Hearing about Luangpu Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen
1927 Chand heard about the supernormal meditative powers of the Great Abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen (Phramongkolthepmuni, 1885-1959) who taught an advanced form of meditation known as the Dhammakaya Knowledge. Through this Knowledge, an adept meditator could use his/her inner transcendental body to traverse to the afterlife realms. Chand saw this as a way to ask for forgiveness from her father in the hereafter and be pardoned from the curse of being deaf in future lives. She wished that one day she would have the opportunity to meet the Great Abbot and learn Dhammakaya Knowledge from him. Since then, she began to observe the five precepts. (Chand was 18 years old).
Looking for an Opportunity to Meet Luangpu
1935 Chand decided to leave her family for Bangkok in order to look for an opportunity to meet Luangpu Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen. She handed over her belongings such as a piece of land to her brother who was a monk and all precious gems and jewelry to her siblings. (Chand was 26 years old).
While living with a relative in Bangkok, she learned that Madam Liab Sikanchananand, who lived in Saphan Han area, was a regular benefactor of Wat Paknam for a period of 20 years. Although Chand’s family could financially support themselves and well accepted by others, she decided to apply for a job with Madam Liab to do the housework. She did this to gain access to the inner circle of Wat Paknam and the Great Abbot so that one day she could become a disciple there. Madam Liab agreed to hire Chand. As time went by, Chand’s hardworking nature and truthfulness gained her complete trust and confidence of Madam Liab.
Attaining Dhammakaya and Asking Her Father for Forgiveness
Madam Liab often invited Master Tongsuk Samdaengpan, a leading disciple of Luangpu Wat Paknam, to teach meditation at her house. At Chand’s request, Madam Liab agreed to let her join the meditation class. Outside the class, Chand would find time to meditate every day after finishing all the housework. With her continuous effort, she eventually attained Dhammakaya and asked Master Tongsuk to show her how to traverse to the afterlife realms so that she could find her father. With Master Tongsuk’s help, Chand finally located her deceased father who had fallen into one of the hell realms. Through her Dhammakaya Body, Chand was able to communicate with her father, asked for his forgiveness, and helped him to recall the merits from his good deeds in earlier lifetimes so these merits could relieve him from this retribution.
Meeting Luangpu Wat Paknam
1938 Chand asked permission from Madam Liab to stay at Wat Paknam to meditate for one month. Being permitted, Master Tongsuk took her to pay respect to the Great Abbot. It was the first time she met Luangpu. When Luangpu saw her, he said, “You came too late,” He said this because he had been waiting for a long time for her who had the basics in the practice of high-level Dhammakaya. Then, he sent Chand to the Advanced Dhammakaya Meditation Workshop immediately without having to go through any testing or selection process. (Chand was 29 years old)
Becoming a Nun, Meditating, and Learning the Buddha’s Teachings
After living at Wat Paknam for one month, Chand was ordained as a nun at the same time with her meditation teacher, Master Tongsuk Samdaengpan. As a nun, Chand’s daily routine was the same for many years, which was meditating for six consecutive hours twice a day in the Advanced Dhammakaya Meditation Workshop. Through her Dhammakaya Body, she learned the teachings of the Lord Buddha. When not meditating, she always kept her mind on the Dhamma at all times during all activities such as bathing, brushing teeth, eating, etc.
“Second to None”
1941 Around the middle of December 1941, during World War II, meditation practice to study Advanced Dhammakaya Knowledge was done continuously for 24 hours. This was divided into four 6-hour shifts. Nun Chand meditated continuously for 6 hours during the day and another 6 hours during the night. With her habit in doing everything at her best, Nun Chand gained expertise in Advanced Dhammakaya Meditation. As a result, she was assigned to be a shift leader. At the end of her shift, she always stayed over for another half hour to meditate with the next group as she would like to learn the knowledge that Luangpu would pass on to them. As a result, Nun Chand was able to answer Luangpu’s questions correctly and complete all assigned tasks.
To learn Dhammakaya Knowledge, one must attain a profound meditation state in order to see things more clearly than seeing them with naked eyes. It is like using the mind as a magnifying lens to see things beyond the limitations of human beings. It takes practice and perseverance. One must be mindful at the center of the body at all times. As a person who always did everything at her best, Nun Chand was so proficient and precise in Dhammakaya Knowledge that Luangpu praised her “Second to None”.
