PHRA BUDDHA YODFA CHULALOKE MAHARAJ
KING RAMA I
Majesty King Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke, the first king of the Chakri
Dynasty who established Bangkok as the capital of Thailand.
Rama I, who was formerly known as Duang or Thong Duang was born in
Ayutthaya on March 20, 1737 during the reign of King Barommakote.
Following the fall of Ayutthaya in 1767, he entered the King's service as
an officer of the royal household. Later, at the age of 25, he was
promoted to be the governor of Ratchaburi Province and played an important
part in helping King Taksin restore the country's sovereignty many times.
He was created Luang Yorkrabat, then Phra Rajvarin, Chao Phraya Chakri and
eventually Somdetch Chao Phraya Maha Kashatriya Suk by King Taksin, and
following the deposition of King Taksin in 1782 was chosen as king,
becoming the founder and first ruler of the House of Chakri. He was
crowned King at the age of 46 in 1782 and reign for 27 years, dying at the
age of 73.
After his coronation, he decided to move the capital
from Dhonburi to the opposite bank of the Chao Phraya River, thus founding
the city of Bangkok, as the land there was level with vast space for
expansion. Besides, it offered excellent security against enemy
King Rama I, after considering the pros and cons from a
military strategic and economic point of view, decided to move the capital
to the new site. He, therefore, erected the city's sacred foundation post
as will as transferred the Lord Buddha's relics to a temporary shrine in a
definite indication as to where the new capital city would be located.
After the foundation post was officially erected, King Rama I moved to the
new site and stayed in a temporary palace made of wood. Soon after, the
construction of the new palace building began and included the Grand
Palace where installed the Emerald Buddha in the Chapel Royal, Dusit
Mahaprasat Hall, Pimarnrattaya Hall, Ammarin Vinichchai Hall, and
Chakkrabhat Piman Hall, with residential buildings on both side of the
Chakkrabhat Piman Hall.
In ruling the country, King Rama I was very
democratic. He would listen to other people's ideas since he believed that
the kingdom did not belong to him alone. Consequently, the people had
their say and helped in running the country.
When the new capital
city was being built, King Rama I was constantly thinking of the welfare
of the people. So after digging canals for the defense of the country, he
ordered the digging of the Mahanak canal strictly for the people to use as
King Rama I also revised the law making it suitable to
the changing times. In a book called "King Phra Buddha Yodfa Chulaloke and
his Cultural Revivals" written by HRH Prince Phitayalap Phreuttayakorn, a
part reads, "His Majesty the King was worried about the missing law books,
nine out of ten of which were destroyed or found missing after the Burmese
sacked Ayuthaya. In 1804, King Rama I made a major revision on the laws of
the kingdom and came out with a new one called "Laws of the Three Seals"
which consisted of civil and military sides.
King Rama I did much
in terms of religious reform with the noble aim to make Buddhism outer for
the Rattanakasin era. In 1788, he ordered the grand council held by
Buddhists to revise the Tripitaka as in the previous ones there were many
King Rama I considered literature of highest importance. He
called an assembly learned people and monks to revive Thai literature and
bring it to the level of what it was during the Ayutthaya period. His most
outstanding literary work was the epoch Ramayana. The Ramayana has really
captured the Thai hearts in all respects. Furthermore, his literary works
also include the famous E-Now, Dalunk and Anurat and an epic concerning
the war against the Burmese at Ta Din Daeng.
King Rama I also
promoted the field of architecture, sculpture and drama. He collected old
Buddha images from all over the country and enshrined them in temples in
Bangkok. King Rama I fought in many wars, protecting the country from
foreign forces and had always defeating them. He thus expanded Thai
territory farther and wider than it had been before. It is therefore
deemed most appropriate to accord King Rama I the title "The Great" on the
occasion of celebrating the Bangkok, or Rattanakosin