Abbot Luang Phor Uttama dies at 97

The Nation, Oct 19, 2006

Kanchanaburi, Thailand -- Highly-revered Buddhist monk Luang Phor Uttama passed away yesterday from sepsis stemming from a chronic lung infection. He was 97.

Hundreds of disciples of Phra Ratcha Udom Mongkhol Phahol Tharathon, abbot of Wat Wang Wiwekaram in Kanchanaburi, had gathered at an ICU unit at Siriraj Hospital to monitor doctors' reports on the monk's condition. They silently mourned after news of his death.

The funeral service at the temple from today until next Thursday is under the patronage of Her Majesty the Queen, who also provided his treatment costs after he was admitted to the hospital on November 25, 2004.

Born as Aye Maung in 1910 of Burmese descent, Luang Phor Uttama survived major cholera outbreaks when he was nine and 14, while all five brothers among a total of 12 died of the disease.

He was ordained as a novice at 18 and entered the monkhood two years later. He fled to Thailand in 1949 from violent ethnic fighting. He was known and revered by local Burmese for his profound and intensive Buddhist teachings and his industrious meditation.

The monk had been based mostly in Kanchanaburi, which borders Burma and whose population is mainly Burmese and Thai people of Mon descent. He founded Wat Wang Wiwekaram in 1962 and it became a full-scale temple 24 years later.