First British bhikkhu (monk) and Buddhist missionary, born London, son of electrical engineer. Trained as analytical chemist. Involved in Golden Dawn (magic) movement, with W.B. Yeats et al. 1890: Arnold’s Light of Asia kindled an interest in Buddhism. 1898: “Ill-health drove me from England to the East.” Initially studied Dhamma in Sri Lanka and determined to lead Buddhist mission to Europe. 1901: samanera ordination in Akyab (Burma), 1902: bhikkhu ordination. 1903: founded International Buddhist Society (Buddhasasana Samagama) in Rangoon. 1908: led 1st Mission to England; returned to Burma after 6 months. 1914: ill-health compelled him to disrobe and return to United Kingdom; continued Buddhist propaganda work, which he attempted to finance by his inventions. Books include An Outline of Buddhism and The Wisdom of the Aryas.
Lay Burmese meditation master. 1937: began practising vipassana under Saya Thet Gyi. Mastered several types of concentration meditation and developed powerful vipassana technique. ‘This …involves sweeping the mind through the body, giving special attention to the ever-changing play of sensations…” (Jack Kornfield). 1941: began teaching individuals and small groups; at the same time held down various important posts in lay life, having entered Accountant General’s office and achieved promotion. 1948-1953: Accountant General of Burma; offered vipassana instruction to staff. 1952: founded and taught at International Meditation Centre, Rangoo, where intensive 10-day courses given on regular basis. After retirement (1953), was active as a meditation teacher, developed his centre and was also acting head of several governments department. Married young and raised 6 children. His style, which emphasizes intensive practice rather than theoretical understanding, is taught elsewhere in the world by his disciples, examples, S.N. Goenka, Ruth Dennison, Robert Hover. For further information see, “Tranquillity and Insight” (1986). A. Sole-Leris, London: Rider, page. 136-41.
Buddhadasa ordained as a bhikkhu (Buddhist monk) in 1926, at twenty. After a few years of study in Bangkok, which convinced him “purity is not to be found in the big city,” he was inspired to live close with nature in order to investigate the Buddha-Dhamma. Thus, he established Suan Mokkhabalarama (The Grove of the Power of Liberation) in 1932, in Chaiya District. At that time, it was the only forest Dhamma Center and one of the few places dedicated to vipassana meditation in Southern Thailand. Word of Buddhadasa, his work, and Suan Mokkh spread over the years so that they are easily described as “one of the most influential events of Buddhist history in Thailand.” He studied all schools of Buddhism, as well as the other major religious traditions. This interest was practical rather than scholarly. He sought to unite all genuinely religious people in order to work together to help, as he put it, “drag humanity out from under the power of materialism.” This broadmindedness won him friends and students from around the world, including Christians, Muslims, Hindus, and Sikhs.
Founder of numerous social welfare organizations. Born 1922, Imphal, Manipur State, India, educated Institute of Engineering Technology, Calcutta. World War II: service as Officer. 1946-48: Ramakrishna monk. 1949: bhikkhu ordination.1949-52: Buddhist studies in Sri Lanka. 1952-55: Buddhist studies in Burma under Mahasi Sayadaw. Editorial board, Tipitaka Translation, 6th Buddhist Synod, Burma. 1955-6: taught at Nalanda Postgraduate Institute. 1956: founded Maha Bodhi Society, Bangalore. Later founded: International Meditation Centre, school for indigent Buddhist boys, Buddha Vachana Publishers and Tripitaka Press, Maitri Mandala, Mahabodhi Burns & Casualty Centre (Bangalore), Institute of Buddhology & Pali Studies (Mysore), Artificial Limb Centre (Bangalore), Arogya Centre, etc. 1980: has taught and conducted retreats in UK and USA. Publications including over 50 books.
