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Vachara Asana (วัชรอาสน์)

Sanskrit-Thai. The bodhimanda or exact place underneath the bodhi tree where the Buddha attained Enlightenment and was marked later by a thaen, called Vachara Asana, which is placed in between the bodhi tree and the Buddhagaya Chedi, built by the emperor Asoka.

Vach Vidyavaddhana (วาจวิทยาวัฑฒน์)

Thai. An alternative transliteration for Waht Witthayawat (fig.).

vahana (वह)

Sanskrit. ‘Vehicle’ or ‘bearing’, ‘carrying’. The mount of a god, i.e. either a genuine animal or a mythological creature, e.g. the Garuda is the vahana of the god Vishnu (fig.); Airavata, the vahana of Indra (fig.); the bull Nondi or Nandi, the mount of Shiva (fig.); etc.

Vairochana (वैरोचन)

Sanskrit. ‘Illumination’ or ‘sun’. The Javan Adi-Buddha and one of the five jinas, dhyani buddhas or transcendental buddhas from Vajrayana Buddhism. READ ON.

Vaishnava (वैष्णव)

Sanskrit. ‘Worshippers of Vishnu’. A sect which consider Vishnu to be the main god and whose followers in India can be recognized by an elongated V or U-shaped sign on their forehead, usually with another mark of a different colour inside, such as a red dot (fig.) or a vertical line (fig.).

Vaishya (वैश्य)

Sanskrit. The third of the four main Hindu castes (varna) in India consisting of traders, farmers and shepherds. Also spelled Vaisya.

Vaisravana (वैश्रवण)

Sanskrit. Guardian of the northern direction. His mount or vehicle is a human. In China, this deity is a Chinese wealth god known by the names Tsai Shen Yeh and Chai Sing Ihya (fig.), as well as one of the Four Heavenly Kings, called Si Tian Wang. He is known as Duo Wen Tian and usually depicted holding a Chinese halberd, called ji, and a pagoda, two of his attributes (fig.), according to Chinese tradition. In Thai, Phra Paisarop and Thao Wetsuwan (fig.), and also spelled Vaishravana. See also Kuperan (fig.) and compare with Kubera and Jambhala.

Vajimukha (वाजिमुख)

Sanskrit. ‘Horse face’. One of two equine forms of Vishnu, the other one being Kalkin. In Khmer art, Vajimukha is represented by a human body with the crowned head of a horse. He is associated with Hayagriva, the Hindu god of knowledge and wisdom.

Vajiralongkorn (วชิราลงกรณ)

Name of the only son and second child to King Bhumipon and Queen Sirikit. In 1972, at the age of 20, he became Crown Prince (fig.) with his full name and royal title in Thai becoming Somdet Phra Boromma Orasahthiraat Chao Fa Maha Vajiralongkorn Sayaam Makutratchakuman (สมเด็จพระบรมโอรสาธิราชเจ้าฟ้ามหาวชิราลงกรณสยามมกุฎราชกุมาร). He was born at Phra Tihnang Amphon Sathaan in Dusit Palace, on 28 July 1952. Also called Maha Vajiralongkorn and his first name is sometimes transliterated Wachiralongkorn. His personal flag (fig.) consists of a yellow field, for Monday, the colour of his birthday (see sih prajam wan), his initials M.V.K. (...), a chadah-style crown, i.e. the Great Crown of Victory, with underneath it a small chakra and trisula or vajra (fig.), referring to his name and his royal status as a member of the House of Chakri (fig.). At the age of 64, the designated heir became King Rama X, after accepting an invitation from parliament to succeed his father King Bhumipon, who died on 13 October 2016, thus ascending the throne on 1 December 2016, 50 days after the death of his father, who reigned for 70 years, yet the ascension is retroactive to October 13th. As King, his royal name and title are Somdet Phra Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodinthra thephayawarahngkoon (สมเด็จพระมหาวชิราลงกรณ บดินทรเทพยวรางกูร), which may also be transliterated Maha Vajiralongkorn Bodindradebayavarangkun.

Vajiravudh (วชิราวุธ)

1. Thai. ‘Armed with a vajra’. Name of Rama VI. See also Wachirawut.

2. A Thai designation for the Vedic god Indra. See also Wachirawut.

3. Thai name of a royal school that was initially established by King Wachirawut (Vajiravudh) for the children of the royal family and originally called rohng rian mahaat lek luang (โรงเรียนมหาดเล็กหลวง), i.e. the ‘Royal Pages School’ or ‘Royal Guards School’. Under King Rama VII the school was merged with racha withayahlay (ราชาวิทยาลัย), i.e. ‘King's College’ or  ‘Royal College’, and renamed Wachirawut Withayahlay (วชิราวุธวิทยาลัย), i.e. ‘Vajiravudh College’, after its founder King Rama VI. Today, it is an all-boys boarding school located across the street from Chitralada Palace in Dusit. Its emblem consists of the Great Crown of Victory, known as Phra Maha Phichai Mongkut, with a rasmi (fig.), over the Thai number six () and a vajra, each and every one a symbol that refers to the sixth monarch of the Chakri Dynasty. The original Royal Page School was established in 1910, and in 2010, the Vajiravudh College's Assembly Hall appeared on a Thai postage stamp, issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary (fig.).

3. Thai. Part of the name of a school in Songkhla (fig.), i.e. Maha Vajiravudh, that was established by Chao Phraya Yommaraat and at its foundation named after the then Crown Prince.

Vajirunhis (วชิรุณหิศ)

See Wajirunhit.

vajra (वज्र)

Sanskrit. ‘The hard one’ or ‘the mighty one’. A term used to refer to a sceptre, diamond or thunderbolt, suggesting indestructibility. The name derives from the fact that it is allegedly made from the hardest material on earth and is used as a metaphor to describe its indestructible nature. Besides its durability, its other characteristics are illumination and sharpness, features that represent intellect and are able to destroy all obstructions. In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is the most important symbol and represents absolute truth. In Hinduism, the thunderbolt is held by several gods, including Indra. In Thailand, Mekala, the god of lightening, holds a thunderbolt. There also exist a double vajra, like the one that appears in the emblem of Bhutan. The double vajra, also referred to as the vajra cross or the double dorje (i.e. the Tibetan word for vajra), is an attribute of Amoghasiddhi (fig.), and is known in Sanskrit as Visvavajra (fig.). In Thai, the vajra is known by the name wachira (fig.).

vajra axe

A kind of axe with a handle in the form of a vajra. It is used by Buddhist priests in religious rites in Vajrayana Buddhism to symbolically destroy any obstacles that obstruct the path towards Enlightenment. In iconography, it is an attribute wielded by certain wrathful deities as a likewise weapon.

vajra bell


Vajradhara (वज्रधर)

Sanskrit. ‘Wielder of the vajra’. A representation of the Adi-Buddha usually crowned and with jewels. In Nepal and Tibet, he is sometimes shown with his female counterpart, but when alone, he is usually depicted holding a vajra and a bell, known as ghanta, with his hands crossed in front of his chest. Akin to the Dhyani Buddhas, who are also known as the Wisdom Buddhas, Vajradhara is often found depicted in Tibetan-style mandalas (fig.). In Thai, this Buddha image is known as Phra Wacharaton. See also Vajrasattva.

Vajraghanta (वज्रघण्टा)

Sanskrit. Compound of the words vajra and ghanta, and meaning ‘Diamond bell’. This kind of bell has a handle in the form of a vajra, and is mainly used in religious rites (fig.) in Vajrayana Buddhism.

Vajrakila (वज्रकील)

Sanskrit. Name for a kila (fig.) of which the handle is made in the form of a vajra.

Vajrangusa (वज्रअङ्कुश)

Sanskrit. Compound of the words vajra and angusa, meaning ‘diamond hook’ or ‘mighty hook’, a tool used by mandala gatekeepers to summon the divinities to come and reside in the mandala. Also transcribed Vajrankusa.

Vajrapani (वज्रपाणि)

Sanskrit. ‘Bearer of the vajra’. A bodhisattva in Vajrayana Buddhism. He is represented holding a vajra in one hand and sometimes also with two lotuses and a bell. In Mahayana Buddhism, he is considered, by some, to be Avalokitesvara. His consort is Chagna Dorje (fig.), with whom he is frequently portrayed in the yabyum pose. In painted compositions of the Red Hat Sect (fig.) or Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, he is often depicted in the company of the nine-headed protector deity Rahula. He is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas (fig.).

Vajraputra (वज्रपुत्र, วัชรบุตร)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Thunderbolt Son’. Name of one of the eighteen arahats, of whom it is said that he convinced Ananda to balance learning and practice, in order to attain the wisdom needed to persuade others of the virtues of a balanced life. He is therefore sometimes called the Persuading Arhat. He is usually depicted with his right index finger pointing down while watching a playful lion cub by his side. Besides being protectors of the dharma, lions are symbols of the invincible might of Buddhism. Some sources however, mention that before becoming a monk, he had been a lion-killer and that the lion cub joined him out of gratefulness for abandoning his former occupation. In Chinese he is known as the luohan Xiao Shi (笑狮, or in traditional Chinese: 笑獅), literally ‘Smiling Lion’. In English he is also referred to as the Laughing Lion Lohan and in Thai his name is pronounced Wachrabut or Wachrabutra, but he is also called Watjahn Tohsukoh (วัดจารย์โตสุโข).

vajrasana (वज्रआसन)

Sanskrit. ‘Diamond throne’. An asana in both Buddhist and Hindu iconography in which the legs are crossed on top of each other with the feet resting on the opposite thigh, the soles upward.

Vajrasattva (वज्रसत्त्व)

Sanskrit. ‘Someone whose essence is vajra’. A deity who in Vajrayana Buddhism is the principle of purity and purification, and whose role is similar to that of Vajradhara (fig.). In art, he is usually depicted holding a vajra against his chest and a bell against his left hip.

Vajrasphota (वज्रस्फोट)

Sanskrit. Name of a Tibetan guardian, also known as the mandala western gatekeeper. He is usually depicted as a –sometimes potbellied– figure, with a snake around his neck and wearing a crown decorated with skulls. He is standing in the alidha asana posture, i.e. a lunging position, with one leg stretched out for balance, while placing the weight mainly on the other leg, which is bent at the knee. His attribute is a chain, which he uses to shackle the divinities who have come to reside in the mandala.

Vajrayana (वज्रयान)

Sanskrit. ‘Diamond vehicle’. A sect of Mahayana Buddhism that started in the 4th century AD and was important in Northeast India from where it spread to Nepal, Tibet and East Asia. It stimulated highly developed ritual veneration practices in which mantras and mandalas were used, yoga was employed and harmony with the universal spirit was aimed for. Also known as Mantrayana.

Valaya Alongkorn (วไลยอลงกรณ์)

Thai. Name of a Siamese Princess of the Rattanakosin Period. READ ON.

