When Temples Talk: Symbolism in Wat Phra Mahathat, Thailand

Hindu Temples in Lopburi Speak in Numbers

When you study symbols and numbers in architecture, you find the same patterns repeating themselves everywhere. When you don’t study symbols and numbers, you don’t see anything.

I have lost count of the number of “educated” people that have told me the repetition is “just a coincidence.”

In architecture, I always find the numbers three, seven, 12 and 16. Eight and nine are often prevalent in symbols and altars, especially in Buddhism and Hinduism, and 19 pops up every now and again as well. The repetition of these specific numbers is not by coincidence, but sacred wisdom of our ancient ancestors.

And the knowledge is still prevalent among modern rulers today. You will find it in banks, memorials, palaces, stately homes, mansions, government buildings, company logos, advertising, films, pop videos, street lamps, parks, you name it. If it is designed by those in the know, it will feature sacred numbers.

Go to your local church, and I guarantee you will find sacred numbers in esoteric symbols. And it does not matter which religion you follow, or whereabouts you are in the world, the same numbers repeat themselves in every country and every religion.

Basilica Sanita Maggiore in Naples, Italy
Basilica Sanita Maggiore in Naples, Italy

I was recently in Lopburi, Thailand, and visited the 14th Century Hindu ruins of Wat Phra Mahathat. Although the ancient temple is Hindu, there are lots of decapitated and desecrated Buddha statues, showing just how closely the two “religions” were knitted in this part of the world.

This is what I found:

“Triptych” entrance – the power of three

Three is the most prevalent number as it is the number of the number of manifestation. It represents the union of male energy with female energy, which produces an end result, the creation. This is why every religion and ancient cult have some form of Trinity.

The entrance to the ancient Hindu temple below has three doorways, one large entrance in the centre and two smaller, equally proportioned doorways on either side.

This triple doorway design has been coined a “triptych” by writer and researcher, Richard Cassaro in his Book, “written in Stone” in which it is noted that three entrance ways are prevalent in the architecture of important buildings. You will often find the three represented as windows as well.

Triptych at Wat Phra Mahathat represents the Middle Way/balance
“Triptych” at Wat Phra Mahathat represents the Middle Way/balance

If you don’t believe me, start making a point of looking and you will see. You will find the three in various architectural impressions in cathedrals, basilicas and churches consistently, but also find it in bank facades, freemasonic temples, ancient temples the world over, pyramids, government buildings, railway stations and victory arches.

Constantine Arch Rome
Constantine Arch, Rome

Cassaro also notes that the number three signifies the “Middle Way,” an expression coined by Buddha, but used in all major world religion. Essentially, it represents the balance of left and right, male and female.

If you are not convinced about the prominence of three, I challenge you to start looking in the most important buildings of you home town. And I guarantee you will find it. Here are other examples of the power of the three at Wat Phra Mahathat and other Wats in Lopburi.

Lopburi 1 of 3
A centre-piece flanked by two alcoves to reflect balance
Three triangular arches
Three triangular arches
Phra Prang Sam Yod, Lopburi
The 3 Prangs of Phra Prang Sam Yod, Lopburi
The three jewels and triangular roof of Phra Kaan Shirne, Lopburi
The three jewels in a triangular roof of Phra Kaan Shirne, Lopburi

And the same pattern of three is not only found in ancient or religious architecture, but has been continued in modern-day architecture as you can see in the image below. Look closely in the background and you can see the three triangular windows of Lopburi train station.

lopburi 4 of 3 train station

The three windows of Lopburi train station in the background of the Wat Mahathat
The three windows of Lopburi train station in the background of the Wat Mahathat

Wat Phra Si Ratana Mahathat Prang

I find this prang at the Wat Phra Mahathat temple interesting as it took me a while to work it out. The base to the bell tower at the top is formed of seven layers, each of which represents the chakra energy points. You also find this in the Wat Ban Dai Hin below.

Stupa statue in Wat Mahathat
Stupa statue in Wat Mahathat has seven layers representing the chakra energy points
Wat Ban Dai Hin, Lopburi
Wat Ban Dai Hin, Lopburi

The Wat Ban Dai Hin has been built with six protruding layers each representing the chakras, capped with the lotus flower which is typically represented in eastern symbolism as the crown chakra. You will also notice there are five inward facing layers which represent the five elements.

What threw me about the prang in Wat Mahathat is that is has a coiled steeple on the top which made me think the layers did not represent the chakras. But then I counted the coils and found there are 19.

Steeple with 19 coils
Steeple with 19 coils

I first encountered the number 19 in Peru whist researching my first book, Journey’s To Ancient World’s: What Modern Man Can Learn From Ancient Civilisations.

I discovered it refers to the 19 components of the astral body; intelligence, ego, feeling, mind, the five senses, the five instruments of action – procreate, excrete, talk, walk and manual skill, and the five instruments of life force – crystallizing, assimilating, eliminating, metabolizing, and circulating functions of the body.

You also find 19 interlocking circles in the Flower of Life which is connected to the ancient understanding of creation and the inner-self.

Prang 16

On another prang in the north-west corner of Wat Phra Mahathat, I found the number sixteen. It is difficult to see from the image below, but there are 11 steps, the door, making 12, the three triangular patterns as we see in the example above, making 15 and finally the cone-shaped cap making 16. So what does it all mean?

lopburi 16

In the Greek, and thus the Roman pantheon, there are 16 Gods, each of which represent aspects of the human personality/psyche. Although we typically associate Olympian with the 12 principle Gods, Hestia and Dionysus are interchanged, and Hades, Cronus and Rhea are included in older myths.

There are also 16 principle Gods in the Hindu pantheon before counting the hundreds of avatars and demi-gods that were introduced over time, and Yogis recognised 16 elemental bodies in the spirit of mankind.

I often find 16 statues or 16 pillars in temples like this statue of Buddha in a small temple in Lumbini, Nepal. Even the most skeptical of architects will tell you there is no need to have 16 pillars to support that roof. The pillars are not there by design, but for a specific meaning. Does it have anything to do with the 16 Gods in various pantheons despite records stating their are only twelve? There are perhaps aspects of our character we are not aware of, or do not understand.

Buddha temple in Lumbini, Nepal
Buddha temple in Lumbini, Nepal

So are all these repetitions of numbers throughout different cultures just a coincidence? I don’t think so! And I will leave you with one last “coincidence.” The image below is of a stone in the temple grounds of the Hindu Temple, Phra Prang Sam Yod in Lopburi, Thailand.

A carved sperm shape in a rock in Lupburi, Thailand
A carved sperm shape in a rock in Lupburi, Thailand

And the image below is of the 7000-year old megalithic stone in the foothills of the Tal-y-Fan Mountains in Conwy, North Wales. Notice how the sperm shape carved in both rocks are practically identical other than the size. Coincidence..? The ancient Hindu called the male sperm, the vital force.

Fertility carving cut into stone
Megalithic stone in Conwy, North Wales

Have a look for the repetition of threes in the architecture of your home town and let me know what you find by posting your discovery in the comments box below!

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