American-born bhikkbu, born 1944. New York City, of Jewish parentage, educated Brooklyn College. 1972: PhD in Philosophy from Claremont Graduate School. 1967: formally took Three Refuges. 1972: left for Sri Lanka, intending to enter Sangha. 1972: received samanera ordination. 1973:bhikkhu ordination. 1977: returned to United States of America and spent nearly 2 years at Lamaist Buddhist Monastery of Geshe Wangyal and 3 years at Washington Buddhist Vihara. 1982: returned to Sri Lanka. 1984: after periods of meditation training at Mitirigala Nissarana Vanaya, accepted the editorship of the Buddhist Publication Society upon the retirement of Venerable Nyanaponika Mahathera. Now lives together with Venerable Nyanaponika at the Forest Hermitage, Kandy. Publications including Nourishing the Roots; Transcendental Dependent Arising; The Noble Eightfold Path; The Discourse on the All-embracing Net of Views; The Brahmajala Sutta and its Commentarial Exegesis; The Discourse on the Root of Existence; The Mulapariyaya Sutta and its Commentarial Exegesis; The Great Discourse on Causation; The Mahanidana and its Commentarial Exegesis.
Meditation master of the Thai forest tradition. Born in rural village in Lao part of Northeast Thailand. Ordained as a novice in early youth; at 20 took bhikkhu ordination. Studied basic Dhamma, discipline and scriptures as a young monk; later practised meditation under several master of the forest tradition. Lived ascetic life for several years, wandering, sleeping in forests, caves, cremation grounds, then spent a short but enlightening period with Ajahn Mun. Eventually settled in a thick forest grove near birthplace; a large monastery grew up around him there (Wat Pah Pong) from which numerous branch temples have sprung in North East Thailand and elsewhere. 1975: Wat Pah Nanachat established as special training monastery for Westerners. 1977 and 79: visited UK. 1979: visited USA. (Note on Name: Cha was his first lay name. Original bhikkhu name – Subhatto. Was later appointed Chao Khun with new name, Bodhinyana; does not use Chao Khun title but keeps name that goes with it) Books including A Taste of Freedom, A Still Forest Pool and Bohinyana. Died in 1992.
Named used by D.H. Hewavitarne, the famous Buddhist propagandist. Born in Sri Lanka in 1865, he joined the Theosophical Society in 1884. Inspired by H.P. Blavatsky he studied Pali and in 1891 founded the Maha Bodhi Society. He then proclaimed himself as an Anagarika, a homeless wanderer, and worked hard for the main object of the Society, the restoration of Buddha Gaya into Buddhist hands, which was only achieved in 1949. In 1925 he founded the British Maha Bodhi Society in London. In 1931 he entered the Order as Sri Devamitta Dhammapala, and died in 1933.
Vipassana meditation teacher. Born 1924, Burma. For many years a high-powered businessman with family responsibilities; also performed social good work. 1955: experimented with U Ba Khin’s vipassana method hoping to gain migraine relief: was completely cured and achieved deep spiritual insight as well. For next 14 years an energetic student of U Ba Khin. 1969: returned to India; conducted own 1st vipassana course in Bombay; others followed in many parts of India; his ‘camps’ attended by all sort of people. 1976: Vipassana International Academy (VIA) established at Igatpuri (Maharashtra state); other centres later established at Hyderabad and Jaipur, smaller ones at Dharamsala, Barachakia and in Nepal. In West, Vipassana Meditation centre inaugurated at Shelburne Falls, Mass, USA in 1982; other centres established in Great Britain and Australia. Has lately retired from business to devote himself to teaching meditation and now holds courses every year in Europe, USA, Canada, Japan, Australia and New Zealand.
A prominent English Buddhist. Adopted Buddhism as a way of life in 1918. Attended Buddhist lectures by Francis Payne in 1923. On 19th November 1924 founded, with Miss Aileen Faulkner, later his wife, the Buddhist Lodge of the Theosophical Society, which in 1926 became the Buddhist Society. Publisher of the journal The Middle Way and was Vice President of the World Fellowship of Buddhists.
b.1928, novice age 15, fully ordained age 19, this gifted scholar became a lecturer in Buddhist scriptures at Mandalay Mahavisuddhayone University before (1954/5) becoming an editor and reciter of Pali texts for the sixth council. Studied Vipassana under Mahasi Sayadaw 1953/4. 1957 commenced six years in Sri lanka where he continued his Pali and scriptural studies and passed the London GCE A levels. !967 returned to Burma as meditation teacher at Mahasi Sasana Yeiktha. In 1979 took up residence at Chanmyay Meditation Centre, constructed for him by devotees, and is often known as Chanmyay Saydaw. 1979/80 accompanied Mahasi Sayadaw on missions to the West and has since then made over twenty missions.
