History of Wat Buddharatanaram
Wat Buddharatanaram was founded in the middle of 1982 by Phra Ajaan Maha Samarn Siripuilrio, who At the time held the title of Phra Khru Vithessasanakij. Ajaan Maha Samarn was on a trip to the U.S. and was staying at Wat Buddharam in Murfreesboro, Tennessee.
Before returning to Thailand, he visited Khan Singsamut Boolom in Texas. It was then that he mentioned his plan to establish a local monastery to the Lao people who came to receive him that day. Ajaan Maha Samarn learned that Khun Boonlert Boonluetri (Khan Singsamut's cousin) and some friends had purchased a piece, of property - originally intended for raising farm animals - near the suburb of Keller, Texas. Khan Singsamut invited Ajaan Maha Samarn - together with Paw Too San Noi and Mae Too Kum Pew Prommaneewong - to come and view the property. Ajaan Maha Samarn accepted their invitation and before returning to Thailand, agreed that the land would be suitable for establishing a monastery.
On his second visit to Keller, Ajaan Maha Samarn - together with Than Ajaan Suwat Suvaco, Phra Khru Nandapaiuiaphorn, Than Ajaan Chaalee Uccalito, and Than Ajaan Chaicharn from Wat Hin Maak Peng - were invited by Khun Boonlert Boonluetri to perform a house-blessing ceremony. Khan Boonlert then announced the plan of establishing a monastery in Keller to the lay people present. Everyone approved of the plan. Khan Boonlert, Khan Singsamut, and Khun Surika Sr sookaraj together donated one and a half acres of land to Ajaan Maha Samarn to build a monastery. Phra Ajaan Maha Sawaeng Nitisaro from Wat Noranaatsuntarikaram, Bangkok, was invited to be the monastery's first abbot. Than Ajaan Charlee Uccalito from Wat Buddharam and Than Phra Pariyattimethi (Luang Paw Pim) were also invited to stay- at the monastery in the first vassa (rains retreat).
In the beginning, Khan Boonlert set up a temporary tent in the area for his mother to stay in order to help support the small community of monks. Later, Khun Boonlert and his father, Paw Too Saen-noi donated a mobile home for the monks to use as a temporary residence. Led by the abbot, the Lao community built a 24 - by - 48 ft. wooden sala with two bedrooms, one bath, and a kitchen. A Lao committee was formed to oversee and manage the construction work. A 48 - by - 60 ft. wooden multi-purpose building was built in 1983. A it time, lao supporters in Thailand had donated a Maravijaya (or Victory over Mara) style Buddha statue, along with the statues of the Buddha's two foremost disciples, Venerable Moggallana and Venerable Sariputta. An altar and a cabinet to keep a full set of the Pali Canon had also been donated. All these items were then placed in this building.
In 1984, a sign bearing the monastery's, Wat Buddharatanaram, was set at the entrance to the land. In the same year, more monk's residences, a road with water drainage, and public restrooms were built. Trees were planted throughout the area.
In 1988, in line with Ajaan Maha Sawaeng's plan, the construction of other building was commenced: a 36 - by - 34 ft. building with one main 11, a kitchen, and a bathroom. Sadly, on November 9, Ajaan Sawaeng passed away. Construction was then put on hold.
Phra Ajaan Maha Sawaeng's Biography
Phra Ajaan Maha Sawaeng's original name was Sawaeng Sombungklaang. Born on April 4, 1944 at Tumbone Baan Faang, Ampur Kranuan, Khonkaen province, he was the fifth of six children of Mr. Tee and Mrs. Sook Sombungklaang. On July 11, 1959, at the age of 15, he ws ordained as a novice at Wat Mahachai in Khonkaen; on July 8, 1966, he received full ordination as a bhikkhu (monk), receiving the Pali name, Nitisaro. He passed the sixth level of Pali studies and also graduated with a masters degree in Sociology from Banaras Hind University in 1981.
Coming to the United States on July 16, 1981, he originally stayed at Wat Buddharam, Murfreesboro, Tennessee. A year later he was made the first abbot of Wat Buddharatanaram by Ajaan Maha Samarn Siripunno, the wat’s founder. Ajaan Maha Sawaeng led in the construction of buildings – such as monks’ residences and an ordination hall – and the purchase of additional land, comprising a total of eleven acres. Streets leading to the temple and inside the temple were also built. He also established Sunday school to teach Dhamma to anyone interested.
Despite poor health and other difficulties, Ajaan Maha Sawaeng devoted all his energy and knowledge to his religious duties and to the Dhamma for the benefit of Buddhist community. As a result of his dedication, Wat Buddharatanaram was set on a solid footing for progress. He passed away on November 9, 1988, at the hospital in Haltom City, Texas.