Vali (वाली)

Sanskrit. Another designation for Valin (fig.), who was king of the monkeys, and a half-brother of Sugriva. When the latter challenged Vali to a fight, Rama emerged from behind a tree and with his bow shot and killed Vali with an arrow (fig.).

Valin (वालिन्)

Sanskrit. ‘Having a tail’. King of the monkeys, son of Indra and brother of Sugriva. His consort is Tara and his son Angada. In Thai known as Bali. Also called Vali.

Valmiki (वाल्मीकि)

Author of the Indian epic Ramayana, the ‘Story of Rama’, written over 2,500 years ago and containing 24,000 verses. MORE ON THIS.

Vamana (वामन)

Sanskrit. ‘Midget’. The fifth avatar of the god Vishnu in the form of a midget. As an incarnation of Vishnu he is likewise portrayed with a blue complexion. His mother was Aditi and he is thus one of the twelve Adityas, as well as a younger brother of Indra.

Vanaspati (वनस्पति)

1. Sanskrit. ‘Lord of the jungle’. A form of Shiva in Hindu mythology. In Thailand known as Panaspati.

2. Sanskrit. The realm of plants.

Vanavasi (วนวาสี, วันวาสี)

Thai name for the arahat Vanavasin. Also known as Wakanaju (วัคนะจุ).

Vanavasin (वनवासिन्)

Sanskrit-Thai. Name of one of the eighteen arahats, who according to legend was born under a banana plant, his favourite spot for meditation where he is believed to also have gained Enlightenment. Hence, he was given the Sanskrit name Vanavasin which means ‘Living in a Forest’. In art is usually depicted seated on a banana leaf (fig.), holding a string of beads known as prakam (fig.) and leaning on the Sutra, a symbol for his study of the dhamma and the Tripitaka. In Thai his name is pronounced Vanavasi, but he is also known as Wakanaju (วัคนะจุ). In Chinese he is known as the luohan Ba Jiao (芭蕉), literally ‘Banana’ or ‘Banana Herb’ and in English he is referred to as the Plantain Lohan or the Arhat Under the Banana Tree. Also called Vanavasa and sometimes transcribed Vanavaasin.

varada (वरदा)

Sanskrit. ‘Granting of wishes’. One of the most frequent mudras in Hindu and Buddhist iconography in which the hand is held out, the open palm facing forward with the fingers pointing downwards. It indicates the dispensing of favours and occurs with both seated and standing images, generally with the right hand but occasionally with the left (fig.).

Varadis Palace

See Wang Woradit.

Varaha (वराह, วราหะ)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Boar’. The third avatar of the Hindu god Vishnu, in the form of a boar (fig.). He took this avatar in order to crush Hiranyaksha (fig.), an asura or rakshasa, that had abducted the Earth and had hidden it on the bottom of the cosmic ocean. According to legend, the battle between the two that followed lasted for a thousand years, and was won by Varaha, who then carried the Earth back from the ocean between his tusks and restored it to its place in the Universe. The Earth is personified in Vishnu's consort Prithivi, who incarnated as his shakti each time Vishnu incarnated as one of his avatars. In Thailand, the story is depicted on the murals of Wat Phra Kaew, the Temple of the Emerald Buddha, in Bangkok (fig.). See also Pig Memorial (fig.).

Vardhamana (वर्धमान)

Sanskrit. ‘Increaser’. A tirthankara and the founder of Jainism who was later bestowed with the title Mahavira. He was born into a royal family, probably in 599 BC, in the same region of North India as the Buddha. He travelled and preached for thirty years and died in 527 BC at the age of 72.

Variable Squirrel

A species of medium-sized squirrel naturally present in Thailand, Burma, Laos, Cambodia and South Vietnam. It occurs in diverse habitats, from primary and secondary forests to open woodland, plantations and urban areas. These squirrels are arboreal (fig.), diurnal and feed on a variety of seeds and fruits. As its name suggests they are very variable in colour and patterning (fig.). There are many subspecies, which can vary from black, brown, chestnut or creamy white with diverse patterning, but its upper side is typically of a darker colour than its underside. It has the scientific name Callosciurus finlaysoni, and is thus also known by the name Finlayson’s squirrel. In Thai it is called kra-rohk khao (กระรอกขาว) and kra-rohk lahk sih (กระรอกหลากสี), i.e. ‘white squirrel’ (fig.) and ‘multi-coloured squirrel’, respectively. See also WILDLIFE PICTURES.

varman (वर्मन्, វរ្ម័ន, วรมัน)

Sanskrit-Khmer-Thai. ‘Protected by’. A title used by several rulers, especially Khmer kings. The Khmer word can however also mean ‘armour’ as well as ‘protective coat of armour’, and is sometimes translated as ‘warrior’, whilst the Sanskrit term is also translated as ‘defence’, ‘defensive armour’, and ‘shelter’. In Thai, it is additionally understood that the first part of the word derives of the word wora (วร), i.e. a synonym of the Thai word praseurt (ประเสริฐ) and meaning ‘superb’, ‘glorious’, ‘heavenly’ and ‘sublime’, a word typically used to refer to royalty, as in worakaay (วรกาย), meaning ‘body of a king or prince’ and worakanyah (วรกัญญา), i.e. ‘royal lady’. See also Jayavarman.

varna (वर्ण)

