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A sayadaw (Burmese; literally "royal teacher") is a Burmese senior monk of a Theravada Buddhist monastery. A Sayadaw is also generally an excellent dhamma lecturer and/or a meditation master. The title Sayadaw, meaning venerable teacher, was originally given to important elder monks (Theras and Maha Theras) who gave Dhamma teachings to the king in olden days. Later, it became a title for highly respected monks in general.

Venerable Sayadaws usually devote their lives to learning and teaching Buddhist studies. They also extensively practice vipassana meditation in order to attain Nirvana (Nibbana in Pali).

A Sayadaw may be known by his given name, a qualified name, or a fully qualified name. Thus, Venerable Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa, who served as "Chief Answerer" at the Sixth Buddhist Council in 1954 - 56, could be addressed as:

  • Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
  • Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    • with reference to the Mingun monastery
  • Tipitaka Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    • first monk to be awarded titles Tipitakadhara and Dhammabhandakarika
  • Tipikadhara Dhammabhandakarika Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    • meaning "Bearer of the Triple Baskets (Pali canons)" and "Treasurer of the Dhamma"

Some of the most venerable Sayadaws, who are well-respected in Myanmar, include:

  • Venerable Ledi Sayadaw (Late)
    • prolific writer of subcommentaries
    • also known as "Dr. Ledi"
    • dhamma descendants include Anagami Saya Thet, Saya U Ba Khin (IMC), and S. N. Goenka (Goenkaji)
  • Venerable Sunlun Sayadaw U Kavi (Late)
    • also known as "Myingyan Sunlun Gu Kyaung Sayadaw"
    • built the Samsara Aye Pagoda
  • Nyaung Yan Sayadaw
    • Chief presiding Sayadaw at the Sixth Buddhist Council
  • Venerable Mahasi Sayadaw U Sobhanana (Late)
    • served as "Chief Questioner" at the Sixth Buddhist Council
    • dhamma descendants include Panditarama Sayadaw, ChanMyay Sayadaw, Saddhammaramsi Sayadaw, Dhammananda Sayadaw U Silananda
  • Venerable Webu Sayadaw (Late)
    • known for his vipassana teachings
    • believed to have jhanic powers
  • Venerable Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa (Late), also known as Mahagandhayon Sayadaw
    • author of "Abhidhamma in Daily Life", "The Illustrated History of Buddhism", and many texts
  • Venerable Mogok Sayadaw (Venerable Sayadawgyi U Wimala) U Vimala (Late)
    • known for his treatise on "Dependent Origination"
  • Taung Pu Lu Sayadaw (Late)
    • legacy includes TKAM (TaungPuLu Kaba Aye Monastery) and pagodas in Boulder Creek, California
  • Venerable Chanmyay Sayadaw U Janakabhivamsa
    • One of the senior assistants to Mahasi Sayadaw
  • Several Ma Soe Yein Sayadaws
    • who presided the teaching monasteries in Mandalay
  • Several Pakkokku Sayadaws
    • who presided the teaching monasteries in Pakokku
  • Shwe Hintha Sayadaw
    • well known leader of the Shwe Kyin sect
  • Thabyekan Sayadaw
    • compiler of several nissayas (notably Paritta Pali nissaya)
  • Sayadaw U Lokanatha
    • Italian monk
  • Venerable Pa Auk Sayadaw
    • compendium of Buddhist literature in Myanmar and English
  • Venerable Sayadaw U Sandardhika
    • well known writer and dhamma lecturer of the younger generation

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