A tribute to "Phra Raj Udom Mongkhon Phaholnarathorn", Ajar Tala Uttama

by Sunthorn Sripanngern, Mon News, Oct 21, 2006

Bangkok, Thailand -- The Mon people would like to offer deep condolences on Ajar Tala's leaving for Devaloka. After two years of medical treatment at  Sirirat Hospital with the Royal Patronage, 96 year old Ajar Tala Uttama passed away at 07.22 am. 18 October 2006 in the midst of praying by the Mon people of Sangkhlaburi since he was hospitalized.

Ajar Tala's remains has been brought back to the monastery in Sangkhlaburi immediately in accordance with his request before he was hospitalized. He usually used herbs, such as turmeric, sesame oil in healing diseases while he was observing the Dhutanga Practices in the forest.

Throughout his life, Ajar Tala had helped a lot of people who faced difficulties in the border area, providing shelters for the monks as well as lay people who fled civil war from Mon State, Burma. Aja Tala came to Thailand in 1949 together with a group of lay people from his native village "Mawkanieng". Ajar Tala's group was not the first Mon group that fled into Thailand. The first group of Mon people was from villages in Kya-In Seikyi Township numbered about 60 families arrived in Weangka in 1948. After arriving in Thailand, firstly Ajar Tala spent a few years at Thai Mon monasteries in central Thailand to study Thai language. Then he came back to the migrant Mon community waiting for him in Weangka and started to build the monastery as well as the Mon village "Weangka". There was no Thai people in Weangka at that time, except a few local Karen families. When the Thai authorities began to construct "Khao-lam Dam" in 1984, Weangka Village had to be moved to the place of present
Sangkhlaburi. The Electrict Authority of Thailand provided compensation only to the people with Thai citizenship, therefore Ajar Tala applied for his monastery compound big enough for migrant Mon people without Thai citizen to rely on it. Today Mon community of Weangka or Ajar Tala Uttama's Village is in equal standard with Thai communities in general and moreover sincere thank to the Royal Thai Government to grant Thai citizenship to the Mon people of Sangkhlaburi.

Ajar Tala used to tell us about his days in Monland and the reasons that made him to flee to Thailand. He said "After the day of Burma's independence from British in 1948, the civil war between Burmese government and Mon armed troops started immediately. The well equipped Burmese navy forces, with a big vessel named "Mei-Yu", which was presented by the British government and installed with cannons as big as palm tree approached to "Panga Village" and shelled from the Andaman Sea to the villages where the Mon armed troops stationed. Previously a senior Mon monk (Kyaik-janok Krok), the abbot of "Kodood Village” suggested the Mon armed troops to stay away from the villages in order to avoid the damage to the village, but the Mon armed troops ignored the noble suggestion of the monk. After the Burmese forces burning down the village to ash, the Mon armed troops fled into another Mon village as their another station. Then the Burmese forces followed to fire down that village again, so
that many of Mon villages were destroyed. The only remaining village in that area "Kodood" was also set fire by their own Mon armed troops. As a result, the innocent villagers became homeless and suffered extremely hardship and oppression. Moreover, the senior Mon monk (Kyaik-Janok Krok) who made suggestion to the Mon armed troops was also assassinated. Soon after that, Ajar Tala Uttama accompanied his lay people and fled into Thailand."

In 1997 Ajar Tala Uttama visited his motherland and paid homage and offering to pagodas and temples, particularly offered a number of gold plates to Shwe Dagon Pagoda. That was the only trip to Burma during his 57 years in Thailand. Ajar Tala often told us about consequence of Karma which some times happened instantly, not only in life to come. Therefore wise people do not grow the spirit of greed, the spirit of anger and ignorance. Reprove your own heart, subject it, keep it in check and strengthen it. Restrain the spirit of greed. Do not take by force what is not given from the heart and by word of mouth or take by trickery. Do not take by force the possessions of the poor. Do not increase sinful acts. Do not indulge in haughty pride. Do not develop an angry disposition. Put down the spirit of pride and humble yourself.

Although Ajar Tala had done a great deal of merits such as instructing the people to the right principles as well as observing himself strictly in accordance with the Buddhist discipline, devotion, meditation and donation for social welfare such as buildings for schools, hospitals, monasteries, pagodas, publication of religious books and so on, he could not manage to free himself from the power of the death. However, we faithfully believed his great meritorious deeds will bring happiness and prosperity to him in the life to come.