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Today the nation of Thailand and the entire Buddhist community are mourning the loss of His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand, Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Suvaddhana Mahathera, who died at Chulalongkorn Hospital Thursday evening.
The nation drew its breath as statements were released with regards to His Holiness’s heath, then the heartbreaking ninth statement that was released by the hospital on Thursday that said the overall condition of His Holiness has worsened and he died at 7-30pm of sepsis, a blood infection. He had received surgery to treat an intestinal infection on October 14th. A group of monks and Buddhists who were following his condition joined in prayer to ask for his condition to improve, sadly their prayers were not answered.
A statement released by the Royal Household Bureau said that His Majesty the King has acknowledged the death of His Holiness with deep sorrow. His Majesty instructed that the Supreme Patriarch’s body should lie in state at Phra Tamnak Petch at Wat Bowon Niwet in Bangkok and that palace officials must wear black for 15 days, starting Friday.
Members of the public who want to pay their respects to the body of His Holiness can do so at Chulalongkorn Hospital’s Wachirayannawong Building from 9am until noon Friday before his body is moved from the hospital to the Manusayanak Witthayatharn Building at Wat Bowon Niwet and are invited to attend the bathing rite before a pictures of the Supreme Patriarch at the Manusayanak Witthayatharn Building in the compound of Wat Bowon Niwet from 1pm daily.
Tongthong Chandransu, the Prime Minister’s Office permanent secretary said on Thursday that the government has declared a fifteen day period of mourning for His Holiness with flags to be lowered to half mast for three days. Government officials have also been instructed to wear black for fifteen days.
The Supreme Patriarch has been suffering from ill health since 2002 when he was admitted to Chulalongkorn Hospital. He had his one hundredth birthday on October 3rd and more than three thousand people came to the hospital to sign the well-wishers book. He was born on October 1913 in Kanchanaburi province and was formerly known as Charoen Gajavatra. He completed Prathom 5 at the age of 14, he was ordained as a novice at Wat Devasangaram (Wat Nua), Kanchanaburi.
A year later, Novice Charoen was accepted by Somdet Phra Vajirananavong, the abbot of Wat Bowon Niwet to undertake Buddhist studies, completing the basic curriculum as well as learning the Pali language. His Majesty the King bestowed the title of Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara ( a special honour in the Thai monastic hierarchy reserved for monks who excelled in Vipassana meditation that had not been granted in over one hundred and fifty years) to Phra Sasanasobhon in 1972. The World Buddhist Supreme Conference last year bestowed the title of the Supreme Holiness of World Buddhism on the Supreme Patriarch during a Buddhist summit in Japan, attended by Sangha leaders from 32 nationals worldwide.