Venerable Teachers

Who is ‘a teacher’? What are his qualities?

There are various teachers in the world. Their value varies depending upon their knowledge, experiences, the subject they teach, etc. They get their value depending on the personal interest of their students too. 

Every teacher’s main aim is to produce people more beneficial to the world. But some teachers would act differently. They are the most remarkable of them all, for they do show the ‘never-goes-wrong way’ to go beyond the conditioned world by teaching the noble truth leading to the ultimate bliss of ‘Nibbana’ which calls a halt to the vicious cycle of rebirth. Such teachers appear in the world, not on the expertise and training earned in one life, but in infinite different lives. That is why such noble ones are very rare.


The unmatched excellent teacher in all three realms of all times in the entire cosmos is only a Blessed One. Having been fully self-enlightened, The Blessed One, with his divine eye, surveyed every nook and corner of all the three realms in the entire cosmos to find out a teacher senior to him in virtue, concentration, and wisdom to become his apprentice if was. But in the absence of such a one, he, last, decided to make the noble Dhamma he realized his teacher. The fact is, living without having a teacher is being helpless.

The most crucial task in the ordination life of an apprentice who wishes to end the cycle of rebirth is learning well the profound teachings of Dhamma and Vinaya of ‘the Master’ and disciplining his mind by associating with a suitable teacher who can show that noble path. That’s why the Buddha has instructed his disciples—the Sangha, to get disciplined under an experienced teacher until they get free from ‘Nissaya’ (The Pāli word ‘Nissaya’ stands for the period of learning the prescribed pieces of ‘the teaching’ and the level of experience that a new bhikkhu requires at least within 5 Rains to survive independently away from teachers) There are two types of teachers for a monk known as, ‘the Preceptor’ and ‘the teacher’ who would act as parents for a child. (The Pali words for them are ‘Upajjhāya’ and ‘Ācariya’)

Even though one apprentice monk can get disciplined under one ‘Preceptor’ only, there is no restriction for him to get disciplined and be advised under many ‘teachers’ during his ordination life. Because only one senior bhikkhu can conduct the ordination and higher ordination of one person, there can only be one Preceptor or ‘Upajjhāya’ for a novice monk.

There are five different teachers in the Dispensation of the Buddha.

They are ‘Nissayāchariya’, ‘Pabbajjāchariya’, ‘Upasampadāchariya’, ‘Uddesāchariya’ and ‘Ōvādāchariya’ (Normally the Pāli word ‘Dhammachariya’ is used for both ‘Uddesāchariya’ and ‘Ōvādāchariya’ in common). ‘Nissayāchariya’ is the teacher whom the apprentices choose by uttering three times the Pāli phrase, “Āchariyō mē Bhantē hōhi, āyasmatho nissāya vacchāmi.” (Meaning, “Venerable sir, please be my teacher. I’m asking your permission to study under your dependence.”)

  1. Nissayacariya – One who gives advice and instruction
  2. Pravujjacariya – One who conduct ordinationo order of higher ordination) as a preceptor if they cannot find a suitable elder monk.

According to Buddhism, five venerable need to be paid respect by a monk at suitable times.

“pañcime upāli vandiyā. katame pañca? pacchā upasampannena pure upasampanno vandiyo, nānāsaṁvāsakako vuḍḍhataro dhammavādī vandiyo, ācariyo vandiyo, upajjhāyo vandiyo, sadevake loke samārake sabrahmake sassamaṇabrāhmaṇīyā pajāya sadevamanussāya tathāgato arahaṁ sammāsambuddho vandiyo. ime kho upāli pañca vandiyā.”

  1. Elderly monk (According to the order of higher ordination). (Same linage)
  2. Elder righteous (follow moral codes) monk (Different linage).
  3. Acariya
  4. Upajjaya
  5. Lord Buddha

piyo ca garu bhāvanīyo – vattā ca vacanakkhamo,

gambhīrañca kathaṁ kattā – no caṭṭhāne niyojaye.

Ambitious one who wishes to associate noble friends must stay with someone who compassionate and possesses these seven qualities – friendly, respected, honorable, fluent, teaching profound Dhamma and does not mislead. Should one still associate such friendship, even if his accompany was rejected.

nidhīnaṃva pavattāraṃ, yaṃ passe vajjadassinaṃ.

niggayhavādiṃ medhāviṃ, tādisaṃ paṇḍitaṃ bhaje.

tādisaṃ bhajamānassa, seyyo hoti na pāpiyo.

Wise and sagacious one who points out faults and who reproves as one would guide to a hidden treasure, must be associated. That is always beneficial. Not unbeneficial.

Ordination life is different from worldly life. We invite you to explore it, which will ultimately develop your faith.

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