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Unit 3 Message of the Land Pira Sudham Background Information Author Bangkok Thai Buddhism Author Pira Sudham is considered Thailand's leading English language writer, who was nominated for the 1990 Nobel Prize for Literature. His literary works are concerned with social-economicpolitical changes occurring in Thailand. Widely read and highly acclaimed, his books have given an expedient voice to the poor and the voiceless. Bangkok Bangkok, population 8,538,610 (1990), is the capital and largest city of Thailand. The city is located on the east bank of the Chao Phraya River, near the Gulf of Thailand. Bangkok is one of the fastest-growing, most economically dynamic and socially progressive cities in Southeast Asia. Local people like to think that it is emerging as a regional centre to rival Singapore and Hong Kong (SAR), China, but it suffers from major infrastructure and social problems as a result of its rapid growth. It is also one of the world's most popular tourist destinations. Bangkok from the Chao Phraya River at sunset, July 2004 Bangkok Bangkok's educational and cultural facilities include several universities, a fine arts academy, a national theater and a national museum. Processed food, timber, and textiles are leading exports. Industrial plants include rice mills, cement factories, sawmills, oil refineries, and shipyards. The city is a famous jewelry center, buying and selling silver and bronze ware. Thai Buddhism Buddhism is Thailand's main religion. 94% of Thai people are Buddhist. The other are Muslim, Catholic or Chinese. Buddhism was born 2,546 years ago (the official year in Thailand is the year 2003 and the traditional year is the year 2546). Buddhism is linked with the historical Indian prince, Siddharta Gautama, who became the Buddha and reached the enlightenment. Now his teachings are still followed. His teachings say that people suffer because they are attached to material things, to women or men by heart links. These links cause suffer, jealousy so pain. People are never satisfied, i.e. they want more money, more power. The aim of Buddhism is to get rid of these pains and of these links. There are several kinds of Buddhism. Thai Buddhism is called Theravada Buddhism. Thai Buddhism Everyone can hope to reach enlightenment one day but path shall be long. It takes many lives. Each time somebody or an animal dies, it reincarnates in something else. It is the endless cycle of existence. The rebirth depends on your "KARMA". If you have done good deeds in your life, next life will be better. If you have done bad deeds, next life will be harsh. Thai Buddhism is fascinating because it is mixed with older religions (Animism, Brahmanism) which were present before the introduction of Buddhism in Thailand. Nowadays the influence of the previous religions is still present.