Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong new Supreme Patriarch

Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong new Supreme Patriarch

Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, was chosen by His Majesty the King to be the new Supreme Patriarch. (Bangkok Post file photo)
Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, was chosen by His Majesty the King to be the new Supreme Patriarch. (Bangkok Post file photo)

His Majesty the King has chosen a senior member of the Dhammayut monastic order & former abbot of Wat Ratchabophit to be the next Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.


Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong new Supreme Patriarch

Online Reporters

His Majesty the King has chosen Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, abbot of Wat Ratchabophit, to be the 20th Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, according to Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

"I submitted the names of five qualified monks for His Majesty to consider. On Monday night, I was informed His Majesty chose Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong," Prime Minister Prayut said.

A ceremony to appoint the new Supreme Patriarch will be held at 5pm on Sunday at Wat Phra Si Rattana Satsadaram, to be presided over by the king.

Somdet Phra Maha Muniwong, 89, is of Dhammayuttika Nikaya, the Dhammayut monastic order, one of the two orders of Buddhist monks in Thailand.


On Jan 6, the Sangha Act was amended to allow the King to directly choose and appoint the Supreme Patriarch instead of going through the Sangha Council's nomination as before (see here).

Earlier, Somdet Chuang, the abbot of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen and acting Supreme Patriarch, was the candidate since he is the most senior monk in the country as stipulated by the old law.


Born in 1927 and ordained as a novice monk at the age of ten-years old, the new supreme patriarch is 89 years old and has spent almost 80 years in monasteries.

He graduated from Mahamakut Buddhist University in 1957 in religious studies and then obtained a master's degree in history and archaeology from the Banaras Hindu University in India.

Mahamakut Buddhist University presented him an honorary doctorate degree in 2009.

Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya University presented him an honorary doctorate degree in 2010.

He has been the abbot of Ratchabophit Temple in Bangkok.

He is also a member of the Sangha Supreme Council. 


Seniority, appropriateness and health were the three factors used to choose the list of candidates for royal consideration.

Candidates were chosen from from both monastic orders, the Dhammayut and the Mahanikaya.

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  • abbot (noun): the head monk at a temple - เจ้าอาวาส
  • according to (prep): as stated or reported by somebody/something - ตามคำบอกเล่า, ตามรายงาน
  • Act: a law passed by a country’s government - พ.ร.บ. พระราชบัญญัติ
  • acting: doing the work of the usual person in a particular job while they are not there, or until a new person starts - ที่รักษาการแทน
  • allow: to let somebody/something do something; to let something happen or be done - อนุญาต, ยอมรับ
  • amend: to make changes to a document, law, agreement, etc. especially in order to improve it - การแก้ไขกฎหมาย
  • appoint: to choose someone officially for a job or responsibility - แต่งตั้ง,ตั้งให้เป็น
  • appropriateness: whether something is suitable or right for a particular situation or occasion - ความเหมาะสม, ความสมควร
  • archaeology: the study of cultures of the past, and of periods of history by examining the remains of buildings and objects found in the ground - โบราณคดี
  • candidate: one of the people being considered for a job - ตัวแทนที่ส่งเข้ารับตำแหน่ง
  • ceremony (noun): a formal public event - งานพิธี
  • consider: to give careful thought to something before making a decision - พิจารณา
  • consideration: giving careful thought to something before making a decision - การคิดพิจารณา
  • council: a group of people chosen to give advice, make rules, do research, provide money - สภา, คณะกรรมการ
  • degree: the qualification obtained by students who successfully complete a university or college course - ปริญญา
  • directly (adv): in a direct line or manner; immediately - โดยตรง, ทันที
  • doctorate degree: the highest degree or qualification from a university - ปริญญาเอก
  • factors (noun): facts or situations which influence the result of something - ปัจจัย
  • history (noun): all the events that happened in the past - ประวัติศาสตร์
  • honorary: given as an honour, without the person having to have the usual qualifications; not paid - ซึ่งให้เพื่อเป็นเกียรติ; กิตติมศักดิ์
  • honorary degree: a degree given to honour someone, although they have not earned it the usual way - ปริญญากิตติมศักดิ์
  • inform: to tell somebody about something, especially in an official way - แจ้งให้ทราบ
  • instead (adv): in the place of somebody/something - แทน, แทนที่
  • master's degree: a further university degree that you study for after a first degree - ระดับปริญญาโท
  • member: a person, a country or an organization that has joined a particular group, club or team - สมาชิก
  • monastery: a building or series of buildings in which monks live, worship and work together - วัด, ที่อยู่อาศัยของพร
  • monastic (adjective): having to do with monks - เกี่ยวกับพระหรือที่อยู่ของพระ
  • nomination: an official suggestion that someone should get a job - การเสนอชื่อเข้ารับตำแหน่ง
  • novice: someone who has entered a religious community but is not yet a full member - สามเณร
  • obtain: to get something that you want or need, especially by going through a process that is difficult - ได้มา, ได้รับ
  • ordain: to officially make someone a monk or priest in a religious ceremony - บวช อุปสมบท
  • order (noun): a group of people living in a religious community, especially monks or nuns - นิกาย
  • preside (verb): to be in charge of a ceremony, official meeting, or other event - (ทรง) เป็นประธานในพิธี 
  • qualified (adj): able to do something, because you have the knowledge, skill, or experience that is needed - มีคุณวุฒิเหมาะสม, มีคุณสมบัติ
  • royal: a member of the family of a king and queen - บุคคลในราชวงศ์
  • Sangha: ordained Buddhist monks or nuns - สงฆ์
  • senior: with a high rank or position - อาวุโส
  • seniority: greater age or a more important social position - ที่อาวุโส
  • stipulate: to state exactly how something must be or must be done - ระบุ, ระบุเงื่อนไข
  • submitted (verb): formally given to someone, usually, but not always, so that they can make a decision about it - ยื่น
  • Supreme Patriarch: the head of the Buddhist monks in Thailand - พระสังฆราช
  • university (noun): a school where students study for BA, MA, MS and PhD degrees and where research is done - มหาวิทยาลัย
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