- Topics & Settings
Abbot Dr. Ashin Osadhasara
Born in Monywa, Burma in 1964, a city of over a million people, Dr. Ashin Osadhasara (Ashin is an honorific akin to master, used for all monks and is synonymous with Sayadaw in Burmese)1 first went through the youth ordination process of Shinpyu at seven years old. His parents, farmers who lived just outside of the city, and his uncle, a respected abbot, encouraged him to become fully ordained follow the path toward becoming a monk. His love of the traditions and his culture drove him to seriously consider the proposition. When he was 10 years old he began to study to become a monk. After studying Buddhist teachings, philosophy, and meditation at a monastery in Monywa, he finally decided to make the commitment at age 17. Three years later, he would be fully ordained at a monastery in Mandalay in 1984.
Spending 4 years in continued study of Buddhist teachings, philosophy, and history at Masoeyein Monastery in Mandalay, he achieved a bachelor’s degree in the Pali language, meditation, and Buddhist teachings. From there, he pursued a master’s degree and Ph.D. at Magadh University in India in Buddhist studies, also learning Hindi/Urdu. He then returned to Burma to serve as a professor and Prorector at Sitagu International Buddhist Academy, in addition to being a lecturer at the New Masoeyin Monastery.
After this, he was assigned to serve Burmese communities abroad. He first spent three years living in England, helping a friend with sleep apnea and making periodical visits to 18 different countries in mainland Europe to displaced Burmese communities in need of a monk’s guidance. He spent his time giving lectures about Buddhist teachings and meditation spending the majority of his time in mainland Europe with communities in Finland. Currently there are approximately 20 monks in England who have continued his work, spending 2 months at a time traveling throughout Europe to various communities.
It was in 1999 that the about first came to America. He was sent by Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, known in Burms as Sitagu Sayadaw, to take care of the Sitagu Buddha Vihara in Austin, Texas and practice his English. He later relocated to Baltimore in 2010 to take care of his master with whom he studied in India, A.M. Pandita, who had recently suffered a stroke. He remained there until 2015, when he was recruited by Sitagu Dhamma Vihara to be the abbot here in MN while his Master Pandita returned to Burma.
Dr. Ashin Osadhasara is currently the senior monk of the Theravada Dhamma Society of America and resides at the Sitagu Dhamma Vihara. At the monastery, Abbot Osadhasara’s obligations include guiding the community spiritually, mentally, and emotionally, passing on knowledge of Burmese culture to the next generation, leading meditation, and performing rituals during holidays. He keeps in regular contact with Dr. Ashin Nyanissara, sending weekly reports to inform him about the development of the vihara. “Temples are very different in Burma than what we are building,” Abbot Osadhasara recounted, speaking of the difference between developing a monastery in Burma in comparison to Minnesota, “they are more difficult to built here.”
The abbot mentions how he has enjoyed most places he has been to in his travels but that he especially likes Minnesota because local residents are more patient here with his accent and are very friendly. One memory he shared was when a few laborers showed the residents of the monastery how to use a lawnmower to cut the grass, a feat which can take up to three hours.2