Nayaka Sayadaw of Mahagandharama
The boy who was to grow up to become a celebrated teacher of Pali Scriptures and the Abbot of the famous Mahagandharama Monastery of Amarapura, Mandalay Division, was born on Tuesday the fourteenthth waning day of Tabodwe 1261, ME. (27 February 1900) of U Zaw Ti and Daw Ohn Hline in Tha-yine village, Wetlet township, Shwebo district, Sagaing Division.
In 1266, when he was five years old, he was sent to the local monastery and was initiated for the first time in accordance with traditional custom into the Order of the Samgha as a novice, samanera. Nine years later in 1275 when he was initiated for the second time into the Order, it was to spend his life-time as a disciple of the Buddha in His Dispensation.
At the age of eighteen in 1279 M.E. (1918) while he was still a samnanera, he passed the Government examination at the higher level Pathamagyi.
When he came of age he was ordained a full-fledged Buddhist monk with the title of U Janaka on the Full-moon day of Tabaung 1280 M.E. (1919). He had the distinction of being ordained thrice in his life, the second time on the Full-moon day of Nayon 1281 M.E. (1920) and the third on the Full-moon day of Tabaung, 1281 M.E. (1920).
His preceptor saw to it that he studied under the best teachers in the two most prominent centres of Pariyatti learning in Myanmar, namely, Mandalay and Pakhokku. The advanced courses in the Pali Canon, the Commentaries, Sub-commentaries, exegeses, and expositions were thoroughly learned from the most distinguished teachers of these centres where he was afforded the opportunity of acting as a probationary teacher himself under their guidance.
Thus to pass the Government Pathamagyaw examination in 1287, standing first, and to gain outright success in the specially difficult Sakyasiha-Lecturership examination in 1289 for the title of Pariyattisasanahita Dhammacariya were for him just matters of routine.
By that time he had already started launching his whole time job of writing books which were to be useful guides and manuals for his thousands of students who later gathered round him till he passed away. He also wrote many small manuals for lay Buddhists who have no opportunity to study the Teaching of the Buddha directly from the Pali Canon.
It was at the time when the rumblings of the World War II began to reach the shores of Myanmar and the Japanese forces began to appear at the eastern border that the Venerable Janakabhivamsa who had already become a noted teacher and writer began to settle down in his own monastery at Amarapura, about 6 miles south of Mandalay. It was an old monastery called Mahagandharama which belonged to his mentor the First Mahagandharama Sayadaw. There were only three dilapidated buildings with five resident monks including himself when he decided to settle down there and bring it up to be a prosperous monastic educational institution.
That he had succeeded in his endeavour even beyond his expectations was evidenced by the fact that when he passed away in 1977, there were over 500 bhikkhu and samanera disciples under his charge as residential students of Tipitaka, strictly following the Vinaya (Disciplinary) Rules as laid down by the Buddha, and 97 monastic dwellings donated by devotees. He had managed to provide residential accommodation for all his students and early morning meal for all of them. The midday meal was collected by the students by going on alms-round. He was among the first recipients of the title of Aggamahapandita, the Superior Learned One, bestowed by the first President of Independent Myanmar.
For full thirty five years between 1942 and 1977, he was intensely and incessantly active in the cause of purification and propagation of the Sasana, conducting courses of instruction in Pitakas, writing text books and sub-commentaries and many religious handbooks for lay people.
At the time of the Sixth Buddhist Council which was begun in May 1954, he was busily engaged in various committees: as an advisor, Chattha Sangiti Ovadacariya Samgha Nayaka; as Performer of various duties at the Sixth Council, Chattha Sangiti Bharanittharaka, as an editor of Pali Texts, Chattha Sangiti Palipativisodhaka; and a Reader of Texts which have reached the final stage of redaction, Osanasodheyyapattapathaka.
Throughout all these years while he was actively engaged in teaching, in administration of his fast growing monastery with attendant supervision of constructions and provision of accommodation and meals for increasing number of students and attending to duties incumbent upon being appointed a member of many committees of the Sixth Council, he never failed to continue writing books and managing their publication.
He wrote in all 74 books made up of 11 books on Pali grammar, 14 books on Vinaya, 14 books on Abhidhamma, 8 books on Suttanta Pitaka and 24 books on miscellaneous subjects dealing with all aspects of Buddhist Teaching and Sasana; he managed to publish 50 of them before he passed away.
