Sheng Yen, one of Taiwan's most respected Chan Buddhist master, passed away here Tuesday afternoon, at the age of 79.
Dharma Drum Mountain, the international Buddhist cultural and educational foundation founded by Sheng Yen, announced his death in a statement at its official Web site.
"Master Sheng Yen had always said he was grateful despite all the illness and difficulties in his life," said the statement. "Bathed in prayers of all followers, Master Sheng Yen passed away at 4 p.m. on Feb. 3."
Born in a poor farming family in 1930 in eastern Jiangsu Province, Sheng became a monk at the age of 13 and went to Taiwan in 1949 after the civil war.
At the age of 39, he went to Japan for religious study and earned a master's degree and doctorate after six years of study.
In the following years, he worked to promote Chan Buddhism at home and abroad. He had become a professor at the "Chinese Culture University," deputy director of the Buddhist Association of the United States and founded the Chung Hwa Institute of Buddhist Studies.
Master Sheng Yen visited the mainland several times for religious exchanges.
After the deadly May 12 earthquake last year, he was actively engaged in quake relief work. The Dharma Drum Mountain planned to help rebuild four schools, a hospital, a water plant, a new village and set up a scholarship to fund children in quake-hit areas to finish the primary and secondary education.