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H.H. Somdet Phra Yanasamvara

H.H. Somdet Phra Yanasamvara

Wat Bovoranives

View Items by H.H. Somdet Phra Yanasamvara

19th Supreme Buddhist Patriarch of Thailand (1916-)

Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana Mahathera. 'Somdet' is a title given to the highest officials in the Thai Sangha. 'Phra' is a Thai term for 'monk' that is used similarly to the way 'Rev.' is used in the West. Nyanasamvara is also an honorary title, similar to Somdet, but not held by all Thai Patriarchs; it was specially bestowed on the patriarch in 1972. Mahathera is an honorific indicating his seniority. His name at birth was Charern Gajavatra, and he is sometimes credited (particularly in his writings) as Suvaddhano Bhikkhu.

As abbot of Wat Bovoranives, he oversaw the renovation and expansion of this famed century-old monastery. Long interested in the meditation techniques of the Thai forest monks, Somdet Nyanasamvara has helped make his temple residence a center for meditation study and instruction in Bangkok, himself delivering lectures on meditation and Buddhist teachings on two Uposatha days each month.

Somdet Nyanasamvara has also been active in teaching to both non-Thais and the international Thai emigrant community. His recorded sermons and teachings are distributed among Thais living outside Thailand, particularly in areas where there is not access to temples or Theravada monks. Non-Thais have also been encouraged to study Buddhism; Wat Bovoranives is known as one of several monasteries in Thailand where Westerners can not only study, but also ordain either as full bhikkhu, or for a limited term (such as vassa) as a novice (samanera). A number of Somdet Nyanasamvara's books and talks have also been translated into English, and he has been involved in sponsoring the establishment of temples and monasteries outside Thailand.