Ledi Sayadaw

Sayadaw U Thittila

Ashin Janakabhivamsa

Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw Ashin Sobhana

Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw

Venerable Sayadaw U Uttamasara

Venerable Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa

Myaungmya Sayadaw U Nyanika

Venerable U Lokanarhta


Venerable Dr. Rewata Dhamma

Saddhammaransi Sayadaw Ashin Kundalabhivamsa

Ashin Nyanissara

Chanmyay Sayadaw Ashin Janakabhivamsa

Nyaunggan-Aye Sayadaw Ashin Eindaka

Ashin Pyinnyathiha

Venerable Dhammasami

Ledi Sayadaw

Mahathera, Agga Maha Pandita, D.Litt.


Ledi Sayadaw

( As published in 'The Manual of Buddhism', Union Buddha Sasana Council, Burma, 1965 )

          Known to scholars of many countries, the Venerable Ledi Sayadaw, Aggamahapandita, D.Litt., was perhaps the outstanding. Buddhist figure of this age. With the increase in interest in Western lands, there is a great demand for his Buddhist Discourses and writings which are now being translated and reproduced in "The Light of the Dhamma."

          Bhikkhu Nyana who was later known as Ledi Sayadaw was born on Tuesday, the 13th Waxing of Nattaw, 1208 Burmese Era (1846 C.E.) at Saing-pyin Village, Dipeyin Township, Shwebo District. His parents were U Tun Tha and Daw Kyone. Early in life he was ordained a samanera and at the age of 20 a Bhikkhu, under the patronage of Salin Sayadaw U Pandicca. He received his monastic education under various teachers and later was trained in Buddhist literature by the Venerable San-kyaung Sayadaw, Sudassana Dhaja Atuladhipati Siripavara Mahadhamma Rajadhi-raja-guru of Mandalay.

          He was a bright student. It was said of him:—"About 2000 students attended the the lectures delivered daily by the Venerable San-kyaung Sayadaw. One day the Venerable Sayadaw set in Pali 20 questions on Parami (Perfections) and asked all the students to answer them. None of them except Bhikkhu Nyana could answer those questions satisfactorily." He collected all these answers and when he attained 14 Vassa and while he was still in San-kyaung monastery, he published his first book, "Parami Dipani". ((Manual of Perfections).

          During the reign of King Theebaw he became a Pali lecturer at Maha Jotikarama monastery in Mandalay. A year after the capture of King Theebaw, i.e. in 1887 C.E, he removed to a place to the north of Monywa town, where he established a monastery under the name of Ledi-tawya Monastery. He accepted many bhikkhus-students from various parts of Burma and imparted Buddhist education to them. In 1897 C.E., he wrote Paramattha Dipani (Manual of Ultimate Truths) in Pali.

          Later, he toured in many parts of Burma for the purpose of propagating the Buddha Dhamma. In towns and villages he visited he delivered various Discourses on the Dhamma and established Abhidhamma classes and Meditation Centres. He composed Abhidhamma rhymes or Abhidhamma Sankhitta and taught them to his Abhidhamma classes. In some of the principal towns he spent a Vassa imparting Abhidhamma and Vinaya education to the lay devotees. Some of the Ledi Meditation Centres are still existing and still famous. During his itinerary he wrote many essays, letters, poems and manuals in Burmese. He has written more than 70 manuals, of which eight have been translated into English and published in "The Light of the Dhamma". Vipassana Dipani (Manual of Insight) was translated by his disciple Sayadaw U Nyana, Pathamagyaw Patthanuddesa Dipani (A concise exposition of the Buddhist Philosophy of Relations) was originally written in Pali by the late Ledi Sayadaw and translated by Sayadaw U Nyana. Niyama Dipani (Manual of cosmic Order) was translated by U Nyana and Dr. Barua and edited by Mrs. Rhys Davids. Sammaditthi Dipani (Manual of Right Understanding) and Catusacca Dipani (Manual of the Four Noble Truths) were translated by the Editors of "The Light of the Dhamma." Bodhipakkhiya Dipani (Manual of the Factors Leading to Enlightenment) was translated by U Sein Nyo Tun, I.C.S. (Retd.), and Magganga Dipani (Manual of the constituents of the Noble Path) was translated by U Saw Tun Teik. B.A. B.L., and revised and edited by the English Editorial Board of the Union Buddha Sasana Council.

          He was awarded the title of Aggamaha pandita by the Government of India in 1911 C.E. Later, the University of Rangoon conferred on him the degree of D. Litt. (Honoris Causa). In the later years he settled down at Pyinmana where he died in 1923 C.E. at the ripe age of 77.


Sayadaw U Thittila

Agga Maha Pandita, Sangha Mahanayaka

( 1896 / 3-1-1997 )

( Written By Mrs. Claudine W. Iggleden in 1985 )

         The Venerable Sayadaw U Thittila, Aggamahapandita, author of the following talks on the Buddhist Teaching, was born in 1896 in the town of Pyawbwe, central Burma, the centre of a rice growing district.

         His father died when he was only three years old. When he was nine his elder and only brother died, and when he was fourteen his elder and only sister also died. His mother married again, a physician, but his stepfather, too, died later. However, at the young age of seven or eight years he was even then regularly frequenting the local monastery, the Padigon Vihara, almost daily. where he and a friend were taught certain scriptures by the much respected and learned incumbent there, Sayadaw U Kavinda. By the age of ten he was learning to recite certain suttas, and by the age of fifteen when he was ordained a samanera he already knew by heart the primer to Abhidhamma studies, the Abhidhammatthasangaha, also the Mahasatipatthana Sutta and Kaccayana's Pali Grammar. It was, though, at the age of twelve when his teacher, the Ven. U Kavinda, took him to Mandalay to hear a sermon on Abhidhamma that he made the decision to become a bhikkhu. His full ordination at the age of twenty eventually took place much further south in lower Burma, at Moulmein in 1916, on which occasion Sayadaw U Okkantha was his preceptor. Prior to that, when he was still fifteen, he and three other young samaneras went with their same first teacher to live in the forest for the practice of meditation. They spent eight months there, and lived amongst wild creatures of many kinds including large snakes.

         It was not long after that he entered the Masoyein Monastery College at Mandalay. There, after intensive studies under the tuition of his second teacher and hard task master, Sayadaw U Adiccavamsa, he was selected from among an entry of five thousand candidates as thePathamakyaw Scholar of all Burma in 1918. This success merely aroused in him the resolve to train and study for a further exceedingly strenuous long period in order to enter for the highest of all monastic examinations, thePanyattisasanahita (Mandalay). In 1923, of the one hundred and fifty entrants for that examination only four passed, of which he was one. Over the years since then the questions set for that examination have gradually been modified so that the possibility of attaining a pass is slightly greater than in those earlier days, and there are fewer and fewer now who know of the extremely high qualifications required in order to have been successful in those previous times. As a result of his studies for that achievement he could memorize stanzas by hearing them read once, and he had of necessity to memorize a total of fifteen volumes from theTipitaka to enable entry for the oral section alone. His success accorded him the right to appointment as the head of a monastery of three hundred bhikkhus, even at that relatively young age, as the result of which he became head of the education department and school at a monastery specially founded in Rangoon for his teacher, the Ven. Adiccavarnsa. and himself.

         Some few years later, in 1933, he went to India where he spent a year at Santiniketan studying English and Sanskrit, following which period he journeyed to Ceylon with the aim of studying English. Unfortunately, however, due to ill health because of wrong feeding, coupled with the failure of his plans to come to fruit, he had to reconsider this original idea and in due course returned to India to stay at Adyar. It was at Adyar that he eventually had the opportunity to learn English from English people, and at the same time acquire a basic knowledge of some of the manners and customs with which he was not acquainted.

