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Buddha dharma’s coming back to India in 20th century.

Anagarika Dharmapala (Pali-Dhammapala)(1864-1933) from Sri Lanka (then Ceylon) came to India
in1891,on pilgrimage to the recently restored Mahabodhi temple in Bodhgaya. Anagarika means a
homless one. His experience here compelled him to start a peaceful agitation movement for the
handing over of the Bodh gaya Mahavihara to the Buddhists from the hands of the Saivite brahmin
mahants. The Mahabodhi society was formed in in 1891 in Colombo. In 1892, it’s office was moved to
Calcutta,India. The organisation’s early efforts were for the restoration of ancient Buddhist sites of
Bodhgaya ,where Buddha was enlightened, Sarnath, were Buddha preached his first sermon,the
Dharma chakra pravarthana sutta and Kusinagara ,were Buddha died. Centers of Mahabodhi society
were set up in many Indian cities.

Anagarika Dharmapala had Participated in parliament of world religions held in Chicago in

1893,where he became a centre of attraction and admiration. Attention of the west towards
Buddhism was greatly aroused by his speeches.Swami Vivekananda from India too was attending this
parliament. Angarika Dharmapala then came to India and stepped up activities for reviving Buddha

Anagarika Dharmapala was ordained as a Bhikshu in 1933. Thus he became Bhikku Dhammapala(Pali).
The same year he died in Sarnath. It took many years to succeed his efforts. Buddha and Buddha
dharma came to the notice of many a people. Many people from different parts of the country
accepted Buddha dharma by their own conviction.

Acarya Dharmananda Kosambi(1876-1947) from Goa went all the way from India to Nepal to Ceylon
(Sri Lanka) to Burma(Myanmar)to study Buddha Dharma from traditional Sources. He became a great
scholar of Pali language. Translated many original pali texts to English and wrote a few books on
Buddha dharma in Indian languages.

In the beginning he was in Calcutta University under the patronage of the leaders of the nationalist
movement from Bengal. Then he went to Harvard University, America, where he made monumental
contributions in publishing many a Pali texts in English. In Harvard he studied Russian and took a keen
interest in Marxism. He went to the then Soviet Union in 1929 to work with the Buddhist scholars
there. He taught Pali in Leningrad University. Later he came to Gujarat to stay with Mahatma Gandhi
in his Sabarmati ashram and then to Wardha ashram. He participated in the Quit India struggle and
went to Jail. Acarya Dharmananda kosambi popularized Buddha dharma among the intellectual class
all over India in the first half of the 20thcentury.
Rahul sankrityayan, a Buddhist and Marxist, Bhikku Jagdish kasyap and Bhikku Anand Kausalyayan
followed the way Acarya Dharmanand travelled. Later, his more illustrious son D.D.Kosambi took
over from his father the studies in Pali and other ancient languages. He is famous as a Mathematician
and a radical Marxist historian.

Dr. B.R. Ambedkar (1891-1956) basically from Maharashtra was born in Mhow. Discriminated much in
India ,being a member of the depressed classes, he had his mentors in Sahu Maharaj of Kolhapur and
Gaikward the Maharaja of Boroda. He was fortunate to receive his education from prestigious
universities of America and England with their help. A social revolutionary, Scholar and political leader
he accepted Buddha dharma in 1956 with more than half a million of his followers. That conversion
was an earth shaking move in Indian society. It was more of a political move than of religious. He
wrote his magnum opus ‘Buddha and his dhamma’. Later ,thousands and thousands of his followers
joined that religion. Though he was a convert to Theravada / Hinayana Buddhism, since the rituals and
ceremonies of conversion was conducted by Sri Lankan Monks of that tradition, the millions of those
converts are known as Neo-Buddhists now. A word ‘Navayana’ is coined by them to express the

These were movements to revive Buddha Dharma at intellectual , religious and even political levels in
India. In the meanwhile a deeper movement was gaining momentum in America and Europe. It
started spreading widely in the second half of the 20th century. From the 70s onwards its presence
was felt in India too. It was the Buddhist meditation movement.

Vipassana,Zen and Tibetan meditation.

