Born in Nakhorn Sri Thammarat Province in 1951 as Winai Laongsuwan, he ordained in 1974 and became known as Phra Yantra Amaro Bhikkhu. What happened next during the next 2 decades is enough for a Hollywood remake. His immediate appeal to the Thai public, besides his handsome good looks, was his ability to meditate for days on end and teach the Dhamma with such flair and wisdom. During the 1980’s, he took the Dhamma abroad and taught all around the world; he was transformed into Thailnd’s most loved monk and became simply known as Phra Yantra.
Yantra, with tens of millions of baht worth of donations coming in, established what could be called the country’s most naturally beautiful temples, the massive Sunnataram Forest Monstery in Kanchanburi Province. Sunnataram turned into an oasis for foreigners wishing to practice the Dhamma and meditation.
In the early 1990’s however, the country was startled by reports that Yantra had been having sexual relations with several followers including foreign women. Charges of sexual abuse against Yantra also surfaced with news of Yantra’s rape of 6 under-age hill-tribe girls. Most of Kingdom refused to believe the charges; that was until, the Daily News Newspaper uncovered photographic evidence that Yantra had been a regular in discotheques in Australia (no robes on). Other evidence which sufficed, included copies of Yantra’s credit card receipts which showed that he had been using the services of brothels in New Zealand. In 1995, he was disgracefully de-robed.
Yantra, still claiming a biggish following, self-robed himself in green robes and continually taught the Dhamma to the infuriation of the masses. Criminal charges of ‘impersonating a monk’ were filed against Yantra and before he could be arrested, Yantra fled the country for The US, and it was there that he was successfully awarded asylum. The Thai government has been unable to have Yantra extradited to Thailand to face charges. Until this day, Yantra resides in California.