Would you give up billions for spiritual servitude? Thai-Malaysian monk Ven Ajahn Siripanyo, the only son of Malaysian billionaire Ananda Krishnan, did just that – here’s the whole story
Would you give up a fortune to become richer in other more profound ways? Ven Ajahn Siripanyo did. The Thai-Malaysian Buddhist monk dedicates his life to spiritual servitude, leaving behind a world of riches and spoils.
But just how much wealth has Siripanyo given up? A lot, as it turns out: he is, after all, the son of Malaysia’s third richest man, self-made billionaire Ananda Krishnan, who’s worth more than US$5 billion.
If Siripanyo intends to remain as hidden as possible, it’s working. It’s been remarkably challenging to find traces of his life before becoming a monk. But with some digging work, we’ve unearthed five things to know about this modern-day Siddhartha.
He has been a monk since 18
Siripanyo found his spiritual path in Buddhism quite early in life.
Believe it or not, it was purely by accident. When visiting Thailand to pay homage to his Thai mother’s family, the then-18-year-old Siripanyo decided to temporarily ordain at a retreat for fun. Little did he know that the experience would extend to become a permanent way of life. More than twenty years later, he is now a forest monk and the appointed abbot of the Dtao Dum Monastery located somewhere on the Thailand-Myanmar border.
He has royal blood
Siripanyo has royal lineage through his mother. The world knows little about her identity, but research has pointed to Momwajarongse Suprinda Chakraban, a descendant of the Thai royal family. So technically, Siripanyo can be considered a blue-blooded noble, on top of a billionaire’s son!
He grew up in the UK
Not much about Siripanyo’s childhood is known, other than the fact that he grew up in London and studied in the UK along with his two sisters. But some sources have described his outlook in life as being open to different cultures, so it’s not surprising that he has a well-informed, easily understandable approach to Buddhist teachings.
He speaks 8 languages
We wouldn’t expect any less of a linguistic feat from someone who has a culturally diverse affluent background. Again, because of the privacy surrounding Siripanyo’s personal life, no one knows precisely which languages he speaks with fluency. But English is one of them, while Tamil and Thai are highly likely.
He embraces his old life occasionally
Sure, Siripanyo may be a monk living through the generosity of others day-to-day, but that does not stop him from accepting opulence where it is necessary. Since one of the precepts of Buddhism is familial love, he makes time to see his father now and then, and this requires returning to his old lifestyle temporarily.
Case in point: he was once spotted travelling on a private jet to meet Krishnan in Italy. Another time, he attended a spiritual retreat in Penang Hill, which his dad went on to buy for his son’s convenience. Talk about being blessed!