Sanskrit. Literally translated varna means ‘colour’, but its root (vrn) means ‘to choose’ and it generally refers to a ‘caste’ or ‘class’, that is the caste system or classification of closed off social classes in Hinduism which consists of four castes, i.e. the Brahmans, the learned class; Kshatriya, the royal or warrior class; Vaishya, the class of traders; and Shudra, the agricultural and serving class. Besides the lowest caste, there are also the dalit or ‘untouchables’. These are the pariah or social outcasts, that are considered less than human and as such are not part of any of the social classes, not even the lowest. The latter group formerly included slaves. The origin of the castes is related to the creation myth of Purusha, a giant with 1,000 heads and 1,000 limbs, and a body that took up the entire universe, and who was sacrificed and dismembered by the gods to create the world. His head became the Brahmin class, his arms the kings, his thighs became the producers, and his feet became the slaves. The sun was created from his eyes, his mind became the moon, whilst his navel was used to create space. All the creatures on earth and in the sky came from his melted fat, and the gods Indra and Agni were born from his mouth. With the dismemberment of Purusha the gods brought order to the cosmos and created the institution of sacrifice, which would have to be repeated over and over to maintain that order. See also Veda.

Varuna (वरुण)

Sanskrit. Vedic god of the waters and guardian of the western direction, and sometimes described as the god of invisibility. His vahana or mount is the makara or the crocodile, though in Cambodia he is occasionally believed to be depicted on top of the sacred swan Hamsa, as is thought to be the case in rock carvings at Koh Ker. In Thailand, he is associated with Phra Phirun, the Thai god of rain. His consort is Varuni, who is also known as Madira.

Varuni (वारूणी)

Goddess of wine and the shakti of Varuna. She is also known as Madira. See also Sura.

Vasudeva (वसुदेव)

Father of Krishna.

Vasuki (वासुकि)

Another name for Ananta, king of serpents and nagas. Also known as Shesha.

vat (វត្ត)

Cambodian or Khmer word for temple. In Thai wat.

Vayu (वायु)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Wind’ or ‘air’. Vedic god of the wind or air and protector of the northwestern direction. His mount is the antelope. The Thai word for storm, i.e. phayu (fig.) is derived from his name. Also spelled Wayu.

Vayuphak (วายุภักษ์, วายุพักตร์)

1. Sanskrit-Thai. A malicious creature from the Ramakien, half-bird, half-asura, who was the son of a giant and a bird, and ruled the Kingdom of Wichian, located at the slopes of the Universe. Being half-bird, half-ogre, his lower body is often described to have the features of an eagle. He waged war with Phra Ram (fig.) and Phra Lak (fig.), whom he captured with the intention to eat them. However, Sukrihp (fig.) and Hanuman (fig.) fought over them and liberated Phra Ram and Phra Lak. Eventually, Vayuphak was beheaded by Rama's monkeys, led by Ongkhot (fig.) and Nilaphat (fig.). In Thai, the preferred spelling is Vayupaks (วายุภักษ์), though the name is often misspelled Vayupaktr (วายุพักตร์), but since neither the ‘s’ nor the ‘tr’ are pronounced, in English both the transliterations Vayuphak  and Wayuphak are correct, though in English the name is sometimes misspelled Vayupak or Wayupak. This is due to the similarities in both appearance and name to another creature, i.e. Asurapaksi (อสูรปักษี), in which the word paksi (ปักษี) is written with a p () and not with ph (). He is also known as Asuravayuphak (fig.) and is used as the figurehead (fig.) on the escort barge Reua Asuravayuphak (fig.). Since he is regarded as a creature that guards treasure, he is used as the logo of the Ministry of Finance of Thailand, and also appears on the logo of the Comptroller General's Department (fig.), known in Thai as Krom Banchih Klahng, as well as on the emblem of the Krung Thai Bank and that of the Government Lottery Office.


2. Sanskrit-Thai. ‘Bird (as in paksi) of the air (vayu)’. Another designation for the mythical half-human and half-bird creature otherwise called Karawak, a name that is also used for a bird-of-paradise, i.e. nok karawak. Compare with Asurapaksi.

VC Pith Helmet

Type of a lightweight cloth-covered tropical helmet worn by the Vietcong, i.e. the North Vietnamese Army, during the Vietnam War. Its is dark green in colour, with a brown leather chinstrap, and originally with an insignia of Vietnam's National Emblem attached in the front, which consists of a golden five-pointed star on a red background, over a the top-part of a cogwheel and flanked by two golden ears of rice. Today, it is still widely worn by civilians, especially in northern Vietnam.

Veda (वेद)

Sanskrit. ‘Knowledge’. The term -generally used in the plural- refers to a collection of ancient hymns and verses sacred to Hinduism and of which the earliest was written between 1500 and 1000 BC. According to the Arians, the Vedas were never actually composed and have no author, but their texts were revealed by divine revelation through seers called rishi and the Aryan culture was completely based on them. In total there are four Vedas, that is to say the Rig Veda, Sama Veda, Yajur Veda, and Atharva Veda, which is the youngest. The oldest of these texts, the Rig Veda, which was roughly composed between 1500 and 1000 BC, states that Vedic society was divided into four hierarchical classes, known as varna or ‘colours’ (i.e. castes), namely the Brahmans, i.e. the learned class; Kshatriya, the royal or warrior class, including high officials; Vaishya, i.e. the class of merchants and landowners; and Shudra, the agricultural and serving class, as well as the class of craftsmen, while slaves were part of the dalit or ‘untouchables’. The Brahmans were the centre of the Vedic religion as they performed the important rituals of sacrifice for the benefit of the kings and nation, to  bring wealth, victory and heir to the throne. As such, they were supported financially and protected by the Kshatriya. The Vedic people worshipped a pantheon of gods, some that they brought with them from their homeland and others that they accumulated from indigenous tribes that they encountered as they moved through North India and assimilated into their own pantheon. Many of those gods became the predecessors of the present Hindu pantheon. When in the 5th century BC the nomadic people of the Vedic tribes began to settle in permanent cities and the actual practice of sacrifice began to decline, it gave way to the rise of Buddhism, which opposed the social class order and challenged the authority of the Brahmins. The Thai word for knowledge, i.e. wet (เวท) derives from Veda.