Luangpu Called a Meeting among All Disciples
1954 Luangpu Wat Paknam called a meeting among all disciples to announce that he would pass away in five years and asked everyone to help propagate Dhammakaya Knowledge to the entire world as such knowledge is very important and has a lot of benefits. (Nun Chand was 45 years old).
1959 Luangpu Wat Paknam passed away on February 3, 1959, at 3:00 p.m. After his death, some disciples scattered to different places. Nun Chand still lived with Master Tongsuk at a three-story house in Wat Paknam, practicing meditation and taking care of the aging Master Tongsuk. (Nun Chand was 50 years old).
Master Tongsuk Became Ill and Passed Away
1960 Master Tongsuk was ill with final-stage uterine cancer. In those days with no medicine to cure it, uterine cancer patients often emit stench. Being a student of Master Tongsuk, Nun Chand never once felt nor expressed disdain for her teacher. Instead, she often washed Master Tongsuk and her clothes and sprinkled traditional Thai aromatic liquid to deodorize the smell so that when the disciples of Master Tongsuk who came from all over the country to visit would not smell unpleasant odor. Chand took care of Master Tongsuk closely until the last moment. (Nun Chand was 51 years old).
Meeting her prominent students
Keeping in her mind the mission to propagate Dhammakaya Knowledge, Nun Chand was still at Wat Paknam as ordered by Luangpu.
1963 Chaiyaboon Suddhipol (currently Luangpor Dhammajayo), a student at Kasetsart University, was interested in Buddhism and came to learn meditation from Nun Chand, whom he called Khun Yai. The word “Khun Yai” means “grandmother” in Thai. It is a respectful way to call a woman of advancing age. Chaiyaboon made excellent progress in a short period of time and learned profound Dhammakaya Knowledge from Khun Yai. (Khun Yai was 54 years old).
1966 Phadet Pongsawat (currently Luangpor Dattajeewo) met Chaiyaboon for the first time. Personally, Phadet was already interested in learning about heaven and hell. So, he wanted to meet Khun Yai. Chaiyaboon took him to see Khun Yai, and he then became another meditation student. Both of them later invited their fellow students, both seniors and juniors, to learn meditation and practice Dhamma with Khun Yai. (Khun Yai was 57 years old).
1967 The small house where Khun Yai had lived in for more than 20 years was full with people meditating. Sometimes, people had to sit outside, especially on the first Sunday of the month. (Khun Yai was 58 years old).
The disciples decided to build a new two-story wooden house for Khun Yai in the northern part of Wat Paknam, close to the old house. Chaiyaboon was the leader for the fund-raising campaign. The house was officially offered to Wat Paknam as its property and was given the name “Dhammaprasit House” by Phrabhavanakosolthera (Luangpor Lek), Deputy Abbot of Wat Paknam.
1968 Dhammaprasit House was filled with people practicing meditation, especially on the first Sunday of the month. There were meditators sitting on the upper floor all the way down to the stairs, the ground floor, the front lawn as well as the walkway to the gate. The whole area was crowded with people who came to meditate. (Khun Yai was 59 years old).
1969 After Chaiyaboon graduated with a bachelor degree in Agricultural Economics, Kasetsart University, Khun Yai saw that Chaiyaboon had the established worldly knowledge and should then be ordained within the Buddhist Lent period of that year. As it had been his wish to become a monk, Chaiyaboon delightfully chose his ordination to be on August 27, 1969, which was the full-moon day of the ninth lunar month. He was ordained at Wat Paknam by Phrathepwarawati (later became H.H. Somdej Phra Maharatchamongkhalachan), Abbot of Wat Paknam and was given the name “Dhammajayo”, meaning “The Victor through Dhamma”. (Khun Yai was 60 years old).
Decision to Establish a New Temple
1969 Even though it was his first year in monkhood, Luangpor Dhammajayo mentioned to Khun Yai about creating a new place suitable for meditation and propagating Dhammakaya Knowledge. Since it had been Khun Yai’s intention to propagate Dhammakaya Knowledge as assigned by Luangpu Wat Paknam, Khun Yai therefore fully agreed with Luangpor Dhammajayo in the idea to establish a new temple. (Khun Yai was 60 years old).
1969 Lady Prayad Pattayapongsavisuttatibodi donated 77-acre plot of land at Khlong Sam Subdistrict, Khlong Luang, Pathum Thani Province for the new temple. (Khun Yai was 60 years old).
