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Rare Photos 2 – Monks

Late in his life, Luang Pu Sao Kantasīlo was awarded the royal title 'Phra Khru Vivekabuddhakit'. This is the only picture that shows he acknowledged it.

An early and rare picture taken when Luang Pu Sao (l) went to visit one of his early disciples, Luang Pu Mee Ñāṇamuni.

In most pictures, Luang Pu Sao has an expression of beatific equanimity. In this little-seen photo, his intensity is more clearly evident.

Perhaps the earliest photo of Luang Pu Mun's earliest disciples, Luang Pu Dune Atulo (l) and Luang Pu Singh Khantayāgamo.

This photo of Luang Pu Dune was taken in about 1977. When asked, he explained that his attention had been established so strongly in his chest that his fine-material body appeared to the camera.

When Luang Pu Mun left to finish his practise, he told all his disciples to take Luang Pu Singh as their teacher. He was so impressive that the confidence of the Bangkok Saṅgha elites being gained can largely be attributed to him.

Luang Pu Tongrat Kantasīlo was Luang Pu Mun's most senior disciple in the Mahā-Nikāya. He was so unorthodox that few people understood him. One who could was his most well-known disciple, Luang Pu Chah Subhaddo, who has said that his essence was pure Dhamma.

Luang Pu Mee Ñāṇamuni was another early disciple who remained in the Mahā-Nikāya. Luang Pu Mun wanted some of his disciples to stay in the Mahā-Nikāya in order to spread the tradition into all circles of the Saṅgha.

Another Mahā-Nikāya monk, Kruba SiVichai Sirivijayo, is known all over Thailand as 'the saint of Lanna'. His relationship with Luang Pu Mun is little-known but constitutes one of the greatest stories of spiritual friendship in modern times.

As photography became ubiquitous, more informal pictures of monks appeared, giving lie to the idea that arahants don't smile. Luang Pu Waen Suciṇṇo manages a big smile here even without his teeth.

Whenever someone took Luang Pu Dteu Acaladhammo's picture, he would usually don a set of mālā beads around his neck, claiming the photo would be more 'potent'. He didn't usually wear them.

Luang Pu Gu Dhammadinno was one of the most famous vipassanā teachers in northeast Thailand. He was so sincere in his practise, though, that he abandoned it all to become one of Luang Pu Mun's early disciples.

As the Thai Wilderness Tradition developed, there were deliberate policies of expansion and integration. Luang Pu Jan Khemiyo was one of two brilliant monks sent down to Bangkok to join the scholarly and administrative branches of the Saṅgha, eventually becoming 'Chao Khun Thepsiddhajahn'.

Luang Pu Joom Bandhulo (Chao Khun Dhammachedi) was the other monk sent to Bangkok to facilitate integration into the wider Saṅgha. He also became the preceptor for many monks in the Wilderness Tradition.

There has also been a deliberate policy of 'outreach' in the tradition, in the way of the Buddha's words "Let not two go in the same direction". When the province of Yasothon became bereft of great Ajaans, Luang Pu Suang Siripuñño - perhaps the only surviving disciple of Luang Pu Sao - was asked to abandon his monastery in Sakon Nakhorn and go there out of compassion. He passed away in Yasothon on March 25, 2017.

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