• A sayadaw is the senior monk or abbot (chief resident monk) of a monastery.
    Sayadaw is often used interchangeably with the term “U”.
  • A distinguished sayadaw would often be referred to as sayadawgyi as a sign of reverence.
  • The terms “sayadaw” and “sayadawgyi” originally corresponded to the senior monks who taught the former Burmese kings.
    They may be influential teachers of the Buddhist Dhamma and also outstanding meditation practitioners.
    They usually are abbots of monasteries or monastery networks with a large number of resident monks and a lay following.

Honorific Terms

  • Several honorific terms exist for Buddhist monks, reflecting their achievements and number of Vassa spent.
  • The given name is extended with Prefixes, Suffixes and Titles


  • Achan (used in Thailand)
  • Ashin
  • Baddhanta
  • Bhikkhu
  • Maha Thera
  • Oo
  • Sayadaw
  • Sayadawgyi
  • Shin
  • Upazin
  • Uzin
  • U
  • Thera
  • Venerable


  • [A]bhivamsa”
    Pass “Set kyar thi ha Dhammacariya” examination before age 26
  • Lankara
    Pass Lankara dhamma exam as a novice
  • Pa hta ma gyaw
    First in the “Pa hta Ma Pyan” examination
  • Thi ro ma ni
    Finished 9 “kyans” in a single year
  • Wun tha ka
    First in the “Set kyar thi ha Dhammacariya” examination


Some monks may highlight their accomplishments

  • Dhammacariya
    Dhamma lecturer
  • Thamane Kyaw
    Stood first in the Lankara examination
  • Pali Paragu
    Completed the examination in Pali
  • Agga Maha Pandita
    Senior sage
  • Tipitaka Dara
    Completed Three Baskets — “Vinaya”, “Sutta”, and “Abhidhamma”
  • Dwee Pitaka Dara
    Completed Two Baskets
  • [informal] “Ta Pone Saung
    Completed One Basket
  • [informal] “Hna Pone Khwair Saung
    Completed “Vinaya”, “Sutta” and the first part of “Abhidhamma”

U Vicittasarahhivamsa

A monk may be addressed by

  • his given Dhamma name
    e.g. U Vicittasara
  • a qualified name,
    e.g. U Victtasarabhivamsa (with the suufix -abhivamsa)
  • by the name of his monastery
    e.g. Mingun Sayadaw
  • title
    e.g. Tipitakadara
  • and the combination
    e.g. Tipitakadara Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhimvamsa

Venerable Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa, served as “Chief Respondent” at the Sixth Buddhist Council (1954 – 1956) in Yangon,

He earlier passed the Tipitaka Examination with Distinctions in all subjects.

The Guinness Book of World Records recognized his memory and the feat of reciting 8000+ pages of the Pali Canon.

Thus, he could be addressed in several ways “

  • Mingun Sayadaw
    Reference to his home monastery at Mingun
  • U Vicittasara
    Name given at the Ordination
  • U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    Passed the Mandalay Setkya Thiha examination before age 26
  • Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    Chief Resident Monk
  • Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    Chief Resident Monk of a monastery in Mingun
  • Tipitaka Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    Passed Tipitaka examination
  • Tipitakadhara Dhammabhandakarika Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
    First monk to be awarded the titles Tipitakadhara (“Bearer of the Tipitaka) and Dhammabhandakarika (“Treasurer of the Dhamma”).

Categories: RU

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