Burmese Monks in Bangkok: Opening an Abhidhamma School and Creating a Lineage



In 1951, a small group of Thai monks went to explore the propagation of Buddhism in Burma. After being inspired by the Burmese methods of teaching Buddhist dhamma, the Abhidhamma-Jotika College was founded by Venerable Sayadaw Saddhammajotika Dhamm?c?riya, a Burmese monk commissioned to initiate Abhidhamma education in Bangkok. In fact, according to the college's history, prior to the founding of the Abhidhamma-Jotika College, Thailand lacked any formal training institution specifically dedicated to the study of the Abhidhamma, and thus for the means, materials, and teachers to enable the study of this ‘basket’ of the Tipiṭaka, Thais looked to the Burmese. It is common to hear about the negative history of warfare and animosity between the Thai and Burmese.  However, in order to fully understand the relationships between the two, particularly regarding Buddhist practice and study in Thailand, it is crucial to understand the very positive respect given by Thai Buddhists to the Burmese. This paper will look at the Abhidhamma-Jotika College as an exemplifier of how, through Phra Saddhammajotika, a unique lineage was born in Thailand. Through this lineage the students of the Abhidhamma-Jotika College continue to identify with the ethnicity of their Burmese founder and, moreover, believe they are participating in ‘something Burmese’.