Monk's names

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Monk's names

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:26 am

How are monk's names given/decided upon? Is there a protocol of how it should be done?

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Re: Monk's names

Postby Ben » Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:48 am

Hi Matheesha,
In Myanmar, if my memory serves me well, is that the first sylable of the name is derived from the day of the week the person was born on. And from then the abbot(?) preceptor(?) takes a name from a list of names for that day.
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Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Monk's names

Postby Virgo » Fri Jun 17, 2011 5:50 am

Ben wrote:Hi Matheesha,
In Myanmar, if my memory serves me well, is that the first sylable of the name is derived from the day of the week the person was born on. And from then the abbot(?) preceptor(?) takes a name from a list of names for that day.
kind regards

Ben

In Thailand it is done the same way-- essentially through astrology (something which monks are not supposed to study).

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Re: Monk's names

Postby rowyourboat » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:21 am

I've come across some monks who's names sounded quite like ordinary ones, except for the Ven in front of it. I wonder where this tradition comes from.
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Re: Monk's names

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:28 am

Some monks get referred to by their original names, especially when the Pali name is really long. For example some refer to Thanissaro Bhikkhu as Ajahn Geoff. And many famous monks are referred to by names that have nothing to do with their Pali or real names, such as Venerable Maha Bua (which I presume is "big lotus" in a mixture of Pali and Thai...), Venerable Mahasi (big drum), etc...

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Re: Monk's names

Postby Cal » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:51 am

I was wondering about this too.

Ben wrote:the first sylable of the name is derived from the day of the week the person was born on


Does anyone know which days relate to what syllables? Just idle curiosity...

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Re: Monk's names

Postby mikenz66 » Fri Jun 17, 2011 6:53 am

Hmm, Actually Maha works in Thai too:

http://www.thai2english.com/search.aspx ... 1%E0%B8%A7
มหา má-hăa great: large
บัว bua: lotus

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Re: Monk's names

Postby Ben » Fri Jun 17, 2011 7:10 am

Cal wrote:I was wondering about this too.

Ben wrote:the first sylable of the name is derived from the day of the week the person was born on


Does anyone know which days relate to what syllables? Just idle curiosity...

Metta
Cal


Astrology-based naming systemMany Burmese Buddhists also use astrology (which is determined by the child's day of birth in the traditional 8-day calendar) to name their children. For instance, a Monday-born child may have a name beginning with the letter "k" (က). The following is a traditional chart that corresponds the day of birth with the first letter used in a child's name, although this naming scheme is not universally used today:

Day Letters
Monday (တနင်္လာ) က (ka), ခ (hka), ဂ (ga), ဃ (ga), င (nga)
Tuesday (အဂႆါ) စ (sa), ဆ (hsa), ဇ (za), ဈ (za), ည (nya)
Wednesday morning (ဗုဒ္ဓဟူး) လ (la), ဝ (wa)
Wednesday afternoon (ရာဟု) ယ (ya), ရ (ya, ra)
Thursday (ကြာသပတေး) ပ (pa), ဖ (hpa), ဗ (ba), ဘ (ba), မ (ma)
Friday (သောကြာ) သ (tha), ဟ (ha)
Saturday (စေန) တ (ta), ထ (hta), ဒ (da), ဓ (da), န (na)
Sunday (တနင်္ဂနွေ) အ (a)

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Burmese_name

kind regards

Ben
Learn this from the waters:
in mountain clefts and chasms,
loud gush the streamlets,
but great rivers flow silently.

Taṃ nadīhi vijānātha:
sobbhesu padaresu ca,
saṇantā yanti kusobbhā,
tuṇhīyanti mahodadhī.

Sutta Nipata 3.725


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Re: Monk's names

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:46 am

mikenz66 wrote:Hmm, Actually Maha works in Thai too:

http://www.thai2english.com/search.aspx ... 1%E0%B8%A7
มหา má-hăa great: large
บัว bua: lotus

:anjali:
Mike


My understanding is that Maha as part of a monks name is an academic title, Lungta was an academic monk before he started practising with Ajahn Mun. from longdo...

