Go forth, o bhikkhus, for the good of the many, for the happiness of the many, out of compassion for the world, for the benefit, for the good, for the happiness of gods and men. Let not two go by one way. Preach the doctrine that is beautiful in its beginning, beautiful in its middle, and beautiful in its ending. Declare the holy life in its purity, completely both in the spirit and the letter. ~ Mahavagga, Vinaya Pitaka.


With the words above, the Buddha initiated the world’s earliest missionary religion. It was a missionary religion with the noblest of aims, for it was not to win people for the power of the religion, nor for the glory of any being, but for the happiness and benefit of those that would receive the teachings. Throughout it’s history, Buddhism spread not by conquest or colonization but peacefully through the ambassadorial work of its community of monks. These monks traveled the trade routes establishing monasteries along the way. Others were seekers that traveled to India or other Buddhist lands, imbibed the teachings, received ordination as monks, then brought the Dhamma home to their native soils. In this way, the teachings of the Buddha have been remembered and passed on through the generations for more than two thousand five hundred years enabling the ordination of monks and nuns of various races and the continuity of the Sangha.

The purpose of this web-page is to document the continuing drama, as bhikkhus of the Theravada lineage continue this mission of bringing the Dhamma to new lands. Although the efforts of the bhikkhunis ( and in this day, the mae-chis, siladharas, etc..) as well as the laity are recognized in the spread of Buddhism, this site focuses on the bhikkhu sangha as it represents the most visible flag-bearer of Theravada Buddhism.

Obviously this document cannot record or mention all who have selflessly established the Dhamma in new lands. In a way, this is a personal record for I have written only what I am aware of based on my reading of various materials. Although, the personalities mentioned have had a significant impact on the establishment of Buddhism, it is likely that there are many others quietly working unnoticed by the media and the rest of the Buddhist world. Hopefully, this document would continue into the future with additions of several other countries. For this purpose, I welcome anyone to write me with his own story of the advent of the sublime Dhamma in his country.

Pioneers of the bhikkhu sangha

Click on the links below to read about the pioneering efforts of the bhikkhu sangha in new lands.

Timeline – The last 100 years

To track the historical development of Theravada and the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni sangha, a time line for the last 100 years is presented below:

