Relics on Enlightened Masters turn Crystal-like

By Desmond Yeoh SC

Tapas is based on the root Tap meaning to heat, to give out warmth, to shine or to burn. It is probably because of this inner fire that the relics of enlightened masters turns crystal-like after their death. Buddhist holds it as conclusive evidence that a master was enlightened during his lifetime if his bone relics subsequently turn into crystals. The relics of famous meditation masters which were believed to be enlightened when they were alive, such as Ajahn Sao, Ajahn Mun and Ajahn Brom did subsequently turn into crystals.

Relics - Ajahn Mun

Ajahn Mun

The Autobiography of Ajahn Mun tells a story of how the transformation of Ajahn Mun’s relics into crystal was first discovered. All the people, who received some of the bone fragments that were distributed after Ajahn Mun’s cremation, placed them in suitable reliquaries and worshipped these relics in his stead.  Everyone went their separate ways after the funeral, and nothing further was heard about this matter until some four years later when Khun Wan Khomanamun, owner of the Siriphon Phanit Store and the Suddhiphon Hotel in Nakhon Ratchasima, returned to Sakon Nakhon for a merit-making ceremony. When he presented a cloth offering at Wat Suddhawat monastery, where Ajahn Mun had passed away, the abbot gave him a piece of bone taken from Ajahn Mun’s funeral pyre.

Relics - Ajahn Brom

Ajahn Brom

Upon returning home, he decided to place it in the reliquary with the other remains of Ajahn Mun which he had received four years earlier. When he opened the container, he was astonished to find that these bone fragments, received at the cremation, had all been transformed into crystal-like relics. He was so amazed at seeing them that his spirits soared. He quickly sent someone to check on another set of Ajahn Mun’s remains that he kept in a reliquary at the Suddhiphon Hotel, and discovered that they too had been transformed into crystal-like relics. A small portion of the original bone remained in the form of a coarse powder, but soon that, too, underwent the same transformation. In the end, a total of 344 relics were counted in the two reliquaries belonging to Khun Wan. This was the first instance where Ajahn Mun’s remains were found to have transformed into relics.

Relics - Ajahn Sao

Ajahn Sao

In explaining this phenomenon, Ajahn Maha Boowa (or “Bua”), the author of Ajahn Mun’s autobiography explained, “Briefly, my own explanation is that the heart, or the citta, is the fundamental, determining factor here. Although the citta is something common to all living beings, it varies greatly in power and quality from one person to the next. As for an Arahant (enlightened master), his citta is an ariyacitta; meaning that it is absolutely pure. The citta of the average person, on the other hand, is merely an ordinary citta; meaning, that it is polluted by kilesas (mental defilements or negative mental habits). In either case, the nature of the citta – the master and prime mover – has a decisive impact on the condition of the physical body in which it resides. For instance, the Arahant’s citta being pure, it may well have the power to cleanse his body elements, making them pure as well, and thus, allowing his bones to transmute into relics. Although the body of an ordinary person is composed of the same types of elements, the body’s master, the citta, is full of kilesas. It has no power to cleanse the body elements and purify them. Because the body elements have not been purified, the cremated bones of the average person remain unchanged, reflecting the impure nature of the citta. We could say that purified elements are synonymous with the ariyacitta, while ordinary elements are synonymous with the ordinary citta. The attributes of the Arahant’s citta – and by extension, his body elements – differ significantly from those of the average person, so their bone remains are bound to differ as well”.

Ajahn Maha Boowa also explained that the longer the period is between the attainment of enlightenment and the Arahant’s death, the more likely it is for his relics to transform into crystals. This is because an Arahant maintains throughout his daily activities an intrinsic level of Samadhi that steadily works to cleanse his body elements until they also become pure. This results in his bone remains becoming relics after he passes away. In the case of an Arahant who passes away shortly after attaining enlightenment, there may not have been enough time to complete the cleansing process.


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