Pioneer British bhikkhu and Pali scholar. Born 1932, near London. At Suez Canal with British Army, received book on Buddhism. Later joined Buddhist Society in London; 3 years late took samanera ordination under Venerable Dr H. Saddhatissa at London Buddhist Vihara. After 1 year in the robe in UK, left for 3 years in India, studying Pali, travelling and teaching Dr Ambedkar’s new Buddhists. Took bhikkhu ordination under Abbot of Wat Cakkapat, Bangkok; studied at Wat Bovoranives; also practised meditation under various distinguished teachers. After 11 years in Thailand went to Australia with senior Thai bhikkhu to set up Wat Buddharangsee in Sydney. Later moved to Sri Lanka; worked at Buddhist Publication Society (Kandy). Subsequently returned to Australia and taught at Wat Buddha-Dhamma, Wisemen’s Ferry, NSW. Disrobed after 30 years in the Sangha, married a young Sinhalese woman and lives in Carins, Queensland, trying to create a Buddhist community. Books including Banner of the Arahants, A Life of the Buddha, Calm and Insight, Nanamoli, Tolerance and What is Buddhism? ; also a translation of Dhammapada and edited Nanamoli’s translation of Majjhima Nikaya.
Born in Berlin in 1923 to Jewish parents. In 1938, she escaped from Germany. 1978: She helped to establish Wat Buddha-Dhamma, a forest monastery near Sydney, Australia. 1979: Ordained as a nun in Sri Lanka by Narada Mahathera. In Colombo she set up the International Buddhist Women’s Centre as a training centre for Sri Lankan nuns, and the Parappuduwa Nun’s Island at Dodanduwa. She was the spiritual director of Buddha-Haus in Germany, established in 1989 under her auspices. In June 1997 “Metta Vihara”, the first Buddhist forest monastery in Germany, was inaugurated by her, and the first ordinations in the German language took place there. In 1987 she co-ordinated the first international conference of Buddhist nuns in the history of Buddhism, which resulted in the setting-up of Sakyadhita, a world-wide Buddhist women’s organisation. Ayya Khema has written twenty-five book on meditation and the Buddha’s teachings in English and German; her books have been translated into seven languages. In 1988, her book “Being Nobody, Going Nowhere” received the Christmas Humphreys Memorial Award.
Mahasi Sayadaw (U Sobhana Mahathera) best known for reviving Theravada Vipassana meditation. In 1949, on the invitation of the Prime Minister, U Nu, Mahasi Sayadaw taught at the Sasana Yeiktha (Meditation Centre) in Rangoon. Within a few years of the establishment of the Sasana Yeiktha, similar meditation centres were inaugurated in many parts of the country with Mahasi-trained members of the Sangha as meditation teachers. These centres were not confined to Burma alone, but extended to neighbouring Theravada countries like Thailand and Sri Lanka. At the Sixth Buddhist Council in 1954, Mahasi Sayadaw had the exacting task of Osana (Final Editor) and Pucchaka (Questioner). A unique feature of this Council was the editing of the commentaries (Atthakatha) and sub-commentaries (tikas), as well as the canonical texts.
Meditation master of the forest tradition of Northeast Thailand. Studied basic Dharma and mastered Pali before embarking upon meditation training. Spent many years practising meditation as a forest monk; received much instruction from Ajahn Mun, who sternly lectured him on the difference between bliss states (jhana) and the wisdom of Enlightenment. He emphasizes the development of strong and steady concentration in practice as a forerunner to the arising of wisdom’ (Kornfield). For further information see Living Buddhist Masters, by Jack Kornfield, chapter 9.
Meditation master of the Thai forest tradition. Born into Kankaew family in Ubol Rajahani, Northeast Thailand. Took samanera ordination in Khasmbong at age 15. Disrobed after 2 years for family reasons but returned to robe at age 22, taking bhikkhu ordination at Wat Liab. Afterwards trained with Phra Ajahn Sao Kantisilo of Wat Liab. ‘Under his guidance the Ascetic Forest Tradition became a very important tradition in the revival of Buddhist meditation practice. The vast majority of recently deceased and presently living meditation masters in Thailand are either direct disciples of … (his) … or were substantially influenced by his Teachings’ (footnote in Bodhinyana). ‘One of the most renowned of the Thai-Lao forest teachers of this century, known for his mastery of concentration and insight practices, for his great powers, and for the fierceness of his teaching style’ (Jack Kornfield). Biography: The Venerable Phra Achaan Mun Bhuridatta, compiled by Achaan Maha Boowa (English translated by Siri Buddhasukh).
