Buddha Statue - Antique Thai Style Bronze Rattanakosin Enlightenment Buddha Statue - 21cm/8"

Buddhism During the Rattanakosin Period in Thailand


The Rattanakosin period in Thailand, also known as the Bangkok period, marked a significant era in the country's history, with profound developments in politics, culture, and religion. Buddhism, deeply rooted in Thai society, played a central role during this time. In this Blog, we will explore the history of Buddhism during the Rattanakosin period in Thailand, focusing on its evolution, influence, and contributions to the nation's cultural and spiritual landscape.

Historical Context

The Rattanakosin period began in 1782 with the founding of the city of Bangkok by King Rama I. It marked the establishment of the Chakri Dynasty, which continues to rule Thailand to this day. During this era, Buddhism remained a powerful and influential force in Thai society, as it had been for centuries. The monarchs of the Chakri Dynasty, in particular, were known for their strong patronage of Buddhism and their efforts to promote and protect the faith.

Continuation of Theravada Buddhism

Thailand's strong commitment to Theravada Buddhism continued during the Rattanakosin period. Theravada Buddhism, the oldest and most traditional branch of Buddhism, emphasizes the teachings of the Pali Canon and the monastic discipline of the Sangha (community of monks). This tradition was preserved and promoted by the royal court and monastic institutions.

Monastic Reforms and Development

The Chakri kings, especially King Rama IV (King Mongkut) and King Rama V (King Chulalongkorn), played a significant role in reforming and revitalizing the monastic community. King Rama IV was a devout Buddhist and a monk himself before ascending the throne. He initiated reforms aimed at improving the discipline and education of the monastic order. These reforms included the compilation of the Thammayut Nikaya, a reformist monastic code, which continues to be influential among Thai monks.

King Rama V is often celebrated for his comprehensive reforms, known as the Bowring Treaty, which helped alleviate burdens on the monastic community. These reforms promoted religious freedom and granted monks greater autonomy and legal recognition.

 Rattanakosin Buddha 

Cultural Integration

Buddhism in Thailand has always been deeply integrated into the nation's culture and traditions. During the Rattanakosin period, this integration continued to flourish. The construction of grand temples, such as Wat Phra Kaew (Temple of the Emerald Buddha) and Wat Pho (Temple of the Reclining Buddha), exemplified the fusion of art, culture, and religion in Thai society. These temples became iconic landmarks that showcased the rich artistic and architectural heritage of Thai Buddhism.

International Relations

The Rattanakosin period saw significant interactions between Thailand and other Buddhist nations. Thailand established diplomatic and religious connections with countries like Sri Lanka, Burma (Myanmar), and Cambodia to strengthen the Theravada Buddhist tradition. Monastic exchanges and scholarly collaborations became prevalent, further enriching the religious and intellectual landscape of Thailand.

Modern Challenges and Adaptation

While Buddhism continued to be an integral part of Thai life during the Rattanakosin period, it was not immune to challenges. The rise of modernization and changing social dynamics posed new questions and challenges for the faith. Monks and scholars adapted to address these issues and help the faith remain relevant to contemporary society.


Buddhism remained a cornerstone of Thai culture and spirituality during the Rattanakosin period. The Chakri Dynasty's commitment to preserving and promoting the Theravada tradition, coupled with reforms and cultural integration, helped sustain the role of Buddhism in Thai society.

The historical legacy of this period is evident in the profound influence of Buddhism on contemporary Thailand, where the faith continues to shape the country's cultural and spiritual identity.

 Rattanakosin Ganesha