In the Burmese (Myanmar) language, the term literally means "royal teacher," but it is used today to refer to senior or highly respected members of the Sangha, including the heads of monasteries (kyaung). When speaking Burmese, a layperson will use the term to address a senior monk, that is, as a title. The sayadaw is renowned for his superior knowledge of the Pali Canon or meditation techniques and sometimes has a national or even international reputation, for example the Mahasi Sayadaw.
   See also Pongyi.

Historical Dictionary of Burma (Myanmar). . 2014.

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