168 The Venerable Acharn's Ashes Become RelicsThose who had been able to obtain the Venerable Acharn's ashes after the cremation took them back to their homes and enshrined them there, regarding them as objects of the highest veneration. In the fours years that followed the cremation, nothing extraordinary happened.
Then, one day, a Mrs. Van Khamanamool went to the town of Sakol Nakhorn where the Venerable Acharn had died, to make merit in offering robes to bhikkhus outside of the Rains Retreat. She was given some ashes from a piece of burnt bone from the upper part of the Venerable Acharn's body by the Lord Abbot of Wat Suddhavas, where the Venerable Acharn died and was cremated. She brought these ashes to her home, intending to put them in the urn which already contained ashes which she had received the day after the cremation of the Venerable Acharn took place. On opening the urn, she was struck dumb with wonder, for the ashes which she had previously received had all become relics [smooth and glossy grains, sand-like in appearance, resembling relics of the Buddha and some other arahant disciples in ancient times]. She had another urn containing his ashes which she kept in the hotel which she owned. She immediately went to the hotel and found that those ashes as well had become relics. In both urns there were all together three hundred and forty-four grains. Only the very finest of the ashes had remained as ashes, but these too later underwent the same transformation. This was the first known case of the Venerable Acharn's ashes becoming relics.
News of this spread far and wide. People thronged to her house to see this miracle and to ask for some of the relics for themselves. Mrs. Van Khamanamool was by nature a generous person and gladly gave away her relics to whoever asked for them. The writer himself had been given relics of the Venerable Acharn on two occasions, the first time five grains and the second time two. The writer couldn't help telling others of his good fortune in having been given his relics and was asked by many to produce them so that they could see them for themselves. The more often they were shown, the smaller their number became. Of those who saw, many could not help asking for them, and the writer could not help but give them away one by one until there wasn't one grain left. The writer was quite content in giving them away, even though it meant being deprived of them himself. Mrs. Van Khamanamool too had almost none left in her possession.
More and more incidents of the Venerable Acharn's ashes becoming relics were reported after this by whoever possessed them. Even today there are still occasional reports, but they are known mostly within the small circle of the owner's family and relatives. The reason such incidents are not widely known is because those who possess his relics are unwilling to share them with those who might ask for them if and when the news became common knowledge. Each regards his relics as the rarest of treasures. It is believed that anyone who does not have sufficient merit with regards to the Venerable Acharn will never possess his relics. Perhaps the writer should be included here as well, for having been given so many of his relics, he now has none left.
There are also stories of other wonders connected with the Venerable Acharn's relics. Two grains were reported to have become three, symbolic of the Triple Gem, in response to the possessor's earnest wish. In another case, one who possessed his relics, having learned of the above instance, also wanted his two grains to multiply, but instead of multiplying, they merged and became one! This person was very disappointed and came to see the writer for an explanation. The writer told him that those relics came from the same source. It didn't matter whether they were one, two, three or more in number. They therefore possessed the same holiness. That the two grains had merged into one was in itself a miracle. Of what use is there to wish for more ?
The Venerable Acharn's hair, which was shaved once a fortnight, was also found to have become relics when enshrined in some place.
There is another case involving a senior government official who had been deeply impressed in the Venerable Acharn. He had been a great help to everyone during the preparations for the Venerable Acharn's cremation up until the day of the cremation itself. When the senior bhikkhu at Wat Suddhavas was offered some of the Venerable Acharn's relics by Mrs. Van Khamanamool, he naturally remembered this government official and the great sacrifices he had made. One morning when this government official came to the Wat to pay respects to the senior bhikkhu, the senior bhikkhu gave him two of the relics he had received. This official hadn't prepared any receptacle, so he carefully placed them in a snuff bottle and put the bottle in his pocket. So overjoyed was he at his good fortune all that day that his mind was constantly fixed on the treasure in his pocket.
On reaching home that evening, he joyfully told the members of his family about his unexpected good fortune. An urn was brought out and the snuff bottle opened. This official was struck dumb with wonder for the two relics he had received that morning had become three! He told his family of the wonder of the relics, but his wife and children didn't believe him. They were certain that in his excitement he had miscounted them. He was sure that this was not the case and told them how impossible it would have been to miscount so small a number. He went on to tell them that if they didn't believe him he would gladly take them to see the bhikkhu the following morning. His family, however, insisted that they go and see the bhikkhu that very night! So off they went to the Wat to ask the bhikkhu how many relics he had given him that morning. The bhikkhu confirmed the fact that he had given him two relics and wanted to know if the official had lost one. The official turned to his wife and smiled, and then told the bhikkhu all that had happened.
The bhikkhu told them how rare an opportunity it was for a person to come across the relics of an arahant. He also told them to be careful in preserving them, i.e. to be always be well behaved and to establish themselves on the Path of Dharma. The relics had miraculously come and could just as miraculously go. For many people it is easy to believe in evil things, but difficult to believe in good ones. It is for this reason that there are so many evil persons in the world and so few good ones. Any impartial observation will reveal how even we ourselves are inclined to think evil rather than to think of dharma.
The government official and his wife were both delighted by his instruction and returned home overjoyed.