Somdet Phra Sangkharat Sakonlamahasangkhaparinayok

(Charoen Suwatthano) 

Charoen Khachawat

 

Date of Birth:              3rd October 2456 B.E.

Date of Death:            24th October 2556 B.E.

Age:                             100 years and 21 days

Year of Ordination:     2476 B.E.

Years of Monkhood: 80 years and 329 days

Temple:                       Wat Bowonniwet Wihan

Province:                    Bangkok

Denomination:            Dhammayuttika Nikaya

Degrees in Buddhist theology: Dhamma Scholar Advanced Level, and grade 9 in Buddhist theology

 

Autobiography of Somdet Phra Sangkharat Sakonlamahasangkhaparinayok 

Somdet Phra Sangkharat (originally named “Charoen Khachawat”) was born on 3rd October 2456 B.E., the eldest son of Mr. Noi Khachawat and Mrs. Kimnoi Khachawat from Kanchanaburi Province. He had two brothers namely Mr. Chamnian Khachawat and Mr. Samut Khachawat. Then, Somdet Phra Sangkharat’s father died of a tumor disease when he was very young, and after the funeral, his aunt adopted and took good care of him.

At his 8 years of age, Somdet Phra Sangkharat went to study at Prachaban School and finished elementary 5 (equivalent to secondary 1 and 2 at the present) when he was twelve years in 2468 B.E. After graduation, he had no idea and could not make a decision about his further religious education as stated that “When I was a child, I was very shy, particularly to strangers and could not stay apart from my aunt”.

 

Ordination of Somdet Phra Sangkharat Sakonlamahasangkhaparinayok 

            Somdet Phra Sangkharat was not very strong when he was young; he was sick quite often. He used to have a serious sickness and made a promise to the holy thing that he would get ordained after recovering. Then, having finished his elementary 5, Somdet Phra Sangkharat had a novice ordination as previously promised while he was fourteen years old in 2469 B.E. at Wat Thewa Sangkharam. At that time, he was ordained by Phra Thep Mongkhon Rangsi (Di Phutthachot), an abbot of Wat Thewa Sangkharam as a preceptor, and Phra Khru Niwit Samachan (Rian Suwannachot), an abbot of Wat Si Uppalaram as                  an ordination teacher who gave religious practices and rules.

After his novice ordination, Somdet Phra Sangkharatspent a period of the Buddhist Lent at Wat Thewa Sangkharam, and then he went to study Buddhist disciplines at Wat Saneha in Nakhon Pathom Province. After that, Phra Thep Mongkhon Rangsi (Di Phutthachot), his ordination preceptor, gave him to Somdet Phra Wachirayannawong, an abbot of Wat Bowonniwet Wihan (who later became Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Krommaluang Wachirayannawong), to study Phra Pariyatdham at Wat Bowonniwet Wihan School. Religiously named by the Supreme Patriarch in that time as “Suwatthano” meaning          “an educated person”, he remained in monkhood as a novice until he was qualified in a monk ordination. So, Somdet Phra Sangkharat went back to Wat Thewa Sangkharam to have a monk ordination in 2476 B.E. After the ordination ceremony, he stayed at Wat Bowonniwet Wihan during the Buddhist Lent in Bangkok.  Then, Somdet Phra Sangkharat was ordained in Dhammayuttika Nikaya by Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Krommaluang Wachirayannawong as a preceptor.

 

Study of Phra Pariyatdham 

Somdet Phra Sangkharat was invited to study Phra Pariyatdham by Phra Thep Mongkhon Rangsi (Di Phutthachot), he was intended to teach Phra Pariyatdham at the school in Wat Thewa Sangkharam. The preceptor gave him to Phra Sangworawinai (At), an abbot of Wat Saneha on 20th June 2470 B.E. At the temple, he started learning Pali language with the monks from Wat Makut Kasattriyaram Ratchaworawihan in Bangkok. After that, Somdet Phra Sangkharat came to study Phra Pariyatdham at Wat Bowonniwet Wihan in Bangkok and achieved Dhamma Scholar Elementary Level in 2472 B.E., then completed Dhamma Scholar Intermediate Level, Dhamma Scholar Advanced Level, and grade 3 in Buddhist theology in 2473 B.E.

   Somdet Phra Sangkharat paid all his concentration in order to complete grade 4             in Buddhist theology; unfortunately, he failed the test. Despairingly, he thought that his future in the monkhood came to the end; but, after scrupulously pondering, Somdet Phra Sangkharat realized the cause of failure—he failed because of his carelessness. By this realization and his full commitment, he achieved Dhamma Scholar Advanced Level and grade 4 in Buddhist theology in 2475 B.E.

After graduation, Somdet Phra Sangkharat spent a period of the Buddhist Lent teaching Phra Pariyatdham at Thewanukun School in Wat Thewa Sangkharam as the intention of Phra Thep Mongkhon Rangsi. Then, he returned to Wat Bowonniwet Wihan to continue his education in Phra Pariyatdham. While studying, he frequently went to Wat Thewa Sangkharam to teach Phra Pariyatdham until graduated grade 5 and 9 in Buddhist theology in 2484 B.E.

