|Type||Buddhist monastic order|
|Headquarters||Wat Bowonniwet Vihara,
Phra Nakhon District, Bangkok, Thailand
|Leader||Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana (Incumbent)|
|Vajirañāṇo Bhikkhu (later King Mongkut) – founder|
Dhammayuttika Nikaya or Thammayut (Pali: ธรรมยุติกนิกาย, Thai: ธรรมยุต; Khmer: ធម្មយុត្តិក និកាយ Thommoyouttek Nikeay) is an order of Theravada Buddhist bhikkhus (monks) in Thailand, Cambodia and Burma with significant branches in the Western world. Its name is derived from Pali dhamma ("teachings of the Buddha") + yutti (in accordance with) + ka (group).
Dhammayuttika Nikaya (Thai: Thammayut) began in 1833 as a reform movement led by Mongkut (later King Rama IV), son of King Rama II of Siam. It remained a reform movement until passage of the Sangha Act of 1902, which formally recognized it as the lesser of Thailand's two Theravada denominations, the other being Maha Nikaya.
Prince Mongkut was a bhikkhu (religious name: Vajirañāṇo) for 27 years (1824–1851) before becoming king of Thailand (1851–1868). The then 20-year-old prince entered monastic life in 1824. Over the course of his early meditation training, Mongkut was frustrated that his teachers could not relate the meditation techniques they were teaching to the original teachings of the Buddha. Also, he noticed what he saw as serious discrepancies between the vinaya (monastic rules) and the actual practices of Thai bhikkhus. Mongkut, concerned that the ordination lines in Thailand were broken by a lack of adherence to this monastic code, sought out a different lineage of monks with practice that is more in line with the vinaya.
There are several rules in the Theravada monastic code by which a monk is "defeated" - he is no longer a monk even if he continues to wear robes and is treated as one. Every ordination ceremony in Theravada Buddhism is performed by ten monks to guard against the possibility of the ordination being rendered invalid by having a "defeated monk" as preceptor. Despite this, Mongkut was concerned that the area's lineages of regional traditions were broken. He made every effort to commission a phalanx of monks in Thailand with the highest probability of an unbroken lineage traceable back to the Buddha.
Mongkut eventually found a lineage among the Mon people in Thailand that had a stronger practice. He reordained in this group and began a reform movement that would become the Thammayut order. In founding the Thammayut order, Mongkut made an effort to remove all non-Buddhist, folk religious, and superstitious elements which over the years had become part of Thai Buddhism. Additionally, Thammayut bhikkhus are expected to eat only one meal a day (not two) and the meal was to be gathered during a traditional alms round.
Since his brother Rama III complained about his involvement with an ethnic minority (the Mon), a monastery was built for Prince Mongkut on the edge of the city of Bangkok. In 1836, Mongkut became the first abbot of the new Wat Bowonniwet Vihara, and it would become the administrative center of the Thammayut order to the present day.
Soon after that, Mongkut had other monks who were close to him reordain in this lineage of Mon bhikkhus. Among these were Mongkut's son Vajirañāṇavarorasa and Somdet Phra Wannarat "Thap", a grade Nine Pali scholar.
According to Taylor, Vajirañāṇavarorasa's autobiography tells how "Thap had differences with the somewhat more 'worldly' monks at Wat Bowornniwet, which led to dissension and the movement's eventual division into four primary competing factions (monastic lines or 'stems')." In the mid-nineteenth century these branches became so estranged that each one developed its own style of chanting, interpretation and translation of Pali texts, and differed on issues related to the monastic code.
It wasn't until Vajirañāṇavarorasa took control of a new phase of sangha reforms in 1892 that the administrative Thammayut hierarchy would begin to form a cohesive vision. Officially Pusso Saa was the sangharaja; however, he was only a figurehead. Thanissaro notes though that in the early twentieth century, Ajahn Mun's kammaṭṭhāna lineage formed a distinct camp within the Thammayut order which was at odds with Vajirañāṇavarorasa's reforms.
Dhammayuttika Nikaya in Cambodia
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In 1855, King Norodom of Cambodia invited Preah Saukonn Pan, also referred to as Maha Pan, a Khmer bhikkhu educated in the Dhammayuttika Nikaya, to establish a branch of the Dhammayuttika order in Cambodia. Maha Pan became the first Sangharaja of the Dhammayuttika lineage, residing at Wat Botum, a new temple erected by the king specifically for Dhammayuttika monks. The Cambodian order benefited from royal patronage but was also sometimes regarded with suspicion due to its ties to the Thai monarchy.
The Dhammayuttika order in Cambodia suffered greatly under the Khmer Rouge, being particularly targeted because of its perceived ties to monarchy and a foreign nation, in addition to the Khmer Rouge's general repression of the Buddhist hierarchy in Cambodia. Between 1981 and 1991, the Dhammayuttika Nikaya was combined with the Cambodian Mohanikay in a unified sangha system established under Vietnamese domination. In 1991, King Norodom Sihanouk returned from exile and appointed the first new Dhammayuttika Sangharaja in ten years, effectively ending the policy of official unification. The Dhammayuttika continues to exist in Cambodia, though its monks constitute a very small minority. On issues such as the role of bhikkhu in HIV/AIDS treatment and education, the current Sangharaja, Bour Kry has adopted a more liberal position than the Mohanikay head Tep Vong, but is less radical than that of certain Engaged Buddhist elements of the Mohanikay order.
Dhammayutti Mahayin Gaing in Burma
- Buddhism in Contemporary Thailand, Prof. Phra Thepsophon, Rector of Mahachulalongkorn Buddhist University. Speech at the International Conference on Buddhasasana in Theravada Buddhist countries: Issue and The Way Forward in Colombo, Sri Lanka, January 15, 2003, Buddhism in Thailand, Dhammathai - Buddhist Information Network
- Lopez 2013, p. 696.
- Ratanakosin Period, Buddhism in Thailand, Dhammathai - Buddhist Information Network
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu. "The Traditions of the Noble Ones: An Essay on the Thai Forest Tradition and its Relationship with the Dhammayut Hierarchy" (PDF). Dhammatalks.org.
- Taylor 1993, p. 42.
- Taylor 1993, p. 45.
- Taylor 1993, p. 70.
- Harris 2001, p. 83.
- Keyes 1994.
- Harris 2001, p. 84.
- Harris 2001, p. 75.
- Harris 2001, p. 87.
- Lopez 2013, p. 309.
- Buswell, Robert; Lopez, Donald S. (2013). The Princeton Dictionary of Buddhism. Princeton University Press. ISBN 978-0-691-15786-3.
- Harris, Ian (August 2001), "Sangha Groupings in Cambodia", Buddhist Studies Review, UK Association for Buddhist Studies, 18 (I): 65–72
- Keyes, Charles F. (1994), "Communist Revolution and the Buddhist Past in Cambodia", Asian Visions of Authority: Religion and the Modern States of East and Southeast Asia, Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai`i Press, pp. 43–73
- Taylor, J. L. (1993). Forest Monks and the Nation-state: An Anthropological and Historical Study in Northeastern Thailand. Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. ISBN 978-981-3016-49-1.