December 1959: Ven. Zhu Mo
from right: Huang Yao, Zheng Baolin, Wang Shizhao, Ven. Zhu Mo, next two unknow.
Ven. Zhu Mo (1913-2002)
Ven. Zhu Mo was born in China in 1913 and was fully ordained as a monk in 1928. He studied at the Minnan Buddhist Institute founded by the great reformer of Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, Dharma Master Tai Xu.
In 1938, he went to Hong Kong to assist the victims of the Sino-Japanese war, which started one year earlier. He met a master of Chinese brush painting, Gao Jianfu in Macao and learned the art there.
He traveled to Bangkok in 1953 and then to Penang to give Dharma teachings. Once he was in Penang, there was no turning back, as he already decided to make Malaysia his adopted home. This was indeed a blessing to the Buddhists in Malaysia. He was the founding President of the Malaysian Buddhist Association (MBA) in 1959 and served in the same position for 12 years.
In July 1962, Venerable Zhu Mo founded The Buddhist Triple Wisdom Hall. He was a prime mover in establishing the Malaysian Buddhist Institute in 1971-to provide a more comprehensive training to Chinese Mahayana monks and nuns. He served as the Principal of the MBI until his demise.
For his contribution to Buddhism, Venerable Zhu Mo was conferred one of the highest awards of the State of Penang, the Darjah Setia Pangkuan Negeri (DSPN). The award carries the title of Datuk, the nearest English equivalent to which might be the title of Sir. He is the first Buddhist monk to be conferred this prestigious award.
In the collection of Huang Yao's old photos, there are 2 group photos where Ven. Zhu Mo, Wang Shizhao, Huang Yao and wife were included. The photo was taken at the Penang Kek Lok Si in 1959.
The photo was taken when HY was teaching as discipline master in Hanjiang High School Penang from January 1959 to December 1961. He was interested in Buddhism from a young age and had monks as friends as early as 1938 in Emei Shan China. With Ven. Zhu Mo as well as Ven Bo Yuan of Kuala Lumpur, they not only discussed Buddhist scripture but also art as both these monks were also renown painters.
Mr. Huang Yao
Your letter noted. "Famous Guanyin paintings through the dynasties" second volume. Am letting Ven. Jixiu bring it to you, for reference. Please pass it to Ven. Jixiu when you have finished using it to return to me. Because it is the only copy, the first volume was borrowed by friend and not return yet. The second volume has a few unusual paintings, should take a look. As for the other books, not available here. Should I see them will let you know. As for the photos of the deity of longevity and the ancient Buddha, will send to you soon as possible after photographed and printed.
May you be healthy
Zhen Mo with respect, 18th September.
Huang Yao Foundation Archive Photos (c. 1965)