The Most Venerable Phramongkolthepmuni

When Sodh was twenty-two years old, he was ordained at Wat Songpinong in his hometown and was given the Pāli language monastic name Candasaro. Phra (phra meaning ‘monk, venerable’) Candasaro studied both under masters of the oral meditation tradition as well as experts in scriptural analysis, which was uncommon during that period. In his autobiographical notes, he wrote that he practiced meditation every day, from the first day following his ordination.

Although Phra Candasaro had studied with many masters, and had mastered many important Pali texts, he was not satisfied. In the eleventh rains retreat (vassa) after his ordination, in 2459 B.E.(1916), he stayed at Wat Bote-bon at Bangkuvieng, Nonthaburi Province. Wat Bote-bon was the temple where he used to receive education as a child, a temple known for its peacefulness. From Luangpu Sodh’s autobiographical notes, he reflected to himself that he had been practicing meditation for many years and had still not understood the essential knowledge which the Buddha had taught. Thus, on the full-moon day in the tenth lunar month of 2459 B.E.(1916), he sat down in the main shrine hall of Wat Bote-bon, resolving not to waver in his practice of sitting meditation, whatever might disturb his single-mindedness. That same night he experienced in meditation what became known as the attainment of the Dhammakaya, which marked the start of Dhammakaya meditation as a tradition.

Luangpu Sodh devoted the rest of his life to teaching and furthering the depth of knowledge of Dhammakaya meditation, a meditation method which he also called “Vijja Dhammakaya”, ‘the direct knowledge of the Dhammakaya’. Temples in the tradition of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen, together called the Dhammakaya Movement, believe that this method was the method the Buddha originally used to attain Enlightenment, but was lost five hundred years after the Buddha passed away.

Besides meditation, Luangpu Sodh promoted the study of Buddhism as well. In this combination he was one of the pioneers in Thai Buddhism. In 2482 B.E.(1939), Luangpu Sodh set up a Pali Institute at Wat Paknam. He had a great interest to introduce Dhammakaya meditation outside of Thailand. Luangpu Sodh was one of the first Thai preceptors to ordain people outside Thailand as Buddhist monks. He ordained the Englishman William Purfurst with the monastic name “Kapilavaḍḍho Bhikkhu” at Wat Paknam in 2497 B.E.(1954). Kapilavaddho returned to Britain to found the English Sangha Trust two years later. Former director of the trust Terry Shine described Kapilavaḍḍho as the “man who started and developed the founding of the first English Theravada Sangha in the Western world”. He was the first Englishman to be ordained in Thailand, but disrobed in 2500 B.E.(1957).

In 2497 B.E.(1954), Luangpu Sodh made an announcement that he would die soon, and instructed his students to continue their duties without him, especially to propagate Dhammakaya meditation. Two years later, he was diagnosed with hypertension. Luangpu Sodh died in 2502 B.E.(1959). His body was not cremated, but embalmed, so that after his death people would still come and support Wat Paknam. In Wat Phra Dhammakaya a memorial hall was built in honor of Luangpu Sodh and in Wat Paknam, a charity foundation was started in his name.

B.E. C.E. Age Years in the Monkhood Events
2427 1884     Born in Amphoe Songphinong in the province of Suphanburi.
2436 1893 9   Started school at Wat Songphinong.
2438 1895 11   Went to school at Wat Bangpla in Amphoe Banglane in the province of Nakhon Pathom.
2441 1898 14   Luang Pu’s father died. Luang Pu became a rice merchant.
2446 1903 19   Made the resolute wish to ordain for life.
2449 1906 22 1 Entered the monkhood at Wat Songphinong.
2450 1907 23 2 Went to study the Dhamma at Wat Phra Chetuponvimonmunklaram in Bangkok.
2460 1917 33 12  Attained Phra Dhammakaya at Wat Boadbon in Tambon Bangkuvieng, Amphoe Bang Kruai in the province of Nonthaburi.
2461 1918 34 13 Teaching Vijja Dhammakaya for the first time at Wat Bangpla in Amphoe Bang Len in the province of Nakhon Pathom.
2464 1921 37 16 Received the monastic title of Phrakrusamanadhamsamadan.
2474 1931 47 26 Established the Dhammakaya Workshop.
2480 1937 53 32 Khun Yai met Luang Pu at Wat Paknam.
2482 1939 55 34 World War II broke out.
2484 1941 57 36 Luang Pu’s mother passed away.
2487 1944 60 39 Luang Por was born in the province of Sing Buri.
2488 1945 61 40 WWII ended.
2490 1947 63 42 Received the title of Preceptor.
2492 1949 65 44 Received the monastic title of Phrabhavanakosalathera.
2493 1950 66 45 Produced the first set of sacred gifts/started the construction of Phrapariyattidham School.
2494 1951 67 46 Produced the second set of sacred gifts.
2496 1953 69 48 Sent a monk to teach Vijja Dhammakaya in the U.K.
2498 1955 71 50 Received the monastic title of Phramonkolrajmuni.
2499 1956 72 51 Produced the third set of sacred gifts.
2500 1957 73 52 Received the monastic title of Phramonkolthepmuni, Cremated his mother’s body.
2502 1959 75 54 Luang Pu passed away.