H.H. Somdet

His Holiness Somdet Phramaharatchamangkhlachan

(Chuang Varapunyo, Pali Scholar Level 9)

The Former Acting Supreme Patriarch of Thailand

 

Birth

His Holiness’s given name is Chuang, and his family name is Soodprasert.  He was born on Wednesday, 26 August 1925, the 9th waxing moon day of the 10th lunar month in the year of ox.  His hometown address is 32 Rajadheva Sub-District, Bangplee District, Samut Prakarn Province.  He is the second son of Mr. Ming and Mrs. Sampao Soodprasert.  He has four siblings as follows: 

1.  Mr. See Soodprasert (1923)

2.  Somdet Pramaharatchamangkhlachan (Chuang Soodprasert)(1925)

3.  Ms. Chalaem Soodprasert (1928-1949)

4.  Mr. Champee Soodprasert (1930-2004)

In 1932, Mr. Ming Soodprasert passed away, so Mrs. Sampao had to be responsible for raising her children by herself.  Later on, she remarried with Mr. Kod Charoenpol and had four more children as follows:

1.  Mrs. Aroon Nakmeepit (1933)

2.  Mr. Boonsong Nakmeepit (1936)

3.  Mrs. Tongbai Sanantoong (1939)

4.  Ms. Sangwien Choroenpol (1943)

Ordination

Becoming a Novice Monk

When His Holiness was 7 year old, his father passed away due to scurvy.  So, His Holiness and his elder brother had to be ordained on the cremation day of his father according to the Thai tradition.  After the ceremony, his elder brother disrobed right away, but His Holiness remained in his novice monkhood for a little longer.  Then, he disrobed and became familiar with the temples in his neighborhood namely Wat Sangharaja Temple and Wat Lardkrabang Temple.  When he was 14 year old, he became a novice monk again on Monday, 1 May 1939, the 13th waxing moon day or the 6th lunar month in the year of hare.  His preceptor was Phra-kru Silabhirat (Tong) from Wat Lardkrabang Temple in Bangkok.  After his second ordination, he studied Dhamma until passing the intermediate level of Dhamma study at Wat Sangharaja.  By then, he heard about the story of Luang Por who could cater meals to his resident monks everyday without the need to walk for alms round.  His Holiness wished to become a resident of Wat Paknam Temple, so he moved to Wat Paknam in 2484 with the recommendation of Venerable Jam who brought him to meet Luang Por personally as accompanied by Mr. See, his elder brother.

Becoming a Buddhist Monk

His Holiness entered the higher ordination on Friday, 11 May 1945, the 1st waxing moon day of the 6th lunar month, in the year of cock, at the Buddha Hall of Wat Paknam in Bangkok.  He was given the monastic name ‘Varapunyo.’  His preceptor was Phra-kru Boriharnbaromadhat (Puan Kesaro) from Wat Nangchee.  Luang Por was one of his co-preceptors.  Since His Holiness was a diligent person, he could study until completing the Pali study level 7.  Then, Luang Por brought him to further his study at Wat Benjamaborpitdusitvanaram, under the supervision of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch (Kittisophonmahathera).  After completing Pali study level 9, be served the Supreme Patriarch as a secretary for a period of time and returned to Wat Paknam to assist Luang Por. 

Education

1937 – Finished Grade 4 at Prachabal School, Bangkok

1941 – Passed intermediate level of Dhamma study at Wat Sangharaja, Bangkok

1947 – Passed advanced level of Dhamma study at Wat Paknam, Bangkok

1949 – Passed Pali level 7 at Wat Paknam, Bangkok

1954 – Passed Pali level 9 at Wat Benjamaborpitdusitvanaram, Bangkok

Special Education

Study and practice Samatha and Vipassana Meditation according to the Dhammakaya Tradition when he was a novice monk until the present

1949 – 1965  Becoming a memorizer and recitor of monastic codes at Wat Benjamaborpitdusitvanaram and Wat Paknam

Ecclesiastic Order (Monastic Rank)

1956 – promoted to the primary monastic rank of ‘Phrasrivisudhimolee’

1962 – promoted to the ‘Raj’ monastic rank of ‘Phrarajvedhi’

1967 – promoted to the ‘Thep’ monastic rank of ‘Phrathepvaravedhi’

1973 – promoted to the ‘Dham’ monastic rank of ‘Phradhamtheerarajmahamuni’

1987 – promoted to second to the holiness level of ‘Phradhampanyabodi’

1995 – promoted to the holiness level of ‘Somdet Phramaharatchamangkhlachan’

Governing Work

1952 – Served as the secretary of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch at Wat Benjamaborpitdusitvanaram

1956– Served as the deputy abbot of Wat Paknam

1957– Certified to be a preceptor

1964– Became a deputy chief monk of region 3

1965– Became the abbot of Wat Paknam

1965 –1973 – Became the chief monk of region 3

1974 –1985 – Became the chief monk of region 17

1985 –1994 – Became the chief monk of region 7

1989 – present – Became a member of the Supreme Sangha Council

1990 –2005 – Became a board member of Por Sor Por

1990 – present – Became a board member of Sor Tor Por

1994 – present – Became the chief monk of Northern region

2005 – Became a member of the Acting Supreme Patriarch Council

Works on Education

1944 –1949 – Became an instructor of Dhamma school at Wat Paknam

1946 – Served as a Dhamma examination committee

1948 – Served as a Pali examination committee

1950 –1954 – Served as a Pali instructor at Wat Benjamaborpitdusitvanaram

1955 – Served as a Pali examination supervisor in different provinces

1956 – Served as the headmaster of Wat Paknam’s Dhamma school

1965 – Served as the director of Wat Paknam’s Dhamma school

1985 –1994 – Served as the director of basic Dhamma examination of region 7

1989 – Served as the first vice chairman of the National Pali examination board

1994 – Served as the chairman of the National Pali examination board

1995 – Served as a committee of monastic education board

Domestic Propagation

1994 – Served as the second vice director of domestic missionary division and served as the first vice president of mountain missionary monks