In the millennium that proceeded Gautama Buddha his Dharma followers were polarized mainly in
three traditions. Theravada/Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. All three teaches meditation
according to their traditions. Thus, we have Vipassana and Satipattana in Theravada tradition, Chan
and Zen in Mahayana tradition and Lamrim,Lojong and other tantric meditations in Vajrayana
tradition. While,Theravada tradition prevails in Indo-china, Myanmar and Sri lanka, it is Mahayana
tradition in China and Japan. Vajarayana is maintained in Tibetan practice.

In 19th century In Thailand, a Theravada Buddhist country of Indo-China, Buddhist meditation was re-
discovered by their Monks. Ajahn Mun Bhuridatta and his student Ajahn Chah are prominent names
in this rediscovery. The name of this meditation method was Vipassana. In the scriptures Buddha
speaks of Samatha and Vipassana ‘Bhavana’. The revival trends started appearing in Myanmar(then
Burma) and Sri lanka (then Ceylon) too. Ledi Sayadaw and Mahassi Sayadaw are the prominent
Burmese names. All of these Thai and Burmese teachers have their western students. They gave
name and fame to Vipassana in the West.

The most illustrious and popular Vipassana teacher in India, Sri S.N. Goenka(1924-2013) belongs to
the Ledi Sayadaw tradition. Sri Goenka’s teacher was Sayagji U Ba Khin. Vipassana as taught by
Sri.S.N.Goenka has taken deep roots in India and abroad. There are more than 160 centers the world
over. More than70centers in India alone .Around 1500assistant teachers were been trained by him.
And around 150000 attend the Vipassana courses led by the assistant teachers of Sri. Goenka, the
world over every year. Aravind Kejriwal,Kiran Bedi,Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi etc are just a few
among the high profile individuals who have become the practitioners and votaries of Vipassana
taught in this tradition.

Bhikku Rashtrapal thera too was a pioneer of Vipassana teachers in India. He has been teaching
Vipassana to Indian western peoples at his meditation centre in Bodhgaya. Anagarika Munindra and
Dipa Ma were too distinguished Vipassana teachers in India and abroad. All three come from Barua
families, the traditional Bengali Buddhists living in Chittagong, now in Bangladesh.

Buddhist monk Acharya Buddharakkhita was too was a distinguished teacher of Vipassana in
Bangalur.He was born in Imphal,India. A freedom fighter,and a professionalEngineer worked in
defence service,finaly he was ordinated as a monk.He founded the Mahabodhi society in Bangalur,
which was functioning independently.

Vajrayana teachings and Tibetan practices came to India with the refugees who fled Tibet with the
complete taking over of Tibet by China. West being their sympathizers and mentors many Tibetan
teachers/Lamas went to western countries. Tibetan meditation is known widely in Europe and
America. Lama Yeshe and his successor Lama Zopa Rimpoche with their large network of Dharma
centers, is well known in the west. Chogyan Trungpa was very controversial master lived in the west.

In india Tushita meditation centre Dharamshala, Root institute in Bodhgaya etc. are run by the
disciples of Lama Zopa.Many centers owing allegiance to other masters too thrive on in places like
Dehradun, Darjeeling ,Gangtok, Kathmandu and so on.

Zen had its first appearance in the west during the parliament of world religions. Soyen Shaku who
represented Rinzai Zen was received warmly and was requested to stay. His student D.T.Suzuki
remained in the U.S. D.T. Suzuki’s role in popularizing Zen in the west was superb. There are hundreds
of Christian and non Christian masters teaching Zen in Europe and America.Fr. Thomas Merton and Fr.
Enomiya Lassalle were well known names who inaugurated Christian Buddhist dialogue.After the 2nd
war many Japanese opened their Zendos to householders ,priests ,nuns and all. The Sanbo Kyodan
Zen school of Yasutani roshi and Yamada roshi was one among them.
Zen master Amasamy is the one who has acquainted Fr. Lassalle and was trained by Yamada roshi. So
far, he remains as the only master in India who has proper traditional training and authentication to

Zen Master Amasamy and his Zen teachings .

This brief note on his life we read in the website of Bodhizendo.

Fr.AMA samy ( Arul Maria Arokiasamy )was born of poor Indian parents in Burma in 1936. As a boy he
came in to some contact with Burmese Buddhism and Buddhist monks. Back in India after the war, he
was brought up for a few years by his maternal grandfather, who was a devotee of a Muslim saint.
The grandfather died in an accident, leaving the young boy without support and guidance. However
the boy finished the school and joined the Jesuits.

