Phra Nagphrok or Saturday Buddha

Above is Phra Nagphrok a.k.a Saturday Buddha is made by Ven. LPu Sukh Kovito, Wat Pa’ Phromnimit and his teacher Ven. LPu Khreung, Wat Sak KamphengYai also in Sisaket. Made in the year 2551 to built Wat Suthepnimit. Unfortunately, Ven. LPu Khreung passed away later that year too.

I am sure all my readers by now would have known that there are 9 different stances of Lord Buddha, which we call them Phra Phracham Wan (Lord Buddha’s image for each respective day of the week)

Have you ever wondered why alot famous Gaejik Archan likes to make Phra Nagphrok , especially small little amulets for fellow Buddhist? Most teachers like the name itself Nag = Naga and Phrok = protect, which means protection from Naga. However the history dates back to ancient times. Saturday comes from the planet name Saturn, which rules the day. Saturn has an ancient name called Shani. In Buddhist terms, Phra Nagphork is the representation of Lord Saturn. The following descriptions about Lord Saturn or Sani or Phra Nagphrok is the same for all the them , as they are referring to the same entity.

Navagraha sculpture from Bihar, India, 10th century, now at the San Diego Museum of Art. Navagraha means the deities of the 7 planets (Sun, Mars, Mercury, Venus, Moon, Saturn and Jupiter) and the 2 shadow planets (Rahu and Kethu). Nava = 9 and Graha, however is commonly translated as planet but actually it is MORE than planet. It actually means the influence or control of the planets.

Navagraha statues from Konark, Odisha at British Museum.

About Lord Saturn or Phra Nagphrok,

  1. Shani means which moves slowly- shanaiye shanaiye. Planet Saturn has also been named after his nature. He moves very slowly.
  2. Saturn is considered as dry and cold planet. He represents old people. Saturn is considered a malefic planet in Astrology. But when placed in beneficial sign and house, he bestows a person with great wealth and fame. In adverse condition, this planet gives loss, sorrow, poverty, misery, accidents and hurdles in life.
  3. Saturn is connected with the age and longevity of an individual. He gives long life if placed favorably in horoscope.
  4. Saturn is actually considered as a teacher. He behaves like a teacher, who punishes the students when they err and rewards them for their good deeds.
  5. Saturn is also the planet of justice. He behaves like judge and gives justice depending upon the deeds of a person. The person who commits sin and bad karmas are rewarded results accordingly.
  6. Saturn rules over bones. All the large bones in the body of legs are governed by Saturn. Saturn, as per his nature, gives long-term diseases. Such diseases are long termed and hardly curable. So a person has to bear with the long illness. Number 8 is the numerological sign of Saturn.
  7. Saturn represents labour class who work die hard to earn a little livelihood.A person under influence of Saturn has to work hard in life.
  8. Saturn believes in discipline and strictness and never likes chaos and disobeys.
  9. Saturn is the astrological lord of Karma. He’s depicted as a dark male, often holding a sword, who rides on a crow. He is the most dreaded of all astrological entities, ruling what is often seen as our fate. He metes out our Prarabdha (already unfolding) karma with a neutrality and precision that is pretty terrifying to most people at a first glance. This is especially true for those of us who are very attached to our sense of ego, and who do not want to face the consequences of our actions.
  10. Lord Sani is the brother of Lord Yama, the Lord of Death. Both of them are the monitors of our deeds. Yama judges us when he comes to collect us at the end of our earthly life, taking note of all our deeds and taking us where we need to go – a better or worse existence. Sani deals out the repercussions of our past actions. Neither of them miss a thing.

In Hindu Astrology, Saturn has great significance. People are afraid of this planet due to his strictness and discipline. The slow transit of this planet offers two important common periods namely Sadhe Sati and Dhaiya. Every person undergoes the period of Sadhe Sati and Dhaiya many a times in his life. Sadhe Sati is a period when Saturn transits the twelfth and second house of the natal Moon. Similarly, if Saturn is placed fourth and eight from the natal moon, period of Dhaiya takes place. Period of Sadhe Sati is seven and a half year and period of Dhaiya is two and a half year.

These two periods are considered very difficult time in a native’s life. He has to face many hardship and problems in life and gets no respite from any circle. Astrologically, speaking, this is the time when a person experiences enlightment while going through the hard time. By suffering hardship, a person is balancing his sins. In such circumstances, the Saturn will turn a person towards spirituality and forces him to think what is the cause of his misery i.e. bad deeds are responsible of his present situation. Slowly he becomes pious.

