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Anagarika Shri Munindra (1915 – October 14, 2003), also called Munindraji by his disciples, was a Bengali vipassana meditation teacher, who taught many notable meditation teachers including Dipa Ma, Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, and Surya Das.
Anagarika simply means a practicing Buddhist who leads a nomadic life without attachment in order to focus on the dharma. Munindra was born in Dhemsha, Satkania, Chittagong, Bangladesh, to the Barua family, descendents of the original Buddhists of India forced east by the eleventh-century Muslim invasion. He was an active member of the Maha Bodhi Society whose purpose was the resuscitation of Buddhism in India and the restoration of ancient Buddhist shrines there. Munindra was the superintendent of the Mahabodhi Temple at Bodh Gaya from 1953 to 1957, the first Buddhist to hold this position in modern times. From 1957 to 1966 he lived in Burma where he was a close disciple of Mahasi Sayadaw, who authorized him to teach vipassana meditation. While in Burma he also studied the Pali canon thoroughly, before returning to India where he taught vipassana for many years in Bodh Gaya. Admired for his gentleness, wisdom, and insatiable curiosity, he had a deep knowledge of the Pali canon which he made accessible to Westerners. He was also known to be very open-minded and relaxed in the way he taught. He would encourage his students to study with other teachers, and investigate other traditions.
In the tradition of Ledi Sayadaw
During his stay in Burma he came in close contact with S. N. Goenka and had dhamma discussions with him. Subsequently, he wished to learn Vipassana from Sayagyi U Ba Khin but since he had already learnt Vipassana from a monk, Sayagyi expressed his inability to teach him Vipassana in the tradition of Ledi Sayadaw.
Finally, his wish was fulfilled a few years later when S. N. Goenka started teaching Vipassana in India. Munindra joined a 10-day course conducted by Goenka at Bodhgaya. He was very impressed by the technique, as expressed in a letter of appreciation that he wrote to Sayagyi U Ba Khin after the course.
He spent the last part of his life living at the Vipassana Research Institute's main meditation centre, Dhamma Giri, at the village of Igatpuri, India, as a guest of his close friend S. N. Goenka. Most of his time was spent practising Vipassana there in his room or in his designated meditation cell in the pagoda.
For more information about this dharma teacher, a grandfather of the vipassana/mindfulness movement, see the first book ever written about him: Living This Life Fully: Stories and Teachings of Munindra (Shambhala), by Mirka Knaster, Ph.D., in collaboration with Robert Pryor, with a foreword by Joseph Goldstein.
- Schmidt, Amy (2005), Dipa Ma (NY: Blue Ridge), p. 11.
- Schmidt (2005), p. 9.
- Video of Munindra visiting California on YouTube
- Video of Munindra and Taungpulu Sayadaw from 1976 in Boulder Creek California on YouTube
- Thoughts about Munindra from a book edited by Sharon Salzberg
- Contains the full letter written to Ba Khin, see p. 91
- A book about Munindra's life and teachings.
- Recording of talk given at Golden Gate Park, San Francisco in 1977
- S.N. Goenka reminisces his friend Munindra