Thai monks blessing the King of Thailand in Wat Nong Wong

Theravada Buddhist monks – Guardians of the monastic code

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is the most commonly accepted name of Buddhism’s oldest existing school.

Table of Contents

Origin of the Theravāda’s monastic orders

The school’s adherents, termed Theravādins, have preserved their version of Gautama Buddha’s teaching or Buddha Dhamma in the Pāli Canon for over a millennium.

Aided by the patronage of Mauryan kings like Ashoka, this school spread throughout India and reached Sri Lanka through the efforts of missionary like Mahinda.

Starting at around the 11th century, Sinhalese Theravāda monks and Southeast Asian elites led a widespread conversion of most of mainland Southeast Asia to the Theravādin Mahavihara school.

Under the leadership of Prince Wachirayan Warorot, a new education and examination system was introduced for Thai monks.

Throughout the history of Theravāda, Theravāda monks produced works of Pāli literature such as historical chronicles (like the Dipavamsa and the Mahavamsa), hagiographies, poetry, Pāli grammars, and “sub-commentaries”.

Theravada Buddhist monks in the modern time

The modern era also saw new Buddhist works on topics which pre-modern Buddhists avoided, such as socially engaged Buddhism and Buddhist economics. Thinkers such as Buddhadasa, Sulak Sivaraksa, Prayudh Payutto, Neville Karunatilake and Padmasiri de Silva have written on these topics.

Modern scholarship in western languages by western Buddhist monks such as , Nyanaponika, Nyanamoli, and Analayo is another recent development in the Theravāda world.

Theravāda monks typically belong to a particular nikaya, variously referred to as monastic orders or fraternities.

These different orders do not typically develop separate doctrines, but may differ in the manner in which they observe monastic rules.

These monastic orders represent lineages of ordination, typically tracing their origin to a particular group of monks that established a new ordination tradition within a particular country or geographic area.

Prominent Theravada Buddhist monks

This is a list of well-known Theravada Buddhist monks from diverse monastic orders past and present.

Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu

is a Canadian Buddhist monk. He was ordained in 2001 under Ajahn Tong Sirimangalo.

Bhikkhu Bodhi

Bhikkhu Bodhi, born Jeffrey Block, is an American Theravada Buddhist monk, ordained in Sri Lanka and currently teaching in the New York and New Jersey area. He was appointed the second president of the Buddhist Publication Society and has edited and authored several publications grounded in the Theravada Buddhist tradition.

Sujiva

is a Malaysian Buddhist monk (samanera) and well known teacher of Vipassanā meditation in the Theravāda Buddhist tradition. Ven. Sujiva is one of the Buddhist teachers, who are responsible for developing a keen interest in Vipassanā meditation in the Western countries. He has written many books on vipassana and Metta meditation. He has also published several collections of poems.

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu

Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu is an American Buddhist monk. Belonging to the Thai Forest Tradition, for 10 years he studied under the forest master Ajahn Fuang Jotiko. Since 1993 he has served as abbot of the Metta Forest Monastery in San Diego County, California — the first monastery in the Thai Forest Tradition in the US — which he cofounded with Ajahn Suwat Suvaco.

Henepola Gunaratana

Bhante is a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist monk. He is often affectionately known as Bhante G.

Soma Thera

Kotahene Soma Maha Thera, born as Victor Emmanuel Perera Pulle in Kotahena, Colombo, was a Theravada Buddhist monk, translator and missionary.

Ajahn Sumedho

Luang Por Sumedho or is one of the senior Western representatives of the Thai forest tradition of Theravada Buddhism. He was abbot of Amaravati Buddhist Monastery, UK, from its consecration in 1984 until his retirement in 2010. Luang Por means Venerable Father (หลวงพ่อ), an honorific and term of affection in keeping with Thai custom; ajahn means teacher. A bhikkhu since 1967, Sumedho is considered a seminal figure in the transmission of the Buddha’s teachings to the West.

Bhante Vimalaramsi

is an American Buddhist monk and currently the Abbot of the Dhamma Sukha Meditation Center in Annapolis, Missouri.

Sri Piyaratana Tissa Mahanayake Thero

, also known as Ven. Dodanduwa Piyaratana Mahanayaka Thero, was the Mahanayaka Thero of the Amarapura Nikaya, and the Sanganayake of the Southern Province. He initiated and popularised the ‘Poruwa’ ceremony at Buddhist weddings.

Sitagu Sayadaw

Ashin Nyanissara best known as (သီတဂူဆရာတော်), is a Burmese meditation teacher and prolific Buddhist scholar. He is also the founder of Sitagu International Buddhist Academy.

