The great intention of Khun Lek for nation is finally realized. Muang Boran now stands as a testimony to his devotion for the preservation of the country’s heritage, and becomes a famous touristic site, a pride of Samut Prakan. The highest honor and deeply moving event was when King Rama IX graciously chose Muang Boran to welcome Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh from the United Kingdom during their royal visit to Thailand on the 11th of February 1972. His beloved king’s recognition of Khun Lek efforts and devotion for Muang Boran was more fulfilling than any word could express.
After that Khun Lek was inspired to create another gigantic project. It was during the period of the cold war where people struggled to get on top of one another in a materialistic world. Khun Lek had a vision that human in our society lacks of the understanding in truth of nature and religion. In 1981, he built the Sanctuary of Truth at Bang Lamung District in Cholburi Province. It was an entirely carved wooden Prasat (sanctuary) - the biggest in Thailand, built to attract people to see the noble truth in religion, viewed as the philosophy that supports world peace and happiness.
Thousands of wood carvings at the Sanctuary of Truth are meant to represent the concept underlying. Heaven, earth, father, mother, sun, moon, and star; these seven origins have been giving birth as many beings on earth and also giving energy to all life forms. But at last, the greatest of all is only the emptiness. This is the allegoric thought from Khun Lek Viriyahbhun in each carving of the Sanctuary of Truth.
The Founder Biography
Khun Lek Viriyahbhun; the museum founder, was born in Bangkok in 1914 to a Chinese immigrant family. His father was in pharmaceutical business. He had chose to study political science at Shanghai University and graduated when he was 22. When Khun had returned to Thailand, he inherited family business. This made him met Khun Praphai Viriyahphanich, a daughter of nobleman; Khun Vijarnphanich (Chum). After they had spent their time in a relationship, they decided to tie the knot and build up a family together.
He was the co-founder of Monthon Bank, later merged with Agriculture Bank and changed the name to Krung Thai Bank, and in charge of the credit line. Then he bought Thonburi Phanich business and established Thonburi Auto Assembly Plant.
In addition to being a widely successful businessman, Khun Lek also had deep personal interest in art, religion, philosophy, and history. He was very concerned that the long history of finest culture and heritage was going downhill because there was not enough continuation. The historical sites will be lack of patrons and historical objects are depreciated from human eyes till them almost fall into foreign hand. This made him used his free time in studying and collecting antique. Whenever possible, Khun Lek would devote his time and asset bringing a study team to different ancient sites in the country to see and learn in depth about the source of each artifact. It can say that, all of culture treasure collected can possible by spending his spirit, his inner strength, and his asset in exchange. All historical objects are full of educational detail and equivalent to a national treasure.
Erawan Museum ignited by Khun Lek’s initiative and Khun Pagpean, his eldest son took over the details of its construction. That was how the Erawan Museum was conceived. For Khun Lek intention, this will not only to showcase the precious and priceless artifacts, but also promote the Asian Religious art to modern people by the museum four religious pillars.
Unfortunately during Erawan Museum construction, Khun Praphai; Khun Lek’ s wife, who had been his inspiration, his counselor, his friend and his partner, always there for him behind all his success in life over 50 years, fell ill with diabetes and eventually passed away on the 29th of April 1992. As a memorial for his beloved wife, Khun Lek designed a Mandapa Prasat (or a pillared sanctuary) in Muang Boran, keeping the body of Khun Praphai in a white lotus inside the Mandapa.
Khun Lek Viriyahbhun passed away of old age on the 17th of November 2000 at the age of 86. Khun Lek and Khun Praphai bodies were graciously granted the royal cremation together by HM the King at the Depsirin Temple on the 4th of September 2001.
Although Khun Lek and Khun Praphai had passed away, their children and their heirs concentrated all of effort on Khun Lek and Khun Praphai Viriyahbhun honest intention with their honors to ensure that the founder wish will remain eternally.
In 1963 when he turned 49; Khun Lek initiated a grand project of building up Muang Boran in Samut Prakan province; the only place where people can learn Siamese True heritages through the duplication from the original and creation base on historical evidence. No less than 10 years of knowledge accrued from frequent trips to different ancient sites gave Khun Lek a solid cultural background not only on history and art but also first-hand exposure to the local way of life of the people from different regions in Thailand. This rich pool of knowledge was put to good use during the construction in Muang Boran of ancient sites around the country making it a great success, rich with complete details, content, painting, art and architecture as Khun Lek intention.