Almost 50 years ago, a woman who had had difficulty in falling pregnant turned to Wat Pra That at Doi Tung to ask Buddha for her wish for a son. Some nights later, she dreamt that a white horse came to pick her up taking her on a long journey. She fell pregnant & gave birth to a son, Samer Jaipinta.
The boy was a cranky child & the parents turned to a monk who advised them that a horse or elephant would console him. Too expensive for the family, the father drew pictures of a horse & an elephant on the household wall telling his son that the animals were always there with the boy to console and give him courage. The boy became calm, peaceful & properly behaved.
Samer grew up and finished school in his home town of Mae Chan then studied law in Bangkok but discontinued in his third year due to his father's illness. He joined the army cavalry and built up a reputation as a talented boxer (Muay Thai). As the Champion of Thailand, at age 30, he was preparing to fight for the World Championship when he simply gave it all up to be ordained a monk.
The now Pra Samer slipped away to meditate in the jungle caves surrounding Mae Sai & to travel extensively throughout the forested areas near the Thai-Burmese border. This was during the period when the infamous Golden Triangle was trafficking drugs to the world; a time that witnessed great damage to families & communities through drug addiction, kidnapping, prostitution and land control. It was in this atmosphere that Pra Samer was asked to combat the drug war by taking Buddhist teachings to the villages; selected in part on the basis that as a reputed boxer he could defend himself better than most monks! He needed such skills, on several ocassions being almost killed, indeed shot, by ruthless drug warlords.
Throughout the years, Pra Samer became well-known & respected amongst the hills folk who bestowed upon him the title "Kru Ba". In tall cliffs overlooking the valleys of Mae Chan, Pra Kru Ba selected a tranquil cave setting to practice meditation. Many came to see him for guidance urging him to build a monastery & in turn a temple on the site. Pra Kru Ba ultimately established 10 such monasteries in this remote area of the mountains of northern Thailand serving the neighbouring community, teaching novices and the orphaned,& caring for sometimes wayward hilltribe boys.
It is common for animists to make an offering when one has had a stroke of luck. It was so when a hilltribesman recovered from sickness & donated a horse to the monastery. Pra Kru Ba realized immediately the important role a horse could play in his administering to the hill-tribes & the monastery quickly became known as "Sumnug Patibaat Dharma Thaam Pa Archa Tong" or the Golden Horse Monastery. Today, every morning at sunrise, novices & the orphans being schooled at the monastery still ride down from the mountains through the ricefields & along rivers to collect food offerings from the village believers. Orange robe clad monks on horseback, offering bowls attached, galloping on their typical asian ponies, many of them bareback, through rice fields & along dirt tracks alongside & through rivers is something special to witness.
Pra Kru Ba is a busy man administering to the hill-tribes & monasteries that he has established in this little accessible mountain region. I can not begin to describe the total joy in the eyes, in the voice & on the face of Myriama when Pra Kru Ba unexpectedly rode up the pathway to the temple trailed by half a dozen monks on horseback following 'taak-baat'; he is, after all travelling throughout the hill-tribes almost year-long.
What a man - he has the face, the SMILE, the aura that goes with such a legend. Supposedly slowed by various gun-shot wounds & poisoning suffered at the hands of drug-lords, you wouldn't know it. Unfortunately he doesn't speak English - he prayed at length & talked from his horse in Thai, then dismounted to give a Muay Thai class to 3 of his former pupils now working in the broader community who he was so pleased to again see. One cant but be moved by what Pra Kru Ba has done for the needy, the disadvantaged, the marginalised, the outcast. Its a potent reminder as one works away to make one's own stack!
If the above interests you, then I urge you to watch the multi-award winning documentary "Buddah's Lost Children". You'll quickly understand why this little seen monk is a legendary figure amongst Thais.
One can study at the Monastery, & yes, I'll be going & riding off for breakfast.........