         During his time in India he was elected president of the South India Buddhist Associations, and he also undertook the management of the Buddhist Free Elementary School at Perambur. In an appreciation by members of the South India Buddhist Associations, dated 7th May 1938 at Madras, it records that since the founding of the Society in South India in 1903 many bhikkhus and missionaries had visited them, ' ...... but no one has evinced such selfless and untiring interest in the cause of the revival of Buddhism in South India as you have done in your short stay of four years.' The appreciation continues by saying that he was well known to Buddhists of Bangalore, Kolar, Wallajah, Wanniveda, Chakkra mallar, Konjeevaram, etc.

         To further improve his knowledge of English, and in particular to study English educational methods and family upbringing and training of English children, he left Adyar for England in the summer of 1938. Having all his life lived under British colonial rule he was interested to learn at first-hand how the English lived and behaved in their own land, and to observe whether any of the educational methods and training of children might be of benefit to Burmese children at home. His knowledge of English by the time of his arrival was fairly good, if limited, but sufficient for him to accept an invitation by the then secretary of the Buddhist Society in London to give a general talk on the Dhamma. This very first talk in England was also the very first time he had ever addressed an English audience. His second talk, however, entitled 'World Fellowship Through Buddhism'. was given in France at the invitation of Sir Francis Younghusband, president and founder of the World Congress of Faiths, and took place at the Sorbonne University in Paris. Following those two talks he decided that before accepting any further invitation to speak in public he should improve his English, and so he took steps to attend a course at the London Polytechnic until March 1939.

         The conditions for any bhikkhu in the West in those days were exceptionally hard, bhikkhu-life being unheard of and unknown to the inhabitants of that part of the world. With the outbreak of war in that year, apart from two most generous friends with whom he first became acquainted in Adyar, Ven. U Thittila was left unsupported in any way and quite penniless; he was in almost unheard of circumstances for any member of the Sangha. Still undeterred, however, he did everything he possibly could for the individuals suffering under wartime conditions, eventually finding support for himself in various ways which included broadcasting on the Burma Service of the B.B.C. and joining the Burmese / English Dictionary committee of which Dr. Stewart was the founder. During those war years, when the giving of public talks was impossible and his quest for information regarding educational methods and family training of children was at a standstill, he was friend and helper to very many, but few indeed ever knew of the sometimes acute privations he had on occasions to endure.

         As the war drew to a close he was gradually able to resume giving talks again under various different auspices, including two separate series of seventeen talks each to members of the Workers' Educational Association. He visited people in hospital, inmates in prison, and through some helpful contacts he was able to have at last the opportunity to visit certain schools, at some of which he was invited to give talks. His wish to observe how English children were brought up and trained by their parents was then also made possible by the readiness of a few different families, who upon introduction invited him to stay in their homes for that purpose. Of the children with whom he was associated he was able to study in depth their school life and home influence, and as he stayed with the families of differing religious backgrounds he was able to augment his knowledge of not only the Western way of life but the conditions to which many young people were subjected from a very early age.

         So far as the Dhamma is concerned, perhaps the most outstanding feature was his introduction of the Abhidhamma Pitaka (the psycho-ethical analysis of things in their ultimate sense as against their conceptual form) to the West by way of commencing to teach the small manual, Abhidhammatthasangaha, to a class of students interested in the Buddhist Teaching and who had specifically requested him to deal with that section. For the very first time in the West the primer to the third Pitaka was systematically taught for a consecutive period of over four years, and this instruction became the bedrock and yardstick for those who sought to learn something of the fundamental teaching of the Buddha. His patience and skill, also his great care of his students in helping them to overcome their difficulties between the Western way of considering religious and philosophical matters in comparison with the Buddhist presentation of things, was evidence of the difference between a real teacher and an academic instructor. He helped them, too, in any facet of their lives, being frequently requested to give his advice which he never failed in offering.

         In March 1949 the Sasana Kari Vihara in London was founded by a group of nine Burmese kappiyas for the purpose of supporting the work of Ven. U Thittila in England; thus for the first time since his arrival in the West he experienced something nearer to the Eastern traditional support of the Sangha, and became no longer dependent merely upon his own efforts for survival. His personal achievement in teaching continued unabated, and in the two years from March 1949 to March 1951 records show that he carried out in excess of two hundred and fifty teaching engagements, quite apart from fulfilling all the other types of duties which normally fall to a bhikkhu in the ordinary course of events. Being then the only resident bhikkhu in England, those other duties absorbed a very considerable proportion of his time.

         Unfortunately, because of the unavoidable floating nature of the Burmese community in England, constant support for the Sasana Kari Vihara was never certain, and in 1952 when Ven. U Thittila was invited to lecture on Abhidhamma at Rangoon University to M.A. and B.A. students he decided to accept at a time when funds for the vihara had become virtually insufficient to maintain even one bhikkhu. Thus his departure for Rangoon, after fourteen years in what must almost at times have seemed like wilderness conditions, left an irreplaceable gap in the lives of many of his English students. However, they continued his Abhidhamma classes, studying on a revisionary basis all that he had taught them since the commencement.

         Although originally he accepted the university appointment for one year only, his work there continued in the end for eight successive years. His very great learning and undoubted skills in teaching were acknowledged during this period when, in 1956, he received the highest government award in that field by the conferring upon him of the title Agga Maha Pandita. It was an honour which originally carried with it some small annual material benefits for the receiver.

         In 1959 he accepted an invitation from the Association for Asian Studies at the University of Michigan, U.S.A., to lecture in America. Travelling all over the U.S.A., unattended by any dayaka or helper, encountering climates ranging from extreme cold with deep snow to blazing sun with extreme heat, he spent nearly six months delivering well over a total of one hundred and sixty lectures at various universities and arranged meetings. This was the planned programme, but as a result of his talks he found himself constantly the guest of many of the hospitable American people who heard him speak, and the additional inquiries and personal questions arising from this extra dimension greatly extended what was already a very demanding schedule. His itinerary included a flight from Los Angeles to Hawaii, where at Honolulu University he was requested particularly to give twelve talks, ten of them on Abhidhamma. And it was while still in the American continent that he visited Toronto in Canada.

         Over the years he has accepted three invitations at different times to go to Australia, during which visits the practice of meditation and study of the text of Dhammapada ranked high in interest. He has journeyed to Japan where he had the opportunity to observe and discuss with Japanese Zen masters their methods and training of Zen meditation students, and has also visited both Singapore and Hongkong. On other occasions he has travelled for specific purposes to Indonesia, Cambodia, Nepal, and more than once to Thailand, quite apart from passing through that country many times in the course of other longer travels. In Europe, prior to 1960, he had also upon invitation given talks in Belgium, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Holland. Norway, Sweden and Denmark, and yet again in France many years after his original first pre-war talk in 1938. In 1964, at the instigation of two of his English Abhidhamma students, he accepted an invitation to visit England again to continue teaching Abhidhamma. The form of teaching on that occasion, however, took on a dual purpose, and in the two years that followed, as well as teaching the subject he translated into English from the Pali, for the very first time that it had ever been done, the second of the seven books of the Abhidhamma Pitaka, Vibhanga. It was published by the Pali Text Society in 1969 under the title of The Book of Analysis.

         Upon his return to Burma in 1966 he did not again leave for abroad until his two recent visits to England, one in 1982 and again in 1983. At the very considerable age of eighty-seven years, he yet again upon invitation conducted a course of weekly classes during the summer months of 1983, dealing with the application of Abhidhamma knowledge to ordinary everyday life.

         During the years from 1966-1982 in Burma, due to his knowledge, evident practice, practical experience and inevitable seniority in age, he became invited and accepted the position of Ovadacariya (spiritual adviser or instructor) to the central council of the Sangha Mahanayaka of the whole country, Burma; to the trustees of the Shwedagon Pagoda, Sule Pagoda, Kaba Aye Pagoda and to most other well known pagodas in Rangoon. He is also examiner for the well known Abhidhamma Propagation Society in Rangoon.

