from Spring 2008 Turning Wheel
Conversation with Sayadaw U Kovida
by Maia Duerr and Hozan Alan Senauke
Sayadaw U Kovida is a highly respected senior monk who was born in Burma 81 years ago. Although he now lives in exile in New York, he was once the patron of Ma Soe Yein monastery, one of the oldest Buddhist schools in Burma.
In 2001, Sayadaw visited the U.S. and stayed at the Sasana Joti Center, a New York monastery. Every year he went back to Burma, but since September 2007, he has not been able to return. Sayadaw is now the patron of Sasana Moli – the International Burmese Monks Organization – founded in October 2007. Sasana Moli (which translates to “crown jewel of the monastic community”) is an alliance of more than 50 monks from the U.S., the U.K., Singapore, Canada, and Malaysia.
On December 15, 2007, BPF staff members Alan Senauke and Maia Duerr had the honor of a private audience with Sayadaw at the Mettananda Vihara in Fremont, California. The day before, Sayadaw was awarded an honorary degree from the University of San Francisco on behalf of all Buddhist monks in Burma. We met on the second floor of the vihara, with several members of the Burmese community joining us. Sayadaw welcomed us with a bow and a warm smile, and sat in a chair near the altar of the Buddha beautifully decorated with food offerings. Maung Yit served as our translator.