Palad Khik Thai Amulet

The Palad Khik Amulet: The Controversial Journey of an Ancient Tradition

The Palad Khik amulet, with its rich history and mystical properties, has long been a cherished part of Thai culture. However, the amulet’s journey has not been without controversy. In this blog post, we will explore the origin of the Palad Khik amulet, its rise in Thai Buddhist tradition, and the ongoing debate surrounding its public visibility and acceptance.

Ancient Origins and Cultural Significance

The origins of the Palad Khik amulet can be traced back to ancient animist beliefs that predate the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand. These beliefs centered around the worship of fertility deities and spirits associated with fertility, protection, and prosperity. The phallic shape of the amulet symbolized these concepts and was believed to bring blessings to its wearer.

Integration into Thai Buddhist Tradition

As Buddhism began to spread and establish itself in Thailand, it absorbed and assimilated local beliefs and practices. The Palad Khik amulet, with its existing cultural significance, found a place within the Buddhist framework. It became intertwined with Buddhist beliefs and rituals, maintaining its symbolism of fertility, protection, and prosperity.

Palad Khik amulet

Government Intervention and Cultural Shifts

Changes in Cultural Landscape

Over time, Thailand experienced significant social and cultural changes. Modernization, urbanization, and the influence of global cultures brought about shifts in traditional beliefs and practices. Some aspects of ancient animist traditions, including the Palad Khik amulet, faced scrutiny and disapproval from certain segments of society.

Government Intervention

The Thai government, in an attempt to promote a more standardized form of Buddhism and distance itself from what it perceived as superstitious beliefs, implemented measures to regulate and control religious artifacts. This included efforts to remove certain amulets, including the Palad Khik, from public view and restrict their sale and distribution.

Controversy and Public Perception

Clash of Beliefs

The government’s actions sparked controversy and debate among those of the Thai population who were aware of the initiative to eliminate the prominent presence of large phallic shapes in public. Traditionalists argued for the preservation of ancient beliefs and practices, emphasizing the cultural and historical significance of the Palad Khik amulet. Others supported the government’s stance, viewing the amulet as superstitious and incompatible with a modern Buddhist society.

Giant wooden Palad Khik amulets

Continuity and Popular Belief

In an era dominated by technology, the Palad Khik amulet continues to maintain its widespread belief and popularity among Thai people of all provinces. Its significance transcends cultural boundaries and is deeply ingrained in Thai history, tradition, and spirituality. Observing the daily lives of Thai individuals, one can often spot someone wearing a Palad Khik amulet as a testament to their faith and reverence.The practice of wearing Palad Khik amulets is not viewed as contradictory to Buddhism; instead, it represents the integration of pre-Buddhist beliefs and traditions into Thai Theravada Buddhist practices. Buddhism itself shares common concepts and influences with Hinduism, further reinforcing the compatibility between these belief systems.

Cultural Identity and Freedom of Belief

The controversy surrounding the Palad Khik amulet raises questions about cultural identity and freedom of belief. Supporters of the amulet argue that it represents an important aspect of Thai heritage and should be respected as a valid expression of religious and cultural beliefs. Critics, on the other hand, highlight the need for a modern and rational approach to Buddhism that aligns with contemporary values.

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The Palad Khik amulet embodies a complex and multifaceted history within Thai culture and Buddhist tradition. Its origins in ancient animist beliefs, integration into Buddhist practices, and the subsequent government intervention have created a divisive and ongoing debate. The controversy surrounding the amulet reflects broader discussions about cultural preservation, religious freedom, and the evolving nature of Thai society.

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I hope it is clear to readers, that this blog post provides an overview of the controversies and debates surrounding the Palad Khik amulet but that I myself (Ajarn Spencer Littlewood), do not take a definitive stance on the matter, except to say that there should be nothing embarrassing about mother nature’s creations, and that the Phallic and Female Vilva have played a role in Human religious and Ritual practices and beliefs since pre-history. The future of the Palad Khik amulet and its place within Thai Buddhist tradition will of course continue to be as popular with common folk as it always has been, but that how visible it becomes in public places in the future, is a topic shaped by ongoing discussions, societal changes, and the evolving attitudes towards cultural heritage and religious practices.

