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Short Biography of Most Highest Holiness

Venerable Sadhanananda Mahathera

(Bana Bhante)
By: Ven. Pragya Jyoti,
Goldfields Meditation Centre,
On 8th January 2010, Australia

The Jummaland (Chittagong Hill Tracts) is situated in the South-

Eastern part of the Bangladesh. The total population of Buddhists is
nearly 3 million roughly. They are
Chakmas, Tanchangyas, Mros or
Murungs, Chaks, Marmas, and
Baruas. The Chakmas,
Tanchangyas, Mros, Chaks and
Marmas are living in Jummaland
since pre-historic periods. The
Tanchanyas, Chaks and Mros are
the sub-tribe of Chakmas.
Approximately, 90% of Buddhists
(Chakmas, Tanchangyas, Chaks,
Mros and Marmas) are living in the
Jummaland and the rest 10%
(Baruas) living in the plain districts.
They all are the followers of the
Theravada Traditional Buddhism.
Most Highest Holiness Venerable Sadhanananda Mahathera is
well known as “Bana Bhante” which means Forest Monk. Prior of
his receive Novice Monk (Shramanera) Ordination; his house-hold
name was Mr. Ratindra Chakma. He was born on January 8, 1920
at the Dhanapata, Moroghona village of Maghban Mouza under the
Rangamati jurisdiction, the then Chakma Royal Kingdom (now
Jummaland or Chittagong Hill Tracts,
Bangladesh). Later, the Moroghona village
along with thousands of Jumma villages as
well as Chakma Royal Palace was submerged
under the water by the Kaptai Hydro-
Electrical Project in 1964-65. Mr. Ratindra
belongs from middle class family of Chakma
Nation. His father name was Mr. Haru Mohan
Chakma and mother Mrs. Birpudi Chakma.
He was the eldest son of his parents. He has
four brothers and one sister.
Since his early life, Mr. Ratindra was very
gentle, honest, polite, kind, noble, and
religious. Occasionally, he used to practice meditation in a
secluded place in the midst of his works and studies. He was
educated up to class four standards only from their village primary
school. As he was not interested in general study, he gives up for
further education. Even, he is not interest to join with others
children to play. In comparison to others, he was different by nature
and was averse to enjoying pleasure and comfort. However, he
would spend most of his time in studying history, science,
literature, religious books and the books relating to the biographies
of the famous writers, poets, philosophers, and scientists. He was
read life story of the famous authors like Poet Rabindra Nath
Tagore, Kamini Roy, and even Ramayana and Mahabharata. He
earned an enormous inspiration for the future course of life through
the reading of books. But, he also interested to watching the
dramas and theatres and listening the Folklore (Kabigaan) in the
village. He was deeply thinking after listening and watching it. He
realized that the life is just like a drama with full of suffering.
One day in 1924, at the age of five, Mr. Ratindra was meditating in
a secluded place and suddenly visions arise to him. After a while
vision was disappeared and then he was clearly realized and
understood about the vision which is the sign of the light of wisdom.
Since then, he practice meditation frequently in secluded place,
whenever gets chance.
In around 1940-41, Mr. Ratindra was an employee by Mr. Biraj
Mohan Dewan in a shop at Rangamati Bazar. During those days Mr.
Dewan was Headman as well as landlord. Even though, never
happy with his wealthy and always express unsatisfactory and
suffered mentally. Mr. Ratindra carefully observes and remarks on
Mr. Dewan opinions and expressions.
When turned 29 years old, Mr. Ratindra was faced one of the
remarkable episode in his life – which is given an opportunity to
renounced the world. It was an eleven year old girl, the only
children of their parent suddenly died in their village. All of her
relatives and villagers came and get together. The dead body was
kept aside near the veranda. On the other-hand, the parent and
relatives of the dead body’s crying loudly. Sometimes hitting their
fore-head; sometime hitting their head with trees, sometimes hitting
their chest, sometime become senseless, etc. A young Ratindra is
watching carefully all this scenarios silently from one side. He
realized that one day, he has to die like this girl and also have to cry
like her parents and relatives. After watching this episode, he
strongly determined that he will not be joining in the worldly life.
He will renounce the world for searching the truth of this suffering
like the Enlightened One.
After few days of that episode, Mr. Ratindra decided to meet Ven.
