Phra Thamapamok

Born Sunthorn Jiewmaidaeng in Chumphon province on Thursday, March 16, 1943 in the year of the goat, Venerable Master Phra Thamapamok (Sunthorn Suntharapo, B.T. 4) is a senior monk who spearheaded and actualized the construction of Siri Wattana Wisut Forest Monastery of Her Royal Highness. He designed and planned the architecture, iconic Buddhas, and layout of the monastery, since its beginning in 1984 to present. A visionary monk, the Venerable Master is a leader among the four Buddhist assemblies and an active supporter of education and charity.
As a monastic, Phra Thamapamok pursued Buddhist theological education at Wat Rachathiwat Ratchaworawihan, where he successfully passed an exam to become dharma scholar at the advanced level in 1961. In 1966, he completed and earned level four Buddhist theological education. (For this reason B.T. 4 is included after his name). In addition, he received two honorary doctorates: one in Buddhism from Mahamakut Buddhist University in 2009 and one in education from Dhurakij Pundit University in 2013.
A lifelong monk, Phra Thamapamok values and observes the interconnected significance of self-cultivation, theology, and dharma practice. He has embarked on pilgrimages to remote forest areas to practice austerity and meditation.
Well respected for his eloquence, wit, and sharp mind, many of his sermons have been broadcasted on television and radio. The Venerable Master has also been a guest lecturer of Buddhist studies and meditation at Dhurakij Pundit University and Mahamakut Buddhist University, and he has taught dharma for the royal Thai army, navy, and air force.
What’s more, Phra Thamapamok actively works to internationalize Buddhism. In 2016, he reconsecrated the very first Buddhist temple where the Buddha resided and taught: Wat Venuvana in Bihar, India. That temple was abandoned and left in ruins for thousands of years. Through the Venerable Master’s effort, Venuvana is now a sanctioned ancient sacred space, where major Buddhist ceremonies such as ordination can now be officially performed.
Moreover, Phra Thamapamok is committed to honoring the importance of the nation, religion, and monarchy. With the approval of the Supreme Sangha Council, he began holding an annual Mahasanting Luang (an ancient Buddhist mantra) recitation ceremony in honor of King Rama IX’s birthday, from 1996 (the year of Golden Jubilee) to 2016. To commemorate the Diamond Jubilee, the Venerable Master also organized a complete reading of the Pali version of Tipitaka by eighty monks over six days, from December 8 to 13, 2005. Relatedly, to celebrate Princess of Naradhiwas’s 84th birthday, in 2007, he held a recitation of Tipitaka in Thai.
Besides religious contributions, the Venerable Master has actively contributed to charity and community development. He continues to provide scholarships for underprivileged students at Wat Ratchapatikaram Elementary School and for novices and monks pursuing Buddhist theological education in Sing Buri and Chumphon provinces. To improve local healthcare, in 2012, Phra Thamapamok and his disciples donated life-saving medical equipment to Sawanpracharak Hospital in Nakhon Sawan and ambulance to Somdej Phra Yupparaj Pua Hospital in Nan. Furthermore, to help local residents of Khao Khok Paen in Nakhon Sawan have enough water for living and irrigation, he launched and completed a canal construction project around Khok Paen Mountain in partnership with the Treasury, Royal Irrigation Department, local administrators, and disciples. The canal is five meters deep and about five kilometers long. It now helps sustain a community of 1,000 residents near the Forest Monastery during droughts and also protects against flood.
Selected Highlights of Phra Thamapamok’s Leadership Roles
Governance
● Councilor, Supreme Sangha Council of Thailand, 2019 to present
● Councilor, Shanga Council Dhammayuttika
● Abbot, Wat Ratchapatikaram, 2014 to present
● Deputy Abbot, Wat Ratchapatikaram, 1981 to 2014
● Ecclesiastical Governor, Dusit District (Dhammayuttika sect), 1993 to 2018
● Director, Board of Manager and Directors of Religious Construction Projects, 2011 to 2012
● Secretary to Ecclesiastical Governor of Dusit District (Dhammayuttika sect), 1975 to 1993
Ritual
● Supreme Patriarch-Appointed Ordination Master, 1999
● Head of Sangha, Reconsecration Ceremony of Venuvana Temple, India, 2016
Missionary Projects
● Director, Training of Dhammayuttika Missionary Monks to India and Nepal, 2013 to 2015
● Councilor, Training of Meditation Masters of Dhammayuttika Missionary Monks, 2013 to 2015
● Director, Funds for Supporting Dhammayuttika Missionary Monks to India and Nepal, 2014
● Deputy Supervisor, the Office of the Secretary of the Training Institute for Dhammayuttika Bhikkhus Going Abroad (TIDGA), 2013
Selected Highlights of Phra Thamapamok’s Major Construction Projects
Siri Wattana Wisut Forest Monastery of Her Royal Highness
Nakhon Sawan
● Forest monastic retreat on Khok Paen Mountain (later became the Forest Monastery of Her Royal Highness), 1984
● Rachayanawa Vessel, 1987
● Sri Maharaj Pagoda, 1996
● Sri Buddha Gaya Pagoda, 2004 (foundation laying)
● The Buddha’s Place of Death, 2010
● Phra Buddha Watcharachai Borphit, 2016
● The Buddha’s Birthplace, 2017
● Dharma Maekka Stupa, 2018
● Makutpunttana Chedi at Crystal Ubosot, 2020
Wat Thanod
Chumphon

● Ayuwattana Chedi to commemorate Most Venerable Somdej Phra Mahaweerawong’s (Win Thammasarathera, B.T. 9) 72nd birthday, 1979
● Achi Toh Building to commemorate Most Venerable Somdej Phra Mahaweerawong’s (Win Thammasarathera, B.T. 9) 87th birthday, 1992