spell he blew on it. He then asked the soldier to lead him to the royal garden where he poured the water on the root of the mango tree. He then asked everybody to come the next day.

Surprisingly, the next day the mango tree gave plenty of fruit. The queen was very much delighted to be able to eat mangoes. She presented valuable gifts to the young man and asked him to live in her city. The young man became rich overnight and lived a happy life in that city. He no longer needed to wander from city to city. However, one day out of curiosity the king asked the young man as to how he acquired the magic spell and who was his teacher. When asked by this question, he felt too shy to tell the king that his teacher was actually a crippled beggar. So he informed the king that his teacher was a holy sage living in the far-away forest. A few days later, the queen again wanted to eat mango. So the king instructed the young man to bring mangoes to the queen.

The man then performed the ceremony as before, but this time the mango tree did not give even a single fruit. The king was very angry and demanded the man to reveal the reason. Upon learning the truth, the king condemned the ungrateful man and expelled him from his city. All of his property was ordered to be confiscated by the king. The young man became poor again. He realized that his magic spell lost its power because he did not keep his promise to his teacher. He felt sad but it was too late now. The morale is: Don’t dishonour honour.

Image Sources:

Text Sources: Jukka O. Miettinen, Asian Traditional Theater and Dance, Theatre Academy Helsinki, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Tourist Authority of Thailand, Thailand Foreign Office, The Government Public Relations Department, CIA World Factbook, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Global Viewpoint (Christian Science Monitor), Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, NBC News, Fox News and various books and other publications.

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© 2008 Jeffrey Hays

Last updated May 2014

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