Burmese meditation master. A sayadaw (royal teacher and alternatively spelt hsayadaw, sayado, sayāḍo or sayāḍaw) is the senior monk or abbot of a monastery. Some distinguished sayadaws would often be referred to as a sayadawgyi (as a sign of reverence. The terms "sayadaw" and "sayadawgyi" originally corresponded to the senior monks who taught the former Burmese kings. These sayadaws may be influential teachers of Buddhism and also important meditation practitioners. They usually are abbots of monasteries or monastery networks with a large number of resident monks and a lay following. Sayadaw is used interchangeably with the term "U".
In Buddhism in Burma, several honorific terms exist for Buddhist monks, reflecting their achievements and how many vassas they have passed. The most frequently used terms, which are used as prefixes to the monks' dharma name, include:
Example via www.ramdass.org: Sayagyi U Ba Khin
A sayadaw may be known by his dharma name, a qualified name, or by the name of his monastery. Thus, venerable Mingun Sayadaw, who served as "Chief Respondent" at the Sixth Buddhist council in Yangon, could be addressed as:
- Mingun Sayadaw (in reference to his home monastery at Mingun)
- U Vicittasarabhivamsa
- Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
- Mingun Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
- Tipitaka Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa
- Tipitakadhara Dhammabhandakarika Sayadaw U Vicittasarabhivamsa, in reference to being the first monk to be awarded the titles "Bearer of the Tripiṭaka" and "Treasurer of the Dhamma"