Thero (commonly appearing in the masculine and feminine forms thera and therī respectively) is an honorific term in Pali for senior bhikkhus and bhikkhunis (Buddhist monks and nuns) in the Buddhist monastic order. The word literally means "elder". These terms, appearing at the end of a monastic's given name, are used to distinguish those who have at least 10 years since their upasampada (higher ordination). The name of an important collection of very early Buddhist poetry is called the Therigatha, "verses of the therīs".
The terms mahāthera and mahātherī (the prefix mahā meaning 'great' in both Sanskrit and Pali) are used to refer to very distinguished elderly and venerable monks and nuns considered to have reached a higher level of spiritual development.
Some prominent theras and therīs:
- Ananda Thera
- Rerukane Chandawimala Maha Thera
- Katukurunde Nyanananda Thera
- Narada Mahathera
- Nyanatiloka Mahathera
- Balangoda Ananda Maitreya Thero
- Mahapajapati Gotami therī
- Kiribathgoda Gnanananda Thero
- Ayya Tathaaloka Mahātherī
- Gangodawila Soma Thero
- Nyanaponika Thera
- Nanavira Thera