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in-focus

His Holiness was a truly great torchbearer of buddhism


HIS HOLINESS Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara has gone down in Thailand’s history as the 19th Supreme Patriarch of the Rattanakosin Period.

In 2012, Supreme Buddhist leaders of 32 countries also bestowed on him the title of “Supreme Holiness of World Buddhism”.
So even after his death at the age of 100 in 2013, and his royally-sponsored cremation ceremony yesterday, he will continue to command respect from Buddhists here in Thailand and beyond.
His Holiness was born on October 3, 1913 in Kanchanaburi province as Charoen Gajavatra.
At the age of 14, he became a novice at Wat Devasangharam in his home province. Then he enrolled for Dhamma study at Wat Bovoranives Vihara in Bangkok and studied there until he was old enough for the monkhood ordination in 1933.
About eight years later, he passed the highest level of Pali examination as constituted by the Thai Sangha.
Because he had practised meditation consistently, he was a Mahathera, knowledgeable in both the Dharma studies and practice.
Thanks to his great knowledge and behaviour, he rose steadily through the ecclesiastical ranks throughout his lifetime.
Apart from the duties associated with his titles, His Holiness was offered special tasks on many occasions. One was to be the adviser and guardian of the present monarch, His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, when he was ordained as a Bhikkhu at Wat Bovoranives Vihara in 1956.
Later, when HRH Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn was ordained as a Bhikkhu in 1978, His Holiness was also the Crown Prince Bhikkhu’s instructor and adviser in monastic codes of discipline and the Buddha’s teaching.
In 1989, he received the highest rank of the Supreme Patriarch.
As His Holiness is an expert in foreign languages, particularly English, he has obtained modern knowledge through reading English books, of both secular and religious subjects, thus making him a visionary person who always catches up with the country’s situation. That was a great benefit in his teachings and propagation of Buddhism. The religious books authored by His Holiness are up to date, and timely for people and the circumstances of modern days. Apart from that, he also has played a vital role in teaching the Dhamma to Thais and foreigners.
His Holiness has a far-sighted view on education. He was involved in the founding of Thailand’s first Buddhist University, “Mahamakut Buddhist University”, and for the first time initiated the Training Institute for Dhammaduta Bhikkhus Going Abroad.
His Holiness is the first senior monk who plays a vital role for the propagation of Buddhism overseas. He was once the chairman of the executive committee of the Training Institute for Dhammaduta Bhikkhus Going Abroad, and was the first to preside over the opening ceremony of the first Thai temple in Europe – Wat Buddhapadipa in London. His Holiness brought Theravada Buddhism to Australia for the first time by establishing the Wat Buddharangsee Temple in Sydney. He paid an official visit to Nepal to be the preceptor for Nepalese Novices in the Sakyan clan. This has revived the ordination ceremony in modern Nepal. The Supreme Patriarch also developed religious ties with His Holiness the Dalai Lama and they are familiar with each other, and have met many times for Dharma exchanges. Besides, he is the first Sangharaja who was officially invited to China for the first time in its history.

Published : December 16, 2015

By : The Nation