Pioneer British bhikkhu and Pali scholar educated Exeter College, Oxford. Discovered Buddhism via Julius Evola’s The Doctrine of Awakening while serving in Italy during Word War II. Joined BBC after War. 1949: went to Sri Lanka and ordained samanera with friend, Harold Musson. 1950:bhikkhu ordination at Vajirarama Temple (Colombo), then translated Visuddhimagga into English as The Path of Purification; also translated Nettippakarana (‘The Guide’) and Patisambhidamagga (‘Path of Discrimination’), most of the suttas of the Majjhima Nikaya and several from the Samyutta Nikaya; died suddenly while on pilgrimage at Majo; cremated at Vajirarama Temple. Other books including The Life of the Buddha and A Thinker’s Note Book.
Pioneer European bhikkhu. (1901-94) Hanauam-Main, West Germany of Jewish parents. Converted to Buddhism via books while living in Upper Silesia. 1922: moved to Berlin and met other German Buddhists. Later formed a Buddhist study circle in Konigsberg (East Prussia). 1936: to Sri Lanka; samanera ordination at Island Hermitage Dodanduwa. 1937: bhikkhu ordination. World War II – interned as enemy alien in Dehra Dun (North India). 1951: went to Burma with Nyanatiloka Mahathera for 6th Buddhist Council. Has served as delegate to World Fellowship of Buddhists (WFB) conferences at Rangoon, Bangkok and Phnom Penh; has also served as one of the Vice-Presidents of WFB, for a term. 1952 and after: resident at Forest Hermitage, Kandy. 1958-84: Founder- Editor of the Buddhist Publication Society (BPS); President till 1988. Books in English including The Heart of Buddhist Meditation and Abhidhamma Studies, and ” The Vision of Dhamma”.
Pioneer European bhikkhu and notable Pali scholar. Born Wiesbaden (Germany). After high school devoted himself to music in Frankfurt and Paris, then journeyed to India via Greece, Middle East and Ceylon. 1903: samanera ordination in Rangoon; bhikkhu ordination the following year (the 1st non-British Western one). 1910-11: left Sri Lanka and travelled to Europe; stayed mainly in Switzerland (Lausanne area) and brought many to Buddhism; ordained 1st samanera on European soil. 1911:returned to Sri Lanka; thereafter lived at the Island Hermitage in Ratgama Lake, Dodanduwa. Interned during World War I as enemy alien. 1916: given passport to return to Germany via United States of America; travelled to Honolulu and then went to China but was arrested in Chungking and imprisoned in Hankow until 1919, then exchanged by the International Red Cross and sent back to Germany. Unable to return to Sri Lanka in 1920, so went on to Japan, became professor at Komazawa University. 1926: finally got back to Sri Lanka. World War II: again interned. 1946: returned to Dodanduwa. Nyanaponika Thera one of his disciple. Books including A Buddhist Dictionary, Guide Through the Abhidhamma, Path to Deliverance and The Word of the Buddha.
Prominent English -educated Sinhalese bhikkhu. Born Colombo suburb; educated SPCK school, St. Benedict’s College (RC) and Paramananda Vihara Sunday School. Entered Sangha at 18; teacher Pelene Vajiranana Mahanayaka Thera; received traditional monastic education but also studied philosophy, logic and ethics at U College (Colombo). Gained experience of Dhammaduta work with Servants of the Buddha Society. 1929: 1st journey aboard (to India); later travelled widely in South East Asia and developed closest ties with Indonesia and Vietnam; also promoted Theravada Buddhism in Western Europe. Was elected President of the Buddhist Vihara Society (founded London 1948). A few short stays in London. Also visited Australia. Publications including Buddhism in a Nutshell, The Buddha and His Teachings, The Buddhist Conception of Mind or Consciousness, The Buddhist Doctrine of Kamma and Rebirth, Brahma Viharas or The Sublime States, The Way to Nibbana, The Life of the Buddha, The Bodhisatta Ideal and An Elementary Pali Course. Translations including The Dhammapada and Abhidhammathasangaha – A Manual of Abhidhamma.
