Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera

Theravada Buddhist Monk & Buddhist Teacher

Brahmavamso Mahathera

Early Life

Ajahn Brahmavamso Mahathera (known to most simply as Ajahn Brahm) was born Peter Betts in London, United Kingdom in August 7, 1951. He came from a working-class background, he went to Latymer Upper School in London and from there won a scholarship to study Theoretical Physics at Cambridge University in the late 1960s. At Cambridge he joined the university’s Buddhist Society and after a few weeks at the age of 18, he saw a monk for the first time. He knew then that was what he wanted to be. After graduating from Cambridge he taught in a high school for one year before travelling to Thailand to become a monk.

Monastic Life

Ordained as a monk (bhikkhu) by Somdet Buddhajahn at Wat Saket in Bangkok in 1974, Ajahn Brahm travelled to north-east Thailand in January 1975 and became a student of meditation master Ajahn Chah at Wat Pa Pong. In that same year he became a founding sangha member of Wat Pa Nanachat, a monastery established close by to Wat Pa Pong by Ajahn Chah to cater to the increasing number of Westerners that were coming to ordain and train with him. Ajahn Brahm became the vinaya (code of monastic discipline) master at Wat Pah Nanachat from 1975 until his departure in 1983. His vinaya notes are still authoritative for most Western Buddhist monks in the Theravada tradition.

He was invited to Perth by the Buddhist Society of Western Australia (BSWA) in 1983 along with fellow monk, Ajahn Jagaro. Later that year the BSWA purchased rural land in Serpentine south of Perth. Ajahn Brahm became the co-founding monk and deputy abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery in late 1983.

In 1995 Ajahn Brahm become the abbot of Bodhinyana Monastery upon the departure of Ajahn Jagaro. In 2004 Ajahn Brahm was awarded the John Curtin Medal for his vision, leadership and service to the Australian community, by Curtin University, and in 2006 the King of Thailand conferred upon Ajahn Brahm the title “Tan Chao Khun” which is something akin to being appointed a bishop. As a result Bodhinyana Monastery receives a symbolic monk’s robe every year from the King of Thailand, a sign of royal patronage of the monastery


Ajahn Brahm has authored three popular books that are available commercially:

  • Opening the Door of Your Heart (a.k.a. Who Ordered This Truckload of Dung?) – this book has been translated into 24 languages with a variety of titles!
  • Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond
  • The Art of Disappearing
  • Don’t Worry, Be Grumpy (a.k.a. Good? Bad? Who Knows?), which became a legitimate best seller in Germany, reaching #3 on the charts.


The royalties raised from sales of these books goes to the activities of the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. He has also authored numerous other books and essays on meditation and other spiritual topics which are for free distribution, like the popular, “Basic Method of Meditation” aimed at those new to meditation. 

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