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Luang Pbu Petch's Biography
1/11/1932 - 6/10/2016
Former Abbot of Wat Buddharatanaram
(1988 - 2016)
In 1989, the Elders Council of the Dhammayut Order appointed Phra Pariyattisarasuthi (Luang Paw Petch) to be the second abbot of Wat Buddharatanaram. He was also appointed to serve as a Chairman of the Dhammayut Abbot Council in the U.S.A.
In 1990, an asphalt road, 1,000 feet long and 15 feet wide, was built from the Keller-Haslett road to the temple. The cost of the construction was donated by Dr. Sommai and Dr. Georgina Sihapayak, along with members of their family. The road was then named Sihapayak. At the same time, the main hall was completed and named "Sala Nitisarn" in memory of Ajaan Maha Sawaeng Nitisaro. The opening ceremony of Sala Nitisarn was held on July 1, 1990, presided over by Luang Pu Chob Thanasamo, Phra Udomnanamoli, (the abbot of Wat Sampantawong and the Head of the Eleventh Ecclesiastical District), and members of the Elders Council in Thailand.
Three important events took place on June 8, 1991:
- The opening ceremony of Sala Ruam Jit (the dining hall).
- The seventh annual meeting of the Dhammayut Abbot's Council in
the U.S.A. (held at Wat Buddharatanaram for the first time).
- The ceremony to begin the construction of the ordination hall.
All of these auspicious events were presided over by Luang Pu Chob Thanasamo.
In honor of Luang Pu Chob Thanasamo, the construction of "Kuti Thanasamo" - a 5-bedroom, 2-bi monks'residence - was commenced in 1992. In the same year, Wat Buddharatanaram hosted the eighth annual meeting of the Dhammayut Abbot's Council in the U.S.A.
The wall around the temple, as designed by Phra Ajaan Pichit Dhammavicito, was constructed in 1994. In the same year, the abbot, Phra Pariyuttisarnsuti (Luang Pbu Petch), received from His Majesty King Rama IX, an ecclesiastical title at the second or "Raja" level of the Royal Council of Monks, with the name, Phra Rajavajirasophone.
In the following years, more construction projects were undertaken. Some of the work on the ordination hall during this time included: the building of the golden Buddha statue, the decoration of the doors and the ceiling, and the sculpting of the nagas (serpents) on the railings of the front and back stairs. On July 4 and 5, 1998, the ceremony to determine the boundary stones for the territory for Sangha transactions was held, as was the making of the formal completion of the ordination hall by the installation of the roof finial. Other projects during this period included the installation of wall paintings of the ten final lives of the Lord Buddha in the ordination hall, the construction of a women's (or nuns) guest house, and the construction of concrete parking lots. A public library was also established.
Luang Paw Petch Saradhammo's original name was Petch Saanthong. He was born on January 11, 1932 at Amphur Sawaang Dandin in Sakhon Nakorn province. His father was Kaam and his mother Pae Saanthong. At the age of 21, he was ordained as a bhikkhu on April 25, 1953, at Wat Sri Pone Muang in Sakhon Nakorn, with the Pali name, Saradhammo. After spending his first three vassas (rains retreats) diligently practicing meditation with teachers in the Thai Forest tradition, he went to Bangkok, where he later completed a bachelor's degree in Religious Studies from Mahamakut Buddhist University at Wat Bovornnivet as a member of the university's seventeenth graduation class. He also passed the sixth level of Pali Studies and graduated from Banaras Hindu University in India with a master's degree in History.
In 2004 Luang Paw Petch was elevated to the third or "Deva" level of the Royal Council of Monks, with the name, Phra Thepsaramuni.
In an attempt to preserve the valuable culture that has deteriorated through modernization, Luang Paw Petch decided to start the construction of a multi-purpose hall at Wat Buddharatanaram to be used as a school to teach Thai language and culture. With enormous kindness and compassion, our beloved Luang Paw Petch has always been a source of inspiration and strength to all his disciples, both lay and ordained. His plain, simple, and down-to-earth teachings are full of useful insights that we can all take to heart as core principles to live by.
Without the sacrifice and the generosity of our teachers, monks, novices, and the lay Buddhists, young and old, near and far, we would not have a central religious place to worship, to preserve, and to make merit in as we have at Wat Buddharatanaram today.
So here we would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all who have helped in this noble endeavor.
Pra Tep Saramunee (Luang Pbu Petch)
1/11/1932 - 6/10/2016
Former Abbot of Wat Buddharatanaram
(1989 - 2016)
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