Shwesannwe Sayadaw

Ashin Vāyamānanda, commonly known as , is a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk. He was conferred the title of Dhamma Kathika Bahujanahitadhara, one of the highest religious titles, by the government of Myanmar. Sayadaw was a religious representative in the Buddhist cooperation between Myanmar and China. In 2013, he built the charitable Shwesannwe clinics in Sintai to offer free primary medical health care for the poor. He later expanded into an eye hospital in 2018.

Shwe Twante Sayadaw

Ashin Vayama, also known as , is a Burmese Buddhist monk, ex-political prisoner, ex-chairman of 8 Parties: Youth & Student Democracy Forces, founder of Yaung Ni Thit Sar Pay, and poet. He was the first monk to work in the United Arab Emirates in 2007, and was honored by the State Sangha Maha Nayaka Committee, as a Master of Buddhism. He was also honored by the YMBA and the London BOC as Buddha Capadesa.

Shwe Nya War Sayadaw

U Pinnyasiha (ပညာသီဟ), commonly known as the Shwe Nya Wa Sayadaw, is a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk, best known for teaching at Yangon Buddhist University in Kyimyindaing Township in Yangon. In December 2011, he met with Hillary Clinton, US Secretary of State, along with other civil society delegates.

Shin Uttarajiva

The Venerable Shin Uttarajīva was primate of Pagan Kingdom during the reigns of three kings Narathu, Naratheinkha and Narapatisithu from 1167 to 1191. The Theravada Buddhist monk presided over the realignment of Burmese Buddhism with the Mahavihara school of Ceylon, away from the Conjeveram-Thaton school of .

Shin Panthagu

The Venerable was primate of Pagan Kingdom from 1115 to 1168. The Theravada Buddhist monk, son of the lord of Seinnyet, succeeded his teacher Shin Arahan as primate. For the next five decades, he was the chief religious adviser to King Alaungsithu, and helped advise many of Alaungsithu’s religious deeds. The notable works were the repairs of the Buddhagaya Temple circa 1118, and the buildings of the Thatbyinnyu Temple, and the Shwegugyi Temple.

Shin Raṭṭhasāra (Burmese: ရှင်မဟာရဋ္ဌသာရ; 1468-1529 was a Buddhist monk and prominent classical poet during the Ava Kingdom, known for his pyo poetry. His 1523 Kogan Pyo based on the Hatthipāla Jātaka, is among the most widely known pyo in modern-day Myanmar, and is taught in Burmese schools. His Buridat Pyo is also considered an exemplar of the medieval literary style, is considered a masterpiece of Burmese classical poetry. Raṭṭhasāra also composed metrical versions of other Jataka tales, including the Saṃvarajātaka, besides a number of other poems.

Shin Mahasilavamsa

Shin Mahāsīlavaṃsa was a Theravadan Buddhist monk and a classical Burmese poet who lived in 15th century Ava Kingdom.

Shin Ditha Pamauk

The Venerable was the Chief Primate of the Pagan Empire during the reign of King Narathihapate (1256–87). The monk led the peace negotiations with the Mongols in 1285–87, culminating in the meeting with Emperor Kublai Khan in 1287.

Shin Arahan

The Venerable Shin Arahan was Thathanabaing of Burma of the Pagan Kingdom from 1056 to 1115. The monk, a native of Thaton Kingdom, was the religious adviser to four Pagan kings from Anawrahta to Alaungsithu. He is credited with converting Anawrahta to Theravada Buddhism, and overseeing the subsequent reformation of the Buddhist school throughout the kingdom. However, evidence strongly suggests that the Theravada Buddhism of Shin Arahan and early Pagan was one strongly influenced by Hinduism as compared to later more orthodox standards. Within 75 years of Shin Arahan’s death, the Buddhism of Pagan would be realigned with the Mahavihara school of Ceylon although his Conjeveram-Thaton school lasted 200 more years before finally dying out.

Sayadaw U Tejaniya

is a Theravadan Buddhist monk of Chinese descent and the meditation teacher at the Shwe Oo Min Dhamma Sukha Forest Center in Yangon, Myanmar whose teachings have attracted a global audience.

Sayadaw U Narada

was the founding sayadaw of Maha Bodhi Ta Htaung, who planted many thousands of Bodhi trees, built thousands of pagodas and Buddha statues, including the Standing Buddha Statue, Reclining Buddha Image and Aung Sakkya Pagoda.

Rerukane Chandawimala Thero

was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and author. A personality of Sri Lankan Buddhism in the 20th century, he has been regarded as one of the finest scholars of Tripitaka, the sacred canon of Theravada Buddhism. He was also a Buddhist meditation master, professor of Abhidharma and a former Maha Nayaka of the Swegin chapter of the Amarapura Nikaya. Rerukane Chandawimala Thero was a highly reputed author of Theravada Buddhism, especially on Abhidharma. His books are considered as text books by other authors as well as students.

Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Thera

was a scholar Buddhist monk who lived in the 19th century in Sri Lanka. An educationist and revivalist of Sri Lankan Buddhism, he was reputed for his knowledge of Pali, Sanskrit and Buddhist Philosophy. Ratmalane Sri Dharmaloka Thera was the founder of Vidyalankara Pirivena, Peliyagoda, which was granted the University status later by the Sri Lankan government in 1959, and presently known as University of Kelaniya. Sri Dharmaloka College in Kelaniya, Sri Lanka is named after him.

Rajguru Aggavamsa Mahathera

was one of the delegates from Bangladesh) in the Sixth Buddhist council held in Yangon, Burma in 1956.

Preah Maha Ghosananda

Maha Ghosananda was a highly revered Cambodian Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition, who served as the Patriarch (Sangharaja) of Cambodian Buddhism during the Khmer Rouge period and post-communist transition period of Cambodian history. His Pali monastic name, ‘Mahā Ghosānanda’, means “great joyful proclaimer”. He was well known in Cambodia for his annual peace marches.

Pragyananda Mahasthavir

was a Nepalese Buddhist monk who was one of the leaders of the revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal. In 1930, he became the first monk wearing yellow robes to be seen in Kathmandu since the 14th century.

Polwatte Buddhadatta Thera

The Venerable Ambalangoda Polwatte Mahanayake Thera (1887–1962) was a Theravada Buddhist monk and a professor of Buddhist philosophy at Vidyalankara University. During 1928 he travelled to Switzerland to teach Pāli but found no suitable students.

Sudarshan Mahasthavir

(1938–2002) was a Nepalese Buddhist monk and author who played a major role in the development of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal and Nepal Bhasa literature. He was jailed by Nepal’s repressive Panchayat regime for his activities supporting language rights.

Tep Vong

Samdech Preah Agga Maha Sangharajadhipati is a Cambodian Buddhist monk, currently the Great Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia, known for his role in re-establishing the Cambodian monkhood after the Pol Pot period and for his links to dominant political leaders since the 1980s.

Taung Galay Sayadaw

The Venerable Taung Kalay Sayadaw Ashin Paññasãmi is a Karen theravada buddhist monk, and also known as a prolific writer and a historian.

Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thero

was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, who was the 20th Mahanayaka of the Asgiriya chapter of Siyam Nikaya. He was presented with the religious title of Agga Maha Pandita by the government of Myanmar on March 7, 2007, in recognition of his contribution to the purification, perpetuation and propagation of Buddhism. His complete title was Most Venerable Agga Maha Panditha Udugama Sddharmakirthi Sri Dhammadassi Rathanapala Buddharakkhithabhidhana Mahanayaka Thero.

Yazeinda

Ashin , better known by his pen name Yawai Nwe (ရဝေနွယ်), is a prominent Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and writer.

Yagirala Pannananda

Thera was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and scholar. He was the author of a number of works in Sinhala and Pali, including a of his teacher Hikkaduve Sumangala and Mahavamsa Part III, an extension of the Mahavamsa chronicle covering the period from 1871 – 1935.

Witiyala Seewalie Thera

is the founder and chief incumbent priest of Minnesota Buddhist Vihara. Currently, he is serving the Buddhist spiritual needs for people in six midwestern states: Minnesota, Wisconsin, South Dakota, North Dakota, Iowa and Nebraska.

Weliwita Sri Saranankara Thero

Weliwita Asaranasarana Sri Saranankara Sangharaja Thero or popularly was a Buddhist monk, who was the last Sangharaja of Sri Lanka. He was the pioneer in the revival in Sri Lanka of Buddhism in Sri Lanka, after the decline of the religion in the 17th and 18th centuries. Saranankara Thero was bestowed with the a title by king Kirthi Sri Rajasinghe in 1753, the same year he received the Upasampada and re-established the Upasampada in Sri Lanka with the help of Mahasangha in Siam. He is also credited with the establishment of Silvath Samagama, a union of monks who lived in accordance with the Buddhist monastic discipline.

Weligama Sri Sumangala

Thero (1825-1905) was an outstanding scholar bhikkhu with many important publications -Hitopadsesa Atthadassi, Hitopadsesa Padarthavykanaya, Upadesa Vinischaya, Siddanta Sekaraya. His work Siddhanta Sekharaya of 700 pages was printed at the Government Press in 1897. He established Saugathodaya Vidyalaya at Rankoth Viharaya in Panadura. He was a close associate of Sir Edwin Arnold the author of ‘Light of Asia’. He is responsible for encouraging Arnold and Anagarika Dharmapala to advocate for the renovation of Buddhagaya and its return to Buddhist care.

