Phumborirak (the world guardians) refer to supernatural beings who look after and protect all mankind in the world from malignant illnesses or any sufferings and inauspiciousness and bless humans with prosperity, happiness, and well-being.
Phumborirak is a compound word formed by two words, Phum and Borirak Phum is a noun, meaning land or earth where mankind has dwelt upon for thousands of years. Borirak is a verb, meaning to protect, guard well, and govern.
Phumborirak is a belief inherited from the Eastern civilization. These supernatural beings include deities, non-human beings, and sacred animals who can be beneficial and be harmful to humans as they receive blessings from deities and attain supernatural power from thousand to ten thousand years of practicing religious austerity. According to Buddhist tradition, these beings reside in different domains.
Through strong faith, artists have been creating artworks and architectural works which represent Phumborirak, namely Garuda, Yaksha, and Naga, as an integral part of the works. These works carry both grandeur and traditions which have been passed down from generation to generation.
Although scientific discoveries and technological advancement have brought to light the truth that all things in the world depend on each other in ecosystems, not on supernatural power of any deities, the deferential attitude people have held towards nature and the worships they have conducted since ancient times have helped preserve the perfect condition of the ecosystems in the world, resulting in the well-being of mankind. Therefore, the strong beliefs which have been deeply rooted in people’s minds have played a significant role in supporting the preservation of old traditions which results in art conservation and nourishing of minds.
The three groups of Phumborirak were mentioned in ancient scriptures of different religions as beings who possess magical power.