Lord Shani and Sacca (keeping our words)

The legend pertains to a king. The king invited merchants from far and wide and proclaimed that the king himself would purchase all unsold goods. The merchants were happy. Once a blacksmith brought an iron image of Saturn for sale, which ultimately was purchased by the king, who installed that in his palace with reverence. Other gods became unhappy on this action of the king. At night, the king saw a brilliant woman going out of the house. On king’s enquiry, he learnt that, it was Lakshmi. She said that she could not stay in the place where Saturn is present. After sometime a male image went out and was told to be Bhaivabh (Prosperity). Similarly all other gods Dharma (Religion), Dheriye (Patience), Kshama (Pardon) and all others went out. When the last Satya (Truth) was going out, the king protested and said that because of faith in Satya, he did not object to the others from going out. Feeling the sentiments of the king, Satya stopped. All other deities were waiting outside for Satya, but when he did not come out Dharma (religion) said that he could not remain without Satya; so he returned in. Similarly all others followed suite and all gods and attributes came back inside the palace. They told the king that only because of his devotion to the Satya (truth); they all had to return and that such a king could never be unhappy. Due to the devotion to Satya, (truth), Lakshmi (wealth) and Shani (Saturn) came to live together, to the benefit of the devotees.

Lord Saturn being the head of the 9 planets,

Once there was a dispute between the nine planets as to who is superior among them. When they could not decide, they all went to Indra the king of gods, who was also undecide on such an issue. So he advised that they should go to the just and benevolent King Vikramaditya. King Vikramaditya, after great thought got seven seats spread out, the first of gold and the last of iron. He then requested the deities to take their seats. Shani (Saturn) knew that his seat was iron seat viz. the last and as much, he was recognized as inferior to all. Therefore he cursed Vikramaditya and said “Surya stays on one Zodiac for one month, the moon for two days, Mangal (Mars) for one and a half month, Brihaspati (Jupiter) for thirteen months, Budha (Mercury) and Shukra (Venus) for one month each and Rahu, Ketu for eighteen months only; but I (Saturn) stay at one Zodiac for thirty months: I have made many a gods suffer because of my power and influence. Due to my influence Rama and Lakshmana were exiled and Ravana suffered a defeat and his dynasty destroyed, so a king, you beware of my wrath.” The king said, “whatever be my luck, I shall face it”.

After some time a merchant of beautiful horses came to Ujjain, the capital of Vikramaditya. The courtiers praised the horses and requested the king to visit. When the king came, he took a fancy for the particular horse and to try the same, he got on the saddle. The horse frantically galloped into the forest, with none to accompany or follow the king. In the far off, where no one knew him, desperate with hunger and thirst, he sought refuge in the house of a rich merchant. The merchant judging the person as a good person allowed him (king) to stay in his house.

At night, Vikramaditya saw that a pearl necklace hung on a pig, was being swallowed by the pig. The next day when the merchant found the necklace missing, he reported the matter to the kotwal who got king Vikramadiya’s hands and legs cut. The king was then left helpless. An oil crusher took pity on him and employed him to sit on the crusher and see to the proper movement of the bull while sitting, handicapped and helpless. Vikramaditya used to sing. One day, the princess of the kingdom heard the song and was charmed by it. She sent her maidens to find out the singer and she made up her mind to marry him. Her parents tried their best to make her select any other but she did not agree. She was married to the handicapped person (Vikramaditya). At night on the nuptial bed, the king in a dream saw Shani deity who said that all his sufferings were because of his (King) having decided Saturn as Inferior. The king asked for his pardon, worshiped him and sought his blessings.

The king (Vikramaditya) then narrated his story of woe to his bride. Saturn deity blessed the couple so that they would lead a happy married life. His limbs were restored. The rich merchant invited them to his house and there in the presence of everyone, they saw that the lost necklace was oozing out from the peg. All were surprised. The merchant felt ashamed and asked his pardon and offered his daughter to Vikramaditya in marriage. Then Vikramaditya and his two brides went in procession to a rousing reception in Ujjain.

Although these may seem like legends or stories to you but I have seen the effects of Sadhe Dhaiya (Sani Dhasa/Major Period), it can be devastating.

In my travel in Thailand, I came across a temple which kept the remains of ancient temple within temple grounds. In this ancient temple, there’s a sacred Phra Nagphrok resides. This Phra Nagphrok is at least 1,000 years old. It was buried inside the remaining ruins of the ancient temple walls. When Ven. LPu Khreung sat in the ancient place for his meditation practise, this Phra Nagphrok appeared in his vision and informed Tahn of its whereabout. After long efforts of digging, the big bucha was finally found.

Ven. LPu Khreung, Abbot of Wat Sak KamPhaengYai in Sisaket.

The remains of the ancient temple within the compound of Wat Sak KamPhaengYai. Now this temple has been sanctioned by United Nations (UN) as a world recognized historical site.

The actual Phra Nagphrok that was dug up from within the ancient walls. It is call Luang Phor Nag Phrok.

Ven. LPu Khreung built a Chedi and put this Luang Phor Nagphrok as the main presiding Buddha image of the building. Laities are welcome to offer their reverence or seek Luang Phor Nagphork’s blessings for whatever they wish. This sacred Buddha image has many miraculous stories , some  are frightening and some are even hair raising. But one thing is for sure, the villagers of Sisaket treats this sacred Buddha with utmost respect and reverence.