         The sparse information given in this extremely brief sketch of some of the main events in the Sayadaw's life, confirms a remark made one day by an astrologer in Mandalay who once happened to see the Sayadaw there when he was a young samanera. The astrologer commented that only one tenth of anything that that particular young bhikkhu did would ever become known. The difficulty in collecting information is compounded by the fact that the Sayadaw very seldom speaks of himself, or mentions his endless achievements in the vast field of his experiences. Beneath his quiet and retiring bearing lies a profound depth of knowledge of the Buddhist Teaching, and to spread this knowledge has been his great endeavour throughout his life. He has striven, often in the face of surprising opposition, to carry out his aim. Even his original idea to learn English and go to the West, met with an opposition that made his initial departure a very difficult thing. Over the years since the war he has taught and helped countless Western-born people, although of his English pupils from the actual war years and just after, so many are now no more. However, by those who still remember him during his fourteen years presence in England, from 1938-1952, and who on subsequent visits have continued to receive teaching and guidance from him, he is deeply regarded and with much gratitude.

         As a skilled teacher, in accordance with the order ofpariyatti, patipatti and pativedha (learning, practice and realization), he has always been at pains to deal with first things first. He has always realized that strangers, newcomers to the word Buddhism, having been brought up and educated from childhood in a totally different religious environment, would have absolutely no concept at all of the Buddhist Teaching. His method, therefore, has been first to explain very simply and gradually exactly what and who a Buddha is. Once such people have become acquainted with some knowledge and a correct idea of the nature of a Buddha, he later, still in very simple terms, gains the further interest of his listeners by the very reasonableness and logic of what he has to say in connection with right living in ordinary everyday life, and what in accordance with Buddhist teaching is required if one is to improve oneself morally, intellectually and spiritually. He always speaks to people at their level of appreciation and interest, feeding them slowly with information that will build their confidence. Like a wise farmer, he tills the soil before sowing the seed. He prepares the ground; then, selecting suitable seed for the varying soils he plants carefully at the proper season, realizing that to use the same seed in all the differing soils would be unsuitable and unproductive.

         On recognizing some people's almost total ignorance of the Dhamma, the Sayadaw has never been dismayed; he has never ever considered abandoning any mission on encountering such utter lack of comprehension, but actually striven all the harder to offer to those individuals something which could act as a next step for them, something which could serve as an aid to movement in the right direction. Knowing that morality is the soil in which development and understanding grow, he has sought, always, to introduce, maintain and increase people's knowledge of, and tendency to practise, at least the basic five precepts in their ordinary life.

         And so, dealing with first things first, he will speak to the uninformed of right thought, right speech and right action in their ordinary everyday life. As he says, 'How we think, speak, behave and react when we have come away from meditation centres and returned to everyday life, is the clue as to how far, if at all, we have actually improved or advanced morally and mentally. Is our annoyance at things, our anger, less; are we more kindly, better behaved, more considerate towards others? Is our greed for the things we like and try to get hold of in everyday existence, is that greed really less?'

         Approaching his ninetieth year the Sayadaw is still active and teaching, at the same time making available to others his great knowledge and vast experience of practice under conditions which none but the most highly disciplined and principled could have ever emerged unscathed morally or mentally. The inflexibility of his determination as a very young person to learn every aspect of the Buddhist Teaching absolutely thoroughly, and his inflexibility to live always appealing to the highest within himself, has enabled the spreading of the true Dhamma to reach large numbers in the world who otherwise may never have heard of it, nor had the chance to meet one of its most genuinely humble, compassionate and dedicated exemplars, one of its most profoundly learned exponents.

Written by C. W. Iggleden

England 1985

P.S.: The Most Venerable Sayadaw passed away in Myanmar ( Burma ) , on January the 3rd , 1997, at the age of 100.


Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw Ashin Sobhana

Mahathera, Sasana dhaja-siri-pavara Dhanamacariya, Agga Maha Pandita

{ 1904 - 1982 }


(This Photograph was taken on 13-08-82, just one day before Sayadawgyi passed away)

         Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw was born in the year 1904 at Seikkhun, a large prosperous village of pleasing appearance lying about seven miles to the west of historic Shwebo town in Upper Burma. His parents, peasant proprietors by occupation, were U Kan Taw and Daw Oke. At the age of six the Sayadaw was sent to receive his early monastic education under U Adicca, presiding monk of Pyinmana monastery at Seikkhun. Six years later, he was initiated into the monastic Order as a samaneraunder the same teacher and given the novice's name of Shin Sobhana, (which means Auspicious), a name that befitted his stalwart, impressive features and his dignified, serene behavior. He proved to be an apt and bright pupil, making quick, remarkable progress in his scriptural studies. When U Adicca left the Order, Shin Sobhana continued his studies under Sayadaw U Parama of Thugyi-kyaung monastery, Ingyintaw-taik, till the age of nineteen when he had to make a fateful decision in his young life whether to continue in the Order and devote the rest of his life to the service of the Buddha Sasana or to return to lay life. Shin Sobhana knew where his heart lay and unhesitatingly chose the first course. With due and solemn ceremony, he was ordained a full-fledged bhikkhu on the 26th day of November 1923, Sumedha Sayadaw Ashin Nimmala acting as his spiritual preceptor. Within four years of his ordination, the future Mahasi Sayadaw, now Ashin Sobhana, took in his stride all the three grades (lower, middle and higher) of the Pali scriptural examinations conducted by the Government.

         Ashin Sobhana next went to the city of Mandalay, noted for its pre-eminence in Buddhist learning, to pursue advanced study of the scriptures under Sayadaws well-known for their learning. His stay at Khinmakan West monastery for this purpose was, however, cut short after little more than a year when he was called to Moulmein by the head of the Taik-kyaung monastery, Taungwainggale (who came from the same village as Ashin Sobhana) to assist him with the teaching of his pupils. While teaching at Taungwainggale, Ashin Sobhana went on with his own studied of the scriptures, being specially interested in and making a thorough study of the Mahasatipatthana Sutta. His deepening interest in the satipatthana method of vipassana meditation took him then to neighboring Thaton where the well-known Mingun Jetawan Sayadaw's instructions, Ven. Sobhana took up intensive practice of vipasana meditation for four months with such good results that he was in turn able to teach it properly to his first three disciples at Seikkhun while he was on a visit there in 1938. After his return from Thaton to Taungwainggale (owing to the grave illness and subsequent death of the aged Taik-kyaung Sayadaw) to resume his teaching work and to take charge of the monastery, Ven. Sobhana sat for and passed with flying colors the Government-held Dhammacariya (Teacher of the Dhamma) examination in June 1941.

         On the eve of the Japanese invasion of Burma, Mahasi Sayadaw had to leave Taungwainggale and return to his native Seikkhun. This was a welcome opportunity for the Sayadaw to devote himself whole-heartedly to his own practice of satipatthana vipassana meditation and in turn to teach it to a growing number of disciples at Mahasi monastery, Ingyintaw-taik (whence the Sayadaw came to be known as Mahasi Sayadaw) at Seikkhun which fortunately remained free from the horror and disruption of war. It was during this wartime period that the Sayadaw was prevailed upon by his disciples to write his monumental Manual of Vipassana Meditation, an authoritative and comprehensive work expounding both the doctrinal and practical aspects of satipatthana method of meditation.

         It was not long before Mahasi Sayadaw's reputation as an able teacher of vipassana meditation spread far and wide in the Shwebo-Sagaing region and came to attract the attention of a devout and well-to-do Buddhist in person of Sir U Thwin who wanted to promote the Buddha Sasana by setting up a meditation center to be directed by a meditation teacher of proven virtue and ability. After listening to a discourse on vipassana meditation given by the Sayadaw and observing the Sayadaw's serene and noble demeanor, Sir U Thwin had no difficulty in making up his mind that Mahasi Sayadaw was the ideal meditation master he had been looking for.