Vedanga (เวทางค์)

Thai-Sanskrit. The six Sanskrit dissertations on grammar and rituals.

Vedanta (वेदान्त, เวทานต์)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘The end of Veda’, that is complete knowledge. The term refers to the fundamental truth as expressed in the Vedas and seen in the light of the teachings as written out in the Upanishads, Sanskrit treatises on philosophy. One of the six great schools of learning of Hindu philosophy.


See Veda.

vedika (वेदिका)

Sanskrit. A balustrade enclosing a chaitya or an object of worship.

vegetable carving

The traditional sculpting of vegetables into shapes or reliefs, usually to adorn banquets. In Thai pak kae salak. If fruit is used it is called ponlamai kae salak in Thai, although one term is often used for both. See also fruit carving.

Vegetarian Festival

See thetsakahn kin jae.

Velvet Tamarind

Common name of a 20-25 meter tall, fruit-bearing tree, native to southern Thailand and Malaysia, and with the binomial name Dialium indum. Its small, egg-shaped, acorn-like fruit has a black shell with a powdery, somewhat velvety film (in Thai known as nuan) and a flavour similar to tamarind, from where it derives its English name. Though of a different colour, the fruit’s shape, size and appearance is somewhat reminiscent of that of the phikun (fig.) and of unpeeled lotus seeds (fig.). It is eaten as a snack, often dried, sugar-coated and spiced with chili. The tree is valued for its hard and compact wood. In Thai it is known as yih and kayih, and in Malay as keranji madu.

Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie

Old-Dutch for the Dutch East India Company. See also V.O.C.

Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie

Dutch for the Dutch East India Company. See also V.O.C.


Pali for Wetsandorn.

Vessantara jataka

See Wetsandornchadok.


The scholarly study of flags. The term is derived from the Latin word vexillum meaning ‘small sail’, a specific type of square banner used by Roman legions in antiquity, which was suspended from a horizontal crossbar attached to a spear. The study is closely related to heraldry, the knowledge of coats of arms, of which vexillology originally was a sub-discipline. Thai people like flying flags and a wide range of them can be seen all over the nation, many of them related to the monarchy. On special occasions or in certain places also flags from other nations are flown (fig.). See also Vexillology & Heraldry.

viagra (व्याग्र)

1. Sankrit for ‘tiger’. The Latin word vigorem, the origin of the English word vigour, i.e. physical strength or energy, possibly derives from it. Also spelled and transcribed differently as vyaghra (व्याघ्र).

2. Commercial name for the medicine sildenafil citrate, a drug used to treat impotence.

vibhuti (विभूति)

Sanskrit term for sacred ash, which is taken either from a temple flame or from a cremation fire (fig.). The ash, which is considered food from Agni, the god of fire (fig.), is often used by sadhu to cover their body and face (fig.). It symbolizes the destruction of ones karma in the fire of austerity, as well as the conquest over death (fig.).

Victoria amazona

See Victoria regia.

Victoria regia

Latin. Tropical water plant with giant leaves. Sometimes it bears white flowers that turn pink after being pollinated and then perish within twenty-four to forty-eight hours. Also called Victoria amazona and Giant Water Lily. In Thai known as bua victoria, but due to its shape also called bua kradong, after a flat round winnowing basket (fig.).

Victory Monument

Monument in Bangkok, built to commemorate the 59 victims of the campaign against the French in Indochina, at the beginning of 1939, during the premiership of Field Marshall Phibun Songkram. The monument (fig.) is decorated with sculptures representing the war heroes from the different military forces, i.e. the Air Force, Army and Navy, as well as from the Thai Royal Police, and the civilian population. The monument is characterized by a fifty meter high obelisk (fig.) and the names of the victims are engraved on a plaque (fig.). It was completed and officially inaugurated on 24 June 1940, on the same day as Democracy Monument. In Thai it is called Anusawarih Chai Samora Phum.

Vidhura (विदुर)

Sanskrit. ‘Wise’. Also spelled Vidura. Compare with Vedas and see also Vithura Chadok.

