Thailand's top Buddhist leader dies aged 100
BANGKOK, Thailand – Thailand's Supreme Patriarch died Thursday, October 24 at the age of 100, plunging the deeply Buddhist kingdom into mourning for its most senior monk.
Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the country's top Buddhist leader, died of a blood infection following recent surgery for an intestinal infection, according to a statement from Chulalongkorn Hospital where he had been receiving treatment.
He had been hospitalized for more than a decade. Details of his funeral have not yet been announced.
The respected cleric–a friend of the Dalai Lama–was born Charoen Gajavatra on October 3, 1913 in the western Thai province of Kanchanaburi and ordained as a novice when he was 14 years old.
He became Supreme Patriarch in 1989 and was revered among Buddhists worldwide.
Last year the World Fellowship of Buddhists bestowed the title of "Sangha Leader of the Buddhist World" on the Supreme Patriarch at a meeting in Japan.
In recent years Thailand's Buddhist clergy has been beset by scandals with local media reporting cases of drug-taking, drinking, gambling and visiting prostitutes among monks.
Earlier this year a videotape showing 3 monks travelling in a private jet, wearing sunglasses and carrying a Louis Vuitton luxury bag triggered fierce debate about the lavish lifestyles of some clerics. – Rappler.com