World renowned Theravada teacher passes away
The Buddhist Channel, Aug 15, 2005
Sayadaw U Silananda was well known for his tireless effort to spread Buddhist education through letter and practice.
Half Moon Bay, CA (USA) -- Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda passed away peacefully on August 13, 2005 at 7:24 AM (Pacific Daylight Time, USA) as a result of a brain tumor. He was 78.
<< Sayadaw U Silananda, 1927 2005
U Silananda, a Burmese monk, is the Spiritual Advisor of the Theravada Buddhist Society of America, which has a large center in Half Moon Bay, CA. He also is the Spiritual Director of centers in Berkeley and San Jose in California, and in Florida. He teaches in both English and Burmese.
Sayadaw U Jotalanka expressed the loss of his distinguished mentor Sayadaw U Silananda. "We have lost an irreplacable sayadaw, who is world renown for his prowess in pariyatti, paripatti, and pariveda. I first studied under him in Manadalay from 1970 - 74. I wanted to continue my studies, but I was assigned to be a chief monk of my local monastery. With Sayadaw U Silananda's recommendation, I was later sent to Japan to do sasana work. Later, Sayadaw asked me join at the Dhammananda Vihara. [Details can be found in the preface of my books.] We all feel sad, but we should learn invaluable dhamma lessons through Sayadaw's sickness and demise: that 'everyone has to face the ultimate realities such as death'. We should try our best to carry on Sayadaw's legacy such as teaching and practising dhamma."
In his obituary, Sayadaw U Sobana (aged 84), said, "I first met Sayadaw U Silananda at Kaba Aye (World Peace Pagoda) in 1952 when preparations were being made for the Sixth Buddhist Council. I was sent to Colombo, Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) in 1953 to do sasana work. Sayadaw U Silananda joined me in 1954 and he studied in Colombo until 1956. He treated me as an elder brother, and occasionally sought advice. [I was in Bangkok, Thailand for some time doing sasana work.] Sayadaw invited me to Dhammananda Vihara [then in Daly City in the early days]. Over the years, I have found Sayadaw to be extremely contented. ... His wish would be to have 'simple rites' and not to have elaborate ceremonies. We should try to carry on his legacy."
U Myat Htoo, President of TBSA, and Dr. Than Htay, Sayadaw's nephew, gave detailed accounts of Sayadaw's last days. Sayadaw's health has deteriorated in the past few days. Several organs (liver, kidney, ...) started to malfunction. Even though Sayadaw has no history of diabetes, the blood sugar level had risen considerably due to side effect of the medications. After consulting with the specialists, U
Myat Htoo and Dr. Than Htay requested Sayadaw to be relocated from ICU [which had restrictions regarding visitation hours] to a private room so that Sayadaw can wear the yellow robes and have his head shaved and more devotees can pay respect more freely. Sayadaw continued to have
the "life support" and medications.
The Sayadaws and several devotees later donated to the "Funeral Fund". Funeral services will be held for members of the public to pay their last respect to the late Sayadaw from August 21 to 27, 2005.
Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda’s Funeral Service Schedule
August 21, 2005, Sunday
9 AM Dhamma Talk and sharing of merits at Dhammananda Vihara.
11 AM Offering soon (meal) and requisites to the sangha and free lunch to devotees and well-wishers.
3 PM Buddhist funeral rights at Duggan Funeral House (Daly City, California. Exact address will be posted here later).
3 PM to 9 PM Viewing by devotees. Special request to the attendees to observe Noble Silence and to practice Contemplation of Death (Asubha Meditation).
August 22, 2005, Monday
2 PM Funeral procession to Colma Woodlawn cemetery. Sangha and devotees will pay last respects and recite verses before the cremation.
August 24, 2005, Wednesday
The ashes of Venerable Sayadaw U Silananda will be brought back to the Dhammananda Vihara.
August 27, 2005, Saturday
Sayadaw’s ashes will be scattered into the Pacific Ocean. Selected sanghas and Board Members of TBSA will take part in the ceremony. The time and date will be announced later.
The schedule above is subject to change. For more information, please visit the Theravada Buddhist Society of America's website www.tbsa.org or contact 650-726-7604. The society is currently looking for volunteers to help out with the funeral arrangements.
Sayadaw U Silananda was born in Mandalay, Burma (now known as Myanmar) on Friday, December 16, 1927 (the 8th Waning of the month of Nadaw in Burmese Era 1289) of parents Wunna Kyaw Htin Saya Saing and Daw Mone. Saya Saing was a renowned Burmese architect. (See "Work of Saya Saing") and had to his credit many religious buildings throughout the country. He was a very religious man and a meditator as well. He was awarded the title "Wunna Kyaw Htin" by the Government of Burma for his outstanding achievements in Burmese architecture and religious activities.
Two brothers of Sayadaw are also prominent Burmese architects. His two nephews are graduate architects of RIT. His brother U Ngwe Hlaing was the chief designer and his nephew U Than Tun is co-designer of the "Karaweik" in Kandawgyi (Royal Lake), Rangoon.
Sayadaw also comes from a highly religious family. His sister is Daw Thandasari, Chief Nun of "Shwe-se-di Sar-thin-daik" of "Sasanapala Choung" in Sagaing Hills.