Vientiane (ວຽງຈັນ, เวียงจันทน์)

Lao-Thai. ‘Walled city (wiang) of sandalwood (jan)’. Also transcribed Wiangchan and Viangchan. The present-day capital of Laos on the eastern banks of the Mekhong river. It is part of a larger homonymous prefecture which itself is located in a province of the same name. Whereas the total population of the province is believed to be over 730,000, the city has only an estimated 200,000 inhabitants. According to legend the city was founded by prince Thattaradtha when he left the legendary Lao kingdom of Muong Inthapatha Maha Nakhon because he was deprived of the throne in favour of his younger brother. He first founded the city Maha Thani Si Phan Phao, located on the western banks of the Mekhong river which was later renamed Udonthani. Afterward he founded a new city on the opposite site of the river which he named Chanthabuli Si Sattanakhanahud (Krung Sri Satana Kanahut/Krung Sri Sattanah Khonhut) and which purportedly was the precursor of present-day Vientiane. Historians however think that Vientiane more likely was an early Khmer outpost that centreed around a Hindu temple. When the Khmer Empire declined the remaining Khmers then probably either moved out, were killed or assimilated into the Lao civilization. In 1354, when Fa Ngum founded the kingdom of Lan Sang, Vientiane became an important administrative city and in 1560 king Setthathirath officially established it as the capital. When Lan Sang fell apart in 1707, it became an independent kingdom which in 1778 was conquered by the Siamese general Chao Phraya Chakri and made a vassal of Siam. When in 1827 king Anuvong raised an unsuccessful rebellion against Bangkok, it was eradicated by the Siamese armies of king Phra Nang Klao (Rama III). It eventually passed to French rule in 1893 and became the capital of the French protectorate of Laos in 1899. Vientiane is sometimes translated as ‘moon city’ or ‘city of the moon’ which possibly is a misconception of the word chan (jan) which in Lao may be translated as both ‘moon’ and ‘sandalwood’, or goes back to the legendary city of Chanthabuli, which could be translated identically. The name written in Thai however, suggests that the word chan (jan) means sandalwood.

Vietnamese Mickey Mouse Plant

Name of an attractive plant, shrub or tree with the binomial name Ochna integerrima and recognizable form its attractive, berry-like fruits, which are shiny black and dangle from bright-red sepals in a way that resembles the face of Mickey Mouse, hence the name. In the blossoming season it profusely blooms bright yellow flowers, believed to bring good luck and prosperity, thus making it a popular tree in Vietnam during the Tet Festival, the traditional Vietnamese New Year. The Vietnamese Mickey Mouse is the provincial tree and flower of Mukdahan, and is in Thai called chang nahw (ช้างน้าว) and kraje (กระแจะ), though the latter name is also used for a plant with the scientific designation Naringi crenulata.

Vietnamese Pheasant

A species of pheasant with the scientific name Lophura hatinhensis, sometimes listed as a subspecies of the Edwards' Pheasant or Lophura edwardsi, i.e. Lophura edwardsi hatinhensis. Males have a dark blackish blue plumage, with scaled light bluish green feathers on their wings. They have a red facial skin, white crest feathers and brown eyes. Females are dark brown and lack the white crest feathers. Both sexes have pinkish red legs and feet, and their tails may -or may not- have a variable number of additional white, central flight feathers, the main difference with the Edwards' Pheasant, which has only brownish blue tail feathers (fig.). Another distinction is that the white crest of Lophura hatinhensis is slightly longer than that of Lophura edwardsi. Vietnamese Pheasants measure up to 65 centimeters and their diet consists of grain, seed, plants and insects. Native to central Vietnam, they were discovered only in 1964 and are thought to be the rarest pheasants in captivity, with just over a hundred Vietnamese Pheasants living in zoos around the world. Threatened by increased deforestation and hunting, there are believed to be less than 2,500 birds left in the wild, making this species endangered. Also known as Vo Quy's pheasant and in Vietnamese as ga loi lam duoi trang (g li lam đui trắng), meaning white-tailed blue thunder fowl. In Thai, both species are known by the name Edwards' Pheasant, i.e. kai fah edwerd (ไก่ฟ้าเอ็ดเวิร์ด).


Pali for viharn.

vihara (विहार)

Sanskrit for viharn.

viharn (วิหาร)

Thai. A word derived from the Sanskrit word vihara and in Thai usually called viharn (vihaan). Initially, it was the diurnal dwelling place for Buddhist monks, yet is usually described as the sermon hall. In a Thai temple complex it is the counterpart of the bot, and is distinguished from the former by the absence of bai sema, marker stones that surround the bot. It is also the prayer hall where important Buddha images are sometimes housed, especially if the temple doesn't have a bot. Also spelled wihaan.

Vijayadazaami (विजयादशमी)

Hindi. ‘Victorious tenth’. The climax of the ancient Indian festival of Navaratri, that extends nine nights and ten days. READ ON.

Vijayanagara (ವಿಜಯನಗರ, विजयनगर)

Kannada-Hindi. ‘City of Victory’. A powerful kingdom in southern Central India in the 15th and 16th centuries AD, with its capital Hampi. Also an art style from that period and region.

viman (วิมาน)

Thai. A castle in the air. The abode of angels, paradise (fig.). Pronunciation vimahn.

vimana (विमान)

1. Sanskrit. A chariot or cart of the gods, a mythical flying machine.

2. Sanskrit. The towered shrine of Hindu temples in South Indian style. Also known as a vimanam tower. Its North Indian equivalent is called sikhara.

Vimanmek (วิมานเมฆ)

Thai. ‘Paradise in the clouds’. A three-storey mansion in European style entirely erected in golden teak wood without the use of a single nail. It was originally constructed in 1868 on the island of Koh Si Chang, off the coast of Chonburi. In 1897 it became a summer palace for king Rama V, after his return from Europe. In 1901 it was relocated to Dusit in Bangkok, where it was the royal residence of king Chulalongkorn, who lived there between 1902 and 1906. In 1935 it was closed down, but reopened again in 1982 by queen Sirikit as a museum to mark Bangkok’s bicentennial celebrations. In 2002, four postage stamps with art objects of the mansion (fig.) were issued to commemorate the 100th anniversary since it was first inhabited.

