Phya Khankhaak (พญาคางคก) King of the Toads

Water Cosmology in Folk Mythology

'Phya Khankhaak, the Toad King

This book ‘Phya Khankhaak, the Toad King : A Translation of an Isan Fertility Myth into English Verse’ by Wajuppa Tossa, is about the Toad Kings revolt against the rain god who refuses to send rain to earth. The myth itself, as Wajuppa claims, besides mere entertainment, carries important implications to the Isaan people. Wajuppa further elaborates the relations of the story with the beliefs Isaan people have on natural catastrophes and the way they cope with such phenomenon, especially flood and draught, through different ceremonies concerning spiritual practices throughout the year round.

When the Lord Buddha was in his bodhisatta incarnation as King of the Toads : Phya KhanKhaak (พญาคางคก), and married to Udon Khuruthawip (อุดรคู่รู้ทวิป), he became a powerful king with all the kings from all human, demon, animal, and angel lands as his protectorates. Every creature in the universe came to pay tribute and homage to Phya Khankhaak, but neglected to pay tribute and regards to Phya Thaen (พญาแถน), King of the Sky. Angry about the lack of respect payed to him, Phya Thaen refused to let the Naga play in his lake in heaven. As a result for seven years, seven months and seven days, the whole universe was faced with the catastrophe of drought.
Acting against the advice of the Toad King, Phya Naga (พญานาค Phyanak), King of the Naga (and personification of the Mekong) declared war on Phya Thaen — and lost. Persuaded by Phya Naga to assume command, King Toad enlisted the aid of termites to build mounds reaching to the heavens, and of venomous scorpions and centipedes to attack Phya Thaen’s feet, and of hornets for air support.

Battle of the Toad King

After a long, perilous, and miraculous battle, Phya Khankhaak was victorious. He then taught Phya Thaen to be just and to bestow rain to the universe seasonally. A treaty was formed and Phya Khankhaak came back to rule the fertile earth happily.

At the end of the hot, dry season Naga Rockets are fired into the air not to threaten Phya Thaen, but to serve as a reminder to him of his treaty obligations made to Lord Bodhisatta Phya KhanKhaak, King of the Toads, down on the ground.

Get the Toad King (พญาคางคก) here

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