Dipankar Srigyan Mahathera, who was Chief Abbot of the Nandan
Kanan Buddhist Temple, Chittagong (here Mahathera is pali and
Mahasthavir is Bengali. I prepare Pali). By
the help of Dr. Gajendra Lal Barua, he met
Ven. Mahathera and was ordained as a
Novice monk (Shramanera) under him in
1949 at the age of 29; which was full moon
day in the month of March. His Novice-
hood named was given Ven. Ratindra
Shramanera by his Preceptor.
During his stay at Nandan Kanan, Ven.
Ratindra was diligently studies many
Buddhist religious books whatever he got
in the Temple library as well as from his Preceptor. After 3/4
months studies he became well-known about the teaching of
Buddha on theoretical knowledge. But, he is not much happy with
that and he always thinking about practical approach. He always
ask himself –Where and how it possible to achieve spiritual
wisdom? Shaving head, wearing saffron robes and wandering here
and there is no use, if I unable to achieve supreme wisdom. He also
remarks on his Preceptor that- “Preceptor always expresses by
himself - oh! Suffering; oh! Very suffering; oh! Life is full of suffering;
and so on”. But, Ven. Ratindra did not understand that his
Preceptor’s suffering means. He think that- his Preceptor is highly
educated, scholar, teacher, highly respected and prominent monk.
What he doesn’t have? What he want? Why expressing suffering?
One day, Ven. Ratindra went to meet to his Preceptor. He pays
homage to him, after that he sit one side with join palm and ask a
question. Bhante! Can you tell me-What is and how is feeling of
“Spiritual Wisdom”? His Preceptor replied! Ven. Ratindra, I did
not achieve that goal. I do not have any ideas about it. So, I am
sorry. After got unsatisfactory answered from his Preceptor; Ven.
Ratindra started thinking deeply and realized that his Preceptor is
Tripitaka scholar as well as first B.A graduate monk in those days
that he failed to answer my question – than nobody will be able to
answer it. He determined that he have to go for searching the
Spiritual Wisdom by himself.
He asks the permission from
his Preceptor to leave Nandan
Kanan in order to find out it.
So, after got permission, he
decided to leave Nandan
Kanan at the end of 1949 and
went to Chitmorong Buddhist
Temple, one of the oldest
Temple in Chakma Royal
Kingdom. During his stay at
there, he was asked the same questions to the Chief Abbot of the
Temple, what he was asked to his Preceptor. The Chief Abbot also
failed to answer. Instead of that- he comment to him, “It is not easy,
it is very difficult and impossible task that for ordinary monks and
novices like you and me to achieve that goal”. After few months
there, Ven. Ratindra left the temple and took shelter in the dense
forest. After wandering a month, he arrived at Dulyasuri Buddhist
Temple. Even there, he failed to find the suitable secluded place for
him to meditate. After a month later, he left the Dulyasuri and went
Reingkyan Kengrasuri Buddhist Temple under the Bilaisuri Police
Station. He did not have any suitable and secluded place there too.
After few weeks, he decided to wander again in order to find a
suitable place for practice. So, he was many places, such as Betagi
Aranya Kutir, Rauzan, and Kaptai dense forest, etc. as a wandering
ascetic novice monk before reaching Dhanapata.
Before Dhanapata, Ven. Ratindra achieves some sort sainthood
during his wandering periods in the dense forest. We can say, First
Psychic Power – while he was living in the dense forest in between
Dhanapata and Kosalyagona areas. On one remarkable night, it was
heavily rain with strong storms and thundered in those areas where
he uses to live. In the morning, he came nearest village is called
Chongrasuri for alms-round with fully dried robes. When see him
without any sign of wets in his robes, the villager became
surprised. The villagers started talking each other about him. Later,
the news had spread all over. So, that was the first “Psychic
Power” shown by the Ven. Ratindra to the public, most probably it
was happened after 8/9 months of his Novice-hood.