Viman Nang Fah (วิมานนางฟ้า)

Thai. ‘Castle of a Female Angel (naang fah) ’. Name for a large, viman or castle-shaped (fig.) kreuang khwaen, i.e. net or frame-like, stringed flower arrangements, that are used to suspend at windows, doorways, gables, etc. It is knitted of mainly jasmine buds (fig.) and white dok rak (fig.), and it has a variety of other colourful flowers and garlands attached to it. This type of flower decoration is depicted on a Thai postage stamp issued in 2005 (fig.).

Viman Phra In (วิมานพระอินทร์)

Thai. ‘Indra’s Castle (in the sky)’. Name for a specific kind of kreuang khwaen, a stringed flower arrangement, that is used decoratively and usually hung up at doorways or windows. It is constructed like a net, with a triangular end at both the top and the bottom, and an open, rectangular, frame-like space or window in the middle. At the top of this open space, there is a bracket-like net formation that looks like a curtain hanging open from its centre, and which is decorated with flowers. Often, an image of the god Indra is attached at the top triangular part (fig.), hence the name, whilst the triangular part at the bottom might have a kranok design attached.

Viman Thaen (วิมานแท่น)

Thai. ‘Base Castle’. Name for a specific kind of kreuang khwaen, a stringed flower arrangement, that is used decoratively and usually hung up at doorways or windows. It is knitted like a net, using mainly jasmine buds (fig.) and white dok rak (fig.). It is shaped with a tapering, roof-like end at the top and an open, rectangular, frame-like space or window in the middle. At the corners of this window are pink or red flowers, that are handmade from rose petals and finished with a real flower at its centre. Strings of jasmine flower buds hang like open curtains from the top of the open frame to its sides. on the left and right top of the frame, as well as at its bottom, are festoons made mainly of dok rak and yellow jampah flowers (fig.). This type of flower decoration is depicted on a Thai postage stamp issued in 1991 (fig.).

Vinay (วินัย)

Sanskrit-Thai. The canonical organ or ecclesiastical doctrine for rules on monastic discipline. It binds the Sangha and is written down in the Vinaya Pitaka or Vinay Pidok, the first part of the Tripitaka. See also Ovada Patimokkha and Buddhist precepts.

Vinaya (विनय)

Sanskrit for Vinay.

vinegar fly

See malaeng wih.

Vinous-breasted Starling

Common designation for a species of starling, with the scientific Latin name Sturnus burmannicus. READ ON.

Violin Beetle

Name for a species of ground beetle in the Carabidae family, with the scientific designation Mormolyce phyllodes. READ ON.

Virabhadra (वीरभद्र)

Sanskrit. Name of a warrior deity created by the wrath of Rudra, to wreak havoc when Daksha insulted Shiva. He came forth from the locks of Shiva’s matted hair and was created together with his consort Bhadrakali, who arose from the wrath of Devi. Also transcribed Veerabhadra.

Virupaksa (विरूपाक्ष)

Sanskrit. ‘Having deformed eyes’ or ‘Diversely-eyed’. Name of the Indian lokapala of the West, whom in Thai is known as Wirupak.

Virupaksha (विरूपाक्ष) 

Another spelling for Virupaksa.

virasana (वीरसन)

Sanskrit. ‘Posture of a hero’. An asana often seen in iconography and in which the right foot rests on the left thigh, with the left foot under the right thigh.

Virudhaka (विरूढक)

Sanskrit. ‘Deity that enlarges’, sometimes translated as Patron of Growth. Name for Zeng Zhang Tian (fig.), one of the Four Heavenly Kings. Also transcribed Wirudhaka and in Thai known as Wirunhok.

Virunchambang (วิรุฬจำบัง, วิรุณจําบัง)

Name of a yak, i.e. giant demon from the Ramakien. He couldn't fight against Rama thus he fled and hid in the foam of the ocean, but Hanuman caught him with his tail (fig.) and killed him. He is described as having a navy blue complexion. In iconography, he is usually depicted with a chadah-like, cockerel tail crown, that seen from the side, is wavy and arches backward at the tip. In architecture, he is usually portrayed in companion with Maiyarahp, a yak with a pale mauve complexion (fig.). Both stand at the third door of the Northern entrances of Wat Phra Kaew. In 2001, he was portrayed on a Thai postage stamp, as part of a set of four stamps with yak that guard temple entrances (fig.). Also transliterated Wirunjambang and Wirunchambang. Due to its ability to hide in the sea, reminiscent of Virunchambang, the HTMS Wirun, a giganticsubmarine of the type Madchanu once used by the Royal Thai Navy (fig.), was named after this giant character. See LIST OF RAMAKIEN CHARACTERS.

Virunhok (วิรุฬหก)

See Wirunhok.

Visakha (วิสาขะ)

See Visakha Bucha.

Visakha Bucha (วิสาขบูชา)

Thai. The annual commemoration of the Phrasut (birth), the Enlightenment, and the Parinippahn (passing away) of the Buddha, events that according to tradition all fell on the same day (fig.), throughout his life (fig.). In Thailand, this day is a public holiday (Wan Visakha Bucha) and falls on the 15th day of the waxing moon in the sixth lunar month. This is usually in the second half of May. In Buddhist temples Visakha Bucha is commemorated by a candle procession, the singing of mantras, and preaching. Often abbreviated to Viskaha (sometimes transliterated Vesak), and more lengthy known as Visakha Puranamee Bucha (วิสาขปุรณมีบูชา). See also bucha and POSTAGE STAMPS (1), (2), (3), (4) and (5).