Even after becoming a priest, his heart was restless after God. His heart was not fulfilled by Christian
spirituality. He began visiting Hindu ashrams and Buddhist meditation centers. He was introduced to
Ramana Maharshi by Swami Abhishikthananda, and was much moved by ramana’s vision. His quest
and searching led him to become a wandering beggar for a while and settle down as hermit near a
holy shrine; the village people fed him.

It was Zen way which drew him most. With the help of Fr. Enomiya Lassalle, he went to Japan and
was able to train with Yamada Ko-Un Roshi of Sanbo Kyodan. In 1982 Yamada ko-Un gave him
transmission and authorization to teach. Fr.AMA Samy is rooted in Christianity and Zen; he can be said
to stand in-between Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity. He stands true to Christ, true to Zen and
true to the human heart-mind.

Fr. AMA Samy spends every year abroad, mostly in Europe, teaching and helping his students. He is
the founder of Bodhi Sangha.

A close look at his way to Bodhizendo and Bodhi Sangha.

While Amasamy was a young Jesuit scholastic in Devankottai (T.N) in 1966-67 he met Swami
Abhishikthananda. Since he was fed up with his work and the Jesuit attitudes and life style and also
since he had an attraction to sanyasa and ashram life, he requested Swami Abhishikthananda to take
him as his disciple. But, Swami Abhishikthananda persuaded him to continue his studies and to
become a priest, adding that ‘even after that if you feel like following me you can come’. Swami
Abhishikthananda introduced him to Ramana Maharshi’s teachings and Ramana Ashram. So also to
Swami Gnanananda, an Advaida Master in Thirukoilur(T.N).
In 1972 Amasamy was ordained as a priest. Fr. Amasamy visited Ramana ashram many times. He
stayed with Swami Gnanananda for a few days. He visited many ashrams and meditation centers all
through from north to south. Attended a few Vipassana courses too.

In the meanwhile, he met Fr. Enomiyo Lassalle , a German Jesuit Priest and Zen master. He used to
visit India. Amasamy did a few Zen retreats with him and red a few books on Zen by him. Fr. Lassalle
had stayed in Japan and studied Zen with Yamada Ko-Un Roshi a famous Zen Master and the head of
the Sanbo Kyodan Zen school In Japan.

Fr. Amasamy’s restlessness and questions remained in spite of his engaging in Jesuit works. With the
permission of his provincial he settled as a hermit and lived as a beggar sanyasi.

Fr. Lassalle with whom Fr. Amasamy was in contact with persuaded his provincial to send him to
Japan to study with Yamada Roshi. He was permitted. From 1978 he started to go to japan. With great
difficulty, because of financial constraints and problems with his superiors and provincials Fr.
Amasamy completed his Zen studies with Yamada Roshi in Japan. In 1982 Yamada Roshi,who liked
him very much gave him the authorization to teach. On completion of the studies, Yamada ko-un
Roshi gave him transmission with the words ‘I am sending Bodhidharma back to India’.

In 1985, Fr.Lassale took Amasamy for a tour of the Holy land and to Europe as an assistant to hiszen
courses. Then onwards he started visiting Europe for a few months every year. Now he leads Zen
retreats in many western countries.

Yamada ko-un Roshi his master passed away in 1989. Till that he used to visit his Master in Japan.
Fr.Lassalle’s demise was in 1990.

In 1982 Fr. Amasamy was sent to Dhyanashram in Chennai, a Jesuit centre by his then provincial.There
he was allowed to teach Zen. One provincial allowed him to put up a separate building for teaching
Zen within the campus of Dhyanashram. But, mostly the environment inside and outside in
community was hostile to things such as Zen. From 1982 to 1994 he struggled in vain with his
provincials to be allowed to put up an independent Zen centre.

At last in 1996 the then provincial Fr. Jayaraj allowed him to put up the present centre, bodhizendo, in
Perumalmalai, Kodaikanal. Fr. Cyril Mathew a young Jesuit priest from Kanyakumari assists Master
Amasamy in the running of Bodhizendo. He is the Zen student of Master Amasamy. After completion
of his study in seminary and ordination as a priest Fr. Cyril Mathew came to stay in Bodhizendo. He is
yet to complete his Zen Koan studies.