First Western Theravada monk (Gordon Douglas) ordains, in Myanmar.
Ven. Ajahn Mun and Ven. Ajahn Sao revive the forest meditation tradition in Thailand.
Ven. Nyanatiloka ordains in Sri Lanka. He later establishes the Island Hermitage, the earliest bhikkhu training monastery for western monks.
Ven Ananda Metteya (Allan Bennet) leads Buddhist mission to UK
The first Vietnamese Theravada temple, Buu Quang Temple (Ratana Ramsyarama), is established in Ho Chi Minh City ( Saigon ). The abbot, Ven. Bhikkhu Ho Tong (Vansarakkhita), had been ordained in Cambodia by Ven. Bhikkhu Chuon Nath, the Cambodian Sangharaja.
The Nepalese Ven Amritananda ordained as bhikkhu in Colombo.
First vihara in modern Nepalese history established on Swayambhu Hill by Ven. Dhammaloka Thera.
Mahasi Sayadaw becomes head teacher at a government-sponsored meditation center in Yangon, Myanmar.
Sister Dhammadinna, an American nun ordained in Sri Lanka, comes to Australia and conducts first Vesak ceremony in that country.
The Ven K Sri Dhammananda arrives in Malaysia from Sri Lanka.
Myanmar government sponsors a Sixth Council in Yangon.
First Indonesian bhikkhu in 500 years ordained in Myanmar as Ven Jinarakkhita.
London Buddhist Vihara opened by Sri Lankan bhikkhus.
William Purfurst of England ordains as Ven. Kapilavuddho in Thailand.
In India, Ambedkar leads a mass-conversion of hundreds of thousands of the Dalit caste into Buddhism.
Mission from Myanmar arrives in vihara in Moji, Japan.
Sri Lankan monks set up the Berlin Buddhist Vihara in Germany.
The German Ven. Nyanaponika Thera establishes the Buddhist Publication Society in Sri Lanka to publish English-language books on Theravada Buddhism.
Two Germans ordain at the Royal Thai Embassy in London, becoming the first to take full Theravada ordination in the West.
First Indonesians Vens. Jinaputta and Jinapiya ordained on Indonesian soil.
Washington (D.C.) Buddhist Vihara founded — first Theravada monastic community in the USA.
Thais establish Wat Buddhapadipa in the UK.
All-India Bhikkhu Sangha formed under Ven Jagdish Kashyap.
Sri Lankans establish Australia’s first Theravada vihara in New South Wales.
Ajahn Chah establishes Wat Pah Nanachat, a forest monastery in Thailand for training Western monks.
Wat Buddharangsee established in Sydney, Australia by Ven. Bhikkhu Khantipalo (English) and 3 Thai monks.
Sangha Theravada Indonesia constituted.
Ajahn Chah travels to England with the American Ven. Sumedho and the British Ven. Khemadhammo to lead a small community of monks at the Hamsptead Vihara,
Wat Pah Cittaviveka (Chithurst Forest Monastery) established by Ajahn Sumedho in Sussex, England.
Aruna Ratanagiri established in North England by Ajahn Sumedho.
Ven. Taungpulu Sayadaw and Dr. Rina Sircar, from Myanmar, establish the Taungpulu Kaba-Aye Monastery in Northern California, USA.
First Theravada forest monastery in the USA (Bhavana Society) established in West Virginia by Ven. H. Gunaratana.
Amaravati Buddhist Monastery established in England by Ajahn Sumedho.
Bodhinyana Monastery established in Western Australia by Vens. Jagaro and Brahmavamso, disciples of Ajahn Chah.
Ajahn Khemadhammo establishes Forest Hermitage, Warwick, United Kingdom.
The Canadian Ajahn Viradhammo arrives in New Zealand from the UK to establish Bodhiyanarama Vihara..
The Canadian Ven Tiradhammo establishes Dhammapala Buddhistisches Kloster in Switzerland.
The German nun Ayya Khema establishes Buddha-Haus in Germany.
The Italian Ven. Thanavaro establishes Santacittarama in Italy.
The American Ajahn Thanissaro establishes Metta Forest Monastery in southern California.
The Canadian Bhikkhu Sona and German Ven Piyadhammo establish Birken Forest Monastery, the first forest monastery in Canada.
Ven Punnadhammo of Canada and other monks establish Arrow River Community Centre in Thunder Bay as a vihara.
Stockholm Budhist Vihara established as a permanent centre in Jakobsberg, Sweden as the 1st vihara in Scandinavia by Sri Lankans.
Abhayagiri Forest Monastery established in California by the British Ajahn Amaro.
Theravada bhikkhuni sangha revived after a lapse of about 980 years with the ordination of 11 women in Sarnath.
Bhikkhuni sangha revived in Sri Lanka with ordination of 23 women in Dambulla.
Dhammasara Nuns Monastery, the largest Theravada nuns monastery outside Asia established near Perth, with the Australian abbess Ajahn Vayama (siladhara).
First Theravada vihara established in Mexico by the Burmese U Silananda and the Argentinean U Nandisena.
Sasanarakkha Buddhist Sanctuary, a training center for monks in the forest tradition opens in Malaysia, under Ven Aggacitta.
The British Ajahn Kalyano establishes Buddhabodhivana Monastery near Melbourne, Australia.
First woman ordained in Thailand as Samaneri Dhammarakkhita.
First ordination of Canadian bhikkhus (Vens. Nanada and Pavaro) by Canadian monks in Canada, at Birken forest monastery.
First bhikkhuni vihara in the USA, founded by bhikkhunis Tathaaloka and Sucinta.