b.1921, commenced study age 7, novice age 12, fully ordained age 20. Studied under many eminent Dhamma teachers and passed Pali and Dhamma examinations culminating in the Dhammachariya degree in 1952. First practised Vipassana 1950 under Mahasi Sayadaw and played important role in 6th Sangha Council. In 1959 accompanied Mahasi to Sri lanka and spent 3 yrs there opening new centres. On return to Burma became chief meditation teacher to three temples. Upon death of Mahasi in 1982, was elected principal precentor of Buddha Sasana Nuggaha Organization. Headed main Mahasi temple them moved to his own meditation centre. Has made many visits to the West and is head of many temples and centres.
Sri Lankan scholar monk. Well-known preacher who criticized some popular Buddhist practices and took especial interest in social and economic matters; entered struggle for political freedom. Worked with Miss I.B. Horner of the Pali Text Society, and lectured widely in the USA and Japan. Best known book: What the Buddha Taught.
Ven. Dr: Senior Burmese bhikkhu teaching in UK. Born 1929, Thamangone, Henzada dist, Burma. Joined local monastery at 5 and studied under various teachers. Age 11: samanera ordination. Age 20: bhikkhu ordination; preceptor – Myint Kwet Sayadaw of Henzada. Studied Pali and Theravada Buddhism at Aung Mingala Thidthi monastery, Rangoon; passed all exams to final Dhammacariya grade. Later went to Dakkhi Narama monastery, Mandalay, to study canon and commentaries under various eminent teachers. Afterwards appointed a teacher Aung Mingala Thidthi. Age 23: awarded title of Sasanadhaja Siripavaradhammacariya by President of Burma, 1956 : studied at Banaras Hindu and Varanasi University’s 1964: obtained Master’s degree in Sanskrit. 1967: PhD from Babaras Hindu University. Hon lecturer at both u’s 1972: resigned to develop vipassana meditation under S.N. Goenka; had previously practised with, and been appointed a teacher by, Mahasi Sayadaw. 1975: came to England at invitation of West Midlands Buddhist Centre (Birmingham); appointed Spiritual Director by Gyalwa Karmapa. Helped set up other Buddhist Centres in Birmingham, London and I o Man. Since 1975: has travelled widely in UK, Europe, USSR, Far East and USA, teachings, lecturing, etc. 1982: appointed member of University Court of Birmingham University. Publications including edition of Abhidhammathasangaha (with commentary), a 3 volume editions of Visuddhimagga (with commentary), edition of First Sermon of the Buddha (in Hindi), etc. To 1975: Chief Editor of Parami (English/ Hindi periodical). 1969: appointed Chief Editor of Encyclopaedia of Buddhist Technical Terms by Sanskrit University, Varanasi.
Rhys Davids, Caroline (nee Foley, 1858-1942)
Pioneer Pali scholar. Educated U C London; Master Degree and DLitt degree; also became Fellow. Later Reader in Pali at School of Oriental & African Studies and Lecturer in Indian Philosophy at Manchester University. 1984: married T.W. Rhys Davids; issue- 2 daughters, 1 son. Collaborated with husband in Pali Text society (PTS); succeeded him as President, ‘ Interested in isolating in the Pali Canon the actual teaching of the Buddha…’ (Christmas Humphreys). Numerous trans and editions; books including Gotama the Man, Sakya or Buddhist Origins and Wayfarer’s Words.
Pioneer Pali scholar. Born. Colchester, son of Congregationalist minister. Educated Brighton and University of Breslau (Germany, where he gained PhD. 1864: entered Ceylon Civil Service. Drawn to Pali studies when work as magistrate produced a case involving a point of Buddhist ecclesiastical law, learnt Pali from Sumangala Thera (Yatramulle Unnanse). 1872: resigned from CCS; returned to London and studied Law. 1877: called to Bar; law practice did not flourish, so concentrated upon Pali and Buddhist studies. 1881: delivered Hibbert Trust Lecturers; also announced the formation of the Pali Text Society. 1894: married Caroline Augusta Foley, who had similar academic interests. 1882: Professor of Pali at London University. 1885-1904: Secretary and Librarian of Royal Asiatic Society; also a founder of School of Oriental & African Studies (London University). 1894: lectured at Cornell University. 1889-1900: visited Bodh Gaya and other Buddhist holy places in India. 1904-10: Professor of Comparative Religion, Victoria University, Manchester. 1907: President of Buddhist Society of Great Britain & Ireland. 1910: elected President of India Society. Retired to Chipstead, Surrey. Numerous editions and trans; books including The Ancient Coins & Measures of Ceylon, Manual of Buddhism; Buddhism, its history & Literature and Buddhist India. Co-author with Dr Wm Stede of Pali-English Dictionary.
Senior Sri Lankan born bhikkhu and scholar. (1914-90), Hammalawa, Satkorale province, Sri Lanka. 1926: bhikkhu ordination. Undergraduate studies at Vidyodaya Pirivena and Prachina Bhasopakara Samagama (Sri Lanka); also studied Banaras, London (SOAS, 1958-1961) and Edinburgh (PhD 1965). Proficient in Pali, Sanskrit, Prakrit, Sinhala and Hindi. 1940-1973: held various academic posts, including Professor of Pali, Banaras Hindu University (1956-7); Lecturer in Sinhala at SOAS, London (1958-60); Professor of Buddhism & Pali at Toronto University (1966-69); visiting lecturer at Oxford (1973). Has also conducted lecture tours in Europe, USA and Japan. 1956: at Nagpur (India) as advisor to Dr Amdedkar during mass conversions of former ‘untouchables’ to Buddhism. 1957: Head of London Buddhist Vihara until 1985. 1966: revived British Mahabodhi Society (defunct since World War II); became its President. Has helped establish other centres, including new London Buddhist Vihara (1964), Buddhist Centre, Oakenholt, Oxford (1971); Buddhist Research Library, Nugegoda, Sri Lanka (1984); Buddha Vihara, Handsworth, Brimingham (1986). Current appointments including President, Sangha Council of Great Britain (1966). Sanghanayaka Thera (Buddhist Primate) of UK (1980); Vice-President, Pali Text Society (1984). Books in English including The Buddha’s Way, Buddhist Ethics; Essence of Budhism; Handbook for Buddhists; Introduction to Buddhism and The Life of the Buddha. Various editions of Pali texts.
American-born Theravada meditation master; founder of various Western monasteries. Born 1934. Began Far East Studies at University of Washington; studies interrupted by spell of service in US Navy during Korean War; visited Japan and encountered Buddhism. Later returned to University of Washington to complete degree; then to University of California for MA in Asian Studies; this completed 1963. 1964: to Borneo with Peace Corps; then to Thailand; taught English part-time at Thammasat University, Bangkok and practised meditation. On vacation in Laos recommended to ordain in temple in Nong Kai (Northeast Thailand); practised solo for 1 year; later became a disciple of Ajahn Cha at Wat Pah Pong in Ubon Province. 1973: after 7 Vassa (Rains Retreats) allowed to visit India as dhutanga monk. 1974: established and became Abbot of the international Wat Pah Nanachat at Bung Wai. 1976: 1st return visit to USA; visited UK and contacted English Sangha Trust. 1977: came to UK with Ajahn Cha at invitation of English Sangha Trust; resided at Hampstead Buddhist Vihara.1979: established Chithurst Forest Monastery (Wat Pah Cittaviveka) with 108 acres of forest in rural West Sussex (UK) and became 1st Abbot. Various other centres have sprung from this: Amaravati (Hemel Hempstead), Harnham Vihara (Northumberland) and the Devon Vihara. PresentlyAbbot of Amaravati, but teaches elsewhere and goes on regular world tours. Hon President of the Buddhist Society (London). Books including Cittaviveka (Teachings from the Silent Mind), The Path to the Deathless, The Way It Is and The Mind and the Way.
Senior Burmese bhikkhu. (1896-1997), Pyawbwe, Central Burma. Samanera at 15 under U Kavinda; bhikkhu ordination at 20 under Ashin Adicca Vamsa. At 25 passed doctoral exams with highest hons; taught and lectured in Rangoon for 12 years. 1938-1952: in UK; spend war years there; worked as stretcher bearer in Blitz. Onetime Librarian at Buddhist Society. Lectured widely, especially on Abhidhamma. 1952: returned to Burma; became Professor of Pali at Rangoon University. Has again visited UK and USA. Translations including Vibbanga (Book of Analysis).