A mystical take on the Tham Luang cave rescue

A mystical take on the Tham Luang cave rescue

Famous monk Kruba Boonchum Yannasangwalo returns to the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai for another religious ceremony on Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Famous monk Kruba Boonchum Yannasangwalo returns to the Tham Luang cave complex in Chiang Rai for another religious ceremony on Wednesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

The success of the Tham Luang cave search for 12 boys and their assistant football coach has brought acclaim and praise for the rescuers - but for some, a monk also deserves credit.

As search and rescue teams ventured deeper into the cave, Kruba Boonchum Yannasangwalo eased worries of authorities and the boys' parents, who camped outside Tham Luang since their children went missing on June 23.

"Don't worry. The boys are safe. They will come out in a few days," said the monk after performing religious rituals at the cave on Friday.

The following day, the monk led another ceremony to give moral support to the rescuers, saying,  "The Seal divers are not far from the boys."

Kruba is a Lanna word for a revered monk.

The presence of Kruba Boonchum could have provided more than just moral support, since what he said on Saturday turned out to be true. Divers found the group 400 metres from Pattaya beach on Monday night and all were safe.

The reason the monk went to the cave was itself mystically-related. It began on June 27, when Nattanuch Prasertong posted on her Facebook page that she had a dream. In the dream, a spiritual goddess told her that she would not let the boys return until the monk came to pray for her so that her karma would be dispelled.

"I don't want to be famous - I'm happy now with my restaurant," wrote the woman, who runs a restaurant in Chiang Dao district, Chiang Mai. She said she did not know the monk and posted the message in case it could help the boys and their coach.

"I don't know any monks because I stayed in the US for a long time and I'm not a strictly religious person," she told Matichon Online.

The monk walks with followers after praying near Tham Luang on Saturday. (Reuters photo)

Kruba Boonchum, 54, is a forest meditation monk who was born in Mae Chan district in Chiang Rai, has long lived at Wat Phra That Don Ruang in Pong town, Myanmar's Shan state.

The famous monk has made pilgrimages in northern Thailand, northeastern Myanmar and northern Laos and and has a large number of disciples in these areas. He is dubbed "the monk of the three nations".

After the Facebook message was shared, he meditated at Wat Ban Wieng Kaew in Chiang Saen district in Chiang Rai and was invited to lead ceremonies at the cave.

At the very least, his visit to the cave at least gave the family members hope. "I believed what Kruba told us, that the boys are safe there," one of the parents told the media on Friday.

Kruba Boonchum returned to Tham Luang on Wednesday to lead a religious ceremony for the third time. He did not speak, since he has observed a vow of silence since Sunday. One of his followers said the monk prayed for the boys to get back out of the cave safely. 

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