Noi Gajavatra was a son of Nai Lek and Nang Daeng-Im and a grandson of Luang Phiphit Phakdi and Nang Jean. Luang Phiphit Phakdi was a native of Ayutthaya who worked as a civil servant in Bangkok . He was sent to work in the southern District of Chaiya and was once summoned by King Rama III to attend to war prisoners at Phra Tabong. Luang Phiphit Phakdi had two wives, both of whom were natives of Chaiya. One was called Tub and the other, Noon . His third wife, Taem, was a Phumriang native. In 1838, Indians invaded Trang and Songkhla provinces and King Rama III commanded Phraya Sri Phiphat (or Thad who was later promoted to Somdet Chao Phraya Borom Maha Phichaiyat during the reign of King Rama IV) to lead the troops to suppress the invasion. Luang Phiphit Phakdi was called on to join the troops, at which time he met with his fourth wife, Jean. She was a daughter of Phra Palad Mueang Takua Thung (Son) and a granddaughter of Phra Takua Thung or Phraya Lohaphumiphisai (or Khun Dam, a Nakhon Si Thammarat native). Later on, Luang Phiphit Phakdi took his wife, Jean, to settle down in Bangkok . He also sent for his third wife, Taem from Phumriang, to join the family. By this time, the other two wives had already passed away.
Luang Phiphit Phakdi's elder brother was then Phraya Phichai Songkram, Governor of Mueang Srisawasdi, Kanchanaburi. His uncle was Phraya Prasitthi Songkram (Kham), Governor of Kanchanaburi. Later on, Luang Phiphit Phakdi resigned from the civil service and moved to Kanchanaburi with his two wives.
It was said that Luang Phiphit Phakdi was a tough man as he once whipped a prisoner to death while working in Chaiya. After the event, he felt distressed and decided to leave the civil service. However, there was a rumor that the actual cause of his resignation was his affair with Jean, the daughter of Phra Palad Mueang Takua Thung, which got him into trouble.
Upon learning that Luang Phiphit Phakdi and his family had moved to Kanchanaburi, Phra Phichai Songkram, his brother, tried to persuade him to return to the civil service. But he refused and earned his living by working in a rice field.
Noi Gajavatra studied and was ordained as a Buddhist monk for two years in the monastery of Phra Khru Singgaburaganacharn (Sud), the Abbot of Wat Devasangharam (Wat Nua), a temple in the neighborhood. Phra Khru Singgaburaganacharn was the youngest son of Luang Phiphit Phakdi and Nang Jean. Thus, he was Noi's youngest uncle. After leaving monkhood, Noi worked as a clerk for the Ministry of Interior Affairs in Kanchanaburi and later married Kimnoi.
Kimnoi was a Chinese and Vietnamese descendent. Her Chinese ancestors, on the other hand, came from Mainland China by boat and settled down in Kanchanaburi. They were mainly traders. Her Vietnamese ancestors migrated to Thailand during the reign of King Rama III. At the time when Chao Phraya Bodindecha (Singha, the ancestor of the Singhaseni family) led his troops to suppress rioting in Vietnam , he brought back a group of Vietnamese families and offered them to the king. The king mercifully allowed the Buddhist Vietnamese to settle down in Kanchanaburi in late 1829. Their duty was to safeguard the city fortress. Meanwhile, the Vietnamese Christians were sent to settle down with other Vietnamese Christians in Samsen District, Bangkok . Kimnoi's Vietnamese ancestors were called “Yuan Khrua”
Kimnoi was a daughter of Nai Thongkham (a Vietnamese descendant) and Nang Henglek Sae Tan (a Chinese descendant). She was born in Ban Nua Sub-district , Mueang District, Kanchanaburi. After marrying Noi, she changed her name to “Daengkaew” but soon changed back to her previous name, Kimnoi or Noi, and used this name for the rest of her life.
Noi Gajavatra began his career as a clerk and was later promoted to the Acting Assistant Chief. Unfortunately, he had to leave the position temporarily due to severe illness. When he resumed his civil service duties, he worked as an Assistant District Chief at Wangkhanai, Kanchanaburi Province . Afterwards, he was transferred to Samut Songkram Province to assume the position of Amphawa Assistant District Chief. While serving there, he was found to have cancer and returned to his hometown in Kanchanaburi for medical treatment where he died at the age of 38, leaving three small children to be raised by his wife. They were:
- His Holiness Somdet Phra Nyanasamvara,
the Supreme Patriarch
of the Thai Sangha (Charoen Gajavatra)
- Mr. Chamnian Gajavatra
- Mr. Samut Gajavatra (Deceased)
His Holiness the Supreme Patriarch had been brought up by Aunt Heng, Kimnoi's elder sister, from childhood through his ordination as a novice. Aunt Heng gave such care and affection to His Holiness that he was feared to become a spoiled child.
His Holiness has a warm and happy childhood living with his aunt, though he constantly suffered from physical illness. Once his illness got so bad that his relatives, believing that he would not survive, made a vow to have him ordained if he were to regain his health – partly a reason why he was ordained as a novice later on in life.
As a child, His Holiness liked to role-play a monk and perform a variety of religious-like ceremonies such as building a cave, making a pagoda, laying robes as an offering for monks, or placing things in baskets for alms etc. In addition, he loved making toys that resembled articles used by monks, e.g. a tiny sermon scripture or a tiny palm leaf fan etc.
Another of his unusual childhood habit was playing with candles. This habit originated because his aunt had to leave home for work every day before sunrise. Since he had to wake up at the same time as his aunt and refused to go back to sleep, his aunt had to find something for him to play with. He would light up a candle and fix his gaze on its flame in the dark until daybreak.
Like all children, His Holiness also had some bad habits. He used to enjoy raising fighting fish, watching cockfights, and even drinking Krachae (locally made liquor) with his friends. However, those habits did not make him a mischievous person.
At eight years old, His Holiness began his education at Wat Devasangharam School , a local elementary school with the temple's open pavilion used as a classroom. He completed the mandatory education at Prathom 3. Had he wanted to continue his education at secondary level, he would have had to move to Wat Chai Chumphol Chana Songkram School (Wat Tai), which was a provincial school. However, he decided to remain at the same school to continue his study in Prathom 4 and 5 (equivalent to Matayom 1 and 2 but without English subjects taught). As a student, he applied for membership of Junior Red Cross and Boy Scout. He successfully passed the first-class Boy Scout test. His Holiness completed Prathom 5 in 1925 at the age of 12 years old.
On completion of Prathom 5, since he had no one to guide him, he felt that he had reached a dead end, not knowing what and where to study next. Admittedly, in his childhood, he always felt insecure and was afraid of strangers since the only person he felt attached to was his aunt. He thus preferred to stay close to her and ended up unable to make any decision regarding his studies.