At the age of 16, on April 14, 1943 (on the 10th Waxing of the month of Tagu in Burmese Era 1305, also the third day of the Water Festival) during the Japanese occupation, U Silananda became a novice at Mahavijjodaya Chaung monastery in Sagaing Hills under the preceptorship of Sayadaw U Pannavata, a very faamous and popular preacher. He was then given the religious name "Shin Silananda".
With the consent of his parents, on Wednesday July 2, 1947 (on the Full Moon day of Waso in Burmese Era 1309) he became a full-fledged monk at the same monastery with the same preceptor. Four days later re-ordination ceremony was held in his honor at Payagyi Taik monastery in Mandalay by U Ba Than and Daw Tin (his aunt), dealers in religious artifacts. Again in 1950 (Burmese Era 1311) a second re-ordination ceremony was held in his honor at Kyaungdawya Shwegyin Taik, Rangoon (now Yangon) by rice merchants U Ba Thein and Daw Ngwe Saw.
He received his early years' education at Kelly High School, an American Baptist Mission School for boys, in Mandalay. He had his religious education in Tipitaka (Buddhist Scriptures) under the guidance of his preceptor and many other renowned Sayadaws both in Sagaing Hills and in Mandalay.
He took the religious examinations held by the Government of Burma (now Myanmar) and passed the Phatamange (1st Grade) in 1946, Phatamalat (2nd Grade) in 1947, and Phatamagyi (3rd Grade) in 1948. He attained the 1st position in the 2nd Grade in the whole of Burma and 2nd position in the 3rd Grade. He got the degree of Dhammacariya, Master of Dhamma, in 1950 and was awarded the title Sasanadhaja Siripavara Dhammacariya. In 1954 he attained another degree when he passed the examination held by Pariyattisasanahita Association in Mandalay which was renowned to be the most difficult examination in Burma. He duely got to add to his name the word "abhivamsa", hence his full name and title: U Silanandabhivamsa, Sasanadhaja Siripavara Dhammacariya and Pariyattisasanahita Dhammacariya.
He went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka) in 1954 and while there passed the GCE Advanced Level Examination (General Certificate of Education Examination held by the University of London in Ceylon) with distinctions in Pali and Sanskrit.
While he was in Ceylon he made a brief return to Burma and during that trip he practiced Vipassana meditation in Mahasi Sayadaw's tradition.
He taught as a lecturer at Atothokdayone Pali Unviersity in Sagaing Hills, Buddhist Scriptures, Pali, Sanskrit and Prakit languages at Abhayarama Shwegu Taik monastery, Mandalay and was an External Examiner at the Department of Oriental Studies, Arts and Science University, Mandalay for Bachelor's and Master's degrees.
Sayadaw U Silananda was the Chief Compiler of the Tipitaka Pali-Burmese Dictionary and was one of the distinguished editors of the Pali Canon and the associated Commentaries at the Sixth Buddhist Council held at the Kaba Aye Hlaing Gu (World Peace Cave) in Rangoon (Yangon) from 1954 to 1956. Sayadaw U Silananda had a golden opportunity to work for Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw and Venerable Mingun Tipitaka Sayadaw.
In 1960 he inherited the Mahavijjodaya Chaung monastery after the passing away of his preceptor and became the Abbot of that monastery. He moved to Abhyarama Shwegu Taik monastery, Mandalay in 1968, and in 1969 was appointed the Vice Abbot of that monastery. He is currently the Chief Abbot of that monastery.
He was also appointed a member of the Executive Committee of Shwegyin Sect, and in 1993 became a Senior Member of that Sect. He participated at the meeting of Cleaning-up of the Sasana held at Hmawbi (50 miles from Yangon).
In 1993, he was appointed a Member of the Advisory Board of Meditation Teachers of Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha in Yangon.
Sayadaw was requested to be Rector of the International Theravada Buddhist Missionary University of Yangon in Myanmar (which opened in December, 1999).
He has visited many countries both in Asia and in Europe, and as a member of a party visited the United States in 1959 at the invitation of the U.S. Government.
In April 1979, Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw and his entourage (including Sayadaw U Silananda) visited San Francisco, California, USA with a full program of discourses, meritorious offerings, dhamma talks and meditation sessions. At a later stage of the visit, Mahasi Sayadaw agreed to leave behind U Silananda and U Kelasa in San Francisco to fulfill the overwhelming request of Burmese community. (Sayadaw U Kelasa later moved to Maryland to become the Abbot of Mangalarama monastery.)
Dhamma Activities in the U.S.
Since then Sayadaw U Silananda has been giving lectures on Buddhism including Abhidhamma (Buddhist Psychology) and teaching Buddhist meditation in the country. He is a competent teacher and rarely uses Pali words which are not familiar to lay people in his sermons. As one devotee said, "He teaches from an extraordinary depth of knowledge, communicating in clear and precise English. He is loved by his students and devotees as a skilled, patient and compassionate teacher."
He is the Spiritual Advisor of the Theravada Buddhist Society of America (TBSA) which he helped set up, and the Founder Abbot of the Dhammananda Vihara monastery.
He is also the Spiritual Director of the following (to name a few):
Dhammachakka Meditation Center in Berkeley, California the Bodhi Tree Dhamma Center in Largo, Florida the Society for Advancement of Buddhism in Ft. Myers, Florida Tathargata Meditation Center in San Jose, California
Sayadaw has gone on numerous Dhammaduta missions to give Dhamma talks and to conduct short term and long term retreats. Sayadaw has also conducted retreats in Malaysia and Singapore.