         Eventually, on the 13th of November 1947, the Buddhasasananuggaha Association was founded at Rangoon with Sir U Thwin as its first President and scriptural learning and practice of the Dhamma as its object. Sir U Thwin donated to the Association a plot of land in Hermitage Road, Kokine, and Rangoon, measuring over five acres for erection of the proposed meditation center. In 1978, the Center occupies and area of 19.6 acres, on which a vast complex of buildings and other structures has sprung up. Sir U Thwin told the Association that he had found a reliable meditation teacher and proposed that the Prime Minister of Burma invited Mahasi Sayadaw to the Center.

         After the end of the Second World War the Sayadaw alternated his residence between his native Seikkhun and Taungwainggale in Moulmein. In the meantime Burma has regained her independence on 4th January 1948. In May 1949, during one of his sojourns at Seikkhun, the Sayadaw completed a new nissaya translation of Mahasatipatthana Sutta. This work excels the average nissaya translation of this Sutta which is of great importance for those who wish to practice vipassana meditation but need guidance.

         In November of that year, on the personal invitation of the former Prime Minister, Mahasi Sayadaw came down form Shwebo and Sagaing to the Sasana Yeiktha (Meditation Center) at Rangoon, accompanied by two senior Sayadaws. Thus began twenty-nine years ago, Mahasi Sayadaw's spiritual headship and direction of the Sasana Yeiktha at Rangoon (then in its initial stages of development without many appurtenances that grace it today). On 4th December 1949, Mahasi Sayadaw personally inducted the very first batch of 25 yogis into the practice of vipassana meditation. As the yogis grew in numbers later on, it became too strenuous for the Sayadaw himself to give the whole of the initiation talk. From July 1951 the talk was tape-recorded and played back to each new batch of yogis with a few introductory words by the Sayadaw. Within a few years of the establishment of the principal Sasana Yeiktha at Rangoon, similar meditation centers sprang up in many parts of the country with Mahasi-trained members of the Sangha as meditation teachers. These centers were not confined to Burma alone, but extended to neighboring Theravada contries like Thailand and Sri Lanka. A few such centers also grew up in Cambodia and India. According to a 1972 census, the total number of yogis trained at all these centers (both in Burma and aboard) had passed the figure of seven hundred thousand. In recognition of his distinguished scholarship and spiritual attainments, Mahasi Sayadaw was honored in 1952 by the then President of the Union of Burma with the prestigious title of Agga Maha-Pandita (the Exaltedly Wise One).

         Soon after attainment of Independence, the Government of Burma began planning to hold a Sixth Buddhist Council (Sangayana) in Burma, with four other Theravada Buddhist countries (Sri Lanka, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos) participating. For prior consultations for this purpose, Government dispatched a mission to Thailand and Cambodia, composed of Nyaungyan and Mahasi Sayadaws and two laymen. The mission discussed the plan with the Thathanabaings (Primates of the Buddhist Church) of these two countries.

         At the historic Sixth Buddhist Council, which was inaugurated with every pomp and ceremony on 17th May 1954, Mahasi Sayadaw played an eminent role, performing the exacting and onerous tasks of Osana (Final Editor) and Pucchaka (Questioner) Sayadaw. A unique feature of this Council was the redaction not only of the Pali Canon (canonical texts) but also of the atthakathas (commentaries) and tikas (sub-commentaries). In the redaction of this commentarial literature, Mahasi Sayadaw was responsible for his part for making a critical analysis, sound interpretation and skillful reconciliation of several crucial and divergent passages in these commentarial works.

         A significant result of the Sixth Buddhist Council was the revival of interest in Theravada Buddhism among Mahayana Buddhists. In the year 1955 while the Council was in progress, twelve Japanese monks and a Japanese laywoman arrived in Burma to study Theravada Buddhism. The monks were initiated into the Theravada Buddhist Sangha as samaneras (novitiates) while the laywoman was made a Buddhist nun. Next, in July 1957, at the instance of the Buddhist Association of Moji on the island of Kyushu in Japan, the Buddha Sasana Council of Burma sent a Theravada Buddhist mission in which Mahasi Sayadaw was one of the leading representatives of the Burmese Sangha.

         In the same year (1957) Mahasi Sayadaw was assigned the task of writing in Pali an introduction to the Visuddhi-magga Atthakatha, one that would in particular refute certain misrepresentations and misstatements concerning the gifted and noble author of this attakatha, Ven. Buddhaghosa. The Sayadaw completed this difficult task in 1960, his work bearing every mark of distinctive learning and depth of understanding. By then the Sayadaw had also completed two volumes (out of four) of his Burmese translation of this famous commentary and classic work on Buddhist meditation.

         At the request of the Government of Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), a special mission headed by Sayadaw U Sujata, a senior lieutenant of Mahasi Sayadaw, was sent to Ceylon in July 1955 for the express purpose of promoting satipatthana vipassana meditation. The mission stayed in Ceylon for over a year doing good work, setting up 12 permanent and 17 temporary meditation centers. Following completion of a specially constructed central meditation center on a site granted by the Ceylonese Government, a larger mission led by Mahasi Sayadaw himself left on 6th January 1959 for Ceylon via India. The mission was in India for about three weeks, in the course of which its members visited several holy places associated with the life and work of Lord Buddha, gave religious talk on suitable occasions and had interviews with Prime Minister Shri Jawaharlal Nehru, President, Dr. Rajendra Prasad and Vice President Dr. S. Radhakrishnan. An especially interesting feature of the visit was the warm welcome accorded to the mission by members of the depressed classed who had embraced the Buddhist faith under the guidance of their late leader Dr. Ambedkar.

         The mission enplaned at Madras for Ceylon on 29th January 1959 and arrived at Colombo the same day. On Sunday the 1st February, at the opening ceremony of the permanent central meditation center named Bhavana Majjhathana, Mahasi Sayadaw delivered an address in Pali after Prime Minister Bandaranayake and some others had spoken. Led by Mahasi Sayadaw, the members of the mission next went on an extended tour of the island, visiting several meditation centers where Mahasi Sayadaw gave suitable discourses on vipassana meditation and worshipping at various places of Buddhist pilgrimage like Polonnaruwa, Anuradhapura and Kandy. This historic visit of the Burmese mission under the wise and inspiring leadership of Mahasi Sayadaw was symbolic of the close and mutually beneficial ties (dating from ancient times) spiritual kinship between these two Theravada Buddhist countries. Its positive contribution to the welfare of the Buddhist movement in Sri Lanka was a steady revival of interest and activity in Buddhist meditation discipline, which seemed to have declined in this fraternal land of ours.

         In February 1954, a visitor to the Sasana Yeiktha would be struck by the spectacle of a young Chinese practicing vipassana meditation. The yogi in question was a young Chinese Buddhist teacher from Indonesia by the name of Bung An who had become interested in this kind of Buddhist meditation. Under the guidance and instructions of Mahasi Sayadaw and of the late Sayadaw U Nanuttara, Mr. Bung An made such excellent progress in about a month's time that Mahasi Sayadaw himself gave him a detailed talk on the progress of insight. Later he was ordained a bhikkhu and named Ashin Jinarakkhita. Mahasi Sayadaw himself acted as his spiritual preceptor. After his return as a Buddhist monk to his native Indonesia to launch a Theravada Buddhist movement in that country a request was received by the Buddha Sasana Council to send a Burmese Buddhist monk to promote further missionary work in Indonesia. It was decided that Mahasi Sayadaw himself, as the preceptor and mentor of Ashin Jina-rakkhita, should go. Along with 13 other monks from other Theravada countries, Mahasi Sayadaw undertook such essential missionary activities as consecrating sima's (ordinating boundary), ordaining bhikkhus, initiating samaneras (novices in the Buddhist Sangha) and giving discourses on Buddha Dhamma, particularly talks on vipassana meditation.

