Bhante Dharmawara

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Bhante Dharmawara
Bhante Dharmawara.jpg
Born Bellong Mahathera
(1889-02-12)February 12, 1889
Phnom Penh, Cambodia[1]
Died June 26, 1999
(aged 110 years, 134 days)
Stockton, California, U.S.
Cause of death
Natural causes
Citizenship Cambodian, American
Occupation Monk
Known for First Cambodian American Buddhist monk
Religion Theravada Buddhism

Samdach Vira Dharmawara Bellong Mahathera (February 12, 1889 – June 26, 1999), also known simply as Bhante Dharmawara, was a Cambodian-born Theravada monk and teacher who died at the age of 110.[2]


Bellong Mahathera was born on February 12, 1889 in Phnom Penh, Cambodia to a wealthy and illustrious family.[1]

He was well educated and became a lawyer, judge and provincial governor before he began studying Buddhism and became a monk in his 30s. Bhante practised in the Forest Tradition in Thailand before travelling through Burma and India, where he spent much of his life. He studied natural healing and became well known for his healing abilities, in recognition of which he was given the land on which to found The Asoka Mission in New Delhi by Jawarharalal Nehru, first Prime Minister of Independent India.

He was fluent in many languages and travelled to teach meditation and healing to groups in many countries. He taught meditation, particularly on colour, every year to the students at John G. Bennett's Academy for Continuous Education in Sherborne, Gloucestershire.

Later, Bhante moved permanently to the United States and worked to help settle the thousands of refugees who fled there from the war in Cambodia. He founded the first Cambodian Buddhist temple in America in Washington, D.C. and later Wat Dharawararama in Stockton, California.


He died on June 26, 1999, aged 110 and his ashes have been interred in a memorial at Asoka Mission in Delhi where a celebration of his life is held every year on his birthday, February 12.[3]


  1. ^ a b Stewart, Barbara (July 18, 1999). "Bellong Mahathera Is Dead; Cambodian Monk Was 110". The New York Times. Retrieved May 27, 2014. 
  2. ^ Bhante
  3. ^ "Bhante Dharmawara" (PDF) (Press release). Forest Sangha Newsletter. October 1999. Retrieved 2008-09-13.