The Biography of ACARA SUVANNO BHIKKHU the Monk of Beautiful Discipline as narrated to Y.K. Leong
Size: 5.9” X 8.6”
Pages: 156 pages
IT WAS 6.30am on 19th July 1980 and Khoo Eng Kim had no intention of awakening his beloved wife. Quietly taking a few belongings, he crept out of the house, threw the key back, and prepared to walk out of the gate. But to his consternation, the gate was locked! Unable to go through, he tried to climb over. However, his surprised neighbor, who was a policeman, saw him and asked what he was doing. Eng Kim told the neighbor he was going outstation and did not wish to disturb his sleeping wife. The neighbor helped him over the gate.
And at the age of 60, Eng Kim was on his way to become a monk. It was not easy making that decision because he lived his wife dearly. “After being married for 38 years, I cannot find a woman better than you,“ he later wrote her, having taken care of all her material needs before his departure. Eventually, she too came to understand and accept his decision, and offered him robes as a demonstration of her love and support for him. Twenty years as a monk is no mean feat for a man who renounced late in life.
In the Theravadan Buddhist tradition a monk who reaches his 20th year in the robes is called a Mahathera (A Great Elder). Eng Kim now 80 and better know as Venerable or Bhante Suvanno has become a household name among Theravadan Buddhists in Malaysia. He is especially well known for his witty and inspiring Dhamma talks delivered in colloquial Penang Hokkien. Thousands of cassette tapes of his talks have circulated among the Buddhist laity throughout Malaysia; many have come to know Buddhism through listening to his talks.
Presently the abbot of Lunas Buddhist Hermitage in Kedah and Mi Tor See Buddhist Centre in Penang, Bhante Suvanno is well loved by his many devotees both young and old. He is, despite his age, still actively teaching the Dhamma and this he does, no doubt, out of great compassion for the people. Bhante Suvanno is one of those who have changed the landscape of Theravada Buddhism in Malaysia – he has contributed to the rejuvenation of Theravada Buddhism and the clearing of wrong views, superstitions, and misconceptions among the Theravadan Buddhist laity.
While everybody wants to be a somebody, Bhante Suvanno has always wanted to be a nobody and this, too, we can say he has achieved in the since that despite his fame and popularity as a Dhamma speaker and teacher, he has, at heart, remained a very simple, humble, and contented monk.
It is befitting that grateful devotees wanting to enshrine the memory of a beloved teacher for posterity, have marked Bhante Suvanno’s 20th year as a monk by sponsoring the publication of this biography for free distribution. As Bhante Suvanno would say by way of merit-sharing: “May all beings everywhere be happy. May they be awakened and liberated from all suffering. Sadhu! Sadhu! Sadhu!”