He started writing books from the time he became a Thera of ten years standing at the age of thirty (1930) and continued to do so till 5 days before his death on December 1977. He had great desire to help the bhikkhu students of Pali Canon master easily the teachings of the Buddha including their expositions in the Commentaries and Sub-commentaries. He also had in mind to give as much Buddhist education to the lay disciples who are incapable of devoting entirely to the study of scriptures, by writing popular books such as this one, "Abhidhamma in Daily Life", for example. "The Last Ten Months of the Buddha" was another book written for the benefit of laymen. It was a strange coincidence that as the Revered Sayadaw was coming to an end of his discourse on the Mahaparinibbana Sutta, Mahavagga of Digha Nikaya and its Commentary in December, 1977, eleven months away from his demise he started writing "The Last Ten Months of the Buddha".
It was also during these last eleven months that he compiled an autobiography "Tabhava Samsara" dealing with all aspects of his life, touching on his struggles, pains, hostilities, jealousies, triumphs and above all on his metta, karuna, cetana for all beings with the greatest kindness for Myanmar people. He managed to complete his autobiography up to 13 days before he expired, the last gap being filled and completed by his devoted disciple Bhaddanta Candobhasa.
The illustrious author, the Venerable Bhaddanta Janakabhivamsa passed away after a short illness, at the age of 78 on the 2nd waning of Nattaw, 1339 M.E., 27th December 1977, a great loss for all Myanmar and the Buddha Sasana.
(From 'Abhidhamma in Daily Life', translated by U Ko Lay, 1999)
(Born in 1921)
The Sayadaw was born in Waw Township, Bago District, Myanmar in 1921 to U Tha Phyo and Daw Pu. He became a samanera at the age of nine at the Waw Monastery. He studied at various learning monasteries, amongst which are the two well-known Shwe-hintha forest monastery and the Maydhini forest monastery.
He attained the title of Dhamma Lecturership in 1956, and another title of Dhamma Lecturership in 1958. On 4th January 1998, the 7th Waxing of Pyatho, 1359 M.E (the Golden Jubilee Independence Day of Myanmar) he attained a yet higher title of Dhamma Lecturenship, that of Agga Maha Kammatthanacariya.
The Sayadaw taught Buddhist Scriptures to about two hundred monks daily at the Maydhini forest monastery for twenty years. After having meditated under the tutelage of the late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw for a year, the Sayadaw decided to teach meditation. He founded the Saddhammaransi Meditation centre in 1978. The centre is now catering to two hundred yogis daily.
The Saddhammaransi meditation centre has three branches: -
(1) Sukhapatipada Saddhammaransi meditation centre at Kyauk-kon, Yangon, founded in 1993.
(2) Vivekatawya Saddhammaransi meditation centre founded in 1994, at Nyaunglebin
(3) Khippabhinna Saddhammaransi meditation centre of Jndyne, founded in 1995.
The Sayadaw is also a prolific writer and has published several Dhamma books. He is one of the chief advisory Sanghas in the main Mahasi meditation centre in Yangon. Recently he has visited Singapore, the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Australia, Japan, Thailand and Malaysia at the invitation of the devotees, to conduct meditation retreats and to give dhamma talks.
Sayadaw Bhaddanta Panna Dipa, born on 27th March 1924 in Hlegu and educated in Mandalay, also studied Pariyatti at Ma-So-Yein Taik, and Payagyi Taik in Mandalay. Sayadaw obtained the Master of Arts Degree in Buddha Desana from the University of Rangoon. Sayadaw U Panna Dipa was honoured with the Agga Maha Saddhama Jotika Dhaja award for his relentless effort for the propagation of Buddha Sasana throughout Europe and the United States, teaching Vipassana Meditation in fluent English during his stay abroad. Besides heading the World Buddhist Meditation Institute in Yangon, Sayadaw is Dean of the Faculty of Patipatti at the I.T.B.M.U (International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University).
Agga Maha Kammatthanacariya
(Born in 1928)
Sayadaw Ashin Janakabhivamsa received the higher ordination in 1947 after which he continued advance studies of Buddhist scriptures. He practised Vipassana meditation under the instruction of the most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw in 1953-54. Then he was invited by the State Buddha Sasana Organization to perform Palipatiwisodhaka (editorial duties) for reciting Buddhist scriptures at the Sixth Great Buddhist Council.
In 1957 the Venerable Sayadaw spent six years in Sri Lanka, where he continued his studies of English, Sanskrit, Hindi and Sinhalese language. In 1967 he was appointed by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw as a meditation teacher at Mahasi Sasana Yeikhta, Yangon. In 1977 Sayadaw Ashin Janakabhivamsa took up residence at Chanmyay Yeiktha Meditation Centre which was donated to him by some devotees and became the abbot of the centre. He has been since then well-known as Chanmyay Sayadaw.