มหา [N] title confered on Buddhist monk who passed the third grade in Buddhist theology, See also: graduate in Buddhist theology who passes at least the third grade out of nine grades in al, Example: ท่านดีใจที่มหาฉ่ำได้ปริญญาดุษฎีบัณฑิตก่อนตาย, Thai definition: สมณศักดิ์ที่ใช้นำหน้าชื่อภิกษุผู้ที่สอบไล่ได้ตั้งแต่เปรียญธรรม 3 ประโยคขึ้นไป

I can assure you he wasn't a big man, but yes Lotus was his Thai nickname, same as my daughter.
Last edited by Goofaholix on Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:53 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Monk's names

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jun 17, 2011 9:52 am

rowyourboat wrote:I've come across some monks who's names sounded quite like ordinary ones, except for the Ven in front of it. I wonder where this tradition comes from.


From what I've noticedl the Ajahn Chah western lineage is the only group that puts emphasis on the Pali name for day to day use, Burmese and other Thai monks mostly use their given names, or in the case of Thais their nicknames, and in the case of Sri Lankans the name of the village they come from.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Monk's names

Postby gavesako » Fri Jun 17, 2011 12:08 pm

It is well explained here: http://www.thaibuddhism.net/ranks.htm

Monks’ Ranks and Titles

The special names and titles used for monks can be a very confusing matter. Basically, monks may be referred to according to three “traditions” or tendencies: titles from the Buddhist canon; a developed system of ranks unique to the Thai sangha; and colloquial terms of reverence. The use of these terms would depend on the context of the meeting. When referring to the length of time a monk has been in the order, a canonical reference may be used; in an urban, administrative setting, a formal rank/title might be applied; while out in the village setting, local people would most likely use more colloquial references.

Upon ordination, a monk is given a new name, called a chaya. This name usually comes from the Buddhist textual language, Pali. Regardless of other factors listed below, a monk may continue to be known by the Thai generic term for a monk — phra — coupled with this new name. The chaiya may be based on a part of the persons given name, such as initial consonants. For example, in the case of this Swedish foreigner, the name Olson might go to the Pali name Obhaso — “the shining one.” And so, one might be known as Phra Obhaso. (Strictly speaking, however, some people suggest that a monk should be called Samana _____ or _____ Bhikkhu, until he has attained a title, after which he would be known as Phra + title + name. As with many things, actual practices are something different alltogether.) Once a monk attains other titles, these names might be dropped in favor of the titles, as we will see...


Canonical Tradition of Ranks according to the Vinaya (all lists in descending order)

samanera (Thai, nen or samanen) — a novice monk who has yet to receive higher ordination

navaka — a newly ordained monk

nissaya-muttaka — a monk who has spent five years in the monkhood

majjhima — a monk who has spent between five to ten years in the Order (middle rank)

thera — a monk who has spent ten years or more in the monkhood and is eligible to be a preceptor (upajjhaya, one who ordains other monks)

maha-thera — often used to refer to a monk who has spent twenty years or more in the Order

In summary, monks are distinguished by the term navaka for those who have been in the Order five years or less, majjhima prior to the completion of ten years, thera after ten years. Maha-thera is occasionally used for monks who have been in the Order twenty years or more. Among laity, the terms thera and maha-thera are heard most often.

The Developed Thai System of Ranks

After higher ordination:

maha — a monk who has passed Pali grade 3 (parian 3) [note: in the past this term was often extended to laity who had been in the Buddhist order and had been “schooled” in Buddhist knowledge. This term may also be used in a fond, somewhat facetious manner to refer to very reverential men who have spent time in the monkhood.]

