The Most Famous Monk: A Ranking of Renowned Monastic Figures

Choose the monk you think is the most famous!

Author: Gregor Krambs
Jun 16, 2023 10:18 (Updated on Dec 3, 2023 11:13)
Welcome to StrawPoll, where your opinions matter! Today, we're diving into a fascinating exploration of spirituality and influence by ranking the most famous monks of all time. These revered individuals have left an indelible mark on history, transcending borders and uniting people from all walks of life. From the meditative teachings of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh to the compassionate wisdom of the Dalai Lama, our list showcases a diverse array of monks who have touched the hearts and souls of millions. So, who do you think deserves the top spot? Cast your vote now, or suggest a missing name to expand our pantheon of peace and enlightenment. Join the conversation and be a part of this unique journey in discovering the world's most inspiring spiritual leaders.

Who Is the Most Famous Monk?

  1. 1
    The spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, and an advocate for peace and non-violence.
    The Dalai Lama is a spiritual leader and the highest-ranking monk in Tibetan Buddhism. He is known for his compassion, wisdom, and peaceful approach to resolving conflicts. The Dalai Lama is often regarded as the embodiment of the Bodhisattva of Compassion and acts as a moral and ethical guide for millions of people around the world.
    • Spiritual Leadership: The Dalai Lama is considered the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism, guiding the spiritual practices and teachings of millions of followers worldwide.
    • Compassion: Compassion is at the core of the Dalai Lama's philosophy. He promotes non-violence, kindness, and empathy as means to achieve personal and global happiness.
    • Wisdom: The Dalai Lama is renowned for his vast knowledge and deep understanding of Buddhism, philosophy, psychology, and various fields of study. He shares his wisdom through teachings and writings.
    • Peace Advocacy: The Dalai Lama has been a strong advocate for peace, resolving conflicts through dialogue and understanding. He has actively promoted peacebuilding efforts worldwide.
    • Exiled Leader: The current Dalai Lama, Tenzin Gyatso, has been living in exile since 1959 due to the Chinese occupation of Tibet. He continues to advocate for the rights and autonomy of the Tibetan people.
    Dalai Lama in other rankings
  2. 2
    Martin Luther
    Lucas Cranach the Elder · Public domain
    A German monk who famously protested against the Catholic Church and sparked the Protestant Reformation.
    Martin Luther in other rankings
  3. 3
    An American Trappist monk and author who wrote extensively on spirituality, social justice, and interfaith dialogue.
    Thomas Merton in other rankings
  4. 4
    A Vietnamese Zen master, peace activist, and author who has popularized mindfulness practices in the West.
    Thich Nhat Hanh in other rankings
  5. 5
    Ajahn Chah
    淳和 · CC BY-SA 3.0
    A Thai forest monk and meditation teacher who founded the Western branch of the Thai Forest Tradition.
    Ajahn Chah in other rankings
  6. 6
    Bede Griffiths
    Maria Zakharova · CC BY-SA 3.0
    A British Benedictine monk who spent most of his life in India, where he pioneered the integration of Christian and Hindu spirituality.
  7. 7
    An Italian Capuchin friar who was known for his stigmata, healing powers, and spiritual insights.
    Padre Pio in other rankings
  8. 8
    A British Benedictine monk who revived the ancient Christian practice of meditation and founded the World Community for Christian Meditation.
  9. 9
    An Australian Theravada Buddhist monk and meditation teacher who has become a popular speaker and author on mindfulness and happiness.
  10. 10
    Brother Lawrence
    Unknown authorUnknown author · Public domain
    A French Carmelite lay brother who wrote the classic book "The Practice of the Presence of God" and inspired generations of seekers with his simple, humble spirituality.

Missing your favorite monk?


Ranking factors for famous monk

  1. Influence
    The extent of their impact on society and their ability to inspire change.
  2. Teaching and writing
    The quality and quantity of their written works and teachings that have influenced religious and philosophical thought.
  3. Historical significance
    Whether the monk played a pivotal role in a historical event or movement.
  4. Popularity
    The level of recognition and popularity the monk has gained among people.
  5. Legacy
    The lasting impact of their teachings and contributions on society and future generations.
  6. Degree of asceticism
    The degree of strictness with which they practiced asceticism, that is, their level of self-denial and self-discipline.
  7. Spiritual influence
    Whether their teachings and practices have had a significant impact on spirituality, morality, ethics, and personal growth.

About this ranking

This is a community-based ranking of the most famous monk. We do our best to provide fair voting, but it is not intended to be exhaustive. So if you notice something or monk is missing, feel free to help improve the ranking!


  • 170 votes
  • 10 ranked items

Voting Rules

A participant may cast an up or down vote for each monk once every 24 hours. The rank of each monk is then calculated from the weighted sum of all up and down votes.

More information on most famous monk

Monks have been an integral part of various cultures around the world for centuries. They are known for their ascetic lifestyle, deep spirituality, and their commitment to serving their communities. Throughout history, many monks have gained fame for their contributions to society and their spiritual practices. In this poll, we are exploring the question of who is the most famous monk. From the Buddha to Saint Francis of Assisi, there are many notable figures to consider. Some may argue that the Dalai Lama is the most famous monk due to his status as the spiritual leader of Tibet, while others may point to Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk and writer who gained worldwide recognition for his works on spirituality and social justice. Regardless of your personal beliefs or preferences, this poll provides an opportunity to explore the fascinating world of monks and their impact on society. Cast your vote and see who comes out on top as the most famous monk of all time.

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