         Considering these auspicious and fruitful activities in the interests of initiating, promoting and strengthening the Buddhist movements in Indonesia and Sri Lanka respectively, Mahasi Sayadaw's missions to these countries may well be described as "Dhamma-vijaya" (victory of the Dhamma) journeys.

         As early as the year 1952, Mahasi Sayadaw at the request of the Minister in charge of Sangha Affairs of Thailand, had sent Sayadaws U Asabha and U Indavamsa to promote the practice of satipatthana vipassana meditation in that country. Thanks to the efforts of these two Sayadaws, Mahasi Sayadaw's method of satipatthana vipassana meditation gained wide currency in Thailand where many meditation centers had come into existence by about the year 1960 and the number of trained yogis had exceeded the hundred thousandth mark.

         On the exhortation of Abhidhaja-maharattha-guru Masoeyein Sayadaw who headed the Sanghanayaka Executive Board at the Sixth Buddhist Council, Mahasi Sayadaw had undertaken to teach regularly Ven. Buddhaghosa's Visuddhi-megga Atthakatha and Ven. Dhammapala's Visudhi-megga Mahatika to his Sangha associates at the Sasana Yeiktha. These two commentarial works of the Theravada School deal in the main with Buddhist meditational theory and practice, though they also offer useful explanation of important doctrinal points in Buddha-vada. They are thus of the utmost importance for those who are going to be meditation teachers. In pursuance of his undertaking, Mahasi Sayadaw began teaching these two works on 2nd February 1961 and for one and one-half to two hours a day. On the basis of notes of his lectures taken by his pupils, Mahasi Sayadaw started writing his nissaya translation of Visudhi-megga Mahatika and completed it on 4th February 1966. The production of this nissaya translation was an exceptional performance on the part of Mahasi Sayadaw. The section on samayantara (different views held by other religions or faiths) formed the most exacting part of the Sayadaw's task in producing this work. For tackling this part, the Sayadaw had to, among other things, familiarize himself with ancient Hindu philosophical doctrines and terminology by studying all available references, including works in Sanskrit and English.

         Mahasi Sayadaw has to his credit up till now 67 volumes of Burmese Buddhist literature. Space does not permit us to list them all here, but a complete up to date list of them is appended to the Sayadaw's latest publication namely, A Disclosure on Sakkapanha Sutta (published in October 1978).

         At one time, Mahasi Sayadaw was subjected to severe criticism in certain quarters for his advocacy of the allegedly unorthodox method of noting the rising and falling of the abdomen in vipassana meditation. It was mistakenly assumed that this method was an innovation of the Sayadaw on his own, whereas the truth is that it had been approved several years before Mahasi Sayadaw adopted it, by no less an authority than the mula (original) Mingun Jetavan Sayadaw, and that it is in no way contrary to the Buddha's teaching on the subject. The reason for Mahasi Sayadaw's preference for this method is that the average yogi finds it easier to note this manifestation of voyo-dhatu (element of motion). It is not, however, imposed as an obligatory technique upon any yogi who comes and practices meditation at any of the Mahasi yeikthas (meditation centers). Such a yogi may, if he likes and if he finds that he is better accustomed to the anapana way (observing the inbreath and outbreath), meditate in this latter mode. Mahasi Sayadaw himself refrained from joining issue with his critics on this point, but two learned Sayadaws brought out a book each in defense of Mahasi Sayadaw's method, thus enabling those who are interested in the controversy to weigh and judge for themselves. This controversy was not confined to Burma alone, but arose in Ceylon also where some members of the indigenous sangha, inexperienced and unknowledgeable in practical meditational work, publicly assailed Mahasi Sayadaw's method in newspapers and journalistic articles. Since this criticism was voiced in the English language with its worldwide coverage, silence could no longer be maintained and the late Sayadaw U Nanuttara of Kaba-aye (world Peace Pagoda campus) forcefully responded to the criticisms in the pages of the Ceylonese Buddhist periodical "World Buddhism".

         Mahasi Sayadaw's international reputation and standing in the field of Buddhist meditation has attracted numerous visitors and yogis from abroad, some seeking enlightenment for their religious problems and perplexities and others intent on practicing satipatthana vipassana meditation under the Sayadaw's personal guidance and instructions. Among the earliest of such yogis was former British Rear Admiral E. H. Shattock who came on leave from Singapore and practiced meditation at the Sasana Yeiktha in 1952. On his return home to England he published a book entitled "An Experiment in Mindfulness" in which he related his experiences in generally appreciative terms. Another such practitioner was Mr. Robert Duvo, a French-born American from California. He came and practised meditation at the Center, first as a lay yogi and later as an ordained bhikkhu. He has subsequently published a book in France about his experiences and the satipathana vipassana method of meditation. Particular mention should be made of Anagarika Shri Munindra of Buddha Gaya in India, who became an anterasika (close) disciple of Mahasi Sayadaw, spending several years with the Sayadaw learning the Buddhist scriptures and practising satipatthana vipassana (insight) meditation. He now directs an international meditation center at Buddha Gaya where many people form the West have come and practised meditation. Among these yogis was a young American, Joseph Goldstein, who has recently written a perceptive book on insight meditation under the name "The Experience of Insight: A Natural Unfolding".

         Some of Sayadaw's work have been published abroad, such "The Satipatthana Meditation" by the Unity Press, San Francisco, California, U.S.A., and the "Progress of Insight" by the Buddhist Publication OVADACARIYA Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka. Selflesss and able assistance was rendered by U Pe Thin (now deceased) and Myanaung U Tin in Sayadaw's dealings with his visitors and yogis from abroad and in the translation into English of some of Sayadaw's discourses on vipassana meditation. Both of them were accomplished yogis.

         The inexorable law of Anicca (Impermanence) terminated, with tragic suddenness, Mahasi Sayadaw's selfless and dedicated life on the 14th day of August 1982.


Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw

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(Written by Kaba Aye U Chit Tin)

          The most Venerable Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw was born to his cultivator family of Tezu Village, Wundwin Township, in the former Meiktila District of Upper Burma. He was the eldest chief of U Yan and Daw Shwe The and was born on Saturday the 3rd Waning day of Tabaung 1258 B.E. Maung Paw Lar was the name given by his parents.

          At the age of seven he was admitted as a school boy to the Yewun Monastery of nearby Yewun Village, whore the presiding Sayadaw was U Teja. He studied not only the basic Buddhist education but also some fine arts and painting. He also studied basic Pali grammar and the Abhidhamma Sangaha.

As a bhikkhu

          He was initiated as a novice samanera at the age of 13 by the preceptor Venerable Sayadaw U Teja, and He was called Shin Nandiya.

          When he attained 7th year of novicehood, at the age of 20, he was fully ordained as a hhikkhu as Ashin Nandiya," by the Preceptor, U Teja, the Yewun Kyaung Sayadaw, supported by U Tun Aye and Daw Kyar Mhwe, Tezu village, Wundwin Township in 1917.

Learing Pariyatti

          He studied the basicPitaka four years from his Preceptor U Teja, while performing his duties faithfully. In the 5th year of his monkhood, he went to Mandalay to study PaliTexts, Commentaries and Sub-commentaries. He stayed at Shwebo Kyaung, Dakkhinarama Phayagyi Taik for further studies.

          He learned the Abhidhamma Texts from the Venerableble Shwebo Kyaung Sayadaw Ashin Acara, Abhidhamma Night-course (nyawa) and Kankha vitarani Commentary from the Venerable Sayadaw U Neyya and the Saratthadipani tika, sub-commentary from the Venerable Sayadaw U Tejavanta; and Five books of Vinaya from the Venerable Sayadaw U Narada, who were the then Venerable Lecturers of Dakkhinarama Phayagyi Taik. He learned pariyatti from the wellknown Venerable Sayadaws of Mandalay and other townships. Among them was the Venerable Kywepwe Osaik Sayadaw U Sasana of Pakokku Taik, from whom he learned five books of Vinaya again and three books of Suttanta as an outstanding pupil with great success. Hence he became famous for his learning of pitaka canonical literatures occording to Mandalay and Pakokku methods.

