Regarding to our history, we see clearly the close relationship between Buddhism and the Thai nation. The history of the Thai nation is also the history of Buddhism. The Thai nation originated over 2,000 years ago. Also in that same period Buddhism came and has played an important part in Thai history ever since. The Thai nation settled firmly in present-day Thailand 700 years ago. Also seven centuries ago it adopted the present form of Buddhism. The charm that has earned Thailand the reputation as the “Land of Smiles” undoubtedly comes from the influence of Buddhism over her people.
Theravada Buddhism has been the predominant religion in Thailand. Under the constitution, The King, as a symbol of the nation, although protector of all religions, must be a Buddhist, Buddhism in Thailand has flourished under patronage of the monarch, with many numbers of the royalty entering the order for time.
According to the latest census, the total population of Thailand is over 60 million. Out of this number, approximately 94% are Buddhists there are about 35,000 temples and 365442 monks and 75,093 novices (Source: National Buddhist Center: December 2005) Early Thai Sangha, there appear to have been two main groups involved in different activites inherited from earlier Buddhist and Singhalese traditions, the gamavasi, or “city-dwelling” monks, and the araññavâsi, or “forest-dwelling” monks. The two groups have become known for being involved in two different tendencies in Buddhist practice, namely gantha dhura, the study of books, and vipassanâ dhura, the practice of meditation.
There are now two main Orders of Buddhism in Thailand. ie. Mahanikaya and Thammayut Nikaya Orders. Thamayutta is a new order established by Prince Mongkut in the 1830 s. (then the King Rama IV), of Thailand. After established of the new order, the old order has been called “Mahanikâya”
The peoples of Thailand have encouraged and supported Buddhism by building and maintaining monasteries, by providing the monks with material necessities and facilities for performing religious duties, by patronizing their educational activities such as the Buddhist Councils for revising the Tripitaka and having the scriptures translated into Thai.
We may note that although the Thai Sangha may be presented as or appear to be a monolithic institution, there is a history of Buddhist movements and reformers who continue to test the boundaries of practices and beliefs in order to keep Buddhism relevant for the current times.
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Mahachulalongkorn University Press, 1990.
4. Ven.Dr. W.Rahula. What the Buddha Taught. Bangkok:Haw Trai Foundation,
5. Vinai Ussivakul. An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation for Results. Bangkok: