The Sayadaw Dr. Rewata Dhamma

El Sayadaw Dr. Rewata Dhamma

The Sayadaw (religious master) Dr. Rewata Dhamma was the Founder and Spiritual Director of Birmingham Buddhist Vihara and Dhammatalaka Peace Pagoda, dedicated to the XVI Gyalwa Karmapa, Rangjung Dorje, where He passed away peacefully in the early morning on Wednesday 26th of May 2004. Though he is not with us physically, the principle, guidance and institute that he has originated for the propagation of Dharma will never disappear.
The Sayadaw Dr. Rewata Dhamma was born in Myanmar in December 1929 and was brought up in the rural village of Thamangol in the Hanthada District on the banks of the Irrawaddy. Entering the monastery as a young novice, he took full monastic ordination at the age of 20. After studying Theravada Buddhism under several eminent scholar monks, he passed the highest examination in scriptural studies at the age of 23, and was awarded with the prestigious title of “Sasanadhaja-siripavara dhammacariya” in 1953. The following year he was among those helping during the Sixth General Sangha Council held in Rangoon to establish the scriptures. In 1956, he went to India to study Hindi and Sanskrit as a state scholar, and then continued to study Indian philosophy and Mahayana Buddhism at the Varanasi University. He obtained an MA in Sanskrit in 1964 and a PH.D in 1967. During his stay in India, he wrote, translated and edited several books in Pali and Hindi, most published by the Varanasi Sanskrit University. One of these, Abhidhammatha Sangaha, with Hindi translation and his own commentary written in Hindi, was awarded with the Kalidasa prize from the Hindi Academy as one of the outstanding books of the year in 1967. Subsequently, he joined the university's academic staff and acted as general editor of a Buddhist encyclopedia.
While in India he was in contact with all sorts of people. He was on the committee that welcomed the Dalai Lama after his flight to India and had many personal audiences with him since. More curiously, he was invited to Peking at the very height of the Cultural Revolution to attend the death-bed of Prince Sihanouk's mother. Importantly for his future plans, during this period he also became custodian of the Buddha relics, once belonging to the Burmese royal family.
In 1975, following the Karmapa petition, Dr Rewata Dhamma went to England, where he lived with the Venerable Lama Thubten and the Venerable Lama Lodro in Karma Ling, Birmingham, seat of Tai Situpa Rinpochein England.  Alter some years, he also established in Birmingham a Buddhist Vihara, where he stayed up to he passed away.
From there he journeyed to lead retreats and teach Buddhism at various centers in Europe, and in North, Central and South America After years of planning, in 1998 he accomplished the building of Dhamma Talaka Peace Pagoda, dedicated to His Holiness the XVI Karmapa, as a suitable resting place for the royal relics. During this time also, Dr Rewata Dhamma's non-political stance and dedication to the cause of reconciliation gained the confidence, not simply of bodies like International Amnesty and the UN, but ultimately of the Myanmar government.
His high reputation in Asia made him much in demand at international and governmental conferences and his gentle, humorous and compassionate demeanor won him friends and admirers all over the world. In 2002, the Myanmar Government granted him the high title of Aggamahapandita. For many years, he was the Vice President of the World Buddhist Sangha Council.
The Sayadaw wrote in English numerous articles and several highly esteemed books on Buddhism, among them the following: Abhidhammattha Sangaha, Comprehensive Manual of Abhidhamma (Buddhist Publication Society, Kandy, Sri Lanka, 1993) or The First Discourse of the Buddha (first published by Dhamma Talaka Publications, Birmingham, in 1995; 2nd edition from Wisdom Publications, Boston, USA, in 1997). He has also translated the Theravada Maha Paritta chanting book (Dhamma Talaka Publications, 1996) and The Buddha and His Disciples appeared from Dhamma Talaka Publications in 2001.
His most recently published book, Emptying the Rose Apple Seat (Triple Gem Publications, Singapore, 2004), encompasses Buddhist meditation techniques. Fortunately, the Sayadaw received an advance copy of this, but the promotional copies did not arrive until the day after his death. His final, perhaps his most outstanding book, has yet to go to press. This is titled Process and Consciousness and Matter, explaining in detail all aspects of the thought and matter processes according to the Abhidharma.

(Extracted from the Web page www.birminghambuddhistvihara.org and reviewed by Trikaya)