Thongsuk Samdaengpan

Thongsuk Samdaengpan was an eminent Buddhist nun and one of a rare few female masters of meditation. She is notable together with Chandra Khonnokyoong for linking the lineage of the Dhammakaya Movement from Phramonkolthepmuni down to the third generation and for having been co-originator with Chandra Khonnokyoong, of the ceremony for ‘offering sustenance to the Lord Buddha’ (Puja Kao Phra) which has subsequently become an identifying feature of the Dhammakaya Movement.

Thongsuk Samdaengpan was born on 1 August 1900 at Baan Saphan Lueang, Bangrak District, Bangkok. She was the third born to her father Rom and mother Wan. She was separated from her parents at an early age, being adopted by her uncle and aunt instead. She had no formal education and was illiterate.

She married Dr. Chin Samdaengpan, a surgeon at Chulalongkorn Hospital. They had two children together before the untimely death of her husband - from which time onwards, Thongsuk Samdaengpan had to support herself and her children working as a salesperson.

In 1930, Thongsuk Samdaengpan started to study meditation at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen under the instruction of Phramonkolthepmuni using the Dhammakaya Meditation technique, being able to attain the Dhammakaya by 1935. She was accepted as a researcher in Phramonkolthepmuni’s Meditation Workshop while being allowed to teach meditation outside the temple in Bangkok households, such as that of Liap Sikanchananand.

In 1936 she accepted Chandra Khonnokyoong as her student. In 1938, she went on a one-month meditation retreat at Wat Paknam, at the end of which she renounced the worldly life together with Chandra Khonnokyoong and both ordained as nuns (mae ji) at Wat Paknam.

Thongsuk Samdaengpan became an exceptionally gifted Dhamma teacher, answering questions in a way that was easy to understand and helping meditators overcome hindrances. She travelled around Thailand to spread the Dhamma and teach Dhammakaya Meditation according to the policy of Phramongkolthepmuni – sometimes accompanied by Mae Ji Thean Theerawat, sometimes by Chandra Khonnokyoong. She had occasion to teach in eighteen provinces which included Nakhon Pathom, Ratchaburi, Sing Buri, Chachoengsao, Chonburi, Prachinburi, Chiang Mai, Nakhon Sawan and Phitsanulok and was therefore notable as one of the leading teachers of Buddhism in Thailand at that time.

She was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1960 and died of this on 3 February 1963 at Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen aged 63, having been a nun for 25 years.