The Four Heavenly Kings, known as the “Caturmahārāja” in Sanskrit, and “Sì Dàtiānwáng” in Chinese, are four prominent figures in Buddhist mythology. They are believed to be gods or devas who watch over the cardinal directions of the world. In Thai Buddhist beliefs, as well as in Chinese and other Buddhist cultures, these celestial beings play significant roles.

Asura Yaksa Deities

In Thai culture, the Four Heavenly Kings are known as “Chatumaharacha” or “Chatulokkaban.” Each king has a specific direction and associated qualities. Vessavana, also known as Vaiśravaṇa or Kubera, is the chief of the kings and protector of the north. He is associated with the color yellow or green and symbolizes abundance and wealth. Virūlhaka, the king of the south, is known for causing good growth and is associated with the color blue. Dhatarattha, the king of the east, represents harmony and compassion, often depicted with a pipa, a stringed instrument. He is associated with the color white. Virūpakkha, the king of the west, has the ability to see all and convert non-believers. He is associated with the color red and often depicted with a serpent or red cord.

Yaksha Asura Deva

The Four Heavenly Kings are said to reside in the Cāturmahārājika heaven, situated on the lower slopes of Mount Sumeru. They are regarded as protectors of the world and defenders of the Dharma. Each king has the ability to command a legion of supernatural creatures to safeguard Buddhism.

Now, let’s explore the realm of the Asura and Yaksha in Buddhist mythology. Asuras are considered to be powerful beings who dwell in a realm known as the Asura realm. They are often depicted as fierce and war-like. In Thai Buddhist beliefs, there are several famous Asura Devas.

Pra Rahu, also known as the Eclipse Deity, is a significant figure in Thai Buddhism. He is believed to be an Asura Deva who swallows the sun or moon during eclipses. Devotees offer prayers and offerings to appease Pra Rahu and seek his blessings.

Taw Waes Suwan is another well-known Asura Deva in Thai Buddhist beliefs. He is associated with wealth, protection, and victory. Devotees believe that worshiping Taw Waes Suwan brings prosperity and success in various endeavors.


Pipek, also known as Bibheka, holds a prominent role in the Thai adaptation of the Indian epic Ramayana, known as the Ramakien. In the Ramakien, Pipek is portrayed as a mighty Asura warrior who assists the demon king, Thotsakan (Ravana). Pipek is often depicted with a bird-like appearance, wearing golden armor, and wielding various weapons. His character represents loyalty and dedication to his king.

Atanatiya Paritta:

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Here is the English Romanized version of the Atanatiya Paritta using Romanized Pāli characters:

Namo tassa bhagavato arahato sammā sambuddhassa. Yo so tathāgato araham sammasambuddho vijjācaraṇa sampanno sugato lokavidū anuttaro purisadammasārathi satthā devamanussānaṃ buddho bhagavāti.

Yo imaṃ lokaṃ sadevakaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajaṃ sadeva manussaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajāṃ sadeva manussaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagānaṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ yathākkāmaṃ yathārahaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagā devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upasaṅkamati.

So imaṃ lokaṃ sadevakaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajaṃ sadeva manussaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajāṃ sadeva manussaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagānaṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ yathākkāmaṃ yathārahaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagā devānaṃ sahabyataṃ anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambuddho.

So sadevakaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajaṃ sadeva manussaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajāṃ sadeva manussaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagānaṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ yathākkāmaṃ yathārahaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagā devānaṃ sahabyataṃ anuttaraṃ sammāsambodhiṃ abhisambuddhā.

Yo imaṃ lokaṃ sadevakaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajaṃ sadeva manussaṃ samārakaṃ sabrahmakaṃ sassamaṇabrāhmaṇiṃ pajāṃ sadeva manussaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagānaṃ devānaṃ sahabyataṃ yathākkāmaṃ yathārahaṃ ākāsānañcāyatanūpagā devānaṃ sahabyataṃ upasaṅkamati.

Seyyathāpi nāma mahāmegho gambhīre udakarahade vassamāno na yojanaṃ puratthimaṃ yojanaṃ pacchimaṃ yojanaṃ uttaraṃ yojanaṃ dakkhiṇaṃ yojanaṃ puratthimaṃ yojanaṃ pacchimaṃ yojanaṃ uttaraṃ yojanaṃ dakkhiṇaṃ yojanaṃ puratthimaṃ yojanaṃ pacchimaṃ yojanaṃ uttaraṃ yojanaṃ dakkhiṇaṃ yojanaṃ ākāsānañcāyatane pathavīdhātuyā ādittaṃ sampajjalitaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ ākāsānañcāyatane viññāṇadhātuyā ādittaṃ sampajjalitaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ ākāsānañcāyatane saññādhātuyā ādittaṃ sampajjalitaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ ākāsānañcāyatane saṅkhāradhātuyā ādittaṃ sampajjalitaṃ vipariṇāmadhammaṃ.