Divisions of honorific titles/ranks:

I. phra khrusanyabat

II. phra racha khana (more colloquially known as a chao khun)

phra racha khana chan saman (“ordinary” class)
phra racha khana chan raj
phra racha khana chan thep
phra racha khana chan tham
phra racha khana chan rong somdet (“deputy” somdet, also known as chan phrom)

Monks with these titles would also have name ranks using the title as a kind of “prefix.” For example, a monk with a raj title may have the name/rank of Phra Rajakawi; with a thep ... Phra Thepkoson; and with tham may have the name of Phra Thammuni. To make matters a bit more confusing and research more challenging, many of these names are romanized according to the monk’s preference, which can often include a mix of Sanskrit, Pali, or Thai. For example, Phra Dhammapitaka romanizes his rank/name according to Pali instead of Thai (which would be Thammapitok).

III. somdet phra racha khana (full somdet rank)
There are about a handful of monks holding this rank. One of them will hold the highest title of Sangharaja, or Supreme Patriarch, of the Thai Buddhist Order.

Monks move through the ranks based on accomplishment and recognition of service. Monks may be recornized for scholarly study, assistance to other high ranking monks, or becoming an administrator (especially an abbot) at a (royal) temple. For example, A monk who is the abbot of a major royal temple, such as Wat Pho or Wat Mahathat would normally not have a rank below phra racha khana chan tham; or if his rank were lower, upon appointment he would receive a higher rank.

At official functions, monks sit in order of rank. All things being equal (rarely the case) the monk with the most tenure in the Order would sit ahead of another monk.

If this is not enough, click here to view all 62 levels of ranks.

And for a listing in Thai, can go here. (You may need to change your browser’s encoding to Thai. Right-click on the open window to gain access to this selection.)

Some Examples of more Colloquial Thai Terms

luang phi — “Venerable Elder,” a reverential term for a younger, freshly ordained monk
luang ta — “Venerable Uncle,” a reverential term for an elderly monk without titles
luang pho — “Venerable Father,” a reverential term for an elderly monk
chao khun — a monk who holds phra racha khana rank (see above) but not used for the Sangharaja

A growing number of people feel that the bureaucracy of the monkhood is ineffective and that there is far too much emphasis placed on rank. At any rate, it is clear the Thai penchant for hierarchy is mirrored in the system of ranks for monks.
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Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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Re: Monk's names

Postby pilgrim » Fri Jun 17, 2011 3:14 pm

Goofaholix wrote:
rowyourboat wrote:I've come across some monks who's names sounded quite like ordinary ones, except for the Ven in front of it. I wonder where this tradition comes from.


From what I've noticedl the Ajahn Chah western lineage is the only group that puts emphasis on the Pali name for day to day use, Burmese and other Thai monks mostly use their given names, or in the case of Thais their nicknames, and in the case of Sri Lankans the name of the village they come from.


As there isn't a great variety of Pali monastic names, nick names tend to be used sometimes. In Myanmar, famous sayadaws are often referred to by the monastery or town they come from ( for eg Mogok Sayadaw, Mahasi Sayadaw). In Sri Lanka, the village of the monk's origin is added as a prefix to their Pali name to help differentiate between the many monks with the same Pali name.
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Re: Monk's names

Postby Goofaholix » Fri Jun 17, 2011 8:20 pm

gavesako wrote:luang ta — “Venerable Uncle,” a reverential term for an elderly monk without titles


This one is actually venerable grandfather.

Thanks, a lot of interesting info in that post.
"Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen. It is the effort to be aware and awake each moment." - Ajahn Chah
"When we see beyond self, we no longer cling to happiness. When we stop clinging, we can begin to be happy." - Ajahn Chah
"Know and watch your heart. It’s pure but emotions come to colour it." — Ajahn Chah
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Re: Monk's names

Postby gavesako » Sun Oct 02, 2011 7:05 am

There is an (entertaining) chapter in this blog series which also explains the "chaya" or monastic Pali name system in Thailand:

http://www.buddhistteachings.org/life-i ... -chapter-4
Bhikkhu Gavesako
Kiṃkusalagavesī anuttaraṃ santivarapadaṃ pariyesamāno... (MN 26)

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