Saturday, June 7, 2014

Phra Cai Vs Phra Ngan (尊胜佛与山精)

A Cambodian Ngan may represnets mountain spirits in general.
As far as I know, the practice of Ngan now days come from Cambodia.


I was told that the Thai Phra Cai statues were originally commissioned by the King for Thai soldiers during war with Burma a couple hundred of years ago. The intention was to boost up military morale at the same time to seek the Buddha’s blessing to win the war. The word ‘cai’ is a short for ‘vijaya’, 尊胜, or ‘victorious over enemies’. However, the design of the Phra Cai statues was a little unorthodox as it doesn’t really resembles the standard Buddha shape. So, such statues were kept in cold storage until being rediscovered over time.


That is roughly about the story of Phra Cai statues that I heard. Similar versions can be found in the intranet too but I am not going to put a reference. Otherwise just treat the above as just another story. There are many tales of how Lord Buddha subdues Ngan and ordered it to help mankind too…


The Cambodian Phra Ngan takes a different form from Phra Cai as the most noticeable difference is this Ngan has a pair or big red eyes. I believe this Ngan is not same as the Cai in Thailand. The Ngan may refer to ‘mountain spirit’ (山精) in general and if this is true, then the Thai Cai and Cambodian Ngan are two different things.


This makes sense as the Phra Cai is not part of Thai magic pantheon as it is only a product of misunderstanding. However, the Cambodian Ngan has a ‘presence’ as it refers to any mountain spirits in general. This can be proven by the fact that anyone who has tried the Cambodian Ngan mantras will experience a surge of anger that is very hard to control. Try it and you will see what I meant.


Hence, my take is the Thai Cai (Vijaya) is not the same as Khmer Ngan. One is only a symbolic icon and another refers to mountain spirits or any spirits in that matters.

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