Ajarn Fan

Ajarn Fan

by Jun Wei

Ajarn Fan Ajaro (commonly spelled ‘Ajarn Fun’) was born on 20th August BE 2442 in the Pasanikom Municipality of Sakon Nakorn.  Ajarn Fan is also known as one of the Tudong Forest tradition guru monks of the mid to late twentieth century.  He started his monkhood in the Maha Nikai Lineage but later on changed to the Tammayut Forest lineage under the guidance of Ajarn Mun.

In fact, Ajarn Fan was born in a family of status with lineage but as all living beings have to contend with, he still had problems and trials in life. Some of the hardships that he encountered happened during his childhood. As a young boy, he was orderly, well kept, diligent and would engage in all his duties and chores. In fact, he had great patience towards enduring obstacles and would remain patient to keep working on whatever he was doing without getting frustrated.

He started his primary education at Wat Po Chai Temple in Muang Khai village and accompanied his older cousin to further education at Khon Kaen Town. However as he grew older he began to see the insecurity of seeking honourable status in profession and in education. It was then that he decided that he was to be ordained as a novice to follow the teaching of Buddha. He was then ordained as a novice at Wat Pone Tong in Ban Batong, which was a Maha Nikai Lineage Temple (there are two lineages in Thai Buddhism :Maha Nikai and Tammayut).

As time went on, in BE 2463 he was able to ask for apprenticeship under the guidance of Ajarn Mun and asked to change his lineage traditions into the Tammayut Nikai lineage monk. Son on 21st May BE 2468, Ajarn Fan reordained as a novice into the Tammayut Nikai at Wat Po Somporn in Udon Thani with CK Tamma Chedi (Luang Phor Joom) as his Upachaya ordaining officer.

Hence when Ajarn Fan reached the age of 20, he then officially ordained as a monk at then Wat Sit Bangkom in Pananikom, Sakon Nakorn Province with Phra Kru Bpong as his Upachaya officer. After his ordination, he started to practice Kammathana Vipassana methods of mindfulness meditation with the guidance of Phra Kru Bpong and when the rainy retreat was over, he traveled back to Wat Pone Tong where Phra Kru Samonagij was the abbot at the time and was known to be a Vipassana master.

Phra Kru Samonagij would bring Ajarn Fan on Tudong forest wandering and taught him the Tudong Kammathana methods of practice by revealing to him the ordeals of meditation in the jungle, caves, wildernesses and cemeteries.

Ajarn Fan would then continue this practice continually by wandering in the forests and preaching Dharma to the local folk wherever he visited. This caused Ajarn Fan to be known and revered by faithful devotees around the places that he visited and was a familiar name to the people of many provinces. Hence he is considered as one of the great Arya Sangha of Thai Buddhist history of great attainments and purity.

Afterwards, Ajarn Fan became the abbot of Wat Pha Udom Somporn and continued his work until he passed away on 4th January BE 2520. Nowadays, he remains to be one of the greatest Tudong monks of Ajarn Mun lineage and is an iconic symbol of Wat Pha Udom Somporn.

The teachings of Ajarn Fan are some of the most profound and understandable Dharma teachings, and are valued to be amongst the most essential teachings of the Thai Forest tradition monks along with those of Ajarn Mun, Ajarn Chah, Ajarn Lee and the other great Arya Sangha of this lineage.

Ajarn Fan would always teach people that everyone would encounter a great battle one day and the battle is with our own hearts and when the day of death arrives. As everyone of us will have to come to terms with our lives and battle to overcome our regrets, fears and reluctance to accept the way things truly are. We will have to pass through this battle alone. He teaches that if one was to resist with one thing or another, he or she will find dismay and that the only way with which people can overcome in the face of death is with Sati (calm concentration and focused diligent one pointedness).

Even the King and Queen Bow to Ajarn Fan’s mortal remains during his period of mourning. Both Royals also attended the funeral ceremony to initiate Ajarn Fan’s funeral. Ajarn Fan was given a full stately funeral ceremony with the country’s most important figures in Buddhism and the well-known Tudong monks present to pay respects and farewell.

He would teach more or less the following:

“The only true merits we can make of any long term value, are those of the practice of Sila, Samadhi, and Bhavana” – with moral precepts (Sila), concentration (Samadhi), and the practice of Vipassana (Bhavana) leads to the power to let go of clinging to things, notions, beliefs, assumptions, and suffering.

He who can let go a lot will heal suffering a lot, he who can only let go a little bit will only heal suffering a little bit, and he who knows not how to let go his sufferings will not heal”

When Ajarn Fan passed away in BE 2520, his devotees were heartbroken  and the whole country went into mourning, including the royal family. In BE 2521, his body was finally exhumed and cremated in a royal funeral ceremony with masses of devotees including the King and Queen had attended. His Majesties then performed the ceremonial honours.

Lots of monks of the Kammathana lineages and Tammayut Nikai also went to pay their respects and mourn his passing including the Somdej Prayan Sangworn, present and many other guru monks.


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