Sunday, 6 September 2015

Entering the Wild Ledi Forest

The Lower Chindwin Valley monk Ashin Nyanadhaja had made a brilliant display in the royal capital of Mandalay— often as an ascendant shining star, while at other times as a transcendent lightening rod— but by the early 1880s he had seemingly given up this cosmopolitan life, choosing instead to wander alone into remote Ledi Forest in Monwya. This act gave the world Ledi Sayadaw, and gave Monywa Maha Ledi Monastery, an active pariyatti monastery on the very grounds where Ledi made his initial retreat into the wilderness.

A city has since built around it, and any trees left in the area have been intentionally planted to ease the urban landscape. Today it is the home of over two hundred monks and novices, and every year Ledi Sayadaw’s birthday is celebrated with a great Saṅgha Dāna feast and ceremony. It goes without saying that Ledi left very large shoes—or rather, sandals—to fill, and this duty currently goes to Sayadaw U Aindarwantha, also known as the Tenth Ledi Sayadaw. While foreign yogis are generally not permitted to stay overnight, one may ask permission to meditate on the compound and pay respects to the sites associated with the great founder’s life.

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