As a dhamma lecturer

         After completing four years of study in Mandalay, he accepted the Yelekyaung Taik, Thazi in 1925, being requested by his younger brother, the Venerable Yelekyaung Sayadaw Ashin Nandobhasa - and he started teaching the dhamma. There were about one hundred sanghas learning pariyatti in Yele kyaung Taik; he taught them till he attained 20th year of his monk-hood.

From Pariyatti-learning to Patipatti-practice

         In the year 1937 he left Yele kyaung Taik for Thaton with Asbin Nandobhasa and Htootwin Sayadaw, to undergo a training in Vipassana-Insight meditation. At that time the Venerable Mingun Jetavana Sayadaw U Narada was teaching the Mahasatipatthana Vipassana-Insight Meditation in Thaton. The Venerable Mingun Jetavana Sayadaw laid down rules and regulations for his Meditation Centre: The Meditators must have learnt patimokkha vinaya rules, must observe the practice of alms-round, and must have observed parivatta vinaya- kamma.

          Ashin Nandiya stayed there for three years to get a proper training in Satipatthana-Insight Meditation. But as requested by Daw Kusala (a nun) and as instructed by the Venerable Jetavana Sayadaw, he went to Kanywin Village Monastery, 6 miles from Moulmein to propagate Satipatthana-Insight Meditation for two years. Thus he had practised in Lower Burma, 2 years from the Venerable Mingun Jetavana Sayadaw and 2 years at Kanywin Village.

13 Dhutanga Practices

          Ashin Nandiya returned to his native, Tezu Village in 1941 and practised the dhutanga practice and Satipatthana Vipassana-Meditation. Since his 20th year of ordination he went from forest to forest, from grove to grove practing meditation without any social contact except on alms-round. When people frequent his place, he would soon leave that place and move to another secluded one. Sometimes he was found staying at Kyauksin Tawya, sometimes at Thabye Chaung and sometimes at Taungpulu. Since he was dwelling at Kyauksin Towya, he practised the 13 dutanga practices.

Taungpulu Meditation Centre

         In 1951 the Taungpulu Se Reservoir was cocstructed. At that time Ashin Nandiya was dwelling at the foot of the trees, or in the bushes nearby. Sometimes he went for alms-round to the workers of the Reservoir and sometimes to Thaphan, Kyaunggon, Seywa, Thayetkan, Toungnyo-gone villages, several miles away. After his morning meals he used to return to the trees, or to the bushes, or to the rock which sheltered him temporarily. Meiktila Saya Hti and U San Nyein of Taungpulu Reservoir built a small bamboo building for him. He did not lie on his back but rest only in sitting posture.

Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw

         The Kaba-Aye Pagoda was built in 1962. He laid the foundation-stone of the Pagoda. The Ceremony of hoisting the parasol onto the Pagoda and the opening Ceremony of the Taungpulu Reservoir were held simultaneously on the same day. Hence he was known as the most Venerable Taungpulu Tawyaa Kaba-Aye Sayadaw.

          He staved at the first Sinkyan Kyaung till 1963, and at the North Sinkyan Kyaung since 1964. The disciples are advised (1) to practise only in robes, (2) to have learnt Patimokkha rules of vinaya,(3) to go alms-round punctually and (4) to observe parivatta (vinaya kamma) duties faithfully.

Going abroad for Propagation of Buddha-Dhamma

          On the invitation of the American Buddhists sponsored by Dr. Rina Sircar, of San Franisco, California, the most Venerable Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw went on tour to United States of America for three months and twenty days, and proceeded to India for one month and fifteen days. In U.S.A. he consecrated a sima-hall. The 45 persons were ordained to become bhikkhus, 15 become novices, 30 female isi-yogis; and altogehter 800 became Buddhists; in India also, 14 were ordained to become bhikkhus, 12 became novices, and altogether 300 became Buddhists as the result of his first tour (1st August 1978—9th January 1979). Wherever he went he delivered the Mahasatipatthanana Vipassana-Insight Meditation, the fundamental tenets of Buddhism.

         * Now the most Venerable Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw is on tour in U.S.A. 25th April 1981) to propagate Buddha-Dhamma for the second time. As the current tour seems to be longer than the first one, it is hoped that the missionary effort may be more successfully accomplished. For his remarkable missionary work he won the international fame as the most Venerable Taungpulu Tawya Kaba-Aye Sayadaw of Burma.

* Published in 1981 in The Light of the Dhamma.



( Hill Tracts Missionary Sayadaw)

( Abhidhaja Aggamaha Saddhamma Jotika )

( 1272 ME -1995 AD)


         At the request of devotees to convey a brief account of my life and the missionary tour to the European countries, I present it here.

         In 1349, Myanmar Era (1988 AD), I am 78 years old. I live in Khamtin-Tawya monastery, eight miles away to the south of Falam, which is located on the Assam border of the Northern Chin hills.

         My monastery on the side of the Khamtin mountain range over 7000 feet, above sea level, is built up of rocks and the Falam-Hakha motor road exits below my residence. Here I perform missionary duty and live in peace of Dhamma.

         My native place in Ngwe-twin-gone village, south of Depayin Township , Shwebo district, Upper Myanmar and I was born in the month of Pya-tho, 1272 M.E. (Myanmar Era). My parents were U Pho Nyo and Daw Thay Tar. I am the youngest son of six children .

Literary-Mindedness in youth

         At the age of six, I studied basic canonical texts under my first Sayadaw U Vilasa in my native village and at twelve I was novitiated with the support of my parents. Then I was fully ordained at nineteenth and now I have been a monk far 59 years, at this age of 78.

         Though I am old, my eyes and ears are in good health; though I am in the habit of reading and writing, I do not use spectacles.

         Since the age of 22, while living in Mandalay as a bhikkhu-student, I have been writing articles in journals and magazines.

To Hilly Regions and India

         I started my missionary tour to Hilly Regions from Mandalay in the winter of 1297 M.E. First, in order to test my ability and resistance I passed through the Rakhine mountain ranges on foot together with Chin Nationals, and I found that I was able to do the noble missionary task.

         During this tour, I passed many regional areas in Rakhine state such as, Ramaree, Kyaukphyu, Zinkyun,

         Myaypon, Pauktaw, Sittwe, Myohaung, Kyauktaw, Alei-sankyaw, Maungdaw, and reached up to the Chittagong mountainous regions such as Bominthaung, thethtaung, etc.

         I also went forth to the historically recorded places of India where the Buddha in His life-time resided - Buddha - gaya, Rajagaha, the Old Nalanda University, Baranasi, Migadavana, Kusinara, Savatthi, the old site of Jetavana monastery, Lubhini garden, and other historically popular places.


         From the age of twelve, I studied basic canonical texts under the guidance of my teacher Sayadaw in my native place; and then I went to Monywa and studied Pali Texts in Shwe-thein-daw-gyi Kyaung Taik for 3 years. Afterwards, I lived in Mahasamaya Chaung of Sagaing and studied in order to sit for examinations for about 12 years as a novice.

         After my ordination ceremony, I stayed in Shwe- thein-daw-gyi Kyaung Taik for 2 years and endeavoured to sit for Pali Examinations. I moved to stay in Yadanarbon Pariyatti Kyaung of Chanthargyi Taik, West Mandalay and made an endeavour to sit for Pali Examinations, passing five kinds of Examination.

         At the age of 27, I got back from India to Myanmar and studied Sanskrit in Ledi Kyaung Taik of Monywa.

         For over 4 years, I studied Pali Texts of Tipitaka, together with Commentaries and Sub-Commentaries in Mahavisutarama of Pakokku. While I was there, I often toured the Chin Hill in the west and performed missionary task there.

