Description: Sitagu is a Buddhist university which will be fully functioning on an international level from about 2005. At present, only Burmese students (or foreigners who speak Burmese). Non-Burmese interested in Theravada can on short notice talk to the head or rector on special lessons. Short stays are possible. Field and topics can be decided on individually with the teacher or lecturer; all parts of the Tipitaka are possible. Teaching is in English.
The large and architecturally pleasing university is situated in quiet and rural surroundings at the foot of the Sagaing hills. The hills have been known for 1000 years for their monastic variety and the pure practice of Theravada Buddhism. There are about 900 monasteries for monks and nuns. Some settings are foresty and archaic. Monks and nuns often live, study, and practice just as in the old days.
Location: Sagaing is in Central Burma about 20 km from Mandalay. The little town Sagaing has a large market at which everything necessary can be bought. The academy is in the hills about ½ hour walk from the town center. In the center there are no shops or apartments, but monasteries and ancient pagodas worth a visit. Everything can be reached by foot. Means of transport from town to the monasteries: horse-drawn coach.
Meditation: No retreats in the academy, but retreats can be arranged in the monasteries and centers around the academy (however, in most no English is spoken. Exception: Sagaing Mahasi Dhammaswamyi Yeiktha).
Meditation without teacher is no problem at the academy; practice is possible in some rooms and your own quarter.
Subjects and courses: Pali, Sutta, Abhidhamma, Vinaya, Burmese. By demand, courses can be individually arranged on short notice.
How to get there: From Yangon take the direct night bus to Mandalay or Sagaing city (there is only one line). Trip is about 16 h (without breakdowns!) and costs about US$ 5.
The train is rather expensive for foreigners (around US$ 35). Burmese pay only US$ 3. Trip duration is comparable to bus. There is a direct flight now from Bangkok to Mandalay, but it is considerably more expensive than the flight to Yangon.
The flight from Yangon to Mandalay is about US$ 90 and takes 1 ½ h. The airlines Air Mandalay and Yangon Airways are reliable and can be recommended.
Lodging: Visitors and those interested in individual studies are housed in first class A/C double rooms with separate living room and fridge, bath and toilet.
Food: Full board at the academy. If you are vegetarian, please notify at arrival. Clean drinking water is available everywhere for free.
Health: Hygienic conditions at the academy are very good. The potable water is treated and food is hygienically prepared. No risk of malaria. Insect repellant and a hat against sun are recommended.
Medical care: Ayudana Hospital opposite the academy, founded by Sayadaw Dr. Nyanissara. Treatment is free/by donation. It is very clean and doctors are competent. The medical director speaks English very well.
Costs: All social and educational institutions founded by the Ven. Sayadaw Dr. Nyanissara are based on the Buddhist principle of dana, i.e. everything is financed through voluntary donations of the generous Burmese. Foreign visitors and students can contribute in the same manner. Medication against malaria, typhoid, high blood pressure, diarrhea and dysentery are appreciated by the doctors of Ayudana Hospital.
Note: At present (until 2005) very suitable for short and individual studies, as well as long-term stays for individual studies. Very pleasant atmosphere, lovely setting in beautiful nature and historic sites. Much metta and helpfulness.