The Holy Emerald Jewel is the focus of Frank E. Reynolds’ academic article, The Holy Emerald Jewel: Some Aspects of Buddhist Symbolism and Political Legitimation in Thailand and Laos. The Jewel, or Emerald Buddha plays a significant role in Buddhist history: it serves as a symbol of mythic power and has influenced politics in Southeast Asia since its origin. Reynolds divides his article into four sections: the mythical and historical importance of the jewel; the jewel’s position as a magical and sacred object; how the sacred power of the jewel is related to Buddhism and politics; and the relationship between the jewel with other religious symbols central to Buddhism. The Holy Emerald Jewel is a material object that symbolizes a powerful
Although the exact history of the Holy Emerald Jewel is unknown, there are Thai texts and other historical accounts that provide a description of the jewel’s record. About five hundred years after the Buddha’s Parinibbana Thera Nagasena was inspired to produce a representation of the Buddha. According to mythology, Mount Vibul housed the gem of the Chakkavatti king. Indra learned of Nagasena’s idea and offered to collect the gem Jewel; however, the guardians refused to give him the jewel, so they offered an Emerald Jewel “of the same essence and from the same place” (Reynolds). After the material was constructed into the form of the Buddha, Thera Nagasena predicted that Cambodia, Burma, and Thailand would worship it. The Jewel travelled to several places over time: on a boat destined for Burma, a storm diverted the Jewel to Angkor, Cambodia; later, the people of Angkor took the jewel to an a...
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...h a sacred relic is the gem Jewel of Mt. Vibul. When Indra sought to collect the Chakkavatti king, he could not obtain it because it could only belong to the king. However, the energy of the original gem Jewel transferred to the Holy Emerald Jewel, which was offered as an alternative. Reynolds provides examples of other “legitimating symbols,” such as the sacred scriptures and the gem Jewel to show their historical power and influence over Thai and Laotian kingdoms.
Frank E. Reynolds’ academic article analyzes the historical and cultural significance of the Holy Emerald Jewel of Buddhism. He considers four points to develop his argument about the Jewel: the history and myth; the sacred and magical quality of the Jewel; how the sacredness of the Jewel relates to religion and politics; and the Jewel’s relationship with other symbolic Buddhist objects and relics.
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