Life of the Venerable Phra Acharn Sanong Katapunyo

 

 

Venerable Acharn Sanong Katapunyo was born on the 5th of April, 1944, in the Nong Pak Naag Sub-District of Suphanburi Province, Thailand. His father's name was Am and his mother's, Man Bodhisuvan. He has 8 brothers and sisters.

In 1964 Venerable Acharn Sanong ordained as a monk at Wat Don Rai in Suphanburi Province. He went into the forest to follow strict Dutanga practices for 7 months. After that he went to visit his mother who had become a nun at Wat Tungsammakeedham, also in Suphanburi Province.

There he met his teacher, Venerable Acharn Sangwahn Khemmako, who is now 90 years old and still teaches the Dhamma to his students at Wat Sanghathan. Acharn Sanong offered himself as a student and was sent to keep a totally silent retreat at Wat Nong Pai in Suphanburi. He didn't leave his little hut for 3 years and didn't talk to anyone except his teacher once every few months during an interview. He practiced so hard at that time that he was frequently ill.

The Venerable Phra Sanong Katapunyo says now that he was really happy to receive the Dhamma from Luang Phoo Sangwahn. It felt like he had been starving for a long time; when he received the teachings it was as if he had been given a big plate of delicious rice and curry and a glass of good clean water. So he ate it all--the fish complete with bones and everything else--without stopping to think. He only realised this when he found that he had stomach problems. In other words, he was forcing himself to reach enlightenment very quickly, and did not listen to his body at all until several problems arose. As Luang Poo Sangwahn affirmed, Acharn Sanong reached a high level of Dhamma in those first three years.

After his teacher allowed him to leave his silent retreat, Acharn Sanong went first for Dutanga practice to Wat Tam Mee, Suphanburi, then to Tam Kabo Cave in Chumporn Province, and eventually to Nong Bua Cemetery at Prachuap Kiri in Khan Province.

Venerable Acharn Sanong did not lie down to sleep for 18 years, but rather stayed in a sitting posture every night. He practiced very intensively all the time, and became an excellent teacher through his own experi-ence with many thousands of students in Thailand and abroad.

In 1974 while paying respect to Venerable Acharn Song Brahmassaro at Wat Avoot in Bangkok, he asked the Venerable Acharn which place would be the best to practice meditation. Venerable Acharn Song informed him that there was an old, abandoned temple which had a large sacred Buddha image in the Bang Pai Sub-District of Nonthaburi Province. Furthermore, Venerable Acharn Song told him that this is a sacred place which would be excellent for meditation practice.

Venerable Acharn Sanong went there and later asked the Thai Ministry for Religious Affairs for permission to take care of this place. Since 1979 Venerable Acharn Sanong Katapunyo has had official responsibility for Wat Sanghathan, Bang Phai, Muang, Nonthaburi, as its abbot.

Wat Sanghathan has become the main center for a group of 38 branches all over Thailand. An additional branch is in Birmingham, England, while yet another is in New Delhi, India.

Venerable Acharn Sanong Katapunyo is a compassionate and understanding teacher and has many students from all over the world coming to his centers to study meditation and Buddhism. He has superintended a number of social projects, such as building schools and hospitals, giving support to people afflicted by natural disasters, replanting forests, etc.

 

Right now the Venerable Phra Sanong stays most of the time at his center near Khao Yai National Park, but he also attends to his duties fostering the Dhamma all over Thailand, and his teachings are to be heard on the Wat Sanghathan Radio Station (Dhammawave) 89,25 MHZ.