A Buddhist abbot who was revered not only by local people in Shan State’s Tachilek Township, but also by some of the Burma Army’s top brass and senior Thai officials, passed away in the border town of Tachilek last Saturday.
Venerable U Agamahar Thadamma Zawtikadaza Bandanta Pannya Sami, who was abbot of the Mahamuni Pagoda Monastery in Tachilek’s Makar Hokham Ward, died at around 8pm on September 7 at the age of 85.
According to the Eastern Shan State Sangha Association, the Buddhist leader, who spent 65 years of his life as a monk, will be cremated in his home village of Sili Ngoe, in Tachilek’s Mong Koe village-tract, at the end of October.
“The abbot died of natural causes due to illnesses related to his advanced age. His body will lie in repose at his monastery for 45 days so that people can pay their respects. Then it will be cremated in his native village,” U Kulisa, the head of the Eastern Shan State Sangha Association, told SHAN.
The late abbot was the deputy chief of the Eastern Shan State Sangha Association as well as a member of the Sangha (monastic community) association for the whole of Shan State.
Ven. U Bandanta Pannya Sami had a strong following among local people, but was also held in high esteem by high-ranking Burmese military officers, including the Burma Army’s commander-in-chief Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing, former president U Thein Sein, and past and present commanders of the army’s Triangle Regional Military Command.
The late abbot was also revered by Thai people, including Thai officials.
“The late abbot had many lay followers. Former president U Thein Sein and Snr. Gen. Min Aung Hlaing were among them, and yesterday [September 8], Maj. Gen. Khin Hlaing, the Triangle regional commander, paid his respects. He also had many Thai lay followers,” said U Kulisa.
Ven. U Bandanta Pannya Sami was born in his home village of Sili Ngoe village in 1936. He ordained as a novice at the age of 11, and until he became a monk, he was known by the name of Sai Phat. As a monk, he studied under Ashin Thawbita, the abbot of Yang Kham Monastery.
The late abbot became a lecturer at the Damawdaya Buddhist learning center at Mahamuni Pagoda Monastery in Tachilek in 1968. He became abbot of the monastery on April 3, 1978.