Phra Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thera and the Preservation of the Lao Cultural Heritage in Luang Prabang
Citable Link (URL):http://resolver.sub.uni-goettingen.de/purl?gs-1/11834
First published on GoeScholar 2014
DORISEA working paper; 12
Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela, the late abbot of Vat Saen Sukharam and chairman of the Buddhist Fellowship Organization of the province of Luang Prabang, was one of the most outstanding Lao intellectuals of the 20th century. The Venerable Abbot was a charismatic monk who served as a model for many monks and novices in Luang Prabang, who tried to emulate him. He was highly respected by the people of the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, which has been the spiritual centre of Lao Buddhism since ancient times and the seat of the Supreme Patriarch until 1975. Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela’s outstanding works include the constructions and reconstructions of Vat Saen Sukharam and many other monasteries in the style of modern Lao Lan Xang architecture. Moreover, the Venerable Abbot led numerous Buddhist ceremonies, rituals and other festivals in accordance with the rules of the Sangha. Finally, he was the decisive figure to set up the Buddhist Archive of Photography in Luang Prabang (2007) and the Museum of Buddhist Art at Vat Saen Sukharam. Based on a large corpus of historic photographs, manuscripts, documents, personal letters, as well as Buddhist art objects which the Venerable Abbot kept at his monastery over a period of more than fifty years, this paper aims at studying monastic life in Luang Prabang by focusing on the intellectual biography of Pha Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela.