Mahasthavir, Bishuddhachar

Mahasthavir, Bishuddhachar (1893-1989) Buddhist monk and scholar, who contributed to the advancement of theravada Buddhism and the spread of education among Buddhists, was born in Dhemsha village in satkania Upazila, chittagong on 15 Shravan 1300 BS, that is, mid-July 1893. His given name was Purnachandra but he was better known as Bishuddhachar, the name he assumed on becoming a monk. His initial education was at the village primary school. Later he studied Pali and religion at a Pali tol. He also successfully completed middle school.

In 1930 he became a monk. He had earlier spent some time at Akyab in Myanmar, where he had learned Burmese fluently. This knowledge later greatly helped him in his study of the tripitaka and Pali as well as in his religious pursuits. His wise sermons and scholarly writings on Buddhist philosophy were highly appreciated. He was also an able speaker. He was well-versed in Vedic religion and philosophy, astrology and Buddhist musicology.

Bishuddhachar was also a writer in several genres. He also had the ability to explain complex Buddhist philosophy clearly. Thus, in Paramartha Parichay he discussed Buddhist philosophy in the form of questions and answers. He composed many narrative lyrics based on Buddhist religion and philosophy, literature and legends about the earlier lives of the Buddha. Among his well-known books are Sivalibru Katha (in unrhymed verse, 1950), Mar Vijay (in verse), Ashok Charita (poems) etc. He also wrote two plays: Siddharther Janma and Mahabhiniskraman.

Bishuddhachar taught for many years in a number of educational institutions. He established primary schools in different areas of Satkania for children of all religions. He also established several institutions for the promotion of religion and social welfare, among them Satkania Buddhist Society, Dhemsha Village Welfare Society, Dhemsha Women's Society, Society of the Young, and Dhemsha Shakyamuni Vihara. He died on 24 December 1989 at Dhemsha Sakyamuni Vihara. [Sukomal Barua]