He accompanied the most Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw as and assistant in Dhamma mission to Europe and USA in 1979-80. From 1981 onwards he has been undertaking Dhamma missions alone to twenty five countries in Asia, Australia, Europe, the United States, Africa and Canada.
The Sayadaw has conducted several meditation courses all over the world and is also widely known through his talks, University lectures, broadcasts and books on Buddhism, especially meditation, including this book ' Vipassana Meditation ' which Sayadaw has kindly allowed us to publish on this 'Buddhism' Web Site during his latest round of the world Dhamma Mission in 1998.
VENERABLE DR. REWATA DHAMMA,
Agga Maha Pandita, Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotikadhaja,
(Born in 1937)
The Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Nyanissara was born on February 23rd, 1937, in the town of Thegon, Pegu Division, in central Myanmar.
At the age of sevein he went to the local monastery to study. There he learned his education and Buddhist scriptures. At the age of fifteen he was ordained as a samanera (novice) and he later received his higher ordination as a Buddhist monk at the age of twenty in Thegon.
He passed his primary, middle and higher examinations respectively in Pali Buddhist scripture in the years 1956, 1957 and 1958. He earned a master's degree in Buddhist Doctrine at Khin-ma-gan Pali University in Mandalay. He then completed a diploma course in foreign language (English) at the Sangha University in Yangon, for the propagation of Buddhism.
In 1965, he founded BBM College in the town of Lay-Myet-Hna in the delta region of Lower Myanmar, and worked as the headmaster and chief administrator of that institution until 1968. In 1968, he moved his residence to Sagaing Hills in Upper Myanmar and began to teach Buddhist scriptures to the monks, nuns and novices. He also continued his study of English, as well as trained in Buddhist homiletics under the guidance of Venerable Ashin Pandita (Aggamahapandita) Anisakhan Saydaw for the purpose of preaching to lay Myanmar Buddhists. He remained in Sagaing Hills until 1975.
Between the years 1975-78, he lived in seclusion and practised meditation at the forest monastery of Thabaik Aing Taw-ya in Mon State Lower Myanmar. In 1979, he established his own monastery, Sitagu Vihara in Sagaing Hills, and resumed teaching the Buddhist doctrine and scripture to the monks, nuns and novices of the surrounding region.
In 1981, he began collecting donations for the construction of a water supply system that would eventually provide clean drinking water to over eight hundred monasteries and eight thousand residents of Sagaing Hills.
In 1987, he began the construction of a one hundred bed hospital for the monks, nuns, novices and poor people of Sagaing. The hospital is fully equipped with surgical and X-ray units, an optical surgical unit, an inpatient ward and outpatient ward, and has a permanent staff of doctors, nurses and non-professional workers.
In 1994, he began the construction of the International Buddhist Academy, its goal is to teach and train missionary student monks and nuns in the hopes of further spreading the Buddha's teachings. The Academy is currently under construction in Sagaing Hills, Myanmar.
In 1981, he took his first foreign missionary journey to six countries in South and Southeast Asia. Since then he has completed over twelve missionary journeys to more than thirty countries around the world. During his visits to the United States he has lectured at many universities, including Vanderbilt University, Fisk University, Indiana State University, and Tennessee State University.
Besides being a teacher of Buddhism and organising and administering various charitable projects in Myanmar over the years; he has published thirty-eight books and articles in the Myanmar language, since 1979, on the subject of Buddhism. He has published five booklets in English and is currently working on several more manuscripts for English publication.
Ven. Ashin Nyanissara: Thegon Sayadaw, Sitagu Vihra, Sagaing Hills, Sagaing City, Union of Myanmar, Phone - 095-072-21270
Sitagu Ayudna Hospital: Phone - 095-072-21310, Fax - 095-072-21587
Maha Dhamma Kathika Bahujana Hitadhara
(1939 - )
The venerable Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw Bhaddanta Eindaka was born at the Shwe-Andaw Pagoda Ward, in the Village of Nyaunggan, Butalin township, Monywa District, Sagaing Division, Upper Burma (Union of Myanmar), at three o'clock on Sunday evening, on April the 16th, 1939, 13th waning Day of late Tagu Month, 1300 Myanmar Era. He is the eldest Son of U Ba Daung and Daw Pwe Han.
Learning Basic Education as a Novice
He was ordained a novice at the age of thirteen, under venerable Ashin Nandavansa, the Abbot of Thinbaw Monastery in Shitmyethna Kyaung Taik of Nyaunggan Village as preceptor. His parents were supporters of four requisites. He was named Shin Eindaka.
Shin Eindaka had basic education and religious scriptures from the Venerable Ashin Nandavansa and Ashin Kumara and other Ganavacakas of Gantgaw Kyaung, Mogaung Taik, in the western part of Mandalay.
