In an announcement made by Myanmar Government on the Independence Day, January 4, Sayadaw U Sobhana, the resident monk of Dhammananda Vihara, was conferred on the prestigious title “Agga Maha Saddhammajotika Dhaja”. The title is given to people for their outstanding contributions to the propagation of sasana throughout the world. Various titles were conferred on to sayadaws, nuns and laity on that auspicious day. This is the third time that a TBSA Sayadaw has been honored by the Myanmar government. On two previous occasions, Sayadaw U Silanada received Agga Maha Pandita title in 1993 and Agga Maha Saddhammajotika Dhaja in 1999, respectively.
Sayadaw U Sobhana came to the United States in 1981 per invitation of Theravada Buiddhist Society of America to reside at the Dhammamnanda Vihara Monastery in the San Francsico Bay Area to help disseminate Buddhism in America. Since then Sayadaw has taught Buddhism and Vipassana meditation to
laity especially to young students.
Sayadaw was born in Myingyan, Central Myanmar in 1921. As a young boy he studied at the American Baptist Missionary School and became a novice at the Chan Tha Gyi Monastery in Mandalay. Later in 1939, he passed the Government Intermediate examinations and sat for the Advanced Pali Text examination in 1941. He became a full-fledged monk in the higher ordination (upasampada) in 1943.
Sayadaw went to Calcutta, India in 1949 and studied Sanskrit. From 1950 to 1957, he continued his studies in English and Sanskrit in Colombo, Sri Lanka and passed General Certificate of Education (GCE) administered by University of London in 1955.
He was a member of Editorial Board (Pativitsodhaka) Sayadaws at the Tipitaka/Myanmar Dictionary Department and carried out research work on Pali Text. He also continued his sasana work as Anunakaya Sayadaw at the Japan Dhammaduta Missionary Branch of the Buddha Sasana Council. For twenty-two years, from 1959 to 1981, Sayadaw taught Pali Text and Vipasana meditation at the Bodharama Monastery in Nakhorn Sawan in Thailand as a member of the Mission sent by the Myanmar Buddha Sasana Council.
The State Ceremony was held on March 15, 2000 (Full Moon Day of Tapaung) at Kaba Aye Hlaing Gu (World Peace Cave) — the site of the Sixth Buddhist Council — in Yangon, Myanmar. Sayadaw U Sobhana, accompanied by TBSA secretary U Kyaw Tay Za, left USA on March 10 to attend the ceremony. Sayadaw received the title before an audience of 1500 attendees. Sayadaw returned to Dhammananda Vihara on March 24.