Shuang Lin Monastery
The Shuang Lin Monastery is the first and therefore the oldest Buddhist monastery in Singapore. It came into being in 1898 when a local Chinese entrepreneur and philanthropist Low Kim Pong, 刘金榜, donated land and invited Venerable Xian Hui, 贤惠法师, to become the first abbot of the monastery.
The official name of the monastery is Lian Shan Shuang Lin Monastery, 莲山双林寺, meaning Twin Grove Monastery on the Lotus Hill and it is also known as Siong Lim Temple, Low Kim Pong Temple, Balestier Road Chinese Temples or simply Chinese Temple.
Shuang Lin Monastery was modeled after Xi Chan Si, 西禅寺, in Fuzhou China that was related to Venerable Xian Hui. Well known personalities such as the local literati Qiu Shu Yuan, 丘菽园, and Chen Bao Shen, 陈宝深, (Imperial tutor of Puyi, last Emperor of China), composed couplets about the monastery, its ambience and its social functions. These couplets are carved onto pillars in the monastery and can still be seen today.
Its size and the style of architecture made it a very prominent landmark in the area and in Singapore attracting devotees, school students, and tourists.
Abbots of Shuang Lin Monastery - Venerable Pu Liang
Two of the most outstanding Abbots of the monastery were Venerable Pu Liang, 普亮法师, and Venerable Gao Can, 高参法师.
Venerable Pu Liang, the 10th Abbot who served from 1917 to 1942, was a strong supporter of China Relief Fund during the Second Sino-Japanese and allowed Nanyang Volunteers, 南侨机工, to be trained in the monastery before leaving for service on the Burma Road, 滇缅公路.
After the fall of Singapore, he was arrested by the Japanese during the Sook Ching massacre and executed at the Changi beach. A book “Light on the Lotus Hill” was published in 2009 documenting the life of Venerable Pu Liang.
Written independently and published by Khoon Chee Vihara, the profits of the book will be donated to the Shuang Lin Monastery in memory of Venerable Pu Liang.
Abbots of Shuang Lin Monastery - Venerable Gao Can
Venerable Gao Can, the 12th Abbot who served from 1948 to 1960, was a highly learned Buddhist Venerable, skillful Chinese physician and a Shaolin martial arts expert. Venerable Gao Can is best remembered for his Shao Lin martial arts and his disciples have since spread his art form within Asia as well as to Europe, North America and Australasia.
Many students from different parts of the world visit the Shuang Lin Monastery in search of Venerable Gao Can’s legacy. Every year, on his death anniversary, his martial arts students hold private memorials and also visit the Shuang Lin monastery to pay respects to him. Some of Venerable Gao Can’s martial arts students are also planning to build a monastery (Gao Can Monastery, 高参寺) in his memory.
Shuang Lin today
In 1980 Shuang Lin Monastery was gazzaetted as a National Monument of Singapore. The monastery is currently working on the phase 6 of restoration that began in 1991.
The main areas of the monastery remain open to the public welcoming devotees, local visitors, expatriate groups, students and tourists.
Shuang Lin Monastery,
184E Jalan Toa Payoh,
Shuang Lin Monastery circa 1905
Shuang Lin Monastery 1925