Would you spend $30,000 or more for this magical medallion?
Or perhaps this one.......
A medallion, which if you listened to people here in Thailand, will protect you from all sorts of evil and bring you good luck? One could ask the question... what is your life worth? And what would you be willing to do, to protect it? One possible answer is right here in Thailand....
There is an extremely serious buying frenzy going on in all of Thailand, the likes of which have never been seen here. Everyone is trying to buy a "Jatukam Rammathep" medallion amulet. This amulet is suppose to hold mystical powers that will protect the individual wearing it against being killed or injured, including gunshots or knife wounds. It brings all kinds of good fortune too! Supposedly there is a long list of individuals throughout Thailand who have recounted their terrible tales of having been miraculously saved from certain death in a violent car or motorcycle crash due to the fact that they were wearing one of the now famous "Jatukam Rammathep" medallions.
Now the big question.... is this mystical magical medallion for real? Is it Buddhism at its best? Or is it.... as some Thai have now called it.... Buddha Business! In other words, is it true Buddhism.... or some superbly crafted marketing campaign? With sales in Thailand, as well as internationally (e-bay has them for sale!) still soaring and new models of the medallion coming out everyday.... Buddhism or business? Who can tell!
From the business aspect, let me put this whole phenomenon into perspective. These little amulets do not come cheap! They can sell for hundreds if not thousands of dollars. The shopping centers have special shops selling only these medallions. Little shops in the market that traditionally sold only household goods now sell medallions of "Jatukam." Buddhist temples have begun selling them. Some have gone so far as to say that these medallions are a huge bonanza for Buddhist temples. The Bangkok Post over the weekend showed pictures of a couple of monks who flew in an airplane, over the original site of "Jatukam" all the while making a special edition of the medallion in a unique airborne manufacturing session all wrapped in a chanting ceremony! How much will this limited airborne edition sell for? Well... literally the sky appears to have no limits when it comes to placing a unbelievable prices on these medallions!
The medallion was first created by a Thai police officer named Khun Phan Tharak Rajjadel some 20 years ago, in Nakhon Si Thammarat Provence. When originally made, the medallions held little or no value. But when the highly respected developer of the medallion died last at the age of 108 the phenomenon spread nationwide with a frantic rush exploding as everyone raced to buy the original medallions. Thousands of these medallions are now being produced and sold. However, an actual 20 year old original, or authentic medallion can now sell for well over $30,000. Yes you read that right... 30 thousand U.S. Dollars!
The police officer who started this craze with his death, is believed to have had occult powers. Over 200,000 people came to his "Royal Cremation"... which incidentally was a overseen by no one other than the Prince of the Thai Royal Family. People came to the funeral in hopes of obtaining one of the commemorative medallions that were to have been given out at the event. However... the crowd problems at the funeral were so great that the police cancelled the free distribution to the general public and gave the amulet could only be given out to a chosen few!
If you don't want to spend thousands on an authentic medallion... how about some bright "Jatukam" stickers! Available on e-bay for only a few bucks!
Is there more background to this story? Yes... and it is buried in Thailand's history. "Jatukam's" fame seems to go back nearly 1700 years ago when the King of Thailand had conquered Sri Lanka. The king asked that his two sons, Jatukam and Rammathep bring relics or bones of the Buddha from Thailand to Sri Lanka. Unfortunately the ship carrying the two princes and the bones of Buddha went down in a storm.... but guess what! Although everyone else perished in the ship wreck, the two Princes, Jatukam and Rammatep survived. And thus began the tale of protection. A temple was built, in what is now a southern part of Thailand, to hold the holy relics of Buddha. The two princes were well known for having done great earthly and heavenly deeds. When after many centuries when the relics of the Buddha were located at the temple, along with a stone on which the images of the two princes... the local people began praying to the site requesting good luck. With this discovery, the legend of the magical powers of the "Jatukham Rammathep" appears to have begun. The very first medallions were made in 1987, and their purchase remained localized in the province until the police officer died. Then the frantic frenzy, or "Jakukham Fever" began in earnest!
Knowing how I like to buy stuff when I travel.... I bet you have been asking yourself as you read this.... does Leslie have one? And how much did he pay for it? Well just see for yourself in this photo!
Yes.... I do have one! Phra Sanya, a monk friend of mine in Nongkhai gave me a large one shortly after I arrived. So not only was it free, it was blessed by a Buddhist monk and is a special edition... made uniquely for Watt Sisaket - the temple in Nongkhai where I taught English last year.
Now the really big question is..... how many of you want me to order a "Jatukam Ramathep" medallion for you? And perhaps the even bigger question.... how deep is your pocket! For to gain the kind of protection against all kinds of evil just might cost you a pretty penny!