In Europe Johannes fisher a psychotherapist by profession is Zen teacher following the tradition of
Master Amasamy. As a Jesuit priest from Germany he travelled many parts of the world and engaged
in many a social work. Finally, he left the Jesuit order. He now is practicing psychotherapy and is
leading a family life. Studying Zen for quite long, he has already received transmission and
authorization to teach Zen from Master Amasamy. He now conducts Zen retreats in places in Europe.

Activities of Bodhi sangha in Europe,which is having many members there, are run under the guidance
of Johannes Fisher.

There are many Christian and non-Christian Zen Masters in Europe. In other western countries too. It
is amazing to note that in India not even one Zen teacher with the proper transmission and
authentication has surfaced so far.

Master Amasamy has his own unique approach. He stands in the in between of Christianity,
Buddhism,Hinduism, Advaita and Zen. What he is teaching is not Christian Zen. It is not good to cook
up some Zen Christianity or Christian Zen. He is a Christian practicing Zen. ‘ Christianity, Hinduism,
Buddhism and Zen are different ways. But you are one person. Standing in-between you will be
transformed’, says Master Amasamy.

In Zen perspective, liberation and freedom are realization of emptiness, the real self. Socio-economic
liberation is part of it. Under the guidance of Master Amasamy, Bodhizendo runs a few social work
projects under the name’ Little Flower’ , for daliths and tribal children and women. His students are
expected to give some contributions to these works. Meditation and service for the liberation of the
oppressed are interrelated.

In Mahayana Buddhism, of which Zen is a branch, a Bodhisattva will not enter Nirvana unless and
until all beings enter Nirvana. Awakening and compassion, ‘Prajna’ and ‘Karuna’, are two sides of one
realization. Enlightenment without Compassion is useless, while Compassion without Enlightenment
is blind.

‘Indian Christology will be Mahayana Christology’. Thus believes Zen Master Amasamy.

Zen, BodhiZendo and Bodhi sangha.

Zen is the Japanese word for Dhyana a Sanskrit word. According to the Zen tradition, Gautama
Buddha gave the transmission of enlightenment to Maha kasyapa. He is considered as the first
patriarch of dhyana/Zen. Maha Kasyapa to Bodhidharma who is believed to be from Kanchipuram,
south India , there were 28 patriarchs in India who were been transmitting dhyana the wisdom
teaching taught by Gautama Buddha.. The last patriarch Bodhidharma went to china and started
teaching dhyana there. In China in the cultural environment nurtured by Confucius and Lao-tse the
word dhyana was changed to chan. From china the chan transmission was passed over to the
Japanese seekers after truth. In Japan it came to be known as Zen.
Jhan-Pali, Dhyana-Sanskrit, Chan-Chinese and Zen-Japanese.

From Japan Zen went to the west. First to America and then to Europe.

Through Master Amasamy Zen comes to India from both Europe(through Fr.Lassalle) and
Japan(through Yamada ko-un Roshi).

Bodhi Zendo is a Zen meditation centre founded by Zen master Amasamy in 1996 January at
Kodaikanal, India.

Amasamy is a Jesuit Priest teaching Zen meditation. He is not the one who teaches Christian Zen but a
Christian teaching Zen. He is an independent Zen master with his own Zen school, Bodhisangha.
Bodhisangha has many members in the west , especially in Europe. A few are in India and the Eastern
countries too.

The logo of Bodhizendo is Buddha meditating under a Cross.

‘Abide where there is no-abiding’ reads the plaque on the entrance. ‘Nirvana is right here in front.
This very land is lotus land. This very body the Buddha’ says the displayed quotation from the song of

Bodhizendo houses a fine Library. An excellent collection of books and CDs meant for deeper studies
in Zen philosophy and practice. For the sake of comparative studies books on western and Indian
philosophies, Psychology, Psychotherapies, Religion Sociology etc. are collected. It will be open for
one and half hours a day for meditators. That too on except Sundays , free days and seshin periods.

A seshin is Japanese word for an intensive meditation session. A seshin is normaly for six days in
Bodhizendo.And a mini seshin for three days. Some physical work for onehour each every day and
complete silence throughout is compulsory during seshins. During Dokusan (A Japanese word for
meeting with teacher)the Master may ask Koans to the students. Koan means, in Japanese,
paradoxical questions.

In Bodhizendo miniseshin starts on the first Thursday of every month. There will be one seshin too in
almost every month. At other times, when there is no seshin, meditators can speak a little at
breakfast, lunch and tea times. Silence is part of life here.