Buddhist Temple in Delhi

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Anagarika Dharmapala

timthumbThe Late Anagarika Dharmapala, a product of British Ceylon (Sri Lanka) who became a Buddhist through conviction in 1891 established the Maha Bodhi Society as the pioneer Buddhist Organization of India and in some nations after the vision of his mission; e.g. “Great things are in store for India” (1896). He established branch centers in the length and breath of India under difficult circumstances and adversity. He fought for the cause of the ‘Renaissance’ of Buddhism and is now acclaimed as the Reformer of Buddhism in modern India. On his first visit to Bodhgaya, he was deeply saddened to witness the neglected state of affairs of the ancient Maha Bodhi Temple and took the unshakable resolve to revive Buddhism in the land of its origin. Thereafter, he visited Sarnath in 1891 and was equally shocked to see the utter neglect and indifference shown towards the sacred place of Buddha’s First Sermon and hence the Birth Place of Buddhism. He decided to stay at Sarnath for the rest of his life and make it a lively center of Buddhist activities.

Anagarika Dharmapala founded the Maha Bodhi Society of India to revive Buddhism and re-build Sarnath and he was able to persuade the British authorities who were in power at that time to take all possible measures to preserve the sacred site. His first task was to construct the Mulagandha Kuty Vihara and then to set up schools, a library, a monastery and a rest house for pilgrims. He succeeded in all these endeavors.

He took the noble teachings of the Buddha to the West when he attended the Parliament of World Religions in 1893. In 1908, he travelled to Europe extensively and started the British Maha Bodhi Society. He proposed patriotism among the people of Sri Lanka, then Ceylon under the British.

Anagarika Dharmapala who rendered an invaluable and limitless service to the revival and spread of Buddhism took ordination in the last stages of his life and left this mortal world in Sarnath leaving behind an incomparable legacy in the service of  Thus, Anagarika Dharmapala went down into history as the noble man who made a pioneering contribution to the revival of Buddhism in India and elsewhere.