Webu Sayadaw

was a Theravada Buddhist monk, and vipassanā master, best known for giving all importance to diligent practice, rather than scholastic achievement.

Warakagoda Sri Gnanarathana Thero

Warakagoda Gnanarathana Thero is a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk who is the present Mahanayaka Thero of the Asgiriya chapter of Siam Nikaya. He was appointed as the 22nd Mahanayake Thera of the Asgiriya Chapter on 7 April 2016, by the Karaka Sangha Sabha of Asgiriya chapter, after the demise of Most Ven. Galagama Sri Aththadassi Mahanayaka Thera.

Vijjota

Bhaddanta Mahā Thera, commonly known as Vijjotārum Sayadaw, was a Burmese Buddhist monk. He was the 15th Thathanabaing and Mahanayaka of the Shwekyin Nikaya of Myanmar, from 2017 to his death in 2022. Chief abbot of Vijjotāyon Pariyatti Monastery in Mayangon Township, the mahathera was a State Ovādācariya Sayadaw.

Vasipake Sayadaw

Bhaddanta Vimala Ashin Kovida, best known as is a Burmese Buddhist monk, astrologer and occult practitioner. He is believed to be the Senior General Min Aung Hlaing’s astrological adviser. He is famous for his vow of silence. Vasipake played a major role in the 2021 Myanmar coup d’état.

U Thuzana

Thuzana, also known as the Myainggyi-ngu Sayadaw, was a Karen Theravada Buddhist monk based in Myaing Gyi Ngu, Kayin State, Myanmar. He was the leader of the Democratic Karen Buddhist Army (DKBA), an ethnic insurgent group, until its dissolution in 2010.

Taunggwin Sayadaw

The U Visuddha Silacaraha was the last Buddhist monk to hold the office as Thathanabaing of Burma. The office was abolished after his death in 1938 and no successor was ever appointed.

U Pyinya Zawta

All Burma Monks’ Alliance is a coalition of monks in Myanmar, representing the All Burma Young Monks’ Union, the Federation of all Burma Monks’ Union, the Rangoon Young Monks’ Union and the Sangha Duta Council of Burma. It was founded on 9 September 2007, at the start of the Saffron Revolution, after monks were brutalized at protests in Sittwe and Pakokku. ABMA made several key demands to the ruling State Peace and Development Council (SPDC), including a formal apology to the Sangha, a reduction on fuel and commodity prices, release of political prisoners including Aung San Suu Kyi, and dialogue with pro-democracy leaders for national reconciliation. On September 21 it escalated its demands, promising to “banish the common enemy evil regime from Burmese soil forever”, which was met with a violent crackdown. Leaders such as were imprisoned and tortured, while others became refugees or went into hiding.

U Pannya Jota Mahathera

Ven. locally known as Guru Bhante is a Theravada monk in Bangladesh. He was born in Royal Bohmong family at Bandarban, Bangladesh. He previously served Bangladesh Government as Judge and Magistrate about 8 years, then he became a Buddhist monk.

U Pandita

Sayadaw was one of the foremost masters of Vipassanā. He trained in the Theravada Buddhist tradition of Myanmar. A successor to the late Mahāsi Sayādaw, he has taught many of the Western teachers and students of the Mahāsi style of Vipassanā meditation. He was the abbot of Paṇḍitārāma Meditation Center in Yangon, Myanmar.

U Ottama

Sayadaw was a Theravada Buddhist monk, author, and a leader of the Burmese independence movement during British colonial rule. The ethnic Rakhine (Arakanese) monk was imprisoned several times by the British colonial government for his anti-colonialist political activities.

U Nārada, also Mingun Jetawun Sayādaw or Mingun Jetavana Sayādaw, was a Burmese monk in the Theravada tradition credited with being one of the key figures in the revival of Vipassana meditation.

U Gambira

Nyi Nyi Lwin, more widely known by his monastic name U Gambira, is a former Buddhist monk, activist and a leader of the All-Burma Monks’ Alliance, a group which helped lead the 2007 protests against Burma’s military government. Following the protests, he went into hiding and published two editorials critical of the Burmese government in the Washington Post and The Guardian on 4 November 2007. He was arrested the same day.

Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera

was a Buddhist monk and an eminent scholar, who lived in the 15th century in Sri Lanka. He was a polyglot who was given the title “Shad Bhasha Parameshwara” due to his mastery in six oriental languages which prevailed in the Indian subcontinent. Sangharaja Thotagamuwe Sri Rahula Thera was also a distinguished author, veteran astrologer and a proficient ayurvedic physician.

