Henepola Gunaratana

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Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
Born (1927-12-07) 7 December 1927 (age 91)
Henepola, British Ceylon
Occupation the abbot of Bhavana Society, High View, West Virginia, USA
Website website

Bhante Henepola Gunaratana is a Sri Lankan Theravada Buddhist monk. He is often affectionately known as Bhante G.

Early life

Henepola Gunaratana was born Ekanayaka Mudiyanselage Ukkubanda[1] December 7, 1927 in the small Sri Lankan village of Henepola.[2] He was ordained as a monk at the age of 12 in a temple in Malandeniya Village, Kurunegala District.[2] His preceptor was Venerable Kiribatkumbure Sonuttara Mahathera.[3] He received upasampada in 1947, aged 20, in Kandy.[4] He was first educated at Vidyasekhara Pirivena Junior College, a monks school in Gampaha. He received his higher education in Sri Lanka at Vidyalankara College in Kelaniya and the Buddhist Missionary College (an affiliate of the Maha Bodhi Society) in Colombo.[5][4]

Missionary work

After his education, he was sent to India for missionary work as a representative of the Maha Bodhi Society. He primarily served the Untouchables in Sanchi, Delhi, and Bombay.[5]

He also served as a religious advisor to the Malaysian Sasana Abhivurdhiwardhana Society, Buddhist Missionary Society, and Buddhist Youth Federation. Following this he served as an educator for Kishon Dial School and Temple Road Girls' School. He was also the principal of the Buddhist Institute of Kuala Lumpur.

Arrival in the United States

Bhante Gunaratana went to the United States at the invitation of the Sasana Sevaka Society in 1968 in order to serve as the General Secretary of the Buddhist Vihara Society of Washington, D.C..[5] He was elected president of the society twelve years later. While serving in this office, he has conducted meditation retreats and taught courses in Buddhist Studies.[2]

Gunaratana earned a bachelor's, master's, and doctorate in philosophy at American University.[5] He has also taught graduate level courses on Buddhism at American University, Georgetown University, Bucknell University, and the University of Maryland, College Park. He also lectures at universities throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. He is the author of the book Mindfulness in Plain English.

Bhante Gunaratana is currently the abbot of the Bhavana Society, a monastery and meditation retreat center that he founded in High View, West Virginia.[6][7]

Published works


  1. Gunaratana, Henepola (2003). Journey to Mindfulness: The Autobiography of Bhante G. Wisdom Books. p. 15. ISBN 978-0-86171-347-9. Retrieved 23 May 2017. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Seager, Richard Hughes (1999). "Major Traditions". Buddhism in America. Columbia University Press. p. 152. ISBN 978-0-231-10868-3. One of these is Henepola Gunaratana, a Sri Lankan monk who leads the Bhavana Society, a practice center located in the Shenandoah Valley of West Virginia, based on Theravada monasticism but incorporating American adaptations. Born in Sri Lanka in 1927, Gunaratana was ordained at the age of twelve, trained as a novice for eight years, and then took full ordination as a bhikkhu. After completing his education, he left Sri Lanka to work as a missionary in India and then as an educator in Malaysia. He first came to the United States in 1968 to serve at the Buddhist Vihara Society in Washington. Once there, he earned an M.A. and a Ph.D. in philosophy at American University, where he served as Buddhist chaplain, and taught courses on Buddhism at Georgetown, the University of Maryland, and elsewhere. In 1980, he was appointed the president of the Buddhist Vihara Society. In 1982, he founded the Bhavana Society, for which he served as president. During the 1990s, he was a prominent figure in the Insight Meditation movement overseas. 
  3. "About The Author". Vipassana Fellowship. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 Gunaratana, Henepola (2011). Mindfulness in Plain English (20th Anniversary ed.). Wisdom Books. ISBN 978-0-86171-906-8. Retrieved 11 January 2016. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 5.3 Twarkov, Helen (Spring 1995). "Going Upstream: An interview with Bhante Henepola Gunaratana". Tricycle. New York: Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. 4 (3). Retrieved 2011-03-30. 
  6. Luo, Michael (29 April 2006). "Calming the Mind Among Bodies Laid Bare". The New York Times. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  7. Prebish, Charles S. (1999). "North American Buddhist Communities". Luminous passage: The practice and study of Buddhism in America. University of California Press. p. 151. ISBN 978-0-520-21697-6. Ven. Henepola Gunartana founded a monastic center in West Virginia known as the Bhavana Society. 

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