Panditarama Shwe Taung Gone Centre, Yangon, Myanmar

HQ and city branch of the famous network

Location: Northern suburbs of Yangon, not far from the downtown, and between the city and the airport.

Tradition: Mahasi Sayadaw Vipassana, also known as the noting technique.

Practice intensity: 9 out of 10. The centre is quite compact so not much opportunity to escape the practice routine or go relax somewhere.

Accommodation: Individual rooms, communal bathrooms, and one washing machine per floor.

Food: Everything. Buffet style so you can choose. There should be plenty of vegetable options.

Min/Max stay: Not sure. Must vacate the centre for April holidays.

Cost: Donation.

Clothing: No strict rule. The norm in Myanmar for both sexes is to wear a longyi (tube skirt) and white shirt, and in formal cases also a brown sash.

Transport: A taxi from downtown is only a few dollars. Install the Grab app (a SE Asian Uber) for cheap local taxi fares when booking.

Contact: 80-A Than Lwin Road, Bahan Township, Yangon. +951-535448. www.panditarama.net (this website features the forest centre outside of Yangon so it may appear confusing). Or email Sayalay Ma Vajira (an American nun) on com2panditarama@gmail.com 

Visas: See the post on Myanmar visas here.

– –

I only visited this centre so cannot comment on the experience of staying and practicing there. Although I expect it’d be similar in standard and management approach to the same organisation’s forest centre to the north of Yangon and featured here under Hse Main Gon Forest Centre.

Firstly, while the centre appears very compact in area, it is in fact spread over several floors of several buildings and so seems to boast a lot of floor space. There are 2 large meditation halls, one for each gender. There is also an accommodation building for each gender. And an unusual luxury – a washing machine for communal use on each floor of the accommodation building.

Walking lanes are marked on the roadways within the centre grounds, and there are also verandas all around the meditation halls.

Being fairly high up just like the nearby Mahasi Centre, it should get breezes and be quite comfortable even when the temperatures are high. Speaking of that other centre, this Panditarama centre was established in 1993 when Sayadaw U Pandita (1921-2016), a long-time student of Mahasi Sayadaw, broke away and began this new organisation only a kilometre or so from the Mahasi Centre. From there he launched numerous centres around the world, the most famous ones being the forest centre north of Yangon, and the one at the Buddha’s birthplace of Lumbini, Nepal. It’s important to note the split was not over matters of doctrine or method, and so the training and teachings are identical.

An American nun, Sayalay Ma Vajira, handles the English-to-Burmese translation for interviews, and you can reasonably expect quality interviews as the Panditarama people are not known to mess around.

A lot of monks tend to stay here, and ordination is very much available to foreign yogis.

There is also a large multilingual library with computers on-site. I cannot say much more without speculating. Feel free to contact me if you stay here and have more to add.

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Bilingual sign – show a taxi driver the Burmese script
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The dining hall, between meals
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Monks’ eating area
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Old building and walking lanes
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The Panditarama logo featuring the 5 spiritual faculties (plus Morality): Energy, Concentration, Mindfulness, Faith, and Wisdom
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The women’s meditation hall
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The men’s meditation hall
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Walking space around the men’s meditation hall
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A room in the men’s block
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Washing machine in the men’s block
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The iconic Shwedagon Pagoda is visible from the centre
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Computers in the library
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The multilingual library

Author: Peter Stuckings

Australian, living all over Asia. Explorer of the mind illuminated. Scholar of cognitive sciences, Buddhist & Pāli studies. Plant-powered. (Pic of EEG brain activity testing at Hong Kong U - yes a brain was detected!).

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