Thittila

Ashin or Seṭṭhilābhivaṃsa, commonly known as U Thittila, was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk, who was also a distinguished and brilliant scholar of Buddhist literature (Pariyatti) and meditation teacher (Patipatta). He is said to be the first religious worker among the Burmese monks left for a foreign country to do Buddhist missionary work by living there for long years, to be exact, 14 consecutive years in England.

Thibbatuwawe Sri Siddhartha Sumangala Thero

is a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk who is the present Mahanayaka Thero of the Malwatta chapter of Siam Nikaya. He was appointed as the 26th Mahanayke Thera of Malwatta Chapter on 20 June 2004, by the Karaka Sangha Sabha of Malwatta chapter, after the demise of Most Ven. Rambukwelle Sri Dharmarakkitha Vipassi Mahanayka Thera. His act of appointment was presented on 16 August 2004 at the historic Magul Maduwa in Kandy.

Nyanatiloka

Ven. Nyanatiloka Mahathera, born as Anton Walther Florus Gueth, was one of the earliest westerners in modern times to become a Bhikkhu, a fully ordained Buddhist monk.

Palane Vajiragnana Thero

was a Sri Lankan (Sinhala) scholar Buddhist monk, who founded the renowned Siri Vajiraramaya temple in Bambalapitiya, Sri Lanka. He was also the Maha Nayaka (head) of Amarapura Sri Dharmarakshita sect for 37 years from August 5, 1918 until his death in 1955.

Acharya Buddharakkhita

was a Buddhist monk and prolific writer who established the Maha Bodhi Society of Bangalore and its sister bodies. It was inspired by the Maha Bodhi Society of Anagarika Dharmapala, but is functionally independent. He was born in Imphal, Manipur, in 1922. His parents were Vishnupada and Sailavaladevi Bandopadhyaya. 1942, he took part in the Quit India Movement.

Nyanaponika Thera

The Ven. or Nyanaponika Mahathera was a German-born Theravada Buddhist monk and scholar who, after ordaining in Sri Lanka, later became the co-founder of the Buddhist Publication Society and author of numerous seminal books and articles on Theravada Buddhism. He mentored and taught a whole generation of Western Buddhist leaders such as Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi.

Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero

was a Sri Lankan scholar Buddhist monk and a personality of Theravada Buddhism in the twentieth century. He was highly respected by Sri Lankan Buddhists, who believe that he achieved a higher level of spiritual development through meditation. Sri Lankan Buddhists also considered Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero as a Bodhisattva, who will attain Buddhahood in a future life.

Charles Henry Allan Bennett

was an English Buddhist and former member of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. He was an early friend and influential teacher of occultist Aleister Crowley.

Chanmyay Sayadaw

The Venerable U Janakābhivaṃsa, is a Theravada Buddhist monk from Myanmar.

Buddhaghosa Mahasthavir

was a Nepalese Buddhist monk who worked to revive Theravada Buddhism in Nepal in the 1940s in the face of suppression by the Rana regime.

Buddhadatta

Buddhadatta Thera was a 5th-century Theravada Buddhist writer from the town of Uragapura in the Chola kingdom of South India. He wrote many of his works in the Bhūtamangalagāma monastery and his patron was Accutavikkanta of the Kambala dynasty. Buddhadatta traveled to Sri Lanka’s Mahāvihāra in Anurādhapura to study and translate the commentaries on the Buddha’s teachings from Sinhalese to Pali. He is said to have met Buddhagosa at sea while returning to India, his work unfinished. Buddhadatta asked Buddhagosa to send him his translations and commentaries and used them in the writing of his Abhidhammāvatāra. The Abhidhammāvatāra is one of the earliest and most important Abhidhamma manuals. It is a systematized overview of the doctrines in the Abhidhamma Pitaka, written largely in 24 verse chapters. Buddhadatta’s other works include the Vinaya-Vinicchaya, the Uttara-Vinicchaya, the Rūpārūpa-Vibhāga.

Bour Kry

Samdech Preah Sangkhareach is the seventh and current Supreme Patriarch of the Thammayut order of Cambodia.

Bogoda Seelawimala Thera

Ven Bogoda Seelawimala Nayaka Thera is the incumbent Head Priest of the London Buddhist Vihara and the current Chief Sangha Nayaka of Great Britain. He was appointed Chief Bhikkhu of the London Buddhist Vihara on 8 May 2008 following the demise of Ven Dr Medagama Vajiragnana Nayaka Thera. Ven Seelawimala Nayaka Thera hails from the Malwatte Chapter of the Siam Nikaya in Sri Lanka.

