Mahasi Sayadaw


Mahasi Sayadaw
   (1904-1982)
   A prominent member of the Sangha, who perfected a method of meditation that has attracted large numbers of Burmese and foreign practitioners. Born in the village of Seikkhun near Shwebo in what is now Sagaing Division, he entered the monkhood at the age of 6; at 12 was ordained as a novice (samanera); at 19, he decided to devote his life to religion and received ordination as a monk (bhikkhu). While at monasteries in Moulmein (Mawlamyine) and Thaton, he carried out intensive study of the Pali Canon in order to understand the principles of satipatthana-vipassana (insight-awareness) meditation. He taught them to his first disciples in his hometown of Seikkhun in 1938. During World War II, he remained in Seikkhun (residing at the Mahasi Monastery, thus his title), taught meditation techniques, and wrote a Manual of Vipassana Meditation. In November 1949, Prime Minister U Nu invited him to teach at the Sasana Yeiktha (Buddhist or Meditation Center) in Rangoon (Yangon). He played a prominent role in the Sixth Great Buddhist Council, convened by the prime minister between 1954 and 1956, and headed missions to promote Theravada Buddhism and vipassana meditation methods in Japan, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, and Western countries. Through his efforts and those of his disciples, meditation centers based on his teachings were established not only in Burma but also in Thailand, Sri Lanka, and elsewhere. Aside from teaching, the Mahasi Sayadaw was a prolific translator and writer on Buddhist subjects.
   See also Ba Khin, U.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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