Chief monk Suvanno dies at 86

The Star, March 12, 2007

PENANG, Malaysia -- Ven Acara Suvanno Maha Thero, well known as the monk instrumental in reviving Theravada Buddhism in the northern states, has died at the age of 86.

The Buddhist Hermitage Lunas chief monk, known as Bhante Suvanno among the community, died in his sleep at the Lam Wah Ee Hospital here at 6.30am yesterday.

Hermitage secretary C.S. Liew said Suvanno was suffering from lung cancer and had been warded since Dec 31.

“The doctor said surgery was not advisable because of his age, and Bhante Suvanno declined chemotherapy. He had problems with phlegm because of the growth in his lungs,” Liew said.

According to his biography Striving to be a Nobody by Y.K. Leong, published by Inward Path in 2000 for free distribution, Suvanno found solace in Buddhism as an abused child.

He wanted to become a monk at 12 but instead got married and raised two daughters. He retired as a hospital assistant but continued working until age 60 when he renounced the world.

He was fluent in English and Chinese, and many of his talks can be found on cassettes, discs or downloaded from websites.

The cortege will leave the Hermitage (phone number: 04-484 4027) in Kampung Seberang Sungai, Lunas, Kedah, for cremation at the Berapit Crematorium in Bukit Mertajam, Central Seberang Prai, at 2pm on Tuesday.