Bhante Sujato

, known as Ajahn Sujato or Bhikkhu Sujato, is an Australian Theravada Buddhist monk ordained into the Thai forest lineage of Ajahn Chah.

The Most Venerable Bhaddanta Āciṇṇa (ဘဒ္ဒန္တအာစိဏ္ဏ), more commonly referred to as the Pa-Auk Sayadaw, is a Burmese Theravāda monk, meditation teacher and the abbot of the Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Mawlamyine.

Bauddha Rishi Mahapragya

was one of the most influential figures in the revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal in the 1920s. In 1926, he was jailed and then exiled by the tyrannical Rana regime for converting to Buddhism from Hinduism.

Ashin Wirathu

Wirathu is a Burmese Buddhist monk, and the leader of the extremist 969 Movement in Myanmar. He has been accused of supporting the persecution of Muslims in Myanmar through his speeches, although he claims to be a peaceful preacher and not to have advocated violence—which is disputed by others. Facebook banned his page on the charge of spreading religious hatred towards other communities, after repeated warnings to not post religiously inflammatory content.

Dambagasare Sumedhankara Thero

Dambagasare Sri Sumedhankara Thero was a Buddhist monk from Sri Lanka who re-discovered the Seruvila Mangala Raja Maha Viharaya temple in 1922.

Ashin Sandadika

is a prominent Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and writer.

Ashin Nandamalabhivamsa

Ashin Nandamālābhivaṃsa, commonly known by his position as Rector Sayadaw, is a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk who currently serves as the rector of Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, and an associate head (Upaukkaṭṭh) of Shwegyin Nikaya. He also served as the rector of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University.

Aniruddha Mahathera

was a Nepalese Buddhist monk and the Sangha Nayak (Patriarch) of Nepal from 1998 until his death in 2003. He was one of the most important figures in the revival of Theravada Buddhism in Nepal and the development of Lumbini, the Buddha’s birthplace in southern Nepal, into a center of international pilgrimage.

Ananda Weerasekara

Major General Ananda G. Weerasekara, RWP, USP was a Sri Lankan military officer and a priest. He served as the Military Coordinating Officer of the North Central Province during the 1987–1989 JVP insurrection and Commissioner General for Rehabilitation.

Ambagahawatte Indrasabhawara Gnanasami Maha Thera

Most Ven. was the founder of Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya and Sri Dharmagupta Pirivena of Mūla Maha Viharaya, Payagala, Kalutara. He was the first Maha Nayaka Thera of Sri Lanka Ramanna Nikaya.

Ajahn Sundara

is a French-born Buddhist sīladhārā in the tradition established by Ajahn Sumedho.

Ajahn Pasanno

is the most senior Western disciple of Ven. Ajahn Chah in the United States, and most senior in the world after Ajahn Sumedho and . For many years he was the abbot of Wat Pah Nanachat International Forest Monastery in Northeast Thailand. In the late 1990s, Ajahn Pasanno moved to California to head the new Abhayagiri Monastery. With more than 40 years as a bhikkhu, Ajahn Pasanno has been instrumental in training many monks in Thailand and the United States and has been supportive of training for women.

Ajahn Khemadhammo

Ajahn Khemadhammo OBE is a Theravāda Buddhist monk. He is one of the founders of the Thai Forest Tradition in the West.

Ajahn Candasiri

is one of the Theravāda Buddhist monastics who co-founded Chithurst Buddhist Monastery in West Sussex, England, a branch monastery of the Ajahn Chah lineage. She is currently ordained as a ten-precept sīladhārā, the highest level that is allowed for women in the Thai Forest Tradition. She is one of the senior monastics in western Theravāda Buddhism and trained alongside women who later became fully ordained bhikkhunis and abbesses of monasteries.

Ajahn Brahm

Phra Visuddhisamvarathera AM, known as Ajahn Brahmavaṃso, or simply , is a British-Australian Theravada Buddhist monk. Currently, Ajahn Brahm is the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in Serpentine, Western Australia; Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of Victoria; Spiritual Adviser to the Buddhist Society of South Australia; Spiritual Patron of the Buddhist Fellowship in Singapore; Patron of the Brahm Centre in Singapore; Spiritual Adviser to the Anukampa Bhikkhuni Project in the UK; and Spiritual Director of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA). He returned to the office on 22 April 2018 after briefly resigning in March, following a contentious vote by members of the BSWA during their annual general meeting.

