The Mahamakut Foundation was officially formed in 1893 by the King Rama the Fifth, popularly known as King Chulalongkom of Thailand. Since education in those days was only limited to the privileged few, the King, had established this foundation in the name of his Royal Father, King Mahamakut or King Mongkut with the aim to give free education to all young Thai people, and also to give support to any monastery that runs the school for the young monks and young novices.
As it was established by the King Chulalongkom, any successive King of Thailand has to be the patron of Mahamakut Foundation. Being a religious organisation, Mahamakut Foundation is run by the most senior Dhammayutta Sangha Council, normally led by the Supreme Patriarch himself as the Supreme leader of the Dhammayutta Sect. The current leader is Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, the Supreme Patriarch of Thailand.
In Thailand the Foundation consists of one Buddhist University, with four regional campuses, over 3000 temples and monasteries with more than 30,000 monks.
Under patronage of Mahamakut University, about a hundred monks have been trained for Buddhist Missionary overseas every year. There are 49 centres in America and Canada, 11 centres in Europe, 9 centres in Australia, and 2 centres in New Zealand.
In Australia, there are 8 temples that are given financial and spiritual support from Mahamakut Foundation. The 8 monasteries are
New South Wales Wat Buddharangsee, Stanmore Wat Buddharangsee, Annandale Wat Pa Buddharangsee, Leumeah
QLD Wat Kemarangsee, Cairns Wat Sangharatanaram, Gold Coast
SA Wat Ratanapadipa, Adelaide
VIC Wat Dhammarangsee, Melbourne
ACT Wat Dhammadharo, Canberra
Mahamakut Foundation in New South Wales
Mahamakut Foundation started its activities in N.S.W. in 1972 following requests from the Buddhist Community here to establish a place for worship and to have Buddhist monks conduct the religious practice. At that time, the Thai Ambassador to Australia H.E. Mr. Prasong Buncherm initiated the project and a request was made to Phra Somdet Nanasamvara of Mahamakut Foundation in Bangkok. In response, two monks (Phra Parityatikavi and Phra Khantipalo) and an attendant arrived in Sydney in March 1973 and rented accommodation was obtained at Roseberry for the monks.
With overwhelming support from the Buddhist Community coming from Ethnic background such as Australian, Burmese, Sri Lankan, Thai, Malaysian and Singaporean; a request was made to purchase a property for a more permanent establishment. In response to the request of the Australian Buddhists, generous Thai supporters of Mahamakut in Bangkok donated money to purchase a property. By January 1975 HRM King Rama the Ninth Bhumibol Adjulyadej gave the name of the monastery as ‘Wat Buddharangsee’ which is to be 88-90 Stanmore Road, Stanmore. In May 1975, HRH Crown Prince Vajiralongkorn who was then at Duntroon Military Academy officially opened the monastery for the community.
With the arrival of the refugees from Indo-China in the early 1980′s, the Buddhist community increased from Ethnic background such as Laotian, Cambodian and Viet-Nam. It became obvious that a larger monastery will be required in the western suburbs to satisfy the needs of the Buddhist community. In 1985 Mahamakut purchased 5 acres of land at Lot 112 Junction Rd., Leumeah. With further generous donations from the Thai supporters in Bangkok, and donations collected locally in Australia, a new monastery was constructed. The official opening was held on the 29th May 1988 with the attendance of many foreign dignitaries, both federal and state members, mayor and aldermen and officials of government departments.
At the opening ceremony, the Mayor of Campbelltown and other dignitaries laid the foundation stones for the Pagoda Cetiya.
By the early 1990s it became apparent that the size and facilities at Wat Buddharangsee Stanmore was inadequate for the large number of people attending the religious ceremonies. Parking was also a major problem.
Consequently, another property was purchased at Annandale consisting of a house which could provide accommodation for resident monks and two large warehouses at the rear of the property suitable for conversion to a Sala, the ceremonial hall, and adjoining kitchen, dining and meeting area.
The official opening of Wat Buddharangsee Annandale was in January 1998 and was attended by the Committee of Sangha Council from Thailand, the Thai Royal Ambassador and Thai Royal Consulate General.
Aims and Objectives of Mahamakut Foundation in Australia
The aims and objectives of Mahamakut Foundation in Australia as given by Somdet Nyanasamvara in May 1975 are for religious purpose. They can be summarised as follows:
1. To enhance goodwill and religious ties with the local religions.
2. To propagate the Buddhist Teaching to those who ask for it.
3. To provide a place of worship and give spiritual refuge for all the Buddhist people living here irrespective of Ethnic origin.
4. To establish a firm foundation for the practice of Buddhism and provide ordination facilities for those who wish to become monks.
5. To disseminate the Buddhist culture and traditions as well as, to maintain it for all the Buddhist migrants living here.
6. To provide religious support to Thai students studying here.
Organisation Structure of Mahamakut Foundation
The organisational structure of Mahamakut consists of two tiers. The first tier is made up of the Council of Buddhist monks which decide on all religious matters. This is headed by the Supreme Patriarch Phra Somdet Sangharaja Nanasamvara. The second tier is made up of the Lay supporters who handle the secular affairs of Mahamakut. This comprises of the Royal Thai Family, Thai Government and appointees who are nominated to the various administration committees. In Australia, the Administration Committee consist of the Thai Ambassador as chairman, the Consul General as deputy and members representing groups from each Ethnic background, such as Australian, Burmese, Thai, Malaysia/Singapore, Laos, Sri-Lanka and Cambodian giving the flavour of Multi-culturism.