Our great masters

Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro

Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro was born as Sodh Mikaewnoi on October 10, 1884 to the family of a rice merchant in Amphoe Song Phi Nong, Suphanburi, a province 100km west of Bangkok. In July 1906, aged twenty-two, he was ordained at Wat Song Phi Nong in his hometown and was given the Pāli name Candasaro.

During his studies in Bangkok, Luang Pu Sodh learned various meditation techniques and scriptures from different masters. However, he felt that something was missing and continued his search for deeper understanding. In 1916, while meditating at Wat Botbon, he experienced a breakthrough moment where his mind became still and he saw a bright and shining sphere of Dhamma within his body. He believed this to be the spiritual essence of the Buddha that exists as the true nature within every person. This practice of meditation became known as the Dhammakāya method.

From that point forward, Luang Pu Sodh dedicated his life to teaching and spreading the practice of Dhammakāya meditation. He became the abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, a neglected temple that he transformed into a thriving center of meditation and learning. Under his leadership, Wat Paknam became renowned for its meditation teachings and attracted a large community of monks and nuns—as many as 500 monks in 1959, which was the largest monastic congregation in Thailand at the time.

Luang Pu Sodh's influence extends beyond his lifetime, and his teachings continue to inspire practitioners of Dhammakāya meditation.

Khun Yai Chandra Khonnokyoong

Khun Yai Chandra was born Chandra Khonnokyoong on January 20, 1909, in a farming family in Nakhon Pathom province in Thailand. She ordained as a Buddhist nun in the monastic order at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen in 1938 and attained an advanced level of meditation under the tutelage of Luang Pu Sodh Candasaro.

Khun Yai Chandra was the spiritual teacher of both Luang Por Dhammajayo and Luang Por Dattajeevo. As the number of her students outgrew the facilities at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, she began fundraising for a new meditation center and received a donation of a 78-acre plot of land on the rice paddies of Pathum Thani province. In 1970, she officially founded the Buddhajak Meditation Center there, and in 1978, it was consecrated as a Buddhist temple by the name Wat Phra Dhammakaya. She is honored for her role as the founder of Wat Phra Dhammakaya.

She bears the honorable title “Khun Yai Ajahn Maharatana Upasika Chandra Khonnokyoong”, translated literally as “Grandmother Master Nun, Great Jewel'' and is lovingly referred to by her disciples as “Khun Yai”, or “Grandmother”. Khun Yai died peacefully in 2000 and a six-sided golden pyramid was erected in her honor. Khun Yai remains one of Thailand’s most influential female meditation teachers.

Luang Por Dhammajayo

Luang Por Dhammajayo was born Chaiyaboon Suddhipol on April 22, 1944 to Janyong Suddhipol and Juree Suddhipol. Chaiyaboon developed an early interest in Buddhism in his adolescence while he was studying at Suan Kularb Secondary School in Bangkok, Thailand. In 1963, Chaiyaboon enrolled as an undergraduate scholar in the Department of Economics at Kasetsart University.

During his university studies, he discovered Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen just a short boat ride down the Chao Phraya River and became a close disciple of Khun Yai. After his graduation from Kasetsart University with a BSc degree in Economics, he was ordained at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen on August 27, 1969 and was given the monastic name “Dhammajayo”, which means “Victory through Dhamma”.

Luang Por Dattajeevo

Luang Por Dattajeevo was born Padet Pongsawat on December 21, 1940 to an agricultural household in Pakplaak District of Kanchanaburi province, Thailand. He graduated with a degree in agricultural science from Kasetsart University and studied in Australia for his postgraduate studies.

From a young age, Padet enjoyed learning and reading books on various subjects, especially about the practice of meditation found in various ancient scriptures. He sought out numerous well-known meditation masters to train him in meditation in order to dispel any doubts about ‘merit, demerit, and the existence of heaven and hell’ that remained in his mind.

Luang Por Dattajeevo ordained in 1971 and was given the monastic name “Dattajeevo”, which means “He who gives his soul (to Buddhism)” and quickly became a world-renowned author, teacher, and speaker.