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Venerable Anandajoti – A Western Monk Shining in the East

In my search for people to help me with my research, it has been my lucky destiny to have come across one such influential person in my life. Hoh Foo Kong, a retired school teacher from Malaysia, introduced me to Venerable Anandajoti to assist me with some materials I needed for my research studies at the University of Hong Kong. He was so kind to share with me a lot of valuable materials for my studies. Truly, it was a great assistance from Venerable Anandajoti which I found unexpected but highly appreciated. Afterward, due to my personal interest in the Venerable, I searched for more of his written works to strengthen my knowledge of Buddhism. His recent online publication A Grammatical Analysis of Three Discourses has allowed me to further appreciate his understanding of the wise words of the Buddha.

Venerable Anandajoti is an English monk originally from England, born near Birmingham. He himself says the better part of his first 35 years were spent in the West experiencing the conventional western life style before he moved to Asia in 1987, mainly in Sri Lanka, India, Thailand and Malaysia learning Buddhist knowledge. With this knowledge, his own spirit and special deepening interest in Buddhism, he decided to abandon worldly happiness. Motivated by this realization, he was ordained as a Buddhist monk in the Theravada tradition in 1995 and received higher ordination in Sri Lanka in 1996. He is active in whatever he does and is highly motivated in all his work. Hence, in the course of his activities to learn the spiritual life he has adhered to the Buddhist teaching which is the main highlight of his life.

From the beginning of his spiritual journey, Venerable Anandajoti has been steadfast about his commitment to monastic life and deepening his Buddhist knowledge. On his personal website, he mentions that Godwin Samararatne, a Sri Lankan renowned lay meditation teacher, was his first Dhamma teacher and the most influential person in his life. As part of his work propagating the Dhamma, he went to Malaysia in 2008 to look after an old Sri Lankan Temple in Taiping. Currently, he is residing at The International Buddhist College in Sadao, southern Thailand.

Today, Venerable Anandajoti promotes Buddhism in both the East and West with his wisdom acquired from Theravada Buddhist teaching for the modern world. Now he is one of the influential Buddhist monks in the 21st century using digital media, sharing his insight with a global audience via his podcast series and You Tube channel with various videos, recordings of Dhamma Talks and films made from photographs. His Dhamma talkThe Planes of Existence posted on You Tube in 2012 describes the planes of being and knowing as being useful for a person’s understanding of their place and the movement between these realms in the universe. A comment from a viewer on You Tube says, This is a phenomenal talk with some great insight.

He has a number of websites and the first one is Ancient Buddhist Texts begun in 2002, which has over 100 texts and still expanding, as a way to publish material from the broader early Buddhist Tradition in the original languages such as Pali, Buddhist Sanskrit and Classical Sanskrit, together with annotated translations, in addition to their grammar and prosody. This website also has resource materials, maps and a large collection of audio files. Most of the material is published in a range of formats: html, pdf, ebook, and, where appropriate, also mp3.

The second website is dedicated to his teacher Godwin Samararatne begun in 2004, to commemorate his teacher who was one of the best loved lay meditation teachers in Sri Lanka in the 20th century. The third website is Photo Dharma begun in 2009 to house various collections of more than 8,000 photographs collected into various albums. The fourth website is Sri Lankan Pali Texts, begun in 2012, publishing the complete Sri Lankan edition of the Tipitika in around 16,000 image files for those who intend to read the Pali texts in Sinhala script. The fifth website is Dharma Documentaries website which contains over 200 documentaries and is growing all the time. Besides these websites, he also has a blog called Dharma Records begun in 2010, which mainly acts as a center for notification of updates on the other sites and as a place to share other things with people.

Venerable Anandajoti’s influential teachings have earned him a trustworthy online following. Hohn S., an online follower, says Interesting site, I’m currently studying the Dhamma and attend the Buddhist Temple in Nashville, TN. I’ve only been into the Dhamma for 4 years or so. So I’m very much into reading from those experienced and truly putting [Buddhism] into practice.

While staying at the Sri Lankan Temple in Malaysia, he regularly published works by other people, mainly Dhamma talks and chanting. Presently he still helps them with the publication of many books and other different projects for various people. 

The publication of A Grammatical Analysis of Three Discourses by Venerable Anandajoti presents the process and research in developing his work through a linguistic approach. This is the result of the author’s extreme hard work researching the Tipitaka, the doctrine of the Buddha. It presents an analysis of the grammatical forms and relationships of three of the most popular discourses in the Pali Tipitaka such as Metta-sutta, Mangala-sutta and Ratana-sutta. These suttas are highly regarded as daily chants among Theravada followers. The book also offers valuable teachings of the Buddha which is extremely helpful for new learners of Pali language and Buddhist teachings. He explains every word, sentence, phrase and use of sandhi. The author also says, I hope this new work will help those who are studying Pali, or thinking of taking up the study of the language to see how the forms look in the discourses, rather than in dry examples. In my personal opinion, this publication plays a vital role in the international promotion of Pali language and Buddhist teachings. I believe through this literary work, readers will be able to gain a better knowledge about Buddhism and its teachings which they can particularly apply to their daily lives.

Some of his many other literary works include The Life of the Victorious BuddhaDaily Chanting (Pali, English),The Earliest Recorded Discourses of the BuddhaThe Ways of Attending to Mindfulness (Audio CD)A Comparative Edition of the DhammapadaDaily Chanting (Pali, Sinhala, English)Safeguard Recitals and An Outline of the Metres in the Pali Canon. From these books we can find different aspects of human individuality: relationship to existence, morality, ethics, religion and meditation.

The success of Venerable Anandajoti’s activities is mostly due to the result of his virtue and self-determination. He is regarded as a great individual in the Buddha’s dispensation and a booming personality with many outstanding ventures to his name. I myself have been profoundly motivated by Venerable Anandajoti’s many ongoing projects. I have tried to share in this article with all of you my curiosity about Ven. Anandajoti’s life success, and achievements.

Related Links
Ancient Buddhist Texts Home Page
Photo Dharma
Sri Lankan Pali Texts
Dharma Records
The Planes of Existence (YouTube)

Ven. Anandajoti. Photo: Hoh Foo Kong’s Facebook
Ven. Anandajoti, interview with Ajahn Thammarat, Bangkok World Buddhist TV. Photo: Ven. Anandajoti’s Facebook
The Earliest Recorded Discourses of the Buddha (cover). Photo: Ancient Buddhist Texts website
47 Monks Chanting at Robe Giving Ceremony, Wat Thepthidaram, Bangkok

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