It is with deep respect and a heavy heart that we observe the passing away of Most Venerable Sayadaw Nyanapurnik Mahathera, the Sanghanāyaka of Nepal, on 3 July 2020. Sayadaw succumbed to old-age illnesses which he had been battling for several years, and passed away peacefully early this morning. He was 81.
Sayadaw Nyanapurnik was born in November 1939 not far from Lumbini, the birthplace of Lord Buddha. He was of Sakyan descent and was ordained as a novice monk at a young age. He was trained in the monastic discipline in Nepal for a year before being sent to Myanmar for further learning. Sayadaw eventually graduated with Master of Arts in Culture and History from Tribhuvan University, along with a Diploma in Sanskrit from Banaras Hindu University, India.
In 1984, Sayadaw founded the Vishwa Shanti Vihāra in Kathmandu, and became its spiritual director. The initially modest vihāra was expanded in 1997 to house the ‘World Peace Buddhist School’ to produce educated and capable Buddhist monks and nuns, in order to further propagate Theravāda Buddhism in Nepal.
Sayadaw was a well-respected meditation teacher and a strong advocate of Dhamma education. In 1963, he was awarded the prestigious ‘Sāsanadhaja Dhammāchariya’ title, a highly-respected honour in Burmese Buddhist monastic education. He was bestowed the ‘Agga Mahā Saddhammajotikadhaja’ title in 2001 from the Government of Myanmar for his outstanding service to the propagation of Buddha-Sāsana around the world.
Out of compassion, Sayadaw Nyanapurnik visited and delivered many teachings at Nalanda Centre on his numerous visits to Malaysia, often accompanied by his Malaysian student, Venerable Bhikkhu Gavesi. Sayadaw Nyanapurnik was concerned over the quality of Buddhist education, and had been supportive of genuine efforts by Sangha members and Buddhist centres to teach Dhamma and meditation in Malaysia. Sayadaw often blessed us with his kind encouragement and wise advice on how to carry out mental training and character development. His very presence at Nalanda was enough to bring us deep peace and confidence in the Dhamma.
Sayadaw Nyanapurnik’s passing is deeply felt by all of us at Nalanda Buddhist Society. We offer our condolences to the venerated Nepalese Sangha, the Buddhist community of Nepal, and devotees of Vishwa Shanti Vihara on Sayadaw’s demise. For 3 days – from Friday 3 July to ‘Dhamma Day’ on 5 July – Nalandians will dedicate the merits of our Dhamma practice to Venerable Sayadaw Nyanapurnik. May the late Sayadaw attain the highest bliss of Santī, Peace.