Kingdom mourns death of Supreme Patriarch

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Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple, begins the water-ablution ceremony for Supreme Patriarch Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara (inset), who headed Thailand’s order of Buddhist monks for more than two decades. The Supreme Patriarch died of a blood infection Oct. 24 at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, at age 100. 

Just days after marking the 100th birthday of Thailand’s Supreme Patriarch with special events, the entire Kingdom is mourning his death.

Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara, who headed Thailand’s order of Buddhist monks for more than two decades, died of a blood infection Oct. 24 at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok. He’d been living there since 2002 and had turned over administration of his duties in 2004.

Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple, begins the water-ablution ceremony for Supreme Patriarch Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara (inset), who headed Thailand’s order of Buddhist monks for more than two decades. The Supreme Patriarch died of a blood infection Oct. 24 at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, at age 100. Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple, begins the water-ablution ceremony for Supreme Patriarch Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara (inset), who headed Thailand’s order of Buddhist monks for more than two decades. The Supreme Patriarch died of a blood infection Oct. 24 at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok, at age 100.

His Majesty the King ordered a 30-day period of mourning for Royal Household members.

Civil servants and state enterprise employees were asked to wear black for 15 days, beginning Oct 25, in respect for His Holiness, the longest living Supreme Patriarch in Thai history, who turned 100 on October 3.

On Oct 25, his body was moved from Chulalongkorn hospital to Wat Bavornnives for bathing rites.

At provincial halls countrywide, people poured in to pay their final respects to the Supreme Patriarch in special mourning ceremonies arranged by provincial administrations.

Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple (left) looks on as mourners take part in the water-ablution ceremony for the former Supreme Patriarch.Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple (left) looks on as mourners take part in the water-ablution ceremony for the former Supreme Patriarch.

Locally, the day after his death, Chonburi Gov. Khomsan Ekachai and Phra Thep Suttajan, head of the province’s monk committee and abbot of Khao Bangsrai Temple attended a water-ablution ceremony for the former patriarch.

Top police and political officials attended the funeral ceremony before a large portrait of the Buddhist leader.

Nyanasamvara was born Charoen Gajavatra in Kanchanaburi Oct. 3, 1913. He was ordained at Wat Devasangharam in 1933. He subsequently moved to Wat Bovoranives Vihara in Bangkok to further his studies. It was here that he was ordained in the Dhammayut movement with the then Supreme Patriarch Somdej Khrom Luang Vajiranyanavangsa as his preceptor. He passed the exam for level 9 in Buddhist theology in 1941 and in 1972 was bestowed the title “Somdej Phra Nyanasamvara” by H.M. the King.