Ajahn Payutto Biography

Venerable Payutto

Ven. Payut­to at Wat Nyanavesaka­van

Ven­er­a­ble P.A. Payut­to (Phra Brah­ma­gun­ab­horn) was born on Jan­u­ary 12, 1939 in Suphan­buri Province, in the cen­tral region of Thai­land. The ini­tials P.A. stand for his sec­u­lar name: Prayudh Aryanku­ra. He entered the monas­tic life as a novice at the age of 12 and after com­plet­ing the high­est lev­el of Pali stud­ies in 1961, he was ordained as a monk under His Majesty the King’s patron­age. He has the monas­tic name Payut­to, mean­ing ‘He who applies him­self.’ A year lat­er, he obtained his Bach­e­lor of Arts degree in Bud­dhist stud­ies with top hon­ors from Mahachu­la­longko­rn Rajavidyalaya Bud­dhist Uni­ver­si­ty.

After grad­u­at­ing, he became a lec­tur­er at his alma mater. Apart from teach­ing Bud­dhism at var­i­ous uni­ver­si­ties in Thai­land, he was invit­ed to lec­ture at the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia in 1972 and at Swarth­more Col­lege, Penn­syl­va­nia, in 1976. In 1981, he was invit­ed to be a vis­it­ing schol­ar and sub­se­quent­ly appoint­ed as a research fel­low at the Har­vard Divin­i­ty School, Har­vard Uni­ver­si­ty.

A high­ly-revered monk and emi­nent schol­ar, he is also wide­ly-respect­ed as an elo­quent preach­er and author­i­ta­tive writer, with thou­sands of Dham­ma talk record­ings and over three hun­dred books on Bud­dhism to his cred­it. He is espe­cial­ly renowned for his mag­num opus on Ther­ava­da Bud­dhism titled Bud­dhad­ham­ma. In recog­ni­tion of his out­stand­ing schol­ar­ship and sig­nif­i­cant con­tri­bu­tion to Bud­dhism, insti­tu­tions in Thai­land and abroad have con­ferred upon him hon­orary doc­tor­ate degrees and oth­er pres­ti­gious titles. Among such acco­lades is UNESCO’s Prize for Peace Edu­ca­tion, which was giv­en to him in 1994. In his accep­tance speech, he made clear that the real prize is ‘a tru­ly peace­ful world for humankind,’ and the prize ‘will be won only when that goal has been real­ized.’

Due to his ded­i­cat­ed ser­vice to Bud­dhism, he has been suc­ces­sive­ly ele­vat­ed with roy­al sanc­tion to the fol­low­ing eccle­si­as­ti­cal titles:

  • Phra Sriv­i­sud­dhi­moli
  • Phra Rajavara­mu­ni
  • Phra Debve­di
  • Phra Dhammap­i­ta­ka
  • Phra Brah­ma­gun­ab­horn