 

Duty as a Clergy

After gaining 9 in Buddhist theology, Somdet Phra Sangkharat started his duties relating to the clergy. Apart from teaching Phra Pariyatdham, he was the director of Thewanukun School who administered the education system of monks and novices in Phra Pariyatdham; both Dharma and Pali. Additionally, Somdet Phra Sangkharat is a member of Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand; by his degree, he held the status of a monk who achieved grade 9 in Buddhist theology. Later, there was an establishment of Mahamakut Buddhist University in 2488 B.E., Somdet Phra Sangkharat was assigned to be a committee of Education Council and an instructor who taught university students. Other duties of Somdet Phra Sangkharat were as follows: Phra Vinaya Chan Uthon, a caretaker of Phra Vinaya Chan Dika, and a secretary of Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Krommaluang Wachirayannawong.

At the age of thirty-four, Somdet Phra Sangkharat was given a Monks' Rank conferred by the king as an ordinary class of high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monk as Phra Sophon Khanaphon. Chosen by Somdet Phra Sangkharat Chao Krommaluang Wachirayannawong,  Somdet Phra Sangkharat was the mentor in the royal ordination of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Wat Bowonniwet Wihan in 2499 B.E. Then, he was given a Monks' Rank conferred by the king as a Dharma class of high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monk as Phra Thamma Waraphon; besides, Somdet Phra Sangkharat was the first monk who received the stated Monks' Ranks conferred by the king.

In 2504 B.E., Somdet Phra Sangkharat took a position of a caretaker of the highest monk dean in Dhammayuttika Nikaya and an abbot of Wat Bowonniwet Wihan. At the same year, he was assigned to be a committee of Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand as Phra Satsana Sophon in 2506 B.E. and continued taking the position until 2556 B.E. While living, Somdet Phra Sangkharat created a large number of academic works, and Buddhist books.

In 2515 B.E., Somdet Phra Sangkharat was given a Monks' Rank conferred by the king as a high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monk as Somdet Phra Yannasangwon. His full rank “Somdet Phra Ariyawongsayan Somdet Phra Sangkharat (Suk Yannasangwon)” as a high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monk in Vipassana, was given by the King Rama II (Buddha Loetla Nabhalai) for the first time in 2359 B.E. This rank was offered only to a high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monk in Vipassana.    

After the death of Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakhottayan Somdet Phra Sangkharat (Wat Watsano), His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej declared a royal command to assign Somdet Phra Sangkharat as Somdet Phra Sangkharat Sakonlamahasangkhaparinayok (the special Monks' Rank conferred by the king). Normally, the rank of Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakhottayan is particularly used for the supreme patriarchs who are members of the royal family; in this case, the rank Somdet Phra Yannasangwon was used in honor to Somdet Phra Sangkharat of his great Vipassana practices by adding the rank Somdet Phra Ariyawongsakhottayan to his full title.  

 

A Caretaker of Somdet Phra Sangkharat 

Generally, while doing a religious duty in foreign countries, Somdet Phra Sangkharat would assign a caretaker (a person who takes responsibility of Somdet Phra Sangkharat’s duty); for example, while visiting China by the invitation of the China’s Religious Affairs, and doing a religious duty in Nepal, Somdet Phra Sangkharat assigned Somdet Phra Phuttha Khosachan (Fuen Chutintharo) as a caretaker and while wandering to Japan and India, Somdet Phra Phuttha Paphotchanabodi (Thongchuea Chintakaro) was also purposively assigned.

In 2547 B.E., Somdet Phra Sangkharat’s health condition was getting worse and Chulalongkorn Hospital offered a medical treatment. The sickness of Somdet Phra Sangkharat resulted in the inconvenience of doing a religious duty; the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand assigned Somdet Phra Phutthachan (Kiao Uppaseno) as a caretaker. At that time, Somdet Phra Sangkharat accepted the assignment on 26th January 2547 B.E. Then, after a working period of the caretaker was expired, the Sangha Supreme Council of Thailand appointed a group of “Caretakers of Somdet Phra Sangkharat’s Duty” to take responsibility of all Somdet Phra Sangkharat’s religious duty. The group led by Somdet Phra Phutthachan (Kiao Uppaseno) (who was the most senior monk) consisted of seven high Buddhist ecclesiastical dignitary monks from seven temples.

 

The Death of Somdet Phra Sangkharat 

 

The date of death of Somdet Phra Sangkharat was on 24th October 2556 B.E.           at 07.30 p.m. He died of Septicemia at Chulalongkorn Hospital. His body was transferred to Phra Tamnak Phet (the Diamond Hall) in Wat Bowonniwet Wihan on Friday, 25th October 2556 B.E. at 12.15 p.m. At that day, His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn King Bhumibol, on behalf of His Majesty King Bhumibol Adulyadej, proceeded to perform the funeral bathing ceremony at 05.00 p.m. The king conferred a mortuary urn with the three-tiered umbrellas of kingship, and prestigious accessories. At that time, the monks spent seven days performing a funeral rite.