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The legend of thunder, a flash and stroke lightening

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People in the east such as India, China and countries in the Indochinese peninsula, including Thais, believe that all phenomenon of thunder, flashes and strokes of lightening occur because of the magic power of the Mekla ( the goddes of lightening )’s magic glass ball ( crystal ball ) and Ramasura ( the god of thunder )’s magic axe as the story tells.

 

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Mekla is a goddes who looks after territorial water. She is the one who holds a glass ball, teasing Ramasura to throw the axe that causes a flash of lightening and thunders. As said in Thai folk tale, Mekla had her own crystal ball. The beauty of both Mekla and her crystal charmed Ramasura. So he chased her around but never catched Mekla. When he could not catch Mekla, he threw his axe to Mekla but it never hit her because Mekla used her magic crystal to flash so it made Ramasura temporarily blind.

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In some old Thai literature such as Cha Lerm Tri Pob, saying that there was a Dragon King keeping a crystal ball in his mouth. When he traveled, he kept it on his head. He got an angel wife. They later had a doughter named Mekla who had grown up beautiful. The Dragon King gave Mekla and his crystal ball to Shiva. Mekla naughtily stole the crystal ball. Rahu wanted to catch Mekla in order to favour Shiva. He then asked his friend, Ramasura, to go with him. Ramasura was the one who threw the axe that caused thunders.

Mekla's helping
Pra Chanok

There is no direct story of Ramasura and Mekla in Sanskrit literature, except in Ramayana, which mentions Ramasura (Porasurama). It says that Ramasura was a demon angel possessing a diamond axe. In rainy season, Gods and Goddesses were playing and dancing. Ramasura chased a Goddess until he faced Pra Orachun. They fought and Ramasura managed to kill Pra Orachun. In Bali literature, it says that Mekla had duty to look after territorial waters, helping drown virtue persons such as Pra Chanok and Pra Samut Kosa. In the Indian version, there is a word “manee” included in the name of Mekla. So it became “Manee Mekla” which is the same as the one mentioned in Thai folk tale.

There is more story about this; saying that Ramasura, Mekla, and Pra Orachun gathered to celebrate. Pra Orachun was, then, Indhra who creates rainy storm. On this duty, he is called Pun Chun Ya or Pun Chai Nawat. Thais call “Pra Prachun”. At the assembly of Gods of rains, Mekla (having a crystal) and Ramasura (having an axe) then created thunders, flashes and strokes of lightning. This Thai tale was influenced by Indian Culture.

Chinese Mekla is called "Ngek Ning", meaning Jade Lady, and sometime called Tien Bor, meaning God of Flashes of lightning. But do not possess a crystal but, instead, holding flags or miror that creates flashes and reflections.

 

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Ramasura, the one that create thunders, is a demon who uses an axe as his weapon. The story of Ramasura is always associated with Mekla’s. Some say Ramasura originates from Porasurama in the Ten Episodes of Narayana. The sixth episode tells us that Porasurama was a Brahma, a son of ascetic Chomtasanee and Renuka. He had an axe as a weapon. He nearly completed his penance practice at top level, so called Porabrahma. He is quick-tempered so that he was called “Na Yak” which means “Low”. When he faced Pra Rama whom he dare to fight and he later lost to Pra Rama. Pra Rama did not kill him because he was a Brahma. Instead, Pra Rama gave him options whether to shoot an arrow to destroy Makka (the way to the land of civilisation) or Bhola (the land of civilisation which could be succeeded by practising penance). Porasumara chose to destroy the latter one.

Ramasura gave his arrow to Pra Ram

In Ramayana, Ramasura is a demon angel having a diamond axe as a weapon. In rainy season, angels were dancing. Ramasura chased after Mekla until he faced Pra Orachun. They fought and Ramasura managed to grab Orachun’s legs then stroke to the Mount Pra Sumeru, that cruel strike killed Pra Orachun. He once met Pra Rama, who just came back from his wedding and heading for Ayodhaya, and they fought. He surrendered after knowing that Pra Rama was Ramayana. He then dedicated his arrow that Shiva gave to his grandfather, to Pra Ram.

Thai folk says Ramasura is a demon with a diamond axe as a weapon. He is a friend of Rahu’s. When Rahu drank Narayana’s ambrosia water. Narayana got angry and threw Chakra to cut off Rahu’s body in half. Rahu was not dead because he had drunk ambrosia water. Ramasura thought he could help his friend by asking for a magic wish from Indhra. At the time, Mekla just stole Indhra’s crystal ball. Ramasura wished to do Indhra a favour. So he tried to catch Mekla for Indhra. But it was not that easy because Mekla managed to dodge around and threw a crystal ball to trick Ramasura. Ramasura then threw his diamond axe but it could not do any harm to Mekla because the crystal ball protected Mekla. Both of them are tricking and dodging around. Mekla’s crystal ball caused flashes and strokes of lightning. Thunders were cause by diamond axe thrown by Ramasura.

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A Chinese Ramasura named "Lui Kon". This one has an ugly face, hairy like monkey, garuda alike, black or green skin, wings as bats’, feet with claw like hawk’s. Drums are bided with string to make a sash. Drums beaten by Lui Kon cause the thunders. Some say that Lui Kon had a chisel on one hand, another hand was holding an axe and a hammer. Lui Kon was the one who punishes bad persons by striking the thunder. He once made a mistake by striking thunder to a person whom he thought that person had thrown away rice (considered as a very important food for human), the man actually had thrown water melon peels.

Lui Jow, the supreme leader, knew about this mistake Lui Kon committed. So he ordered Ngek Ning (Jade lady), sometimes called Tien Bor, who is a Chinese Mekla to use mirror to reflect light and wave flags in order to inform Lui Kon which one was a bad person and deserved punishment. Lui Kon once struck thunder to kill a peasant’s child. The child’s father pledged to Lui Kon and convinced him that the child was innocent. After Lui Kon had reconsidered, he believed that the child did not actually do any guilt and he then struck thunder to the child’s body again to make the child alive.

At the other time, Lui Kon accidentally got himself stuck at the fork of the tree. He had to ask a firewood man help him out. The firewood man then used stone to make a wedge to spread out the fork of the tree and, finally, release Lui Kon out of the tree. Lui Kon returned the favour by giving the firewood man a magic book for calling rain and curing illnesses. The firewood man used that magic book to help people and become rich. One day, the firwood man was drunk and felt asleep at the holy shrine. The governor arrested him. He asked Lui Kon for help. Lui Kon then struck thunders. So the governor inevitably had to release a firewood man.

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Translator : Aketawan Manowongsa
22 Auguest 2000
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