Wat Phra Dhammakaya or the Dhammakaya Temple was established on 20th February 1970 by the most venerable Phrathepyanmahamuni (Luang Por Dhammajayo), Master Nun Chandra Khonnokyoong and their disciples. With an initial fund of just 3,200 Baht (approximately US $100), they invested selfless and immeasurable effort to transform 78 acres of rice paddies into a beautiful temple. The idea of Wat Phra Dhammakaya originates from the great determination of the great master Phramongkolthepmuni (Sodh Candasaro), the late abbot of Wat Paknam Bhasicharoen and the discoverer of Dhammakaya meditation. He aimed to propagate Dhammakaya meditation worldwide in order to prolong the Lord Buddha’s teachings and promote true peace on earth.
The Dhammakaya tradition in our era started in 1916 when the Great Abbot of Wat Paknam (Phra Monkolthepmuni) strove with a determination to the degree he was prepared to devote his entire life, to rediscovering through meditation the knowledge known to the Buddhas. Meditation, previously considered nothing more than a mental exercise or spiritual austerity, became popular through this master’s dedication to teaching and research in the Dhammakaya tradition he has discovered. The Great Abbot’s most gifted disciple was a nunKhun Yay Ubasika Chandra Khonnokyoong. Wat Phra Dhammakaya was founded by Khun Yay in 1970 after the Great Abbot’s death when her own dwelling at Wat Paknam in Bangkok became too small to accommodate all those coming to study meditation there. Khun Yay and her students led by Ven. Dhammajayo Bhikkhu and Ven. Dattajivo Bhikkhu wanted to see the continual growth of the Dhammakaya Tradition and established the temple with vision of a sanctuary for peaceful spiritual practice a refuge in the midst of a turbulent world. The temple was to be a centre for international meditation study. The temple was established on Magha Puja Day, 20 February 1970, on an eighty-acre plot of land donated by lady Prayat Phaetayapongsa – Visudhathibodi. The site sixteen kilometres north of Bangkok International Airport was originally called ‘Soon Buddacakk-Patipatthamm’ From acidic paddy fields, a woodland was created: a parkland for meditators. Buildings were kept to a minimum and emphasized simplicity, easy maintenance, cleanliness and durability. The foundation stone for the main chapel laid by H.R.H. Princess Maha Chakri Sirindhorn on behalf of H.M. the King in December 1977 marked by the official foundation of the center as a temple – Wat Phra Dhammakaya.
The Main Chapel was completed in 1982 and the ceremony for the allocation of the chapel boundary (sima) was held three years later.
While the temple was under construction, the Dhammadayada ordination scheme program gave training to hundreds of university students, a steadily increasing number of whom swelled the number of residents in the temple community to 1,470 monks and 443 novices, 161 laymen and 650 laywomen at the present. At the same time congregations on Sundays and major religious festivals have been known to reach 100,000 necessitating the construction of the Sapha Dhammakaya Hall, planned as the centre for ceremonies. Although recoginizing the importance of constructing buildings, the temple has always placed special emphasis upon training devotes. Thus, in the more than twenty years since the foundation of the temple, activities at Wat Phra Dhammakaya have attracted devotees not just from Bangkok, but from all over Thailand and countries abroad. There are seventeen Dhammakaya Centres with sixty domestic groups and eleven Centres abroad. The use of modern technology presents traditional teachings in a way that responds to the needs of those in contemporary society. Since the outset of the Dhammakaya tradition, the inner peace of mediation has reflected an aspiration to cultivate peace in the world at large. It has been obvious that the work involved requires more than just a temple organized by monks. For this reason, the temple has grown together with its supporting organization, the Dhammakaya Foundation to facilitate a broader base of activities for the public and participation by lay members of the congregation. Activities are organized at Wat Phra Dhammakaya by the Dhammakaya Foundation. Activities in the present time include mediation teaching and retreats, scriptural education and research, youth training, school orientations, social services, and environmental conservation. Activities for devotees always emphasize working upon oneself through the practices of charity, self discipline and meditation. With the expansion of the temple to one thousand acres in 1985, Wat Phra Dhammakaya stands on the threshold of the development of the World Dhammakaya Center as a resource to serve the needs of the international community.