Phadet’s Decision to Practice Celibacy
1970 Around the beginning of the year, Phadet announced his intention to practice celibacy. Khun Yai then assigned Phadet to look after the 77-acre plot of land and oversee the construction of the temple. Luangpor Dhammajayo and Khun Yai were still at Dhammaprasit House, teaching meditation and raising donation for temple construction. The initial fund to build the temple at that time was only 3,200 baht (US$160 in 1970). (Khun Yai was 61 years old).
Founding a New Temple
1970 On February 20, 1970, which was Magha Puja day (full-moon day of the third lunar month), a ground breaking ceremony, led by Luangpor Dhammajayo and Khun Yai, was performed to mark the establishment of ” Buddhajak Meditation Center “. At that time, it was not officially a temple yet. Since then, Khun Yai had provided all kinds of support to the group for the temple construction. (Khun Yai was 61 years old).
1971 Phadet was ordained at Wat Paknam on December 19, 1971 and was given the monastic name Dattajeewo. After his first week in monkhood, Khun Yai asked Luangpor Dattajeewo to start teaching Dhamma. (Khun Yai was 62 years old).
The First Dhammadayada Training Program
1972 Luangpor Dhammajayo aimed to teach and train Dhamma both theoretically and practically to youth and the general public, focusing on mental development which is the most important foundation for improving the quality of life. In addition, Khun Yai also hoped that this group of people would be able to take parts in propagation of Dhammakaya meditation. Therefore, Dhammadayada training and ordination program was arranged for the first time in 1972, with a total of 60 students attending the training amid the recently dug ditches and embankments, without any building, not even a canteen nor meditation hall. (Khun Yai was 63 years old).
Teaching Dhamma on Weekdays, Overseeing Construction on Weekends
1970-1974 On weekdays, Khun Yai and Luangpor Dhammajayo taught Dhamma at Dhammaprasit House. On weekends, they came to the 77-acre plot of land to oversee the construction.
1973 After the end of Buddhist Lent, monks who were former students of Khun Yai who took care of the construction of the new temple moved from Wat Paknam to the Buddhachak Meditation Center permanently. Khun Yai was still at Dhammaprasit House and kept sending supplies to them. (Khun Yai was 64 years old)
Khun Yai Moved to Buddhachak Meditation Center
1975 Khun Yai moved from Dhammaprasit House to live permanently at Buddhachak Meditation Center on April 18, 1975. She first asked the team to build a strong wall around the premises to prevent trespassing. She then set up rules, based on what she had learned from Luangpu, for residents or visitors to keep things in nice order. These rules were posted on the side of a building for everyone to read. In addition, Khun Yai also laid out several guidelines for the team such that they could work in a more structured order. As all monks had been in monkhood for short periods at the time, Khun Yai offered the idea “Young monks may not yet be capable of teaching profound Dhamma but they can be good role models for laypeople. Even if it is a small thing, we must organize it. Everything in our daily life such as shoes, brooms, rags, and trash cans must be neatly arranged. Besides helping our own minds to stay calm, visitors will feel good when these items are neatly organized and bring such practice home with them”.
Changing the Name to Wat Phra Dhammakaya
1981 “Buddhachak Meditation Center” was renamed “Wat Phra Dhammakaya” as it officially became a temple. (Khun Yai was 72 years old).
Acquiring Additional 800-Acre Plot of Land and Building Sapha Dhammakaya)
1985 As more people came to practice the Dhamma, the assembly hall in the original 77-acre plot of land was not spacious enough to accommodate the congregants. Luangpor Dhammajayo, Khun Yai and the Dhammakaya Foundation together with devotees decided to acquire a land of 800 acres. A new temporary thatch-roof assembly hall with flat concrete tiles for seating was constructed and named Sapha Dhammakaya. It could accommodate 12,000 congregants. (Khun Yai was 76 years old).
Later, as more and more congregants came to the temple, the original thatch-roof Sapha Dhammakaya became too small. Tents had to be used in big ceremonies and other Dhamma training activities. Therefore, Dhammakaya Foundation together with devotees constructed a permanent Sapha Dhammakaya, a two-story multipurpose assembly hall with a capacity of 300,000 people in the premises of the 800-acre plot of land. The first floor locates parking space for over 10,000 cars, several meeting rooms, and toilet facilities.
Being the Leader for Kathina Robe Offering
1988 Khun Yai was the leader for Kathina Robe offering at Wat Phra Dhammakaya for the first time on November 6, 1988. (Khun Yai was 80 years old).
