The Legend of Phra Chao Liap Lok
The legend of Phra Chao Liap Lok or the legend of the Buddha’s Journeys is Thai Buddhist folk literature, particularly in the northern and northeastern regions of Thailand. In some areas the legend is called “Buddha Tamnan” or “Buddha Tamnan Phra Chao Liap Lok”. It is a story of the Buddha’s journeys to Sipsong Panna, Lanna, Lan Chang and Thailand’s northeastern region. The legend explains the geography, history and culture of various communities and ethnic groups along the route the Buddha took in his journeys to disseminate his teachings. The legend says that he gave some of his hair to various communities and left the footprints in places he visited. The creation of structures containing the Buddha’s relics and footprints in these places sprang from the legend.
The legend of the Buddha’s Journeys records the local history of communities and the history of the adoption of Buddhism in regions in South East Asia, particularly in the 21st Buddhist century. It is told through the records of the Buddha’s journeys, which turned the places where he visited into sacred places of pilgrimage. The legend also explains the origin of geographical names and describes the people’s way of life and the ethnic groups in each area. This provides a common ground among the people of different regions and areas to feel connected through shared ideology, belief and faith in Buddhism - in particular the belief concerning the veneration of the Buddha’s relics and footprints. The legend also plays a significant role in providing the model and norm for other areas and communities in the North and Northeast of Thailand in their creation of the Buddhist literature of this particular genre that focuses on the Buddha’s relics and footprints.