Wat Bang Pra is the most famous temple for obtaining Yant tattoos in Thailand due to the late abbot Luang Po Pern. Everyday hundreds of followers come here to obtain a tattoo or to "recharge" an existig one. It is believed that the Yant tattoos obtained at Bang Phra temple are magical and can protect you from harm as well as bringing you luck in your career, health etc.

In order to retain the magic, the bearer must follow many rules set out by Luang Po Pern. Due to his spending many years as a hermit in the jungle people believe that he had a special connection to jungle animals and that the Yant tattoos obtained here contain animal spirits. These spirits can possess the bearer of the tattoo at certain times especially during the yearly Wai Kru (honor the teacher) ceremony in March. The tattoos can be obtained in ink or in invisible oil. Both types have the same power. At any time there are several monks and tattoo masters tattooing in several buildings around the temple.

Bang Phra temple has several statues, pictures and wax figures of Luang Po Pern. He is usually shown sitting on a tiger. There are statues of many wild animals due to his special connection with them. There are also many statues of hermits in all shapes and sizes as he was a hermit for many years in the jungle. The building directly beside many hermit statues is where Luang Po Nun, the most famous of the current monks, tattoos people. You can take a peek inside but please remember that this is something deeply religious and photos are not allowed. Behind this building and to the left you see the main building with many shoes out front. You can go inside and see the body of Luang Po Pern preserved in a glass coffin. On the temple grounds you will also see a giant round black gong with a few stairs in front. Devotees climb these stairs and rub the gong with their hands for good luck. You can see that the place for rubbing the gong is worn shiny by the thousands of hands which have been across it. By applying a certain technique you can make the gong vibrate loudly which is especially ominous. Behind the gong is a statue of an elephant (it is lucky to walk under its belly). Behind the elephant is the only building from the original 300 year old temple complex. You can walk inside on weekends and take a look at the some wall paintings which are over 100 years old. The paintings above the door have been restored in 2012. Walking further along the river towards the bridge you will see a man selling small fish, turtles and snails. Buddhists buy them in order to release them into the river thus making merit for themselves. The temple is 8km from our house and can be visited by car, tuk tuk, motorbike or bicycle. There is no charge to visit the temple.

Story of Luang Po Pern

It would be impossible to tell the story of Bang Phra temple without telling the story of Luang Po Pern as he is why the temple is so famous and many objects at the temple are tied directly to him. Luang Po Pern was born in 1923 in Nakhon Pathom province. While he was growing up he was very interested in Buddhist magic used by warriors in the historic past. He became the disciple of Luang Po Daeng, an expert in sorcery. Luang Po Pern became a monk at the age of 26 and continued studying Buddhist magic and sorcery. He also became a student of Yant tattoos and gradually became known as an expert in them. His Yant tattoos were renowned for their aesthetic beauty and the power they contained. Luang Po Pern also studied Vipassana meditation and through these studies was able to become a disciple of Luang Po Oe Paa Sii, one of the greatest monks of that time known for his powers of white magic. Luang Por Pern then left the temple to practice “Dern Tudongk” (walk aimlessly through the Jungle renouncing the comfort of the temple) in the jungles of the provinces Kanchanaburi, Tak, Ratchaburi, Petchaburi and Burma. He faced many dangers from tigers, snakes, diseases, wicked fairies, tree spirits and jungle ghosts. Dern Tudongk was practiced by the original fathers of Yant tattoos who believed that meditating in the darkest of jungles, ancient graveyards and ruined temples in the middle of the night strengthened one’s mind and helped to enlighten one due to the extremely fearful nature of the meditation location. He befriended the Karen minority inhabitants of these jungles. Many of them became his disciples as he was loved and respected wherever he traveled due to the fact that he possessed a transparent personality that allowed all to see his great compassion and his power to help the folk with his Buddhist magic. In 1968 admirers and disciples of Luang Po Pern erected a statue of him in Bang Pra temple. He became the abbot of this temple shortly afterwards where he remained until his death in 2004. Thousands of devotees showed up every day for the hundred days of mourning every day to pay their final respects.


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