Chuon Nath

was a Cambodian monk and the late Kana Mahanikaya Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia. Amongst his achievements is his effort in conservation of the Khmer language in the form of the Khmer dictionary. His protection of Khmer identity and history in the form of the national anthem, “Nokor Reach” and “Pongsavotar Khmer” were also among his contributions to the country. His ashes were interred at Wat Ounalom in Phnom Penh. His full honorary title is Samdech Sangha Rāja Jhotañāno Chuon Nath

Davuldena Gnanissara Thero

Agga Maha Pandita Davuldena Sri Gnanissara Thero was a Sri Lankan scholar Buddhist monk and a centenarian. He served as the supreme Mahanayaka of the Sri Lanka Amarapura Nikaya from 2002 until his death on 3 April 2017. Thero has also authored several books and was proficient in Pali, Sanskrit and English Languages. Born on 31 December 1915 at Dawuldena in Badulla District, he entered the order of Buddhist monks under the guidance of Venerable Umele Pagnananda and Ven. Umele Piyarathana Nayake Theros in 1928. He was appointed to the Mahanayaka post of Amarapura Nikaya in 2002 and was 101 years old at the time of his death.

Ñāṇavīra Thera

Ñāṇavīra Thera was an English Theravāda Buddhist monk, ordained in 1950 in Sri Lanka. He is known as the author of Notes on Dhamma, which were later published by Path Press together with his letters in one volume titled Clearing the Path.

Kumar Kashyap Mahasthavir

Bhante was a Nepalese Buddhist monk who was awarded the title of Tripitakacharya.

Ajahn Amaro

is a Theravāda Buddhist monk and teacher, and abbot of the Amaravati Buddhist Monastery at the eastern end of the Chiltern Hills in South East England. The centre, in practice as much for ordinary people as for monastics, is inspired by the Thai Forest Tradition and the teachings of the late Ajahn Chah. Its chief priorities are the practice and teaching of Buddhist ethics, together with traditional concentration and insight meditation techniques, as an effective way of dissolving suffering.

Nagasena Mahathera

The Venerable was the 9th Sangharaja of Bangladesh.

Mingun Sayadaw

The Venerable U Vicittasārābhivaṃsa was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk, best known for his memory skills and his role in the Sixth Buddhist Council.

Migettuwatte Gunananda Thera

Ven. or Mohottiwatte Gunananda Thera was a Sri Lankan Sinhala Buddhist orator. He is known for leading the Buddhist side in debates between Buddhists and Christians in Baddegama, Udanwita, Waragoda, Liyanagemulla, Gampola, and Panadura, where the most famous of the debates took place. As a result of the debates, Buddhism in Sri Lanka saw a revival.

Medawi

(1728–1816) was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk credited with being the first author of extant modern vipassanā manuals and thus may have been the first practitioner in the modern vipassana movement. Medawi’s first manual dates from 1754. Medawi was highly critical of the Burmese attitude at the time, which did not see meditation as important and did not believe in that enlightenment was possible at the time due to the decline of the Buddha’s teachings. Most believed that the only option left was to make enough merit to be reborn in the presence of the future Buddha, Metteya. In his 1756 meditation text Nama-rupa-nibbinda Shu-bwe Medawi argues that the decline of the Buddha’s “religion of practice” is individual, only to the extent that someone has given up practicing has the sasana truly declined:Should anyone ever believe, ‘I am unable to practice even so much as is necessary to attain the path and fruit of stream-entry!’ and [on the basis of this belief] only abandon what should be abandoned… and being content with the moral purity so attained, not engage in any further practice, then for that person it can be said that the religion of practice has gone extinct.

Mahasi Sayadaw

U Sobhana was a Burmese Theravada Buddhist monk and meditation master who had a significant impact on the teaching of vipassana (insight) meditation in the West and throughout Asia.

Maduluwawe Sobitha Thero

was an influential Sinhalese Buddhist monk regarded for his nonviolent revolutionary leadership in Sri Lanka and the chief incumbent of the Kotte Naga Vihara. He was a prominent social-political activist, an independent thinker who endured to improve the positive and constructive aspects of Sri Lankan Politics.

Madihe Pannaseeha Thero

Most Venerable Madihe Pannaseeha Mahathera was an eminent Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, who was the Mahanayaka of Amarapura sect from July 13, 1969 until his death on September 9, 2003.

Luangpho Uttama

Luangpho Ajahn Tala Uttama, was a Mon Buddhist monk. He was originally a Burmese citizen and later fled to Thailand and became one of Thailand’s most admired and revered persons.

Ledi Sayadaw

U Ñaṇadhaja was an influential Theravada Buddhist monk. He was recognized from a young age as being developed in both the theory (Abhidharma) and practice of Buddhism and so was revered as being scholarly. He wrote many books on Dhamma in Burmese and these were accessible even to a serious lay person, hence he was responsible for spreading Dhamma to all levels of society and reviving the traditional practice of vipassana meditation, making it more available for renunciates and lay people alike.

