| Thailand Guide Directories
ancestor-worship, is the primitive belief of the Thai and
their neighbours as well, and this formed the first layer
of Thai religion. Later on came Buddhism and the
Thai adopted it as their national religion. Unlike
their neighbours the Burmans, the Thai inherited
a fair proportion of Hinduism through the influence of the
Cambodians who were in former days a highly hinduized people.
Whatever cults and beliefs are adopted by the Thai ,
they are readily modified to suit their temperament and
surroundings. When they adopted Buddhism, they gratly modified their basic belief of
animism into the fold of Buddhism. Likewise when they embraced
Hinduism, they adapted it as a subordinate to the former.
As Buddhism and Hinduism were evolved from one and the same
source, i.e. Brahminism, there was no hindrance to
their assimilation. They became in time intermixed completely,
and of course tinged with the former animistic belief. There
is a Thai saying, particularly among the Thai of
the central area where Hinduism still has some force with
the elite class, that "Buddhism and Hinduism usually
uphold each other". In the northern and north-eastern areas, Hinduism has become weaker and gradually animism
has come to the fore, especially in the folkways of the
people, but modified greatly of course, through the influence
of Buddhism. To complete the fact, Buddhism as the national
religion of Thailand
is of the southern school, the Hinayan; but it reveals some
traces of the cults of the Mahayan or Buddhism of the Northern
School unconsciously practised. This was due historically
no doubt, to the influence of the past Cambodian Empire
and Srivijaya Empire of the Malay Peninsula, which
for sometime adopted the Buddhism of the Northern School.
There are traces of Mahayanism too in the northern
area; but this is no dout derived from a different channel,
namely from Burma and Southern China. There are too in modern
times native Christian communities, but they are only minorities.
Christianity has never made appreciable progress with the
Thai people. Its converts are confined mostly to notifies
of alien ancestry and paradoxically most of them, instead
of being converted have, converted their Christian belief
in terms of their indigenous one. Living outside his community,
the converted native, and even his children born in the
fold of Christianity, will in time revert to their former
belief within a few gears. Such is the potent force that
underlies naturally the culture of Thailand. Buddhism in
a modified form is the mainspring of the national life.
It has developed by slow creation of centuries to meet every
new need, formed her ideals and conceptions and safeguard.
The problem is how for we can preserve this tradition against
the aggressiveness of the new materialistic force of the
present civilisation. Thailand cannot neglect or ignore
the powerful force which besets her with many dangers if
her traditional ideals are not to be uprooted suddenly.