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Dissertation zugänglich unter
URN: urn:nbn:de:gbv:18-77439
URL: http://ediss.sub.uni-hamburg.de/volltexte/2016/7743/


The Life, Work and Social Roles of the Most Venerable Sathu Nyai Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela (1920-2007)

Leben, Werk und Soziale Rollen das ehrwürdigsten Sathu Nyai Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela (1920-2007)

Boulyaphonh, Khamvone

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 Dokument 1.pdf (11.369 KB) 


Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): Sathu Nyai Khamchan , Lao Sangha , Luang Prabang , Vat Saen Sukharam
Basisklassifikation: 11.93
Institut: Asien-Afrika-Institut
DDC-Sachgruppe: Religion, Religionsphilosophie
Dokumentart: Dissertation
Hauptberichter: Grabowsky, Volker (Prof. Dr.)
Sprache: Englisch
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 29.01.2016
Erstellungsjahr: 2015
Publikationsdatum: 29.02.2016
Kurzfassung auf Englisch: The following dissertation is a study of the life history, work and socio-religious roles of the Most Venerable Sathu Nyai Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela, a central figure of the Lao Sangha of Luang Prabang in the second half of the twentieth century. It mainly employs the sources in the data bank of the Buddhist Archives of Luang Prabang, which include historic photographs and written documents. With a documentary and historical focus on the intellectual biography of Sathu Nyai Khamchan, his significant works and social roles, it covers four main topics: his life as a prominent and charismatic monk, his monastic constructions, his collections of documents and art objects, and his social as well as religious practices.
The Most Venerable Sathu Nyai Khamchan was born at Ban Lakkham village, Luang Prabang on 23 September 1920, into a noble family of Luang Prabang. He was ordained as a novice for the first in 1932 and a second time from 1934 to 1938, after which he disrobed and spent his life as a laymen for three years. He was ordained as a monk at Vat Saen Sukharam on 9 June 1941 and lived in the monkhood for over sixty-six years. He also held the position of abbot of Vat Saen Sukharam and chairman of the Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organization of Luang Prabang province until his demise. He passed away unexpectedly from heart failure at his monastery in Luang Prabang on 9 July 2007.
The Venerable Abbot was a charismatic monk who served as a role model for many monks and novices in Luang Prabang, who tried to emulate him. He was highly respected by monks, novices and lay people of the old royal capital of Luang Prabang, which has been the spiritual center of Lao Buddhism and culture since ancient times and was the seat of the Supreme Patriarch until 1975. Sathu Nyai Khamchan’s outstanding works include the constructions and restorations of Vat Saen Sukharam and many other monasteries in the style of modern Lao Lan Xang architecture. Moreover, the Most Venerable Abbot led numerous Buddhist ceremonies, rituals and other festivals in accordance with the rules of the Sangha. He traveled to visit seventeen countries in the world. His travels reflect the important role of his personality in promoting the Lao Sangha’s relationships with the Sangha organizations of other Buddhist countries in South and Southeast Asia. Finally, by preserving his collections and making them available for study, he was the decisive figure who allowed for the setting up of the Buddhist Archive of Photography in Luang Prabang and the Museum of Buddhist Art at Vat Saen Sukharam.
Sathu Nyai Khamchan served as an abbot for a long time (60 years) in one of the most prominent monasteries of Luang Prabang. He developed very close relations to the highest-ranking individuals of the Lao Sangha hierarchy and rose up to high positions within the Sangha himself. When he passed away, he left behind a huge corpus of documents and artefacts, which have enabled us to reconstruct his life history and learn more about his roles in the Sangha. Therefore, studying Sathu Nyai Khamchan’s life and work is in many ways representative of a study of the social roles and practices of the Lao Sangha as a whole.
My personal interest in Sathu Nyai Khamchan comes from the experiences I had when I stayed in Vat Saen Sukharam as a novice and later as a monk from 1992 to 1996, while working with him on the publication of his biography, and while researching the historic photographs of his collection. During my stay at Vat Saen Sukharam, the other monks, novices and I often listened to the instructions Sathu Nyai Khamchan gave after the evening chants. He told often of his own life story, the history of Vat Saen Sukharam, and other stories about Luang Prabang and Laos in general. During the three months of the Buddhist Lent, his talks had an extremely strong focus on the Buddhist teachings and practices of monastic discipline. I was also assigned by him to take care of the sim at Vat Saen Sukharam, where the morning and evening chanting ceremonies take place, which, together with my attendance at the Buddhist festivals and ceremonies held for the community, gave me a chance to get to know him even better.
