Prayudh Payutto (also P.A. Payutto; Thai: ประยุทธ์ ปยุตฺโต, ป.อ. ปยุตฺโต) (b. 1938), also known by his current monastic title, Phra Bhramagunabhorn, is a well-known Thai Buddhist monk, an intellectual, and a prolific writer. He is among the most brilliant Buddhist scholars in the Thai Buddhist history. He authored Buddha Dhamma, which is acclaimed to as one of the masterpieces in Buddhism that puts together Dhamma and natural laws by extensively drawing upon Pali Canon, Atthakatha, Digha, etc., to clarify Buddha's verbatim speech.
Prayudh has lectured and written extensively about a variety of topics related to Buddhism, including the position of women in Buddhism and the relationship between Buddhism and the environment. He was awarded the 1994 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education.
Because changes in monastic title often involve adding or changing monastic names, Payutto has been known by, and published under, a variety of different names over his career. Previously, he was known as Phra Rajavaramuni, Phra Dhebvedhi, and Phra Dhamapitaka.
Prayudh was born the fifth child of Samran and Chunkee Arayangkoon on January 12, 1938 in Si Prachan District, Suphanburi Province, Thailand. Prayudh received his early education in Suphanburi. During his childhood, Prayudh suffered a lot of illnesses, some of which involved him in surgeries and many have followed him until today. Poor health made it difficult for him to commit to school and formal education. Discouraged by his health, Prayudh came back to Suphanburi after completing junior high school at Pathum Khongkha School in Bangkok in 1950. Being assured that he could continue his education without having to get involved physically, as is the case in school, he entered the monastery, with the family's support, to seek religious education, being ordained as a novice (samanera) at the age of 13. He began the study of Pali and received training in Vipassanā. Under his father's encouragement, he moved to Wat Phra Piren in Bangkok and went on to achieve the highest-level (ninth-level) studies in the Pali language while still a samanera, for which he was granted a royal ordination ceremony into monkhood in 1962. He embraced the monastic name "Payutto", literally "a person with unrelenting efforts". Prayudh received a Bachelor's degree in Buddhist studies from Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University in 1962.
A Scholarly Monk
After securing instructor qualifications, Prayudh was appointed Associate Dean of Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University and had maintained this position for the following ten years. He played an important role in modernizing Sangha's education by relating knowledge in Buddhism to contemporary social issues. Prayudh assumed the post of Deputy Abbot of Wat Phra Piren in 1973, but resigned three years later to dedicate himself to academic work. He published a number of books and articles, and regularly attended academic seminars and conferences, surrounding himself with contemporary scholars and intellectuals. He authored Buddha Dhamma, recognized as a masterpiece among Buddhist scholars. He received honorary degrees from more than ten universities, both domestic and foreign. When he received UNESCO's Prize for Peace Education, he to the Ministry of Education of Thailand for the establishing of Phra Dhampitaka Education for Peace Foundation.
Defending Pali Canon
Prayudh strongly believes in strict interpretation of Pali Canon, very much in line with the Theravada tradition. He went public in many occasions in defence of Pali Canon whenever its integrity was challenged. When the Dhamakaya scandal, in which the original mentioning of "Dhamakaya" in Pali Canon was misinterpreted by a group of monks in their own favor, broke out in mid-1990s, Prayudh published a book that specifically dealt with the case. In The Dhamakaya Episode, Prayudh reviews the essence of Pali Canon, cites Pali texts misinterpret by this group of monks, and counterargues in the context of genuine Pali Canon. He argues that "Dhamakaya" was not truthfully interpreted, and points out that if the group continued to uphold the false interpretation, they could not do it under the umbrella of Theravada Buddhism.
Despite his poor health, Prayudh has proved himself a man with great efforts and faith in Buddhism. He has suffered a lot of illnesses from childhood, among which are valvular heart disease, diarrhea, indigestion, otitis, allergic asthma, pulmonary disease, kidney stone, bronchitis, inflammatory arm-muscle disorder, eye-inflicted viral disease, stricture of cerebral artery, and vocal fold nodule. Nonetheless, Prayudh has put a lot of efforts on defending the integrity of Pali Canon throughout his life. He has employed his well-versed understanding of Pali Canon not only to uphold the Sangha institution in Thailand, but also to educate the general public of any misconceptions about Pali Canon. In so doing, Prayudh effectively uses verbatim quotes from Pali Canon, cites relevant Dhigas, and draws conclusions to argue for his case and counter-argue against and correct any misconceived views.
Prayudh published a number of books that examine contemporary social issues, such as abortion, from a viewpoint of buddhism. He regularly expresses buddhist viewpoints on areas as diverse as education, laws, social sciences, and natural sciences. Prayudh stresses the Buddhist approach of middle path as the inevitable way to achieve peace and sustainable development. He argues that Buddhism is the eventual aggregation of natural laws and that it forms a basis of modern sciences. Prayudh also points to Buddhism as the indispensable path to happiness.
International Awards and Recognitions
- 1994 UNESCO Prize for Peace Education
- 1995 Appointed to a post of Tipitaka Archaraya, a scholar well versed in Pali Canon, by Nava Nalanda Institute
- 2005 Awarded the Most Eminent Scholar as a guru of Theravada Buddhism by The World Buddhist University
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- Where women stand by Bhikkhu Prayudh Payutto - Dharmaweb
- Buddhism :: Ecology :: Wheel of Life
- Faces and Lives of Prayudh Payutto, Ven
- "Wat Nyanavesakavan". Wat Nyanavesakavan. Archived from the original on 2008-01-01. Retrieved 2008-02-12.
- พระธรรมปิฎก (ป. อ. ปยุตฺโต) (1996). กรณีธรรมกาย : เอกสารเพื่อพระธรรมวินัย. กรุงเทพฯ: มูลนิธิพุทธธรรม. ISBN 974-575-455-2. (in Thai)
- พระราชวรมุนี (1996). การพัฒนาที่ยั่งยืน. กรุงเทพฯ: มูลนิธิโกมลคีมทอง. ISBN 974-7092-09-3. (in Thai)
- พระเทพเวที (1992). พุทธศาสนาในฐานะเป็นรากฐานของวิทยาศาสตร์. กรุงเทพฯ: มูลนิธิพุทธธรรม. ISBN 974-565-556-2. (in Thai)
- พระพรหมคุณาภรณ์ (2004). สุขภาวะองค์รวมแนวพุทธ. กรุงเทพฯ: โรงพิมพ์อักษรสัมพันธ์. (in Thai)
- Orange Tip Editions Buddhism in everyday life; eBooks by P.A. Payutto
- A collection of articles by and about Prayudh Payutto
- The Works of Ven. P.A. Payutto