1994 – Served as the president of mountain missionary monks

Propagation Abroad

1984 – Established ‘Wat Mongkolthepmuni Temple’ in Philadelphia, USA.

1997 – Established ‘Wat Paknam Japan Temple’

2002 – Established ‘Wat Paknam New Zealand Temple’

2007 – Patronized the building of Wat Buddhamongkolbhavana in Ohio, USA, which was established by Venerable Samak Samakko since 2004.  Later on, the venerable was promoted to the rank of ‘Phra-kru-palad Suwattanavisudhhikhun’ at the Buddha Hall of Wat Paknam.  His Holiness had renamed the temple to be ‘Wat Paknam America Temple’ which formally became a branch of Wat Paknam.    

Works on Facility & Infrastructure

Since His Holiness became an abbot of Wat Paknam in 1965, he had launched many projects to improve accommodation, facility, and infrastructure of the temple in six major ways as follows:

1.  Renovated the old facilities and infrastructures

2.  Built new facilities and infrastructures

3.  Preserved and maintained the old things

4.  Bought additional plots of land to enlarge the temple area

5.  Built a bridge to be the temple’s entrance

6.  Built electricity and water system to serve the whole temple

Charity Works

1981 – Founded ‘Luang Por Wat Paknam Foundation’ Trust.  The money gained from trust fund has been spent on many charity projects.  The amount worth as much as 230,000,000 baht (1981 – 2005).  The money spent on Wat Paknam’s construction project is 400,000,000 baht and the cost of construction outside Wat Paknam is 230,000,000 baht.

1986 – Provided 72 Phramongkolthepmuni funds to Dhamma schools all over Thailand as much as 100,000 baht per school in order to support their Pali language instruction.

Hall Mark Projects

1989 – Commenced the construction of the Marble Buddhist Scripture Inscription Hall at The Buddhamondol or Buddha Mandala in Nakorn Pathom Province in order to commemorate the 60th birthday anniversary of His Majesty the King of Thailand on 5 December 1987.

1991 – Commenced the construction of Mahasirinat Buddhist Library at The Buddhamondol in Nakorn Pathom Province in order to commemorate the 60th birthday anniversary of Her Majesty the Queen of Thailand on 12 August 1992.

1999 – Commenced the construction of Library & IT Center of Mahachulalongkornrajavidhalayala University in Ayudhaya Province. 

27 August 2004 – Commenced the construction of Maharajamongkol Pagoda at Wat Paknam, which is 80 meters in height and 50 meters in width, in dedication to His Majesty the King on the occasion of his 80th birthday anniversary on 5 December 2007.

Special Projects

1955 – Represented the Thai Buddhist monastic order to attend Tripitaka Revision Conference

1981 – present – Served as the president of Luang Por Wat Paknam Foundation

1991 – Served as the monastic president of The Buddhamondol Fund Raising Subcommittee

      -          Served as a committee in examining the revised Tripitaka, Chaloemprakiat Edition

      -          Served as a monastic board member of the Sangha Hospital

      -          Served as an advisory subcommittee on fund raising of Wat Thai Lumbini, Nepal 

Foreign Monastic Rank

1977 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phrasasanatachamahapanyasara’ by the Sangha order of Bangladesh

1981 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phrachinvarasasanasophontepitakavisaratakanapamokhajariya’ by the Amornpura Nikaya Sect of Sri Lanka

1982 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phrasasanachotikasaddhammavisartvimolkittisiri’ by the Assakiriya Sect, Siam Lineage of Sri Lanka

1982 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phradhammakittisiratepitakavisaradho’ by the Mullavatta Sect, Siam Lineage of Sri Lanka

1983 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phratipitakapanditadhammakittissiriyatisanghapatti’ by the Raman Lineage of Sri Lanka

1983 – Certified to be a preceptor of Kotte Side, Siam Lineage of Sri Lanka, at Phra Upalivamsalankara Uppajjayadhammadhiramahamunithera

1995 – Promoted to the rank of ‘Phratheravadavamsalankarasiamdhesasasanataja’ by the Amornpura Nikaya Sect of Sri Lanka

Honorific Recognition

1989 – Received an honorary doctoral degree from Mahachulalongkornrajavidhalayala University

2000 – Received an honorary doctoral degree from a university in Sri Lanka

2003 – Received an honorary doctoral degree from the Indian Sangha Council

2008 – Received an honorary doctoral degree from Mahamongkutrajavidhalayala University

2010 – Received an honorary doctoral degree in linguistics from Thammasat University


                                                          Image from http://www.ranongcities.com/index.php?cmd=news&cate=1&id=3525

                                                                                                                                   Content from www.watpaknam.org