KING RAMA-II AND THE CULTURAL RENAISSANCE IN SIAM/THAILAND
We have learnt about king RAMA-I of the CHAKRI Dynasty during whose period re-unification of SIAM had started . His son RAMA-II ( PHRA PUTTHALOETLA NAPHALAI ) , personally known as CHIM was born on 24th February , 1767 . He was the second king of the CHAKRI Dynasty of SIAM who ruled from 1809 to 1824 . His reign was almost peaceful , devoid of major conflicts in and around SIAM . His spouse was queen SRI SURIENDRA , the daughter of princess SRI SUDARAK and her CHINESE husband NGOEN SAETAN , who used to live with her mother in the royal palace and grew up with her maternal female cousins, the daughters of PHUTTHAYOTFA CHULALOK . Her childhood name was BUNROT who had an affair with her cousin ISARASUNDHORN ( LATER RAMA -II ) . And she became pregnant . When the king knew about her four months pregnancy , he ordered her to leave the grand palace and she started living with her brother prince THEPHARIRAK . On repeated prayer by prince ISARASUNDHORN , the King allowed the couple to live in the THONBURY palace where princess BUNROT became prince’s consort despite the fact that the baby she gave birth died shortly after the birth . With prince ISARASUNDHORN’S coronation as PHUTTHAYOETLA NAPHALAI (RAMA -II) the princess BUNROT was raised to the rank of queen and named as SRI SURIENDRA . And she bore three sons : 1. The first was born in 1801 and died shortly after the birth; 2. Prince MONGKUT in 1804 ; and 3. Prince CHUTAMANI in 1808 . King RAMA-II had other wives also like KUNTHON THIPPHAYAWADI and SRI SULALAI . According to a historian like CHRIS BAKER who in his book A HISTORY OF THAILAND ( CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS , 2019 , P-31 ) RAMA-II had 73 sons and daughters including NANGKLAO ( RAMA-III ) , MONGKUT ( RAMA-IV ) and PINKLAO who was younger brother of MONGKUT .
RAMA-II’S reign was known as an age of cultural renaissance . It was the ‘ Golden Age of RATTANAKOSIN Literature ‘. He himself was a renowned poet and artist . He patronised a number of poets in his court . SUNTHORN PHU , the author of PHRA APHAI MONI was his court poet . PHRA APHAI MONI is considered to be one of the National Epics having 48,686 couplets and listed as longest THAI single poem . It was written in 22 years ( from 1822 to 1844 ) . It is also one of the well-known THAI folklores . It is also said that during RAMA-II’S reign , if any one writes a refined piece of poetry , then one would be able to become a royal favorite . His other court poets were NARIN DHIBET , his son JESSADABODINDRA and PARAMANUCHITCHINOROT who was BUDDHIST writer and a prince of the same CHAKRI Dynasty . His well-known Epic poem was LILIT TALENG PHAI . Later in 1851 he was appointed as the Supreme Patriarch of the RATTANAKOSIN kingdom and remained in that position until his death . The Supreme Patriarch implied the head of the order of BUDDHIST MONKS in THAILAND . His full title was SOMDET PHRA SHANGHARAJA .
The reign of RAMA-II also saw the reconstruction of THAI culture and royal traditions . The grand royal funeral of King RAMA-I was held in 1811 with all the royal decorum . THAI royal funerals were held for deceased members of the royal family . It was consisted of numerous rituals which might span for several months to over almost a year . It was a mixture of BUDDHIST and ANIMIST beliefs , as well as HINDU symbolism . However , cholera epidemic broke out in BANGKOK in the same year of 1811 . RAMA-II ordered for APAT PINAT ( SICKNESS REPELLING CEREMONIES ) to be performed instantly . In INDIA such epidemics are also considered as divine curse ( DAIVI KOPE/PRAKOP ) as such . Credit goes to king RAMA-II who established the education and the examination of BUDDHISM by dividing it into nine levels . Similarly , in the year 1817 , the VESAK festival was also restored . The VESAK festival was orgnise to commemorate the birth , enlightenment ( NIBBANA ) and death (PARINIRVANA) of GAUTAMA BUDDHA in the THERAVADA BUDDHIST traditions . Moreover , in the field of foreign policy a little ice was broken as the first RATTANAKOSIN-TO-CHINA mission was sent in the court of the CHINESE Emperor JIAQING in 1810 . The mission of the PORTUGUESE Governor of MACAU was the first after AYUTTHAYA period which reached SIAM in 1818 . The BRITISH founded SINGAPORE and JASLIS in 1819 . A missionary from YANGON introduced printing press almost in the same year in SIAM . And the PORTUGUESE opened its first consulate in SIAM in 1819 . DR. JOHN CRAWFURD , a SCOTTISH physician , colonial administrator , diplomat and author and who served as the second and last resident of SINGAPORE , reached SIAM in 1822 to strengthen SIAMESE-BRITISH relations as the GREAT BRITAIN had a serious issue with SIAM when the latter conquered the Sultanate of KEDAH , the former had a very serious business issue with KEDAH . Trade and missionary activities increased many folds during the period . ROBERT HUNTER , the BRITISH Trader and discoverer of SIAMESE TWINS (CONJOINED BROTHERS CHANG AND ENG) , and missionaries from UK & US like JACOB TOMLIN , KARL GUTZLAFF , DAN BEACH BRADLIY , and JEAN BAPTISTE PALLEGOIX became active in SIAM . But RAMA-II died very suddenly in July 1824 . It was said to be caused by stranguary . But rumor went on in the entire THAILAND that he was poisoned to death as such .
NOTE : THE SOURCES OF THE BLOG ARE TEXT BOOKS AND OTHER WRITTEN MATERIALS ON THE SUBJECT .
TO BE CONTINUED ………………….