Ajahn (Thai: อาจารย์, RTGS: achan, IPA: [ʔāː.tɕāːn], also romanized ajaan, aajaan, ajarn, ajahn, acharn and achaan) is a Thai language term which translates as "professor" or "teacher." It is derived from the Pali word ācariya, and is a term of respect, similar in meaning to the Japanese sensei, and is used as a title of address for high-school and university teachers, and for Buddhist monks who have passed ten vassa. The term "ajahn" is customarily used to address forest tradition monks and the term Luang Por, "Venerable father" is customarily used to address city tradition monks in Thai Buddhism.
Some famous ajahns are:
- Ajahn Amaro
- Ajahn Maha Boowa
- Ajahn Brahm
- Ajahn Chah
- Ajahn Khemadhammo
- Ajahn Lee
- Ajahn Mun
- Ajahn Pasanno
- Ajahn Sucitto
- Ajahn Sumedho
- Ajahn Geoff
In Thai, such highly esteemed monks would rarely be called simply ajahn chah, ajahn mun, etc., as there are much more respectful ways for addressing or referring to them.
The term "Ajahn" is generally not formal enough to be used without the prefix "Pra" or "Tan" for monks when addressed by the laity, but this formality has been loosened when it comes to Western monks and Theravada monks well known outside Thailand.
- Thanissaro Bhikkhu. "Thai Forest Traditions, Selected Teachers". Retrieved 2011-08-17. The footnote referenced here very usefully elaborates further on various monastic titles using ajahn.
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