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Anagārika Dhammapāla

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Anagārika Dhammapāla was born as David Hewavitharana in Sri Lanka in 1864. Educated in a Christian school and then influenced by the Theosophical movement, he renounced the world in his late teens to become a ‘homeless one’ (anagārika) and took the name Dharmapāla, meaning ‘Defender of the Dhamma.’ He founded the Mahabodhi Society in 1893 with the aim of regaining Buddhist control of the Mahābodhi Temple at Bodh Gayā, which had been taken over by Hindu priests. Gradually the Society took on a social service and missionary role, and became the first modern Buddhist organization with an international presence and influence. Anagārika Dharmapāla was a fearless critic of superstition and monastic indolence, and worked tirelessly to revive close relations between Theravāda and Mahāyāna Buddhists. Just before he died in Sārnāth in 1933 he said: ‘I would like to be reborn twenty-five more times to spread Lord Buddha’s Dhamma.’

Anagarika Dharmapala - A Biological Sketch, Bhikkhu Sangharakshita, 1964.

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