Kou Sopheap

Venerable is a Cambodian Buddhist monk of the Mohanikay sect, who is considered “one of the most well-known purely Buddhist monks in Cambodia.”

Dhammalok Mahasthavir

was a Nepalese Buddhist monk who worked to revive Theravada Buddhism in Nepal in the 1930s and 1940s. For this act, he was expelled from the country by the tyrannical Rana regime.

Kotugoda Dhammawasa Thero

Agga Maha Pandita was an eminent Sri Lankan Buddhist monk. He was the supreme Mahanayaka of Sri Lanka Amarapura–Rāmañña Nikāya and was the chief incumbent of Sri Dharmapalaramaya, Mount Lavinia.

Kollupitiye Mahinda Sangharakkhitha Thera

Venerable Professor is the Chief Incumbent of the Kelaniya Raja Maha Vihara and Head of the Buddhist and Pali Faculty of the University of Kelaniya.

Kithalagama Sri Seelalankara Thera

Matara , also known as Dimbulagala Hamuduruwo, was a 20th century Sri Lankan Buddhist monk. He was a pioneer in restoring the ancient Buddhist monastery Dimbulagala Raja Maha Vihara in the 1950s and was the chief incumbent of the monastery for almost four decades.

K. Sri Dhammaratana

The Most Venerable Datuk 拿督达摩拉达那长老 is a Sri Lankan born Malaysian Buddhist monk and the incumbent Buddhist Chief High Priest of Malaysia, since the passing of his predecessor in 2006.

K. Sri Dhammananda

was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk and scholar.

Jagdish Kashyap

Bhikkhu was born on 2 May 1908 in Ranchi, Bengal Presidency, India; he died 28 January 1976. His birth name was Jagdish Narain, and the name Kashyap was given to him at his bhikkhu ordination in 1933.

Hopong Koyinlay

Ashin Porisa, also known as Hoping Koyinlay, was an influential Pa’O monk from Hopong in southern Shan State. He was known for his religious works on Pa’O Self-Administered Zone and led the Htam Sam Cave. Koyinlay and his monastery area were guarded by Pa-O National Army.

Hikkaduwe Sri Sumangala Thera

was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk, who was one of the pioneers of Sri Lankan Buddhist revivalist movement in the 19th century. He did a great service to improve the Buddhist Education in the country and was the founder of Vidyodaya Pirivena, Maligakanda in 1873 which was granted the university status later in 1959 by the Government of Sri Lanka. A veteran author and a fiery orator, he was a major figure in the Panadurawadaya, a religious debate held between Christian missionaries and Buddhist monks in 1873 at Panadura, Sri Lanka. He was well versed in Sinhala, Pali, Sanskrit, English, Buddhism, History, Arithmetic, and Archaeology and was one of the primary sources of information on Buddhism for the success of the Panadura debate.

Gangodawila Soma Thero

was a bhikkhu from Sri Lanka. Following tradition, he used the name of his birthplace, Gangodawila, in front of his name; thero is a term for an elder monk. Soma thero followed the example set by his teachers, and Ampitiye Rahula Maha Thero and was both a learned monk and a social reformer. The cause of his death remains in dispute.

Galagama Sri Aththadassi Thera

was a Sri Lankan Buddhist monk who served as the 21st Mahanayaka of the Asgiriya Chapter of Siyam Nikaya. He was appointed on 8 May 2015 following the death of Chief Prelate Most Venerable Udugama Sri Buddharakkitha Thero on 8 April 2015.

Ñāṇamoli Bhikkhu

Ñāṇamoli Bhikkhu was a British Theravada Buddhist monk and translator of Pali literature.

One thought on “Theravada Buddhist monks – Guardians of the monastic code”

  1. This is a complementary list of influential Theravada monastic orders in Asia:

    Bangladesh

    • Mahasthabir Nikaya
    • Sangharaj Nikaya

    Myanmar (Myanmar)

    • Dwara Nikaya
    • Hngettwin Nikaya
    • Shwekyin Nikaya
    • Thudhamma Nikaya

    Sri Lanka

    • Amarapura Nikaya has many Sub orders including
    • Dharmarakshitha
    • Kanduboda (or Swejin Nikaya)
    • Tapovana (or Kalyanavamsa)
    • Ramañña Nikaya
    • Delduwa
    • Sri Kalyani Yogasrama Samstha (or ‘Galduwa Tradition’)
    • Siam Nikaya
    • Asgiriya
    • Malwaththa
    • Rohana
    • Waturawila (or Mahavihara Vamshika Shyamopali Vanavasa Nikaya)

    Thailand and Cambodia

    • Dhammayuttika Nikaya
    • Maha Nikaya
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