Shin Eindaka was so obedient that he could follow the basic rules for novices. He was a member of the Shwe-Andaw Wut-Association and performed the religious activities regularly. He preached the lay-men on Sabbath days. He went to listen to the Dhamma-talks of famous touring Dhamma preachers.
Learning Canonical Text.
Shin Eindaka was ordained a noble monk when he was twenty years old in the ordination-hall of Shitmyethna Kyaung Taik on the fifth waxing day of second Wazo, 1320 Myanmar Era. His venerable preceptor was Ashin Indavansa of Thinbaw Kyaung. His parents and relatives were the supporters of four requisites. His name was Ashin Eindaka.
Ashin Eindaka studied the Buddhist literatures from Bhaddanta Nandiya and other Dhammacariyas of Mani Yadanabon Kyaung Taik in Monywa.
He went to Mahavisutarama Taik of Pakhokku in 1321 M.E. He studied the three canonicals or five collections of the Buddhist canons with the respective commentaries as well as sub-commentaries with Pakhokku Method from the great teacher, Bhaddanta Thondara, Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru and other Ganavasakas for six years. He was a member of the Preaching Monk's Association in Keinnaya Mountain Pagoda Monastery and he preached the discourses himself. He promoted and propagated the teaching of Buddha at his best, acting first as the secretary and then the president of the Preaching Monk's Association.
Ashin Eindaka acquired tranquil and insight meditation of the steadfast mindfulness under the guidance of Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, Agga Maha Pandita, to his satisfaction at the Mahasi Hermitage in Bahan Township, Yangon Division in the year of 1325 ME.
Chief Meditation Instructor
Ashin Eindaka was appointed Meditation Instructor by Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw in charge of the Mezaligon Mahasi Hermitage, Ingapu Township, Ayeyawaddy Division for one year; Yadanabon Mahasi Hermitage, Seinban Quarter, Mandalay for three years; Mahasi Hermitage of Hinthada for one year and Bongyaw Mahasi Hermitage of Pathein (Bassein) for three years. Ashin Eindaka was also a mediation instructor in Ingyingon Dhammapitikarama forest monastery in Inle region, Nyaungshwe Township, Southern Shan State.
Touring Dhamma Preacher
Ashin Eindaka was an active member when the Township Dhamma Preachers Association was formed in Mahasi Meditation Centre. He delivered insight meditation lectures all over Myanmar. When the association was five years old:
(A) He became the General Secretary of the Association.
(B) He acted as Vice-chairman of the Association.
(C) He went all over Myanmar to Divisions and States and gave insight meditation lectures for the promotion and propagation of Buddha Sasana.
Founding Of Meditation Centres
He has founded three branches of Mahasi Meditation centre in Yangon.
(A) The first Nyaunggan-Aye Meditation Centre was established at No. 6, East Gyogon Quarter, Yangon-Insein Road, Insein township in 1342 ME.
(B) Nyaunggan-Aye Kwinkyaung Meditation Centre, Mahasi Branch, was established in Kyibwayay Quarter, Thingangyun township, Yangon Division in 1349 ME.
(C) Another Mahasi Branch namely Nyaunggan-Aye Shwepyitha Meditation Centre was established by Ashin Eindaka at No. 6 Ward, Shwepyitha Township, Yangon Division in 1355 ME.
Ashin Eindaka has named his meditation centres Nyaunggan-Aye in honour of his birth-place, Nyaunggan village. He has been known as Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw since he has founded the Nyaunggan-Aye Meditation centres.
Writing Articles and Books
He writes a lot of Dhamma articles on Buddhism in the newspapers, journals and magazines. He has written over thirty books, some of the well-known ones are:
(A) The Discourse of Mindfulness to be free from Sorrow.
(B) Contemplate the Mindfulness as People in Kuru Country.
C) The Discourse of Mahasi Insight Meditation Method based on the Discourse of Silawanta and Sutawanta.
(D) Message of Satipatthana Volume I to V, in Myanmar and English.
(1) The Dhamma-talks in Upper Myanmar.
(2) The Dhamma-talks in Southern Shan State.
(3) Mahasi Dhamma-talks in Mogok, Momeik and Ma-Ubin.
(4) The Missionary Diary to four countries: Sri-Lanka, India, Nepal and Thailand.
(5) The Buddhist Missionary Diary to London and so on.
Ven. Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw has been able to accomplish much of the religious task given to him in spite of his tight schedule. He is:
(a) A member of Patrons- Group of Mahasi Meditation Centres, home and abroad.
(b) A member in the Mahasi International Buddhist Training Centre Administrative Committee.
