The ten royal virtues of His Majesty the King
The 10 royal virtues of His Majesty the King
In 1987, the Supreme Patriarch delivered an address on the 10 royal virtues of His Majesty the King when he turned 60 years old. The address captured the complete spirit of the Thai King, spelling out the duty and responsibility of the Monarch and also relating the relationship between the Monarchy and Buddhism. The Supreme Patriarch also touched on the Thai-style government.
Thailand is now being blessed with the two greatest minds -- the Supreme Patriarch and His Majesty the King, who are the pillars of the Thai society.
If we stop for a moment and listen to the wisdom of the Supreme Patriarch and appreciate the role of the Thai Monarch, we would not have suffered from all the turmoil. The way of the Supreme Patriarch and His Majesty the King is the way out for not only Thailand but also for the world.
The Supreme Patriarch inside the ubosoth of Wat Bowornnives, Banglamphoo, Bangkok.
His Majesty the King follows the ten royal virtues
Buddhism and Thai people
Buddhism has been connected with the Thai people since the ancient times, perhaps since when a Thai nation state took shape. Buddhism is connected to the Thai people in many ways -- political, educational, social and cultural. The Thai cultures in general are influenced -- directly and indirectly -- by Buddhism, or more precisely the teachings of Lord Buddha.
Buddhism and Thai kings
Since the ancient times, Thai government has a king at the centre, as the sovereign or the head of state. The relationship between Buddhism and Thai government is the relationship between Buddhism and the monarchy.
Buddhism is a religion and therefore offers no information about political or government systems. However, the virtues taught in Buddhism can be adopted perfectly in any field, including government and education. Lord Buddha taught rulers of his time the 10 principles for monarchs (Dhosapit Raja Dharma) as he was aware that rulers were the centre of government and that the system’s success and failure depended mainly on them.
Lord Buddha taught about Aparihaniya Dharma (seven conditions of prosperity):
n hold regular and frequent meeting
n assemble and leave their assemblies in harmony and do the business and duties in harmony
n refrain from ordaining what has not been ordained before, refrain from abolishing what has been ordained before, act in accordance with the ancient, established practices, customs and institutions
n treat elders with respect, esteem and reverence, and deem them worthy of heeding
n treat women with respect and refrain from forcibly abducting women and girls or detaining them
n show respect, esteem and reverence towards shrines, and cause appropriate offerings and oblations to be made to those shrines without neglect or omission
n take appropriate measures to afford proper care, protection and security to priests so that they can teach people about moral values with ease and comfort.
In the principles of Dhosapit Raja Dharma and Aparihaniya Dharma, as well as other principles of good governance, the essence is “by righteousness and for righteousness”.
Historical records show that in the ancient eras of Sukhothai and Ayudhya, Buddhism-related practices were required in the daily routine of monarchs. For example, kings went to the hall of Buddha images in the morning and discuss dharma with scholars at night. Slight changes were made during the reign of King Rama I. In the morning the king offered alms to monks and offered lunch to monks. In the evening, the king listened to a monk preach about dharma.
Buddhism has been closely connected with Thai government since the ancient times up to these days. In addition to Dhosapit Raja Dharma, Thai kings also practise other principles based on Buddhism. These include the Cakkavatti-vatta, the 12 duties of a great ruler:
n Protecting inner people, those in the royal entourage, and the royal household
n Promoting relations with other states
n Providing for relatives in cases of illnesses and death
n Supporting householders and city people
n Giving help to people in regional and rural areas
n Supporting the ordained and the pious subjects
n Protecting wild animals, beasts, and birds
n Letting no wrongdoing prevail and promoting honesty
n Providing for the poor, to keep them from mischief
n Keeping close to the learned and the ordained to seek wisdom
n Keeping self-restraint and never going to places unbecoming for a king
n Refraining from greed and not taking possession of what is not given.
In the same way as a bhodisatva (enlightened being) practises the Ten Perfections (Parami Dharma) to gain Enlightenment, a king practises Dhosapit Raja Dharma for the benefit and well-being of his subjects. The happiness of a land depends largely on the parami (perfections) of its king and the dharma (righteousness) of its rulers.
