Benjapakee – The most precious and sacred of all Thai Buddha Amulets
All researchers and serious collectors of Thai Buddhist Amulets will be familiar with the name “Benjapakee”. This word has also been quoted as Benchaphakhi in the Thai press. Benjapakee is the term used to describe the five sets of Thai Buddha Amulets; these are the most sought after, precious and sacred sets of amulets and therefore can be considered the most powerful, rarest and most collectable Thai Buddha Amulets. The word Benjapkee is broken down as Benja = five & Pakee = associates. The history is well known but not often associated with amulets as follows:
Lord Buddha finally gained enlightenment on the full moon day of Kason (May) 528 BC. He was just 35 years old and this is the day that he sat under the huge sacred banyan tree on the bank of the Naranjara river at Buddha Gaya. Here on this day he became the Supreme Buddha, the fully enlightened one. Upon his enlightenment, he realized that the Dharma that he attained might be elusive and complicated for many normal people to understand which made him hesitant to share his experiences with anyone. After much consideration he decided that his Dharma could be of great benefit and his teachings might help and save many people.
So Lord Buddha set about testing the way he would teach his Dharma; he famously travelled to Isipatana by crossing the river ganges without getting wet, and gathered his five Associates together and delivered his first teachings to the Benjapkee in the deer park at Isipatana. Here he taught them, they understood and as a result they also became enlightened. At that time the Sangha, the community of the enlightened ones, was founded. The sermon Buddha gave to the five was his first sermon, called the Dhammacakkappavattana Sutta. After receiving the first sermons of Buddhism, they became the first five monks in Buddhism following Buddha. They are Phra Annasikondanna, Phra Vappa, Phra Baddhaya, Phra Mahanama and Phra Assaji.
This was the day that the Sangha was formed and after many teachings and sermons their number grew to 60 disciples of Lord Buddha and they were known as the community of enlightened ones. Finally the Lord Buddha sent the Sangha to all the corners of the kingdoms that they could reach to spread the teachings of the Dharma.
In paying homage to the first five associates of Gotama Buddha, in Thailand the master of Buddha amulets, “Tri Yumpawai” classified the five most famous and well worshipped Amulets as the “Grand Five” – these are known as the Benjapakee Set.
The Benjapakee Thai Buddha Amulet sets are :
- Phra Somdej Wat Rakhang blessed by LP Toh Phromarangsri (King of Amulets)
- Phra Nang Paya Phitsanulok ( Queen of Amulets )
- Phra Rod Mahawan Lumpoon
- Phra Pong Supan Suparnburi
- Phra Somkor
The traditional way to wear Benjapakee is to make sure they hang in the correct area of your body (upper torso) and always above the belt. So over the breastbone you would correctly hang Phra Somdej. Top left of the chest you would wear Phra Rod top right Phra Nang Phrya. The final two would hang slightly lower Phra Pongsuphan (buttom left) and Phra Soomkor (buttom right). Additionally a person can wear just three amulets called “Tripakee” : Phra Somdej at Center, Phra Rod (left) and Phra Nang Phrya (right).
Benjapakee Amulets are the most sought after amulets and command the highest prices. Collectors need to be experts to ensure they are not duped into buying fakes. It is highly recommended that any amulet priced at over $1000 should have a certificate of authenticity which can easily be arranged in Thailand.