King of Mangrai Dynasty

King Kue Na
B.E. 1898 - 1928 (A.D. 1355 - 1385)

Prince Kue Na was the son of King Phayu and the sixth monarch of the Mangrai Dynasty. He was a devout Buddhist and also had a strong interest in science. He ruled the Kingdom by the Ten Virtues of a King and, consequently, the Kingdom was prosperous and peaceful. During his reign, Theravada Buddhism from Sri Lanka and the Ramanna (Mon) line from Sukothai were introduced into the Kingdom of Lan Na. The local brand of Buddhism from the period of King Mangrai to that of King Phayu had been a mixture of Theravada Buddhism of the Haripunchai variety and that of the Hamsavati and Ava.

The new kind of Buddhism came to Chiang Mai for the first time during King Kue Na's reign, via Sukhothai. King Kue Na at that time had heard about `forest dwelling' monks, Arannavasi, and wanted to have some in Chiang Mai so that all religious acts could be properly performed according to the doctrine of Buddhism. Having heard of the name and fame of the Venerable Sumana, King Kue Na invited him to come to Chiang Mai. The venerable monk left Sukhothai and arrived in Chiang Mai in 1369. He stayed at Wat Phra Yuen in Lamphun for the Rain's Retreat. King Kue Na, on realising the Venerable Sumana had a profound knowledge of Dhamma, and moreover was a member of the Ramanna lineage of monks and could perform all the ritual acts correctly in accordance with the disciplinary codes, developed a fervent reverence and firm faith in the monk. As a result of his devotion, the King issued a command that thousands of local monks who belonged to the old order since the time of Queen Camadevi were re-ordained under the preceptorship of the Venerable Sumana.

In 1371 King Kue Na built a monastery named Buppharama Suan Dok in his garden, specifically for the Venerable Sumana to spend the Rain Retreats. In 1373 the pious King had two pagodas build to enshrine relics of the Lord Buddha brought from Sukhothai by the Venerable Sumana. Today, one pagoda is in the temple of Doi Suthep, and the other at Suan Dok.

The Venerable Sumana resided at Suan Dok monastery, and he began to spread the teachings of Theravada Buddhism according to his teacher, the Venerable Udumbara Mahaswami of Martaban in the Ramanna Kingdom. He remained at the monastery for 18 years, until he died in 1389.

The system of Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhism during the reign of King Kue Na was that of the Ramanna tradition. The monks of the Suan Dok tradition were later known as the first group of the Sri Lankan lineage. King Kue Na encouraged monks from such centres as Chiang Saen and Chiang Tung to come and study Buddhism at Suan Kok monastery. Chiang Mai became the centre of Buddhist teaching in the Lan Na Kingdom, and the centre of Buddhism shifted from Haripunchai to Chiang Mai. It is said that the introduction of Sri Lankan Buddhism was the dawn of religious renaissance in Lan Na. This led to the golden age of Buddhism in the Lan Na period.

Standing Buddha image in the niche of Chedi at Wat Phra Yun
 
Chedi at Wat Phra Yun, Lamphun Wat Phra Yun was built in Phaya Ku Na's reign as a residence for Ven. Phra Sumana Thera. The inscription relating the monastery construction is also found there. But the present Chedi was rebuilt covering the old one in A.D. 1900.


The Lan Na Kingdom during the reign of King Kue Na enjoyed security and stability in the fields of both politics and administration. King Kue Na was the first monarch to stop sending the traditional politically obligated gifts to the Hoh, the Chinese Yunnanese since the early period of King Mangrai's reign. Consequently, in 1365, King Lumfa of the Hoh demanded the following items from King Kue Na:
Rice 9,000 karns
Ivory 20 harbs
White cloth 400 rams
Chaesak bowls 1,000
(multicoloured 500, green 200, white 300)
King Kue Na ignored the demands, and the three following kings of the Lan Na Kingdom followed suit. During the reign of King Sam Fangkaen a Hoh army came and laid siege of Chiang Saen and demanded the tributes. King Sam Fangkaen rejected the demand and challenged the Hoh to a battle. The Hoh were defeated and were driven back to China.

King Kue Na died at the age of 46 after 30 years on the throne. He died at Khum Wiang Khu Bua in Chiang Mai, to the west of Wat Pa Pao near the northern city moat. In the reign of King Sam Fangkaen a Brahmin Temple was built on this sacred site.

Aerial photo illustrating the cities of Chiang Mai and Wiang Suan Dok; the latter is located west of Chiang Mai City.


Main Chedi at Wat Suan Dok. Based on the photo of the national archive, there appeared a satellite Chedi in "rice ball styled" form, the Sukhothai-styled stupa (on the right), before its restoration by Khruba Sriwichai into the Lan Na style between A.D. 1931-1932.
 
To the north of cluster of Wat Suan Dok Chedis is the location of "Ku" or stupas containing the remains of Chiang Mai rulers and northern nobility, collected by Princess Dararasmi, King Chulalongkorn's royal consort.




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