When Ven. Ratindra arrived at Dhanapata in end of 1949, he
chooses the dense forest of those areas and will be suitable for him
to practice. So, firmly decided not to move anywhere any more
until and unless reach his final goal. He also thinking deeply, how
he will be progress his practice without teacher. Later, he firmly
determined to practice in order to achieved and final discover the
blissful wisdom by any means like the great Scientist Sir Isaac
Newton - who discovered the Laws of Motion and Gravitation;
Galileo Galilei – who discovered the Law of the Pendulum; Neil
Armstrong - first man to walk on the moon; and Lord Buddha
discovered blissful Nibbana, by their determination, dedication,
hard works, effort and sacrifices. He took oath to observe minimum
Five Duthanga (Kammathana) out of 13 and determined to become
more ascetic life style monk in the dense forest.
Ven. Ratindra secluded place was very far from the village.
Nobody does know where he meditate, eats, sleep, drink, etc. He
depends on alms-round (Pindapat) from the nearest village only.
During the rainy season, he comes to collect alms food only after
every 3/4 days. During the winter faced cold without enough
woolen clothes. He carried with him only tri-civaras (three robes)
as part of his ascetic practice, which is called “Tri-civaric
Duthanga”. After around 5/6 years (1954/55) in the dense forest, he
became popular on his ascetic life style and practice. Later, the
villagers built a hut (first hut) for him
at the bank of Jogonasuri River after
got permission from him and invited
to stay there. He also meditated many
months under a Bodhi Tree near his
hut. About two years later in 1957, a
piece of land donated by Mr. Tejmoni
Chakma for the construction of a hut
at Selajghat. The villagers built the
second hut and invited him to stay
there. It became permanent hut till he
was at Dhanapata. So, from 1949-1960
(around 11 years), he was diligently
in concentration at a stretch for 11
years in solitude. When he come in the village to alms-round,
people call him Ratindra Shraman and later became well-known
as Bana Sadhak (Bana means forest and Sadhak means meditator)
which meaning is “practicing meditation in the forest”. During
this 11 years period of times, the villagers had proved many ways,
through his psychic power that “Bana Sadhak became an
enlightened being”. Since, His name and fame spread all over the
county and abroad as “Bana Bhante”.
As mentioned earlier, thousands of villages, Chakma Royal Palace
including Bana Bhante’s hut and dense forest areas started
submerging under the water in 1960 by the Kaptai Hydro-Electrical
Project. All villagers compelled to move from their ancestral land to
different places and directions. The Dhanapata villager moved to
Diginala, northern part of the Kingdom. Bana Bhante was spent
many days without the villager. Later, he could not found any
people for alms-round. After a month, a close lay supporter Mr.
Nishi Moni Chakma and others on behalf of the villager came to
invite and to take him to Diginala in the end of 1960. The villager
constructed a small hut for him to practice meditation at Diginala,
which was secluded and far from their village. After came there,
started diligently ascetic practice again.
After few months later at Diginala, the lay supporters organize a Full
Ordination Ceremony (Bhikkhu Upasampada) after obtained
permission from Bana Bhante. So, in the middle of 1961, Ven.
Ratindra Shramanera took Full Ordination as a Bhikkhu under the
Preceptor of Ven. Gunalankar Mahathera at the age of 41. Many
prominent monks were present during his ordination ceremony;
such as Ven. Jinavamsa Mahathera, Ven. Ananda Mitra Mahathera,
Ven. Rajguru Aggavamsa Mahathera, and Ven. Gyanasri Thera and
so on. His full ordination named given as Ven. Sadhanananda
Bhikkhu. So, from 1949-1961 (12 years), he was meditated as an
ascetic Novice Monk at Dhanapata and Diginala dense forest. Prior
of his Bhikkhu Ordination, he never accepted any invitation from
the public. After his Bhikkhu Ordination, he started to accept public
invitation with strict condition according to Vinaya. He was for 10
years (1961-70) after his Full Ordination at Diginala.
In middle of 1970, Bana Bhante was shifted to Dursuri from
Diginala and was 6/7 months there. Later on earnest request from
Mr. Anil Bihari Chakma
(Headman and Chairman)
moved to Tintilya of Longadu
at the end of 1970. In 1971,
after 11 years (11 Vassa = Rain
Retreat) of his Bhikkhu-hood,
Bana Bhante started giving
Dhamma Discourses publicly
on his Spiritual journey and
achievements. According to
the Vinaya (disciplinary rules
and code of conduct in
Buddhism), a ordinary
Bhikkhu, who not reach
minimum 10 Vassa, which
means 10 years of his
Bhikkhu-hood would not
allowed him to be in-charge (Abbot) of a Monastery or Temple as
well as not permitted to give Dhamma Discourses publicly. Prior of
that, he must have to stay and studies Dhamma-Vinaya under his
Preceptor or senior Bhikkhu until reach 10 Vassa. But, in case of
Bana Bhante, question does not arise. He already enlightened,
when he was in Dhanapata as an ascetic Novice monk.
