MeditationMonk LifePa-Auk

Pa-Auk Forest Monastery and Pa-Auk Sayadaw Shared Names

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Pa-Auk Main Gate (cc-by-sa)

Pa-Auk Forest Monastery and Pa-Auk Sayadaw share the same names. Why is that?

Some people might question why Pa-Auk Forest Monastery and Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw have the same names. Did the Pa-Auk Sayadaw name his monastery after himself to immortalize his name? Is this an ego trip? What is the who, what, were, when, why, and how of this story?

Who?

Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadawgyi (cc-by-sa)

Venerable Pa-Auk Sayadaw’s real name is Sayadaw U Āciṇṇa. It means “habitual kamma” in the Pāḷi Language. If you ever meet him and know how he acts, you will see that he lives up to his name. He is very predictable because he does everything systematically according to the dhamma on a habitual basis. It is not polite to call a sayadaw by his Pāḷi name if he is given such a title. Likewise, when speaking to him, you would just simply address him as Sayadawgyi (big sayadaw). In my days, we just called him “Sayadaw.” However, after some time, many teachers became of age and also became “sayadaws” too. That was when he became known as “Sayadawagyi.”

What?

This is the original Pa-Auk Forest Monastery in Mawlamyine, Mon State.

Where?

There is a village named Pa-Auk Village situated about 10 miles outside of Mawlamyine, which is one of the major cities in Mon State. The monastery is called Pa-Auk Tawya Monastery. Tawya means forest, so it is the forest monastery of the village named Pa-Auk. You can see on the map that the monastery is located on the right (where the forest is), while the village is on the other side of the main road.

When, Why and How?

In Myanmar, the abbot is usually named after the village or the monastery he is leading and not the other way around.

After Sayadawgyi finished his studies, he went to the forest and was meditating in Mon State. Meanwhile, in 1981, the abbot of Pa-Auk Forest Monastery who was the 2nd abbot of this monastery (also called Pa-Auk Sayadaw or the Ven. Phelhtaw Sayadaw Aggapañña) was dying and sent for Sayawdaw U Āciṇṇa to take over the monastery for him. Within a couple of weeks the 2nd Pa-Auk Sayadaw had died and a third Pa-Auk Sayadaw was born.

The Pa-Auk Monastery would then grow into a network of meditation centers across Southeast Asia and beyond, and is currently the largest network in Myanmar. The main center usually hosts over 1200 meditation yogis on a rolling basis, with over 500 of them as foreigners. Many of the residents stay for years at a time. As each new monastery was created, it also had the Pa-Auk name.

So that is the who, what, where, why and how of Pa-Auk.

Picture credits:

By Paingpeace – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=71958277

By Paingpeace – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=73339517

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