Religious Activities during War time

         Before the World War II, I moved from Pakokku to Amarapura and there I studied Patthana under the President Sayadaws of Tumaung Taik and old Mangala Taik for one year. At the beginning of World War II, I finished my learning and went back to my native place; I spent my time there paying my humble service to my first-teacher Sayadawgyi and repairing old wells and broken ponds for the benefits of village-devotees.

         During the six years of World War II, I resided at Vaso Kyaung and Aung Chan Thar Kyaung of Kamayut, Yangoon, and gave lectures on Buddhist Texts to young novices and bhikkhus. I performed religious duties. As a Vinaya Examiner and Vinaya Judicial member of Insein, Kamayut and Thamaing Townships, I also wrote occasional articles.

         As I intended earlier, I went forth alone to Hilly regions in order to work as a missionary after World War II. I tried to propagate the Buddha's teachings in the mountainous regions of Chin State, Rachine State and Kaya State.

Metta-tour to Europe

         I had been to Assam and Manipur of India more than once for missionary purposes, but I had never been to Europe and so I intended to go there.

         Over the last 3 years, 1 have been invited to spend the rainy retreat in Switzerland by lay devotees and I promised I would come to them when conditions were favourable.

         Since they frequently sent letters of invitation, I decided to spend the Buddhist Lent of this year in Switzerland.

         The aged Sayadaws from Mandalay and Shwebo encouraged me to make a European missionary tour because they are farsighted noble ones.

         When some Sayadaw asked me 'What's your main aim and objective in going Europe?' I replied rather in a mocking manner, 'To prevent the third World War from breaking out by means of the dissemination of Metta.'

         In fact, even before I intended to spend the Buddhist Lent in Europe, I have disseminated Metta towards the leading countries all over the world in order to prevent a third World War from breaking out in this human world.

         I have been performing this noble task for over twenty years. I have done it in advance by instinct for the wealth and welfare of all sentient beings: and I firmly believe that the fearful fire of the World War, the fire of anger, the fire of conceit - all these calamities and scourges will automatically come to an end by the power of my Metta and Karuna.

         In those countries, I will preach the noble Dhamma also discuss it with those who would like to ask questions; I will recite Parittas and disseminate Metta in order to protect them from confrontation with calamities and scourges; these are my main aims and objectives.

         May all celestial beings, all human beings and all sentient beings be free from danger, anxiety and misery; may all be happy and peaceful!

The Venerable Sayadawgyi passed away on 27-12-95 .


The Most Venerable Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa

"Tipitakadhara, Dhammabhandagarika, Agga Mahapandita, Abhidhaja Maharatthaguru"

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Written by Maung Maung Lay (Sorbonne)

( 'The Light of Dhamma',Vol. 1, No. 3, 1981)

       The most Venerable Sayadaw U Vicittasarabivamsa, Secretary of the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, was born at Kyipin Village in Myingyan Township on Wednesday the 11th Waxing day of Tazaungmon, 1273 B.E. (1-11-1911 A.D.) His parents were U Sone, a Head man of the village and Daw Sin. He is the second son of their three children. He was named Maung Khin.

        During his boyhood his character was exceptional. He did not join his companions in playing vulgar games. He used to have a life of cleanliness, and eat food only allowed by his parents.

        His father died at the age of 30, when he was 4. If he had lived long, he would have seen his son as the first Tipitakadhara title holder.

       When he attained 5 years, his mother, Daw Sin sent him to the village monastery in order to get basic monastic education. The presiding Sayadaw of the monastery was U Sasana who was educated from the Nan U Monastery in Mandalay.

        There, the Venerable Sayadaw U Sasana taught him the Burmese alphabets, basic Pali grammar, Mangala Sutta (38 blessings) and Lokaniti. (A Guide on Conduct.)

       When he was a school boy, his grandfather taught him the Buddhist prayers and recitations. His grandparents, U Chai and Daw Aunt loved him dearly because he was so intelligent that he could learn quickly by rote all the Buddhist recitations taught by the elders.

       Like all the Buddhist boys he was initiated as a novice at the Min Kyaung Taik in Myingyan by the Preceptor Venerable Sayadaw U Sobhita. From the age of 7, he learned from him. He could follow all his lessons more quickly than his classmates, possibly by his intuition and ingenuity. He read his lessons three times a day. He never left his study until he finished his daily homework.

        Since his childhood, he has spent his leisure by reading journals, magazines and books. He began to have literary taste at 10.

       At 10, as his mother wished to sponsor the initiation of his son into the Order, he was reinitiated as a novice by the Preceptor Venerable Sayadaw U Sobhita. The Venerable Sayadaw named him "Shin Vicittasara." The name in Pali means "Outstanding."

        After learning eleven parittas by rote, Sayadaw U Sobhita taught him "Kaccayana Grammar" (Pali Grammar). Being an outstanding student, he did not find any difficulty in learning such a Grammar. This Grammar, written by Thera Kaccayana, is a very important treatise for the monks in Theravada Buddhist countries. It is like a key for learning the Tipitaka (Buddhist Texts).

        At 13, he sat for the Vinaya Examination held by the Sanghasamaggi Association in Myingyan where he succeeded in reciting the Pali Grammar. He became very famous in Myingyan religious circle. At 14, he sat for another Pariyatti Examination conducted by the same Association where he succeeded in reciting the Abhidhamma before the elder monks. He was then presented with Pitaka texts by the Venerable Sayadaw U Sobhita and his uncle, U Phyu Lwin. Since then he was keen on learning these canonical texts.

        Since 14, he was very much interested in poems and other literary works. Knowing his interest, Sayadaw U Sobhita proposed him to study the volume called "Poranadipani", a treatise on composition of poems written by Hmawbi Saya Thein. This treatise is the fundamentals for his future courses of study of religious examinations.

       At 15, he passed the Lower Grade Religious Examination (Pahtamange). The following year, he passed the Middle Grade Religious Examination (Pahtamalat).

        Since his youth, he has studied Buddhist canonical texts, Pali Atthakatha and Tika. He learnt the texts by rote during the day and recited them at night.

        At 19, he left for Mingon Hill in Sagaing Township to continue his study under the direction of the Venerable Sayadaw Ashin Panna Tikkha of Dhammanada Monastery. While learning there, he obtained good support from Thilashin Daw Dhammacari.

        In 1292 B.E. (1930), with the support of Sir U Thwin and Lady Thwin, he was ordained monk (rahan).

       In 1294 B.E. (1932 A.D.), he also passed the Pahtamagyi Examination sponsored by the Venerable Thetpan Sayadaw, President of the Maha Sanghasamaggi Association.

        In 1295 B.E. (1933 A.D.), he sat for the Higher Grade Religious Examination (Pahtamagyi) and passed with credit. The following year, he reappeared the same examination and stood first with credit and thereby obtained the rare title "Pahtamakyaw."

        In 1295 B.E. (1933 A.D.), he also passed the Pariyattisasanahita(Sakyasiha) - Examination- Sathindan (Graduate Level). The following year, he passed the Pariyatti-sasanahita (Sakyasiha)Examination-Sachadan (Lecturership). The word Abhivamsa was then suffixed to his name by the Maha Sanghasamaggi Association. Thus he has been known as "Ashin - Vicittasarabhivamsa."

        In 1303 RE. (1941 A.D.), he passed the Dhammacariya Examination with distinctions and obtained the title "Sasanadhaja-siripavara- dhammacariya."

        In 1312 B.E. (1950 A.D.), he sat for the Third Tipitakadhara Selection Examination where he recited the five Vinaya Texts and became the holder of "Visittha-vinayadhara Mahavinayakovida" title. He was honoured by the President of the State and many Sayadaws and laymen.

        In 1313 B.E. (1951 A.D.), he sat for the Fourth Tipitakadhara Selection Examination and passed the recitation of the first five treatises on Abhidhamma and corresponding written examination. In 1314 B.E. (1952 A.D.), he passed the recitation of the second part of the Abhidhamma Pitaka and corresponding written examination with distinctions. He was honoured and offered the title "Buddhasasanavisittha Abhidhammika Mahabhidhammakovida" with a religious flag marked by two white umbrellas, by the President of the State.