During his stay at Tintilya in 1973 for the first time in history
“Kathina Chivara Dana” was offered to him by the lay supporters,
which first introduced by the Chief female lay benefactor named
Visaka during the life time of Exalted One. It was the most
remarkable event in Buddhist history in Chakma Royal Kingdom.
Chakma Rajmata Benita Roy, Royal family members and devotees
from Rangamati was also attended in the Katina Ceremony. Headed
by Chakma Rajmata Benita Roy, they invited to Bana Bhante to
attend at Katina Dana Ceremony at Raj Vihar which was held on
October-November, 1974. He was accepted. When he came to
attend in the ceremony, the devotees headed by Chakma Rajmata
Benita Roy and Rajmata Aroti Roy earnestly requested again to
dwell at Rangamati permanently. Bana Bhante was accepted their
invitation as well, which should be after 3 years in 1977. He was
dwelt at Tintilya and preached profound Dhamma-Vinaya for 7
years (1970-77).
In 1975, a piece of land was donated by the Chakma Royal family
and constructed Raj Bana Vihar.
After finished the construction,
Bana Bhante sent his disciple
headed by Ven. Nanadapal
Bhikkhu at Raj Bana Vihar,
In 1977, Bana Bhante along with
his disciples shifted to
permanently at Rangamati from
Tintilya, where the present Raj Bana Vihar was constructed. Since
then he has been staying there till now.
On 14th February 1981, after reached 20 Vassa (Rain Retreat) Bana
Bhante was awarded the title as “Mahathera” by the Sangha
community of Bangladesh which was sponsored by the Chakma
Royal Family and devotees at Raj Bana Vihar. At present, the Raj
Bana Vihar has become an international tourist spot of pilgrimages
and is regularly visited by diplomats and other dignitaries of both
home and abroad.
Bana Bhante’s life time scheduled from 1925 - 1949 (age 5 to
29=24 years) as a layman; from 1949 -1961(age 29 to 41=12 years)
as a Novice Monk (Shramanera); from 1961-1981(age 41 to 61= 20
years) as a Bhikkhu; and from
1981-2010 (age 61 to 91 = 30
years) as a Mahathera (till
today). As Bhikkhu and
Mahathera, he had reached 49
Vassa (Rain Retreat) in 2009.
During this periods, Bana
Bhante spent uncountable days
and nights in secluded dense
forest inside the caves, under
the trees, huts, bank of the
rivers, open field, and slept on
the bush; travel many plains,
slopes and hills; crossed many
streams and rivers; walked
uncountable kilometers on
foots; suffered unbearable; shivered due to cold; wetted due to
rain; unable to slept due to hunger, cold, and rain; millions of
visible and invisible sentient beings was around him as good
friends and some are as bad friends too; and spent uncountable
days and nights without foods; sacrifices his whole life; for
searching wisdom and blissful happiness what he had now.
Finally, by his firm determination, dedication, devotion, practice
meditation, morality, compassionate, equanimity, effort, energy,
loving-kindness, patience, sacrifices, hard works, diligent, etc. he
had achieved what he wants. After achieved in the final stage, he
came out in the public to teach the truth what he found. The truth is
Four Noble Truth, such as Truth of Suffering, Truth of the Cause of
Suffering, Truth of the End of Suffering, and Truth of the Path
Leading to End of Suffering; as well as the truth of right path which
is Noble Eightfold Path, such as Right Understanding, Right
Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort,
Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.
Bana Bhante is universally recognized to have attained the
Arahatship and regarded as Savaka Buddha, which is last stage of
sainthood in Buddhism. The definition of Arahant means, one who is
totally free from all defilements- greed, hatred, delusion, desire, rid
of ignorance, craving, and future birth. The destination of Arahant is
to Nibbana, which is Supreme and Blissful Happiness.
“Sabbe Satta Sukita Hontu,
Sabba Dukkha Vinasantu”

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