Sak Yant Rules of Conduct
Learn about the rules that must be followed to keep the Magic of a Sak Yant Tattoo
The Sak Yant Rules of Conduct
Perhaps one of the misunderstood elements of receiving a Sak Yant Tattoo is the set of Sak Yant Rules that are associated with maintaining the power of the Tattoo. The confusion arises for 2 very simple reasons .....
Each Sak Yant Tradition has their own Sak Yant Rules of Conduct
Almost all Rules cited on the internet come from Wat Bang Phra (a training center for Monks)
Like Christianity, and Buddhism, the Sak Yant tradition has many different schools of styles along with the lines of lineage from master to student. Each lineage of Sak Yant has a set of rules that the Monk or Ajarn tells the student (receiver of a Sak Yant Tattoo), that they themselves where taught by their Sak Yant Master. Over time many of these rules which in the past applied only to Monks and Thai people, have become distorted and translated into some odd and peculiar meanings.
Why is there confusion over the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct?
When a student (the term used for someone who has a Sak Yant Tattoo) discovers that there are Sak Yant Rules of Conduct, and nothing was mentioned or understood at the time of getting one. The most likely plan of action is to search the internet to put something in their blog post. Remember for centuries the Sak Yant Tattoo has been obtained mostly by rural Thai people where the tradition survived and has only recently become mainstream with Westerners.
With the increasing popularity in the last few years along side of the use of the internet, Wat Bang Phra in Bangkok has become well known since it is the largest provider and training center for the Yantra traditions. Naturally the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct from the largest provider of Sak Yants has become the predominant source quoted, while the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct from other schools and lineages remain largely unknown.
What is wrong with the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct from Wat Bang Phra?
Absolutely nothing ... If you are a novice Monk living at the temple and being trained in ways of being a Monk. But we will assume if you are reading this post, you are a westerner interested in getting a Sak Yant in Thailand, and curious as to the Rules of Conduct for yourself. As such you do not have to follow some of the strange rules that have been created and listed for Novice Monks. This article will break down the rules from Wat Bang Phra and explain why they do not apply to you. However lets first look at what Rules do apply
Sak Yant Tattoo Rules of Conduct
Why do Sak Yant Tattoos have Rules of Conduct?
The purpose of a Sak Yant is to provide a Magical Blessing with a intention that should generally have a compassionate nature. The Asian communities consider this magic to be powerful and once given in the blessing requires commitment on behalf of the student to be maintained (nothing comes for free after all). So to ensure that the power of the magic lasts, the person with the Sak Yant must lead a good life and be a good person, or else the power of the Yant will fade. The bottom line is .... Only good people can benefit from the Power of the Sak Yant.
Generally the major precepts of Buddhism come into play here. These rules are pretty standard among almost all religions and by societies rules of leading a good and lawful life.
The Buddhist Concepts and Sak Yant Rules of Conduct
Do not kill
Do not steal
Do not desire another persons lover or spouse or be unfaithful to your own
Do not lie
Do not get Intoxicated
Do Not speak ill of your Mother
Each lineage of Sak Yant, and even individual Monks and Ajarns may add and expand on these rules, including ....
Do not commit evil deeds.
Devotees of the same master are forbidden to fight or compete with each other
Do not drink alcohol or take drugs.
Do not make special claims of having protective powers because of your yant or amulets.
Do not think that the power of the yant will protect you if you intend to use those powers for bad deeds.
Try to keep the five precepts.
Wat Bang Phra's Sak Yant Rules of Conduct
As mentioned above, almost all the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct that are posted online come from Wat Bang Phra which is a Temple, Monastery and training center for Monks and Sak Yant Tattoos. Monks highly respect their teachers and their lineage (you may see photos and statues of Monks around various Temples), and follow word for word what their Masters have taught them. This has lead to (over time and translations) some distortions in the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct which makes some of them sound odd. Following are the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct from Wat Bang Phra
Do not eat Star fruit, Pumpkin, or any other ‘Gourd’ type Vegetable.
Do not be anybody's Lover who is already married
Do not slander anybody’s Mother
Do not eat food from a Wedding, or Funeral banquet.
Do not eat left-Overs.
Do not duck under a washing Line, or an overhanging building.
Do not duck under a Banana Tree of the type Thaanii (classed as important to avoid).
Do not cross a single head bridge; Large or Small bridges are not Forbidden
Do not sit on a Ceramic Urn (Common in Thailand). Especially a Cracked, or Broken one.
Do not let a Woman Lie on top of you, or sit on top either.
Do not permit a Man to be brushed by the blouse or skirt of a Woman, or crossed in Front of; Especially during the Menstruation Period
If you where to read these rules in the light of knowing they are historically for novice Monks, some (but not all) start to make more sense.
Not eating food from a Wedding or Funeral or leftovers, refers to Monks only being able to eat once a day before noon. For the general Thai population it means do not eat food from a Spirit House
Monks also have to avoid temptation and impurities. A washing line may have women's under garments hanging from them, (as might a Banana tree in rural areas) and so to avoid the possibility menstruation contact - better to just avoid going under and go around.
Some of the rules are obvious in leading a good life, others I confess, I have no clue as to why they are there. Many people who write about the Rules will attempt to explain them - but these are usually inconsistent and vague. The Monks and Ajarns I have asked, tend to say something along the lines of 'that's what my master told me'. The Thai people and culture generally do not question authority ... what is, is, and that's it.
As a westerner, I can speculate, that with a Temple fill of young children running around and playing, Urns may have gotten broken, children may have fallen off small beams as they played and balanced walking across. Maybe like any school with kids, rules where created and a reward offered (The Sak Yant). And as each student honors their teacher, maybe these school rules got past down as well. (If anyone truly knows please email me so I can correct this post)
The bottom line is, as a westerner (or indeed as a Thai person) you do not have to take the rules you read online in internet posts as gospel. It is assumed when you get your Sak Yant that you are a Buddhist or at least follow the general guidelines of almost all religions. Sometimes the Monk or Ajarn will highlight these rules, sometimes they will not. Each has their own lineage and ways of doing things. The most important thing to remember is that the Sak Yant is sacred. In order to remain sacred it's bearer should be a good person and lead a good life. This is essentially the purpose of the Sak Yant Rules of Conduct.