The 10 virtues of the current King
Since the ancient times when the country was under absolute monarchy, the virtues have been practised by Thai kings as guiding principles.
His Majesty the King has adhered to the 10 royal virtues (Dhosapit Raja Dharma) since his accession to the throne on June 9, 1946. He declared during his coronation ceremony on May 5, 1950, that: “I will rule the land righteously for the benefit and happiness of the Siamese people”. By the word “righteously”, the King referred to the 10 guiding principles and virtues in Buddhism.
Teachings about the 10 royal virtues existed before the time of Lord Buddha. The teachings were promoted by Lord Buddha, who taught the “virtues for monarchs” to his principles.
The 10 virtues are: Dana (giving), Sila (self conduct), Paricaga (giving up), Ajava (straightness), Maddava (gentleness), Tapa (perseverance), Akkodha (non-anger), Avihimsa (not causing harm), Khanti (endurance or patience), and Avirodhana (not going wrong).
For the first virtue of Dana (giving), His Majesty presented things to citizens to help relieve their sufferings and to improve their quality of life. These included land and equipment for farming, projects to build reservoirs and check dams, among other things. Part of the donations came from his personal assets and others were donated by wealthy people. The King also gave and share knowledge by offering advice to those involved in various fields.
In practicing the second virtue of Sila (self conduct), His Majesty speaks politely and acts gracefully and calmly wherever he goes and whoever he talks to. He speaks as much as necessary and only about useful things while refraining from saying anything that would cause damage to other people. He has great control over his manners and conduct.
His Majesty gives up his personal benefit for the interest of the public. And this is the third virtue of Paricaga (giving up). The King spent eight months each year visiting people in every part of the country, even in rural and remote areas.
The King is also honest to his duties and his people, which is the fourth royal virtue of Ajava (straightness). He is steady in performing his duties and his conviction in his subjects. Even when he was ill, if the illness was not serious, he often went to perform his duties without fail.
As for the fifth royal virtue of Maddava (gentleness), His Majesty speaks and acts gently. He is often seen speaking to people with smiles and in a gentle voice. He is polite and not arrogant. And it is due to this virtue that he is loved by the people, who travel a long way to greet him when the King went to their areas.
His Majesty has the sixth royal virtue of Tapa (perseverance); his displays persistent determination in performing his work. He is strong-willed and not easily discouraged. Thanks to this virtue of the King, there have been more than 1,000 royally initiated pilot projects of various areas throughout the country. Tapa refers to willingness to eliminate bad things and create good things for the benefit of oneself and others.
Another virtue possessed by the King is Akkodha (non-anger), which refers to the ability to subdue anger, aggressiveness and vengefulness. While performing his work, His Majesty has never been seen acting angrily or aggressively.
And practising that previous virtue of non-anger and no vengefulness, His Majesty also has the next royal virtue of Avihimsa (not causing harm). He has never caused harm to any person or any animal.
In performing his duties in various locations, His Majesty displays his virtue of Khanti (endurance or patience). His work often brought the King to remote places and sometimes he had to be under the hot sunlight or in the rainfall. Thanks to this virtue in him, His Majesty manages to complete his work with great result.
And the King has strictly followed the traditions of the Thai monarchy and the country, in addition to acting as a good example for his people in many ways. This is the last royal virtue of Avirodhana (not going wrong). It refers to the ability to follow the righteous and proper path, as the King said in his first command after his coronation: “I will rule the land righteously”.
His Majesty performs his work as the head of state, without keeping himself away from the government and the people. He has performed his work regularly and without fail since the beginning of his reign until today.
A king or a leader who can unite people must have good principles and virtues to follow, so that he can serve as a good example and can be relied upon by his people. The teaching about the 10 royal virtues should be followed not only by a monarch, but also a government figure, a bureaucrat or any ordinary citizen. It is because every person has to do governing in their part -- governing themselves, governing society, and governing the country.
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