Through my engagement at the monastery, I was able to observe his methods of practice and instruction as well as his lifestyle, which inspired in me a deep respect for him. He was kind enough to act as the sponsor and preceptor of my ordination–together with two other monks–and also the preceptor at the ceremony itself, which was organized on 4 October 1995. In August 2006 and 2007, I worked on a project of the Buddhist Archive of Photography in Luang Prabang under the direction of Hans Georg Berger, a German photographer and writer, with the goal of preserving the historic photographs of Sathu Nyai Khamchan’s collection for research and public display. I worked with Sathu Nyai Khamchan in order to add annotations to photographs which were at the time still unidentified or uncaptioned. Furthermore, during my work on the project “The Lao Sangha and Modernity” directed by Prof. Dr. Volker Grabowsky of the Asia-Africa Institute at Hamburg University, which features Sathu Nyai Khamchan’s collections of written documents including personal letters and official documents as well as religious books and journals, I found a plethora of additional interesting information about Sathu Nyai Khamchan’s life and work. After all this, I realized that, despite the difficulties posed by writing about one’s own master, it is vital that I make this attempt in order to provide my own contribution to the development of such a significant project.
Kurzfassung auf Deutsch: Die vorliegende Arbeit behandelt das Leben, Wirken und die sozialen Rollen des Ehrwürdigen Sathu Nyai Khamchan Virachitta Maha Thela, der Abt von Vat Saen Sukharam und Vorsitzender der „Lao Buddhist Fellowship Organization” der laotischen Provinz Luang Prabang. Er zählt zu den bemerkenswertesten laotischen Intellektuellen und ist einer der erfolgreichsten laotischen Mönche des 20. Jahrhunderts. Der ehrwürdige Abt war ein charismatischer Mönch, bekannt für seine strikte Einhaltung der Ordensregeln und ein Vorbild für viele der Mönche und Novizen in Luang Prabang.
In der alten königlichen Hauptstadt Luang Prabang, von alters her das spirituelle Zentrum des laotischen Buddhismus und bis 1975 Sitz des Obersten Patriarchen (saṅgharāja), genoss Sathu Nyai Khamchan den höchsten Respekt der Mönche, Novizen und Laien. Zu seinen herausragenden Tätigkeiten zählten Bau- und Renovationsarbeiten in einer von ihm selbst entwickelten modernen Variante des architektonischen Stils von Lan Xang in Tempelgebäuden in Vat Saen Sukahram und vielen weiteren Klöstern. Außerdem schuf der ehrwürdige Abt eine Fassung des in Laos sehr populären Vessantara Jataka in moderner laotischer Schrift. In den 1990er Jahren wurde Sathu Nyai Khamchan zu der zentralen Person der buddhistischen Gemeinschaften in Luang Prabang und ganz Nordlaos. Er leitete fortan zahllose buddhistische Zeremonien, Rituale und Feste nach den Regeln des Sangha.
Der ehrenwerte Abt war ein passionierter Sammler; er sammelte über fünfzehntausend historische Fotografien, zweitausend Kunstobjekte sowie offizielle Dokumente, persönliche Briefe und Palmblattmanuskripte in seiner Hütte im Vat Saen Sukharam. Er war schließlich die ausschlaggebende Person für die Schaffung des Buddhistischen Archives der Fotografie in Luang Prabang 2007 und des Museums für Buddhistische Kunst im Vat Saen Sukharam.
Diese Arbeit untersucht auch die sozio-religiösen Netzwerke des ehrenwerten Abtes, welche anhand seiner Reisen inner- und außerhalb von Laos analysiert werden. Seine Reisen in über siebzehn Länder – Pilgerreisen, private und offizielle Besuche – dokumentieren nicht nur Sathu Nyai Khamchans eigene Rolle im laotischen Sangha, sondern spiegeln auch die in der Forschung oftmals vernachlässigte Integration des laotischen Sangha in der Welt des Theravada-Buddhismus wider. Die Besuche des ehrwürdigen Abtes bei der laotischen Diaspora im Westen zeigen darüber hinaus, welche Bedeutung charismatische Äbte für die Verbindung der Lao in Diaspora mit ihrem Heimatland besaßen.
Der Fokus der Arbeit liegt auf der intellektuellen Biografie des Ehrenwerten Sathu Nyai Khamchan und den Ergebnissen von historischer Forschung und Dokumentenanalyse, sowie der über einen längeren Zeitraum an den Buddhistischen Archiven von Luang Prabang, Laos, vorgenommene Archiv- und Feldforschung. Die Arbeit stützt sich auf die umfangreichen Sammlungen von historischen Fotografien, Manuskripten, Dokumenten, persönlichen Briefe und buddhistischer Kunstgegenstände, die der ehrenwerte Abt über einen Zeitraum von mehr als sechzig Jahren in seinem Kloster erstellte. Basierend auf diesem bislang nicht zugänglichen Quellenmaterial ermöglicht die vorliegende Arbeit – über einen rein biografischen Ansatz hinausgehend – eine neue Sicht auf die Entwicklung des laotischen Buddhismus im 20. Jahrhundert.

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