Evameva kho panāhaṃ, bhikkhave, imaṃ āṭānāṭiyaṃ parittaṃ abhāsiṃ: Namo ratanattayāya. Namo vijjācaranasaṃpannāya. Namo dhajagga pariveṇīranasanāya. Evaṃ me sutaṃ. Atthi, bhikkhave, aññopi parittaṃ bhesajja-parittan’ti.

The Atanatiya Paritta, also known as the “Discourse of Atanatiya,” is a sacred text in the Theravada Buddhist tradition. It is found in the Digha Nikaya, one of the collections of the Pali Canon, the ancient scriptures of Buddhism. The story of the Atanatiya Paritta revolves around the Buddha and a group of powerful non-human beings known as the Yakshas.

According to the narrative, during the time of the Buddha, a fierce battle erupted between two groups of Yakshas, the followers of the Yaksha king Vessavana and the followers of the Yaksha king Suppabuddha. The conflict escalated to the point where it posed a great threat to the peace and well-being of both the human and non-human realms.

The Buddha, foreseeing the dangers that could arise from this conflict, decided to intervene. He traveled to the Tavatimsa heaven, where the Yakshas resided, and delivered the Atanatiya Paritta as a protective chant. This discourse served as a means to pacify the Yakshas and restore harmony among them.

The Atanatiya Paritta consists of verses describing the qualities of the Buddha, his teachings, and the protective qualities of various deities. It also includes a detailed account of the physical characteristics of the Yaksha king Vessavana and his retinue. The discourse praises the virtues of mindfulness, compassion, and wisdom.

After the Buddha delivered the Atanatiya Paritta, the Yakshas were pacified, and the conflict came to an end. The discourse became highly regarded as a powerful protective chant, capable of warding off malevolent forces and ensuring the safety and well-being of those who recite it.

Since then, the Atanatiya Paritta has been recited by Buddhists on various occasions, particularly during ceremonies and rituals to invoke blessings and protection. It serves as a reminder of the Buddha’s compassionate intervention and the power of his teachings in overcoming adversity and fostering harmony.

Tudong Monks in the forest meditating

What is the Practice of Tudong?

Tudong – Forest Wandering? or More than just That?

Tudong, is the Romanized spelling of the Thai pronunciation for the word ‘Dhutaṅga’ (ธุดงค์). In Thailand, there has become a disambiguation in understanding about what the word means, most people believing it means wandering through the forest in solitary, whereas, wandering is merely one of the 13 parts of practice, focused on never remaining in the same place, to avoid getting attached to comforts.

Ajahn Chah in the forest practicing Tudong

The 13 Dhutanga practices, often referred to as the “ascetic path,” epitomize the austere disciplines embraced by fervent Buddhist monastics. These practices, as originally established by the Buddha himself, offer a profound framework for cultivating mindfulness, discipline, and detachment from the manifold entanglements of worldly existence. While they are not mandatory for all monastics, those who willingly undertake these practices embark on a journey of transformative self-discovery. Let us now delve into the essence of these practices and their intrinsic significance within Thai Buddhist tradition.


The 13 Dhutanga Practices;

  1. The renunciation of food after the midday hour. Here, monastics, with steadfast resolve, curtail their daily nourishment to the morning hours. By relinquishing indulgence in post-noon sustenance, practitioners fortify their self-discipline and diminish their attachment to sensory pleasures. This voluntary abstinence allows them to redirect their focus towards spiritual endeavors and transcend the habitual cravings of the physical realm.
  2. 2. The practice of dwelling amidst the lush solitude of the forest. Enthralled by the majesty of nature, some monastics choose to reside in remote woodlands, far removed from the clamor of human habitation. Amidst these sylvan abodes, they forge a deep-seated connection with the primordial rhythms of existence, their hearts resonating with the serenity and simplicity inherent in the natural world.
  3. The practice of resting beneath the sheltering embrace of a venerable tree emerges. Under its protective canopy, monks pass the nights in quiet contemplation or restful repose. By embracing this symbiotic alliance with nature, they glean invaluable insights into the transient nature of existence, reinforcing their meditation practice and nurturing a profound appreciation for the impermanence that permeates all facets of life.
  4. The practice of the utilization of a mere trio of robes. These sacred vestments, carefully fashioned from discarded fabric or donated cloth, embody the virtues of simplicity and detachment from material possessions. Monastics, through this practice, learn to be content with the bare essentials, disentangling themselves from the manifold cravings that ensnare the human psyche.
  5. The practice of the possession of a single alms bowl holds immense significance in the monastic life. This humble vessel serves as the embodiment of gratitude, humility, and non-attachment to material wealth. Monks traverse the alms rounds with mindful grace, graciously accepting whatever sustenance is offered, devoid of preference or personal desire. This practice instills a deep sense of gratitude and fosters equanimity in the face of life’s vicissitudes.
  6. The practice of seeking alms for food exemplifies the interdependence and interconnectedness of monastic and lay communities. Relying solely on the benevolence of the laity, monks undertake the noble task of collecting their sustenance. In this reciprocal relationship, they transcend personal boundaries, cultivating humility and gratitude while avoiding attachment to specific individuals or relationships.
  7. The practice of deliberate avoidance of meal invitations, except those extended by regular benefactors. This practice, rooted in impartiality and non-discrimination, guards against favoritism and cultivates equanimity within the hearts of monastics. By partaking in meals across various households, they nourish their practice of non-attachment, ensuring that bonds of personal connection do not impede their spiritual progress.
  8. Further along the ascetic path, we encounter the practice of dwelling under the expansive dome of the open sky. Here, monastics relinquish the comfort of shelter, exposing themselves to the elements. This bold undertaking fosters resilience, adaptability, and a profound realization that the inherent peace sought lies not in external circumstances, but in the depths of the human spirit.
  9. In a gesture that may seem unsettling to the uninitiated, some monks undertake the practice of spending nights within cemetery precincts. Amidst these abodes of the departed, they confront the inescapable truths of impermanence and mortality. Engaging with such contemplation, they unravel the transient nature of all conditioned phenomena, unfurling the petals of detachment from the ephemeral trappings of existence.
  10. The practice of dwelling at the base of a tree serves as a gentle reminder of life’s evanescent nature. Nestled close to the roots of these majestic arboreal beings, monastics embrace the teachings of simplicity and minimalism. This proximity to the natural world reinforces their understanding of the ephemeral nature of all things and provides fertile ground for the cultivation of deep meditative insight.
  11. Within these set of thirteen austere practices given by the Buddha, for those who wish to take the ‘high road that arrives faster, we encounter the 11th practice, which is the cultivation of contentment through the mindful employment of a solitary set of three robes, regardless of their state of wear. Monastics gracefully set aside concerns for personal appearance, embracing the inherent beauty of simplicity and fostering non-attachment to vanity. Such noble disregard for worldly preoccupations allows them to redirect their energies toward spiritual pursuits of the highest order.
  12. Adhering to the Dhutanga path, monastics fashion their robes from discarded cloth, salvaging remnants cast aside by the world. By adopting this resourceful approach, they engender frugality, embodying the essence of non-attachment and reducing their reliance on material possessions. This practice serves as a poignant reminder that spiritual wealth transcends the bounds of material abundance.
  13. Lastly, the monastic commitment to possess no more than three robes signifies an unwavering commitment to non-attachment. In adhering to this austere guideline, monks demonstrate their profound understanding of the impermanence that permeates all aspects of life. By relinquishing any unnecessary accumulation, they tread lightly upon the earth, their hearts unburdened by excessive possessions.


In essence, the practice of the 13 Dhutanga practices, offer a profound and rigorous framework, for dedicated Buddhist monastics to embark on a transformative journey of spiritual growth. These ascetic disciplines, steeped in mindfulness, simplicity, and non-attachment, serve as powerful catalysts for the realization of liberation from the chains of suffering. It is through the voluntary embrace of these practices, that monastics traverse the path to enlightenment, their hearts buoyed by the boundless potential for awakening that lies within each moment of existence.

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Most useful Reference Links and literature; “With Robes and Bowl