Visantrawee (วิสันตราวี)

See Wisantrahwih.

Vishakha (विशाख)

Another name for Karttikeya, the Hindu god of war, and son of Shiva and Parvati.

Vishnu (विष्णु)

One of the three prominent gods of Hinduism, preserver of the universe and second god in the Hindu Trimurti or divine triad, which includes Brahma and Shiva. He is often depicted with four arms (fig.), holding a ball or lotus, chakra, conch and a gada (fig.), representing the four elements, i.e. earth, fire, water and wind, respectively. He sometimes uses the latter, i.e. the mace to create wind by whirling it violently in the air. He may be portrayed either seated, standing (fig.), or reclining on the serpent Ananta floating on the cosmic sea (fig.). He descended to earth in nine different forms or avataras to restore peace and silence evil forces, namely: as 1. the fish Matsya (fig.); 2. the tortoise Kurma; 3. a boar (fig.) called Varaha (fig.); 4. the man-lion Narasimha or Narasingha (fig.); 5.  the midget Vamana (fig.); 6. Parasurama (fig.) or alternatively Balarama (fig.); 7. Ramachandra (fig.); 8. Krishna; and 9. the Buddha or alternatively Parasurama. His tenth avatara as the horse Kalkin is yet to come, and some sources claim that Prithu is also an avatar of Vishnu. He thus has a total of ten avatars, i.e. five in human and five in animal form, though there is also a myth in which he has a female avatar called Mohinih. His consort is Lakshmi, who was incarnated with him each time he incarnated as one of his avatars on earth. His mount is the Garuda (fig.) and he is often depicted on its back (fig.), sometimes whilst subduing Rahu, the demon whom he cut in half with his chakra after he was found drinking from the gods' amrita (fig.). He has two consorts: Bhumidevi and Lakshmi, who originated during the churning of the ‘Ocean of Milk’. In combination with Shiva he is known as Harihara (fig.). In a linga Vishnu is represented as the octagonal prism part (fig.). His symbol is the urdhva-pundra, a U-shaped sectarian mark, often with a red dot (fig.), that he and his followers may wear, typically applied on the forehead, using river clay mixed with sandalwood paste, reminiscent of thanaka. He is often represented seated on the snake Ananta (fig.), which is also known as Shesha (fig.), or reclining on it, a pose known as Anantasayin (fig.). In his avatar as Dhanvantari, Vishnu is one of the health deities, together with the Ashwin Twins, who are said to be the physicians to the gods. In Thailand, called Phra Witsanu and Phra Narai.

Vishnukam (วิษณุกรรม)

Another Thai designation for Vishvakarma.

Vishvakarma (विश्वकर्मा, วิศวกรรม)

Sanskrit-Thai. ‘All-accomplishing’ or ‘all-creator’. A designation for the divine architect of Universe and the presiding Hindu deity of all craftsmen and architects. He is one of three creator gods found in Hinduism, alongside the Vedic god Prajapati and the Puranic god Brahma. His name is mentioned at the end of the full official name for Bangkok, Krung Thep Maha Nakon, that ends with the words Witsanukam Prasit and translates as ‘built by Vishnukam’. In Thai also known as Phra Witsanukam.

Vishvantara (विश्वन्तर)

Sanskrit for Wetsandorn.

vitarka (वितर्क)

Sanskrit. A mudra in which the Buddha holds one or two arms up in front of his chest, bent and with the hand(s) held forward forming a circle with the thumb and index finger. This mudra indicates ‘exposition’ and refers to education, just as the dhammachakka mudra (fig.), in which the Buddha forms a circle with both hands.

Vithura Chadok (วิธุรชาดก)

Thai name for one of the ten jataka, i.e. life stories of the previous incarnations of the Buddha, in which the bodhisattva was born as a wise man named Vithura Bandit. READ ON.


Dutch. Abbreviation for the old-Dutch ‘Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie’ or ‘Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie’ in contemporary Dutch spelling, and literally translated as ‘United East Indian Company’, but usually referred to as the Dutch East India Company.

votive tablet

A religious tablet or plaque made to convey a wish or request, or to express the fulfillment of a promise. Collections of similar-sized, usually antique votive tablets are oftentimes displayed in a wooden ledge, board or shelf-like structure (fig.), which may in addition be carved or decorated with floral or kranok motives, and shaped to resemble a temple gate (fig.). In Thai called phra phim. Compare with pata.

vo thuat (v thuật)

Vietnamese collective term for ‘martial arts’. READ ON.

vrata (व्रत)

Sanskrit-Hindi term for any vow or firm purpose. In Hinduism, the term indicates a form of religious self-control with the goal to carry out certain obligations or refrains, with the prospect of achieving divine blessing, often to obtain certain desires. This practice usually includes moral restraint and strict celibacy and devotees taking a vrata may wear a Brahmacharya cord around their waist, i.e. a simple white cord which has been blessed in the temple and reminds the wearer to keep the mind centreed above the waist in thought, word and deed. In Jainism, the laity follow five anu-vrata or lesser vows’, whilst monks follow five maha-vrata or great vows, namely: ahimsa or nonviolence; satya or truth; asteya or non-stealing; Brahmacharya, i.e. ‘meditation in Brahma’ or chastity; and aparigraha, meaning non-possession or non-attachment. See also satyagraha.

vyaghra (व्याघ्र)

Another English transcription as well as Sanskrit spelling for viagra.