Thailand's Rich and Ancient History of Women in Buddhism

Thailand has a rich and ancient history of women in Buddhism, from the 3rd century BCE, when Asokan-era arahant missionaries Sona and Uttara Thera came from India to the ancient land of Suvarnabhumi first sharing the Buddha's teaching, ordaining more than 3,000 noble men and 1,500 noble women as bhikkhus and bhikkhunis. This was the foundation of Buddhism in Thailand, where Buddhism is still very much alive and flourishing to this day, with more than 90% of the population being Buddhists of the Theravada School. Thailand also has many Chinese-Thai Mahayana Buddhists, and an old and recently reviving history of Vajrayana Buddhism. The ancient land of Survarnamubhumi or Suvannabhumi in the Pali-Buddhist language -- the Land of Gold -- used to include all of Myanmar (Burma), Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, and the South of Vietnam and China.

This blog showcases a little of the immense wealth of the rich heritage and history of Thailand's Buddhist women - and of all of the Thai people and culture - from ancient to modern times. We hope you enjoy your Women in Buddhism Tour here and during your stay in Thailand!

(If you enjoy this blog, please be sure to read the "Older Posts" - click link at the bottom of this page. Most more recent posts are focused around Bangkok and Ayutthaya. Older posts are mostly from further afield upcountry in Thailand's Northeast and Northwest.)

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maechee Kaew Memorial Chedi

from Thai Forest Tradition blogspot~
photos from Loung Por Khemadhammo's album from his visit to Maechee Kaew's chedi

Thai nun Maechee Kaew is revered as a modern enlightened Buddhist saint in the Thai forest tradition of Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Maha Boowa.

Forest Dhamma Books recently published a new book: Mae Chee Kaew- Her Journey to Spiritual Awakening & Englightenment. The book is available to be downloaded for free online at The book is translated by Ajahn Silaratano. You can read a review of this book on Wandering Dhamma here.

There is also a new article on her life by Leeds' scholar Martin Seeger out:

A chedi (caitya) or reliquary stupa has been built to display her relics and belongings in Mukdahan, Northeast Thailand.

Here is an except from the words of Mae Chee Kaew taken from the book:

"When I went to the monastery as a young girl, I had to be accompanied by my parents, and I wasn't allow to mingle with the monks. While listening to the monks discuss Dhamma, I sat way in the back, just within earshot. The venerable meditation master taught us how to pay homage to the Buddha and how to praise his virtues with chanting. He encouraged us to radiate loving kindness to all living beings, and to always be open-hearted and generous. He told us that no matter how generous we were as lay supporters, the virtue of that generosity could not compare with the virtue of ordaining as a white-robed nun and earnestly practicing the way to end all suffering. That message always remained close to my heart."

Mae Chee Kaew (1901- 1991) had been taught by Luang Phor Mun- and she had always been well known for her psychic abilities. Luang Phor Mun had taught her carefully to ensure that her psychic abilities from her past practice did not interfere with her practice. Luangta, when he wrote the Spiritual Biography of Acariya Mun, had personally spoken to Mae Chee Kaew.

a wax image of Maechee Kaew (above) and her crematory relics or Phra That - Pali: Saririka Dhatu (below)


  1. Thank you Rev Sir,for writing about such a true story to awakening up all Buddhist world,
    Thats what my lord Buddhas explained
    Follow that noble path to achieve supreme nibbana

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. Perhaps you can publish the full address and co-ordinates of this chedi in Mukdahan where her relics are kept to facilitate people to visit.

  4. Please does anyone have the address of the memorial chedi?