(c) A member of Patrons in Mahasi meditation centre, Yangon.
(d) A sangha representative of second and third multi-sects Sangha congregation for purification, long lasting and propagation of Sasana
(e) The principal of Buddhist Training Centres, Home and Abroad; Mahasi Branch of Nyaunggan-Aye Meditation Centre.
Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw went to many foreign countries in the East and the West to promote and propagate the teaching of Buddha.
(A) At the invitation of Dr. Ratthapala, the secretary of International Meditation Centre, India, and Ashin Kassapa, the chief Abbot of the International Rock hill Meditation Centre, Kandy, Sri Lanka, he visited Sri-Lanka, India, Nepal and Thailand in January 1988, accompanied by U Thaung Lwin BA, Dhammacariya Vatansaka as lay-attendant as well as interpreter.
(B) At the invitation of the trustee of London Buddhist Myanmar Monastery, the Association of Patrons of Mahasi Meditation Centre and the Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Association sent Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw to London Buddhist-Myanmar Vihara as the chief presiding Sayadaw ( Abbot). Sayadaw also visited Switzerland and France to carry out the promotion and propagation of Buddhism.
(C) At the invitation of Dr. Asaba, Agga Maha Kammatthanacariya, the Abbot of the Viveka Ason Meditation Centre, Chumpuri, Thailand and Ashin Tilokasiri, Sasana Dhaja Dhammacariya, Principal of Myanmar Temple, Singapore, Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw made a Dhamma Tour to six countries- Thailand, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. Sayadaw delivered many Dhamma talks to the Buddhist devotees in those countries
(D) Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw went on a Pilgrimage to Thailand, India and Nepal, with a group of seventy-one pilgrims from Myanmar in accordance with the sponsorship of U Kawida, Agga Maha Saddhamma Jotika Daja, of The Buddhist Myanmar Temple, Calcutta in India, and Ashin Nanda, Migadawon Dhammacakka Vihara, in Varanase.
(1950 - )
Ashin Pyinnyathiha was born on Thursday, the 13th waning day of Tansaungmone in 1312 of Burmese (Kawja) Calendar, 7 December 1950, in Thaungon Village,Hsinbyukyun Township, Magwe Division, Myanmar (Burma). He ordained as a Samanera (Novice) at the age of eleven.
He was ordained a Bhikkhu (Monk) at Jawtikaron Monastery in Pyay Township in 1969.
In 1970 and 1971, he attained the certificates on Pitaka Lectureship level namely Dhammacariya and Digha Nikaya. In 1982, he was awarded the degree of Bachelor of Arts (B.A.).
During his years in Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha, Ashin Pyinnyathiha practised meditation under the guidance of the Late Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw, and he later gave training to Yogis . He has been the Resident Sayadaw the at the 'London Vihara' in Wembley, London from 1986 to 1995 when he moved to the Loka Chantha or the Universal Peace Buddha Temple in New York, on the invitation of the America Burma Buddhist Association (ABBA). He has been serving religious duties as a devout Bhikkhu at Mahasi Satipatthan Yeiktha in New Jersey, which is a branch of the Loka Chantha Monastery.
(1965 - )
Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre, London
Venerable Dhammasami was born in 1965, on 22nd November in Laikha, Shan State, Union of Myanmar (Burma), he became a novice (samanera) at his early teens in Sirimangalatemple, a branch of the Mahasi meditation Centre. He has his education in Laikha and Taunggyi. He received Buddhist education mainly in Taunggyi, Ywanhwe and Pegu where he taught at the Sasana Mandaing Pali University for a year.
He completed the Dhammacariya degree ( a degree in Buddhist literature) at the age of 19 being just a novice (Samanera) in the Dhammacariya Examination held by the Government in 1985. He also has the same degree in Shan medium in the Dhammacariya Examination held in Shan State 1986. He taught in Aung Mye Bon Tha Shan Pariyatti Temple in Yangon (Rangoon) before leaving for Sri Lanka in 1990 to proceed his postgraduate studies.
Apart from the Dhammacariya degrees in Myanmar, He holds one MPhil and two MA degrees from two Sri Lankan Universities. While in Colombo, he taught at YMBA for four years. He also joined the Buddhist missionary work in Thailand in 1989.
He has been teaching Buddhism to children and adults alike at the Sri Saddhatissa International Buddhist Centre, London since 1996. He conducts Vipassana meditation on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. He speaks Shan, Burmese, Thai, English and Pali. He is at the moment studying for a DPhil degree in 'Aspects of Theravada Buddhism in Burma, Thailand and Sri Lanka' at the University of Oxford as an full-time student.
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