This introductory chapter narrates the story of “Mae Nak Phrakhanong” (Mother Nak of Phrakhanong District), and discusses its influence in Thai Buddhism. In the story, a female ghost terrified a small village in Bangkok. With her long fingernails she gutted any person who attempted to tell her husband that she was merely the specter of his wife. All the while her husband, Mak, lived unaware that his beautiful and caring wife was indeed a ghost. When he realized her true nature, he was torn between the love for his departed and the fear of her ghost. In the end, a Buddhist monk Somdet To used Pali incantations to release the ghost, thus freeing Mak and his village. The story can be considered one of the central concerns of Thai Buddhism with its numerous images, stories, rituals, and amulets associated with Somdet To and Mae Nak.
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