        In 1315 B.E. (1953 A.D.), he sat for the Sixth Tipitakadhara Selection Examination and passed the recitation test and corresponding written examination of remaining Pitaka Texts. The President of the State honoured him at a grand ceremony where he conferred "Tipitakadhara" title on the Venerable Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsasa. He became the first monk to win this title. During the same year, he was praised and honoured by many religious associations as well as Buddhist devotees throughout the country.

        From 1954 to 1956, the Sixth Buddhist Synod was held at the Mahapasana Cave in the Kaba-Aye Pagoda compound in Rangoon.

        During the Synod, he participated in answering all the questions concerning Vinaya (Disciplinary Rules). There he also acted as a member of the Sangha Executive Committee.

        At the request of the Prime Minister and the Buddha Sasana Council, he started writing a treatise on the Life Story of the Buddha (Maha Buddhavamsa) in 1955 and concluded it in 1960. His work Maha Buddhavamsa, consisting of six volumes, is his master-piece. Besides, he edited many religious texts in Pali.

        In 1979, the Council of State of the Socialist Republic of the Union of Burma conferred the title "Agga maha Pandita" * on him. In 1980, he took responsibility as the Akyanpay Sayadaw (Adviser) to the Sangha Working Committee for convening the First Congregation of the Sangha of all Orders. At the Congregation he was elected as the Akyosaung Sayadaw (Secretary ) of the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee.

        Until now he is holding the same responsibility in the State Sangha Mahanayaka Committee. Moreover, he continues to support, materially and spiritually, the members of the Sangha in their study of the Buddhist Canonical Texts.

        He is indeed a Sasana Arjani (the Outstanding Buddhist Monk) still living in our beautiful land of pagodas.**

        * For a monk to obtain such a title, he should:- (a) be well-versed in the Pali Canonical Texts, (b) be continuously teaching these texts, (c) be well-known as being learned in these texts. (d) have had a minimum of 20 years of monkhood, and (e) be unblemished in the observance of Vinaya (Disciplinary Rules).

       ** Sayadaw passed away on 3rd Waning day of 1354 B.E at the age of 81 (9th February 1993) . (Editor;

Myaungmya Sayadaw U Nyanika

(29-8-1918 / 6-8-1997)

Agga Maha Pandita

         Sayadaw was born in a pleasant village of Phayagyi in East Bassein Township, Lower Burma, on Tuesday, the 29th of August 1917. The parents were U Po Htin and Daw Sein.

         At the age of six, he was sent to the Sayadaw of Phayagyigone Monastery for his elementary linguistic and Buddhist education. He was initiated to a novice at the age of eight, supported by the parents. The young novice got through the lower part of Pathamabyan examination while studying at Veluvan Kyaungtaik in Bassein which he joined at the age of fourteen. Two years later, he moved to Myaung Mya Township and studied under Sayadaw Ashin Nyanabhivamsa, and passed the remaining parts (middle and higher) of the Pathamabyan examination. He also studied Abhidhamma Atthakatha, Parajjika, Pacitta, Vinaya Pali Athaakattha, and Mahavagga Suttanta Athakattha as a young novice.

         At the age of twenty, on the 15th of November 1937, U Tun Tin and Daw San took care of him to be ordained as a Bhikkhu in Kunchangyi village. Then he went to Pakokkhu (Mahawithudharama Kyaungtaik) and Nyaungdon (Sasanajotipala Kyaung Taik) where he learned Tipitaka, five Nikaya, Pali atthakatha digha for eight years. At the age of 28, he became the instructing teacher as well as Monastery Adminstrator at the Pajjotarama Pali Monastery/ University. He also finished 2 year diploma and 3 years BA Honour's University Course in Veranasi's where he read Indian History and Philosophy and also Western Philosophy.

Awards and Titles

         Pathamabyan, all 3 levels

         Sasanadhajasiri PawaradhammacariyaTitle

         Diploma and BA Honours degree from to Indian Universities.

         Agga Maha Pandita Title in 1991, conferred by the Government of Myanmar (Burma)

Dhamma Propagation Activities

         He taught the young monks for almost 40 years in Nyaung Don and Myaung Mya Townships, in delta region of Burma.

         He has been the Principal of a Pali University. He was the central executive member of 'the first all gunas'

         He was also acknowledged as Vinaya expert by the Government of Myanmar.

         He went on many dhammaduta missions to England, Germany, Switzerland, Holland, France, Austria, Italy , USA, Canada and Australia.

         In England, he had established the Tisarana Vihara, first in Wolverhampton in 1994 and then in London in 1989. He founded Tisarana Vihara at Perth in Australia in 1994.

         Sayadaw passed away on 8-06-97 (1359) in London.


         In Burmese:

         1. Biography of International Missionary Sayadaw U Thittila

         2. Sasana, hard to encounter (English-Myanmar)

         3. Buddhism for Children

         In English:

         1. A History of the Minor Pali Grammer in Burma

         2. How the Abhidhamma Teaching contributes to the Practical Meditation

         3. An Introduction of Buddhism into Burma.

         4. Sasana, hard to encounter (English-Myanmar).

         5. Buddhism for the Young.


Venerable U Lokanatha

World’s Buddhist Mission, Burma

Written by 'Insein Hsu Minn'

         Myanmar has lost one of her most eminent Buddhist monks with the demise of Venerable U Lokanatha, who had spent the major part of his life in this country. He is a well-known figure in other Buddhist countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka.

         No more will the Myanmar public see the short, roly-poly figure of the monk in yellow robes, greeting his devotees by raising his hand and exclaiming "Peace".

         A few months before his death he donated K 50,000 for construction of a centre in this city for promotion of the Myanmar science of meditation by use of deep breathing.

         Sixty nine-year old U Lokanatha was an Italian of well-to-do parents who went at the age of three years to the United States. He obtained a degree from an American College, majoring in chemistry. He was a devout Roman Catholic.

         While working as a chemist in a research institute, he began studying religions of the world through books presented by his friends. One of those books was the Buddhist Dhammapada which he found coincided with his own beliefs on spiritual salvation of sentient beings. It inspired him to further study of Buddhism for three years and becoming active in the Buddhist Society in America. Without his parents' knowledge, he went to Sri Lanka to be ordained as a monk, and after spending three months there, he came to Myanmar where he was ordained by a leading abbot.

         Contracting dysentery a few years before World War II, he returned to Italy for treatment. He returned on foot to the Union of Myanmar, halting in India to visit places where Lord Buddha had lived and preached. Later, leading a party of Thai monks he revisited these places as well as Sri Lanka on foot. Postwar, the Buddhist Association of Mandalay, sent him on a three-year tour of the world to preach Buddhism. He preached in English and used interpreters where necessary.

         During the war, the British interned him in India. Denigrated as a Buddhist monk, he secured his release after a 96 day - fast in protest while in the prisoner-of-war camp.

         During his stay in Yangon, he toured many riverine towns like Pathein (Bassein), Maubin, Myaungmya, Hinthada, Nyaungdone, Kyaiklat lecturing on Buddhism in English with interpreters including U Eindakawi, a monk residing in Kyaik-hti-yo Kyaung near Pazundaung Railway Station.

         He was a strict vegetarian. He was known to meditate sitting cross-legged on the floor, even aboard ships, day and night. He would sleep sometimes in this posture.

         He was preparing to go abroad for treatment of cancer, when he died at the hill station of Pyin-Oo-Lwin (Maymyo). His cremation was held with fanfare and ceremony befitting a prominent Buddhist monk.

         He has written many a treatise on Buddhism of which the most well known internationally as well as in Myanmar, are on the THE DHAMMA-CAKKA-PAVATTANA SUTTA ANATTA-LAKKHANA SUTTA.

(Source : Myanmar Perspective)

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