Asia

Thailand's Buddhist Supreme Patriarch dies aged 100

Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara Image copyright AP
Image caption Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara was admitted to hospital more than a decade ago

Thailand's most senior Buddhist leader, the Supreme Patriarch Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, has died aged 100.

He passed away on Thursday after suffering a blood infection following recent surgery for an intestinal infection, doctors said.

He had been receiving treatment at Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital in Bangkok since being admitted for an illness more than a decade ago.

In 2004, a senior Buddhist monk was appointed to work on his behalf.

But he died earlier this year, leading to speculation about who King Bhumibol Adulyadej would appoint as the new Supreme Patriarch.

More than 90% of Thailand's population of 67 million are Buddhists.

The Supreme Patriarch leads the Sangha Supreme Council, which ensures the monks and novices from the country's various sects follow Buddha's teachings and do not violate the council's rules.

Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara, which means "a person of great insight", was born Charoen Gajavatra in 1913 in western Thailand.

He became a novice aged 14 and rose steadily through the ranks of the monkhood. He became Supreme Patriarch in 1989.

A friend of the Dalai Lama, he was revered by Buddhists worldwide.

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