Casting of Luangpu Wat Paknam Gold Statue
1994 Luangpor Dhammajayo, Khun Yai and devotees united to express gratitude towards Luangpu Wat Paknam by casting a one-ton gold statue of Luangpu on February 25, 1994. Phra Dhammapanyabodi (later became H.H. Somdej Phra Maharatchamongkhalachan), Abbot of Wat Paknam, was a presiding monk over the ceremony. (Khun Yai was 85 years old).
Construction of the Great Dhammakaya Cetiya
1995 Luangpor Dhammajayo, Khun Yai, and devotes started to build the Great Dhammakaya Cetiya. (Khun Yai was 86 years old). It took many years to build. The enshrining of Dhammakaya Buddha images outside of the Great Dhammakaya Cetiya was completed on December 21, 1999.
Casting a Gold Statue of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong
1998 On January 1, 1998, Luangpor Dhammajayo and devotees united to arrange a ceremony to cast a life-size gold statue of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong (KhunYai was 89 years old).
Casting the gold image of a teacher was the highest expression of gratitude that the disciples had for Khun Yai. This statue was casted in remembrance of her graceful practices and great aspirations in bringing happiness to mankind. People can learn about her life and regard her as a role model in doing good deeds and pursuing “Perfections”.
1998-2000 Khun Yai’s health deteriorated, and more rest was needed. So, Khun Yai could not come out to meet nor teach the disciples. But still, she regularly came out to see the progress in the construction of the Great Dhammakaya Cetiya.
Passing of Khun Yai
2000 In the early morning of September 10, 2000, Khun Yai passed away peacefully due to old age at Kasemrad Hospital, Bangkok, at the age of 91.
2002 Luangpor Dhammajayo and disciples jointly organized the cremation of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong on February 3, 2002 at Wat Phra Dhamakaya. This event had more than 100,000 monks attending from over 30,000 temples across the country.
The Memorial Hall of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong
To commemorate a meditation master who devoted her life to building Wat Phra Dhammakaya for people to practice the teachings of the Lord Buddha to improve their physical, verbal and mental behaviors, Luangpor Dhammajayo and devotees decided to build “The Memorial Hall of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong” on an island in the middle of the lake in the original premises of Wat Phra Dhammakaya to enshrine the gold statue of Khun Yai. Visitors can pay respect and recollect Khun Yai contribution to Buddhism and Dhammakaya meditation. The place which appears like a golden mountain is idealized as a mountain of goodness, reminding us of Khun Yai’s tremendous contribution and providing us inspiration to follow her path in the pursuit of “Perfections”.
2002 The construction of “The Memorial Hall of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong” began on March 14, 2002 and was completed upon installation of the apex on September 10, 2003.
The Dining Hall of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong
2003 In order to fulfil Khun Yai’s wish to offer food to monks and novices on a regular basis so that they do not have to worry about meals and then have more time to meditate and study the teachings of the Lord Buddha, the construction of “The Dining Hall of Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong” began on January 5, 2003. The 32,000-square-meter facility that can house 6,000 monks and novices was first open on July 31, 2004.
The Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong Centennial Building
2009 The year 2009 marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Khun Yai. Luangpor Dhammajayo invited all disciples to join together to show their gratitude and appreciation to Khun Yai by building the “Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong Centennial Building”. The building has a timeless universal spherical shape, the shape of the sun and the moon which shines light to the world, reflecting “cleanliness, brightness, and peace” which are the foundation that Khun Yai laid out for Wat Phra Dhammakaya. It houses different departments that organize various kinds of domestic and international activities as well as collaborate with other Buddhist organizations to revive morality and propagate Buddhism to the world.
Master Nun Chand Khonnokyoong is a role model in every stage of her life. Besides being the founder of Wat Phra Dhammakaya, Khun Yai was the person behind all the success of Wat Phra Dhammakaya. Everything she thought, said, or did was pure and clean. She did all her work with cleanliness and tidiness, yielding amazingly effective results. Regarding meditation, she was skillful in attaining the advanced state of the mind. Her flawless behavior in the pursuit of good deeds reminds us of a priest who follows the footsteps of the Lord Buddha. Although illiterate, her knowledge in Buddhism was astonishingly accurate and profound. As her entire life was full with virtues, Khun Yai is a great matriarch whom we respect and admire.