A Biography of Phra Vijitrdhammapani (Sunan Dhananandho), Abbot of Wat Florida Dhammaram, Kissimmee, Florida
On December 5, 2002, His Majesty King Bhumibon Adulyadej bestowed upon our abbot, Than Sunan Dhananandho, the ecclesiastical rank of “Chaokhun”, replacing his old rank and title, Phrakrupalad Sampipatana Sutajarn with the rank and title of “Than Chaokhun Phra Vijitrdhammapani”.
Venerable Phra Vijitrdhammapani was born Sunan Kruekaew, on August 3, 1957 in Tambon Takrea, Umphur Ranode, Songkla Province, to Nai Poom and Nang Ohm Kruekaew.
Sunan completed his elementary school at Wat Kasetchonlatee. Having passed an entrance examination, he was getting ready to attend a secondary school. However, he decided to seek a monastic lifestyle instead. On July 14, 1973, he was ordained as a novice at the age of sixteen at Wat Kasetchonlatee where he attended primary school. Phrakru Suwatanaprasart was his Phra Upajjaya (his mentor in the ordination ceremony).
In 1976, Sunan relocated to Wat Sommanusviharn in Bangkok and was under the care of Phra Dhepvaraporn (who was Phrakru Aduldhammanuvat at the time). When Sunan was twenty-one years old, he took full ordination as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk). The ordination took place on July 14, 1978 at Wat Sommanusviharn, Bangkok. Venerable Somdhet Phra Wannarat (Wannarat II), the then Abbot of Wat Sommanat Vihara, was his Phra Upajjaya in the ceremony. Phra Panyavisuthikul and Phra Radchagavee were his Ajhans or teachers and he was given the Pali name "Dhananando Bhikkhu”.
Venerable Phra Dhepvaraporn graciously encouraged and served as a mentor to Phra Dhananando during his tenure as a novice and throughout his monkhood at
Wat Sommanusviharn. Phra Dhananando taught Buddhism to children at the Wat Sommanat School while he was a monk there and having completed assignments delegated to him by teachers and senior monks, he gained experience and confidence.
In 1993, Venerable Phra Dhepvaraporn appointed Phra Dhananando, now promoted to the rank of Phrakrupalad Sampipatana Sutajarn, to oversee the construction of a Buddhist Temple in Florida, Wat Florida Dhammaram. With the approval of the venerable Abbot of Wat Sommanat Vihara, Somdhet Phra Wannarat, Phrakrupalad Sampipatana Sutajarn left Thailand for the United States of America on April 7, 1993. The groundbreaking ceremony for Wat Florida Dhammaram took place on April 15, 1993. The Temple has been thriving ever since. Phra Vijitrdhammapani currently conducts religious functions at Wat Florida Dhammaram, offers spiritual advice to lay devotees and continues to oversee the continual growth of the monastery. He continues to work tirelessly and unselfishly to promote Buddhism.